Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Mind At A Time

I had a nice trip to Nashvegas last week. Recorded a new song, played a few shows, did a few interviews and had a chance to relax and visit friends. All these things are nice but not quite as enjoyable when you are missing your other half. So it was nice to get home to be with Sherri and play with my adorable little son.

While I was staying at my manager’s house I found an excellent book. His house is a great place for finding books, especially if you are a fan of G.K. Chesterton. I think he owns all of his books. I found a book titled A Mind At A Time written by Mel Levine. This book is written for educators and parents and deals with how the mind works and develops in children. Its focus is children but when I read it I can’t help but apply it to my own life. I’m learning a lot about how my brain operates from a scientific point of view.

I really appreciate how the author views people. He doesn’t view one person as slow or challenged and another as smart, he seems to see the whole picture of who that person is and who they could become. For instance, the way our current school system is set up works great for some kids and is disastrous for others. The kids who excel in that system come out with confidence and a great education. The kids who aren’t wired for the standard school system leave often feeling like a failure with little self-esteem and no real career skills. Since each person is so different we need to teach them according to how they learn best and help them improve the areas of their brain/learning they have difficulty with.

Some favorite quotes so far.

“… the very same kids who suffer lack of attention control are often remarkable people in their own right, displaying refreshingly unorthodox pathways of thought. … This is one reason I resist applying the stigmatizing letters ADD or ADHD. There’s more that’s right than wrong with most of these kids.”

“When they[kids] sense that we’re on their side and not accusing them of being bad or lazy, they often rise to the occasion and show steady improvement. Teachers, therefore, need to form strong alliances with these children rather than adversarial relationships. The same can be said for parents.”

Here’s Dr. Levine’s web site. http://www.allkindsofminds.org/index.aspx

I’m sure I’ll be back with more on this one seeing as I’m just one quarter through the book.



Monday, June 20, 2005


evangelism |iˈvanjəˌlizəm| |əˌvøndʒəˈlɪzəm| |iˌvøndʒəˈlɪzəm| |ɪˌvan(d)ʒ(ə)lɪz(ə)m|
• the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.
• zealous advocacy of a cause.

Is this really what evangelism is?

I had a great conversation with my wife last night on the phone. She just finished reading Blue Like Jazz so her mind was busy processing that information as she was trying to get to sleep. So of course we ended up talking about some of the topics that were brought up in the book. We also talked about how much we desire that people we love would one day join us in this pursuit of serving Christ. Desire isn't really the right word. It's more of a longing or even an aching. It's something we talk about and pray about a lot.

That got us to talking about evangelism and what the heck it is. Is it something we need to do more of or do a better job of? We obviously didn't come up with a solution, but I'd like to post some of my thoughts resulting from our conversation.

If God is the one who changes a person's heart where does evangelism fit in? Should I be telling a friend all about Christ and what he's done for me and what he can do for them? Maybe I should. Should I be giving them little knick knacks that have Bible verses on them that they can refer to everyday? Maybe, but I don't think that'll work. Should I invite them to church every week? Maybe, but being a Christian isn't about going to church. Should I give them the latest cool Christian book or CD to check out? Maybe, but is that enough? Should I blog about Christianity all the time and hope they read it? Maybe, but I think that may get a little boring for both the writer and the reader. Should I pray for them? Well of course.

If God is leading me to do any one of those things or anything else then I think that's what I need to do. Since people are so different we can't just try to show them Christ in the same way every time, however, I think there is one thing we can do for everyone.

God is love. He IS love. I mean love in its purest form. The kind of love where you forget about yourself. The kind of love a parent has for their child. The kind of love that wakes a mother up after two hours of sleep to feed and/or change her baby again. The kind of love that God has for us. If we can show this love to everyone who comes into our world I think that can be real evangelism. It's not preaching, or witnessing, but it is most certainly sharing the love of God. It is sharing who God is. It is spreading God's love.

The God I believe in created me! This complex living being that us humans can't even come close to duplicating. He is the creator of the stars. The creator of the moon and the sun, the oceans and lakes and water itself. He created all of these things. If I love people in the way he loves us and pray that God will change their heart it is certainly within the power of the creator of the universe to make it happen.

So that's where some of my thoughts ended up. I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts, especially if you think I'm off base here.



Friday, June 17, 2005

Good To Great

After listing the books I was going to read I ended up working on another one first. (It's hard to resist birthday presents!) Good to Great, by Jim Collins is a study about why some companies are able to make the leap to great and others are not. I first had it recommended to me by a businessman I got talking to in the airport sometime last year. Then a friend recommended it to me a couple of weeks ago. If you are into leadership development or want to know how your company or organization could run more effectively I would recommend this book for sure and I haven't even completed it yet.

A couple of things I have enjoyed and/or found interesting thus far:

1. All of the companies that were studied that went from good to great had what they refer to as Level 5 leaders. A Level 5 leader "Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will." When these Level 5 leaders were interviewed they always credited their success to the people around them and their failures to themselves. The companies that didn't achieve "great" had leaders that were larger than life and had come in to save the company. These leaders were sometimes so strong that when they left the company the company fell apart because leadership wasn't cultivated throughout the company. These leaders often took the credit for their success and blamed failures on others.

It was interesting to me that the "great" leaders were the humble ones that didn't want the glory. Part of me was saying of course, that's the way it's supposed to be. That's the way Christ modeled it for us. When I've thought of these Fortune 500 companies in the past I would have envisioned their CEO as a ruthless Trump-like businessman. From what I've read so far maybe my assessment isn't that far off except when looking at the "great" companies.

