Thursday, November 4, 2010

The New Laziness

I read Seth Godin's blog (just like a bazillion other people do). He had another stellar post this morning on the New Laziness:

But the new laziness has nothing to do with physical labor and everything to do with fear. If you're not going to make those sales calls or invent that innovation or push that insight, you're not avoiding it because you need physical rest. You're hiding out because you're afraid of expending emotional labor.
He's spot on. People -- myself included -- operate out of fear of failure, that they don't know what they're doing, or that they might be rocking the boat. That's laziness.

Proverbs 13:4 says, "Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.

Don't be afraid of a little hard work!

(Do yourself a favor, and if you don't subscribe to Seth's feed, do it!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cheering a Winless Team

I love sports. And I love rooting for my teams.

Sadly, this year I've divorced myself from all emotions when it comes to my love of the Buffalo Bills. I've done it for psychological reasons. The Bills are too terrible to care about. I'd only be causing myself emotional pain, stress, and angst if I cared about them this year.

Gregg Easterbrook, the TMQ of ESPN, wrote this in his weekly NFL column:

Sour Play of the Week: Reaching overtime for the second consecutive week, the Buffalo Bills, the NFL's sole winless team, faced fourth-and-7 on the Kansas City 40. Should Buffalo attempt a 57-yard field goal by Rian Lindell, one of the league's best place-kickers? Jacksonville won a game last month on a 59-yard field goal. Or should Buffalo go for the first down? Wait -- the league's only winless team cannot be punting in opposition territory in overtime! Boom went the punt, and it took Kansas City just two snaps to pass the point where the ball would have been had Buffalo gone for it and failed. Earlier in the contest, the league's only winless team punted on fourth-and-inches.

Buffalo has not reached the postseason in 11 years, and in that time had a succession of headmasters -- Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron -- who coached as though terrified of their own shadows. TMQ started the Preposterous Punts item after Williams, with the Bills trailing in the second half, ordered a punt on fourth-and-2 from the New England 32. Now Chan Gailey is coaching afraid, too, and you can't reverse years of losing psychology by running scared. In Buffalo's preseason opener, Gailey's first game wearing a Bills headset, Buffalo was down 21-3 and facing fourth-and-inches at midfield: Gailey sent in the punt unit. Sure, that was just a preseason game. But the message to players was "nothing has changed; we expect to lose just like last year and the year before that." And so far, Gailey is coaching as though he expects to lose.
I watched the game, too. And when I saw the punt team coming onto the field at the moment Easterbrook described, I forgot I didn't care about the Bills this year. I screamed my head off at the coach, "You haven't won a game! Why are you punting?! You don't deserve to win!"

Then I remembered that I don't care. I wasn't even upset when CBS stopped showing the overtime footage at 4:15 to "stay in accordance with NFL regulation." And I managed not to punch anything when the word came down that the Chiefs had gone on to win the game.

I don't care about the Bills this year. They haven't done anything to make me care again.

How many days until the draft?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Your Moment Of Auto-Erotica: "Oh, How He Tempted Her."

Via and including the most amazing photo/caption combination I've ever seen (well this week, at least). Click through for the image...

Your Moment Of Auto-Erotica: "Oh, How He Tempted Her.":
We recently discovered—but then forget—the incredible phenomenon of NASCAR-themed romance fiction, stories filled with passion and grease and beautiful people being driven swiftly to ecstasy and Victory Lane alike. What follows is a brief selection from one such tale.

From Shades of Love, by Dorien Kelly & Barbara Dunlop:

"When was the last time she had kissed a man with more than just a quick, casual brush of the lips? Claire knew the answer to that question the instant Derek's mouth settled against hers: it had been far too long. She had nearly forgotten the pleasure of having someone so close, of learning someone new."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Do This One Thing and You’ll Rise Above Your Peers | Donald Miller's Blog

Do This One Thing and You’ll Rise Above Your Peers | Donald Miller's Blog

I believe this is true, but I don't want to:

"That said, though, if it’s true leaders are readers, than it’s easier than ever to be a leader. In fact, if you’ll commit to reading a single book, you’ll be, approximately, in the top 50% of all Americans. I’m not kidding. If you’ll read just one more book before you die, you’ll leave half the people around you in the dust.

According to Para Publishing, 1/3 of high school graduates never read another bookfor the rest of their lives. And 42% of college graduates follow suit. 70% of U.S. adults have not stepped into a bookstore in the last 7 years and 80% of American families did not purchase or read a book last year."

