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November 2007

What Goes In and Out and Makes All the Difference

On Tuesday of last week at about 5:00 P.M., a car drove up in front of our house with three little children in it: Elijah 6 (7 next month), Kaibian (22 months), and Adrianna (2 months). The boys had been a part of our home on a weekly basis until 7 weeks ago and their sister came as a bonus. They, our grandchildren (3 for the "price of one.") are living with us now indefinitely. We prayed for it, advocated for it, irritated the system over it, and finally received the blessing. Now, most everything revolves around these children.

Life here is busy and basic these days - all about what goes in and comes out for the most part.

We are tuning to what God's rhythm is in all of this and I am sensing a pulse and downbeat here and there.

Adrianna is teaching me so much about God's love and care for us and how natural it is to trust Him and rest in His embrace.

Kaibo is teaching me about open-faced wonder at the newness of every moment and taking nothing as mundane and devoid of purpose.

Elijah is teaching me that if I don't stay a step ahead in my eagerness and willingness to learn, he will pass me by quickly.

All three remind me of God's sovereignty and providence in the details as well as in the big picture He is painting of a Universe conformed to His will.

So, I seem to let things go a little bit every day, shuffle my schedule around, drop items from my to-do list, and spend a lot more time at home and not alone.

When I look in their eyes, priorities are reordered and my perspective is reoriented. Many perplexities are simplified and my vision of my own life comes into clearer focus.

Wasted time is no longer an option, trivial pursuits cannot be accommodated. I cannot live in neutral waiting to be pushed by the agendas of others.  I am five weeks away from 53 and I am waking up at 3:00 AM to feed and change a baby.

I cannot fathom why God would be so good to me as to give me a second chance at this, the greatest of all callings - people building. I am tired and grateful, overwhelmed and awed, exhausted and blessed.

This is the life and I still get to preach, write, and cast a few visions here and there. It is all about what goes in and what comes out and the difference that it all makes.

- Tom Sims, The Dream Factory

Running the Race

The usual imagery for "running the race" of life spiritually and in terms of our goals is that of a well defined track with markers and measured lanes.

This video by some young folks reminded me that it is more like the route this boy took, over, under, around, and through obstacles, crooked paths, and unmarked pathways.

Our race is whatever space is between us and where we are going. Thanks to the MysteriousDonut for this treat.

As Hebrews says, "Run the race that is set before you." It may seem like a jagged course. It may not be witnessed by the masses or cheered by throngs of onlookers, but it is yours and the finish line is home.

Run on!

Invasion - On a Personal Note

We were invaded yesterday and our lives changed dramatically. We had been building up for it, anticipating it, and working toward having it happen.  We prayed for the day and many of you stood with us in prayer. Now that it has happened, we are not 100% sure what we are doing. But we have never been so gladly invaded before.

Elijah, Kaibian, and a newcomer, Adrianna came to live in our house.

We have missed the boys very much and have been looking forward to meeting their two month old sister. She is a hand full, arm full, and joyful attention grabber (and holder). Kaibian has grown and is smarter than ever - just like his big brother. It has been nearly two months since we have seen them, but their delight in being "home" and re-exploring old familiar surroundings was gratifying.

I am on the far side of 52 - in that territory where I start thinking of myself as the next year old. I am overweight, out-of-shape, and late middle aged. Andrea is almost as old (less six months) and the world's healthiest cancer survivor. We are both post-most-things.

I can only draw one conclusion: God has the most delightful sense of humor.

We are also convinced that He has called us to this and we are blessed to have these children in our lives - our grandchildren. One came as a bonus by virtue of his relationship to our grandson, his brother and we became family. We were not certain we would ever have a relationship with the newest arrival. She was born as no relation to us at all. Now she is our granddaughter.

The challenge now is finding the time to pastor, write, and do the other things that are so vital to my breathing in this life. That will come. We join the ranks of so many boomers who are having to step in and help raise the next generation.

All the parents are doing the work they need to be doing at the moment. We pray for them. The mother of these three children is a young lady with a sweet heart and tremendous potential. She also obviously has great genes.

I commented on a bumper sticker a few weeks ago that said, "Too Blessed to Be Stressed." I must now dispute that theme. We are both blessed and stressed. The stress will fade as we adapt to a new routine. The blessings will multiply.

There are some steep mountains to climb, but as long as we are on the right course, it is OK.

Thanks for praying and for letting me share a little personal note.


The word, "persistence" popped into my mind this afternoon as I was engaging in reflection and considering what to write.

The verb "to persist" is derived from the Latin, "
persistere" which is a compilation of two concepts, "per" (thoroughly) and "sistere" (come or cause to stand still).

The one who persists stands for and on something and continues. The meaning comes to be, "to continue steadfastly."

Many have reflected upon the importance of persistence through the years because it seems to be one of the primary identifying characteristics of people who succeed. It differentiates the conquerers from the conquered, the victors from those who are defeated by life and its circumstances. Sometimes it is the only factor that differentiates them.

"The secret of success is constancy to purpose." - Benjamin Disraeli.

To know your purpose and mission is to know how to prioritize your time, energy, and focus. Without a sense of purpose, it is extremely difficult to persevere.

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all." - Dale Carnegie

Races are won by the differences in milliseconds between great competitors.  Equal talent, unbridled commitment, and just a little more effort make the difference.

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Thomas Alva Edison              

"I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen." - Frank Llloyd Wright

His wok still stands and is studied by generations of architects because he lived out this philosophy of perseverance.

Real perseverance is really not about how we do when things are going well. It is about how we keep moving when there is resistance, adversity, and the absence of tangible results to encourage us. Winston Churchill saw England through some of her darkest days and said:

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

The operative word is "through."

