Archive for July, 2009

This Is Not A Sports Blog…

This is about where we find ourselves in the world today.

(to steal a line from Bono: “This song is not a rebel song, this song is Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”)

The news has been broken and apparently David “Big Papi” Ortiz  and Manny Ramirez used performance enhancing drugs in 2003.  I still am not sure why they try and water down the truth by calling them that – steroids, everyone say it with me steroids.  The talk of the town throughout all of New England where the 2004 season turned around history for the Boston Red Sox that had been in a World Series Championship drought since 1918 is all about the fallen legends.  Some are disappointed, others don’t think anything of it.  The bottom line is that there is a great blemish on that World Series win.

big-papiListening to the radio this morning I heard the announcer tell of how everyone does it now and it doesn’t discredit the World Series wins at all.  While in the locker room at the gym today I was part of a conversation where the same justification took place.  It seems as though the acceptable norm is now to do whatever is needed to get the competitive edge in order to win.  I know that the argument has long been standing about the example that professional athletes play for the youth of this nation and how new regulations need to be set in place but it doesn’t seem to matter.

The regulations are in place but the accountability doesn’t seem to be there.  What are the punishments?  When people justify the actions of those who choose to cheat by using steroids I think we have all been let down.  There is no excuse for it.  If the records are broken and set by those who cheat then the records should be wiped clean.  I see those who want to place an asterisk beside certain records signifying that there is a challenge to the record but I believe the records should simply be discounted altogether.  Remove the records that have been proven to be contested due to the use of illegal drugs and allow those who are actually using their God-given abilities to achieve the accomplishments.

There is far too much tolerance for the misgivings of others for personal gain.  I am all for grace.  I live out gracemannyramirez daily in my own actions and words.  However, grace is given when grace is needed.  The professional athlete’s that are cheating should not be given grace – they should lose their ability to play that would set an example for all to see that cheaters do not win – no exceptions.  Am I disappointed that the Red Sox have a blemish on their achievements?  Absolutely.  I am a fan of the Red Sox and was proud of the teams that won the World Series in 2004 & 2007.  But I am not a fan of setting a poor example.

This is not a sports blog.  This is a post about where we find ourselves in the world today.  I only wish that we could see a future of sports professionals that would be full of integrity and character.  We need positive examples not more of the same old cheats…

New Creations

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If there is one thing that brings me more joy than most events it is when we baptize people at GCC.  This past Sunday we got outside and into the river.  The storm clouds held off long enough for us to get into the river and do some dunking.  It was a very special time for me as we baptized two teens, one that has been coming to Impact for years and another who has only been attending for about a month now.  I was brought to tears several times as people shared their testimonies of what God has brought them through so far in their lives.

An exclamation point was put on the day when a young man, Jason, who attended GCC for the first time that day and had given his life to the Lord that morning asked if he could also be baptized.  Jason didn’t come prepared to be baptized, or to even get wet for that matter.  He was dressed in jeans and a polo shirt – but that didn’t stop him.  Jeans and all Jason went into the river with us and came out a new creation!

Thank you Jesus for grace that is available to all.

Coffee With A Cause

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It goes without saying that I am a fan of great coffee.  I am also in favor of helping to eradicate poverty throughout the world.  So when the opportunity presents itself to drink coffee AND eradicate poverty – I’m in.

side-sign2Enter Global Benefit Coffee Company.  Finally a coffee company that not only puts on a good face for helping a cause but also guarantees every bag of their beans are not only Organic but also Certified Fair Trade.    This company is the real deal.  Not only is the coffee that they sell Fair Trade and Organic but they also give the first dollar from every bag sold to Global Benefit to drill wells, build schools, sponsor children or give medical aid.  By purchasing a bag of coffee from Global Benefit Coffee Company you are helping to stop the cycle of poverty one cup at a time.

This morning I was at Starbucks and I noticed a promotional display that was highlighting African Coffee.  They make a great sales pitch for the coffee beans that are grown and purchased from Rwandan farmers and how every cup of Starbucks Rwanda you enjoy helps raise prospects and hopes for a nation in renewal.  What they don’t do is tell you that this coffee is not Fair Trade.  What does it mean to be Fair Trade?  Fair trade’s strategic intent is to work with marginalized producers and workers in order to help them move towards economic self-sufficiency and stability. It also aims to allow them to become greater stakeholders in their own organizations, as well as play a wider role in international trade.  Starbucks is not interested in helping local farmers become self-sufficient.  They are only concerned with their bottom-line, which isn’t looking so good lately.

