Last Trip

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I am sitting in Atlanta right now just one flight away from completing my final trip for this year. I left for Jacksonville, FL this morning at 4:45am. When I arrived at the airport in Columbus, there was a front row spot in the garage just waiting to be claimed.
Once I got to Jacksonville, we had a strong presentation and made our way over to the Jaguars-Titans game. Who knows, if the Titans go undefeated this season, I can say I got to see one of those games. By far the coolest part of the game came at the beginning when the Stealth Bomber did a fly-over during the National Anthem.

As an added bonus Delta upgraded my flights back to Columbus to first class! I’m thinking of that right now as I sit through a delay in Atlanta. It’s been a great year. I count all of these opportunities a blessing. I also don’t know what 2009 will hold.

Until then, I’m off to board the last flight of 2008. Honey, I’ll be home soon.

I Feel The Need…

I’m going mobile again…literally. This time it will be really, really, really fast (roughly 175MPH). At least for 3 laps. For the third time this year,  I have the blessing of presenting at an event which includes a Richard Petty NASCAR Driving Experience. As usual, I hope to have pictures and updates from the trip on my mobile blog and Twitter. The only bummer is that I had to pass up tickets to the Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman show tomorrow night. I would have really liked to have seen that. Maybe next time. It’s time to light the fires and kick the tires!!

Teachable Tuesday

I’m off to Cleveland the next few days for an event at Jacobs Progressive Field. In my absense, I’m going to let Mark Hall take over the blog today with another teaching video. A great reminder as I head off to do another presentation in another location, that my job is not why I am going. I’ve got a much greater purpose for driving to Cleveland. I have a much larger goal than delivering another speech.

Foxholes

I’m sure you have heard it too, but there is a quote which says that “there are no atheists in foxholes“. Tonight I was returning from my trip to Norfolk and had the absolute blessing of the view that you see in the picture above. I wonder if you could say that there are “no atheists in airplanes”. That is probably a stretch, but it was my thought at the time. As Rob Bell said in “Velvet Elvis”,

“Something holds all of this together”

While this picture will never give the moment justice, I can’t express the beauty in it all. To feel the warmth of the setting sun on my face as I looked out that tiny window into a field of clouds was stunning. I couldn’t help but think of Isaiah’s Commision in Isaiah 6:1-8. I probably should have taken my shoes off too.

I was reminded that our journey is so much like this picture. There are times when the sun shines and things are right, safe, comfortable. Yet not long after this picture, we entered one of those clouds and it got a bit rough. You couldn’t see the destination. You felt the weight of the moment and the storm of the cloud. Yet we continued on knowing we would soon break from it. We broke through the clouds and the view was once again clear and our mission was ahead. The destination still unchanged.

I know they say there’s not atheists in foxholes. I wonder if there are atheists on airplanes….

Going Mobile Again!

Just a heads up that I am going mobile Sunday/Monday again. I’m off to Norfolk, Virginia this time for a presentation and game at the Harbor Park. For those interested, I’ll be “Twittering” and Moble blogging along the way. I’ve also done some work around the blog to keep up with the latest web tools. As you probably noted I now have the 6 latest Twitter Updates showing in the sidebar to the right under “Quick Posts”. I also plan to utilize my “Right Brain” blog auncfan.com. This will allow for Mobile photo posting among other things.

In terms of travel, this trip wraps up the month of August (thankfully). September features presentations and games at Jacobs Field Progressive Field and Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The Denver trip includes on field batting practice! I’m hoping the mile high air helps me at least hit one out of the infield. When I told my good friend Brian that he said “probably not“. As always, I’ll upload photos from the trip (HERE)

I’ll be back later in the week with stories and lessons from the road. Thanks for following and sharing the journey!

Houston Wrap Up

As promised, I got my picture of the flag pole in Center Field at Minute Maid Park. What a GREAT ball park that is. Good pitching matchup game too (Oswalt vs. Lincecum). For those that missed my twittering throughout the day, below are some of the random posts as I traveled:

Decided to drive my Grand Prix to the airport this AM. Still my favorite car.

Miss Teen Ohio is on my flight to Charlotte. The only reason I know is she is wearing the sash around her neck that says “Miss Teen Ohio”

Music to my ears..”Welcome to Charlotte”

twitpic.com/7fhr -I’m Re-Reading

Just enough time in Charlotte to stop at “Lids” for a buy one get one half sale.

Good deal. Just picked up a new Tar Heel Lid and a Carolina Panthers one too. Dangerous!!!

Guy next to me is twittering too. Wonder if I should ask to “follow” him?

Guy next to me switched from twittering to reading an Ortberg book. Man I wish I was a talker on planes.

While waiting for rental bus a guy asked me about my new Carolina Panthers hat. Thought I was a huge fan. LOL!

twitpic.com/7gu8 – Made it to Houston.

twitpic.com/7he9 – Roofs closed. Raining outside

twitpic.com/7hgt – Almost game time. Deepintheheartah

twitpic.com/7hxy – Game time. Great Ballpark!

twitpic.com/7hy9 – The Center Field Pole

twitpic.com/7i4v – Cool Bagwell Tribute

I’ll have more pictures once I get them uploaded.

Where The Locals Eat

I once heard a principle that when you are out of town you should “eat where the locals eat”. That might mean passing the “known” places to get to a small hole-in-the-wall place. I generally go to my hotel and don’t come out until the next morning, but when I do go out, I try to follow that principle. Tonight happened to be one of those nights. The venue turned out to be a local place called the “Red Ox Bar and Grill”. Lack of seating meant finding a place at the bar (in front of the 100 something inch HD TV for the Red Sox and Mariners by the way).

