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Probation Officer and Adult Volunteer Leader for the High School Ministry of Granger Community Church.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Leadership Lessons from Lincoln

I recently bought a gift card for a friend's birthday from Media Play. In return, they gave me 7 free issues of Time Magazine. So far each issue has been so timely and, well, wonderful. I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to bring myself to cancel the trial offer. Thankfully, I can still get online when the hard copies stop coming in the mail. Like I said, each issue has been good. And the most recent didn't let me down. The following are eight leadership lessons that I found from our 16th president in a recent article :

Develop Empathy - Lincoln had the gift of putting himself in the place of others, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. This empathy allowed him to absorb the sorrows and hopes of his countrymen, to sense their shifting moods so he could shape and mold their opinion with the right words and the right deeds at the right time. Viewing a situation from another's perspective may give you an insight you might not have gained if you simply keep your eyes on yourself.

Use Humor - Lincoln possessed a remarkable sense of humor that allowed him, time and again, to defuse tensions and relax his colleagues at difficult moments. You don't have to be Johnny Carson or Conan O'brian, but learning how to use humor can be a valuable tool. Oh ya, and learn to laugh at yourself... other people already are.

Demonstrate Magnanimity - Magni-What!? Lincoln refused to hold grudges or pay people back for previous hurts. In fact, he appointed his greatest rivals, the people who humiliated him the most, to his Cabinet. Simply put, he just didn't have the time to waste on personal vendettas. There are just more important things to think about.

Demonstrate Generosity of Spirit - When Congress found out about wasteful contracts during the first part of the Civil War, Lincoln publicly took the blame saying that he himself and his entire Cabinet "were at least equally responsible." Equally important, he shared the credit for successes giving General Grant the position of honor even though it was his to stand in. And most of all, he was quick to admit to his errors saying, "I frequently make mistakes myself, in the many things I am compelled to do hastily." Take the blame, share the successes and admit your errors.

Gain Proper Perspective - Learn how to develop positive perspectives in all situations. Lincoln had an uncanning ability to look over lesser concerns for more important ones. In other words, learn how to wade through the mess to see the important junk.

Develop Self-Control - When angry, Lincoln would write a letter to vent his feelings but then never sent it until he had cooled down, at which point he didn't need to send it. Of course, there were times when he lost his temper, but he would follow it up with a kind gesture which repaired injured feelings that might have turned into lasting hurts. It's amazing the wisdom you gain if you just delay your reactions.

Develop A Sense of Balance - Unlike his colleagues who worked themselves to death, Lincoln understood the importance of finding ways to relax. He was known to get away to see a play even in the most difficult times of his presidency. One assistant noted, "He has forgotten the war. He has forgotten Congress. He is out of politics. He is living in another time." Find what relaxes you, and then make it a point to balance all your life.

Gain A Social Conscience - Lincoln's ambition was never simply for office or power, but rather to accomplish something worthy that would stand the test of time, that would allow his story to be told after he died. Lincoln used his influence to reach out to the unreacheable and lived his life with compassion for people. Develop a conscience that says people matter, not simply because they can do something for me, but because they simply matter.

Check out the complete article, The Master of the Game, written by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

30-Day Revolution

30 Days
Originally uploaded by toddruth.
I know you remember the dude Morgan Spurlock from Super Size Me. He's the guy who ate nothing but fast food for 30 days. If you haven't heard, he's got a new TV series on FX called, you guessed it, 30 Days. During each episode, Morgan explores what life changing experiences are possible in 30 days. Tonight (6/29), we find out what happens when a Christian agrees to live for 30 Days with a devout Muslim family in a large Muslim community in Dearborn, Michigan. Check it out. It airs at 9:00 p.m. (Indiana time) on FX – that's channel 48 for Comcast cable subscribers... not sure what channel FX is on satellite. I'll be blogging about this show at a later date.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