That's some rough news. However, Don Miller is totally right... if you're a reader, you'll become a leader. Everyone's looking for the secret to getting ahead, but it could be just as simple as opening up a book, propping up your feet, possibly pouring a class of wine (or scotch), and digging into the thoughts of someone smarter than you.

Couldn't hurt, right?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Welsh View: Aerial London

I, too, love this aerial shot of London... Sonja and I are talking about a trip there this winter/spring. *crossed fingers*

A Welsh View: Aerial London

Haiti - Working in Ktadb (Photo Slideshow)

Here's a short video of my trip to Haiti, if you're interested.

You can also find my full photo albums on Facebook:

Travel Journal from Haiti

Two weeks ago, I visited Haiti. Just over four months removed from the earthquake that wrecked devastation on what was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, much of the country is still in shambles. And yet, in the midst of the rubble and poverty, there is an enormous wealth of faith, hope, and joy.

I joined a weeklong trip to Port au Prince through Adventures in Missions. We spent the week working in the tent community of Ktadb. This location is on the outskirts of the city and, as far as we knew, hadn’t received any international aid since the January 12th earthquake. Just fewer than 3,600 people live in Ktadb, divided into about 600 handmade shelters.

When we arrived, there wasn’t a single tarp or tent in sight. Families had built homes out of wooden stakes and used bed sheets and clothing sewn together to form walls. It’s the rainy season in Haiti, and when the storms come, they soak through the meager coverings and turn the ground underfoot to thick, sucking mud. Most of the families have literally nothing but the clothes on their backs. The lucky ones sleep on cinderblocks to keep out of the mud—those less fortunate sleep on the dirt. I’ll be honest, it’s painful to see."

We spent the first two days of the trip moving from shelter to shelter, meeting the residents, seeing how they lived, praying for them (and accepting offers from them to pray for us in return). The residents shared their stories and asked about us, too. We didn’t immediately start handing out supplies and food because we wanted to avoid creating a dependency on foreign assistance. Rather, we started building relationships, mobilized the community leaders, played with the kids, helped housewives wash laundry, and dug foundations for new homes alongside some workers. As we pitched in, meeting the Haitians where they lived, I saw things I couldn’t believe.

There was the old man who had lost his son in the quake and struggled with injuries himself—yet he said he praised God every day for life. That’s belief beyond anything I know.

Two students, Reginald and Yvelise, who are both studying to be doctors, proudly talked about how they’ve continued studying at home while the deanship of the university searches for a new site to rebuild the collapsed school. Both have hope that they’ll return to college, finish their degrees, and then use what they’ve learned to help their country recover.

Remy, a 14-year-old boy living in a shelter with his older brother, pitched in to help us place tarps over the homes of single mothers, women with children, and the elderly. He never once asked for us to cover his own home, knowing others needed help more than he did. Remy showed me strength.

Even before we brought out the boxes of donated toys and sporting goods, we saw so much joy on children's faces. They were more than willing to sing and dance and clap their hands, even though many hadn’t eaten in a day, two, or more. All they wanted was to hold my hand, be asked their name, and hear mine. That’s joy in a place where sadness should reign.
Through generous donations, we were able to distribute nearly 200 tarps, making sure that the neediest of the needy received theirs first. We also purchased over $4,200 of rice and beans, which the local community leaders distributed themselves. It will only feed the residents of Ktadb for a couple days, but it’s a start.

I went to Haiti thinking that I could help—and I did in the smallest way possible—but what really happened is that Haiti helped me. If faith, hope, and joy can survive in a place where none of that should exist, then I believe we can have those things here, too. I left Haiti being more thankful for the things that really matter in life—family and friends—than ever before.

I also left with the reminder that we really can do something to care for those in need. It can be as simple as giving the extra canned goods from your pantry to a local food bank or texting “HAITI” to the American Red Cross to donate $10 to the earthquake relief effort. You don’t have to go yourself. Whatever you choose to do, though, you’ll help make the world a little better and make sure that hope spreads out a little further than it did before.

(This article originally appeared here. Sorry it took me so long to get it live on this blog!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

World Vision's 3-month Update on Haiti

The numbers aren't pretty.