I would equate the experience tonight to “people watching with sound”. I firmly believe if we are to understand our culture, we must immerse ourselves in our culture. We must sit down next to those we long to understand and not rely on the TV, Radio or magazines about “what’s going on”. This is our opportunity to get a front row seat to what is going on in the lives of people we don’t know. After all, isn’t that where Jesus went? Isn’t that what Jesus did? Isn’t that who Jesus met with? We have much to learn from the life of Jesus.

Although I didn’t say much, I listened. What I heard was the story of a bartender who comes to work at 7:00pm, works until the early morning and then works out until 6am. He then goes home to bed and gets up in time to do it all again. I heard the story of the man next to me that “had the kids this weekend”. His plans were to attend the race (The Brickyard) and then fly to Vegas for a night of gambling. He plans to then return to Chicago to catch a Cubs game. I couldn’t get over the irony as the overhead music played the following lyric by the Eagles:

“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key”

I wondered if that wasn’t so true. I thought how often (believer or not) we “spend our lives in chains” without realizing we are the one that hold the key. We are the ones that chose our will, our way, our path. The other thought I had sitting there is that under different circumstances, I’d love to be a bartender! I would love to speak the name of the regulars and hear their stories. I would enjoy listening to what is happening in their lives and pour into them whatever wisdom I could impart. I would be right at home “where everybody knows your name”.

Next time you are looking for a place to eat, I highly recommend finding a place “Where the Locals Eat”. You never know what you may find out about our culture, your neighbors and yourself.

What’s Happening…

1. Over the weekend our garage door started acting up (among other things, it came off of the chain). When we got home, I just opened it “the old fashion way”. My son said “how did you open that door”? I told him “I have super human strength”. After a short pause he said, “no seriously….how did you open that door”?

2. From the “Too Much Information Department”…I had a test this morning on my gall bladder. It involved giving some sort of nuclear medicine injected into my veins and then watching it under an imaging machine. When it was all over they gave me a card in case I set off any alarms (ie airport security). Good thing I am….

3. DRIVING to Chicago tomorrow for a presentation at Arlington Park. There’s something great about time alone (6 hours) at the wheel on the open road. Perfect timing too.

4. I’m stopping off in Indianapolis on the way back to help out at our parking lot party for the Stanley Racing guys. I know Sadler is confirmed, but I’m hoping Kasey Kahne makes an appearance too. If not, we’ll see him on Sunday when we go back for the Allstate 400.

5. Hopefully there won’t be any nuclear detectors to get into the Brickyard on Sunday. I guess it’s okay if there are. After all….I have my card….

What's Happening…

1. Over the weekend our garage door started acting up (among other things, it came off of the chain). When we got home, I just opened it “the old fashion way”. My son said “how did you open that door”? I told him “I have super human strength”. After a short pause he said, “no seriously….how did you open that door”?

2. From the “Too Much Information Department”…I had a test this morning on my gall bladder. It involved giving some sort of nuclear medicine injected into my veins and then watching it under an imaging machine. When it was all over they gave me a card in case I set off any alarms (ie airport security). Good thing I am….

3. DRIVING to Chicago tomorrow for a presentation at Arlington Park. There’s something great about time alone (6 hours) at the wheel on the open road. Perfect timing too.

4. I’m stopping off in Indianapolis on the way back to help out at our parking lot party for the Stanley Racing guys. I know Sadler is confirmed, but I’m hoping Kasey Kahne makes an appearance too. If not, we’ll see him on Sunday when we go back for the Allstate 400.

5. Hopefully there won’t be any nuclear detectors to get into the Brickyard on Sunday. I guess it’s okay if there are. After all….I have my card….

Four For Friday

Gotta get the post out early this week since “I’m leaving on a jet plane” in the morning for Miami. Thanks to Jenny for participating in last weeks post. Anyone else care to share what is playing in their iPod, stereo or car this week? Without furhter delay, I give you this weeks “Four For Friday

1.With You” by Ingram Hill. Most of you are saying “I thought Chris Brown sings that”. You’re right. As much as I like the original I think this unplugged acoustic version by Ingram Hill is great too.

2.Will I Ever Make it Home” by Ingram Hill – Recommended by my buddy “Mud Puppy” this is one of my favorite songs when I’m traveling. I usually listen to it once or twice in the iPod while I am away.

3.Tattoo” by Jordan Sparks – I had to post this since Jenny mentioned it last week in her comments. See, it pays to comment along with this Four For Friday thing. This was also one of our road songs on our trip to Charlotte. You just gotta hear “my girls” sing it. Plus I like this song. Just don’t tell anyone…

4.Miami” by Will Smith – Pretty self explanatory.

Gone to Carolina

The Family and I are still on our mini-trip to Charlotte. I’ll be back later this week to give some observations, reflections and thoughts.

Good Times…

Tips and Tolls

Yesterday morning I set out on the drive to Charlotte, North Carolina. As I was cruising along, enjoying the incredible weather, I noted the sign “Toll booth ahead“. Uh-oh. If you’re like me you don’t often carry cash. I pretty well use the debit card for all transactions.

Tip #1 There are 3 toll booths on I-77 in West Virginia ($1.25 each)

I was frantically digging through the car looking for change as I got closer and closer. I only came up with .95 cents. When I pulled up to the booth I said “I’ve got .95 cents…and a debit card”.

Tip #2 Toll booths don’t take debit cards.

She rolled her eyes and explained to me that she could write down my drivers license information and give me a reciept which I have 14 days to return with payment. The next 2 booths would do the same. Meanwhile, the line behind me at the booth was growing and growing.

Tip #3 It’s not a good idea to make people wait at a toll booth.

Good times…

Ironically enough, when I got to the hotel and was unpacking my bag, I found 3 quarters that have been in there forever. I noticed that one of them was the newer kind that has a state represented on one side of it. Wouldn’t you know that the state represented on the quarter was…you guessed it…North Carolina.