That means that trouble is not your destination, it is merely the stretch of road you are on at the moment. Robert Frost put it this way: "The best way out is always through."

The oft-quoted presidential admonition that follows is ever worthy of repeating:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” - Calvin Coolidge

Press on. That is on direct loan from  Paul in the book of Philippians. Press on toward the mark, he admonishes us. In order to do that, one must know where and what the mark it is and value it highly.

People who press on are folks who have developed certain strengths of character that eneable to endure hardships, overlook adversity, and see beyond obstacles.

"Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel." - Napoleon Hill

We can learn the virtue of persistence from persistent people. The value of their words is validated by the quality of their lives..    

"What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him." - Victor Frankl

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow    

"Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world." - Jane Addams

Many thanks to Wisdom Quotes and ThinkExist for collecting the quotes I have reflected upon here.

The Postive Power of HUNGER

I was a little taken back as I sat in the training session for aspiring vacuum cleaner salesmen and heard the trainer say, "I hope you are all in serious debt or financial trouble. If you are, you will be successful."

I didn't like what he said at the time, but I came to understand that he was right.

The wise teacher of the proverbs tells us, "“A worker's appetite works for him, for his hunger urges him on” (Proverbs 16:26 NASB). This can be known through careful observation and is as true today as it was in Solomon's time.

You have to be hungry. At the very least, you must possess an appetite for more. If you are satisfied, you will stay where you are. If you are complacent, you will not exert extraordinary effort in any direction. If you are resigned to your circumstance or to the world as it is, you will not do much to change either.

Even Jesus said that those were blessed who hungered and thirsted for things to be right (ie... righteousness).

What does the hunger that works for us and drives us on look like? Let us break it down.

H - HATE. Hunger involves hate, not in the sense of vitriolic preoccupation with a destructive emotion toward other people. but the broader definition of detesting something to the point of turning away from it. You must be willing to make a clean break with your addiction to an undesirable condition in order to embrace something better. Some people are addicted to their self identities as poor failures and hopeless "losers." It takes something as dramatic as hating those designations to break free of them. Like Scarlet O'Hara you declare that you will never be hungry again. - except for the next goal.

U - URGE - We have used this word before to point to something inside that goes beyond rejecting the old to the idea of being drawn toward something in a powerful and compelling way. When you are deeply hungry for food, that hunger urges you on. You move in the direction of your goal. It drags you out of bed and out of the house. The urge is powerful and is empowered by the faith and hope that what you long for is possible with God's help and with your commitment.

N - NOTICE - When you are hungry for your goal, you start noticing things around you that you have previously ignored, things that remind you where you are going, examples of what you desire.You notice other people on the same path. You notice books, articles, and information designed to equip you in the fulfillment of your dreams. You notice open doors and opportunities. You notice people in a new way.

G - GRASP - Having identified a goal for which you hunger, you are always grasping in that direction. You hold what is in your grasp and reach for what is beyond it. You also grasp concepts you never would have paid any attention to before because understanding them is a means to your desired end. You make grasping a tool in your belt for reaching that to which you aspire.

E- EXHAUSTION - you stop at nothing less than the exhaustion of every effort in the service of your goal. if you haven't tried everything, you are not done. If you have not tried some things several times and several ways, you are not finished. If you have any energy left, you use it. of course you pace yourself, get adequate rest, and care for your body and soul in the process, but you DO NOT QUIT until all options are exhausted and even when they seem to be, you look for more.

R - RESILIENCE - When you fall, get up. When you fail, try again. When you falter in your faith, renew it and never let entertain discouragement for any longer than it takes to be encouraged by positive people, scripture, prayer, and your own commitment to keep on keeping on. Successful people are resilient in their hunger. They are often the folks that stayed in the game just a little bit longer than everyone else, tried a few more tricks, and refused to quit. They are knocked down, insulted, wounded, and wearied, but they have elastic in the back ends of their trousers so that that they bounce when knocked on their posteriors. Be that kind of person and your hungry appetite will drive you to success.

To your success!

This Just Grabbed Me

VIDEO REPORT: I had to blog this.

Robotic cockroaches integrate themselves into insect society.

Says one scientist.

"I allows me to get into a world I have never observed before without influencing."

I used to get up in the night in our first apartment and try to catch them "it the act." It never occured to me to become one of them.

Does this have any implications for incarnational theology?

I didn't think so ... just fun on a Saturday night/

Powered by ScribeFire.

Refilling the Trough and Other Ponderables

"Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox." - Proverbs 14:4

The crib or "manger" here is the place where the grain is stored to feed the oxen. Ironically, it is not only the place where the ox is energized for labor, but it is through the ox's labors that it is filled.

So it is with our efforts; they produce the fruit necessary to replenish our strength for more effort and the cycle never ends.

One might argue that the way to get motivated for work is to work.

Here are some more fillers from Proverbs 14-15. I'll keep the comments to a minimum and give you some titles to propel your thinking.

The Positive Power of Thinking - PERIOD!
"The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,but the folly of fools is deception." - Proverbs 14:8 (NIV)

Smart and successful people think before they act.

Don't Be So Sure
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." - Proverbs 14:12

If sincerity were enough, you could travel in any direction and get where you were going in the same amount of time. Check out your facts.

The Tears of a Clown
"Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness." - Proverbs 14:13

Don't be deceived by outward appearances. There is pain all around. Understand that, and you will make yourself more valuable as a friend.

Wake Up and Smell the ...
"The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going." - Proverbs 14:8

Naivety  may not be your friend. Learn to be skeptical without growing cynical.

