Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chinglish by Renee Liang

Chinglish
Yesterday

a shop lady smiled at me
and said,
Your English is very good

her eyes crinkled
in a let's-be-nice-to-aliens way.

I wanted to say

of course it bloody is,
I was born here...

Renee Liang, New Zealand Poet.

Source
Doctor Poet, Ingenio: The University of Auckland Alumni Magazine, Spring 2010, 22-23 (Click on this link to download article about Renee Liang).

Geoff Pound

Image: Photo of Renee Liang, courtesy of Ingenio from the article cited above).

E M Forster on Keeping Proportion While Living and Dying

E M Forster in ‘Howards Way’ makes this intriguing comment about the death of one of the characters, Ruth Wilcox.

‘Some leave our life with tears, others with an insane frigidity; Mrs. Wilcox had taken the middle course, which only rarer natures can pursue. She had kept proportion. She had told a little of her grim secret to her friends, but not too much; she had shut up her heart—almost, but not entirely.”

“It is thus, if there is any rule, that we ought to die—neither as victim nor as fanatic, but as the seafarer who can greet with an equal eye the deep that he is entering, and the shore that he must leave.”

Source (via Barrie Hibbert)
E M Forster, Howards End, Chapter 12.

Geoff Pound

Image: “But as the seafarer who can greet with an equal eye the deep that he is entering, and the shore that he must leave.” The Seafarer's Memorial, Nelson, New Zealand

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Blessings of Discomfort, Anger, Tears and Foolishness

This Franciscan prayer is down-to-earth, honest and counter-cultural:

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Source unknown but it comes via Michael Hyatt’s fine blog.

Geoff Pound

Monday, November 08, 2010

Anton Gaudi: ‘My Client is Not in a Hurry’

Pope Benedict XVI this last weekend dedicated the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona in the presence of Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

Benedict praised Anton Gaudi, the original architect of this grand building, for bridging the division between human consciousness and spiritual reality, between life here and now and life eternal.

The church leader said: “Gaudi did this, not with words but with stones, lines, planes and points.”

The Sagrada Familia or ‘holy family’ church is still unfinished after more than 100 years but the completion of the interior space was the reason for this service of blessing.

Gaudi only lived to see one tower and most of one façade finished by the time he died in 1926.

He planned the church to have 18 towers—12 for each apostle, four for the evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary and the tallest tower for Jesus.

Only 8 towers have been completed and the hope is to finish the entire building by 2026, the anniversary of the death of Anton Gaudi.

Asked why it was taking so long to finish the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi replied, “My client—meaning God—is not in a hurry.”

Source
Pope Urges Spain to Shun Secularism, CNN, 7 November 2010.

Geoff Pound

Image: “He planned the church to have 18 towers—12 for each apostle, four for the evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary and the tallest tower for Jesus.”

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Bannister, Landy and Santee, Training for Self-Mastery

Neil Bascomb has written a wonderful book called The Perfect Mile.

In it he tells the story of Roger Bannister, John Landy, and Wes Santee, three athletes who committed themselves to breaking the four-minute mile.

Bascomb writes:

All three runners endured thousands of hours of training to shape their bodies and minds. They ran more miles in a year than many of us walk in a lifetime. They spent a large part of their youth struggling for breath. They trained week after week to the point of collapse, all to shave off a second, maybe two, during a mile race—the time it takes to snap one's fingers and register the sound. There were sleepless nights and training sessions in rain, sleet, snow, and scorching heat. There were times when they wanted to go out for a beer or a date yet knew they couldn't. They understood that life was somehow different for them, that idle happiness eluded them. If they weren't training or racing or gathering the will required for these efforts, they were trying not to think about training or racing at all.

The term some have used to describe what these men were doing is self-mastery. Others prefer the word discipline. Some athletes would be happy with conditioning.

Each of them describes the attempt to push oneself beyond the ordinary and achieve something unique and extraordinarily satisfying.

Sources
Neal Bascomb, The Perfect Mile (Houghton Mifflin, 2004).
Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, Nelson Books: Nashville, 2004, 129-130.

Geoff Pound

Image: Roger Bannister crossing the tape at the end of his record breaking mile run at Iffley Road, Oxford. He was the first person to run the mile in under four minutes, with a time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Original Publication: Aldus Disc - People & Personalities - 1353 - 12 (Photo by Norman Potter/Central Press/Getty Images)

“They trained week after week to the point of collapse, all to shave off a second, maybe two, during a mile race—the time it takes to snap one's fingers and register the sound.”

What Mandela Taught Us On Robben Island

Gordon MacDonald recounts:

A few years ago I had the privilege of having a personal introduction to Nelson Mandela.

It is one of the most memorable moments of my life. Not because I am a hero-worshiper, but because of the experience I had in his presence.

When he entered the room and joined one other person and myself, I felt as if I was being enveloped in a cloud of grace. The man simply projected a spiritual force that left me dumbfounded.

What Did Mandela Teach?
Years before meeting Mandela, I had interviewed a man who had been imprisoned with him on Robben Island for five years. “We had rooms [cells] next to each other,” he told me.

“What did he teach you?” I asked.

“He taught us to forgive,” came the answer. “I was a bitter young man, and Mandela picked it up immediately when we first met.

He said to me, “Son, you are of no use to our movement until you learn to forgive the white man. You can hate his cause, but you cannot hate him.”

When I was privileged to meet Nelson Mandela, I felt that gracious power that accounted for his splendid resilience. To come from twenty-seven years of imprisonment (the majority of his adulthood) and walk into the light and challenge the South African people—white and black—to forgive was the single most important thing that saved a nation from catastrophic bloodshed.

Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, Nelson Books: Nashville, 2004, 129-130.

Geoff Pound

Image: “He taught us to forgive.”

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Character in Motion

In his book Seizing Your Divine Moment, Erwin McManus writes of a day when he was speaking at a Christian retreat in Florida.

His family had accompanied him on the trip. "My assignment," McManus relates, "was to call several thousand singles to a life of sacrifice as we basked in soothing tranquility."

During some free time, McManus and his ten-year-old son, Aaron, took a walk along the ocean. Suddenly he noted a disabled man on crutches, struggling to make his way to the water's edge to join other bathers. But because the sand was too unstable, the man fell and was unable to get up again. McManus admits that his instinct was to turn and walk in the opposite direction.

