Obama Kicks Reporters off Campaign Plane

Leadership is everything. I have never posted anything political on this blog, because in fact our family is highly, intensely interested in politics. We constantly have discussions – mostly from the point of view of leadership, not ideology – especially during the national campaigns. Peter is from South Africa, I from Central America, our girls are in college, we are fierce about social justice, and questioning is in our bloodstream. Our faith in Jesus Christ has channeled that passion, and informs our worldview (more on that another time!).

Earlier this year I took Ben (the only one available to go with me!) to an Obama rally near the house. (I also took Ben and Faith to see George Bush during the last cycle. We believe in exposing the children to as much of life as possible!). I will write about it all separately later… it was an amazing experience, as we stood literally drenched (we had to wring our clothes out later), sharing umbrella space with hundreds of total strangers, of many ethnicities, waiting to go in. It was beautiful. Politics aside, it was a lesson in how hungry people are for true leadership.

Today’s news disturbs me. Kicking off three publications (NY Post, Dallas Morning News, and Washington Times) that have endorsed McCain is … well, I can’t quite say what it is. It makes Obama look thin-skinned, and surrounded by handlers and aides who are arrogant in their sense of entitlement. There is talk that it had to do with making room for documentarians to film the historic last few days of the inevitable winner. With his millions of dollars he couldn’t have chartered another plane for them? I don’t know. All I know is that this campaign seems very intolerant of any kind of questioning, because they are not used to it. Just yesterday there were new statistics on how biased the media has been toward the Obama campaign. It is an accepted fact. I personally think this treatment by the media is paternalistic, in that it seems to assume (and do his aides feel this way?) that he can’t handle anyone challenging him legitimately. (I’m not talking about all the extremists that accuse him of triggering the apocalypse).

Please, it is all about leadership! This is a very dumb move, and the story will have legs, because it reinforces the perceptions and fears that are already lurking in people’s minds. When followers put leaders on a pedestal and worship them, no good comes of it. Ever.

If you comment, please bear in mind two things:
1. I am not assuming any motivation one way or the other on Obama’s part, I am addressing the perception this creates and how it feeds into a narrative, accurate or not.
2. I don’t want to argue McCain vs. Obama here! I am talking about a leadership principle. Please limit your comments to how you feel about leaders and followers, as well as how you feel this might affect the election.

Made on Purpose

“Still in Japan.” Growing up, when I would ask about something that happened before I was born, my mother would say, “Oh, that happened while you were still in Japan.” We have carried on the nonsensical tradition – our kids know that some family history happened while they were “still in Japan.”

Truth is, I don’t know where they came from before they got to us! I don’t know where you or I came from!

So much personality, life, energy, potential… It’s a mystery worth pondering. But not tonight.

Right now there is another phrase relentlessly insisting on being typed. It’s about you.

Yup, you were made on purpose. No matter the circumstances of your conception, God made you on purpose.

He took stock of the universe.
Thought it through.
And decided that you are needed on this planet.

Has anyone ever told you that you were an accident, or worthless, or should have never been born? Please hear this – whoever told you that was WRONG. God disagrees thunderously! He knows the truth.

“You saw me before I was born,
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
Before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
They outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
You are still with me!”
Psalm 139:16-18
So you see, while you were still in Japan, God was eagerly anticipating your entrance into this world.

As you work today, or study, or ride a bus, cook a meal, hug a loved one or lie down to rest… Cry out from the depths of your questioning heart, to God’s listening heart. Because you were made on purpose. And He’d love to tell you why.

A Cool Sweet Invitation

Invitation Received:
Read this!
Go to Ben’s room at 4:00 pm on your birthday.

Schedule for the party Ben, Faith and their two friends gave me:
Jump and throw
Birtday Sumbraro
Birthday Song
gifts and cards
Birthday poem

Faith’s Birthday Poem
Roses are red,
violets are blue,
my mom,
doesnt make me,
boo hoo.

When You Have to Start Over

It is becoming a tradition that I post this every year!  I have found that there’s always someone out there that needs it right around this time of year… could it be you?

I am sitting in a Starbucks thinking about growing things.

In 2003, when we moved into our house, there was a huge 60 foot (at least) Tree. It was a hub of zoological life in our back yard. A virtual Grand Central Station of flora and fauna. Squirrels, birds, foot long fluorescent green lizards, children… all were drawn to it.

In 2005 hurricane Wilma visited. For a day we watch it assault our beloved Tree. Through the night it howled, as our Tree and thousands of others fought a losing battle. We watched 20-foot branches weaken and begin to tear, giant invisible hands pulling on them until they fell with a crash, inaudible in the roaring storm.

Morning came; our Tree was devastated. By God’s mercy it didn’t cave in our home. It simply fell apart, becoming a pile of wood and leaves, taller than me, filling our entire yard, destroyed by an event totally outside its control.

I miss that big old shady Tree, so full of life. It made me feel safe. It gave me a sense of roots, of stability when we first moved here and were weary with transition.

The yard has been transformed. Grass grows where it could not grow before, because the Tree’s shadow used to lord it over all. A new tree now grows in its place. Not the same at all, but pretty. Several feet away I planted an avocado tree. Can’t wait to taste the fruit. On the rebuilt fence nearby morninglories grow. Always my favorite flower, because they are new every morning, just like the mercy of God.

And in an opposite corner, I have two papaya trees waiting to be planted. They were given to me as babies, six inches tall each. Now they are a few feet tall, and more than ready to be planted. I very much look forward to their fruit.

I’m planning on having lots of containerized trees also. Oranges, mandarins, lemons… and maybe a mango tree or two in the ground.