Don’t fall for flashy marketing.  Do the research.  Buy responsibly.  If you’re too lazy to do that, just listen to me.  Click here to purchase coffee that will help you drink responsibly.

I Learn From Others Who Look Back

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I was reading Think Orange, by Reggie Joiner today and in the book the author gives a list of things he feels is important for his kids.  Here’s what he writes:

I have read hundreds of books, attended dozens of conferences, and had thousands of hours of conversations with parents smarter than I am, yet I am still amazed at how quickly I can lose perspective.  I recently sat down to summarize for myself what I want to remember, just so I could stay focused.  I am not suggesting this is a comprehensive list; it is just my list:

  • What matters more than anything is that my kids have an authentic relationship with God.
  • All my children need to know I will never stop pursuing them or fighting for a right relationship with them.
  • My personal relationship with God and with my wife affects them more than I realize.
  • Just being together can never substitute for interacting together in a healthy way.
  • A mother and a father are not the only adult influences my children need.

After I wrote these phrases and reread them, I realized a common thread ties them together.  They are connected by the value of relationships.  These are matters of the heart.  At this time in my life, all four of my children are moving through their college years and into adulthood.  As I review the past and look forward to what’s ahead, these statements seem to transcend every season of our experience together.  I wish I had written them down twenty years ago and thought about them more frequently.

The sad truth is that more often than not, we look back on our past with regrets.  We regret not being more available to our children, not making the most of every opportunity to speak with them rather than at them.  We wonder where the time went and how did they grow up so fast.  I don’t want to live with regrets when it comes to my children.  I’ve got enough regrets already, I can’t afford to have them with my kids as well…

In reading Reggie’s list I am moved to create my own list.  One that I will think about often.  One that I will put into practice.  My children are too important to not do this.

When I Work Outside Of My Strengths

I shared this story a couple of weeks ago in a message that I spoke at GCC.  People liked it.  I hope you do as well…

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My wife and I had recently been married and we were living in Manchester.  I have always considered myself a bit of a handyman around the house – I could install a ceiling fan, fix a broken window, build a shelving unit – so I thought I would kick it up a notch and move on to auto mechanics.  Again, we were recently married and our finances were tight.  I thought that if I could change my own oil that I would be saving us a few bucks.  I know that I have mentioned this before but I think it bears repeating.  My father is an accountant, not a mechanic, not a tool guy, the only weapon he wields with pinpoint accuracy says Texas Instruments on the top of it.  So to jump right into the idea of changing my own oil was a bit scary for me.  I had never done it before, I had never had anyone show me how to do it, I was clueless – just being transparent here, guys, don’t kick me out of the man club or anything.

So I found myself at Auto Palace or Auto World or some sort of a store like that and I was faced with some choices that I felt ill prepared to make.  10W-30, 5W-30.  I didn’t know.  I found myself much like a 5 year old strolling the aisles of Mr. Wonka’s Candy Factory.  And that is when I saw it.  It was to me, like the Golden Ticket.  On one end-cap they had a display that said “DIY”.  Along with the many resources that I found at that magical display was a book on how to change your own oil.  I soon began pouring through the pages and discovering all that I would need.  I brought the book, open to a page with all sorts of pictures on it, to the service counter and said, “I need those.”

After allowing the guy behind the counter the appropriate time to wipe the smirk off of his face I then explained that I was clueless about what supplies I would need to change my oil.  He walked me thru the process and explained what tools were essential and told me where to go to get them.  I left the Palace of Auto a new man ready to take on the world of mechanics.  Soon I was under my car in our driveway with a face full of oil and no rag (the guy failed to mention that I would need one of those)  After taking the time to clean up I ventured back out to my driveway to find the oil that didn’t make it’s way onto my face running down the side of my driveway and into our flower garden.  I got that taken care of and then went on to finish with the oil change.

It felt like a breeze.  I took the old oil filter off and then placed the new one into the place where the old one came from.  I put the screw back in the underside of the engine where I had removed it from and then began to fill the motor back up with oil.  After getting 5 quarts of oil into the engine I was filled with a great sense of accomplishment.  I threw a bunch of oily rags into the trash and set out for a drive to bask in the glory of my oil changing abilities.

