Thursday, August 8, 2019

Craig Groeschel-Bend The Curve (learning from the recliner)

This is how I felt about the prospect of attending the Global Leadership Summit this year. I've attended each year for quite a few years now and usually scribe my notes on this blog. But, like my grandson Auggie in the elevator (above picture) I'm feeling pretty fragile and wasn't sure I was up for any more conviction in the leadership realm.

So I chose to stay home and save the registration fee to use toward shipping our Operation Christmas Child boxes.  But an email in my inbox offered the opportunity to watch Craig Groeschel's opening talk free online, and you know me--I can't resist free.

Despite my trepidation Craig's talk was actually quite encouraging and our Operation Christmas Child team has been practicing some of these principles for years. are my notes...

Bend The Curve -- Craig Groeschel

(First some oft-repeated GLS sayings)--Everyone wins when the leader gets better. Leadership is influence. How you lead others matters more than you can imagine. Leaders can learn from anyone. You are not here by accident. I know for certain you want to get better.

Each of us does cost/benefit analyses all the time. Does the cost justify the benefit? So many leaders think better always costs more. We assume that investing more brings a better return; yet, over time investing more may bring a diminishing return. More does not always mean better! Here are two basic principles:

**GETMO (Good Enough To Move On) -- Look for the greatest level of return based on time, money and resources invested. (We are constantly doing this on our OCC team!) Perfectionists often care too much. Perfection can be the enemy of progress. The pursuit of excellence will motivate you but the pursuit of perfection will eventually limit you. If we spend more on something (time, money, resources) we are making a trade and something else may suffer.

**BTC (Bend The Curve) -- Look for better quality for equal or lesser cost and invest resources for the most return.

1.  Think INSIDE the box -- the problem with outside-the-box thinking is unlimited possibilities with too many impractical ideas to sift through.
  Constraints drive creativity leading to innovation. Ask yourself "Where do you have tension?" and let your constraints be a motivating force.

**"I believe you have everything you need to do everything you're called to do!"

**"God guides by what He provides. God also guides by what He withholds."

Embrace your limitations. If you had everything you want you might miss what you need.

2.  Burn the ships -- When you don't know if you can endure, eliminate the option to turn back. COMMIT with no option of retreat. Don't give up! (This is what we do every year when we decide to do another large packing party.)

If you're older but you're not dead, you're not done! (okay, then...)

Tell me what you're called to do and why it matters. It you COMMIT to the "what" and are CONSUMED by the "why" you'll figure out the "how". (by God's grace!)

Craig said, "I have the same voices that tell me I'm not good enough. I was turned down for ordination and cried all the way home. Every time before I speak I take one big step forward--stepping out of my doubts and into my calling.  Some of you are one step away from leading your organization where it should go. Don't obsess about things that don't matter. Don't retreat. Solve problems. Meet needs. Offer hope. Change the world."

And, for free, I got one of the best GLS messages ever. Amen!

Friday, August 2, 2019


Okay...this might look like just a jumble of letters--as jumbled as my thoughts lately--but they do spell a word. Can you see it? REVIVAL...

Our church has had a summer of revival. In addition to the regular Sunday sermons there have been four special worship nights dedicated to seeking the work of the Holy Spirit in a new way among us. This is a new venture for our church but one that's certainly been an amazing journey.

Nearly two months. I think this is the longest I've gone without writing a blog in many years and maybe the longest ever since I started this blog back in 2009.

Somehow it all seems so uninteresting--so much of the same stuff.  I mean, who wants to keep hearing about all my leadership woes and seeing pictures of cardboard carton after cardboard carton lined up in the storage container. It just gets old.

It's been old to me, too.  Lately there's been a lot of going through the motions without much joy. And there's also been a bunch of wrestling with ingrained sin issues that just feel so heavy.

So tonight I stood in the dimly lit worship center and felt that weight pressing down on me. There was nothing to do but go to one of the designated prayer team members with my tears and my truthful  feelings of anger and weariness.