Hot Heads and Empty Pockets
"A quick-tempered man does foolish things,and a crafty man is hated." - Proverbs 14:17

If you want to get ahead, you must learn to get along. Act in anger and lose the battle.

Big Talkers and Little Doers
"In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury (poverty)" - Proverbs 14:23

There is very little profit in talking a good talk if you can't deliver the goods. Jude called this sort of thing, "clouds without water."

Still the Waters or Stir the Pot - Choose
"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." - Proverbs 15:1

In the cafeteria of your vocabulary are many words. choose the ones that will accomplish good purposes.

Only Followers May Lead
"A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise." - Proverbs 15:12 (NIV)
"The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness." - Proverbs 1:14

Those who are unwilling to take correction will never get beyond where they are. As Jesus said, seekers are finders.

Party Time
"All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast." - Proverbs 15:12

Two people face the same events in their life. One identifies himself as "oppressed." The  other has chosen to be cheerful. That determination makes all the difference in outcomes and total enjoyment of life.

In the same way, this is true:

"The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway." Proverns 15:19 (NIV)

As long as you are looking for obstacles, that is what you will find. If you are inclined to look up, life will be a highway leading to your dreams.

Talking Yourself Into a Ticket

"A fool's talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them." - Proverbs 14:3 (NIV)

I used to teach traffic school and later supervised other traffic school teachers, some of whom were police officers. They told me some hilarious tales of how people had talked themselves into tickets - just by talking - too much.

I began to notice this in my classes as people told their stories and  I would sometimes remark, "You talked yourself into that ticket."

In other words, the officer was inclined to let the infraction go, but with the driver's words and attitudes in his or her face, it made the citation inevitable.

In any given situation,your words can turn the outcome into something positive or negative. Consider them before uttering them.

This is true in business and in every other form of human interaction. Words count.

Now, for a laugh ... from Blinky Productions:

And another ...

Builder or Destroyer?

"Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." - Proverbs 14:1

Are you a builder or a destroyer?

Keep in mind that whatever you do in this regard, it is to your house that you do it.

If you act out of anger or impulse, you are likely to be taking a sledge hammer to your hard work. If you undermine the foundations, the building will fall. If you undermine people in your sphere of relationships, you have summoned an army of termites to bring destruction to your own intended habitation.

Be careful to calculate your actions with a bnias toward building. Otherwise, you will not be happy with the results.

Love the Process

Do you love the results of wisdom, but hate the process?

Wisdom is key to success in any endeavor. Without it, we falter at some point. For that reason, we all want it - and we want it right now. We want to be wise and successful. We want it immediately.

We all want good results, but it is the few who are willing to embrace the means by which good things come who actually receive the benefits.

Proverbs 12:1 says in the KJV, "Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish."

In the NIV, the word "instruction" is rendered, "discipline." The word for "brutish" is "stupid."

The meaning is the same. If you love the results, you will learn to love the process. It is "stupid" to expect  to grow without discipline and instruction.

It takes a degree of humility to submit to mentors, teachers, and coaches. It takes a truckload of open-mindedness to ask questions when we think we know the answers. It takes great wisdom to listen with the admission that we don't know everything.

Those who are willing to make such an admission are those who acquire greater wisdom and more useful knowledge.

Learn to love the process even if it stretches you beyond your ordinary comfort zone. Don't just endure it; enjoy it. Make it an adventure.

There are some other proverbs in chapter 12  that help me understand the reluctance of people to learn while they profess the desire to know.

Verse 12 says, "The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit."

"Net" means "plunder." Plunder is something you take from someone else after they have done the hard work and gained it through effort and application of truth. Plunderers gather up the fruits of war that others have earned.

We tend to plunder the surface fruits of other people's discipline, but real fruit comes when the search for truth goes deep in our lives.

That is why it is the "root of righteousness" that bears fruit.

Plunder will last until the first scorching heat or freezing rain, but that which is rooted in sound discipline and the natural processes of growth will last and continue to bear fruit.

So do your own work with the people that have come into your life to guide you. Study, read, listen, ask questions, observe the masters, allow them to observe you, and accept correction.

Verse 15  says, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise."

You can be right in your own eyes and still not prosper because your eyes have blind spots. Hating the process of discipline often manifests itself in an unwillingness to submit our ideas to the scrutiny of others and listen to their counsel.

The fool is not lacking in confidence, but it is false confidence based upon false assumptions that he is always right.

Verse 24 - "The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute."

Verse 27 - "The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious."

The lazy man may actually gain something and not be willing to do the follow-through to apply what he has gained.

Maybe you have been to a workshop and have taken meticulous notes - even made to-do lists to implement the moment you got back home or to work. Then, you put the notebook in a drawer and forgot about it.

You have not roasted your game. It just rots.

Our problem is that we have been conditioned toward laziness and we reject the process of discipline and learning because it looks too much like work. Follow-through is even harder.


It is hard work, but it is work that produces positive results and continues to do so. Wisdom perpetuates itself because it never stops loving the process and never stops desiring more and investing in growth.

What is the PROCESS?

P - Perpetual learning. You are a student of life for the rest of your life.You will never come to the place where you are not a student no matter how many people call you, "teacher."

R - Receptivity . You can't pour water into a container with the lid on. Take the lid off of your attitude and drink in what is being offered. Keep your knowledge to yourself from time to time so that you can gain the knowledge of others. Proverbs 12:23 says that a prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself all the while a fool is blurting out folly. There will be plenty of time to tell what you know and impress the socks off of people. Don't waste the time for learning by spouting what you already know.