For those praying with and for us this week, Heather and I have decided to use the Prayer of Jabez as I drive and walk through potential neighborhoods in Charlotte. You can find that prayer (HERE). I will also be carrying a certain quarter in my pocket as a reminder of Gods calling and faithfulness. Lastly, I will make sure I stop at an ATM before I make my return to Columbus.

For The Love Of…

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane…shall we?

For those that have followed this thing since the beginning, you might remember when I wrote a post 3 years ago about a dilemma I was having (HERE). Matter of fact, last time the Tar Heels played for a championship, Heather almost had a baby…literally! (Details HERE) So it just seems appropriate that we are steamrolling our way into Final Four weekend and the Karma is everywhere. See if you can follow the bouncing ball on this one.

You might have noticed that I am trying to discern a major decision which involves the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Unrelated, but well documented is my undying love and devotion for my beloved Tar Heels. My son has the same sickness…maybe worse. The Tar Heels play in the Final Four this weekend and should they, if they, when they win, they will be playing for the National Championship on Monday night. I can’t think of anything better than celebrating Brynn’s birthday and watching the championship game with my son on Monday night. (deep breath) Here’s where it gets “messy”.

On Tuesday morning, I have to be in, you guessed it, Charlotte, North Carolina for a presentation at 10am. The original thought was that I would book in a little extra time for some further visiting, investigating, praying and discerning while I was there. I figured I would celebrate Brynn’s birthday and watch the game with “the boy” in Columbus Monday night, fly in Tuesday morning, attend said meeting, stay the night and then fly home late on Wednesday. So far so good.

The airlines and car rental clearly missed the memo regarding my plans. They were no cooperation at all. That’s when the extreme measures kicked in. It’s 8 hours to Charlotte and the game is over around 12am. I could drive all night, catch a quick nap and make the presentation. Or I could drive down on Monday, watch the game with a couple of thousand other Carolinaholics and call “the boy” and Brynn on the phone. Neither of those sounds appealing.

I have a room at a Charlotte Courtyard reserved for Monday and Tuesday night. Should The Heels lose on Saturday, we will celebrate Brynn’s birthday on Sunday and I’ll leave on Monday afternoon. The point of the whole story is the thing I am hoping for most in this world (a Tar Heel win Saturday) is the very thing that will throw my scheduling into a complete mess. To which I say, BRING ON THE MESS! We’ll figure out “the details” later!

Nothing like the love of your daughter, your son and the Tar Heels! Stay tuned and GO HEELS!!!

Awards Night

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I had the distinct honor of presenting awards to Top Gun team members last night at the awards ceremony with our CEO. The event was a black tie affair and ended with dancing late into the evening. They also announced that next years event will be held at the Westin resort in Cabo San Lucas. I was informed earlier in the week that I “will attend these events every year” as part of my position. So the announcement last night was pretty exciting for Heather and I both.

One of the more memorable moments in the evening came when they gave an award to the wife of one of our team members who lost his battle with cancer this year. I saw her later in the evening dancing, laughing and really enjoying herself. Seeing this man’s wife enjoying the evening reminded me that God can restore our joy, even after the darkest hours.

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We made it!

Well we’re here and the weather is beautiful. We have a Jeep tour today which will produce several more pictures, but here are just a few. Included is what the weather looked like when we left Ohio. I mean it when I say that I wish you were here!

Palm Springs

We’re Off to “Top Gun”

In the morning my wife and I are boarding a plane to Palm Springs to attend the “Top Gun” event for our organization. It should be a great couple of days. I’m glad my wife gets to spend 4 days being pampered the way that she so richly deserves. I’ll be sitting in meetings, and giving presentations in the morning, but the afternoons are ours to do what we wish. There’s even a black tie affair on Friday evening. I don’t even own a tie, let alone a black one. Luckily I was able to rent one.

I had to laugh when my man Stef sent me a text this week that said “have fun Goose”. To which I replied “I hope my flight goes a little better than his did”. Stef concurred with that thought. Until next time, I leave you with this quote:

No, boys…there’s two O’s in Goose

We’re Off to “Top Gun”

In the morning my wife and I are boarding a plane to Palm Springs to attend the “Top Gun” event for our organization. It should be a great couple of days. I’m glad my wife gets to spend 4 days being pampered the way that she so richly deserves. I’ll be sitting in meetings, and giving presentations in the morning, but the afternoons are ours to do what we wish. There’s even a black tie affair on Friday evening. I don’t even own a tie, let alone a black one. Luckily I was able to rent one.

I had to laugh when my man Stef sent me a text this week that said “have fun Goose”. To which I replied “I hope my flight goes a little better than his did”. Stef concurred with that thought. Until next time, I leave you with this quote:

No, boys…there’s two O’s in Goose

Passport Thoughts

passport-small.jpgMy Passport finally arrived today. I’m only a year late in getting it. I can now visit my teams in Canada, which is also a year overdue. As I was looking through my new treasure, I had the following random thoughts:

  • The whole new electronic passport thing sort of weirds me out. Something about having RFID chips embeded in things has a whole lot of Revelation, end times, sci-fi movie theme to it.
  • By the time this passport expires, I will be nearing the half century mark in age and my son will be an adult.
  • It says a lot about our society that they want you to write your address, phone number and emergency contact information in pencil and your signature in pen.
  • Interesting that they have not removed any of the references to God in the pages of the passport.
  • I couldn’t help but think of the movie “While You Were Sleeping” and Sandra Bullock’s dream to have a stamp in her passport.
  • I need to re-read the Declaration of Independence at least once a year.
  • These words are timeless:
    • “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Have a Nice Day

haveaniceday.jpgYesterday was a great day.

It all started yesterday morning with Columbus being covered in snow. I smiled as I shoveled the driveway knowing that in a few short hours I would board a plane for Phoenix, Arizona. My biggest concern was what I would do with my winter coat when I got there.