I'm so grateful for the prayers of that sweet woman who let me sob on her shoulder while she prayed over me. Then, as she prayed, she anointed my forehead with oil. There's something so soothing about that fragrance that permeates everything.

Kneeling later by my seat I was still bathed in that aroma--a sweet smell that makes me not want to wash my face. It still surrounds me as I write this.

Can you even imagine what it smelled like when the woman anointed Jesus's feet with oil? I'm not an essential oil person but I can sure see (or maybe I should say smell) the attraction.

The aroma is just a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit but I need that reminder--that sweet fragrance that surrounds me reminds me that He surrounds me, too.

Maybe I'm just a wimp because despite all the years I've been trying to lead a team and despite all the CONSTANT training I've been given this leadership stuff is still just so hard.  Tonight, though, the burden got a little lighter and the aroma reminds me that I really am surrounded with "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow."

It's the aroma of revival.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Tanzania Outreach #1–Seeing

This afternoon we rode about a half hour over bumpy roads to reach our first outreach event at the Evangelistic Assemblies of God Church in Morombo, Tanzania. Pastor Kennedy founded the church 7 years ago and now more than 200 children attend. We were set to distribute 150 shoeboxes to encourage these children and show them God’s love.

When we arrived the children were waiting very patiently in their plastic chairs and as the program began a choir of children blessed us with two beautiful songs. “We welcome you...” they sang. Girls in frilly dresses and boys dressed in their best (some in little suits that showed wear) sat quietly as the gospel presentation was given. Many around the room stood to pray when they were invited to receive Jesus.

Then our team moved to prepare to distribute the boxes.  This was a surprise to the children and some seemed overwhelmed by the whole event. They lined up obediently by age groups (girls on one side of the room and boys on the other) and one-by-one came up to receive a box and a copy of “The Greatest Gift” in Swahili. When all had a box the famous 3-2-1” countdown was sounded and children began to open their boxes with a range of responses.

Some of the tiny ones could not understand and had to be coaxed to open their boxes. This adorable little guy refused to open his box.

Over time the children began to explore their boxes more and we all circulated through the crowd showing them how things worked. One little girl tried to use a glue stick as lip balm so I stopped her and used a piece of her paper to show her how the glue stick worked but, truthfully, it didn’t seem very useful.

It was about 70 degrees outside but a number of children wore heavy coats and/or knitted hats so don’t be afraid of sending winter clothing items.

I was so busy playing outside with the children that I missed being with my team as they prayed for Pastor Kennedy but I heard it was a moving experience. Many mothers were there and it was meaningful to encourage them. I mean, moms everywhere love to hear they have beautiful children!

This beautifully-robed girl wanted her picture taken outside with “the flowers”. Her name is Maryglory—a name as beautiful as she.   And this little sweetie loved carrying her new doll on her back like any African mama. (I have tried to upload these pics 3 times with slow Internet and will add them another day)

Praising God for a wonderful time of seeing His goodness.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Here At Last

After 36 hours of travel (including 3.5 plus hours in Kenya) we made it to Tanzania!  I was a bit freaked out when a local official started to ‘help’ me by filling out the forms for entering the country for me instead of letting me do it myself but I guess he really was just being helpful.

After a great meal we’re getting ready to get some sleep—even though it’s only 2:00 pm in Erie. It’s 9:00 pm here and we are looking forward to a day of orientation tomorrow and our first outreach event in the afternoon.

We were all given beautiful roses by the Leadership Team when we arrived and I have resurrected a journal I have used for memorable OCC events in the past years.  Hoping to have some pictures of kiddos for you tomorrow so check back...

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A New Thing

A new thing—my first time writing a blog on my phone where instead of a full keyboard I have these little itty bitty rectangles that I laboriously seek and punch with the middle finger of my right hand. I have a goal to learn to use my thumbs but it’s a far-off goal I fear.

Still I wanted to keep you updated on another new thing. I am stationed in a “park & fly” hotel waiting for a 3:00 am wake-up call so I can begin a trip to Tanzania to see what God is doing there through Operation Christmas Child.