O - Observation. Part of the process of learning is observing the world and people around you. Be a student of people and their behaviors. Imitate successful people. hang around so that you can observe. Sometimes it is just being there. Proverbs 13:20 (NIV) says, "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."

C - Counsel. Wise people who are getting wiser are always seeking advice and counsel. The are checking our their own impressions and not relying on what they already know. They seek counsel from the old and the young, from teachers and students, and from God.  Has it ever occurred to you why lawyers don't represent themselves in  court (or doctors don't operate on themselves?). There is a saying among those in the law profession that goes like this: A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for an attorney."

E -  Eagerness. Loving discipline implies an eagerness for it. It suggests that the individual seeks out mentors and teachers, opportunities to learn, workshops, audio lectures, books, journals, Internet sites, and companions who can help him learn and grow. The eager learner embraces correction and accountability and wants to know when he is on the wrong track.

S - Simplicity. While the process may seem complex, it is in the sense that it organizes itself as it is lived out in life. Discipline applied from the outside is not complicated. We are given instructions and assignments and we do them. We sign up for an entry level course and are given a text book. We look at the book and think it is to simplistic for us. So we go out and gather material that is out of sequence rather than submitting to the simple discipline of the course. The result it confusion. Don't despise the simplicity that is presented to you in order to consider yourself deep or advanced. Every new discipline starts out at the beginning for us. Don't skip first base.

S- Stages. All learning takes place in stages and some of us like to skip them. Don't. Take your steps one at a time. Occasionally, you may be able to skip one, but more often that not, you will discover later on that you missed an important building block and you will have to go back to that stage to get it.

Love the process and the process will bring you the results you desire.

The Dream Factory

We Can Do It

The first time I heard the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt and heard Dick speak, I was was utterly amazed and my soul was stirred. Since that time, the power of their lives has not diminished for me. Rick and Dick have a message: Yes You Can!

I would not begin  to dispute that, but I would temper it with these words: We Can Do It. Dick, as Rick's father, is not doing all the giving as he pushes Rick's wheelchair in competition. From the Boston Marathon to the Iron Man Competition, Dick and Rick are equal partners.

Dick said, "Rick is my motivator. He inspires me. To me, he's the one out there competing and I just lend him my arms and legs so he can compete."

He continues, "There's just something that gets into me when we're out there."

That something makes Dick want to go faster ... and he does.

"Teamwork makes the dream work," says John Maxwell and  others. Team Hoyt is not just one man; it is two. One has a disability but a great heart. The other pushes the chair out of profound love and with strength and agility that most men leave behind in  their youth.

Watch the first two videos for the inspiring story, but make sure you watch the next two for celebration and deep encouragement.

I needed a dose of Team Hoyt this morning and I thought I'd share them with you on the off-chance that you needed a dose too.

Team Hoyt can be found at Ironman DVD Site   and there are more films on the YouTube site. Keep up with Dick and Rick at Team Hoyt.

Nowhere or Know Where

A few minutes ago, on MySpace and here I posted a bulletin with an error severe enough to change the meaning of a phrase.

I corrected the error here, but could not in the MySpace bulletin, so I wrote a new bulletin and you are getting that and a little more.

In my flawed messages I said that something was going "know where."

I meant "nowhere."

I was only a few letters and a space off, but the meaning changed.

Never one to let a good lemon go wasted without making lemonade, I pondered the deeper meaning of the contrasting terms.

If if you are going to where you know where then you can't be going nowhere.

That was not excellent grammar, but I think you get the point. If not, let me rephrase.

If you know where you are going, you can't be going nowhere.

You must be going somewhere.

While I can't tell you where nowhere is, I know that somewhere is real and worthy of your efforts.

So there!

Now then, what is the difference between nowhere and know where?


N - Negative because it is kNee jerk. It is reactive rather than responsive or proactive.

O - Oblique because of its lack of clarity or definition.

W - Worthless because it is the product of a void of values.

H - Hopeless not because it is so awful, but because it was not born of hope.

E - Effortless and effort accompanies value.

R - Redeemable if we are willing to stop and recalibrate our intentions.

E - Efficient. If it is your goal to go where, you will always succeed.

Now .... KNOW WHERE you are going ...


K - Knowledge is the key word. You have given this some thought and gathered wisdom.

N - kNees engaged - Not kNee jerk, but born of prayer.

O - Obvious - There is so much clarity that others can see where you are going.

W - Worthy - your destination is a worthy and worthwhile goal.


W - Will - Your will is engaged. You have made a decision and are following through.

H - Hopeful - This dream is born of hope, bathed in hope, and built daily with hope.

E - Energized moment by moment. You put in the effort and see the fruit.

R - Reachable - It may be lofty, but you can do it. You can get where you are going.

E - Extraordinary - Efficiency is not enough. You were created by God for an extraordinary life!

- Tom Sims, The Dream Factory

“... a sense of destiny that surpasses personal interest.” - Brian Winfield

Brian Winfield is "the man!"

Another MySpace friend from whom I can gain insight, Brian is an entrepreneur, network marketer, and the man from whom I heard these words:

"... a sense of destiny that surpasses personal interest.”

Without that, life becomes a continuum going nowhere, a circle leading inward, or a spiral descending into meaningless oblivion.

Thanks Brian!

- Tom Sims, The Dream Factory - in case you forgot where you were. That would be fine, but don't forget where you are going!                                           

To Do Lists -A New Book by Sasha Cagen

I have been a long time advocate and practitioner of to-do lists. Never would I have imagined that someone would actually take the time to collect, catalog, and reflect upon the to-do lists of other people. Sasha Cagen has made the effort and accomplished this feat in To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us.