I got an early morning laugh when my son asked me if I was going to watch the Carolina game that night on my plane. I explained that they didn’t have TV’s on airplanes, but I would probably be able to watch a movie. Little did I know that Delta Airlines now has TV ON AIRPLANES! I could barely contain my excitement as I watched the game from the comfort of my airplane seat last night. I even found a pocket of phone signal at 30,000 feet long enough to text my little man and tell him I too was watching the game.

Upon arriving in the 70 degree evening in Phoenix I was finally able to complete a friendship loop that started with Stef and a former neighbor that moved to Phoenix. About 6 months ago I made a promise to connect with Troy Plant, a friend of Stef’s and supporter of my blog if I ever made it to Arizona. Last night we shared a dinner and got to know one another in real time. Troy is a great guy and if he ever starts a blog I will be one of the first to feature it. Just another highlight to a special day.

My son called me this morning at 5am (7am EST) to deliver the news that put a bow on the entire evening. “Hey Dad….guess what? Dook lost”. I caught the highlights on ESPN before going to bed, but it sounded even better when delivered from a 7 year old.

As the great philosopher “Ice Cube” once said…”Today was a good day“.

Home

No truth to the rumors that I was singing Karaoke in Orlando yesterday.

Another airplane
Another sunny place
I’m lucky I know
But I wanna go home
Mmmm, I’ve got to go home

Now accepting invitations to sing this at your next Karaoke party. I’ve been practicing and will continue to every time I hit another airport.

Coming to a town near you..

suitcase.jpgI just scheduled four trips to get the rolling road show moving in 2008. The travel season officially kicked off last weekend with a quick trip to Miami (65 and rainy). Check the schedule so far and drop me an email if I am coming to a town near you. My time will be limited, but I’ll do what I can.

Nicholasville, Kentucky – January 30/31

Orlando, Florida – February 7th

Rockville, Maryland – February 18/19

Phoenix, Arizona – February 20/21

Charlotte, North Carolina (God’s Country) – March 6th (tentative)

Day 3 – Rocky Mountain High

I have GOT to share this. I don’t share it to boast, but rather to just share the journey and what God is doing on only day 3 of the 19 days in Nehemiah. I’d love to hear yours as well. So here goes.

I felt so convicted yesterday morning after reading Nehemiah’s passion and heart to “do something” that I decided, well, to DO SOMETHING! Let me explain that I work for a very worldly, Wall Street driven company. Making the request that I felt like God laid on my heart yesterday morning is not usually celebrated or embraced. It might even bring about occupational disaster. However, I know in my heart that “to whom much is given, much is required“. Being that I am in a position of influence with said organization, I decided to put it to some use.

Our organization spends millions of dollars on advertising and sponsorship (racing and Fenway Park to name a few). The division I am Director of (23 teams made up of roughly 500 employees across the U.S. and Canada) spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on customer forum events (my field trips). Yesterday morning I felt like God was asking me to boldly ask our organization to support me in having each of my teams give something back to their local communities (soup kitchen, Habitat for Humanity). So I did. The response from our other leadership….”I like that idea“!

I immediately sent an email to each of my leaders requesting that they begin pulsing their teams and coordinating the events as we roll into the holiday season. Within hours, I received my first confirmation from a team that they are organizing and sponsoring a clothing drive! I received my second confirmation, 24 hours after my email, that another team is working to do something with Habitat for Humanity! Still a third team is looking into Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The teams are rallying around this opportunity in ways I never anticipated. I didn’t….God did.

As I was flying home from Seattle today, I finally finished reading “If You Want to Walk on Water” by John Ortberg. You’re not going to believe this, but it is absolutely true. Right after I read and underlined this quote (referring to Lewis and Clark) the most amazing thing happened:

Eventually, crossing the Rocky Mountains would be perhaps the supreme acheivement of the whole trip. This challenge would call forth enormous creativity and perseverance; it would lead them to spectacular sights and unforgettable memories; it would build tremendous confidence because when they had tackled the Rocky Mountains, they would know they could tackle anything.

The pilot came on the speaker and said “if you look out the window below you can see the Rocky Mountains”(see picture below for what I saw)! God’s up to something big here. I’m going to enjoy this 19 day journey. Stay tuned….

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Into Every Life….

photo_112.jpgWe’ve all heard it said that “into every life a little rain must fall”. Well, when I got off of the plane today and looked out the windows at Seattle, it was raining. Just like the movies. That was about the extent of the “rain” that fell today though. It all started when my hotel let me check in early (which NEVER happens). About an hour later, I had the absolute blessing of meeting Susan and Richard Peralta in person. We have been anticipating this for several weeks and were thrilled when it all came together.

I cannot begin to describe what a wonderful afternoon this turned out to be. We had the opportunity to share a meal together, trade stories about our families and discuss our hearts and vision for ministry. After our meal, we headed towards downtown Seattle with no real plan in mind. Our road trip took us past Safeco Field and the Space Needle. We didn’t realize it, but the Seattle Seahawks were playing on Monday Night Football tonight as well. We joked that we would tell everyone that we went to the game together.

I type all of this to say that once again I am amazed at what I believe are “Divine Moments” in our lives. Two weeks ago, I had the blessing of meeting Jeremy Wheeler, my brother from AC180. Today, it was Susan and Richard. When I say my prayers tonight, I will thank God for these opportunities to enrich my life by meeting Godly people with incredible hearts for people, their families and ministry. To Jeremy, Richard and Susan, I thank you. I thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to coordinate our time together.

I am a richer man tonight after having the opportunity to meet and spend time with you all.

Next Stop…

The tour makes its final stop this week (thankfully). This time the journey takes me to the land of Starbucks and grunge bands. Here’s a clip if you’re not sure where that is (and it’s not Baltimore).

