Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandela, Hope and God

From a recent email I received from Bernie Sanders:


World leaders gathered Tuesday for a memorial service for Nelson Mandela, who went from being a prisoner to being the president of his nation. “The extraordinary quality of Mandela was his persistence and refusal to give up even at extraordinarily disheartening moments,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, who witnessed Mandela’s inauguration. He said Mandela had an impact not only on South Africa but on the entire world “and he will continue to be a model as we continue our struggle to end racism and oppression.”


Here's what's so interesting to me about this man, Mandela: 

He gave up his life on account of his hope. It is recorded in the Bible that Jesus says if we cling to our life we will lose it and if we lose our life for his (Christ's) sake we will gain it. Nelson Mandela's life is an excellent depiction of what Jesus was talking about.

Mandela was motivated by his vision of equality and hope and was able to release his own comfort and pleasure. This is the kind of hope and vision that God gives. God can also grant the persistence and refusal to give up (belief) required to live into the hope.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Our best work. What should I do when I grow up?

Have you ever done a poor job on something? if you have, have you felt badly about it?  It seems like a lot of times we feel badly because we didn't try very hard.

And conversely, we usually feel pretty good when we do our best. Unless we get a sense that others didn't feel like it was a good job.

Which brings us to the possibility that the best work we can do is work that we have an ability for and that we try out best at.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Can we have conversations about real life through mass communications?

Recently reading the news on a website for a local radio station - the headlines were: woman dies in car crash. Man charged with abusing 13 week old baby.  VT Sugaring facilities smashed and robbed.

While these are current events, I think there are a lot of other current events happening also (including positive things).  It seems like a lot of our news is entertainment based.  I noticed this as I found myself scrolling down the page in search for the next shocking headline.  I wanted to be entertained and excited.  That feeling then made me want to read this webpage tomorrow to be shocked again. 

Then it hit me - this is why I don't watch much TV or read many traditional news outlets.  Our media channels are often based around a traditional profit model in which the company makes money if viewers come back and bring their friends.  And we know viewers/readers will come back if they are shocked/excited. 

So here's the bummer - in some of our public spaces, especially media driven spaces (like TV and newspapers) we aren't having conversations.  We're trying to entertain and excite each other.  So the broader social issues from immigration to gender identity are not being discussed in these channels in an honest, serious way.  Yet, those are the things that create the fabric and future of our shared nation and culture.

I wonder if there are mass communications that would enable us to have conversations about important things.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tuna (Brandon) Praised For Communications Work

Greetings friends. The below blog post was written by a friend and consultant, Mark Vincent.  He has been working closely with me (Tuna) on our campaign at Bethany Birches Camp to rebuild the main building at camp (Pavilion).  It's a high complement of my work.


Capital campaign communication: 2 awesome examples

We learn so much from our clients. Occasionally we can pass the benefits along.
I have been privileged to work with Bethany Birches Camp as they ready themselves for their first big capital campaign. Their Executive Director, still in the early stages of his career, is an outstanding example of someone who knows he doesn’t know and is therefore able to learn and grow and put a lot of long-timers to shame at the excellence he is already achieving.
Most noticeable is the way he, the board and volunteers have been able to inject the organizational culture of the camp into all their campaign communication. Whenever the constituency interacts with them they are having a camp experience, not just a communication from the camp. Here are two awesome examples:

1. Their video that introduces the campaign and makes the case provides an excellent standard other organizations can aspire to reach:

2. A recent update on an unanticipated project that could have harmed momentum conveys a non-anxious, thankful, yet light-heartedly determined way forward. Anyone who participated can find themselves in the blogs/photos etc. that are linked in the note. It provides a great personal touch mixed with the benefits of social media and web. Here is the text:
Greetings friends.  I’m writing with deep joy in my heart for each of you.  As you probably remember about a year ago we received some tough news from the fire marshal: that the Bethany Birches Cabin would be shut down April 1, 2012 until we complied with numerous requirements.
One of my biggest concerns was how we’d pay for the upgrades to the building.  My second concern related to how to get the work done.  Because of you, the work was finished and paid for!  THANK YOU!
Some goodies for you:
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support of this effort and for your ongoing help in Bethany Birches’ mission to help young people develop their relationship with God.  Without you we would still be without the use of the cabin!
And here is one more idea.  Why not take these examples to your development and/or communications team to view and then ask what is one step we might take to better inject our organization’s culture into our communication–especially in a capital campaign? How might our constituency have an ongoing experience and not just another communications piece?
mark l vincent, design group international

- See more at: http://bethanybirches.org/2013/06/bethany-birches-in-the-news/#sthash.SkuhAD1y.dpuf

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Living with Cheeks is a gift!

