A Little Motivation

You know I love me some Tar Heels. Don’t let your loyalty to a team keep you from clicking on this video. Listen to the words and tell me you’re not ready to go take a hill somewhere. At the end of pain is success…..

Review – I’ve Got Your Back

IveGotYourBack-400pxA few months ago I received a copy of the new book by James C. Galvin called “I’ve Got Your Back” to review. Due to several busy seasons of life, I didn’t get a chance to read it right away. What an incredible little book this is. Leadership, and the study of it, is something that very much interests me. I’ve had the opportunity to serve under several different types of leaders. I’ve seen what worked and I’ve also seen what worked for now. I’ve witnessed what happens when leadership (good and bad) permeates an organization. It seems that there is a new book written on leadership every single day. So what makes “I’ve Got Your Back” different? Great question. Check this out:

If Jesus wrote a book about leadership today, he would tell a story. That’s what the author decided when he tore up his first draft. Instead, he wrote a parable about four twenty-somethings who are having major problems with bad bosses. Jack Hendrickson, a retired Army Special Forces Sergeant and former missionary, begins to teach them Biblical principles about leadership and when they put it into practice at work, it makes their lives worse! Experienced leaders are calling I’ve Got Your Back a landmark book to help next generation leaders with a Biblical foundation for leadership. Many talented young people have been victims of follower abuse. They don’t want anything to do with leadership positions. Some have issues with authority and need guidance to heal. Galvin writes about a new kind of leader the world is desperate to follow. At the end of the parable, the author outlines Biblical principles of followership, as well as leadership, because everybody needs to learn how to lead and follow well.

Written in 2 parts, “I’ve Got Your Back” begins with a parable to help set the stage for the principles in the second half of the book. James C. Galvin does a fantastic job pulling the reader in as he weaves his story. The principles he outlines are something anyone can understand. This book is written not only to lead well, but to follow well. Strong leadership requires strong followers too. A quick read, but well worth the time.

I give “I’ve Got Your Back” a 4 out of 5. 

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Matthew West (Do Something)

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

Turn The Page

keep_calm_and_turn_the_page_postcard-ra87a16ef8fd24af48cd47a7c98d58fee_vgbaq_8byvr_512In August of 2012, I got caught up in a 26 million dollar “Reduction in Workforce.” After 13 years with the same employer, climbing that Corporate Ladder, I was informed that my name had come up on the list of those that would be effected. I walked out the door that day at peace (and with some lovely parting gifts). Maybe it was just blind stupidity, but I knew that it would all end well. In the weeks that followed, I would ask myself “what do you want to be when you grow up” and many other questions. I was at a crossroads in my career. I was at a crossroads in my life. A very long chapter was closing. I had no idea what the next chapter would be.

I covered it in this post, but a very kind man called me out of the blue one day. He has since told me many times that “I just don’t do that.” He is a man of faith. He follows the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He lives by faith. He runs an organization by faith. He gives God credit for the success and record growth they are experiencing. Our conversation had nothing to do with potential jobs that day. We just talked. Brother to brother. He too had been through what I was going through. He too had walked the road I was walking. He too had been at the top of the Corporate Ladder (with the same employer by the way) and was let go with some nice parting gifts. We shared our stories and I hung up with great respect for a complete stranger.

We never spoke by phone again. In the months that followed, I accepted a role in ministry and moved to the next chapter. This next chapter turned out to be much shorter than I would have anticipated. When you go into ministry, you accept a calling that doesn’t have a runway. Be that as it may, decisions were made and a mutual agreement to part ways was completed. For the past several weeks, I have re-read this chapter in my mind. Did I fail? Is my faith too small? Before I could turn the page on this chapter, I had to come to peace with all that was written in it. As I go back through the pages, I am reminded of the people. I see the pictures of baptizing people I genuinely care about. I see pictures of lives changed. I remember the stories of those I care for. I am reminded that you don’t need to have a title or be “in ministry” to care for the people of the church you attend and those in your life. We’re all in ministry. Every. Single. Day.

When this chapter closed a few weeks ago I called my new friend. This time I was calling him to let him know that I was no longer in ministry. I called him for wisdom. He invited me out to their headquarters to spend a day. It wasn’t an interview. It was a CEO putting his company, his time and his schedule on hold for one day. He didn’t want to talk business. He wanted to know about me. He wanted to know about my family. We spent the day getting to know one another and sharing about our lives. No offers made. No jobs discussed. I drove home from Indianapolis that evening with so much respect for the man I just spent the day with. He leads by faith. He leads with humility, class and values. His organization oozes his leadership.

Over the last 6 weeks, there have been return trips and phone calls with this organization. As our relationship has grown, so has an opportunity to join his team. Understand this, I didn’t apply for a position. He is creating one. He says that he builds his organization by adding quality people, not filling positions. By Gods grace, he has found something in me that he believes in. Before we left for vacation in June, he was kind enough to extend a very generous offer. Yet there was one other item that needed to be resolved. There was another potential opportunity that I needed to see all the way through. This would require putting his offer on hold. I’m not sure how many people would be willing to do this, but he was and he did. He even said “My prayer is that God would be very clear for what is best for you and your family.”

I can’t make this stuff up.

Last week, the other opportunity finally had closure. There will be no opportunity after all. It’s not that I didn’t make the cut, it turns out there is not going to be a cut to make. The timeline has moved to 2014 and if I needed a clear answer, I received it. It’s been an emotional and gut checking past few weeks so I spent the weekend going through my next right steps.

Today, I am proud to say that I have accepted a role with an organization I am honored to join. I cannot begin to express how fortunate and blessed I am to serve this organization and it’s leader in this capacity. Their values and beliefs match each of mine perfectly. The “Hills They Die On” are the hills that I have vowed to do the same. I am joining a team of people that have built their successful business on relationship first. They model the humility and character of their leader. I cannot wait to get started and learn from each of my new co-workers and friends.

This morning we officially turn the page. We close chapters. We end stories. Tomorrow I put pen to a blank page and begin to write a new story. Thank you to each of you that have prayed and shared the previous chapters with us.

Thank you for helping us write our story.

Thank you for helping us turn the page.

Even So….

scriptina.regularBased on my blog dashboard, more than a few of you just found out what I covered yesterday and it obviously left a lot of questions. For 6 weeks, I have done some major soul searching. Anytime you strip away the things that are closest to your being, you have to eventually look at what is deepest. I’ve been to those depths many, many times recently.

It was during one of those internal soul searching expeditions a few weeks ago that quite possibly the greatest song ever written came across the speakers. I don’t remember who was covering it, but they sang “It Is Well” as well as anyone else. As usual, I paused, if just for a moment to allow the words to soak in. Somewhere in that song a phrase jumped out to me. It’s become my anchor. I drew a line in my internal self that day to hold firm to this one statement. It has been this simple phrase that has been my go-to in the uncertainty of the last few weeks and those ahead. It’s so simple, yet so powerful…

Even so, it is well with my soul.

I’ve said before that I have a “wait problem.” I don’t like to wait and I despise surprises. I’m a guy that likes to know and calculate the outcomes long before they happen. To make it worse, I am often a “worst case scenario” planner. As my mom used to always say, “the thing you fear most never happens.” But what if it does? What if my fears were just as it ends up playing out?

Even so….

Last week a close friend informed me that he is going through a very difficult season in his marriage. The mine fields are everywhere. His strength in the midst of the storm is honorable. My heart breaks for him. Yet as he delivered words I didn’t know were coming, he also shared his hope for what is ahead. His outlook, no matter what, was positive.

Even so….

I share this with you today because maybe you’re in that season too. Maybe you are in another season that just doesn’t seem to be what you would have asked for. Maybe it’s unemployment. Maybe it’s health related. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s just the current hand that you are dealt. I want to encourage you today to embrace this simple phrase…

Even so….

This morning I opened my laptop to press “publish” on this post. I just read a facebook status that a high school friend has been placed in a hospice center. Your prayers for him and his family would be much appreciated. What a sobering reminder that two words don’t change our circumstances. These two words can’t make what we want from what we feel should not be. It still hurts. It does, however, give me pause to remind myself that no matter what, the sun still rises and sets. No matter what, the one that commands the stars is still on His throne. No matter what, the same God of the Bible is the same God of you and I.

Even so….

Erwin McManus

All of us pass a bit of ourselves onto others. You better like who you are and make what you give to others from yourself a gift and not a curse.

Love Does

What I realized, though, is that all I really needed to know when it came down to it was the direction I was pointing and that I was somewhere inside the large circle of God’s love and forgiveness.

Fifteen

Tonight I was scanning twitter and read something that made me literally sick. While we could debate all day about the morning after pill, for some reason, that number is what caused my stomach to turn. Fifteen. Fifteen. Fifteen and up…..

My only thought was “my heavens.” I’ve got little girls. Little girls that will be 15 in 5 and 7 years. Five years is the length of a car loan. Fifteen years is the length of a mortgage. My son will be 13 in October. 2 years from 15. We talk about sports. We talk about his school. We laugh at AFV and quote song lyrics. We don’t talk about how he could be a father in 2 1/2 years. The act that could make that happen seems like it shouldn’t even be on his radar.

Fifteen

Did you know you have to be sixteen to do the following – get a drivers license, get legally married, join a trade union, buy premium bonds, pilot a glider and buy a lottery ticket (source). You are not legally able to do these things until you’re a year older than fifteen. You can’t get a tattoo, buy tobacco, get a piercing, buy spray paint, get a Sams club membership or be on Jerry Springer until you’re 18 (source). I’m not great at math, but I think that’s 3 years older than 15.

Taylor Swift once wrote a heart breaking song about the awkward age of fifteen. Interestingly enough, it included lyrics that told the story of her best friend giving “everything she had to a boy that changed his mind…and we both cried.” Am I naive? Is fifteen that risque now? Is it just lyrics in a song or is this happening at an alarming rate? Is it an age that can’t drive, buy a lottery ticket or tobacco, but they can take the “morning after pill” without a prescription?

If so, I’m not ready for fifteen…and my girls sure as heck aren’t.

Have we reached the end of innocence? Have we gone off the rails? Is fifteen not about braces, pimples, teen magazines and concerts? God help us. Literally. God help us. We’ve lost or way. We’ve lost the innocence and apparently a pill is all we need to get it back.

Maybe the best thing Taylor sings in her song “fifteen” are these words….

I didn’t know who I was supposed to be at fifteen

The FDA and those in the position to make these decisions for our kids think you do Taylor. Heaven help us.

Review – Hey God, Ive Got Some Guy Named Jonah In My Stomach

9781433679643_cvr_webCreative. Hilarious. Brilliant. It’s that simple. I recently received a new children’s book called  “Hey God, I’ve Got Some Guy Named Jonah in My Stomach and I Think I’m Gonna Throw Up” to review. Right away the girls looked at it and I haven’t seen it since! Based on their giggles and response, it was a great book. We all know Jonah’s side of the story. We’ve read it. We’ve talked about it in Sunday School. What about the whale? What about what he was feeling?

The kids loved it and actually told me about the other titles also available “Hey God, Can You Stop the Rain so I Can Get off Noah’s Stinky, Smelly Ark” and “Hey God, I’m Having an Awful Vacation in Egypt Thanks to Moses!“, I love the creative concept and thought behind these unique looks at stories we all know. The artwork captivates young minds and the story captures their attention. Great stuff.

Here’s more:

About the Author: 
Troy Schmidt has writing and video production credits ranging from assignments with Disney (The Mickey Mouse Club) and Nickelodeon to Max Lucado’s Hermie franchise. He is currently the lead writer for The American Bible Challenge hosted by Jeff Foxworthy on the Game Show Network. Troy and his wife have three sons.

The series:  This is just the first in a series!  Other books available include Hey God, Can You Stop the Rain so I Can Get off Noah’s Smelly Ark? and Hey God, I’m Having an Awful Vacation in Egypt Thanks to Moses!

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review – Can’t Wait Willow

61kczi6YgHL._SL500_I always find these review opportunities to be a bit priceless. The latest, “Can’t Wait Willow” by Christy Ziglar, was again a chance to get my daughters all excited to help out with the blog. If the last name of the author sounds familiar it probably is. Christy Ziglar is not only a financial planner, mother of twins but she is also the niece of legendary motivator and the world’s original optimist, Zig Ziglar. I find it incredible that she has time for all of that AND time to write a great children’s book that both of my girls (10 and 8) loved. Here’s more about the book:

Willow is so excited that the Over-the-Top Circus has finally come to town! The only problem is, that when left to her own devices, she can’t say “no” to some good things. On the way to the show, she is distracted by enticing treats and fun that she just can’t turn down. Willow arrives late and is sad to find that, not only has she has run out of time, but money, and she won’t be able to enjoy the pink cotton candy she’s been dreaming of. Willow is given valuable advice and a second chance and is ultimately taught the lesson that sometimes in life you have to say “no” to good things to end up with something great!

As you can see from the video, the artwork will capture the imagination of your little ones. The story will teach some valuable lessons along the way. Based on the response and reaction of my girls, Can’t Wait Willow is a can’t miss read.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Embracing Your Two Point O.

130424-brown-cavstv-670

Have you ever quit a dream job? Ever get let go from a job? Ever end a relationship or quit training for something only to regret or miss it after time passed? Today I watched a press conference for new Cavaliers Coach, Mike Brown. Look, I’m a Cleveland guy so I still follow the teams (except the Browns, I left that camp a long time ago) and all the drama. Yes, I sat there tonight and watched a 30 minute presser and I’m not sure why. Yet I did take some lessons from that 30 minutes so it wasn’t a complete waste.

If you’re not familiar, Mike Brown was fired as the Cavs coach the summer that some guy named “Lebron” was making “the decision.” Some think that Mike got fired because Cavs owner Dan Gilbert thought that would make Lebron happy. Whatever the reason, Lebron took his talents to Miami and Mike Brown ended up being fired, hired, and later fired by the Lakers. Today he was re-hired by the Cavs and introduced as “Mike Brown 2.0.” Interesting approach. I found this 30 minutes fascinating on levels far beyond basketball.

When I was fresh out of college, I landed a sweet gig in sales. The problem was I had no commitments (wife, house, kids) and was wildly immature. I wasted that opportunity and eventually left because I thought the grass was greener somewhere else. Fast forward 4 years. Now I had a house and a child and my life was drastically different. My goals and priorities were much different. My 2.0 came one day when I had the opportunity to return to that sales job. Over the next 13 years (and thanks to those new priorities), I would experience success beyond anything I could have imagined. There is no way my 1.0 self would have ever been able to commit and work as hard as I did in order to see the fruit of those efforts. 2.0 was a renewal for me. 

Ever been there? Again, maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s a job. Maybe it’s just a season you are currently in. If you are currently in that land between 1.0 and 2.0, let me encourage you. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. I bet Mike Brown had no idea a month ago that he would again be the head coach of the Cavs. According to the press conference, he got the call on Saturday night. Things moved quickly after sitting an entire basketball season out. Your 2.0 could be a phone call away. When that call comes, embrace it. 

If you’re beginning your 2.0 now, Mike Brown’s press conference had some wisdom there too. He was asked multiple questions about what he plans to do with this team. Much has changed since you-know-who left town. He’s actually taking over a team with major problems, but huge upside. Maybe you’ve said “yes” to a relationship, job or task that seems a lot tougher this time than when it was 1.0. Embrace it. Fight for it. Mike Brown answered each question with a passion to see this work. He committed to bringing a championship back to the fans of Cleveland. That’s no small commitment but the person (and team) that does it will go down in history. They will be a hero in “the 216.” Embrace your new opportunity. Charge forward like you’ll be that hero.

Lastly, if you’ve just left the 1.0 (or are thinking of doing so), do so with grace. Don’t leave bitter. Don’t burn bridges. One of the reporters asked Mike Brown a question (which he forgot) and he responded by saying “first off, how is your son?” To a reporter. At a press conference. It’s been 3 years and he still cared about this mans son. Someone asked if he was bitter about getting fired. He responded that anyone, including the very reporters in the room, that ran into him in the weeks that followed can testify that he was the same guy. He left well. He left with grace. Even when he was fired, he burned no bridges.

Today he crossed those bridges to his 2.0

Bob Goff (Love Does)

I’ve always wanted my kids to know that they were included in important things, that they belonged there, that they were invited.

15 Years Ago….

15 years ago…

We said “I do”

and we closed the evening dancing to this song…..

I had no idea I would love this woman like I do.

I didn’t know she would be my rock, my biggest fan and my best friend.

Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you for believing in us.

I love you Heather Anderson Conrad…..

The Hurt and The Healer

It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

Coming Tuesday

Can’t WAIT. Thousand Foot Krutch is dropping “The End Is Where We Begin” on Tuesday and it is fantastic. Been a while since their last release but the wait was worth it. I’ve been reviewing it for a few weeks and will post a full recap soon.

Random Thoughts

Ever since the announcement on Sunday that Kendall Marshall had broken his wrist, I’ve been noodling on several different thoughts. Below are just a few of them as we move through the week and look ahead to what could either be the end of the road for Carolina, or an epic story leading to the Final Four.

There was an article that came out last week about Harrison Barnes and how he sees his opportunity at UNC to build a brand for his NBA future. As I watched this weekend and thought back on his season (which many would call average to disappointing after 2011), I think it made perfect sense. He listened too closely to those that said he needed to develop off the dribble for the NBA. This season has been his testing ground as he refined his game. He has gotten away from the long sweet stroke jumpers that made him daggers last year. Over the next 4 games, he needs to get back to 2011 form. Forget the drives. Forget your “brand”. Forget the NBA for the next 4 games, do what the team needs. If this team will succeed without Marshall, it’s going to take an entire team playing to their best. That will be legendary and being a legend is great for the brand.

As a fan, dad and coach, I look at this Kendall Marshall situation in three different ways. As a fan, get him back on the court with duck tape and super glue if you have to. UNC has an opportunity to hang another banner and it has to be this year. As a dad, I say that his future is all to important for 4 games that guarantee you nothing. Do what’s right for your son. As a coach, it’s a mixture of both. I know enough about Roy Williams to know that he won’t do anything that Kendall and his family have not agreed to. It will be there call and even then, Roy will be darn sure they are 100% certain in their decision.

While there are some nice prospects coming in next year, (2013 will be an EPIC class by the way), it could be a lean year in the Hill. If all or any of these guys declare, chances of going deep in March are pretty slim. That makes the Marshall injury that much tougher. You only get a chance every so often. Obviously those chances come along at UNC more often than other schools, but we’re spoiled and it would be nice to see another banner go up in the rafters.

I would be interested to be in the mind of the guys that are considering going pro as they watched Marshall get hurt on Sunday. It has to play into the decision when you have millions of dollars just waiting on you, or one more shot at an NCAA title. In an instant an injury can change everything for not only you, but an entire team. While millions of dollars would be nice, I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

Proverbs 10:9

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.

Proverbs 10:12