Monday, December 31, 2012

Heavy snow December 2012


This past weekend we again had a major snow fall.  Not too many days ago we had our first large snow storm so I am surprised that we are getting hit again so quickly.  The first snow fall resulted in schools and businesses being closed.  Unfortunately, the temperatures dropped rapidly and the streets and pavements were never completely cleared.  As a result, we had icy bumps on our pathways.  Now we are having our second snow storm of the season.  I was not expecting this one to be so long or to have so much accumulation.  The first snow fall was heavy and wet.  This second snow fall has been light and fluffy.  It is definitely easier to shovel.

I have told myself that I no longer want to complain about the weather.  There is a lot to be thankful for when we get rain and snow but there is also not a lot that can be done about the weather.  So why complain about it?

These snow storms have changed the outdoors into a classic winter landscape.  It is very picturesque.  The ground is completely covered in white.  The trees are heavy with snow.

Friday, December 28, 2012

CS Lewis quote on what to write about


"Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else."  This quote from CS Lewis hit me and challenged me.  As you may know I am struggling with this blog.  It does not seem to have a purpose or direction except to share who I am.  I would like to find a topic to focus on and write at length about it.  Yet, I am not finding that idea.  My thoughts for the new year are to cut back on my daily posts and take them down to three times per week.  I hope by doing so I can raise my quality and remove a little stress of getting that post out there each day.  But what really interests me?  Well, my faith, success, nature, relationships, learning.  I have thought about blogging about improving one's life.  That is sort of general but it could be enough of a focus that it could get me started.  As of right now, I have no definite plans.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reviewing my counselors


There was a blog post I read recently that came out of the blue and really got me to wondering.  The author was quoting from Isaiah 30 where the Lord rebukes the people of God for finding counsel in the world and not from Him.  The post motivated me to pray and to consider who I listen to and take advice from.  Even if advice is good and upright, it may not be the advice I need to hear at this time of my life.  I take a lot of advise.  I read blogs and books and listen to radio and podcasts.  Yet, is it helping me?  Well, I have been going backward the last year or so.  When is all this advice, these seeds of goodness, going to spring up and bear fruit?  It is that time of year to look at my counselors and make some hard decisions.

I have gotten rid of the blogs Free Money Finance and Seth Godin's blog.  FMF came to me through Chuck Bently.  FMF is a believer but I don't like how people on his blog make very good money and yet are in debt and living in homes above their means.  FMF also posts a lot on earning cash back from credit cards and I have come to a point where I don't want to put my time into going through those hoops.  I am also putting aside Seth Godin because he is all about marketing and business.  People think he is brilliant and I have been stimulated by his writings.  Yet I am not at a place where I can benefit from his thoughts.

I have decided to unsubscribe from Dave Ramsey's Entreleadership and MacWorld's podcast.  I love Dave and he has some great material.  However, I am not an entrepreneur.  I want freedom and I want to lead well when I get a chance.  But again, he is talking to the business owner which I am not.  I am putting aside MacWorld's podcast because they go in depth about technology that I am not choosing to buy right now.  I will always enjoy Apple products but I don't need to know ever in and out.

I am hoping that now that I have dropped these blogs and podcasts that I will free up time for something better.  Something that will benefit me where I am right now.  Even more, I hope to hear from the Lord.  My life is really His life.  He created me and He paid dearly for my salvation.  I need to listen to Him more than ever and obey.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Do I have to love cars to be successful?


This question has popped into my head now and then.  Occasionally I will hear a man, who is successful, mention that one of his hobbies is cars.  To me when I think about cars I think of expense, insurance, and fixes.  I really don't like those things.  So I have not been a car fan.  I see them more as a necessary evil.  Sure I benefit from cars.  I've been riding in them since I came home from the hospital.  I would even place them as the greatest invention of man, even above the internet.  I mean, I respect cars and their place in our world.  But I don't love them.  I ride in them from point A to point B.  My dad did not have a passion for cars and I guess I have never had a close friend who was really into them.  But I wonder if it would help me to be more successful if I had a love for cars.    


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas day 2012


For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

I again receive, by faith, the Son this Christmas.  He was given to me and I want Him to be all that He is within my life.


Monday, December 24, 2012

A solution to the nation's violence


We continue to see mass murder in our country and it really breaks my heart.  When I hear of these deaths I grieve and I pray.  I also think that it doesn't have to be this way.

Allow me to offer a solution to the nation's troubles.

We should teach people to love their neighbor as themselves, to choose life, to do unto others as they would have others do unto them, to respect people because people are a creation of God's, and to know that there will be a day where they will give an account for their life.  People should be instructed to leave room for God to mitigate any necessary revenge, to obey authorities, and follow the laws of the land.  Our books, schools, and universities should teach that the origin of life comes from God, He created all things, and all of existence is in place for His glory.

When these things are emphasized and seriously spoken of I think we will see much less violence and more brotherly love.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Property exploration


It has been over seven years since my wife and I have moved to this location.  A thought popped into my head last week that was interesting.  Have I completely explored this property?  When we looked at this property initially it seemed large.  Like there was a lot to do and plenty of room to stretch out on.  There were trees, bushes, and brushy areas.  Now that we have been here a while, the land has become figuratively smaller.  I pretty much have it explored.  Maybe one corner in the back isn't something I know very much because it is wooded and not something I walk through.  I don't know every plant name on our property but I could guess and could probably come fairly close.  Even the house has been thoroughly examined and explored.  I have seen the attic and I have been in every corner of the basement.  I find this really sad.

In some ways I am glad to know what I have but in other ways I wish there was more space to roam and discover.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Regrets in 2012


One of my biggest regrets from 2012 has to be how long it took me to find something to do for work.  True, if I was working I would have missed some conversations, some events, and some opportunities to travels.  But I think I should have been working way back in January.  

I don't fully know why it took me so long to land.  I don't know if what I am doing now is temporary and more change is coming.  I do know that I enjoy good work, I like having an income, and I feel like I am doing the right thing when I am productive and providing for my family.

It is just a puzzle to me why this took so long.  I applied places, I talked to people, I went to job fairs, I updated and updated again my online work profile.  Having time off to do these things was great but men are made to achieve and accomplish things.  So I list my greatest regret of 2012 as the time it took to land.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Grief over the loss of life in Newtown Connecticut


It is not my habit to keep up with the news.  Due to my hope to keep my thoughts on things more positive and helpful was why I was unaware of the tragic events that happened Friday in Newtown Connecticut.  It wasn't until I was almost ready to go to bed on Friday night that my wife told me of the murders.

My belief is that these children, ages ranging from 5 to 10, are now in heaven.  I base this on the words of Jesus who said "Let the little children come to me".  Jesus ascended to heaven after His time on earth and is now sitting at the right hand of God the Father.  So those children too will be in heaven.

On Saturday, as I had time to myself, I thought of the deaths, the pain, the blood, and the parents who found out their child was among the dead.  I cried.  I wept.  I had a lump in my throat.  I sobbed.  I grieved with the nation.

My prayers where for the parents and for all those affected by such a horrific scene at a school meant for education and betterment.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best book of 2012


When I look back at this year, I have to ask myself, "What was the best book you read?"  Let me start by saying it is my goal to read two non-fiction books per month.  I record my books that I read in a spreadsheet so I can keep track of them for moments like these I suppose.  My records indicate that I have read 37 books this year.  I may finish one, two, or three more before December is up.  Most of my reading this year was non-fiction.  However, there were a few fictional books in there.

I think the final candidates would be "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson.  Steve was a mysterious technology executive that I admired from afar but in no way would I want to be near him especially when he was working.  "Start Something That Matters" by Blake Mycoskie.  Blake started a shoe company that gave away a par of shoes to a needy child with every pair of shoes purchased from his website.  I loved the idea of coupling commerce with generosity.  "Quitter" by Jon Acuff.  Jon's book is the only book that I am re-reading this year.  He is also the only author on my list that I have met.  I saw Jon at his Quitter conference in Nashville this year.  "Quiet" by Susan Cain.  Susan hit the nail on the head when it comes to introverts and the contributions we make to society.  I only wish I could remember more of the book.  "Unplanned" by Abby Johnson.  This is a book of transformation.  A total change of heart and thought.  Stories about people making a discovery that is right and true always make my heart sing.