Here's a post I made yesterday at the Birch Blog about how great Cheeks is!
Many of you know Cheeks.  She’s been the Program Director at Bethany Birches for many years (this will be her 9th summer).  She also happens to be my wife.  We got married after working here at camp together for a few years.
To me, Cheeks has been a gift from God.  Let me explain:
Many days I realize this through various circumstances.  Today, I realized it again.  This time it was related to the fact that she doesn't get distracted by stuff (you could even say she doesn’t care much about stuff).  Seriously.  She doesn’t like to spend a lot of money on stuff.  She uses stuff until it breaks down entirely.  If she looses something, she shrugs it off and mentions that she didn’t really need it anyway.  Take her purse/bag for example.  Right now, there’s a hole in it and one handle has broken off.  She’s still using it.  If it broke entirely, she might never get a new one.  She might use another bag in the closet or fill her pockets.
I am quite different.  I like stuff.  I like high quality stuff and I like when it performs well.  If it gets scratched or damaged, I like to repair it.  Take my bike for example.  I rode it today and it was wet.  When I got home, I hosed it off and set it in front of a fan to dry.  I washed it so the chain was free of grit and used the fan so that nothing would rust.
Tuna Cheeks Thumbs UpHere’s the thing.  We only get so much time on Earth.  Old people tell me that it goes fast.  Researching, getting and taking care of stuff takes a lot of time.  And, those of us who care about our stuff can at times be on the verge of caring too much for it.  This is part of why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his stuff.
Back to me and Cheeks.  She is a constant example of what it looks like to care less about stuff.  With her attention not focused on stuff, she tends to focus on people… and she’s very good at considering others!  Not only is this a blessing to me, it’s a witness.
I hope you find a way to bless those you live with today like Cheeks blesses me.  When that way is unclear, look to Jesus.  He will show you.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pearls before swine

Perhaps you've heard the teaching from The Bible... in Matthew 7 about how you ought not to cast your pearls before swine (pigs).  Check this out - this is a good illumination of that passage:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Experts only need a couple skills

I'm struck that mastery of the basics is almost all one needs to become an expert. The other thing you need: doing it (racking up hours/experience).  I noticed this in skiing... I've only got a couple skills. But, I can apply them in different ways at different times depending on what the terrain and snow conditions require and what I'm trying to accomplish.  Knowing how to apply them and being able to apply these skills consistently is what makes it possible to be an expert skier.  I think the same is true with Basketball or cooking or supervising people.  In what are you an expert?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Goodro Lumber's excellent customer service

Why I love Goodro Lumber:
Today, I called and got Steve. I asked him if he could pick out a grout that was the same color as the tile I bought from them but slightly lighter in shade/color.  He said, "yup, no problem."  He called me back a little later and said that he thinks he found the right one.  On top of that, he called the manufacturer to clarify a detail to be sure he gave me the right one.

Now, get this.  Cheeks drives by Goodro some days when she teaches class.  I asked Steve if he could have the grout ready for her to pick up.  She stopped in and picked it up.  She said she was in there for about 2.5 minutes.  Talk about convenience!

Thanks guys for your excellent customer service.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Community, jail and a Franciscan priest named G-dog.

This morning, I woke up to the radio show On Being. Krista Tippet had guest Father Greg Boyle (G-dog). I loved what he was saying. He is clearly a love-filled man. So I googled him. I found this video.  It is well worth the 20 minutes if you have ever sensed that we as humans are connected yet live as though we aren't.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Simplicity and Getting Things Done

Seth Godin writes a blog. Today he posted this:

Hooked on hacking life

Perhaps you can quote the GTD literature chapter and verse, understand lean and MVP and the modern meeting standard. Maybe you now delete your emails with a swipe. It's possible you've read not just this blog but fifty others, every day, and understand go to market strategies and even have a virtual assistant to dramatically increase your productivity.
That's great. But the question remains, "what have you shipped?"
You're saving a ton of time, freeing yourself up to... do what, precisely?
The productivity industry doesn't do this work to entertain us. They're trying hard to help you get more done better. Emphasis on done.
Striving to get smarter, better and faster helps us create our future. The risk is that merely collecting, trading and discussing the tools turns into the point.
It's possible that your next frontier isn't to get more efficient, it's to get more brave.
I like it. I struggle with this. I love tools! I love tracking and understanding and learning.  Sometimes I forget to simply do the thing ("ship").