  • 230,00 killed
  • 1 million homeless
  • 2 million in need of aid
It's been three months since the January 12th earthquake that rocked Haiti and World Vision just sent out an email detailing their part of the relief efforts. They've been working in Haiti for 30-plus years and were uniquely positioned to start rescue/relief work within hours of the quake.

Here's what World Vision has been able to do (thanks to partners and donors):

"Gifts from partners like you are bringing hope to quake-affected children and families. World Vision began providing help within hours of the disaster. During the first three months after the earthquake, you helped us distribute food to more than 1.5 million people, and provide blankets, tarps, tents, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, and more to over 100,000 people.

World Vision was in Haiti long before the quake — caring for 300,000 children. With the help of generous donors like you, we’ll be there long afterward, too."

While things are definitely not great (check out The Big Picture's post: Haiti: 70 Days Later), it is great to hear good news coming from the country.

Doug and I will be there in five weeks.

(Image from World Vision's Twitter profile.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

This is What It's All About

Why do Sonja and I spend our Thursday nights with high schoolers? This is why:

This is from our spring retreat weekend.

I think my favorite part is the fact that the teens are out there with their friends in the freezing cold (40 degree) water, just to be a part of the event and show their support. Awesome stuff!

(By the way, if you're not familiar with baptism, Wikipedia has a pretty good description.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Two Things... Probably Contradictory

I read this quote this morning in Crazy Love (which, by the way, you should buy and read right now).

"The way we live out our day is the way we live out our lives." - Annie Dillard

Just marinate on what that means for a second...


(Moving on...)

Of course, having put something out there that's profound and life-changing, I am now also going to share with you something else that I saw this morning. It is also life-changing. But for entirely different reasons.

What's better than a moon-faced, chubby, Taiwanese kid singing Whitney Houston? Practically nothing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Granite State of Mind

I shared this on Facebook, but figured you should see its genius here, too.

Opening Day! (of Allergy Season)

Friday night, I went over to my parents' place (because I like to party) and immediately started sneezing when I walked in the door. This isn't at all unusual -- my parents still have two dogs and a cat as a ploy to ensure I never, ever move back and only visit for short periods of time, sporadically at best.

The thing was, after I left, I didn't stop sneezing. Not in the few hours after, not the next day, nor the day after that. It just went on through the entire weekend. Now as I type, my eyes itch, my breathing is wheezy, and I have a box of Kleenex next to my desk. Hmm... it must be allergy season.

Oh joy.

Let me tell you, I absolutely love springtime. For anyone who lives in the Northeast, you know how great this time of year can be. The snow/sleet/rain/hail/ice cubes from heaven have stopped falling. You can't see your breath in the morning and you fingers don't feel like they're going to fall off in the time it takes to walk from your front door to your car.

Up here, spring is an event. People start wearing shorts and flip-flops once it hits 50, even though it's still probably about a month too early. Red Sox jerseys and sun dresses re-enter as wardrobe staples. Bikers pull their motorcycles from storage (note to Sonja: think how glorious it would be to take that first scooter ride of the season? Can I PLEASE get one?). Everyone gathers outside to hang out in driveways and on front porches while soaking in the sun's rays. It's glorious. It's a total "winter's over" reawakening, and I love it. I celebrate it. I flip-flop and short it. I even played nine holes on Saturday (so I could repeatedly four-putt it).

Everything would be perfect if I could just breathe.

My goodness, is this time of the year awful for fellow allergy sufferers. The majority of you won't get what I'm talking about, but with the flowers blooming and trees budding, it's like two weeks of hell on earth for people like me. The worst thing is that I shouldn't be outside, but it's so nice that I just can't avoid it. I want to swing the clubs. I want to run 15-20 miles a week. I want to go for walks downtown and sit on the side porch. And, ideally, I'd like to do it without feeling like my head is going to explode.

Still, it's a small price to pay for spring. See you out there! I'll be the guy with the surgical mask on.

Photo from

Friday, March 26, 2010

Going to Haiti

It seems like every year or so, the news cycle stops hovering around elections, politics, and personal finance to spend two weeks focused on a natural disaster. In 2004, it was the tsunami. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. We caught a break in '06 and '07 before 2008's earthquake hit the Sichuan province in China. And early this year, we all know about the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti--the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

To be completely honest, these events never resonated with me. Oh sure, I watched the news and maybe contributed a few bucks to the Red Cross, but once the news cycle moved on, so did I. Katrina probably had the most impact on me, but that's only because I visited New Orleans for a conference a year later and saw the city still struggling to recover. Even then, I wasn't really moved to do anything more about it then tell a few people what I saw.