I know this instinct. It is the part of each of us that prefers not to get involved, not to face something that could be beyond our grasp. The temptation is to freeze, ignore it, hope that someone else will step up to the situation. Something in one's character goes into neutral, and self-interest threatens to trump self-sacrifice.
Not so with McManus's boy.
“My son stopped me;” McManus says.
"I have to go help that man," the boy said.
McManus: "I could only look at him and say, "Then go help him."'

When the fallen man proved too heavy for a small boy to help, others quickly gathered around and offered the necessary strength. At first the child was distressed that he could not do it himself, but McManus said, "I explained to Aaron that his strength carried the man. It was because of him that others came to his aid."

This is character in motion, best illustrated in the instincts of a ten-year-old.

Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, Nelson Books: Nashville, 2004, 60-61.

Geoff Pound

Image: “Suddenly he noted a disabled man on crutches, struggling to make his way to the water's edge to join other bathers.”

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Down-to-Earth Truths in the Egyptian Desert

In his book Soul-Making, Allen Jones describes a visit to the Coptic Monastery of St. Macarius in the Egyptian desert.

His host, Father Jeremiah, a bearded monk of indeterminate age, filled him full of stories of the desert fathers. Like this one.

One day, it is said, Saint Macarius, among the wisest of monks, was asked by a young man, “Abba, tell us about being a monk.”

Marcarius responded, “Ah! I'm not a monk myself, but I have seen them!”

Gordon MacDonald, who recounts this story, picks up on the monk’s humility and stresses the truth that life is less about titles, roles, positions, realizations and intentions and more about becoming and letting our lives match our words.

Source
Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life (Nelson Books: Nashville, 2004, 59-60).

Geoff Pound

Image: Monk from the Coptic Monastery of St. Macarius in the Egyptian desert (Photo courtesy of J P Quinlan and licensed under Creative Commons).

Mid-Life Can Be a Time for Sober Thinking

John Dean of Watergate fame wrote:

My view [of my life] has been backward, not forward ... and I have been dwelling on the trivial, on the insignificant too much.

Time is running out and I must come to terms with my life. The days for fantasizing great achievements are gone. Ambitions and goals must be realistic if I want to avoid great disappointment at the end.

Sources
John Dean, Blind Ambition (Simon & Schuster, 1976).
Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, Nelson Books: Nashville, 2004, 56.

Geoff Pound

Image: John Dean

Monday, November 01, 2010

This Extraordinary Quality of Growth

Going from "kid brother" to senior statesman was an extraordinary journey for Ted Kennedy, matching the similar journeys taken by his brothers John and Robert.

All three of the Kennedy brothers who entered our national public life — meaning the three who survived World War II — demonstrated this extraordinary quality of growth, particularly after they arrived in Washington.

Too many successful politicians stop growing once they reach there, certain that they already know it all and have completed their growth within the biblical standard of "wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and Man."

But not the Kennedys, and certainly not Edward Moore Kennedy.

Ted Sorensen, Sorensen on Kennedy: The ‘Kid Brother’ Who Grew Up, Time, 26 August 2009.

Geoff Pound

Image: Ted Kennedy.

‘Finding Out What Works and What Doesn’t, What Fits the Style’

There’s an interesting insight about learning how to make your speeches work by testing them out on people and evaluating.

It comes from a New York Article that pays tribute to the speech writer of J. F. Kennedy, Theodore C. Sorensen:

“It was only after we had crisscrossed the country and began to build support at the grass roots, largely unrecognized in Washington, where Kennedy was dismissed as being too young, too Catholic, too little known, too inexperienced,” Mr. Sorensen said in the interview.

In those travels, Mr. Sorensen found his own voice as well as Kennedy’s. “Everything evolved during those three-plus years that we were traveling the country together,” he said. “He became a much better speaker. I became much more equipped to write speeches for him. Day after day after day after day, he’s up there on the platform speaking, and I’m sitting in the audience listening, and I find out what works and what doesn’t, what fits his style.”

Source
Theodore C Sorensen, 82, Kennedy Counselor Dies, New York Times, 31 October 2010.

Geoff Pound

Image: JFK and Theodore C Sorensen: “I find out what works and what doesn’t, what fits his style.”

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Celebrating the Last Spike

Stephen Ambrose's book Nothing Like It in the World tells the story of the building of the transcontinental railroad in America.

"The railroad took brains, muscle, and sweat in quantities and scope never before put into a single project," Ambrose wrote in his eminently readable history lesson.

Early in the story, Ambrose describes the moment when construction was to begin and certain California people decided that there ought to be a great ceremony. A host of dignitaries were invited to gather at the place where the first rail was to be laid.

One of those invited was Collis Huntington, perhaps the railroad's most important West Coast backer in California. But he declined, saying:

"If you want to jubiliate [celebrate] over driving the first spike, go ahead and do it. I don't. Those mountains over there look too ugly. We may fail, and if we do, I want to have as few people know it as we can ...Anybody can drive the first spike, but there are months of labor and unrest between the first and the last spike." (Emphasis mine)

Huntington was not romanced by first spikes, by premature celebration. It was the last spike in the process that grabbed his attention. Everything in between the first and last spike was his big picture, and until the picture was all filled in, he wasn't celebrating.

When construction of the railroad was finally completed in May of 1869, a last spike, a golden one at that, was pounded into place, and two locomotives (one from the east; the other from the west) moved forward until they touched.

A telegram was sent to President Ulysses S. Grant: "Sir: we have the honor to report that the last rail is laid, the last spike is driven, the Pacific Railroad is finished."

"The last rail is laid, the last spike is driven" (emphasis mine). Now maybe Collis Huntington had something to celebrate.

Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, Nelson Books: Nashville, 2004, 43.

Geoff Pound

Image: “When construction of the railroad was finally completed in May of 1869…”

Short, Sweet and Sufficient

Nordstrom. Inc. is an upscale department store chain in the USA that sells shoes, clothing, accessories, handbags and the like.

For years, Nordstrom’s Employee Handbook was a single 5×8” gray card containing these 75 words:

Welcome to Nordstrom
We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

During this time, Nordstrom had the highest sales per square foot performance in the retail industry – by almost double.

Founder of the business, Swedish immigrant, John Nordstrom, seemed to instill an uncomplicated approach that was short, sweet and sufficient.

Source
Nordstrom, Wikipedia via Signal v Noise.

