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September Mourning (Laura's story)

As I turned the corner on my way back to the classroom my eye caught a familiar face. I looked at her and she back at me with the same, “Don’t I know you?” look. With just a few questions, we figured out that Laura’s husband and my wife had worked together years ago. I was relieved to have discovered the connection.

I casually asked, “What brings you here?”, thinking that would make good conversation. She hesitated, looked away for a moment, and then back at me. “I’m the guest speaker. I’m here to share my story,” she said softly. My mind raced, trying to process the impact of what she had just said, considering where we were.

The Man

There was a Man from a far-off land
with a tender heart and a gentle hand.

And a great big house filled up with stuff
Great food and toys, always enough

He had lots of kids, and loved each one
They loved him too, thought he was fun

But as they grew, they moved away
Some near, some far, to their homes to stay

The Nest

Mother bird sits in the nest
Up in the tree, she sits to rest

The cool wind blows upon the leaves
She lays her eggs, one, two, three

With cautious care she guards each one
Until the time, the time has come.

Cracking, opening, softly cheeping
Little mouths, that need feeding

She takes flight to gather food
Daily working for her brood

Next Chapter

Well, these days most of my waking, non-working moments are being spent crafting my new children's story, Henry and the Hero Maker. Last week I shared a sneak peek of the introduction. Today, I want to tease you with a small snippet of the next chapter: 
This was it. The Hero Maker 3000. It was a real thing. Henry was excited and, honestly, feeling a little nervous. The outside of the machine was shiny, like a mirror, but not as smooth. On the front was a small glass surface that Henry figured was a touch screen. Sticking out of the top was a small round device. “I think that’s a camera,” Henry said to himself.

Below the touch screen was a rectangular opening. It looked like a drawer, but it didn’t have a handle. Henry tried pushing and prying at it but he couldn’t get it to open.
 

I'm Bored!

There was a fine little girl, who knew not what to do.
She was lonely and bored and frustrated too.

Her dad said, “No TV!” “No computer!” said her mom. 
“Then there’s nothing to do! You’re rules are all wrong!”

She ran out the door and into the yard
She went a short way, but didn’t get far.

For she couldn’t see clearly, the sky was too bright
She covered her eyes for shade from the light

“What is that strong brightness? Oh yeah, that’s the sun.
I haven’t seen it much lately, I’ve been inside having fun.”

As her eyes opened up, she started to see
The clouds and the sky and the flowers and trees

It's time to tell a new story

The Pathways Camp Jr. Campers, Staffers and me
Last year at this time I was in the middle of doing something that I'd never done before, writing a biblically-based children's story.

Actually, I'd never written any kind of story. I'd written some blog posts and journal entries, but that was it.

Little did I know that God would use me to somehow create a fun, yet powerful story. When I shared it with the young campers at Pathways Camp, they loved it, and I knew then that The Tale of Benny Bee was just the beginning.

I've had several people ask me about how they can get a copy of The Tale of Benny Bee. It's very easy actually, just click here (pretty easy, huh?).

Well, Pathways Camp is coming up again soon and for this year I'm creating a brand new story. The theme of the camp is Superheroes, drawing connections between modern fictional heroes and the most super of heroes, Jesus Christ.

A Few Words From Dad

(a Father's Day poem)

Well, you’re my kids, and I’m your dad
It’s the best job that I've ever had
Sometimes it’s hard and often tough
It’s not easy figurin’ out this stuff

We look at life a different way
You roll your eyes at things I say
I say black and you say white
I can’t wait for the day when I am right

So on this day set apart for me
I’d like to share some thoughts, you see
A few things that I want you to know
Some important stuff. Ready?

Here goes:

Dark Cloud (a poem)

Dark cloud, dark cloud, will you be staying long?
Dark cloud, dark cloud, won't you move along.

Your shade it skews my vision
and weighs upon my soul.
Your wind and rain they beat me
and take a heavy toll.

Dark cloud, dark cloud, will you be staying long?
Dark cloud, dark cloud, won't you move along.

Where have you been?

For those of you who follow this blog, that is the question that you've likely been wanting to ask me. Yes, it has been a while since I've posted (admittedly, too long). Well, the truth is, I have been writing and posting, just not here.

As some of you may know, for the last two and a half years I've been writing for a manufacturing-focused blog that I started with Steve Staub, the president of Staub Manufacturing Solutions (where I work). To our surprise, what started out as a novelty blog has grown into a influential platform. MADEinDAYTONblog.com has become a leading industry voice, offering solutions for manufacturing's most pressing issues, namely it's poor image and empty workforce pipeline.