New things grow when old things fall apart. It’s the way things work. My big old Tree in an odd way was a special friend. I would look out the window at the kitchen sink, see its huge trunk enveloped with life, and feel safe. But its foliage, so beautiful, was too big.

It was top heavy and in the end that is why it could not stand the storm. Its presence fell over the entire yard, and a lot of other things couldn’t grow in its shadow.

When we hauled all the old branches out, and the stump was ripped out of the ground, I had no inspiration as to what would replace it. I didn’t understand why it had to go.

Now I do.

My thoughts drift to other places in life. More than once I have had cherished relationships torn apart by storms the hit us unannounced. Work situations, life situations, seemingly unnecessary situations…

But new things grow when old things fall apart. Always.

Your Voice

This post is about your voice. And your seasons.
I am going through a season change… are you? Time to get more involved in some things, and less in others. Can you relate? Thinking through priorities and proportions. This is especially challenging because I am, at heart, an activist.

Everyday I pray that my children will learn to hear God’s voice… and learn to love that voice, to trust it, to navigate through life guided by it, much as the sailors of old relied on the stars in the heavens.

But another aspect of navigating that has taken me years to learn involves my voice. I have a voice. You have a voice. Each person has a voice. Is your voice effective?

I strongly believe that every human has a purpose and that God gives us a voice as the means by which we fulfill that purpose. By voice I mean that unique set of attributes that makes you, you!

We each need to look at all areas of current or future involvement – relationships and organizations in our spheres of influence – and ask a fundamental question: does my voice make a difference? Does anybody hear me? Do they want to hear me?

If I am committed, doing my part, and carefully listening to the voices of others – but making no impact and finding no reciprocity, then that is not a fruitful involvement. It may be time for change. There are likely needs or opportunities elsewhere, just waiting!

Or, it may be time to speak more loudly. But no one likes a shouting match. If you’re in a relationship and have had “the talk” multiple times, to be comforted by a “you’re right” and no change, time to move on (and I’m not speaking of a marriage here, by the way!). If you have a friendship with someone who has taken advantage of you repeatedly, and you’ve confronted and received an “I’m sorry” only to be misused again, time to move on. If you’re on a board or team and have expressed the same serious concerns multiple times, to be greeted by “yeah, great input” and no action, time to move on. Why force others to listen to you, when somewhere else there is a person praying precisely for what your voice can do for them? Keep the peace, spread the love… and move on.

I’m not talking about giving up when things get tough! If you are fighting a fierce battle for social justice, or to grow a business or fulfill a dream, you don’t get to “move on” – that is a whole other subject…

Bottom line today – your voice is valuable, and there is a definite place where it is needed and where there will be grace abounding for it to be heard. Relax in that knowledge. Listen, think, pray, speak, be thoughtful about your season changes. Then watch that last leaf fall and welcome the new season. And as you listen for God’s voice in the stillness, remember – He is listening for yours.

It’s a Secret…

Or is it a $ecret? This sign on a grassy street corner at a busy intersection in a non-descript part of town arrested my attention. It’s incongruous! The “Secret” is all about success attracting success, isn’t it? So why would a practitioner of this philosophy have to use a cheap cheesy sign to attract – wait, attract what? Buyers? Hmm. Could that be how the money rolls in?

I’m just asking…

Or do I just not get it?

YOU – do you like to work with women? Is it easier with men?

So, as you look at yesterday’s blog… what emotions do you feel? In your opinion, was anything I said true?

And what of the video? I know most people don’t have time to watch the video all the way, but you can watch one or two minutes and get the point – it is an old school training video (about 40+ years old), supposedly enlightened for the time. The HR guy in the end comforts the foreman by telling him, “You needed someone, and there was no man available.”

This is a huge subject. Surely we can agree men and women are different. I’ve been thinking about it… and I hope some of you college and twentysomethings give me some thoughts. I wonder how emotionally laden it is for your generation, as opposed to mine (fortysomething) and the generation above me? There’s been an ongoing dialogue in my brain since I finished a book on women in leadership recently. My Fair Lady was on tv Sunday, and watching it further pumped up the volume on those inner voices!

How do you really feel about women? Forget political correctness! Do you prefer male or female friends? Co-workers? With whom would you rather work on a project? What irritates you about women? C’mon Men, you have total immunity in this zone. I promise I will not accuse you of being sexist! (Even if you, like Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady, want to burst into the song, “Why Can’t a Woman, Be More Like a Man?”).
Tell the truth…

The Trouble with Women

Women are so emotion driven, aren’t they? Generally tossed around by circumstances, especially because they tend to feel for others? Aren’t men less complicated?

Come on, don’t some of you secretly feel like the foreman in the video below? And gals, don’t we once in a while think maybe it would be easier to work with men, to avoid the cattiness?
HR Manager: “What’s wrong with her?”
Foreman: “Well, she’s a woman isn’t she?”

Hopefully I have made someone confused and/or mad by this post.
We’ll talk some more about the trouble with women in the next few days…

Follow the Nudge

So Saturday morning I’m staring aimlessly (I find aimless staring to be therapeutic) at my backyard. Suddenly I focus on one of the two papaya trees. It has the most beautiful, plentiful fruit. It is leaning, looking like this tree on the left.

I get this nudge, this feeling (okay, maybe it was glaringly obvious) – “mental note: prop it up, TODAY.

“Yes,” I reply to myself. “I’ll do it now.”


Now I have this in my kitchen –
more than 130 green or semi-ripe papayas!

Friends, one of the several lessons to glean from my self-inflicted dilemma:

When something is producing a lot of fruit, it needs a lot of support.
If you want the fruit, give the support.

And when you feel a nudge, an obvious prompt,

Timing is everything.
What prompting have you been ignoring lately?