Geoff Pound
Contact Geoff Pound on Facebook, Twitter or on email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com

Image: Nordstrom's Flagship Store in Seattle, Washington

Friday, October 29, 2010

Act Medium

The children worked long and hard on their little cardboard shack.

It was to be a special spot---a clubhouse, where they could meet together, play, and have fun.

Since a clubhouse has to have rules, they came up with three:

Nobody act big.
Nobody act small.
Everybody act medium.

Just "act medium." Believable. Honest, human, thoughtful, and down to earth. Regardless of your elevated position or high pile of honors or row of degrees or endless list of achievements, just stay real.

Source
Charles P Swindoll, Insight for Living, 29 October 2010.

Geoff Pound

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Max Lucado on Remembering Who Holds You

When my nephew Lawson was three years old, he asked me to play some basketball. A towheaded spark plug of a boy, he delights in anything round and bouncy. When he spotted the basketball and goal in my driveway, he couldn't resist.

The ball, however, was as big as his midsection. The basket was three times his height. His best heaves fell way short. So I set out to help him. I lowered the goal from ten feet to eight feet. I led him closer to the target. I showed him how to "granny toss" the ball. Nothing helped. The ball never threatened the net. So I gave him a lift. With one hand on his back and my other beneath his little bottom, I lifted him higher and higher until he was eye level with the rim.

"Make a basket, Lawson!" I urged. And he did. He rolled the ball over the iron hoop, and down it dropped. Swoosh!

And how did little Lawson respond?

Still cradled in my hands, he punched both fists into the air and declared, "All by myself! All by myself!"

A bit of an overstatement, don't you think, little fellow? After all, who held you? Who steadied you? Who showed you the way? Aren't you forgetting somebody?

Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 111.

Related
Beauty in the Midst of Busyness, SFS, 25 October 2010.
They are all our Children, SFS, 18 October 2010.
Save One Life. Save the World, SFS, 18 October 2010.
Max Lucado Experiences Transformation in Devastated Guatemala, SFS, 12 October 2010.
Oh to Hear a Human Voice, SFS, 10 October 2010.
Max Lucado Realizes What One Meal Can Do, SFS, 9 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa, SFS, 8 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Image: "Make a basket, Lawson!" I urged.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thomas Merton: ‘Living Fully the Thing I Want to Live For’

About fifty years ago, Thomas Merton wrote:

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I think I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully the thing I want to live for. Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. The better answer he has, the more of a person he is.

M Basil Pennington, Thomas Merton: Brother Monk (Harper & Row, 1987).

Further
Glen Hinson on His Life-Changing Encounter with Thomas Merton, SFS, 23 August 2009.
Thomas Merton’s Laughable Idea on the Streets of Louisville, SFS, 23 November 2008.
Thomas Merton on the Real Journey in Life, SFS, 5 October 2008.
Thomas Merton Identified, SFS, 30 September 2008.
Thomas Merton on What We Seek, SFS, 27 September 2008.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
How I Got to be a Success, SFS, 6 September 2006.
Holy Earthiness, SFS, 1 September 2006.
Who Am I? SFE, 5 March 2006.

Geoff Pound

Image: Thomas Merton: "ask me not ...how I comb my hair..."

Max Lucado Meets Dadhi an ‘Accident of Latitude’

I spent the better part of a morning pondering a question on the Ethiopian farm of Dadhi.

Dadhi is a sturdy but struggling husband and father. His dirt-floored mud hut would fit easily in my garage. His wife's handwoven baskets decorate his walls. Straw mats are rolled and stored against the sides, awaiting nightfall when all seven family members will sleep on them. Dadhi's five children smile quickly and hug tightly. They don't know how poor they are.

Dadhi does. He earns less than a dollar a day at a nearby farm. He'd work his own land, except a plague took the life of his ox. His only one. With no ox, he can't plow. With no plowed field, he can't sow a crop. If he can't sow a crop, he can't harvest one.

All he needs is an ox.

Dadhi is energetic and industrious. He has mastered a trade and been faithful to his wife. He's committed no crimes. Neighbors respect him. He seems every bit as intelligent as I am, likely more so. He and I share the same aspirations and dreams. I scribbled out a chart, listing our many mutual attributes. We have much in common. Then why the disparity? Why does it take Dadhi a year to earn what I can spend on a sport coat?

Part of the complex answer is this: he was born in the wrong place. He is, as Bono said, "an accident of latitude." A latitude void of unemployment insurance, disability payments, college grants, Social Security, and government supplements. A latitude largely vacant of libraries, vaccinations, clean water, and paved roads. I benefited from each of those. Dadhi has none of them.

In the game of life, many of us who cross home plate do so because we were born on third base. Others aren't even on a team.

You don't have to travel sixteen hours in a plane to find a Dadhi or two. They live in the convalescent home you pass on the way to work, gather at the unemployment office on the corner. They are the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, and the blind.

Some people are poor because they are lazy. They need to get off their duffs. Others, however, are poor because parasites weaken their bodies, because they spend six hours a day collecting water, because rebel armies ravaged their terms, or because AIDS took their parents.

Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 103-105.

Geoff Pound

Image: An accident of latitude.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Max Lucado on Taking Time to See a Person

Stanley Shipp served as a father to my young faith.

He was thirty years my senior and blessed with a hawkish nose, thin lips, a rim of white hair, and a heart as big as the Midwest. His business cards, which he gave to those who requested and those who didn't, read simply, "Stanley Shipp-Your Servant."

I spent my first post college year under his tutelage. One of our trips took us to a small church in rural Pennsylvania for a conference.

He and I happened to be the only two people at the building when a drifter, wearing alcohol like a cheap perfume, knocked on the door.

He recited his victim spiel. Overqualified for work. Unqualified for pension. Lost bus ticket. Bad back. His kids in Kansas didn't care. If bad breaks were rock and roll, this guy was Elvis. I crossed my arms, smirked, and gave Stanley a get-a-load-of-this-guy glance.

Stanley didn't return it. He devoted every optic nerve to the drifter. Stanley saw no one else but him. Now long, I remember wondering, since anyone looked this fellow square in the face?

The meandering saga finally stopped, and Stanley led the man into the church kitchen and prepared him a plate of food and a sack of groceries.

As we watched him leave, Stanley blinked back a tear and responded to my unsaid thoughts. "Max, I know he's probably lying. But what if just one part of his story was true?"