Cool story regarding doing the thing (shipping) - we're low on Lynx registrations (next week's snow camp).  Last night I created a two paragraph regular ol email via our camper database software (Campwise). No pictures. No attachments. Not even HTML. I simply asked people to come and tell their friends. I said we'd give them a $25 discount because we aren't full. I sent the email Fri. evening. Within 2 hours, 4 more campers were signed up and I had heard from 10 parents. Today, I'm still hearing from parents about that email and a few more have signed up.

KISS (keep it simple stupid)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lent & Fasting

Each Lent, I wonder what I should give up or take on.  I rarely feel right with God for more than a couple days in a row and so Lent often seems a time to reach out to God more fervently.  This year, I was struck by  a passage in Isaiah 58 that calls into question our individual-focused routines of giving up chocolate, coffee, etc.  I suspect those small sacrifices are very good. Our heart needs them.  Yet, there is more to look toward.  Here's the passage:

Isaiah 58:6-10 NIV “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

This video then helped me along a bit further in understanding of the type of fast that is desirable to the Lord.

May we be strengthened to loose the chains of injustice this whole year and in that process, may our addictions be transformed and lost.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Feet

Happy feet

In the movie, a penguin named Mumble follows his curiosity to find what's "out there." Swept up by his passion he almost dies and is placed in a position that allows him influence. In this position he does what comes naturally to him. He is reminded of his gift by a small child. And so he starts dancing!

He leads the way for his tribe and his guides are his sense and what was already given to him (his God-given giftings).

In the end, being true to his gift and the journey this took him on, saved his tribe.

This is similar to how we follow God and lead others along the way. Not a lot of certainty. Not a lot of proof. Only what we've been given and a compass for the next step. Only the voice of the one that whispers in the wilderness.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Don't take that promotion if you aren't going to be happy. The problem with promotions is that they end up getting you into a new job. It's great if it's the work you're best suited for. And it might not be a great move if the work you are doing right now is the work you're most suited for.

The biblical author Paul wrote a lot about the nature of our skills and motivations (gifts given us by God). We were created with a certain set of gifts. And when we use them and work in areas that exercise those skills, we excel.

Pursue something you're good at or something you like. A lot of times they are the same thing. You will make a greater contribution to the world doing what you were meant to do, promotion or not.

For more on this watch the movie Happy Feet.

Or listen to this interview with Seth Godin.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Passion and work

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook recently. I commented:
this is a very important issue - the nature of the deeper passion - the essence of this video - what is it you like doing? I have been uncovering the importance of a 15-year-long passion in my life and finding that it lies at the heart of what I do best at camp. And I'm learning to teach our college-age staff about the importance of this underlying love and passion and to release themselves to embrace it.
Another friend commented about God's plan. I commented
I agree! God's "plan"/way/intention/expectation for us is better than our own. In this sense, God is like a manufacturer of a product and has a full understanding of what the product is capable of and how to use it best. While this analogy is pretty weak (because products don't feel things and we do), it helps me when thinking about how best to serve, as Jesus instructed. I've experienced a deep fulfillment when fulfilling my call and at times, a lack of fulfillment when running from my call.


Where does your passion lie?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Unleash it!

Below is from here: http://www.inwardoutward.org/2013/01/15/angel-rock.

I have reposted it because I have seen and felt the power that comes from the release and use of our gifting (talents/God-given stuff).


An Angel in the Rock
Elizabeth O'Connor

Somewhere I heard a story about Michelangelo's pushing a huge piece of rock down a street. A curious neighbor sitting lazily on the porch of his house called to him and inquired why he labored so over an old piece of stone. Michelangelo is reported to have answered, "Because there is an angel in that rock that wants to come out." Every person has the task of releasing angels by shaping and transfiguring the raw materials that lie about [us].... How we do this...is determined by the discovery and the use of our gifts.

Source: Eighth Day of Creation


Click here for all sorts of pictures from parts of our lives