Of these five books, I can not pick just one that bested the others.  However, as already noted, I am re-reading "Quitter".  So I will select it as the best book I read in 2012.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Empty house on the street


Where I live there always seems to be a house up for sale.  There has been several times where people have simply moved on and left a house which seems odd to me.  We had a good streak going where I think every house on the block was occupied for like a year.  But now we have another house up for sale just two doors down from me.  The owners apparently left it.  I have looked up the home and it is modestly priced.  From the outside it looks in good shape.  A long drive-way, nice windows, and a good roof.  The people there were a little too active for my tastes.  They and their friends were always zipping down the street with their modified cars.  They had a yippy dog which I do not miss.  I prefer a quiet neighborhood where people are conscientious.

I just find it bizarre that the houses here have such turn-over.  My guess would have been that people would stay for longer periods and not just up and leave.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Respect the salesman


A salesman's value is not always quantifiable.  Helping someone and making him or her feel valued and respected is not always something that can be placed on a spreadsheet and graphed.  Dealing with people so that they get what they want does not mean zero effort was put into the transition.  Sales is a matter of trust and trust builds with time as one proves to be competent.

There isn't always the possibility to add to a sale.  A salesman needs to follow his intuition.  Some people know what they want and don't want advise on what to purchase.  Helping these people quickly through the process is what they are looking for and that in itself is the value brought to the sale.

The purchase has to happen somewhere.  So whether this salesman takes the order or if it is someone else, it has to be done.  Nothing happens until there is a sale.  Seeing the salesman's value takes a bit of thought and understanding as it may not be readily apparent on the surface.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Core values


Someone recently challenged me to write out my core values.  He felt like there should be four to five of them.  The following are my core values.

• Doing things right.  I believe in following the rules as best as possible.  Rules are there to protect us and to keep things fair for everyone.  Doing things right goes beyond following rules.  It also includes doing what is responsible and expected.
•  Keeping things in order.  I am driven to put things away.  Everything should have a place and everything should be in its place.  There is a great need in me to have everything set and tidy.
•  Having freedom.  I have a bit of the wild in me.  I can not be caged.  At least not for long.  I will not get myself into agreements that require me to give up my life's essence, which is time.  I must be able to move about as I will.  The need to come and go as I please means a lot to me.
•  Treating others with respect.  Everyone has value because God created him or her and each have an eternal soul.  I believe in being polite, caring, and kind.
•  Keeping the faith.  My belief in Jesus of the Bible is a core, heartfelt belief that I never want to let go.  He did something for me that I could never do for myself so that I could get something I could never earn.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Garbage pickers


On trash day, we sometimes have garbage pickers that come down the street and inspect what is at the end of our driveways.  They usually have a pick-up or flat-bed truck which has a number of items already piled in there.

I am not into picking through garbage or dumpster diving.  There was one time I found a small gas grill next to a dumpster and it proved useful for many years.  But in general, I am not someone who likes to go through other peoples trash to find a bargain.

The garbage pickers bug me a little.  I think it bothers me that they are evaluating what we have chosen to throw away.  I don't want someone scrutinizing my decisions.  There are somethings that are better off at the trash heap and never seen again.  These people should just let it go.

It also bothers me that the trucks they drive are noisy and could use with a new muffler.  Hearing them start and stop and start and stop is a disturbance.

Usually I am not around when there is trash pick-up.  So lately I have not seen them.  Hopefully, they have stopped driving down our street.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Looking forward to heaven


I am getting to that point in life where departing to heaven is becoming more and more attractive.

Paul's words in Philippians 1:23 are making more and more sense.  "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better."  The same battles are fought again and again.  The same stories are told and re-told.  The same experiences are done again and again.  There are things I would like to do to make life better but many times, my goals are never realized.

I use to think that a man dying before 30 was tragic and that he didn't live long enough.  Now, I think that amount of time is enough to get right with God and depart.  I am well on the other side of that and I now see that dying young actually keeps a person from a lot of pain and grief.  There are many ways to die and I think about how it will occur to me.  Car accident, heart attack, disease.  I am not sure.  The pain that comes with death I am not looking forward to.  But leaving this earth, with its many problems and ills, sounds better and better all the time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Thoughts on "Genius - The Movie"


This weekend I watched "Genius - The Movie".  It is a recent release to the internet and YouTube by Living Waters and author Ray Comfort.

The focus is on John Lennon, the former Beatle member.  John had some controversial words on Jesus and the movie touches on that.  He also had some surprising and refreshing thoughts on evolution.

What touched me and brought tears to my eyes was the young people who were interviewed.  They were very flippant on murder for money, stealing, and other sins.  This is the generation that has been raised in front of TV and computers and have not seen the inside of a church or heard of the God who created them and will demand an account one day.

I highly recommend this short film.  See it here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Bible character Lot


There is a Bible character named Lot who never impressed me.  I didn't like most anything he did, yet he is now in heaven, according to the New Testament.  He had many people around him that were sinful but on the inside he was righteous.  He had a faith in God and was a believer.  I never understood him until recently.

Many people around us are going through life doing things that appear normal.  It is easy to get dragged into what they are doing.  But often what they are doing grieves the soul of a believer because there are few neutral things.

I still don't approve of Lot's choices.  It is just that now, I understand better what he went through.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When Christians sin around me


When I see or hear of another believer sin, it affects me deeply.  I am very grieved and troubled in my spirit.  Here is why.  It is like they despise the sacrifice that Jesus made for them.  They are saying in essence that what Jesus did for them, suffering & dying, has little meaning to them.  And when it has less and less meaning to them, it also becomes less and less real.  That saddens me too.

Please Christians.  Just because God has extended grace and forgiveness, don't think that it cost Him nothing.  It was very real what Jesus went through.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My weaknesses on the DISC profile


After taking the DISC profile, I thought about and spoke about my strengths.  But with all the focus on strengths, it never even occurred to me to give some considerations to my weaknesses.

Thinking about how my lowest score was an "I" helped to make sense of my life.  People don't listen to me or follow me much, if at all.  That is because my influence is very low.  I have never wanted to be an up-front person.  Therefore, I never learned a musical instrument.  I never strived at being a good speech maker.  I never wanted to be a pastor.  My preference is to be in the background, to be behind the scenes, and to go unnoticed.  That is okay with me and it is reflected on my DISC profile.

My other lowest score was "D" or dominant.  It has never been my ambition to lord it over others or sway people or tell a bunch of people what to do.  I don't want that role.  So being a general or a manager of people is something I never went after.

Now, I do like influencing and dominant personalities some times.  I like good leaders and good speakers.  But who they are is not who I am.

So I am learning to put aside hurt feelings when others choose not to follow my lead.  People are responsible for their choices.  I will lead by my example.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What would improve our country


What would improve our country?  More Christians.  That is, more, truly born-again, Spirit filled Christians.  People who love their Bibles and strive to obey God.

We Christians are more calm and relaxed.  We have a truer perspective.  We exhibit kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness.  We are honest, giving, and polite.  We are not causing trouble for law enforcement.  We pray for our leaders and show respect.

If there was one magic pill for this countries division, economic woes, and strife, I believe it would be for this land to have more believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I think we make better citizens.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Blogger app

Last week I discovered this app I am now writing on.  The Blogger app.  I should have found it earlier but some things take time.

This app is free and you can write and read your own blog. However you can not read other blogs. So it is like a one trick pony. Good at only one thing.

If you are looking to write & read your blog from your iOS devise, this is a good choice for an app to use.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Networking


Networking is talking with people and sharing about yourself.  It is listening to others and connecting them to other people that you know.

I spent months recently introducing myself to new people and conducting informational interviews where I talked to people about their careers.

I am not against networking.  It doesn't come naturally but I have actually learned to like it.  But it has not worked for me like it has been advertised.  My current job is something I attained because I answered an ad I found on Craig's List.  It was a traditional way into a place of work.

It is sort of sad how much time I spent updating my resume and LinkedIn profile, attending job fairs, and meetings, requesting interviews and talking to people.  Yet there never was a solid offer to introduce me to someone who could use my services.

I don't know what to say about this.  I don't think I am bitter.  Perhaps a bit surprised and disappointed.  I wonder what the reason for all of this goose chasing was.  I would like to find a great fit in a work setting where I am just the right solution for someone.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Have you considered your soul?


Your soul is of great importance to me.  Our life here, our body, has only so many years.  After that though, our spirit lives on.  Eternally.  Somewhere.  There are only two places for go according to the Bible.  Heaven or hell.

Hell is described as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Where there is burning and darkness.  And it is eternal.  It is where people go to pay for their own sins.  Their lying, steeling, coveting, and lusting.  They rejected Christ's perfect sacrifice and choose to be there.

Heaven is described as a place where God is present.  Where there is no sorrow and no tears.  Where there is always light.  Those that are there have received Jesus, the Son of God, as their own personal Savior.  They believe in Him as the only Way to the Father.