We both saw the man. I saw right through him. Stanley saw deep into him.

There is something fundamentally good about taking time to see a person.

Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 65-66.

Related
Beauty in the Midst of Busyness, SFS, 25 October 2010.
They are all our Children, SFS, 18 October 2010.
Save One Life. Save the World, SFS, 18 October 2010.
Max Lucado Experiences Transformation in Devastated Guatemala, SFS, 12 October 2010.
Oh to Hear a Human Voice, SFS, 10 October 2010.
Max Lucado Realizes What One Meal Can Do, SFS, 9 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa, SFS, 8 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Image: A most unusual business card: "Stanley Shipp-Your Servant."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beauty in the Midst of Busyness

At 7:51 a.m., January 12, 2007, a young musician took his position against a wall in a Washington, D.C., metro station. He wore jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. He opened a violin case, removed his instrument, threw a few dollars and pocket change into the case as seed money, and began to play.

He played for the next forty-three minutes. He performed six classical pieces. During that time 1,097 people passed by. They tossed in money to the total of $32.17. Of the 1,097 people, seven—only seven—paused longer than sixty seconds. And of the seven, one—only one—recognized the violinist Joshua Bell.

Three days prior to this metro appearance staged by the Washington Post, Bell filled Boston's Symphony Hall, where just fairly good tickets went for $100 a seat.

Two weeks after the experiment, he played for a standing-room-only audience in Bethesda, Maryland. Joshua Bell's talents can command $1,000 a minute. That day in the subway station, he barely earned enough to buy a cheap pair of shoes.

You can't fault the instrument. He played a Stradivarius built in the golden period of Stradivari's career. It's worth $3.5 million. You can't fault the music. Bell successfully played a piece from Johann Sebastian Bach that Bell called "one of the greatest achievements of any man in history."

But scarcely anyone noticed. No one expected majesty in such a context. Shoe-shine stand to one side, kiosk to the other. People buying magazines, newspapers, chocolate bars, and lotto tickets. And who had time? This was a workday. "This was the Washington workforce. Government workers mainly, on their way to budget meetings and management sessions. Who had time to notice beauty in the midst of busyness? Most did not.

Most of us will someday realize that we didn't either.

Sources
Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 167-168.
Gene Weingarten, Pearls Before Breakfast, Washington Post, 8 April 2007.

Related
They are all our Children, SFS, 18 October 2010.
Save One Life. Save the World, SFS, 18 October 2010.
Max Lucado Experiences Transformation in Devastated Guatemala, SFS, 12 October 2010.
Oh to Hear a Human Voice, SFS, 10 October 2010.
Max Lucado Realizes What One Meal Can Do, SFS, 9 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa, SFS, 8 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Geoff Pound’s new book on gratitude is described at this link: Talk About Thanksgiving.

Image: Joshua Bell plays in the subway.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Growing Insensitive Towards Pain?

In his book on Dr. Paul Brand, the physician who did so much to advance the treatment of leprosy, Philip Yancey relates that Brand would regularly take baths in scalding water.

His purpose was to discover if there were any parts of his body where he might have lost feeling, which would be a sign that leprosy had attacked him.

Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, Nelson Books: Nashville, 2004, 17.

Image: Dr. Paul Brand

Let Your Art Do the Talking

Henri Matisse once said:

“Artists should have their tongues cut out.”

What could he have meant?

Perhaps he was saying that the artist’s message comes through paint on canvas, not through the chatter of words.

Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, Nelson Books: Nashville, 2004, 17.

Image: Red Room, Henri Matisse.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Supplementing One Another

Everybody who has read that wealthiest of all northern biographies will remember the storm scene on the Highland loch.

Dr. Norman Macleod was in a small boat with a boatman, some women, and ‘a well-known ministerial brother, who was as conspicuous for his weak and puny appearance as Dr. Macleod was for his gigantic size and strength.’

A fearful gale arose. The waves tossed the boat sky-high in their furious sport.

The smaller of the two ministers was frightened out of his wits. He suggested that Dr. Macleod should pray for deliverance. The women eagerly seconded the devout proposal.

But the breathless old boatman would have none of it. He instantly vetoed the scheme. 'Na, na!’ he cried; 'let the wee mannie pray, but the big one maun tak' an oar if ye dinna a' want to be droned!’

The shrewd old Highlander was simply stating, in a crude way of his own, life's great supplementary law….

The gifts of each exactly supplemented those of the other. Each was the other's better half.

F W Boreham, ‘Our Better Halves,’ The Luggage of Life (London: Charles H Kelly, 1912), 216-219.

Image: Storm scene on a Highland loch.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Better Halves

Commander Verney L. Cameron tells this story of two men with leprosy that he met in Central Africa.

One had lost his hands, the other his feet.

They established a farm together. The leprosy victim who had no hands, and who could not therefore scatter seed, carried his legless brother, who could not else have stirred, upon his back; and thus, each supplying the other's lack, they broke their ground, and sowed their seed, and reaped their crop.

Source: F W Boreham, The Luggage of Life, 216-219.

Geoff Pound

Monday, October 18, 2010

They Are All Our Children

Some years back a reporter covering the conflict in Sarajevo saw a little girl shot by a sniper.

The back of her head had been torn away by the bullet.

The reporter threw down his pad and pencil and stopped being a reporter for a few minutes. He rushed to the man who was holding the child and helped them both into his car.

As the reporter stepped on the accelerator, racing to the hospital, the man holding the bleeding child said, "Hurry, my friend. My child is still alive."

A moment or two later he pleaded, "Hurry my friend. My child is still breathing."

A moment later, "Hurry, my friend. My child is still warm."

Finally, "Hurry. Oh my God, my child is getting cold."

By the time they arrived at the hospital, the little girl had died.

As the two men were in the lavatory, washing the blood off their hands and their clothes, the man turned to the reporter and said, "This is a terrible task for me. I must go tell her father that his child is dead. He will be heartbroken."

The reporter was amazed. He looked at the grieving man and said, "I thought she was your child."

The man looked back and said, "No, but aren't they all our children?’

Indeed. Those who suffer belong to all of us. And if all of us respond, there is hope.

Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 48-49.