When I make a to-do list, I am setting priorities, reserving (dedicating) time, committing myself to objectives, and more importantly, praying about my day because "many are the plans of a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19:21 - NIV).

To-do lists are almost always overly ambitious and yet, I often inflate the importance and difficulty of some of the things that i put on my list. As a procrastinator, I find some items keep showing up again and again when a little five minute effort could eliminate them forever.

How I develop my lists, as Sasha Cagen suggests, reveals much about what I value, how I think, and how effective I am at accomplishing my goals.

The wise teacher of Proverbs (21:5 - NIV) said that "The plans of the diligent lead to profit  as surely as haste leads to poverty."

So this is very a very important as well as entertaining territory.

I approve of Sasha's work and recommend her blog.

You can order her book here and you can watch her talk about it in the video that follows.

Sasha Cagen: To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us

Sasha Cagen: To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us

Thanks to my MySpace friend, Mind's Eye for calling my attention to this treasure and potential classic.

Archive Update

Mother Teresa and Faith Struggles - "Stirred, not shaken."
Other Thoughts on Mother Teresa's Faith Struggle - Still a hero of faith
More Dreamers - We see them everywhere
Lessons from Kaibian - My grandson is often my teacher
Fight, Flight, or Flow - Jonah 1 - Running from God
Running Toward God - Jonah 2
Running with God - Jonah 3
Running Ahead of God - Jonah 4
Toastmasters at Kaiser - Summer youth program
Leadership Summit Thoughts - excerpts from the 2007 Willow Creek meeting
Today - It is what we have.
Thanks for the NIV - A word to the translators
Demands and Dread - Both are real
A Tribute to D. James Kennedy - The lasting impact of Evangelism Explosion
Pavorati - A loving tribute
Wake Up! - It is time.
Starbucks Online - It was time.
Not in Vain  - Be encouraged.
Confidence and Affection - The Go Together
First Things First and Cute Kids - There is a connection.
Chaos - A ponder ....
Just Be - See you in church.
Henry Neufeld, Author of the Month - A CompuServe plug
Projects and Rejects - One implies the other.
Make a Decision - if you don't make it, it will be made for you.

Older Articles
Some Recent and Not So Recent Articles  - Listings
Before June 2 - In the interest of some sort of organization, I have posted a separate page of links to articles posted before June 2.  CLICK TO READ

I Forgot Something

I forgot to offer you an easy way to get your tickets. I know you can figure that out, but just in case you want to do it now, here is a Fandango link, but what follows is far more important than that link.

Buy Movie Tickets Online Now!

Here is some reasoning for why we might consider doing something NOW rather than putting it off.

N - Not the same level of uncertainty as tomorrow. You know you have this moment because you are in it.

O - Output levels to get the job done will never be easier.

W - Why Wait?

It is not so important with movies - although, big screen is really the way to see certain films and they are usually gone before I see them.

What is important is the phone call you ought to make, the letter you ought to write, and the word of encouragement you really need to give.

That is because ...

N - NOT is such a final word. You are NOT promised tomorrow to do what needs to be done today. People die every day. They move away. They forget. They lay aside their hopes and dreams. Opportunities pass never to return.

O - Output demands increase with each passing moment, day, and year. You get older and the job gets harder. For one thing, your heart has gotten harder, you've lost the spontaneity, and you have to make all sorts of excuses and apologies for why you didn't do it sooner.

W - Why wait? Why not? Well ...  the only reasons I know for waiting to do what ought to be done are laziness which is usually more about fear, followed by all sorts of other negative emotions.

It is not easy to say and do some of the things that are on our hearts, but many of those things MUST be done and they need to be done now before it is too late.

Think about it.


We don't go to movies all that often, but we went Wednesday night and we chose "Bella," directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde and brought to market by Metanoia Productions.

In a sensitive and insightful review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat it is noted that "Bella, based on true events, is an inspirational love story."

They further observe, "Bella won the 2006 Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and it is easy to see why, given the ways in which the story touches the heart. Jose is a great role model for a way of life once described by Stephen Levine —l; "to awaken each day into an increasing sense that being loving is even more important than being loved.""

Read the full review at Spirituality and Practice.

Wikipedia also has some good background information for you to read before or after viewing the film including this opening paragraph:

"Bella is a 2006 film directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde starring Mexican actor Eduardo Verastegui and Tammy Blanchard. The film is about one day in New York City and its impact on two people's lives--Jose, a former soccer star, and Nina, who is unexpectedly pregnant. The film took top prize at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival by winning the "People's Choice Award"."

To locate a theater, visit the "Bella" site.

I am no movie reviewer, but I was touched by the film, lifted, and encouraged. Having never visited New York City, I appreciated the loving photography that actually broke the stereotype of a gray and dismal city without a heart.

I also loved how a person of faith and faith itself could be portrayed with sweet and quiet simplicity as a natural part of life and without being preachy. The artists have created a sanctity of life case without getting in anyone's face, condescending with a judgmental attitude, or condemning anyone.

Roger Ebert calls it a "heart tugger with the confidence not to tug too hard."

Edwardo Verastugui allows us to eavesdrop into the heart of a man who has been broken on the wheel of life, but  in such a way as to make him more sensitive and loving. His angst has not embittered him, but formed him into a compassionate and caring if not haunted man who can reach out to the character played by Tammy Blanchard in the day of her greatest crisis.

One must watch the whole film to understand its name.