I hope to be able to post some pictures and update you as I go. Right now a policeman is trying to trap a raccoon from the room upstairs from me, but  alas I have no pictures.

And so the excitement begins. Please pray for the children in Tanzania who will soo. Receive these precious boxes and hear of God’s love. No greater excitement than that!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Praying for What?

So much prayer invested in decisions. I have been praying and have asked my prayer team and even Facebook followers to pray for over two months about getting storage space for a large delivery of shoebox items.

I made contacts and prayed. Then I prayed some more. Maybe I should have made more contacts? I was praying God would move the 'decider' in a local company to respond to my request and allow us to store 20 more pallets of items there.

But after two months of waiting and a number of phone calls there was no response. And I guess as the meme above says "No response is a response."

The stock of the items we wanted to order was getting perilously low so we made the decision last Thursday to place the order and have it shipped to our storage container. Well, it's not technically being shipped until June 13th when I return from my OCC Vision Trip to Tanzania.

I've been reflecting on all that prayer and wondering: is it worth it to keep banging on the door of heaven?  Does God get weary of hearing our 'much speaking'?

As I think about this I need to 'talk truth' to myself and remember God not only invites us to 'cast all our cares on Him' but He commands us to do so. Somehow I have to believe He answers--even when it seems like He doesn't. This time the answer was 'no' but that doesn't mean the asking wasn't valuable. And He made it clear to my eternally indecisive self when it was the right time to place the order and trust Him to find a place to store all of those pallets.

The story's not over yet. By God's grace the items haven't shipped yet so who knows? God will either have a better plan or open another window of opportunity.

Meanwhile, my right-arm team member, Pam, had this to say about this big order (and I share without her permission, but, really, what can she do?) ... Pam writes,

As far as storage - 
we can put them in a house, we can put them with a mouse, 
we can put them in a car, we can put them near or far, 
we can put them in a van, we can put them in with Pam,
we can put them on a plate, we can put them home with Kate, 
we can put them on a duck, we can put them in a truck,
we can put them here or there, we can put them anywhere.

And we WILL put them anywhere.  Only God knows.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


So many decisions. It seems like every time we make one there's another one popping up to take its place.

The good news is...we have a packing party goal! Our goal is to pack 22,000 well-filled boxes by 4:00 pm on September 14, 2019.

Now we're moving on to decisions about items to purchase--what and how many?  But those decisions are often based on other situations--like cash flow and storage. Right now I'm praying about  making a large order of thousands of items.  I'd like to try to get a better deal on them by reducing the shipping charges. Having them delivered to a place with a loading dock would help in that respect because we wouldn't need a lift gate for the delivery.

A local company allowed us to have 7 pallets of items delivered to them a few months ago. Unfortunately the man from my Life Group who was our contact there has been laid off from his job. I'm trying to make contact with them on my own and not having much luck. Today I worked up the nerve to call them (which took a lot of prayer and eating about 2000 calories before I took the plunge and dialed) only to get an automated directory followed by 20 rings of the phone when I dialed "0" for the operator and, ultimately, an answering machine that instructed me to leave a message.
Needless to say, that decision is still up in the air.

Meanwhile, there are little decisions that meander through the day--what to do about the team member who hasn't signed her ministry description?  what will I do if the two team members who haven't completed their recommitment don't follow through by the Friday deadline? what's my next move in the quest for a new Central Drop-Off?

I like to escape those decisions by completing a mundane task--like sorting stuffed animal donations. But I hit a decision wall there tonight, too.  I got four bags of stuffed animals donated by a sweet woman in her 90s who makes simple stuffed cats and fish for our boxes. But as I looked at them I realized her work is not what it was a few years ago--even a few months ago.  Are they good enough for our shoeboxes? If not, what do I do with them?

I'm so glad I found this verse this morning from Jehoshaphat's prayer in 2 Chronicles 20:12--"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You."

Father, I can't even decide what it means to keep my eyes on You but I know that's my greatest need. I know You are more than enough for me, for our team, and for every chain of decisions.

I'm deciding now to keep my eyes on You.