I Do Actually Work!

There have been some friends that question if I actually work, or just fly around the country going on field trips. Who knew the paparazzi would somehow catch me in the act of actually working? Hopefully this will end all speculation.

Update: -Thanks to the Mudpuppy, I must point out that this is NOT a funeral and that is NOT a casket behind me. It was a rather lavish conference room as evidence by the flower arrangements. I does remind me a little of Fletch though.

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The week that was..

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As you can see from the picture above, I made the trip to the Daytona Speedway to take part in the Daytona 500 Experience. There is some cosmic force that seems to be pushing me to being a NASCAR fan. I have finally made my decision to follow Dale Jr. as my driver of choice (not sure what you call them). I’m sure you have all been dying to find that out (ha-ha).

For those that are interested, I just uploaded some pictures from all of my field trips the past few weeks. You can see the pictures from Kansas, Dallas and Daytona Beach. I was in Atlanta today, but was so busy that I didn’t take any pictures. Wasn’t much to see though. I also finished “Quiet Strength” which is the best book I have ever read. Period. Next up is “Prayer-Does it Make any Difference?” by Phillip Yancey. With a long trip to Seattle next week, I figure I should be able to make a pretty good dent in that one.

Lastly, there are some new blogging friends that I recently added to the blogroll. If you get a chance, check out two guys that are just getting started in the blogosphere, but I believe have much to offer. You can find their sites below. Good luck guys! Thanks for bringing your light to the world wide web. May God bless both of your ministries!

Salvo Noodle – Chris Kelley

Perpetual Christianity – Josh

Kansas Speedway

We held a customer forum this morning at Kansas Speedway. Since everything I know about NASCAR I learned from watching the Disney Pixar movie “Cars”, this was an experience for me as well. Literally. I didn’t realize this, but arrangements had been made for each of us to do a “ride along” in a NASCAR. Three laps, 170 MPH! I can’t begin to tell you the rush you get coming out of the pits and onto the track. It’s like being shot out of a cannon. We got WAY to close to the walls for my comfort too.

I’m “this close” to being a NASCAR fan now!

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I'm B-A-C-K!

Wow…that was a trip and a half (literally). I’m happy to be back and on the ground again though. I got much more than I bargained for on this trip. After seeing one of the oldest ballparks on Monday, I had the absolute blessing of seeing one of the newest yesterday. Our customer forum was held at the new St. Louis Cardinal ballpark. We treated our customers to a tour of the ballpark and a game that night (14 innings by the way).

The funniest part of the tour came when we went down on the field. They said “don’t touch the grass, don’t walk on the grass, don’t smell the grass” and one of the customers responded “don’t smoke the grass”. Customers…you gotta love them. Great trip though. If you care to see all of the pictures they can be found here. It’s a camera phone so it’s the best I can do. The gentleman in one of the final pictures is none other than Lou Brock.

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I loved this one… but it’s not another subliminal message…

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I’m B-A-C-K!

Wow…that was a trip and a half (literally). I’m happy to be back and on the ground again though. I got much more than I bargained for on this trip. After seeing one of the oldest ballparks on Monday, I had the absolute blessing of seeing one of the newest yesterday. Our customer forum was held at the new St. Louis Cardinal ballpark. We treated our customers to a tour of the ballpark and a game that night (14 innings by the way).

The funniest part of the tour came when we went down on the field. They said “don’t touch the grass, don’t walk on the grass, don’t smell the grass” and one of the customers responded “don’t smoke the grass”. Customers…you gotta love them. Great trip though. If you care to see all of the pictures they can be found here. It’s a camera phone so it’s the best I can do. The gentleman in one of the final pictures is none other than Lou Brock.

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I loved this one… but it’s not another subliminal message…

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A GPS and Time

__sysmes.jpgI kicked off a 2 city in one day tour this morning VERY early. Thankfully I am sitting in a downtown hotel in St. Louis after a quick pit stop in Boston. The highlight of the day for me all started when I said “yes” to the GPS option with my rental car this morning. I have never used a GPS, but knew that if I was left to my own navigation in a city like Boston it would have ended REAL bad.

I gotta say that a GPS is pretty much the coolest thing I have ever seen. After my presentation, I was making my way back to the airport and had several hours before I was due to depart. I figured I would put it’s capabilities to the test. So I typed in FENWAY PARK and I was on my way. I did the speed tour around Fenway by literally running around the outside and taking as many pictures as I could. It didn’t help that my meter was expired and I had no change. It would have been worth the ticket though.

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Running to Catch a Flight…

missed.gifThis morning, around 5 am I boarded a flight to New York City (which was very cool by the way). I returned this evening after a bit of a delay at the airport. As I was waiting at the gate a business man ran by me with the look of “I’m gonna miss my flight” written all over his face. Ever since I started my world tour, I have made it a habit to get to the airport in plenty of time. So there I was getting all judgmental all of the sudden.

As he whooshed by me, I thought to myself “that’s too bad, glad I got here on time”. Then the still small voice kicked in and a I had to check myself. I was just fortunate enough to get there early. I don’t know a thing about this man, or why he was running late. I certainly shouldn’t consider myself a more savvy business traveler because I wasn’t running.

I was reminded that I can often do the same thing with my faith. Especially in the area of justification. Am I the only one that can justify my way out of things by thinking “well at least I’m not as bad as THAT guy”. If I’m not careful, I can find myself comparing spiritual standings with people I don’t even know. Highly dangerous and very wrong. As if I know a thing about their past or why each person is wired the way they are. Even worse, as if I am somehow better. If the truth was told, I’d be the one running to catch every flight in this analogy! Who am I to think or judge someone else or their faith?

It was yet another “teachable moment” in the most unlikely of places.