Maria Sallas calls Verastugui "the Brad Pitt of Latin America." Focus on the Family awarded "Bella" an "Appreciation Award" and chronicled some of Versatugui's faith journey that led to him commitment to the film as well as the formation of the company "Metanoia" which produced the movie. Read more here.

I recomend the movie because two days after seeing it I still feel warm and am pondering its scenery, uplifting music, and dramatic artistry as well as the strong yet subtle message.

Not only do we seldom go to the theater these days, but when we do, that is usually it. I don't watch too many films multiple times - only a few - this one will be one of them.

Take a short break from building your dreams and goals and reaffirm and celebrate life by dedicating two hours of your time to see "Bella."

New Sites That I Have Developed for My Interests

For a complete listing of my Blogger sites, View my Profile on Blogger.

Here are some current interests since the last time I posted my list:

Your Income for Life is devoted to the income opportunities with Global Domains International.
Affilate Buzz is actually old, but there are some great links to companies with affiliate marketing programs and some good information on affiliate marketing.
Fields of Bluegrass - I love Bluegrass music. So, I posted some.
ACT Now! is about the product and business possibilities of ACT energy drinks.
Folk Revival - I also love folk music. Some of my favorites are posted here.
Your Money Today is my newest blog with financial news, advice, information, and important links.
Motivation Invitation already has some good information and inspiration even though we've just started.
Picks from Tom is simply material that I had overflowing from my MySpace profile and did not want to lose.

I also have some new product pages for your shopping convenience with many more coming:

Prepaid Phone Cards as Gifts
Specialty Food Gifts - Life is good!
Pastor Tom's Table at Starbucks - all sorts of coffee and related products.
Kid Stuff - More is coming.
Discounts and Bargains - What everyone loves!
Organization Tools - For the organization person!
Shop and Share - An umbrella page.
Products for Your Business - Doba - a real find!

Some New Sites From Friends

It is a privilege to welcome some newcomers to our family of blogs and websites. These are sites we have helped to develop for friends:

Decorating with Wendy - Wendy is a very talented artist and writer and it is an honor to showcase her work.
Quality Landscape and Design - My friend, Mr. Stonehouse brings years of experience, integrity, skill, and creativity to the business of landscape design and maintenance. Contact Bill or Josh for insights. Visit them also, with some vital links and current news at Quality Landscape and Design on Blogger.
Feeding Those Who Feed Us - San Joaquin - Feeding Those Who Feed Us is an outreach that means a great deal to me and with which I am intimately involved in the Central Valley. plan your next mission trip by visiting this site.
Federal Toastmaster's Web Log - Not updated as often as possible, but this site points to a vital and friendly Toastmasters' club in downtown Fresno.
Skater Dude - My nephew, Kyle, AKA THEWOWFACE is a gifted videographer in the making. This site features one of his skating videos.
Christian Women's Job Corp - Fresno - It has been an honor to serve on the board of this fine organization. This is a site in the making, but there are some great pictures up of a recent class and some information on the organization.

How to Ride a Horse - A REAL Horse - Plus a Bonus

OK - [email protected] has actually written a wonderful article on how to ride an actual horse. I felt obligated to point to it since some folks are using Google to retrieve that information and coming up with my business and theological advice. Here is is:

How to Ride a Horse

And while I am here, let me learn a few things from this author and skill.

The authors says, "you never know when you might find a time when you are for one reason or another on the back of a horse."

That is so right. no matter what our intentions might be starting out, we might find ourselves in a place or on a mode of transportation that cannot be accounted for by our own manipulative efforts.

So, according to ccunning, we need to take seven things into account: proper attire, proper position, basic control, actually riding, stopping, and getting off.

I don't know what attire you might need in your business, ministry, or other project, but you need to know. Then you need to secure it and wear it. that includes actual clothing and accessories and the ethereal clothing of proper attitude, demeanor, and vocabulary. Read what needs to be read. Listen to what is being taught. Wrap yourself in the attire of good preparation.

Always be preparing for whatever is next. Job 29:14 says, "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban."

Whatever it takes, put it on.

Getting on the right way is vital because first impressions with horses and people tend to last. Horses will buck us and so will people. The advice to try not to kick the horse is quite transferable. Good starts are more valuable than many, many restarts.

It is vital for the horse rider to acquire the proper position of the horse and it is equally vital for the business rider to position himself/herself as well within the organization, with colleagues, and with his or her support system. With horses, there are varying positions based upon riding style and the shape of the saddle. However, all require making necessary adjustments to equipment and with regard to our own bodies. So it is in business and projects. Adjustments are always necessary.

Basic control is an area of horse pedagogy that is affluent with rules. Most of these revolve around the issues of respect and communication. The rider must respect the horse not just as a vehicle, but as a living sentient being with feelings and inclinations.  The rider must also establish effective give and take communication  avenues and skills. How is that different than working with people in an organization. Power "trips" don't work very well with horses or with people.

There are three general movements in actually riding the horse: walk, trot, and canter.

Walks are east for riders. With the proper posture and, at times, help, anyone can ride a walking horse. It is a good place to start and a wonderful place to spend most of our times.

Trots are more difficult. A trotting horse is impressive to watch with its two foot rough gait, but it is tough to ride. It is good for a show, but not the most comfortable for sustained activity.

Make of these what you like. Most of our business life is spent walking, being "found faithful," and moving forward a little bit at a time. Slow progress is the surest and often, the most satisfying, but there will be times of canter as well, interspersed by showy moments of trotting on stage to receive recognition and give thanks.

The canter is a time of increased speed The gait is rhythmic and the speed can be frightening and intimidating. It is a time of faith in the horse and in the process. Experienced rides and coaches teach us techniques for just riding with it and letting the horse carry us.