2. "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end - which you can never afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be." What a great quote! Especially for an optimist like me. I often forget or just don't confront the most brutal facts of my current reality. Good reminder though.

3. Passion is important. The "great" companies' leadership all shared a passion for the work they did. Am I working for something I am passionate about or could get passionate about? Most certainly! I wouldn't be in my current job if I had no passion for what I do. If I worked for a company that sells car parts could I get passionate about that? I don't know. I'm not sure that I could but I could get passionate about the way the company deals with people. All of the "great" companies had employees/leadership that somehow found a way to be passionate about their work.

Some really great findings in this book! And I'm only halfway through. I'll report back when I finish.



Saturday, June 11, 2005

Almost 30!

Today is my 29th birthday! Which means today I enter my 30th year. So much for the twenties I guess. I'm not freaked out by getting old really. At least not yet. Besides the hairline starting to recide I haven't really noticed too many differences.

Tomorrow I head down to Nashville to get back into working mode. A little recording, a couple of shows, a radio visit and a television appearance. And hopefully I can fix my computer whilst I'm there. (I don't know when to use whilst but it sounds cooler!) I've had the last six weeks off which has been really nice. I've spent nearly all of my time with my wife and son which is why there hasn't been a whole lot of blogging. Like I mentioned before I do most of my blogging whilst travelling and since there hasn't been much travelling there haven't been many blogs.

So . . . here's what I've been reading and what I'm about to read. I'm continuing my Roald Dahl reading (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many other of the greatest children's novels out there). I've also got another book on the middle ages to read and one by Steven Pressfield about Alexander the Great. So, soon I'll have a working computer and some time to read and write. And Arithmetic.



Friday, June 03, 2005

Budgeting is a Good Thing

Over the past year or two I've started to do some reading on finances, and well, all that reading is paying off. My wife is a stay-at-home mother and I'm a musician. We are about one month away from being totally, absolutely debt-free thanks to some careful planning and budgeting and my parents (yes, we live in my parents’ basement). Because of that budget we spent last night out shopping for clothes for Glenn when my birthday is only a week away. That has never happened before!

Thankfully, we didn’t have to hit bottom before we started to figure this budgeting stuff out. Living on so little forced us to take a close look at what was happening to our money. We had to make some decisions and take control of it.

Being a follower of Christ also made me wonder how I should be handling my money. Was I being honest with it? Generous? Wise? Am I making my financial decisions with integrity? How would Jesus suggest I use my money? Tough questions that I’m sure we’ll never know all the answers to but the Bible can give us a great start.

First off check out these links about debt. Look at the different translations too if you have a minute. Romans 13:8. Proverbs 22:7. 1 Corinthians 7:23.

Debt never felt right to me. After reading those verses along with some books, I was convinced I had to be rid of my debt. So now here I am! Some people will say debt is necessary, or is a financial tool, but the feeling of not having any debt, and not being slave to anyone is great! After saying all of that, I do believe there are some times when debt is acceptable. It just doesn’t happen as often as Visa would like you to believe.

So back to budgeting. It definitely takes some work and I’ll admit that my wife, Sherri, does the bulk of it for us. The basic idea is to track EVERY dollar and cent you spend. At the beginning of the month we figure out how much income there will be, then we plan how much money we will spend in that month. We basically try to “spend” all of our money before we have it. Part of that “spending” may be putting $200 into savings that month or setting aside $180 for teeth cleaning. Even small things, like an apple juice from the local coffee shop, need to be accounted for. Throughout the month we update our spreadsheet and are able to see where all of our money is going. Of course we have a clothing allocation in our budget for each of us, which I was just able to empty! It’s great to go to the mall knowing exactly how much you have to spend with no worries at all about how it will affect your non-existent credit bill.

Yes, budgeting is a good thing. If you are not doing it I strongly suggest doing the research and spending the time. There is no way you will regret it.

Here are two of the more influential books for me.

Your Money Counts - Howard Dayton
The Total Money Makeover - Dave Ramsey

Also www.daveramsey.com



June Update

I can't believe June is here already! Tomorrow is my son Jonah's first birthday. Incredible! And Saturday the 11th is my 29th birthday so don't forget it.

How about a short update of today's events?

I spent a nice day down in Niagara Falls today with my family minus the parents. I enjoy spending time with my family and that is such a blessing. My two sisters, my wife, my son, my nephew and my brother-in-law all loaded into my dad's van and drove down to the Falls. My nephew is six months old so it was pretty fun having two babies along with us.

We stood around and looked at the Falls for a while, then checked out the souvenir shop and bought some fudge. Man, is fudge ever good! I always seem to forget that. Then we went for a drive along the escarpment (big cliff that runs through a bunch of Ontario and is the cause for the Falls) and eventually stopped at a park for a picnic lunch near Niagara-On-The-Lake. We ate some food, played some frisbee . . . well, the adult boys played frisbee . . . actually it wasn't even a frisbee, it was an Aerobie! If you've never played with one you have gotta do it. They fly flat and far. Then, after a one and a half hour drive home, it was all over.

Now I'm back home working on Sherri's PC since "I" messed up my Mac. I guess I got a little over confident about my computer skills and ended up messing up the operating system. Whoops! Hopefully I'll be able to take care of that tomorrow.

I just finished typing all of this and realized what I have done. I just wrote a "So here was my day" blog!!! Oops! I am truly sorry. I’ve been trying to avoid writing that kind of a blog but here's my excuse: some friends told me this is how they keep up with what's going on in my life. I promise that if this happens again it won't be for a long time.




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