Consider your soul today.  You may not find it important, yet, but it is important to me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Time in southeast Wisconsin


In the late 90's I found my way down to southeast Wisconsin.  At first I stayed at a friends house but after a few months I got an apartment in Brookfield.  There are a lot of good shops and stores in the Milwaukee suburbs.  People are well dressed and the cars they drive are nice.  I liked what was there but I never felt like a full participant.  It is very easy for me to drift into areas of affluence and comfort but to actually be one of those people…uhm…not sure if that has happened yet.

After my room mate moved out of the area, I found another place to stay.  This time it was actually in Milwaukee.  I was in an upper room of a tiny brick house.  I was there for over a year.  The owner was quite a bit older than I and he was winding down his career.  His interest was strongly tied to his faith.  So I went along to several of his meetings where the Bible was proclaimed.

In some ways I like urban areas.  There are more things to do.  I would go to the IMAX theater, ride my bike, and discover parks.  There were always places to shop and places to eat.  It wasn't a bad experience.

Yet, I could not get connected like I needed too.  My roommate and a high school friend would ask when I was going to move into a better job.  It was an accusatory question.  They never provided introductions or a place to apply.  If these were the best friends I had, I wasn't feeling very good about myself.  Their words felt like rejection rather than words of encouragement.

Without any openings or possibilities, it seemed to me like the doors were closing.  So I moved back to the Fox Valley to be closer to family.  Inside of me there is really nothing that wants to go back to Milwaukee or the suburbs of southeast Wisconsin.  To me it is a closed, hard place that I did not find overly welcoming or inviting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Keeping the wild in the wild


It saddens me when people want to remove all danger that is found outside.  I for one am glad there are dangers out there.  Like wolves in the state.  I would even go further and say that I hope one day we have mountain lions here.  Personally, the wild needs to have some wild to it.  Otherwise, things are just too safe and too predictable.  There is nothing to be on guard about.  Nothing to challenge man as top of the food chain.  Believe me.  I don't want a close and personal experience with a wolf, lion, or bear but I am glad that they are out there.  We need to keep some wild in the wilderness.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Be careful about your heros


Sometimes I catch myself admiring people and characters that are the total opposite of Christ.  For instance, in some of the films I have watched, the hero is fornicating, killing, and twisting things for his own advantage throughout the film.  At one point, I finally woke up.  Why am I admiring this man?  He is the opposite of what a Christian is suppose to be.  I became more discerning and began to do a better job of selecting my films.  Maybe you too need to be careful about your heros.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Not a fan of endorsements at LinkedIn


I am not liking endorsements of skills at LinkedIn.  Endorsements make it appear like the non-endorsed skills are not really skills that I have.  All of a sudden, a number of my listed skills are under suspicion as they don't have a thumbs up from someone.  What happens if I gained that skill on my own time?  What if the person(s) I worked with are not on LinkedIn or we are not connected for whatever reason?  Personally, I wish LinkedIn had never started this practice.

There is someone who endorsed me for one of my skills that I never worked with.  We meet at a networking event but he would never have seen me exhibit this particular skill.

As for now, I am not endorsing anyone's skills at LinkedIn because I see it as a cheapening of ones profile.  I don't want to play this game of constantly updating things on social media.  LinkedIn is trying to keep people busy at their website.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012


There is much to be thankful for.  I am thankful for heaven.  A place where God is present.  My mansion and rooms are being made specifically for me.  Where there is no sin, no night, no tears.  I am deeply thankful to Jesus for paying my way to be with Him for all eternity.

I am also thankful for my wife, Brenda, who is helpful, supportive, and patient.

I am grateful for health, safety, food, shelter, clothing, and friendships.

It was wonderful taking a drive to North Carolina and another to Tennessee this year.  Viewing nature and creation as I drove through was outstanding.  I am glad the cars are paid for and running well.

My church family is another item I am thankful for.  They are helpful and loving.  My pastor is faithful in bringing the Word to us each week.  My other family has been giving and caring.

I am thankful for my dog, my home, my computer, my music, and my books.  These are wonderful additions to my life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My favorite comedians


I have recently gotten around to finding some funny men on YouTube.  These guys are good.  You should check them out.

Tim Hawkins and Jim Gaffigan and Tripp Crosby.

But I also like stalwart Jerry Seinfeld.  Clips of his program can be found on YouTube and I still laugh out loud when I watch them.

When I was a teen I liked movies with Steve Martin and Woody Allen.  Back in the day I also liked David Letterman and the gang over at Saturday Night Live.

I love laughing.  But I need to have fairly clean jokes.  I realize that humor has some edge to it.  But I am immediately tuning out anything that is crass or has filthy language.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our divided country


It has become very apparent to me that we are living in a dangerously divided country.  To a point where it is getting scary.  The differences between one side and the other politically are vast.  Both sides have dug in.  They each know their lines and will repeat them ad nauseam.

It is important that we open our eyes to see what is really going on.  Things are at a point where we could loose all civility and goodwill.  I think it is important that we start to act in a forgiving manner.  We need to believe the best in the other person.  If nothing else, keep away from conversations that will bring up differences.

There are more important things than politics, who has what job, and the sign in ones yard.  Things like relationships, family, friends, personal growth, and faith.  Let's live for those things.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wild life seen while hunting


This past weekend I took part in the gun-deer hunt here in Wisconsin.  I sat in my stand both Saturday and Sunday.  We had above average temperatures, right around 50 degrees, which made it okay to be outside.

While sitting there, I observed a number of animals.  I saw blue jays, red-bellied woodpeckers, crows, geese, black-capped chickadees, mourning doves, turkey, and grouse.  There were also white-tailed deer and squirrels.  Insects are alive, so I will mention ants, spiders, lady-bugs, and flying things.

It is amazing how these animals allowed me to sit there and observe them.  Not all animals run and hide when you are near.  Most of these creatures were in constant flux.  They never were completely still.  They were always searching, sniffing, and scrounging.  It was nice to see this amount of wild life.  I just wish I had seen a buck.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our shrinking lives


As probably many of you are experiencing, we are seeing our lives shrink.  We are pulling back, delaying, cutting, and doing without.  It is sad to see this happen especially when it involves an area that I care a great deal about.

One example of this is I had to recently call to cancel some automatic giving we were doing.  It wasn't much.  Actually it was quite small.  I liked giving to this fund because it felt like a way to care for a very basic need in the community.  It was also something no one would know about.  We also passed on giving to our community pond this summer.  It was the first time we missed chipping in a few bucks for lawn mowing expenses.

We are no longer quietly giving our little contribution.  Our lives are shrinking and I find that quite sad.  I would rather see the good things that I have started continue.  I want my giving and my care for the community to grow.

Our lives are shrinking in other ways than just giving.  Small things that we have done year after year have been put off.  This is the first year we did not go to the nursery to buy some trees for the property we've owned for seven years.  We also did not get to take a trip to Door County this summer to walk the quant little towns and enjoy Lake Michigan.  I like little traditions like that because they help define who we are and what we value.

When people's lives shrink it affects more than just themselves.  It affects the people around them that depend on those small contributions.  Then those people also pull back on their activities and spending.  What we end up having is a smaller and smaller economy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Limelight NOT the universal dream


There is a classic rock song called Limelight, by a band called Rush.  Part of the lyrics say "Living in the limelight.  The universal dream."  It is a great tune and is often listed as the bands best hit.  Though the song is fun to listen to, and even sign along with, I can't say that my wish is to live in the limelight.  I understand why the band wrote it that way and considering that they are on the stage and probably have a strong desire to be upfront and visible it probably seems that way to them.  I on the other hand wish to live on the edge, behind the scenes, and out of the limelight.  When I was a teen, I worked at a restaurant and the customers would walk right past me as they went down the line selecting their dessert, silverware, and drink.  I could feel their eyes on me and it was very uncomfortable.  I didn't like being their entertainment.  That is just one example of how I cringe when I am in the Limelight.

I maybe the only one in the universe who does not want to live in the limelight.  However I have found that my best work is done when others are not watching me and I am able to work on my own.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Open letter to President Obama


Mr. Obama.  Congratulations on winning your second term as president of the United States.  It is a great victory for you and it must feel satisfying to have won the campaign.  In your first term, I admired that you pulled our military out of places we had no business being and that you oversaw the mission in Pakistan that stopped Osama bin Laden for good.  Your ability to speak has allowed you to go far.

I hope you are not unaware that many in this country do not agree with your view for America.  By voting for the other guy we were trying to say that we do not want to run up our indebtedness to other nations, we do not want the federal government to expand, and we do not want life to be cheapened.  We were voting for a prosperous future where we choose our own medical help.

You are in my prayers Mr. President because as a Christian I am instructed to pray for those in leadership.  Part of my prayers are that you will have a change of heart and will lead in a different direction.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Every man needs to push against the wild


A few weekends ago, I took the chainsaw out and cut up several tree limbs that had fallen and were on the edge of my property.  I was really getting into it.  Cutting, transporting, and stacking.  I liked getting a lot of work done in a short time.  It was great to have such a powerful tool in my hand.  The experience made me think how every man needs to push against the wild.  We men need to be working past the edge of civilization for our own good.  It is a way to get rid of excess energy and pour out our aggravations.  Instead of causing pain to someone we can do some benefit.  We need to use our hands to cut trees, break trail, and put things in order.  There is a big payoff to being out there.  We see that we can accomplish things and add value with the muscles we have.  I think our bodies were made for some heavy work.

So guys, get out there.  Cut up some wood and see if you don't feel better.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why do people use drugs she asked


In my sunday school class, one of the kids asked about why people use drugs.  I was caught a little off guard but my short answer was that people want to feel good.  Which is accurate.  Personally, I think it is better to be honest with kids as they will find out soon enough anyway.  But upon thinking of this question I came up with a better answer.

People are looking for something big in their lives.  They want to experience something grand and venture into the mysterious.  Without God in their lives, they have to find a substitute.  They end up settling for all sorts of things, including addictive, destructive, and dangerous drugs.

We need something big in our lives.  Something powerful and eternal.  We were designed to worship and be in awe of Someone who is so much more than we are.  When that need is not getting filled legitimately, we fill it with junk that never satisfies.  People use drugs because they are missing God in their lives.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Phone étiquette


I have been doing a lot of phone calling lately.  This has been to Sam and Sally Public mostly.  It surprises me how poorly people answer the phone.  Answering the phone with a short "hello" in a tone of suspicion is not the way one should start a conversation.  Instead, say "hello, this is so and so speaking".  Have a brightness to your words and smile through the phone.  Answer the call with gladness that someone has taken an interest in you.  Welcome the conversation and put the shields down.

If you don't have time to take a phone call, don't answer the phone.  It doesn't make any sense that people picked up the phone only to say they don't have time to talk.  If you don't have time to talk, let the phone ring and let it go to voice mail.

Set up your answering machine message properly.  State your name and ask callers to leave their name, phone number, and message.  Anyone can do this.  The outgoing message helps to confirm that the caller dialed the right number.

People need to get better at their phone speaking skills.  With a little effort, I think they can do it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

LinkedIn vs. Resume


LinkedIn is superior to a resume.  It would be my wish to never write, update, or keep a resume ever again.  Hopefully, we will get to the point were we can drop this ancient document for good.

LinkedIn is dynamic, changing, and updating.  A resume is stagnant and confining.  LinkedIn is electronic.  A resume is on paper.  LinkedIn has a color picture.  Resumes generally do not have pictures.  LinkedIn has room for groups, lists of books read, and skills.  Resumes don't usually include these interesting tidbits.  LinkedIn is easy to update.  Resumes can be updated but editing seems like a lot of effort.  LinkedIn is fun.  Resume's are things you must deal with.  LinkedIn is interactive as you can post a status and read and like other people's posts.  A resume is sent to the human resource department where it is promptly sent into a black hole never to be heard or seen again.

Personally, I would rather point people to my LinkedIn profile so that they can get a more complete and accurate image of who I am.  For any business owners out there, I hope you will stop requiring people to send resumes and instead request the url of the person's LinkedIn profile.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why I am a Christian


The final answer to this question is, I am a sinner.  Sin can put a person in hell for all eternity.  Being put there would be a just punishment for breaking God's laws.  Without the righteous sacrifice that Jesus made for me, I would be in hell and deservedly so.  Without Him, I would have no hope.  I am a Christian because I need to be forgiven.  Jesus actually became sin on my behalf.  I have accepted Him as Lord and Savior because that is His rightful position.  As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, I am yielding to Him to have His way in my life.  My hope is to mimic Him and conform to His image.  But, yes, ultimately I am a Christian because I am a sinner and I see that I have sinned against a Holy God and I need His forgiveness.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What would you do if you had one day to live?


I was asked this question recently.  My answer was less dramatic than you may have expected.  I said that I would probably not go to work that day.  That was it.  But it made sense.  Really, what can you do in one day?  Not much.  That is why it is important to do our living while we are living.  We can't expect to wrap it all up nicely with a bow when we have a few months to live, or a few days, or are stretched out on our death bed.  Life isn't like that.  I've heard it said that men die like they live.  In other words, if a man is loving and caring, that is how he will go out of this world.  If he is selfish and churlish, that is how he will exit this life.  We are remarkably consistent.  One day to live is not much time.  It would be enough time for a few good-byes, to put a few things in order, and to leave some instructions.  But to do something of significance, we need more than one day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

No military experience and why


Over the last few months, I have filled out quite a number of applications.  When it came to military experience, I always put NA or none.  Here is why I don't have any military experience.

I never liked the idea of losing my freedom.  Even if it meant I could possibly play with some cool weapons or heroically defend my country.  GI stands for government issued.  When you enter the military you really are considered their property.  My independence is not something I could give up.  Even for a short few years.

Yelling is something I've never liked.  From what I've heard and seen in movies there is a lot of yelling in the military.  I would rather discuss things and come to an agreement before taking actions.  Screaming may get people to jump but I find it disturbing and unsettling.

Uniforms are not my style.  I like to be an individual.  Part of that is getting to select what I am going to wear.  I don't want to look like everyone else.  Uniforms to me have always meant conformity and I don't like to conform.

Having the benefit of years, I can see how entering the military could be a benefit.  A commitment of four years is really a short time.  There is comradery, the opportunity to travel, and an experience that can be related for many years.  People will appreciate what you have done.

I don't have any regrets about not entering the military.  I just now can see how the military could work for someone.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Shaving


Recently I went to Walgreens to purchase my shaving supplies.  I went with the house brand disposables and am now regretting it.  I was trying to spend less but I had bought the disposable Schick brand in the past and like them.  I have not had the Walgreens disposables for long now but they have cut my chin and neck and I have thrown two out already.  When I used the Schick brand I could go well over a month, maybe longer than two months, before tossing it.  They have a solid feel to them that I felt said "quality".

Clark Howard has mentioned more than once that he can go a year on a disposable razor.  That is pretty amazing.  Maybe he uses Schick but he can not be using Walgreens.

I use a shaving brush and soap to foam up my face.  I find this to be the most economical set up.  It is also suppose to get the hairs on my face to stand straight for shaving.  I haven't used a Barbasol can in years.  I've heard there are some bad chemicals in there.

It would be my preference to shave every other day as it is nice to have a little more beard to cut off.  Now that I am back into an office routine, I feel compelled to shave each morning.  I do this right after taking a shower.

In a past work experience I had a full beard for at least two years.  It surprised me that facial hair was allowed in that office.  I would have expected them to have required no facial hair.  Where I am now, I don't think anyone is wearing a beard.

I am pretty happy with shaving each morning.  I actually like the experience.  It makes me feel put together.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Missing my community


I knew once I got back into a work routine that there would be an emotional vacuum.  It is just inevitable that not seeing people I've worked with over the last ten months would cause a sense of loss.  So here is a big thank you to those at Job Seekers Network at the Fox Valley Technical College, Career Changers Network, and RU support group.  You all meant a lot to me.  Everyone has made a contribution to my life and helped in this process.  My intention is to give back to you someday, somehow.  Know that you are missed and I have good thoughts toward you all.  Thanks too to the instructors and facilitators, viz., Chris, Bobbie, Samantha, and Dennis.  All of you provided great content.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All of a sudden, I feel time stretched


Recently, I have gone back into an office routine.  My hours are 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, with a half hour lunch.  My commute time is almost 40 minutes.  That is the longest drive I have ever had for work.  Believe me when I say that I am grateful to be back in the game.  Yet, I can't help but notice that I am stretched for time and this is not how I would have things to be.  Whereas, I use to have plenty of time to write my blog, listen to podcasts, and exercise.  Now I have to hurry to do those things in the morning or evening.  It feels like the most important things are getting short changed.  In fact, I would like to be back working, earning good pay, making a difference, but I would still like to have a large quantity of time to operate my life.  My spiritual side is thinning as is my time at home.  Going to church on Wednesdays does not looks like a possibility for a the time being.

This is a dilemma and I don't really know if there is much I can do about it.  I am trying to listening to podcasts when I drive.  I am making an effort to still exercise and write.  Yet, three hours or so in the evening is not the buffer of time I am use to or would find ideal.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ideal job


The work setting would be an office environment.  As I am a process person, I would use technology and systems to complete my work flow.  My job would be done on a MacBook Pro as I sat in my HumanScale Freedom Chair.  I could have my privacy and the opportunity to move around as needed.  This location would be a commute of only 15-20 minutes.  Working remotely would be something I could do.

The company would have 100 people or less, be privately owned, with family values, and $10-50 million in sales.  Faith would be a part of the culture.

Our purpose for existing would be to do some good.  I really crave this.  I want work that is meaningful, purposeful, yet profitable.  I would like to be in a place where I am compensated fairly but where I could pull in a really good income if I applied myself.

Travel would be okay as long as there would be enough recovery time at home.  Having time off without sacrificing pay would be understood and granted.

The people I would work with in this ideal setting would be understanding, patient, dynamic, helpful, and well-spoken.  God's Name would only be used appropriately.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Thoughts on Ted Williams : A Golden Voice


Many of you saw the YouTube video of Ted Williams and were captivated by his story as I was.  We saw him on the corner with a sign, asking for money.  Then he opened his mouth and … wow … what a voice.  I was glad for him.  Being discovered and getting work.  So when I saw his book at Barnes and Noble I knew I had to read it.  I went home and placed the book on hold with my local library.

The beginning of the book goes through his life fairly fast.  There are a number of difficulties but nothing insurmountable.  Very early on, he knew he wanted to be on radio with a large audience.  In young adulthood, he realized that dream.  He was on the air, he was meeting people, he was pulling in a nice income.  Then one night, he smoked a marijuana joint which someone had laced with crack cocaine.  He wanted more and quickly went downhill.  The short high was something he had to have it all the time.

In the majority of the book, Williams describes how he breaks hearts, becomes homeless, commits crimes, and steals, steals, steals.  Even after having children, he can not bring himself to mature and take responsibility.

I have to admit that I like a good biography.  I like to read how someone had determination to go somewhere, and little else, yet made it.  Stories like that inspire me as they give me hope.  After reading "A Golden Voice", I am not sure this was one of those books.

I have mixed feelings.  On one had, I am glad for him.  He was discovered (again) and given fame (again) and jobs (again).  I was naive to believe that was what he wanted.

See, it doesn't seem like that was what he wanted.  All he wanted was to smoke crack.  Numerous times in the book he is given help to get himself cleaned up and back on his feet.  But he can't stay with it.  He also is steeling all the time in order to find a dealer to get his puff.

It is difficult to not despise people like Williams.  He has six kids with several women and he gives very little support to any of them.  He is a thief, taking from businesses, friends, and family.  He refuses help offered to him.

In many ways, our cities are in the shape they are in because of people like Williams.  Businesses will not stay around because people take from them all the time.  Neighborhoods are run down because no one is doing any work to fix and clean them.  Families are in poverty because no one is supporting them.  Prostitutes are on the streets because their boyfriends push them out the door to make a few dollars to buy them drugs.

I hope this man is clean of drugs today, doing voice work, and making a contribution.  He has been given a gift that he needs to use.  I hope he uses his gift to benefit others.  I wish you well, Ted Williams, but it is a struggle to love you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Good input


I firmly believe that if you put good things into your mind and soul it will result in good actions and a successful life.  It has been said, garbage in garbage out.  That is true but let's focus on the good and forget about the garbage.

I try to read blogs everyday that will give me direction and hope.  Blogs from authors like Dan Miller, Seth Godin, and Scott Wimberly.  I read my Bible and devotional (Great Is Thy Faithfulness by Larry Burkett and Our Daily Bread) daily to remind me of God's faithful and constant love.  I listen to upbeat music that contains truth and meets me on a deeper level, washing my soul.  It is important to me to have the right things coming into my ears and eyes.  In a sense, I am making my life an experiment.  As I age, I am applying a thicker filter on what I allow into my life as there is less time and so much good material.  So I stay away from books, movies, and people who use bad language.  I say "no" to the horror movies and violent films.  Fiction is almost always disappointing, so I have set that aside for the most part.  Instead, I watch movies with a redeeming story line.  I read non-fiction and biographies that give me hope because someone else has overcome obstacles and made it.

I would encourage you to be careful on what you allow into your life.  The music, videos and books you consume will affect your beliefs, your actions, and ultimately your legacy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Finding my genius


My goal is to find my genius.  I want to be in the place where I am using my strengths and talents that have been given to me.  Only then will I be at the top, on my platform, in the zone, achieving, giving, and growing like I would like to.  When this is happening I expect to have more energy, increasing joy, and terrific results.

I know I have something unique to offer.  There is some reason that I have had the experiences that I have had.  I am on the earth for this time due to intelligent design.

My job is to find that genius and where I can apply it.  I want to win.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The trucks in Courageous


I had the privilege of watching the film Courageous again not too many weekends ago.  There are four police officers featured in the movie.  Being on the police force is not the best way make money.  It truly is a service to the community.  In fact, part of the dialogue had a character relate that they were making in the mid-30's per year.  Yet, at least two of the characters were driving late model pick-up trucks.  I have looked up a 2011 Ford F150 and it was about in the mid-20's MSRP.  Today, some of Ford's trucks are in the high 30's.  Now, nothing was made of the wives income.  So as a viewer I am lead to believe that these guys were making payments.  How else could their income and their truck be reconciled?  This is a film made by a church in Georgia so it surprises me when an unrealistic lifestyle is presented.  I would like to see more reasonable choices made by the characters in the Sherwood Pictures films.  As it is, it seems like the people in their films buy full retail and live beyond their means.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Your rod and Your staff


Lord, I know that Your rod and Your staff are suppose to comfort me but right now they are smarting pretty badly.  Can You lead me some other way?  Perhaps a way that a bit less painful?

Monday, October 22, 2012

I just talked with her


I learned a couple of Friday's ago that someone from one of my networking groups had passed away suddenly.  What amazed me was that we had just talked not a week before.  She appeared healthy and well as though she had quite a few years in front of her.  We talked for 20 minutes or so at the bus stop and we chatted on our ride down to a nearby university.  She was working toward her next opportunity and was hopeful about her future.  When I learned her age, I was surprised because she didn't look it.  In fact, someone had guessed her to be about forty-eight.  I would not have put her in her early sixties as her obituary said.

Since learning of her death, I have lifted up her family in prayer.  I was gladdened to see that her obituary stated she had went to heaven and was enjoying everlasting life.

I was waiting for that check in my spirit.  Like God saying to me that I could have done more or I should have said more.  That feeling never came.  Maybe what I said to her was all that was needed.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shark Tank needs some turn over


I think it is time for ABCs Shark Tank to have some turn-over.

I have been watching the show since last season but it is now in its forth year.  The person I would most like to see move on is Kevin O'Leary.  He rarely invests in a start-up and has a lot of negative things to say to people.  He belittles their idea and insults them on national television.  I don't see any need for that.  In the past, I thought there was a need for Kevin because people need to hear the truth sometimes.  But now, he has become cruel.  He needs to go.

Kevin has served his term.  If these ideas are so bad and these people so inept, maybe he needs to leave the show and apply his expertise elsewhere.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Idea for new blog


My goal for next year is to start a new blog.  I would like it to be on some topic that I could focus on and build my platform from it.  This topic would need to be something that I have passion for.  It would also need to have some level of depth to it where I would not exhaust it too quickly.  I would want to write 2 or 3 entries per week.  It would need to be an area that is not already blogged to death, like money and finances.  The name of the blog would need to be short and clear.

This may not be that idea but let me share it with you.  The topic would be "signs".  In Wisconsin, we are sign happy.  There are so many road signs in this state telling you what to do and where to go.  There is more information on the side of the road than you would ever want to know.  I see this over use of signs as a problem.  It wastes resources and is quite annoying.  People assume that if there is a sign, people will do what is says but the truth is the sign does not always mean compliance.  I could take pictures of silly, stupid, and redundant signs and then post my comments.  I would, in essence, be informing the public and giving feedback to the DOT.

I don't know if I will actually do this but it was an idea I had last week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Am I overlooking something?


This past week I came home with not much time to spare before dark but I wanted to get a few things done outside.  We have been replacing the rock around the base of our house with cedar bark.  My wife and a family friend had removed most of the rock during the day when I was gone.  I was heartened by this and wanted to continue the project.  After quickly having some dinner and changing clothes, I got outside to do a little work.  It was so enjoyable shoveling, smoothing, and removing dirt and some leftover rock.  The area was prepped and I felt like I had accomplished something.  It was satisfying to see the change and just knowing I had done something for our house.