There will be all of these moments in your ventures and you need to learn how to ride them.

There will be times when you stop and you need to do these well and with class. The getting off is, according to the author, pretty much just the opposite of getting on. It just needs to be done well and with respect for the horse.

Whatever horse (business, project, ministry) you choose, you need to learn and practice the skills specific to the horse and the riding style. You can do it.

- Tom Sims, The Dream Factory,
Revised article on Optimism,
First in the series on How to Ride a Horse

About That Horse

So, you are trying to narrow your options with regard to a business opportunity, ministry emphasis, or project and you are exploring various vehicles (horses) that will enable you to accomplish your goals.

Sometimes I ride a horse with a limp and still get to where I am going.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I announced an acronym for the word "optimist" and just discovered, a few minutes ago, that I had spelled "optimive" instead. Now, as far as I know, there is no such word, but I still got the point across ... unless no one was paying attention.

There is no perfect anything in this world or this life. Only God is perfect.

I chose the better of two options to fix the error. One was to invent a new word, which i seriously considered. The other was to change the words in the acronym to comply with the time-honored spelling and yet maintain the meaning of the lesson. I chose the latter.

So, we are not looking for a perfect program or a flawless horse to ride. We are just looking for the one that is right for us at this time. I think I can spell H-O-R-S-E, but check me and let me know if I mess up.

My friends on CompuServe have known for years that when it comes to speelink und tuping i sumtimes meke errers.

H - I have lots of H words that fit. You want a Healthy horse (company, program) which you will know by examining its History and by the Helpfulness of the people answering your questions. All of those "h"s will help you discover the HEART of the organization. You want to affiliate with a group whose heart is good and one that you can put your heart and soul into. Listen to your heart and examine the heart of the company for compatibility.

O - OPPORTUNE moment. Is this the right time in your life for this affiliation and the right time in history for success with this organization. What does the market tell you? What are the futurists saying? look carefully for timing issues.

R - RIDE-ABILITY - Can this horse be ridden?  That depends on the strength of the horse and the skill of the rider. If the rider has no skill, are there good trainers available? Is this something you can do or be helped to do? What strengths lie in you that can be developed to do this sort of business or ministry? You are much more than you have already become, but you must play to your basic strengths which will often be somewhat communicative with your interests, passions, and desires.

S - STABILITY - Is this company currently financially stable? What is the state of its finances, indebtedness, and financial accountability? Are there mountains of lawsuits piled up against it? Is it complying with the law? Are its leaders people of integrity? Are its corporate values clear and congruent with its behavior and your own values? Is it producing some real verifiable success stories? Are a significant (not necessarily the majority) number of recruits sticking with the program and consistently building growth?

E - I want to do two here: EXPERIENCE and EXPENSE - First, is there are coming together of your own experiences, the experience of people in the mentoring support team, and the upper level leadership of the organization so that there is a foundation upon which you can build. One can make up for the other, but not all can be weak and there needs to be some significant experience at the top. Second, what does it cost to get in and really get going? Ask about hidden costs, ongoing investments, and the cost of tools and training as well as the costs for initial sign-up and monthly product purchases. Have all this information ahead of time. Credible sponsors will tell you. There is no success without some investment. Don't shy away from that, but count the cost and consider if this is an expense you can afford by stretching yourself, making some sacrifices, and being very careful. Do not become immersed in unsecured debt (with a few exceptions) to get started and do not choke out your success because you have not planned to make the necessary investments.

These are things you consider up front.

If you and the horse both qualify, saddle up and get started.

- Tom Sims, The Dream Factory,
Revised article on Optimism,
First in the series on How to Ride a Horse

Learn from Robert Kiyosaki and Change Your Friends

The people we associate with and learn from are a major factors in our financial and business success. Robert Kiyosaki chose to learn from his Rich Dad and many of us have chosen to learn from Robert and his friends.

Now Kiyosaki has started a discussion forum where people can receive much better advice than I can give. I choose to do some of my learning there.

Why should we change our friends?

Because they change us.

We become more like them as the years go by. We adopt their values and habits and adapt to their low expectations. We make their limitations our own and begin to think like they think because conversations seep back into our consciousness and unconsciousness as  well.

We continue to love our old friends and pray for them, but we can no longer make them our peers because we are changing, growing, and breaking free of the prisons in which they have entrapped their own goals and dreams.

We can be their mentors, but we cannot be their students any longer. We cannot help bring them up if we are letting them drag us down.

We can see them, enjoy their company from time to time, and lend them a hand when they need us. We just need to spend the bulk of our discretionary time with people who challenge, encourage, uplift us, and expand our thinking.

That is why one of the factors in how to ride a horse is to find one that can carry you, won't kick you off, and will not take you places you don't want to go.

This new forum is a great opportunity to make some new friends who will lift us, people who are seeking the same things from life - to be more than they already are.


How to Ride a Horse

I just found a great article on the net, simple, readable, and accurate on how to ride a horse. I will be citing it and building a post on its concepts in a day or two.

Why would I search for such a thing?

I was just going over some of my business affiliations in my databases yesterday and it occurred to me that I had way too many. I need to narrow the field and concentrate on a few things during the limited amount of time I allow myself away from ministry, family, and writing to dabble in business.

You can't ride too many horses in a day.

The last real horse I tried to get on buckled under my weight. I knew then that it really mattered which horse I chose to ride.

A good horse can take you to success, but you must pick the right horse for you and ride it well. There are some excellent horses (business opportunities) out there for average people, but not all of them are right for you. I enjoy evaluating many of them, but I can only do a few of them well.

