Monthly Archives: March 2011

Small Steps

Mark is a wise guy.  And he’s also a guy with a great amount of wisdom.  I joined a team he was leading a few years ago and I have never regretted it. Being on this team has given me a front row seat to watch him lead others, confront in truth with grace and display what great friendships look like up close. When our team has faced difficult decisions he has often said we needed to . . . .

Take small steps forward in the right direction.  -M. Hebert

That small bit of wisdom has proven to be very helpful.  If we can continue to move forward in the right direction, though our progress is small or slow it will still get us where we are trying to go.  Another advantage, small steps give time for everyone involved to move together, feel connected and share in the achievement.

This past week I was able to watch my parents take small steps in the right direction.  I mentioned this visit last week in a previous post. I was hoping they would be willing to receive help so they could continue to live in their own home as they age.  They had been unwilling, until now.  They have agreed to receive help once a week.  Like I said, small steps.  Yes, the hands that were always so quick to give have now begun to receive.

I learned a great deal about myself last week as I prepared to visit, reflected on giving and receiving and my willingness to be a gracious receiver.  Like everyday, I’m just trying to take small steps in the right direction.



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Giver and Receiver

More than 1,500 miles separates me from my hometown and my parents.  This has been the case for over 20 years but in the last few weeks that distance has never felt farther than it does now.  My parents are aging into their eighties and with that come daily struggles with the things that used to be considered routine. Family has moved across the country, friends have aged or passed on and interaction with anyone outside their home has all but ceased.  They have lived in their home their entire married life of 55 years and have no intention of changing that anytime soon.  Yet they do not want to receive the help necessary for that to continue.  And thus the struggle.

My parents were children growing up during the depression.  They grew up in a time of great need learning to share.  Their own fathers had gainful employment during the depression.  Because of this extended family members who had lost their jobs moved in to share the already cramped 2 bedroom homes they occupied.  Early in their lives my parents learned to live with little and sacrifice even the little they had to share with others.  And that has shaped them. They are givers yet find it difficult to receive.  They will help a stranger but refuse help for themselves even from their own family.

I have always known this about them, even admired them for their generosity, but as they have aged and need help with the daily routine of life it has become not admirable but frustrating for me.  They still want to be self-sufficient and independent though their mind and bodies are beginning to fail them.  When help is offered it is refused.  They have always lived on the giving end of the equation and resist moving to the receiving side.

What makes it so hard to be a graceful receiver?  Someone willing to accept another’s generosity, ask for help or allow another to meet our need.  Is it pride, fear, humiliation?  Giver.  Receiver.  Antonyms.  Yet we need to know how to do both well.  A good leader has known what it is like to follow someone.  A master teacher has spent years being a learner.  And a generous giver knows how to be a gracious receiver.  The same hands that openly give do so because they acknowledge they have first received.

Can one truly learn to give unless they know how to receive?  How well do I live on each side of that equation?  I’ll be visiting my parents this week hoping that I can be a generous giver and a gracious receiver.  And encouraging them to do the same.

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Teaching an old dog new tricks

I got a nudge from my daughter last week to learn something new.  Teaching an old dog a new trick can be hard.  But the best way to learn is to dive in.  I don’t like to dive, bad experience on the high dive as a kid, so I jumped.  Picked a story that I wanted to tell, chose a few pictures and invested a little time.  Ok, maybe more than a little time.

Peaked your interest?

Prezi – Take a look

(just click the arrow to watch manually or go to “more” and autoplay)

What do you think?

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Japan – how it impacts your children

This week’s disaster in Japan has brought grief, tragedy and death into our homes.  If you have children they are discussing this disaster at school and among themselves and you as a parent need to enter that conversation.  I remember the tragedy of the Oklahoma City bombings (where I grew up), 9/11, the Katrina hurricane, last year’s earthquake in Haiti and the questions that those world events brought to our dinner table and bed time routine  when my children were younger.  As they’ve grown to be young adults these events will impact our conversations in the coming days.  In the midst of our own emotions we are modeling how to cope, think and respond to our children, no matter what their age or stage of life.

Take a moment to read the following article from LifeWay.  It has some great reminders for parents.  Little eyes and ears are watching and listening to you.  Be intentional about your parenting during this disaster.

From time to time I read a blog by a children’s pastor in Canada, Henry Zonio. He recently started a parenting blog that has peaked my interest.  He addresses the age-old question “why did this bad thing happen” in his recent post.

I think we get so caught up sometimes in trying to explain why bad things happen. We forget that question is more of a distraction sometimes. The real question is, “How can we help God’s Kingdom come in the midst of pain and disaster and darkness?” We need to empower kids to take a look at the world around them and all that is broken around them and ask, “God, how can I be light? How can I be a part of your story of redemption in this situation? How can I love you and love others in this?”

Those are two great question to ask ourselves and our children this week.  How can I love God and love the people of Japan during this?  And while you’re at it, love on your kids too.

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Parenting is a long process. Most of what I’ve learned along the way has come through missteps, doing it the hard way and sorry to say to my kids, at your expense. And I’m sill learning. An early morning breakfast with a friend today included a few minutes talking about protecting our children from what we consider pain, harm or difficulties for their own good. What seems like good parenting might actually not be good at all.

And not an hour after my conversation this morning I read the following post by Carey Nieuwhof at It’s well worth the read.

Choose to instill courage in your children today. But first you must have the courage to trust. Check it out.

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Small drops of water joined together over time can cause the most fortified dams to burst.

Individual warriors fighting together as one army can penetrate the mightiest of fortresses.

Single voices united in solidarity can overthrow the most entrenched dictator or regime.

It doesn’t happen all at once.  It takes time and perseverance.  But when momentum takes hold, the single efforts begin to synchronize and the efforts of the individual become greater because they are now a whole, you can feel it.  Today, I can feel it.

Modern day slavery has met its match in the individual voices that have begun to speak out and act, Pam Cope and Bob Goff are great examples.  These voices have infected small grass root organizations like PACODEP and Restore International as they work on the front lines of rescue and rehabilitation. Larger organizations have begun to tackle legislation, enforcement and prosecution, such as World Vision and International Justice Mission. And the media, CNN, is turning its powerful eye towards the fight.  Yes, the momentum is building.

All of this is fueled by the voice of the individual.  And today you can use your voice.  Sign International Justice Mission’s letter to President Obama.  25,000 voices asking him to join this movement to end modern-day slavery.  Can you feel it?

Sign the letter here.  And pass it along.

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Filed under Global Reflections