After this I went inside and worked in the kitchen for a while.  I put away dishes and did some general organizing.  It too felt very good to do something for myself.  The work did not take much thinking but was more of a task and there was a peace that came with that.  It was easy yet fulfilling.

When I get this relaxing, satisfying feeling from work, it makes me wonder.  I wonder if I am overlooking something.  Is this the work I am suppose to be doing with my life?  Am I getting this level enjoyment with other work I am doing?  How could I do work similar to this, get that same level of satisfaction, and receive the pay I would like?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

People behave differently when they want something


When I was in college, I took a Business Calculus class.  It was the highest math class I have taken and believe me, it was far as I cared to go.  I tracked with the professor and felt like I was getting it.  We had a small study group with a mix of men and women.  As I expressed myself to the group I must have came across like I knew what I was doing.  It was interesting how people responded to that.  There were two attractive girls in the group who suddenly had a warmth toward me.  They would sit close to me and would brush up against me.  They knew how to turn on the charm.

It is interesting how people can turn it on and turn it off.  People behave differently when they want something.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Running in the afternoon


This past week I got back into a work routine.  That meant that it was a bit of a stretch to get up early enough for a morning run.  So I adjusted and ran my 2.5 miles in the afternoon.  I found that this actually worked out just fine.  First, there is still light when I get home so I was able to see, and just as importantly, others could see me.  Secondly, the temp in the afternoon and early evening was comfortable whereas the early mornings are cold.

I know a lot of people advocate exercising first thing in the morning.  There is a lot of merit to it and I think their arguments are strong.  However, right now that doesn't work for me.  But I would like others to know that shortly after work is not a bad time to get outside and get some activity.  Especially in early October.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Having bad dreams? Here is what helps me.


I have read that over 70% of reported night time dreams are of the nightmare sort.  That is, they are frightening, scary, or dark in nature.  That is a lot of negative angst that must disturb people and cut into the quality of their lives.  The following is what has helped me with creating better dreams.

Movies - I do not like terror movies.  Watching them has never made a positive difference in my life.  I can remember movies quite well and if I watch a violent film, it will stick with me as I go to bed.  Instead, I carefully screen what I allow to go into my eyeballs.  I try to watch movies and shows with a redemptive quality to them.  Or I just turn the television off and find something better to do.

Books - The books I read are usually of the non-fiction variety.  I try to stay away from fiction because of the language, ridiculous story lines, and violence.  Find a good self-help or biography to read before going to bed.  Fill your mind with hope and stories of people who have made it.

Pray - I saw a prayer before going to sleep at night.  Prayer is just talking to God.  It is how we know we have a relationship with Him.  He wants the best for us and so I share my heart with Him.

Scripture - I like to read the truth.  I find soul feeding truth in the Bible.  After reading it, I try to repeat meaningful portions to myself that will help me keep the right frame of mind.

Relax - It is important to exercise, breath, and relax.  Trust that God will work it out.  All you can affect is today.

I think it is possible to lessen the amount of frightening dreams at night.  Follow the above ideas and see what happens.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

NFL: drop the pink


Here we go again with breast cancer awareness and the NFL.  Don't get me wrong.  Of course I don't want anyone to have breast cancer or any type of cancer.  But guys, pink is not the color of the NFL.  It clashes with the team colors and looks forced.  My advise would be to have one weekend in October dedicated to breast cancer awareness.  Put up some signs and donate some money but leave it at that.  No pink hats, arm bands, or shoes.  As it is, the whole thing looks patronizing and clunky.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The messages no one wants to hear


It is sadly ironic that the messages people need to hear are not the messages people want to hear.  My pastor is going through Amos (a small book of the Old Testament) and it isn't a happy, rosy section of scripture.  Yet, it is exactly what people need to know these days.  If you haven't noticed, we are not living in the most spiritual time.  Our nation does not seem to be especially warm toward the Lord.  The truth is they need to hear that God is just and He will punish sin.  He loves us enough to warn us though and these messages of warnings are exactly the ones people should be aware of so they can have a change of heart.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Freeing up time by deleting a podcast


One of my favorite podcasts came to an end this past week.  The hosts said that they were discontinuing the show.  I was a little sad but I listened with interest to their wrap-up as they described future projects.  They had outgrown the show and needed to cut something from their schedules to free up time for something better.  I totally understand that.  When they said that this was their last episode, I actually felt relief, as I was debating within myself if this podcast was still a good use of my time.  Now, I can quit listening without feeling guilty or like I was abandoning good advice.  I went ahead and deleted another unrelated podcast too while I was at it.  It felt good because I was on the fence about that one too.  It was like I was taking control over my schedule and my choices.  As these two say good-bye to their audience to open up time for other things, it affords the audience the very same thing.

What can you delete from your life that will free up time for something better?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Drinking more water


Not too long ago I was challenged to drink 2 liters of water a day.  Since then, I have come close to meeting this goal.  So far, it has been a positive experience.  Yes, I have to "go" more often and yes it is paler in color, if you must know.  I actually find that I am craving water even though I am drinking so much of it.  Maybe I am detoxing or maybe my body is saying it is liking the additional water.  I always thought that I did okay on my level of water intake.  However, I don't think I was drinking enough of it.  If you are not drinking 2 liters of pure water everyday, I challenge you to get a 1 liter container and fill it up twice a day.  Drink the water over the course of the day and see if you are feeling better.  Water is so pure, light, and refreshing.  Your body will reward you in surprising ways.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Let's go somewhere


I like being included and invited to go somewhere.  I like to take trips and travel.  There is a joy in my heart when I gather needed supplies for the road.  Viewing the scenery as it unfolds before me causes me to grow in understanding and awareness.  Getting there is half the happiness.  Experiencing the destination becomes a part of my memory and a part of who I am.  The drive home, exhausted and stretched, is a time for reflection and retelling of experiences.  Arriving home to unpack and put things away is sad but satisfying.  It is a successful trip if I come back in one piece, having learned something, and made a new connection.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Equal footing


I believe that we are all on equal footing.  It doesn't matter to me if you are twenty years older or twenty years younger than I am.  I don't care if you have a net worth of 2 million dollars or are heavily in debt.  I don't believe it matters if you are female.  Your education makes you interesting but not inherently better.  I believe we are all on level ground.

It serves no purpose for you to lord it over me because of your position, your wealth, or your degree.  Let's start off on equal footing, cooperate, talk, and work together.  I will not be made to believe that I am less than you.  I am not.  There is something in my life that is better than yours but I will not show it off and make you feel small.  We both have one life and down deep we are two souls walking this earth in the present.  Talk to me and I will talk to you.

Have you been talking down to who are your equal?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Christianity solves…animosity between peoples


There are many issues that Christianity solves if people will embrace the principles found in the Bible.  One of many issues of our world that Christianity solves is animosity between peoples.

We are told in scripture that mankind was created in the image of God.  Everyone of us that walks this earth has a touch of the Creator in us.  We are all alike in that we are formed from dust but have an eternal soul.  Adam and Eve are everyones original parents.  Noah and his wife are also common ancestors.

The Lord tells us again and again to love our neighbor as ourselves.  We are to bless others and not to curse them.  We are to show kindness and patience with others no matter their language, nationality or faith.

In the end, we all have a soul and everyone has value.  No one is junk.  Everyone has a purpose here.  There maybe cultural differences but those should stir a curiosity in us and cause us to investigate.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sharpening the saw


As I was talking with someone new last week, the question came up of what I had been doing lately with my time off.  Without even thinking, I said that I was taking time to "sharpen the saw".  He immediately got that expression as a Stephen Covey principle.  I liked how the answer just spilled out of me.

It's the truth too.  I am not doing nothing.  I am updating my resume, networking brief, and LinkedIn profile.  I have selected business cards and I hand them out regularly.  I have spent time with family.  I have traveled to a conference on being better than average.  I have met new people through several career networking groups.  I have added a regular exercise routine to my schedule.  I have explored business ownership and self-employment.  Books and blogs are being read.

When I say that I am "sharpening the saw", that is, investing in myself, growing, and doing what I can to make myself better, I think I am being truthful and accurate.

What have you done lately to "sharpen the saw"?

Monday, October 1, 2012

People that are offended by me


Occasionally, I will run into some criticism and dislike for just being me.  I am okay with that.  A man with convictions will eventually find someone who does not share his core beliefs.  They will take my convictions as an excuse to take offense.  It is all part of living a life of consequence.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Roller Rink


A few weeks ago I was invited to go to the roller rink.  A man in our church was gathering some people there for a surprise birthday party for his wife.  I have not been on roller skates for many years but I was game.  It was nice to be included in this gathering.  Often times, I just need to be asked to do something and I am willing.

It must have been over 5 years since I laced up skates.  I went with the traditional variety, not the roller blades.

Once out on the rink, it all came back to me.  The music was fun and the physical exertion got me going.

There were a lot of young kids there with their parents.  I felt bad that a number of them were struggling to keep any forward momentum and were falling down a lot.  Even more difficult was to see that kid who went to the side and decided not to keep trying.

We as a culture are so against failing.  If we can't do it right away, we count it as a fail.  We want to be dignified and together.  Let me say this:  when at a roller rink, you can't keep your dignity.  You must try and it will take some physical effort to keep going.  We are all making slips and adjustments.  Enjoy the music.  Be happy and smile.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

All thumbs in the kitchen


This weekend I was listening to a podcast where the host mentioned that he couldn't boil water.  However his wife was a chef when it came to meal preparation.  It was yet another area that I identified with him.

I can make a sandwich, put the coffee on, and make a salad.  I have not been one who can put together a dish.  There are too many details and ingredients.  The recipe calls for things I have never heard of and then there is the whole measuring challenge.  I have noticed that when it comes to food, I like to eat it, but I get sleepy when it comes to assembling a dinner.

My contribution in the kitchen is clean-up and putting things away.  Although I don't relish getting my hands into the sink and scrubbing used dishes and utensils, I do it out of a sense of responsibility and a desire to contribute.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tell me about yourself


Yesterday, I was at a career fair.  When talking to company reps, it is helpful to have a short introduction speech.  Here is what I had to say when asked, "Tell me about yourself".

Hello, my name is Keith Kemp.  My target area for my job search is Appleton and Fox Cities.  I would like to work with a small to medium sized, privately owned company, which has $10-50 million in sales.

The jobs that I am exploring are Business Manager, Contract Management, and Technical Services.  I am administrative in nature and have a Bachelors in Business Administration.  I like to process my work efficiently and keep everything up-to-date.  My preference is to work behind the scenes and keep out of the spot light.  I am comfortable on the computer but also need to move around some and be active.  I enjoy meeting new people, learning new things, and travel.  I also like to have a certain amount of routine and predictability so I can improve incrementally.  

In the past, I worked as an Inside Sales Rep selling Cisco hardware and services.  I was at CDW for a short time and Convergys for 6.5 years.  CDW was a Chicago based company and I quickly realized that they weren’t my people.  While at Convergys, I was Inside Service Sales Representative of the year.  There were about 100 people on the program at the time and I won the award by consistently hitting my numbers.  Convergys was a good experience but I don’t want to go back to a call center environment.  Soft sales would be acceptable as I like the opportunity to earn incentives.  

I have organizational skills, computer skills, problem solving skills, creative thinking, and effective communication as well as interpersonal skills.  I am available immediately.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Traveling to Tennessee vs. Traveling Home


This past weekend I was in Brentwood Tennessee for the Quitter Conference.  My travels on the way down were markably different than my travels on the way home.

When I was getting prepared for the trip, I put into Google Maps my location and where I was headed.  For options, I selected "no tolls".  It had me going through Chicago on a straight south direction.  Some of the roads were not interstate but I was okay with that.  I wrote out my directions onto a piece of paper and brought it along.  For the first few hours of the trip, I knew where I was going and didn't consult my scribbles.

When I went through Chicago, I went onto highway 41 and I was surprised at how bumpy the road was.  There were also traffic lights on this route.  Eventually I got up on interstate 90 and 94 but even at 7:30 PM on a Thursday night, there was a traffic jam in downtown Chicago.  I could not believe the number of people on the roads at that hour.

As I went further on my trip, I stubbornly stayed to my written plan from Google Maps.  I remember getting lost at least three times where I had to double back and take a different direction to get back on track.  One time, I made a mistake and didn't take the left like I had written and ended up on some very narrow, very bumpy farm roads.  This was on the Illinois and Indiana boarder.  I really felt like I was wasting time.  I tried to breath and relax and recalculated my estimated time that I would arrive.

Getting to Brentwood was probably 13 hours.  But getting home was less as I didn't consult my notes and went interstate really most of the way.  It can also be scenic with needed rest stops.  When you are driving by yourself, without a navigator, it is also probably the safest.

I should have used the GPS on this trip for both ways as it would have saved me time and aggravation.  Google Maps wasn't wrong in the directions they gave me.  Their directions just involved so many smaller highways with numbers and places I wasn't familiar with that it wasn't the best choice.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Quitter Conference

This last weekend I went to Jon Acuff's Quitter Conference in Brentwood Tennessee.  Jon is an excellent communicator.  He speaks well, naturally, and with relevence and humor.  I never sensed that he lost his place or felt uncomfortable.  As an audience member, I trusted Jon's message and believed what he had to say.  He gave inspiration by relating stories of his own or from other people who are going through the process of discovering their dream.  He also gave practical advise by giving step by step ways to deal with things like fears. 

There ended up being more to this conference than I first thought.  I was expecting speakers and some opportunity to network.  The event unexpectedly provided a free watch, a free t-shirt, a band on Friday night, but also more content then I expected.

Attending the event required a long drive for me.  I was on the road 12 hours to get there.  There were the usual costs of gas, hotel, and food.  It was also time away from home and my normal routine.  Yet, it was worth it.  I would recommend Jon Acuff to anyone no matter what stage of life you are in at the moment.  He has excellent material and I consider him a rising star.  We will be hearing more of Mr. Acuff in the years ahead.  Become a fan while he is still early in his career.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A jumble of contradictions


At times I feel like I am a jumble of contradictions that will never get straightened out.  As soon as I tell someone I am one way, I realize that I am just the opposite way at times.

For instance, I like meeting new people.  At least I tell myself that.  However, I almost go out of my way to avoid having to be around people.  Another example is that I tell people I don't want to be locked down in an office.  Yet, there is a part of my heart that wishes I could just work from home on my computer.  At times, I want to travel and be out there but other times I want to be at home.  On some days, I'll tell people that I would like to have my own business.  But then the very next day, I'll go to my states government job site and look for a job with the hope of finding "security".

I am not sure if this is me being indecisive or if a person can truly have strong feelings that seem to be on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Forgive me if I appear to be a jumble of contradictions.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's like having a new phone


I purchased a Logitech h250 headset with mic this past weekend at Office Max.  It is one computer add-on that I never really thought about purchasing.  The headset is a little tight but there is a wonderful side benefit to having this item:  it's like I have a new phone.  My computer, the headset with mic, and Google Voice are all that is needed to make free calls through the internet.

To get it to work, I have to go to Gmail in the browser.  There is a small phone icon in the chat to the left.  I simply click the phone icon and a dial pad shows up on the right.  So far, I have called two people and they both said I sounded just fine.  No delay and no flutter.  No charge either, but I will keep my eyes open for that.  I think I had to sign up for Google+ to enable the dialing to work.  Anyway, it is pretty cool to think that I can dial out from my computer.  Now I need to figure out how I can receive calls through Google Voice on my computer.  That will be an experiment for later.

I love little upgrades and discoveries like this one.  There is something very satisfying about finding something useful like this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meeting new people


I like meeting new people.

One thing about a past office job was that as the years went by there were less and less new people to meet.  The program was losing more people then it was gaining.  On top of that the better people were leaving and the people arriving were less desirable.

I eventually worked at home and felt rather excluded and forgotten.  At first, I thought that I'd be coming into the office once per week for meetings and to check in.  However, any idea of bringing in the work-at-home folks was quickly forgotten.  I even asked my team lead if I could come in and she responded that she wouldn't know where to put me as all the cubes were filled.  I was surprised at her response because it seemed so different from the original plan.  It left me wondering if anyone remembered me.

When I meet new people I like to let my light shine into their lives.  I like to find something about them that inspires me to do something that I may forgotten recently.  Or maybe I can uncover something in their life that is totally new to me but is a great idea.

In the future, I hope that I can have more opportunity to mix it up with new people.  New people keep things fresh and alive.

Monday, September 17, 2012

My first 10k


Saturday I ran in the Bear Creek Kraut Run 10k.  It was my first 10k and I survived it.

Friday evening I drove up to the Bear Creek Community Center to pay my entrance fee and to pick up my packet.  The fee was $25.  The packet seemed a little skimpy to me.  It contained a cheep flashlight, a BioFreeze, 2 water bottles, a lip balm, and a can of sauerkraut.  The t-shirts had not arrived yet but I picked mine up on Saturday.

I prepared for this run by jogging 2 to 3 miles three times per week throughout the summer.  For the last few days, I had increased my water intake.  The night before, I laid out my clothes.  I attached my number to the shirt I would be wearing.