Related
Save One Life. Save the World, SFS, 18 October 2010.
Max Lucado Experiences Transformation in Devastated Guatemala, SFS, 12 October 2010.
Oh to Hear a Human Voice, SFS, 10 October 2010.
Max Lucado Realizes What One Meal Can Do, SFS, 9 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa, SFS, 8 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Geoff Pound’s new book on gratitude is described at this link: Talk About Thanksgiving.

Image: “No, but aren't they all our children?”

Save One life. Save the world.

Twenty-two people traveled to London on a fall morning in 2009 to thank Nicholas Winton. They could have passed for a retirement-home social club. All were in their seventies or eighties. More gray hair than not. More shuffled steps than quick ones.

But this was no social trip. It was a journey of gratitude. They came to thank the man who had saved their lives: a stooped centenarian who met them on a train platform just as he had in 1939.

He was a twenty-nine-year-old stockbroker at the time. Hitler's armies were ravaging the nation of Czechoslovakia, tearing Jewish families apart and marching parents to concentration camps. No one was caring for the children.

Winton got wind of their plight and resolved to help them. He used his vacation to travel to Prague, where he met parents who, incredibly, were willing to entrust their children's future to his care. After returning to England, he worked his regular job on the stock exchange by day and advocated for the children at night. He convinced Great Britain to permit their entry. He found foster homes and raised funds. Then he scheduled his first transport an March 14, 1939, and accomplished seven more over the next five months. His last trainload of children arrived on August 2, bringing the total of rescued children to 669.

On September 1, the biggest transport was to take place, but Hitler invaded Poland, and Germany closed borders throughout Europe. None of the 250 children on that train were ever seen again.

After the war Winton didn't tell anyone of his rescue efforts, not even his wife. In 1988 she found a scrapbook in their attic with all the children's photos and a complete list of names. She prodded him to tell the story. As he has, rescued children have returned to say thank you. The grateful group includes a film director, a Canadian journalist, a news correspondent, a former minister in the British cabinet, a magazine manager, and one of the founders of the Israeli Air Force.

There are some seven thousand children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who owe their existence to Winton's bravery. He wears a ring given to him by some of the children he saved. It bears a line from the Talmud, the book of Jewish law: "Save one life. Save the world."'

Chalk up another one for the common guy.

Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 15-16.

Related
Max Lucado Experiences Transformation in Devastated Guatemala, SFS, 12 October 2010.
Oh to Hear a Human Voice, SFS, 10 October 2010.
Max Lucado Realizes What One Meal Can Do, SFS, 9 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa, SFS, 8 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Geoff Pound’s new book on gratitude is described at this link: Talk About Thanksgiving.

Image: “His last trainload of children arrived on August 2, bringing the total of rescued children to 669.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Seth Godin Warns About the Nile Perch

Seth Godin warns:

It's a huge freshwater fish, easy to catch and eat, and tempting to introduce into non-native waters.

And when it shows up? It will eat everything it can and probably drive competitive smaller fish extinct. Good intentions are rewarded with plenty of Nile perch (for now) but a degraded ecosystem in the long run.

There are bright shiny objects you can bring into your life (that project, that employee, that new office) that might just push the other useful items aside. You get hooked on them or they demand more attention or they make too much noise and the less-shiny projects or people whither away.

An art museum brings in a traveling show from a famous artist. It's important, expensive, time-consuming and brings big crowds. For the next six months, all eyes are on the big show. And then, of course, a vacuum, because the important but less glamorous work didn't get done.

A lawsuit or a merger or a shift to a new office space might seem like a good idea at the time—but be careful what you wish for.

The Nile perch is nefarious yet applauded (in the short run).

Don't be afraid to call it when you see it.

Seth Godin, Beware the Nile Perch, Seth Godin’s Blog, 10 October 2010.

Geoff Pound

Image: The Nile perch beside a proud fisherman.

Lessons on Luring Top Principals to Rescue Failing Schools

Many American schools have got into a downward spiral, even hiring school principals with no experience simply because no one else applied for what appeared to be a thankless job.

Rescue Mission
A Newsweek article reports that Peter Gorman, the school superintendent in Charlotte, N.C., concluded that the obvious solution was to persuade skilled educators to take on these rescue missions. But how could he get the district’s most effective principals, already ensconced in successful schools, to agree to transfers to the worst-performing ones? And what about the inevitable howl of protest from the communities they’d have to leave behind?

Transfer Solution
Gorman decided he needed a new approach. He considered simply transferring his best principals to his most challenging schools, but Yale economics professor Justine Hastings talked him out of it. “She told me that if I forced people to switch jobs, I would see the performance of some dip, while others would find another job.”

Pull Strategy
So Gorman decided to try a “pull” strategy—a way to entice principals to view these transfers as a desired challenge. Starting in 2008, with great fanfare, Gorman announced a new annual district-wide competition to identify the most effective principals.

Winners of the “Strategic Staffing Initiative” would be chosen based on hard data like the growth in their students’ achievement scores rather than how long they’d served or how well their school was regarded.

Offer Too Good to Refuse
Before announcing the winners to the TV cameras, however, the persuasive Gorman met privately with the principals and made them an offer he hoped they wouldn’t refuse: what he billed as the “opportunity” to turn around one of the district’s failing schools.

As part of the three-year deal, they’d receive a 10 percent raise and more freedom from district rules.

They would also get the chance to pick an eight-person transformation team—each of whom would get a raise, too.

The winning principals could also “transfer out” up to five teachers from their new school, including obstructionists, underperformers, and leaders of what principals call “the toxic lunchroom.” In exchange, Gorman said, “we expected them to transform the culture of the school to one in which high academic achievement is expected and achieved.”

Every One a Winner
Amazingly, every winner accepted the challenge. “It turns out people appreciate being recognized as being excellent at what they do,” Gorman says. “The program sold itself.” The results were startling, too. By late spring 2009, a year after the initiative started, student proficiency on the state test had risen in all seven of the original SSI schools, with some school scores rising by more than 20 points, a remarkable achievement.

Three Years Down the Road
The $3 million program is now in its third year and operating in 20 schools; so far, no one has turned down Gorman’s “prize.” “It’s quite amazing,” says Ann Clark, the district’s chief academic officer. “We now have principals approach us and ask, ‘Why wasn’t I chosen?’ ” And the district is getting inquiries about the program from reform-minded superintendents all over the country.

Schools Principals Left Behind
What about the parents and kids these principals left behind? The blowback Gorman feared never happened.

Families were supportive when Steve Hall, one of the first winners, moved from one of Charlotte’s wealthier schools. “I think they could see that I was excited about this opportunity, that this was where my heart was,” says Hall. “I told them that I considered this to be one of the most moral and ethical things I’d ever done in my life.” And he soon realized that his students saw it the same way. “Some of them stopped by to wish me luck,” he says. “One kid said, ‘I’m proud of you.’ ” To principals like Hall, there is no higher praise.

Source
Pat Wingert, An Offer They Wouldn’t Refuse, Newsweek, 12 October 2010.

Geoff Pound

Image: From the photo album of America’s Best Performing Schools

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Want to Be the President of the USA When I Grow Up

I recently asked my friends' little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up.

She said she wanted to be President of the United States.

Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there.

So I asked her, "If you were President, what would be the first thing you would do?"

She replied, "I'd give food and houses to all the homeless people."

Her parents beamed.

"Wow...what a worthy goal," I told her. "But you don't have to wait until you're President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and sweep my driveway, and I'll pay you $50. Then I'll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house."

She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, "Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?"

I said, "Welcome to the Republican Party."

Her parents still aren't speaking to me.

Neal Boortz, From a Listener, Boortz, 13 October 2010.

Geoff Pound

Image: A young girl asking President Obama about his policies.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In GPS We Trust

Many drivers have spoken positively of the help that a Global Positioning System (GPS) has been in enabling them to find the way to various destinations.

Unfortunately an increasing number of stories are being revealed of others being ‘led up the garden path’ by cars equipped with satellite navigational aids.

Stranded in the Outback
A family of four spent three nights stranded in their ute after ignoring warning signs and following their GPS navigation system on to a closed dirt road in the NSW far north-west.

Sunk in Spain
The Spanish Red Cross reported the story of a 37-year-old man who died after driving his car into a reservoir near the western town of Capilla.

"It seems the GPS system pointed them on to an old road that ends in the reservoir, and that in the dark they were unable to brake in time, with the car taking just a couple of minutes to sink," the Red Cross said in a statement.

Although both men managed to get out of the Peugeot 306, only one made it to the shore.

Pictures of the scene show the old road running on a slight downhill slope straight into the reservoir, which is the biggest in the country.

There was no explanation as to why the GPS still showed the road as usable. La Serena reservoir, which stores water from the Zújar river, was built in 1989.

What If it is Wrong?
It is perhaps the secret fear of all users of GPS systems: what if the device gets it wrong and leads you into danger?

Trusting directions and guidance can be a matter of life and death.

Geoff Pound

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hillary Clinton on Overcoming Differences by Commitment to Higher Loyalty

On her visit to Serbia, Hillary Rodham Clinton drew on her experience of learning to work with President Obama to urge unity in Bosnia.

She said that Bosnia could not move forward unless its Serbs, Muslims and Croats figured out a way to put country ahead of ethnicity.

That, she said, is what she and her former rival, and current boss, did.

“I tried to beat him,” Mrs. Clinton told a mixed group of students during the town hall meeting. “And he won. And then when he won, he asked me to work for him.”

“I’m often asked how could I go to work for President Obama after I tried to beat him,”

Mrs. Clinton added. “And the answer is simple. We both love our country. That has to be the mind-set here.”

Helene Cooper, Clinton, Citing Work with Obama, Urges Unity in Bosnia, New York Times, 12 October 2010.

Geoff Pound

Image: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with members of Bosnia's tri-government presidency in Sarajevo on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Amel Emric/Associated Press).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Max Lucado Experiences Transformation in Devastated Guatemala

In 1976 tremors devastated the highlands of Guatemala. Thousands of people were killed, and tens of thousands were left homeless.

A philanthropist offered to sponsor a relief team from our college. This flyer was posted in our dormitory: "Needed: students willing to use their spring break to build cinder-block homes in Quetzaltenango."

I applied, was accepted, and began attending the orientation sessions.

There were twelve of us in all. Mostly ministry students. All of us, it seemed, loved to discuss theology. We were young enough in our faith to believe we knew all the answers. This made for lively discussions. We bantered about a covey of controversies. I can't remember the list. It likely included the usual suspects of charismatic gifts, end times, worship styles, and church strategy.

By the time we reached Guatemala, we'd covered the controversies and revealed our true colors. I'd discerned the faithful from the infidels, the healthy from the heretics. I knew who was in and who was out.

But all of that was soon forgotten. The destruction from the earthquake dwarfed our differences. Entire villages had been leveled. Children were wandering through rubble. Long lines of wounded people awaited medical attention. Our opinions seemed suddenly petty. The disaster demanded team-work. The challenge created a team.

The task turned rivals into partners. I remember one fellow in particular. He and I had distinctly different opinions regarding the styles of worship music. I—the open-minded, relevant thinker favored contemporary, upbeat music. He—the stodgy, close-minded caveman—preferred hymns and hymnals.

Yet when stacking bricks for houses, guess who worked shoulder to shoulder? As we did, we began to sing together. We sang old songs and new, slow and fast. Only later did the irony of it dawn on me. Our common concern gave us a common song.

Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 43-44.

Related
Oh to Hear a Human Voice, SFS, 10 October 2010.
Max Lucado Realizes What One Meal Can Do, SFS, 9 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa, SFS, 8 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Geoff Pound’s new book on gratitude is described at this link: Talk About Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tendulkar Achieves 14,000 Runs by Maintaining Focus

In the second test cricket match between India and Australia at Bangalore, Sachin Tendulkar spoke about the importance of focus in his life in enabling him to find the centre of his bat and achieve his latest success.

Playing his 171st Test, Tendulkar became the first batsman to amass 14,000 Test runs, hitting Nathan Hauritz, the off-spinner, for a boundary in the 27th over of the Indian innings.

‘All I Need…is…Focus’
"[For the] last 20 years I have pushed myself really hard ... challenges are always going to be there for me. All I need to do is to focus as hard as possible, work on my fitness, lead a disciplined life and use my body cleverly," Tendulkar told Neo Cricket channel.

Since his 1989 debut in Pakistan, Tendulkar has come a long way, amassing more than 31,000 international runs, including 94 centuries. Named ICC [International Cricket Council] Player of the Year four days ago, he has enjoyed a prolific season with more than 1,000 Test runs in 2010.

‘Centre of the Bat’
Asked if things have changed for him in the last 10 years, Tendulkar said: "Nothing has changed. [I am] finding the centre of the bat and enjoying the game. There was a phase in between when, because of injuries and lot of other things, it was a little difficult to move the way I wanted to. Now it's been good."

Tendulkar’s Secret: ‘Using Body Cleverly’, The National, 11 October 2010.

Geoff Pound

Image: Tendulkar celebrates in Bangalore (Photo courtesy of AFP).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oh to Hear a Human Voice

If a voice could be a season, hers was springtime.

"Hello," she sang. "Thank you for calling."

I needed a kind welcome. The sky was pouring buckets of rain. Lightning had caused blackouts, and storms were jamming the traffic. News reports were telling drivers to stay off the roads. But I had a flight to catch.

So I called the airlines. They would know if the flight was late or canceled. "They would be the calm within the storm. And for a butterfly's blink of a moment, she was. "Hello, thank you for calling ..."

But then it came. Before I could thank her in return, the voice continued, "For quality assurance this call may he monitored ..." Not again.

Ancient sailors feared falling off the edge of the earth. Our pioneering forefathers dreaded blinding blizzards. The first missionaries to Africa sliced trails into dense forests. But none of our ancestors faced what you and I face: the Bermuda Triangle called computerized telephone service.

"Press one," she said, "for domestic flights."
"Press two for international."
"Press three if you know your flight number and the name of your congressman.
"Press four if you are a frequent flier in the central time zone with no children."
"Press five if the nine digits of your Social Security number total more than sixty ..."

It was all I could do to keep up! I finally pressed a number, and wouldn't you know it. I committed the equivalent of telephone harakiri. I was put on hold. For the foreseeable future I would be trapped in the underground cable cavern, doomed to spend hours listening to Kenny G and Barry Manilow.

Oh to have heard a human voice. To have spoken to a real person. To have received a human greeting. Is it just me, or is human contact going the way of the snow leopard?

There was a time when every activity spurred a conversation. Service your car; greet the attendant. Deposit a check at the bank; chat with the teller about the weather. Buy a gift, and speak with the salesclerk. Not now. You can gas up with a credit card, make deposits online, and order a gift over the Internet. You can cycle through a day of business and never say hello.

Call us a fast society, an efficient society, but don't call us a personal society. Our society is set up for isolation. We wear earbuds when we exercise. We communicate via e-mail and text messages. We enter and exit our houses with gates and garage-door openers. Our mantra: "I leave you alone. You leave me alone."

Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 53-54.

Related
Max Lucado Realizes What One Meal Can Do, SFS, 9 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa, SFS, 8 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Geoff Pound’s new book on gratitude is described at this link: Talk About Thanksgiving.

Image: Our mantra: "I leave you alone. You leave me alone."

Saturday, October 09, 2010

John Lennon Remembered and the Beatles Reassessed with Larry King

Larry King Live (9 October 2010) looked back on the legacy of the Beatles.

On this day in 2010 John Lennon would have been 70 years of age.

In a replay programme (June 2007), King speaks with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison.

Larry King asks an important question that raises insights into the magic that can come through teamwork and the importance of teams coming into their own.

KING: What made the Beatles, Paul, musically special? What did they do that people weren't doing?

MCCARTNEY: That's a good question. I don't really think I know. We were just very good. I think individually we were kind of talented people, but when we came together, something special happened.

When I started writing with John, it was a sort of magical thing that grew. We developed, and not everyone developed quite as much as we did.

KING: You can't plan that, though, can you?

MCCARTNEY: No, not really. We were also very sure of ourselves. I wouldn't call it conceited, but we just knew we were good, and we knew we were going to do well. We didn't know how it was going to happen, but we knew -- people would say at the time, do you think your stuff's going to be standards, like Sinatra's stuff? And I'll go, yes. And they say, oh. I'd say, no, it's true. You just felt it.

I think one of the things that we probably are proudest of, I certainly am, is that the message was always love. In any form we portrayed it, and that's something to be really proud of.

Source
Larry King Live, The Beatles’ Legacy, Transcript, Aired on 8 October 2010, CNN.

Related
John Lennon on the Skill of Creativity, SFS, 1 October 2009.
Imagining Peace Together, SFS, 5 November 2006.

Geoff Pound

Geoff Pound’s new book on gratitude is described at this link: Talk About Thanksgiving.

Image: Larry King, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison, Ringo Starr and Guy Laliberté (Cirque du Soleil).

Max Lucado Realizes What One Meal Can Do

In a discussion on the power of old-fashioned hospitality Max Lucado shares this personal story:

A few months ago I was sitting at the red light of a busy intersection when I noticed a man walking toward my car.

He stepped off the curb, bypassed several vehicles, and started waving at me. He carried a cardboard sign under his arm, a jammed pack on his back.

His jeans were baggy, his beard was scraggly, and he was calling my name: “Max! Max! Remember me.”

I lowered my window. He smiled a toothless grin.

"I still remember that burger you bought me."

Then I remembered.

Months, maybe a year earlier at this very intersection, I had taken him to a corner hamburger stand where we enjoyed a meal together. He was California bound on that day.

"I'm passing through Texas again," he told me. The light changed, and cars began to honk.

I pulled away, leaving him waving and shouting, "Thanks for the burger, Max."

I'd long since forgotten that meal. Not him. We never know what one meal will do.

Source
Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 58-59.

Related
When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa, SFS, 8 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Geoff Pound’s new book on gratitude is described at this link: Talk About Thanksgiving.

Image: “I'd long since forgotten that meal. Not him. We never know what one meal will do.”

Friday, October 08, 2010

When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa

Many years ago I heard a woman discuss this work [of kindness]. She visited a Catholic church in downtown Miami, Florida, in 1979.

The small sanctuary overflowed with people. I was surprised. The event wasn't publicized. I happened to hear of the noon-hour presentation through a friend. I was living only a few blocks from the church. I showed up a few minutes early in hopes of a front-row seat.

I should have arrived two hours early. People packed every pew and aisle. Some sat in windowsills. I found a spot against the back wall and waited. I don't know if the air-conditioning was broken or nonexistent, but the windows were open, and the south coast air was stuffy. The audience was chatty and restless. Yet when she entered the room, all stirring stopped.

No music. No long introduction. No fanfare from any public officials. No entourage. Just three, maybe four, younger versions of herself, the local priest, and her.

The father issued a brief word of welcome and told a joke about placing a milk crate behind the lectern so we could see his guest. He wasn't kidding. He positioned it, and she stepped up, and those blue eyes looked out at us. What a face. Vertical lines chiseled around her mouth. Her nose, larger than most women would prefer. Thin lips, as if drawn with a pencil, and a smile naked of pretense.

She wore her characteristic white Indian sari with a blue border that represented the Missionaries of Charity, the order she had founded in 1949. Her sixty-nine years had bent her already small frame. But there was nothing small about Mother Teresa’s presence.

“Give me your unborn children,” she offered. (Opening words or just the ones I remember most? I don't know.) “Don't abort them. If you cannot raise them, I will. They are precious to God.”

Who would have ever pegged this slight Albanian woman as a change agent? Born in a cauldron of ethnic strife, the Balkans. Shy and introverted as a child. Of fragile health. One of three children. Daughter of a generous but unremarkable businessman. Yet somewhere along her journey, she became convinced that Jesus walked in the “distressing disguise of the poor,” and she set out to love him by loving them.

In 1989 she told a reporter that her Missionaries had picked up around fifty-four thousand people on the streets of Calcutta and that twenty-three thousand or so had died in their care.

I wonder if God creates people like Mother Teresa so he can prove his point: “See, you can do something today that will outlive your life.”

Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 170-172.

Related
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Geoff Pound’s new book on gratitude is described at this link: Talk About Thanksgiving.

Image: I wonder if God creates people like Mother Teresa so he can prove his point: “See, you can do something today that will outlive your life.”

Thursday, October 07, 2010

When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread

Denalyn called as I was driving home the other day. "Can you stop at the grocery store and pick up some bread?"
"Of course."
"Do I need to tell you where to find it?"
"Are you kidding? I was born with a bread-aisle tracking system."
"Just stay focused, Max."

She was nervous. Rightly so. I am the Exxon Valdez of grocery shopping.

My mom once sent me to buy butter and milk; I bought buttermilk. I mistook a tube of hair cream for toothpaste. I thought the express aisle was a place to express your opinion. I am a charter member of the Clueless Husband Shopping Squad.

I can relate to the fellow who came home from the grocery store with one carton of eggs, two sacks of flour, three boxes of cake mix, four sacks of sugar, and five cans of cake frosting. His wife looked at the sacks of groceries and lamented, "I never should have numbered the list."

So, knowing that Denalyn was counting on me, I parked the car at the market and entered the door. En route to the bread aisle, I spotted my favorite cereal, so I picked up a box, which made me wonder if we needed milk. I found a gallon in the dairy section.

The cold milk stirred images of one of God's great gifts to humanity: Oreo cookies. The heavenly banquet will consist of tables and tables of Oreo cookies and milk. We will spend eternity dipping and slurping our way through ... Okay, enough of that.

I grabbed a pack of cookies, which happened to occupy the same half of the store as barbecue potato chips. What a wonderful world this is—cookies and barbecue chips under the same roof! On the way to the checkout counter, I spotted some ice cream. Within a few minutes I'd filled the basket with every essential item for a happy and fulfilled life. I checked out and drove home.

Denalyn looked at my purchases, then at me. Can you guess her question? All together now: "Where's the bread?"
I went back to the grocery store.

I forgot the big item. The one thing I went to get. The one essential product. I forgot the bread.

Might we make the same mistake in a more critical arena? In an effort to do good, we can get distracted. We feed people. We encourage, heal, help, and serve. We address racial issues and poverty. Yet there is one duty we must fulfill. We can't forget the bread.

Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 33-34.

More Stories by Max Lucado
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.

Geoff Pound

Geoff Pound's new book Talk About Thanksgiving: Stories of Gratitude is described in this post.

Image: “I forgot the big item. The one thing I went to get. The one essential product. I forgot the bread.”

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

New Book ‘Talk About Thanksgiving’ by Geoff Pound

My new eBook ‘Talk About Thanksgiving’ is launched just a few weeks prior to American Thanksgiving 2010.

Time for Thanksgiving
The book contains a host of stories with a thanksgiving theme that will help speakers and writers to be fresh in their presentations but this book is not just for Americans. Thanksgiving is a universal quality and it enriches our lives and our communities when we take time out to say ‘Thanks.’

In the preface to this book I wrote:

Thanksgiving Day, National Day, Founder’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays… It’s a great thing when nations, Colleges, families and individuals mark their calendars and take time out to express gratitude to one another, to institutions, to countries, to people who have served sacrificially or to those who have died.

On such Red Letter days we often say it with flowers, processions, ceremonies, turkey meals, birthday cakes and cards but at such a time it is helpful to have some words with to express our thanks.

Seth and Stories
Why are stories such powerful motivators especially when it comes to important practices such as thanksgiving?

Marketing guru, Seth Godin, warns his readers against employing the ‘battering ram’ of logic to capture people’s hearts and he reminds them of this more excellent way: “People are moved by stories and drama and hints and clues and discovery.”

Thanks in Adversity
This eBook collects up a large number of stories that have a thanksgiving theme and I am struck by the related theme of hardship—the ability and therapy of being able to give thanks on tough days and in difficult circumstances.

As master storyteller, John Claypool discovered when he lost his young daughter to leukemia, and as he explored all the different options—bitterness, hopelessness, despair—he concluded, “As I see it now, the best way out of darkness is the way of gratitude.”

About the Editor
Here is an excerpt from the introductory page ‘About the Editor’:

Geoff Pound has been a public speaker and writer for all of his working life. He has taught and presented speeches in numerous countries of the world at schools, universities, community groups, churches, Rotary Clubs, conferences, hospitals and prisons where he has proven the capacity of an apt story to attract attention, bridge cultures, build rapport and enlist support.

In writing newspaper articles, blog postings and books as well as in teaching courses in communication he has found that one of the great challenges is in finding suitable stories with which to illustrate an idea or message. This led to the establishment of the web resource, Stories for Speakers and Writers, a ‘smorgasbord of resources for communicators’ which in five years has been viewed by more than 100,000 readers.

John Broadbanks Publishing
To purchase this book for only $US7.00 (no added post and packaging charges) from John Broadbanks Publishing at AbeBooks.Com—Dalton Books, follow this link.

Geoff Pound