The earthquake that hit Haiti, though, was different. Like most of us, I watched the news coverage--but it grabbed me the way other stories didn't. I saw the devastation, watched the Haitian people scream and cry in the streets for help, and my heart absolutely broke for them. I really couldn't tell you why. Maybe it was a combination of things:

  • These photo essays from The Big Picture, which captured the pain and suffering and reality of what happened: Earthquake in Haiti, Haiti: 48 Hours Later, and Haiti: 70 Days Later
  • The fact that Haiti is only 600 miles from the U.S. (about the distance from Boston to Buffalo) and yet malnutrition and poverty run rampant there.
  • Some of my earliest memories of church involve listening to a Haitian congregation sing, laugh, and pray noisily as their congregation met in a room below the sanctuary in our building.
  • A slow realization that I had a chance to really do something to show love and help those in need.
So a few weeks ago, when my friend Doug asked if I wanted to go to Haiti, I immediately said, "Yes."

Plans fell into place and I can now let you know that this May (the 23rd to the 29th), Doug and I will travel to Haiti with Adventures in Missions--an organization that's dedicated to helping deliver support and relief to some of the most impoverished areas of the world.

We really don't know what to expect. The country, which was impoverished before, has been completely devastated in the capital city of Port au Prince and surrounding areas. There are so many needs--food, water, medicine, rebuilding, rehabilitation--that we don't know yet what area we'll be helping in. All we know now is that we're going and we're going to help however we can.

But we can't do it alone. We need help. Maybe help from you.

  1. We need prayer... neither of us have ever done anything like this or put ourselves into a situation like this one.
  2. We need awareness... not for what we're doing, but that Haiti needs help. Recovery will take years, but the news cycle has already moved on. Please don't forget.
  3. We need help... again, not for us, but for Haiti. If you want to help support our trip, you can do that by donating through eventbrite or directly. Know that we plan to use any money we raise beyond our own costs to buy supplies to send to Port au Prince in advance. (Other great organizations you may want to support include, the Red Cross, and Yele Haiti)
I'll keep posting on this blog with trip updates, news from Haiti, and everything else. So stay tuned.

Thank you for listening and thanks in advance for helping.

(Here's a video Doug sent me from the blog WhyIsMarko. It was shot recently in Port au Prince.)

(I wrote this post while listening to "Blood Bank EP" by Bon Iver)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Might Die Today -- Scared or Inspired?

I'm reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan (my good friend Doug Tappan) picked it out. I just started it and have only read two chapters, but already the book's gripped me and got me thinking.

This morning, I thought about death. Good times!

I wanted to share the chapter's intro with you and see if you started thinking about mortality, too. And, if you did, how do you feel about it--scared or inspired?

"You could die before you finish reading this chapter. I could die while you're reading it. Today. At any moment.

But it's easy to think about today as just another day. An average day where you go about life concerned with your to-do list, preoccupied by appointments, focused on family, thinking about your desires and needs.

On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves. On the average day, we don't consider God very much. On the average day, we forget that our life truly is a vapor.

But there is nothing normal about today. Just think about everything that must function properly for you to survive. For example, your kidneys. The only people who really think about their kidneys are people whose kidney's don't work correctly. The majority of us take for granted our kidneys, liver, lungs, and other internal organs that we're dependent upon to continue living.

What about driving down the road at 65-mph, only a few feet away from cars going the opposite direction at the same speed? Someone would only have to jerk his or her arm and you would be dead. I don't think that's morbid; I think it's reality.

It's crazy that we think today is just a normal day to do whatever we want with. To those of us who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money,' James [the brother of Jesus] writes, 'Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes' (4:13-14)

When you think about it, that's a little disconcerting. But even after reading those verses, do you really believe you could vanish at any minute? That perhaps today you will die? Or do you instead feel somehow invincible?

Frederick Buechner writes, 'Intellectually we all know that we will die, but we do not really know it in the sense that the knowledge becomes a part of us. We do not really know it in the sense of living as thought it were true. On the contrary, we tend to live as though our lives will go on forever.'"

Sorry guys, I don't mean to be a total downer... but when I read this, it got me thinking: what if today really matters? What if we lived every day as if it were a gift or our last one? What would we do differently?

(And would we blog about it?)

Photo credit: