Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adjusting our Just Prayers

Ever tried to pray without the word just? It's difficult. Me being a word guy, just prayers kind of bug me. Why?

Think about how we use just:

If I just had a little more time.
I'll just have a little piece of pie.
If I could just get this one project finished.

We use just when we only want this one thing. We use just when we don't want too much, but this modest amount. We use it when we want just enough but not too much.

God, if you could just fix this problem...
God, if you could just bring comfort...
God, if you could just...

Maybe God's presence is in proprtion to how we pray. Maybe He hasn't done more amazing things because we've asked him to just do this and just do that. Maybe our just prayers unintentionally put restraints on the Lion of Judah more than unleash Him.

I don't want to "just God." I want to boundlessly unleash God!
I don't want a modest piece of God, I want him to run all over my plate of problems!
I don't want God to only do this thing I'm asking.
I want him to be all over, around, under and through the geographical area of my problems!

Here's my challenge: try to pray without the word just. Pray in a way that asks God to fully and wildly be in the entire vicinity of your concerns and needs. It will change how you pray.

Adjust your just prayers and see how it changes the way you perceive, relate with and pray to our limitless God. 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Feel Free to Ask me About...


I often run across people who tip-toe around the issue or say cautiously, "I'm sure you're tired of talking it..."

For the record, feel free to ask me anything you'd like about this. Anything.

God provided, rescued and healed me in amazing ways. I am glad to talk about being fortunate enough to be part of His insane and powerful story that played out in Haiti that week.

In fact, sometimes when I talk about it I get a new insight or perspective. And I'm quite sure He didn't save me so that I could be tight-lipped about what happened.

So feel free to ask...whatever...


In case you haven't heard it, here's the link to the team's interview about the ordeal the Sun following at Oakbrook Church.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Occupy the Y--wk 3 Begins w/the Tres Hombres

Posts in this series:

Caution: some sweating may occur during workouts. Ok, plenty of sweating occurs. If nothing else I am excelling at panting like a collie in August and sweating like a colander.

When one is still north of three hundred pounds and has lived a very sedentary lifestyle, being out of breath and sweaty comes quickly and easily at the Y. That said, there's something good about sweating. Maybe it's the contrast of winter when we're seemingly always cold, but I think there's more to it.

It feels good to sweat. It's evidence that you're doing something. I don't usually take a towel with me; I prefer to wipe my sweaty face with the chest-part of my shirt. (No, I don't pull the bottom of my shirt over my head exposing my sexy beast tum-tum!) My sweat mark on my shirt is my mental badge of courage. It reminds me I'm working, making progress.

After two weeks it's going pretty well. I feel like I a got a little closer with Nicole last week and engaged her as a person, not a punishing trainer. (I'm still reserving that right, though.)

I looked forward to some workouts. I enjoyed the weight machines--the white ones that I never knew how to use. I like those much more than free weights as I can just focus on moving them since they'll dictate the motion. I got called "a machine" on those! (With free weights I wonder if my technique is correct; the machines ensure that it is.)

It was clearly better than week one; week one sucks, people. But it is still hard. The stairs are killers (and the Y has a huge stockpile of them). It's still emotionally and physically difficult to keep pushing through the cardio times when Nicole isn't there; not like it's easy when she's there.

So far I'm clearly feeling better, breathing better, standing taller, losing weight, and...looking forward to it.

Yes. My day's lead up to 4pm when workouts begin. It forces me to be done with work and look forward to something else. (Honestly I'm probably looking forward to being DONE at 5.)

Hey...if I can do this...anybody can do this! If you're thinking about it...do it. The YMCA's a great place to hang out...except for the big sweaty panting guys like me ;-)

The Tres Hombres are there gasping for breath Mon-Fri 4-5pm.

If you want to follow us on the Twitters we're
@GraphicsKing209 (Chad McCarter)
@DuBeeDuBeeDoo (Dave Dubois)

Peace my friends!
      --Morgan of the Tres Hombres

Friday, January 20, 2012

What I Learned at McDonald's

My first management job was at the W. Sycamore McDonald's when I was 19 years old. That was back when they had snazzy 100% polyester uniforms; tres chic!

The store manager was Scott (Dana) Sutton. His leadership marked me in profound ways that stick with me today. Allow me to share some "Sutton-isms."

1. "Don't make your best hamburger cooker a manager!"
This is about gifting and this is a mistake we see all over the workforce landscape from fast food restaurants to the NFL. Cooks and managers have different skill sets; being great at one may have nothing to do with the other.

The world needs both. Every organization need people who excel at every level. How many times do we see great assistant/position coaches in the NFL get promoted to Head Coach only to fail miserably? (e.g. Wade Phillips, Dom Capers, Steve Spagnola) If you're a great hamburger cooker, be the best at it!

Know who you are. Find out your strengths and use them. Don't aspire to be someone you're not and don't let someone else put you in a position to be who you aren't. 

2. "Keep your car clean."
This came from a situation where a new District Mgr came in and didn't like one of the great local managers because he thought he was a slob. Scott said, "All he has to do is clean up his car and take the new D.M. for a ride in it."

This may sound silly but simple things like how we keep our car makes an impact on people. People will draw conclusions about us based on how we keep our car, our home, our desk, our clothes etc. This is human nature. And guess what? How we take care of these mundane areas of our life does reflect who we are and how together or not-together we are.

3. "You running the shift or is the shift running you?"
This was a common question asked of inexperienced mgrs. But it's a great question. The question reveals that how things are going isn't happenstance or fate or flukes; it's based on our command (or lack of command) of the situation.

And this isn't just about shifts. Try these out:
You running your life or is life running you?
You running your schedule or is your schedule running you?
You running your kids or are your kids running you?
You running your finances or are your finances running you?

This is about taking responsibility, not excuses. You can do it!

4. "If I don't goof off once in a while, you'll never want my job, then I'll be stuck with it forever."
He would always say that in jest but it's deeper than that. We should perform our jobs in such a manner and attitude that someone would aspire to it. Seriously, if we're complaining and being negative, who would want our job? Who would want to move up in the organization?

It revealed that with rank come privileges; which is good! And it also paved the way for possibility. It let us know he didn't want that job forever and that his job was preparing us to take his someday. It's a statement of succession. Every organization needs people grooming people to move up.

Who can you help prepare to move up? Who can help you move up?

Big thanks to Scott (Dana) Sutton: a straight shooting pull-no-punches manager who did a great job of building into young punks like me ;-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hope: Marriage Seminars & the Y

I noticed something new this week. Most of the people working out at the YMCA are fit. Overweight guys like me are the minority.

And likewise, when I looked at the list of people signed up for a marriage seminar our church is hosting this Saturday, something stood out: the majority of couples signed up have what I would say are strong marriages.

Honestly I got discouraged when I looked at the list. "There should be a ton of people I don't know on here!" I thought. My nose got quite out of joint actually. I thought, "The next time someone from our church wants my help with their marriage, I'm going to say, 'And where were you guys Jan 21?!'"

But later it occurred to me about the Y. That it's full of fit people. And that I, in my poor health, had passed it by hundreds of times.

What finally got me to the Y? First, God had set something in motion with one sentence at a leadership conference in August. Next I'm at Dr. Haendigas' office. Later came a personal challenge from Dave Dubois and my wife. And finally, only now am I there five days a week. (And my journey is FAR from over!)

So when I see the marriage seminar sign up list I realize it's indicative of human nature. Fit people exercise. Intelligent people read. Spiritually mature people pursue God. People with good marriages work on their marriages.

And those with average (or worse) marriages don't know how to improve their marriages. They don't prioritize wisely. They don't choose to go to marriage seminars. Perhaps they lack hope; they don't believe their marriage can change. Much like I didn't have hope all those times I drove past the Y.

So we need to personally reach out--if we know someone with an average (or worse) marriage, we need to invite. Invite them to Saturday's marriage seminar. Invite hope into their life.

Who do you know who wants a stronger marriage? Or let me ask it another way: Who do know who's really enjoying their mediocre marriage?

Fusion 2.1 Marriage Conference. Check it out. Invite. Sign up day of if you wish.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wedding Photographer?

So I've been telling people, "I'm not a wedding photographer." Why?
1. People can be really uptight at weddings (Bridezilla is a word.)
2. You've got one shot at it; ONE.
3. They're Fri. and nearly all day/night Saturday.
4. Um yeah, I have a job ;-)

Contrary to my words, I've accidentally done two:

I said yes to EJ & Alyssa because they're great young people and I wanted to give them a (hopefully) great gift. I said yes to Echo because she's Echo: she has a great personality, would never be a Bridezilla, doesn't know how to take a bad photo and her location was to die for.

I'm not sure who in their right mind asks someone to photograph their wedding, whose really not shot a wedding before. But perhaps Echo's reckless confidence in my modest photography skills made me want to do it. Who doesn't like a wild card? A long shot? A little risk?

So currently...I have two people asking about my availability to shoot their weddings. What to do? What to do?

Feel free to weigh in.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Occupy the Y: wk 2 Begins

(If you missed the first post in this series, click here.)

It's Monday night and week 1 of 12 is in the record books. The good news is today's workout went pretty well. The elliptical machine kicks my butt, but Chad McCarter & I survived it.

So far I've learned a few things:
1. I'm in incredibly poor shape.
2. This is hard physically and mentally.
3. Dave's the loud one, Chad is the nice one & I'm the quiet one.
4. Nicole is very nice but I'm still nervous when she's there.
5. I left the C out of the YMCA...

I realized today that in our first week of working out it was just me versus the workout. I know God is in me, wants to be with me, and do life with me. But somehow last week I locked Him in my car during the workouts.

So today I tried to smuggle Him in. Here and there as I was gasping for breath, I tried to pray to Him. I'd asked Him to help me grow in strength mentally, physically, and spiritually. I prayed for our church staff and my family.

No long profound prayer time here; I mean I am seriously just struggling to stay in the game when we're there. But I found while praying on the treadmill today, the time seemed to go faster. Not that I was going any faster, mind you.

So as we start week 2, I am aware how mentally tough this is. And I am aware that God wants to go with me to the workouts w/Nicole and the other Hombres. Because clearly--He needs a good laugh too!

Thankful to be part of this. If you're so inclined and would like to pray for me in this, that would be great. If you're not so inclined, little dabs of encouragement do wonders.

If you want to follow us on the Twitters we're
@GraphicsKing209 (Chad McCarter)
@DuBeeDuBeeDoo (Dave Dubois)

Peace my friends!
      --Morgan of the Tres Hombres

21 Ways to Make 2012 Better

 This came from Mark Malin's Jan 9th Oakbrook Blog. It's so good it warrants re-posting. Choose one or two that stick out, implement them and see what happens!

1.  Believe the best about people. Make trust your default, not suspicion.

2.  Be on time. Great leaders are rarely late.

3.  Under promise and over deliver. Our tendency is to do the opposite.

4.  Stop blaming people. Just stop.  Your will start taking responsibility for yourself as a result.

5. Pray for your enemies. You will forgive them…and they will not be your enemies for long.

6.  Review the week ahead on Sunday night for ten minutes. Monday won’t seem nearly as intimidating

7.  Get up earlier. The early bird actually usually does get the worm.

8. Go to bed earlier. Stop falling asleep on the couch.

9.  Read the bible. Read at least 3 verses of scripture every morning, more if you’re up to it.

10. Never say “I don’t have the time.” Instead, say “I’m not going to make the time.”   It will change how you see time…and priorities.

11.  Smile. Most people look moderately unhappy most of the time.

12.  Clean your personal space. A clean desk, car or office makes you feel better about yourself.

13.  Give 10%.  Give away the first tenth of everything you make.  You’ll be surprised at how liberating this is.

14.  Pay cash (as in bills in your wallet) for discretionary items. You will spend less and save more.

15.  Exercise.  Enough said.  Just get moving.

16.  Do something for yourself everyday. People who care for themselves are better at caring for others.

17.  Read outside your area of interest. Apps like Zite and Flipboard even make this so easy.

18.  Automate what’s important. Schedule appointments with yourself for what matters.  Automatically take savings and givings out of your bank accounts.

19. Serve somewhere. People who serve others live longer and are happier.

20.  Show up prepared. Whether it’s a meeting or simply coming home, prepare yourself before you show up.

21. Play. Most of us have forgotten how to play.  Rediscover it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Occupy the Y: Day 1 of 12 Weeks

photo dubiously acquired from Kokomo Perspective...

The last couple months of 2011 ended positively with a great partnership with Dr. Haendigas' medical weight loss program. Lost 20 lbs and continuing on with her great staff--wonderful program and people!

Now to add the piece of the Haendigas puzzle that I heretofore have not been very good at: (enter music of dread) Physical Exercise!

Thanks to my wife, the YMCA and personal trainer, Nicole Peele (oy--if she only knew what she was getting herself into) YMCA CEO Dave Dubois, Kokomo Perspectivian Chad McCarter and I will spend five days a week working out together under Nicole's Torquemadian guidance for the next twelve weeks.

For simplicity in the future I'll simply refer to us as the Tres Hombres. That sounds slightly of infamy but simply translated: three guys. How descriptive and apt.

I have to admit, approximately 2 hours from workout #1 I'm a little nervous. Human nature; fear of the unknown. And slightly nervous about my lower back disc issues; I ain't a kid anymore!

All jokes aside, I truly appreciate the Kokomo YMCA and Nicole and the other Dos Hombres for making this opportunity possible. More than the nervousness, I am looking forward to pursuing physical health in a holistic way that I've never done before. What an opportunity!

So look for the occasional blog update and follow along on "the twitters" @morgancafe. Now let's get this party started! ;-)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Gospel of Food

This week I had the honor of performing a funeral for a friend's mother. To my surprise God has revealed to me over the years that funeral's are in my wheelhouse. That is to say, He's gifted me in such a way to serve people well through them. As I see it, for me as the officiant I am in essence the story-teller of the deceased's life. Listening and putting words together in a meaningful way is a good fit for me. It's a blessing to bless people in this way. God is good.

Nevertheless, this post is not about that. This is about the simple and profound impact of food.

While we were at the funeral, Shelia Miller had arranged to bring a huge spread of fabulous food to the family's home. Prior to that, she had organized a small army of women to bring these dishes to the church.

Most people in our church don't know this behind-the-scenes stealth group of culinary angels exists. But allow me to say, their impact is profound and meaningful.

As we got back to the house, a huge spread of comforting food enveloped the large kitchen, from sides, salads, entrees and desserts. As I hung out over the next hour I honestly can't tell you how many times I overheard these words,

"Who brought all this food. It's amazing!" "DeAnna's church." "Wow..."

It's truly amazing what a simple and touching blessing it is for a family who just buried a loved one, to come home to an array of wonderfully delicious food. It's more than just convenience; it's very real care and compassion.

And I just kept hearing, "WHO did this?" "The church. Her church did this."

I can assure you, this makes an impact on people. I didn't know everyone there. But I know there was everything from sinner to saint. And it spoke to them all. Compassion is the universal language of love. It translate whether Christ is one's Savior or just an idea.

At a time like this, food is one of the most loving testimonies the church could provide. I am so proud of Shelia and all the women who serve stealthily in such a hands-on loving way. The gospel of food speaks to everyone in challenging times; and I believe the Holy Spirit uses this opportunity to linger about the bounty.

Pass the chicken...