What is yours? In order to answer that question, you need to develop an understanding of your own passions, strengths, and interests as well as the resources you bring to the table.

If there is any interest in this subject, I will keep writing about it for the next few days.

Know this: There is a horse out there with your name on it and you can learn to ride it well. You may need to look around the stable a bit, but you will find the right opportunity. You can do it.

Proverb for today:

"... pay attention and gain understanding." (Proverbs 4:1b)

Fon Home

I was amazed when I saw this idea. It is all about "fonning."

I pay a fortune for wireless Internet services to two different vendors. This is a growing concept/business whose effectiveness depends on that growth.

The October 15, Business Week article on Fon says, " Less than two years since its launch, FON has quietly built the world's largest Wi-Fi network--without the slow, expensive process of having to string up hotspots in light poles and coffee shops. Instead, the company is trying to capitalize on the community-minded ethos of the Web. To become a FON member, people either purchaseone of the company's $40 routers or install its software in their existing cable modems. The technology turns every "FONero" household into a Wi-Fi broadcasting station." 

The Fon phenomenon is escalating on the back of the proliferation of Wi-Fi Hotspots. Creating its own network, it sells no monthly service - only its equipment which, at less than $50 is a real head turner.

Fon has even entered the realm of affiliate marketing as evidenced by my own banner ad below.

Join FON and make WiFi FREE EVERYWHERE you go!

You can check it out and make up your own mind.  A map function on the site will help you locate hot spots near you where the network will work. My zip code came up empty - for now.

Wikipedia simplifies the explanation by saying that "FON’s members or “Foneros” are consumers who agree to share their WiFi in return for free access to all other WiFi access points in the community."

The Internet continues to provide fertile ground for the tug-of-war between the free exchange of ideas and commerce. Perhaps both will ultimate win in the balance.


Making WAVES

"Don't make waves."

You have heard that advice. You have heeded it. perhaps you have given it. Perhaps it is the top of your list of survival techniques. There is only one problem with it.

It is bad advice.

With currents come waves ... or perhaps currents are made of waves. Either way, they are necessary for change and change is necessary for growth.

No. Not all change is good, but no change is almost always bad.

We need waves to move us around, shift the sand under our feet, and to make life interesting.

Waves are indicators of influence and influence is at the heart of leadership.

The world is changing with or without our consent. Our resistance is futile and naive. We can only go against the flow of negativity by creating currents of positivity. We can only resist evil influences by making waves of our own. Holding our ground is impossible in a liquid environment. We just can't be lazy and expect to have a positive influence in the world.

Jesus described life in the Spirit as like having living water flow from us - fresh, moving, and refreshing.

Living water never accumulates in stagnant pools.

You must change if you are going to be an agent of change.

The first  six verses of Proverbs 1 are populated with gerunds: attaining, understanding acquiring, doing, giving, learning, and discerning.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of kn0wledge ..." (v7)

That which begins, continues. It flows. It makes waves. Knowledge is dynamic. It shakes things up, loosens faulty foundations, and stirs the pot of human experience. It also provides an exciting ride for those who are willing to go wherever it leads.

Here is your acronym for making waves that create new currents of thinking and bring positive change to the world through your business or ministry:

W = We. Make "we waves" because "me waves" are only about my interests, desires, and opinions. A "we-focus" acknowledges that everything a person thinks, does, and contributes affects other people. It embraces a team approach to life and business. It considers the needs and dreams of others and appeals to them in order to build a strong wave of agreement and energy. Selfish motives only create ripples; waves swell when we are "in it" together. Build a team and speak to the masses.

A = Affect. There are numerous definitions of this word, but I choose the one that means having an emotional impact. Humans are logical beings, but not entirely. We are not a race of Vulcans. We are emotional. We lead with our hearts and follow our hearts. If you are going to make positive waves in the ocean of humanity, you must speak from your heart to the hearts of people.

V = Values. People value what they value. We have social values that we share and personal values that tend to vary, but we all value something. Many of our core values are commendable. It is in the area of our attitudes where we falter. It is when we forget, neglect, or disconnect from our core values that our behaviors become unpredictable, destructive, and unproductive. The person  or movement that makes big waves will appeal to the core values of the masses and of individuals. You will create positive change through a positive influence when you make the connection between what people believe and cherish and what you are saying.

E = Exercise. We say it many ways, but it requires an exercise of will and energy to create waves of change and influence the thinking and behaviors of people. You must actually do something. Get out of bed, out of your chair, out of your house, and out of your comfort zone(s) and exercise your influence. Talk to people, write, speak in public, do visible deeds, invest your resources, and act in faith. Do something! Take risks. Go out on a limb. Struggle. Exercise. Your level of activity will reflect your commitment and determine your success - but make sure you are acting strategically, intelligently, and with focus.

S - Stick-to-it-iveness. It is not a real word but it is a very real concept denoting perseverance, determination, and commitment. Making waves that produce positive change in the climate of business, ministry, and the culture may not be an overnight phenomenon. It most likely will not be. In fact, the price of change and influence is often frustration, weariness, resistance, opposition, criticism, and long hours of hard unrewarding work. It is the cumulative efforts of you, your team, and the unseen work of the Spirit who motivates and empowers you that produces results over time. Your job is to stick with it and not give up.

Making waves makes people uncomfortable and makes you the object of potential ridicule, but it is the price of change and it is a major factor in  the road to success in leadership and progress. Waves move things around and refresh the environment. Sometimes we catch a wave and sometimes we make a wave.

If someone says to you, "Don't make waves," smile and keep on making them.