Saturday I drove to Bear Creek.  Coincidentally, I took a back route and actually drove 2 or more miles of the race.  I saw the markers, signs, and aid stations along the road.  This helped as it gave me an idea of the course.

I arrived about 7:50 AM, parked my Ranger, and took the fob off my keychain and put it into my pocket.  There were people milling about at the park where the race was to start.  A few speakers were set up and music was playing (rap, which does nothing for me).  I headed to the outhouses to empty out one last time.

By then, it was about ready to start.  I tried to find a few other people with the same color number as I had, which indicated that they were 10k racers.  My concern was that I would not know the route to take and somehow get lost.  The last song played over the speakers was by Europe and it was "The Final Countdown", which I like.  The race got started on time.  The 5k and the 10k racers all started together.

As I was running my first mile I was in a small group.  I talked with a big guy next to me.  He was from Clintonville Fire and Rescue, which was the beneficiary of the race.  He was running the 5k and said I'd have no trouble with knowing where to run.  We split up later down the road as he was going at a faster clip.

I brought my iPod Nano along for music and distraction but it ended up being a burden to carry.  The ear buds kept falling out.  I would try to jam them in my ear and twist them but I could not even make it through one song.  My shopping list now includes over-the-ear type ear buds.  Another extra burden was my wallet which I forgot to leave behind.

At around mile 4 my left leg was started to hurt.  Not joint or bone but muscle I think and just in a general way.  The pain never went away but I had to push through it.  As soon as I was done with the race, the pain stopped.

When I run, I like to repeat Bible verses in my head that will help me.  "The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul."  " I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."  " The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe."

When I got back to town, the people in front of me were out of sight.  They had turned on the burners and finished well ahead of me.  But that left me wondering if I was running the right route.  I did not want to cheat.  Later, I asked another runner who finished right behind me and he confirmed that we ran it completely.

After finishing, at 63 minutes and 4 seconds, I grabbed a banana and walked around for a while.  I got my time and watched others finish.  I stayed around for another half hour as winners were announced.  The winner of the 10k came in at 38 minutes plus a few seconds, so I was way off the winning mark.

My goal was to finish and not to stop or walk.  So I consider the event a success.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Playing games in the interview


This week I had a face to face interview with a company that is locally based and respected.  The lady I was suppose to meet in the lobby was not there and I called her but got her voice mail.  After waiting 5 minutes wondering if I had blown it, a man came down the elevator and introduced himself.  He explained that the woman I was scheduled to meet with was unavailable and he had been chosen to interview me.

When I was brought upstairs and into the side office I was guided to an office chair to sit in.  The manager excused himself to get some papers.  When I actually sat down, the chair was super low.  I attempted to adjust it upward but the mechanism was locked.  I tried to find the right lever to release but still nothing.  I thought of exchanging the straight backed chair behind me as it was higher.  I would like to tell you that I went with this inclination but I decided to stay in my chair.  I saw that they were playing a game.

The interviewer came back quickly and he and I were not at eye level.  I was low in my seat and uncomfortable with the arrangement.  My knees where above my waist and when I put my arms on the desk they were practically at my chin.

I saw this as the company playing games.  They wanted to give the message that they were in charge and that I was not.  I understand the whole manager and employee relationship.  However, I do not like to be put into a situation where I am not on equal footing.  I already had some mis-givings about this company and the job they were hiring for.  The chair being so low and what that represented did not make me feel any better about them or what work they had.

Have you experienced companies playing games like the one described above?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Saying the truth is not being negative


A number of times I have been accused of being negative.  It surprises me when I hear that from others that I care about.  Let me explain to you why I am not negative.

I am observational.  I view things, pass them through my filters of experience and understanding, and reflect what I think is reality.  My goal is to be truthful and to communicate as accurately as I can what is really going on.  My intention is not to cut someone or something just to be mean.  In fact, what I am attempting to do is to gauge the situation correctly.

My goal in life is not "fun at all costs", laugh at everything, and hurt people by letting them think what they are doing has no meaning or consequence.  I think many others lead their lives with little care for people and truth.  I don't.  I want people to live the very best that they can.  Sometimes that means they need to know things that may make them uncomfortable and require change.

I like to have fun but satisfaction is more important to me.  Part of being internally satisfied is doing things correctly and accurately.  So I may say things that are deemed negative when in fact I am trying to reflect the truth.

Before you accuse someone of being negative, consider that he or she may just want the best for people.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shame and Fear


It has been said that we are motivated by shame and fear.  Over the last several months I have been in this process of finding meaningful work that pays well.  When people have asked, I have said that I am an Active Job Seeker.  Honestly, that is getting old.  However, it does lessen the feeling of shame to say it that way rather than "I am unemployed".  Sometimes, I am sure I hold back in conversations because I do not want to be asked that unimaginative question, "what do you do?"  Avoiding talking to my neighbors is also in some manner shame working itself out.

Ironically, the feeling of fear I now have is less than when I was employed.  I am not so afraid of people coming to take things from me because I only make payments on my house, and we have that covered for some time yet.  Really, I don't own a lot of things.  When I was working at my last two jobs over seven years, I was often gripped by a strong feeling of fear.  It felt like I could be fired at any moment.  I never seemed to get a straight answer from management on how I was doing.  If they gave me a favorable answer, I wasn't sure if they were holding back or shooting straight with me.  There were many times when an issue or error with the quoting tool was twisted to make it look like I was incompetent.  I was made to look bad because the tools we worked with were so awful.  Instead of fixing the tools, they choose to take it out on us.

So funny enough, I actually am living fairly free of shame and fear.  This could well explain why I would like to find my own customers and start a service to them as working at a traditional job has caused some shame and certainly fear.  I know that I can manage myself well.  It is finding that income stream.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Number one follower


This week I was in a class setting and the place was packed.  Every chair was taken.  After the class started, a woman walked in late, and she didn't have a seat.  The instructor said that one of the men better give up his.  I jumped to my feet and allowed her to take my place in the back row.  What I didn't know was that there was one more chair in the room but it was the teachers.  The student was hoping to use that one but she took mine quietly.  Then the instructor gave me his and I sat up against the back wall.  He called me out in a good way and asked the women in class a rhetorical question, "what do you women think of Keith?"

On the surface this seems like I was doing a good thing.  Yet, upon reflection, I realize that nothing has changed in me.  I had an urge in my heart to offer the woman my seat but it took the leading of the instructor to get me to act.  I wasn't leading.  I was following.  I waited until I was told what to do.  After being asked, I took action.  Leaders do the right thing in the first place.  I was just being a good follower.

The women in the class commented that I was nice and all.  But that too is another indicator that nothing has changed in me.  My goal is not to be nice.  The Bible does not tell us to be nice.  I should have acted on the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  My heart was telling me to give up my seat and I responded by sitting there secretly telling her that she should have come earlier.  How's that for being "nice"?  I should have been leading, acting, taking initiative, and doing it with humility.  And that is not what I was doing.  We are told in scripture that even our righteous acts are like filthy rags in Gods sight.  I think that apply's here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What I want my life to say


Stay out of debt.  Keep your freedom.  Pick up your stuff and keep things neat.  Love the Lord and obey Him.  Take care of the temple He has given you.  Stay married.  Buy quality.  Live simply.  Keep learning.  Give generously.  Respect nature.  Travel every chance you get.

Am I the only one who wants my life to say something?

Friday, September 7, 2012

What brings joy to my heart


Garages:  I like seeing a new exterior garage go up on someones property.  It thrills me to think about putting everything away in the new storage building.
Mowing the lawn:  I feel good once the lawn is trimmed and cut.  I like putting my signature on the outside.
Water:  I love swimming.  I love using water to clean things off.  I love viewing water and listening to it moving.  I love being on water boating and flowing with the current.
Updated email & software:  Getting all my emails read and processed and software updated to the latest version brings joy to my heart because I like the feeling of being caught up.
Balanced checkbook:  My checkbook is balanced to the penny and that makes me feel good.
Check list:  I am happy when I see my to-do list with everything checked off.
Finding a deal:  I love finding a deal, preferably on-line.  I like big discounts and the right product for the right situation.  Free shipping is also wonderful.
Listening to music:  I like turning on the radio or pulling up a YouTube video of a performance.  Music can be very inspiring and it touches me in a way nothing else can.
Being there:  I like getting invited to events or happenings.  Especially events where showing up is really the only requirement.  I like to be myself and I like to give my love by being present.
Wildlife spotting:  When I see an animal moving around outside, I love to share my discovery with those I am with.

These are somethings that bring joy to my heart.  What brings joy to your heart?