Life Posts

The Allure of the Easy Win

The Allure of the Easy Win

The tension between career and family burdens anyone who has them both. How do you know how many hours and effort to give to each one? Should they get equal time and attention or is there some other magic formula? In my own life and in mentoring other guys, I’ve learned a scary but important lesson: it’s far easier to succeed at work than it is to succeed at home. In fact, this is true for most people who go to “work” somewhere each day.

That’s because my job has clearly measurable outcomes. The decisions I make either result in success or something less than. I get performance reviews and have the potential to get a raise at the end of a good year. I’m constantly receiving feedback and adjusting accordingly. More than anything, I’ve figured out how to make it work. That doesn’t mean it always works as I’d like, but I’m pretty clear on what it would take if I’m willing and able to do it. This is an easy win.

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The Conundrum of the Cookie

The Conundrum of the Cookie

Life is full of uncertainty.

As a case in point, my wife and I recently had a handful of discussions that belong on an episode of Seinfeld. With the addition of our fourth child we realized that some of our household tasks were getting more difficult to keep up with. As a result, we asked for some recommendations of cleaning companies that could come a couple times a month. We received a handful and finally decided to try out one of the top options. We were both a bit uncertain about how the whole process works as we’ve never used a company like this before.

For our first appointment, my wife took the kids out of the house so that some cleaning could actually take place. When she returned a few hours later, she noticed that the house looked great and had a clean smell to it (maybe that was just mental, but I swear there is a “clean” smell). But one thing in particular caught Michelle’s eye.

There was a half eaten cookie in the living room.

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Mattresses, Money, and Misperceptions

Mattresses, Money, and Misperceptions

My wife and I had an interesting experience this week. We are currently shopping for a new mattress and thought we’d hit up a few stores to get a feel for what’s out there. Our first stop was the RoomStore and while we immediately had a greeter start a conversation with us, she had a bizarre, passive-aggressive style. When she asked us what we were looking for we replied that we were pretty open and were shopping for something that fit us. Her answer was that if we didn’t know what we wanted then she couldn’t help us. She then led us to the mattress section and walked away. I was surprised and bothered at the same time. Worse yet, she watched us from a distance. Now I only worked sales for a few years of my life, but I’m pretty sure that when someone is open you take that opportunity to guide them to something they will fall in love with. Not happening with our lady.

I looked at Michelle as we walked out and said, “That was weird, right?” She agreed.

We walked a few stores down to another mattress store. At this one, we saw a salesman again as soon as we entered. He was coming from somewhere in the back and after he said hi to us he sat down at a desk up front. The rest of the conversation we had with him, in which we asked him a few questions, he responded to us without making eye contact. He just continued to stare at his screen. We decided it was time to go again.

I looked at Michelle as we walked out and said, “I’m done shopping for mattresses, let’s get dinner.”

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Initial Thoughts with a Foster Child

Here's little Adelyn meeting the new baby for the first time.

Here’s little Adelyn meeting the new baby for the first time.

Last Tuesday Michelle and I received our first foster placement. We have been unbelievably blessed to invest ourselves in the life of a beautiful baby boy. Here are a few of the highlights of our experience so far, both the good and the bad.

Secrecy is bizarre, and even feels a bit cruel.

With foster kids you also adopt an interesting set of rules. We can’t show his face publicly (which is why you see the very selective camera angles in our pics). We can’t share his name publicly. And we can’t tell anyone (even our other family members) his story before ending up in our home. It is very odd to have such a major part of your life with the coupling of strict secrecy to go with it.

People often struggle with the concept of fostering but not with the actual children.

Before we got our little guy it often felt like people wanted to talk us out of doing this. We’d get comments like:

  • “Are you sure you are ready for this?”
  • “Your kids are so young already.”
  • “We could never do something like that.”

You walk away from these conversations second guessing yourself and feeling a little bit crazy. Clearly we aren’t thinking through this the way everyone else is. The result was that we were slightly nervous to see how people would react once we brought a child into our home. We couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. My Facebook post announcing the new arrival garnered nearly 500 “likes” and almost 100 comments. While you might argue that those types of metrics on social media are superficial, I can honestly say that it felt like a tremendous vote of support from a lot of people.

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The Tipping Point of Loyalty

burger kingAs I’ve written about before, I’m not a big fan of McDonalds. That meant that Burger King was my fast food common choice of preference. I say common choice because there seems to be more Burger Kings and McDonald’s than other fast food chains (and we all would choose In-N-Out if we had the choice).

But I’ve officially broken my loyalty to Burger King after my experience this weekend. I can boil this decision down to three things:

  • they’ve changed their fries from what I used to love to something I think is very subpar
  • they’ve stopped making my favorite sandwich, the BK Double Stacker
  • I waited twenty five minutes in the drive through line. I timed it. And I’ve never before been so close to driving over the landscaping to get out of the drive through line.

I will do my best to avoid Burger King from this point on. This is a little shocking since this was a place I used to enjoy. As I’ve thought about my change of heart I wondered how much it takes to break loyalty to something? Loyalty might be a strong word to describe my previous view of Burger King, but at least I had some type of relationship. I can clearly articulate three things that caused this change. But I wonder, would two of them have been enough? Would just one?

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Foster Video Pt.2

Michelle and I had previously filmed a video, originally used in our church, to begin to document our journey with foster care. It’s an overlooked issue for many people and an overwhelming process for everyone who takes the time to get involved. Our goal has been to tell the highs and the lows of the process and to encourage more people to get involved in one way or another. When you consider that there are around 15,000 orphans in the Arizona foster care system alone it is quite disturbing.

Here is our second video that we showed this weekend that updates our process after all of the training but before our first placement.