Rising Above It

photo_041207_003.jpgThe weather this week seems to be a topic everywhere. Not sure how it was in your neck of the woods, but the weather in Ohio was pretty dreary. Cold, dark and rainy. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I was in Atlanta all day where it was sunshine, rainbows, unicorns and 70 degrees. I made the unicorns and rainbows up, but it was really nice.

Now this is where it gets REALLY cool. The image in the corner (click for larger view) was taken on my flight back home this evening. Believe it or not (those in Ohio probably won’t), but this was what the weather looked like in Ohio on the other side of the clouds. It was beautiful. I had been telling my son about what the clouds look like from an airplane, so I used my cell phone and took a couple of shots. This was taken just before landing. That’s when it hit me.

How true is this picture? There are days when life feels miserable. Maybe it was some bad news, a phone call, an email or an argument that brought the rain. This picture should encourage you and I to rise above it. If we can see through the “clouds” to the other side, there is peace. There is a calm and a view that will make you forget what might have darkened your day. We don’t need a plane. We just need to believe that whatever this “storm” has brought us, there is a side we might not see. We just need to rise above.

Designed By…

As I laid my head down last night on the overstuffed pillows of The Courtyard by Marriott, I was reminded that this is the self proclaimed “hotel designed by business travelers”. I think that’s why I like them so much. They have thought of everything. From the design of the rooms to the HUGE shower heads, it makes the journey to your destination (St. Louis) that much better. Then I was reminded of something else.

I love Psalm 139. In it, David writes an incredible song to the one that created us all. He reminds us that we too are “designed by” someone that knew what he was doing. He chose the perfect DNA and design for each one. Just as the Courtyard had weary travelers in mind when they hit the design room. So did God. He built us for the journey.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Just as I don’t sleep all that well in these places, our journey in our bodies won’t always be perfect. There will be times when we are just not comfortable in this skin. Yet what a reminder that we were designed specifically the way we are, for a greater purpose. Each day already written in a book, each journey already planned. So the next time you pass a Courtyard, or see one of their commercials, remember that you were designed by someone special too.

A Lesson in Grace

hotel.jpgI never thought God could use a trip to San Antonio to continue to teach me things about this journey. As I mentioned in my previous post, when I arrived in Texas on Monday night (around 11pm), I was weary from a long day and ready to check into my room at the Holiday Inn express. It’s not my hotel of choice, but it’s where my meeting was being held early the next morning, so it’s where I was staying, or so I thought.

The nice people behind the counter at said hotel, kindly informed me that all of the rain had damaged a number of their rooms and I was going to be “walked to the Westin”. I had no clue what “The Westin” was, or why they were going to “walk” me anywhere. The next thing I know, I am given directions to my next destination. When I walked into the lobby, it was pretty clear that this was certainly not the Holiday Inn. From the valet parking at the front door, to the lobby big enough to land a plane in, as the man behind the counter said “this is quite an upgrade from the Holiday Inn”.

When I finally got to my room, I found the square footage to be larger then my apartment when I was single (and much nicer), robes in the closet, Starbucks coffee on the counter, even a telephone next to the toilet in the bathroom. This is the kind of place you see in movies and never dream of paying for one night for. The most amazing part came in the morning when I got my bill. It literally read $0.00. That’s right. No charge. Free. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The Holiday Inn had paid the bill in full.

You probably see what I am getting at here. Isn’t that something like the grace we have been afforded? I didn’t earn this place. There was nothing I did, could have done, or will do to ever have made that possible. Someone else paid my price. All I needed to do was gladly accept the offer, and follow the directions to get there. Even though my original plans were “damaged”, someone had noted my situation and provided a better way. That alone would have been worth it all. But remarkably, they also paid my price in full. Now that really is, as they say, amazing grace.

We’re Not Home Yet…

As I write this, I am sitting on my return flight from San Antonio. I’m one day later then I was supposed to be. Due to bad weather last night, my flight was canceled and I was forced to stay over night. I still don’t know where my luggage ended up. It has been an interesting trip. Over the last 2 nights, I have stayed at the world famous “Westin Resort” (which I was informed goes for nearly $300 a night) and a 4 star Omni Hotel last night. Both were not planned, but were arranged due to water damage at one hotel and my previously mentioned canceled flight.

I certainly don’t want to sound spoiled, but the reality is that no matter how nice they were, it wasn’t home. I enjoyed being pampered a bit and the plush atmosphere was nice. The $30 per plate dinner wasn’t all that bad either. But it still wasn’t where I wanted to be…home. Even though the staff at both places went out of their way to make you feel like Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman” (ride to the hotel Mr. Conrad?)…it wasn’t where I longed to be…home.

It got me to thinking that this is so much like our journey and time here on earth isn’t it? Our souls were not created for this place. Our deepest desires and yearning is to be somewhere else. We’re homesick. No matter how nice we make our lives, our homes, our cars and everything else, we will never find true happiness here. We weren’t meant to. We are on a road trip that will one day end and we can finally go home where we belong. Jesus said “you know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:4 NIV). Just like we miss our earthly homes when we are away, our souls aren’t settled. They know the way to our heavenly home.

So if you find yourself a bit discouraged, worried, concerned and anxious at times and you’re just not sure why. Remember…it’s not home. It’s alright to enjoy the ride, take in the sights and make the most of your time here. But the best is yet to come because one day, we will finally be home.

We're Not Home Yet…

As I write this, I am sitting on my return flight from San Antonio. I’m one day later then I was supposed to be. Due to bad weather last night, my flight was canceled and I was forced to stay over night. I still don’t know where my luggage ended up. It has been an interesting trip. Over the last 2 nights, I have stayed at the world famous “Westin Resort” (which I was informed goes for nearly $300 a night) and a 4 star Omni Hotel last night. Both were not planned, but were arranged due to water damage at one hotel and my previously mentioned canceled flight.