We are currently in the midst of some exciting and positive changes to that platform that will allow us to have a greater impact in bringing about some much needed changes. Long story short, that's where I've been spending much of my time.

Do I Really Need To Know?

My favorite part of a movie is the "behind the scenes". I love to know how they did that, how things are made, the story behind the story. I've always been curious that way. I was one of those kids who was taking things apart just to find out how they worked. Not surprisingly I ended up in a career (manufacturing) where I make things.

This need to know how something works has actually been a problem in a couple areas of my life. The first time I noticed it was in high school math class, Algebra 2, I think. I was doing ok until we reached the point where the teacher could not (or would not) explain the "why" of what we were doing. He said that I didn't need to know why, I just needed to memorize the formula or equation and just do it. At that point, I was done... mentally. That "need to know" part of me refused to accept that reality and I barely finished the class with a passing grade.

Today is all you have

My youngest daughter is always asking me what my favorites are. My favorite color, my favorite food, my favorite color (she asks that one a lot). The other day she mixed it up a little and asked me what my favorite Day was. Honestly, I was a little confused by her question. Was she asking if I preferred Monday over Tuesday? Sunday over Wednesday? I mean, Fridays are nice, but Saturdays have their own special attraction. "What do mean, honey?" I asked her. She explained that her teacher's favorite day was her birthday and she was wondering if that was the case for me too.

I thought for a moment, racing through all the possibilities. Major holidays, family celebrations, nothing was standing out to me as a clear "favorite". Then I thought about a book I am reading by Jeff Goins. It's called The In-Between, and the premise of it is that life happens in the moments in between the major events of life, and if we spend our days focused on the destinations and not the journey, we can miss out on the really good stuff.

Winter: Trial or Teacher?

I'll start with an apology to all you winter lovers out there. I know you are not happy that your favorite season is being questioned. I'm not one of you, but I understand how you operate. You break into joyful song as the temperature plummets. You shriek with excitement as snow and ice blanket the land. You pray that it's sunny on Groundhog day. You're just weird. (is that too harsh?) Ok, maybe you're not weird, you're just a little different from normal people.

Me, I'm not crazy about winter. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy drinking hot cocoa in front of a crackling fire and building a snowman or going sledding with my kids as much as the next guy. But does winter really have to last for more than one week? I'd like to propose that winter be condensed into the week around Christmas. We have a white Christmas, we do all those fun "wintery" things and then we move on. We go straight into a season that everyone enjoys, spring. Who's in?

To be fair, winter is not all bad. I have been able to find something very positive about it. It can teach us some valuable life lessons, particularly about hard times. Here's what I mean:

Your Life Mission in 160 Characters. Go!

I spent most of my adult life trying to figure out who I really am. Each day I struggled with doing something that seemed impossible: juggle all my various life roles, and give each of these "disconnected" areas my best effort and full attention. It didn't work. Wherever I was and whatever I was doing, I felt that I should probably be somewhere else, doing that "more important" thing.

My frustration grew as well as my desire to find a better way. Looking back now, I see that this problem plagued me because I lacked one thing; I didn't understand my life's mission. That's a mission that combines your calling with your being and weaves its way through all the aspects of your life.

After years of trying to achieve this ideal, I feel that I'm closer now than ever. You know what did it? Was it all the prayers I prayed, the books I read, or the advice from trusted friends? Well, sure, those things helped a lot, but what pushed me over that proverbial edge was Twitter. That's right, Twitter.

When life (and death) doesn't make sense

A while back, someone shared a video with me about a young lady named Abigail Smith. I acted interested, but I really didn't want to watch it. I told myself it was too long (It's almost ten minutes, that's like forever!) and that I'd try to make time for it soon. I didn't. I put it off and then I put it off again. Why? Did I not have the time? No. The truth is, I didn't watch it because I knew that it would hurt.

Knowing what it was about, I didn't want to face the harsh reality that it was going to bring me. I didn't want to see someone suffering, battling for life (who would?). No, for days and even for a few weeks I put off watching it.

Reality Call


Then one day I got the call. A long-time family friend, Harold, a grandfatherly gentleman I had known for over twenty years and had gotten pretty close to, was back in the hospital. He had been moved to the ICU and it wasn't looking good. Several days, and many earnest prayers, later he was gone. His long battle with Leukemia was over. The reality I was trying to avoid had burst into my life and now commanded my attention.