It was about mile 7 when the car started making a sound that can only be compared to that of the screams heard from a delivery room during labor.  It was a high pitched whining sound that was then followed a few minutes later by the sound of grinding metal that was only accented by the bucking and thrusting of the entire car.  At this point I figured I must have gotten the wrong kind of oil for my car because I had done everything just as the pictures in the book described.  In my anger at the condition of my car I drove slowly and noisily back to World of Bad Oil Changing Information and Supplies fully prepared to give the guy a good ear chewing.  As I entered the parking lot one of the mechanics came running out of the garage trying to wave me in.  He apparently heard me coming a few miles back and cleared a bay open for the necessary check-up.  He calmed me down and never gave me the chance to find the guy I had spoken with earlier that day.

I ended up leaving my car there that day and picked it up later when Kim got home from work.  As we were driving home, me in my car and Kim behind me in her car, I started smelling what I thought was the smell of smoke.  I passed it off as a mechanic that had been smoking in the garage while my car was being worked on, but then the car started bucking again.  At just about the same time as my rodeo ride began on the highway I also noticed that cars around me were giving me a wide berth and that Kim, in the car behind me, was now flashing her lights at me.  That’s when I heard the bang and saw the flames.

I can still remember quickly pulling over to the side of the highway and just walking away from my car.  I can remember getting into Kim’s car, looking at her and saying, “Just drive.”  I didn’t even want to deal with it anymore.  I don’t know what damage I had originally done while trying to save a buck but I knew that I just wanted it all to go away.

Punch Buggies & Tearful Daughters

Let me start out by saying this, I don’t hit my kids and make them cry.  I know that the title of this post could be misconstrued to make you think that.  It’s not the case.

2006-VW-Beetle-FA-1920x1440Monday we drove around town and the girls have taken to the game Punch Buggy.  They discovered the magic of this game about a week ago and has become all the rage when we hit the streets as a family.  I honestly think the love that they have developed for this game is based solely  on the fact that they have permission to hit each other when they see a Volkswagen Beetle.  We finished the day with a whooping total of 17 punch buggies and a few sore arms.  Kim even got in on the fun but forgot that this was her license to hit the kids and instead began hitting me.  There was a bit of an awkwardness with the people in the car beside us when I began yelling (in a joking way) that she was supposed to hit the kids not me.  t may have been appropriate for me to inform them that we were playing a game and I wasn’t just instructing my wife that it was okay to hit the kids “just for the fun of it.”

It’s amazing what can make my kids laugh.  I love it when we laugh as a family.  I guess you can say that it has become a family value of ours – laughing together.  You can’t beat it.

That’s where the contrast comes in.  Monday evening we dropped our oldest daughter off at Kid’s Camp for the week.  She being 10 has been looking forward to this week for about 4 months now.  Her younger sister, age 5, has not.  Being a 5 year old she loves having a big sister.  It’s incredible to see how well they play together.  I love that my kids get along so well and truly enjoy each others company.  So when we were leaving we witnessed sorrow and joy all at the same time.  Megan was very excited to be at camp.  Makenna was not thrilled to be parting ways for a whole week.  It was a tearful goodbye with lots of bear hugs from my little girl.

While I know that she was filled with sadness as she knew that she would be without her big sister for all that time I was filled with a profound sense of happiness.  I am proud of how my girls are growing up loving each other.  My prayer is that they would appreciate each other when they are 15 & 10 or 20 & 15.  That they would always remain close and that they would be a great example of unity to their friends for all time.

The Desert Road

desert road

I was reading over at John Acuff’s blog yesterday as he was writing about the desert road experiences that he has been walking through.  I can associate with many of the feelings that he had expressed and relate very much to it at this phase in my life.  I have been faced with many different choices lately and to be completely honest, I am at a standstill.  I just don’t know what to do.

I’ve found peace in embracing the desert road.  I fully believe that in His timing God will reveal the direction that I should go and the choices that I should make.  For this time I need to just wait.  Rather than rush into a decision and make the wrong choice I want to know clearly that I am headed down the right path.  There is wisdom in taking things slowly and for now I am alright with not having the answers…

Camp Communication Practices

I love when we communicate well in a medium that connects with the youth at our camp.  In years past we have failed miserably in stating our expectations of behavior for the week.  This year I believe we nailed it.  Honestly, I’ve never heard people applaud after hearing a list of rules.

Watch and enjoy…