I certainly don’t want to sound spoiled, but the reality is that no matter how nice they were, it wasn’t home. I enjoyed being pampered a bit and the plush atmosphere was nice. The $30 per plate dinner wasn’t all that bad either. But it still wasn’t where I wanted to be…home. Even though the staff at both places went out of their way to make you feel like Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman” (ride to the hotel Mr. Conrad?)…it wasn’t where I longed to be…home.

It got me to thinking that this is so much like our journey and time here on earth isn’t it? Our souls were not created for this place. Our deepest desires and yearning is to be somewhere else. We’re homesick. No matter how nice we make our lives, our homes, our cars and everything else, we will never find true happiness here. We weren’t meant to. We are on a road trip that will one day end and we can finally go home where we belong. Jesus said “you know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:4 NIV). Just like we miss our earthly homes when we are away, our souls aren’t settled. They know the way to our heavenly home.

So if you find yourself a bit discouraged, worried, concerned and anxious at times and you’re just not sure why. Remember…it’s not home. It’s alright to enjoy the ride, take in the sights and make the most of your time here. But the best is yet to come because one day, we will finally be home.

Somethings Just Don’t Mix..

So much for the excitement of my flight to San Antonio. Here’s a riddle for you. What do you get when you combine an already anxious mind, the book “Where is God When it Hurts”, a doctor in the seat behind you doing his dictation in a tape recorder of some horrible cases and a 3 hour flight? Well, let’s just say if it was a 4 hour flight, you’d probably be reading about me on the news. Since I am in Texas, I will say it like this…”Ya’ll, I was about to lose my mind”!

Luckily, we landed, Doctor Dictation put away his tape recorder, I put on my iPod and put away the book and order was restored. I was going to bring “In the Eye of the Storm” by Max Lucado with me on this trip, but didn’t like the idea of storms and planes together. All that to share this one quote from the “Where is God When it Hurts”. It is in reference to what CS Lewis refers to as “pain, the megaphone of God”

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains, it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. – CS Lewis

“Where is God When it Hurts” is a fascinating book in which Philip Yancey dedicates hours of research into the human body. It is amazing to learn how these bodies we live and move in operate. Especially after 3 hours on a plane to San Antonio!

Somethings Just Don't Mix..

So much for the excitement of my flight to San Antonio. Here’s a riddle for you. What do you get when you combine an already anxious mind, the book “Where is God When it Hurts”, a doctor in the seat behind you doing his dictation in a tape recorder of some horrible cases and a 3 hour flight? Well, let’s just say if it was a 4 hour flight, you’d probably be reading about me on the news. Since I am in Texas, I will say it like this…”Ya’ll, I was about to lose my mind”!

Luckily, we landed, Doctor Dictation put away his tape recorder, I put on my iPod and put away the book and order was restored. I was going to bring “In the Eye of the Storm” by Max Lucado with me on this trip, but didn’t like the idea of storms and planes together. All that to share this one quote from the “Where is God When it Hurts”. It is in reference to what CS Lewis refers to as “pain, the megaphone of God”

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains, it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. – CS Lewis

“Where is God When it Hurts” is a fascinating book in which Philip Yancey dedicates hours of research into the human body. It is amazing to learn how these bodies we live and move in operate. Especially after 3 hours on a plane to San Antonio!

Honest Dottie…

pee_wee_herman-2.jpgI just couldn’t resist this. Ever since I scheduled my flight to San Antonio, I can’t get this out of my mind. Once I touch down, I am dying to get to a pay phone and call someone and say “Honest Dottie, I’m in Texas..listen. The Stars at night are big and bright…”. I know I am not the only one that has seen “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”. Or am I the only one willing to admit it?

In other news, “the boy” and I had a great “boys night out” on Saturday. I scored a few tickets to the Indiana Pacers game Saturday so we took a little roadie. It was his first NBA game, so he was pretty excited. I am a bit concerned though because we sat in our suite with all of it’s amenities. I’m hoping I didn’t set the bar for all future NBA games we attend. Reggie Miller was in attendance so that was pretty cool too. Thanks to the day light savings craziness, we got home around 1:30 am. Naps were the order of the day on Sunday.

One other quick note. It never seems to fail. I told my wife with full confidence on Sunday that I was pretty well done blogging. Thus the “When All is said and Done” post. About an hour later, we were at church and literally within minutes of each other, two people I didn’t even know read this thing said “hey, I read your blog”. Amazing. I consider it God sending his messengers to remind me it’s not about me. For some reason, people continue to read what’s bouncing around in my bald head. For that I thank you. Also, thank you Bob and Stef of being used by God to deliver a message. I bet you had no idea when you said what you did.

I’m off to check out the basement at the Alamo (another Pee-Wee reference). More to follow..

My Life = Holiday Inn Commercial

They say that “art imitates life”. Well “they” must follow me around. This is the second time I have had a Holiday Inn commercial which has totally depicted my stay at…you guessed it..a Holiday Inn. Here’s the story.

I drove over to my second home (Indiana) very early yesterday morning to put in a full days work with the Exec’s at Corporate. It was a good day, but I was looking forward to crashing at the local Courtyard hotel, which is my hotel of choice. When I got there, for the second visit in a row, they said “sorry…no confirmation”. Last time they were able to hook me up, but this time there was “no room in the inn”. I returned to my car and headed for another local hotel that gives us a corporate rate. Good news, they had two rooms. Bad news…they were both smoking. Onto the next stop.

I ended my search for reasonable lodgings at the local Holiday Inn. They had plenty of rooms. I even got to pick which floor I preferred. I said “first” and within moments had my card key and was on my way to room 127. As I walked down the hall, I noted 2 very long tables with your typical hotel food service platters on them. I also noted that they were DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM MY ROOM. I figured they were leftovers from a days worth of meetings and did my best to not snag a few cookies on my way by. That’s where I was wrong. The fun was just getting started! It would appear that there was some kind of Amway/Pyramid Scheme rah-rah session kicking off that evening. RIGHT ACROSS FROM MY ROOM.

It wasn’t all that bad, but it was a bit embarrassing when I had to make my way through the crowd in the hallway to find the Bennigan’s Restaurant which was attached to said hotel. Luckily, I wasn’t looking for the pool, but I did feel like this guy.

Brotherly Love

I just touched down in Philadelphia for the second leg of what I am affectionately calling the “Arms Wide Open” tour. It seems appropriate since I appear to be blogging my little adventures as I go. I guess you can say I am sharing the journey.

Ah the “City of Brotherly Love”, Philadelphia. I didn’t learn much in college, but one thing I do sorta remember from “History and Faith” was that there are 3 kinds of love (I think). The only one I really remember is Phileo (SP?), which means – you guessed it – brotherly love. That got me to thinking about my friends and the guys in my life that I consider “brothers”. As luck would have it, one of them called just as I was walking out the door.

My wife and I often discuss the fact that when it comes to relationships, especially with other men, I am really good at doing the “Heisman”. In other words, we can be pretty good friends, but then the wall goes up and that is about as close as you will get. Outside of my wife, there is one other person in my life that knows me better than I probably know myself. It’s the brother that called me and the reason he was able to share something God had laid on his heart. We have that kind of connection. I guess you can call it…brotherly love.

It’s not that icky, valentines and cupid stuff. It’s the kind of love that says “it doesn’t matter where you are, what you have done or what you’re dealing with, I’m still your brother”. It’s a relationship built on trust, confidence, openness and a willingness to be broken. It’s what David and Johnathan had. It’s what more men need. It’s probably what I need to be more open to.

It’s brotherly love.

Off To a Wonderful Start

In the movie “Major League”, Harry Doyle is doing play-by-play for the very first game of the season and says “You can often tell how the season goes by the very first at bat”. Willie Mayes-Hayes promptly hits a dribbler about 2 feet in front of the plate and is tagged out. I sure hope I am not sitting in the middle of one of those moments.

As I type this, I am sitting in the airport in Columbus. The fog outside is so thick, I can’t even see that little hallway thing that Jim Carrey fell off of in “Dumb and Dumber”. So nothing’s taken off and nothing’s landing. At last announcement, my flight to Baltimore is still sitting in Nashville. It’s going to be a while.  Since this is my first trip in my world tour, I am okay with it. It also helps that I am not trying to get home. That would stink.

I am what you might classify as a “people watcher”. People intrigue me. I am getting a TON of material for the blog, which couldn’t have come at a better time. Some time I will have to tell the story about sitting on the floor, reading “Chasing Daylight”. As I read about seizing a moment and risk, the man next to me told the person on the other end of his Blackberry that he was an “Agnostic, or whatever you call it”. He continued, “the only time I have ever been in a church was to attend a wedding”. So with that, I will sign off. I think I am beginning to see what God was up to when he put me in this place on my journey. As my children’s book says….

“Oh the places we will go……”

Walk Her Home

kids3.jpgAs I said in my previous post, today is my first day of “life on the road”. I have already told my wife a half dozen times that “I’m gonna have to get used to this”. I also said that in a way, I hope I never “get used to this”. I don’t want to lose the pangs of leaving my family because life on the road is better, easier, or more fun. Her response is just another reason why I love her…”don’t worry, I won’t let ya!”. God sure knew what he was doing when me gave me this woman.

As I was cruising down the road, listening to my (recently re-activated) XM Radio, I heard a new song by Mark Shultz. Perfect timing. I like Mark Shultz, but a lot of his songs sound exactly the same. Regardless of my thoughts or reviews, the words to this one are so pure and rich. Since I’m on the road, I can’t download it, and post it. We will have to settle for the words. It’s a nice reminder and message for Valentines Day. May I never forget to “Walk her Home”

Mark Schultz – Walk Her Home
From the album Walk Her Home

Looking back
He sees it all
It was her first date the night he came to call
Her dad said son
Have her home on time
And promise me you’ll never leave her side

The way she laughed, the dress she wore
He’d never felt like this before

Chours:
He was walking her home
And holding her hand
Oh the way she smiled it stole the breath right out of him
Down that old road
With the stars up above
He remembers where he was the night he fell in love
He was walking her home

Ten more years and a waiting room
At half past one
And the doctor said come in and meet your son

His knees went weak
When he saw his wife
She was smiling as she said he’s got your eyes

And as she slept he held her tight
His mind went back to that first night

Chours:

Bridge:
He walked her through the best days of her life
Sixty years together and he never left her side

A nursing home
At eighty-five
And the doctor said it could be her last night

And the nurse said Oh
Should we tell him now
Or should he wait until the morning to find out

But when they checked her room that night
He was laying by her side

Chours:

He was walking her home
And holding her hand
Oh the way she smiled when he said “this is not the end”

Just for awhile,

They were 18
She was still more beautiful to him then anything

He was walking her home

Looking back
He sees it all
It was her first date the night he came to call

Safe and Sound

With all the excitement about my new position, comes some anxiety about 2 things. Number one is being away from my family. Even though a majority of my travel will be one night, it will be an adjustment for me. The second is travel in general. Prior to this adventure, a majority of my travel has been within the state and behind the wheel of my car. Now I’ll be “leavin’ on a jet plane” as they say. Over the next few months I will literally visit all 4 corners of the US, and 4 stops in Canada. Some of those destinations multiple times. It’s going to be an adventure for sure. So what a better song/video to kick this thing off then “Safe and Sound” from my guys at Mercyme. This is a wonderful acoustic performance and the introduction by Nate speaks directly to me. Enjoy.