NASCAR And Diapers

Originally uploaded by toddruth.
I'm almost embarrassed to admit this because I'm from the north and not from West Virginia, but I'm beginning to like NASCAR racing. It's almost scary. I'm just glad that I don't have a sister. Jami thinks I'm turning into a redneck and calls me other names that have to do with NASCAR and West Virginia, but I won't go there. I can't watch a whole race yet, and I really don't care if a Ford or a Chevy wins. But I do like to watch towards the end of the race when the details matter – are the tires new or worn, do the drivers have enough gas in their cars and how quickly can they get in and out of the pits. So that got me thinking... changing a diaper, that's kind of like a pit stop. How fast can I rip Carter's diaper off and slap a new one on? Well as of today... 47 seconds. I think I can do better.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Originally uploaded by toddruth.
The newest addition to our kitchen. I love waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee in the morning. So each night before I go to bed, I pour the water, carefully measure the coffee and set the timer. This past Saturday night was no different. I went through my normal routine and then went to bed with sweet dreams of freshly brewed coffee. As usual, the alarm went off at 5 a.m. and the fragrance hit my nose immediately. I walked to the kitchen, past the coffee maker, and grabbed my new Starbucks coffee cup I received for Father's Day. I walked past the coffee maker again to get some sugar. And then I noticed that part of the floor was brown. Hmmm, that's odd, I thought to myself. I then followed the brown trail up the white cabinet, to the counter. To my horror I saw the coffee pot sitting on top of Carter's formula, where I had left it the night before. I had brewed coffee without the coffee pot in the coffee maker! There was coffee and coffee grounds everwhere. Click here to see a shot of my old messy coffee maker. I cleaned up what I could and then had to leave the rest for Jami to clean up. After she got done cleaning the coffee maker, she plugged it in and realized that I, her husband, had shorted it out because of my mistake that morning. In any case, I got a new coffee maker and will still be able to wake up to that great smell each morning... providing I place the coffee pot in the coffee maker.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Revolutionary Way of Life

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ--the Message--have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives--words, actions, whatever--be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Colossians 3.12-17

Friday, June 24, 2005

"What's you're greatest fear?"

I just got done watching Coach Carter with Kevin, one of my great friends. There are multiple messages in this movie that we can grab on and run with. But I wanted to share one with you below. Coach Carter asks his team, "What's your greatest fear?" a couple of times in the movie. Here's one player's response:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our dark that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people don't feel insecure around you.We are all meant to shine as children do. Its not just in some of us; its in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsiously give other people the courage to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
How many students do we know, or people for that matter, who are scared or embarrassed to show the light of Jesus in their life? How many times have we ourselves struggled with that? Too many for me to count. It's not the dark that frightens me the most. I'm all too comfortable with that. It's the light. How many times do we shrink to the small background of our world even though we know Jesus would like to speak and shine through us. And here's the cool part, as we step out and are liberated from our fears, we give others the permission to do the same. Jesus is the hope and example of our liberation. And if we can help others with their liberation then maybe, just maybe that's part of being holy. Because wherever God is, there is holiness.

Blog Book Club

This past Tuesday I grabbed two new books, Early Bird by Rodney Rothman, and The Naked Christian by Craig Borlase. Early Bird is written by a former head writer for the Late Show with David Letterman. This dude actually decides to retire early at the age of 28, travel to Boca Raton and move in with an elderly piano teacher who has multiple cats and birds at a retirement community that's home to thousands of senior citizens. Here's a short paragraph that I thought was funny for multiple reasons, but mainly for the last sentence...
When a filthy bird shouts at me not to worry, I start to worry a lot more. It's not like I can tell the bird to shut the hell up. To begin with, Jesus is in my bedroom. I'm not Christian, but it's not like I want to curse in front of the dude's picture. What if it turns out he's real? That's what I need, for the bird to imitate me saying, "SHUT THE HELL UP," then Jesus gets pissed, and then Margaret kicks me out of the condo.
I've never heard it put that way. I've heard that Jesus got angry, but never pissed... is that possible? If you're looking for a funny read, I would recommend this one.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Like Father Like Son

I'm sure you can guess what's he's doing in this photo. Jami says he's just like me. I'm not sure that's a good thing. We thought it would be funny to take this shot now. I'm sure he won't let us do it when he's 16.

carter poop photos
Originally uploaded by toddruth.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My first swim!

I'm glad I don't have teeth. Otherwise I might pop my floaty!

Monday, June 20, 2005

My Never-Ending Day

Just thought I'd give you a glimpse of my day. It began when I got off of work at 12 a.m. after working ten hours. I arrived home just in time to fall asleep for three and a half hours. Woke up at 5 a.m. to be back at work by7 a.m. to work another nine and a half hours. Drove home to see Jami and Carter for 45 minutes and then off to my weekly softball game. I love playing softball with the guys on my team. Some attend GCC and others do not. It's an interesting mix of guys who are competitive but not so much so that a loss ruins their night (by the way, we're in first). I particularly love being able to notice that I'm not 18 years old anymore. I know I'm only 29,but let's face it, I'm not as fast as I used to be and apparently my eyesight isn't what it used to be because I'm dropping balls that I would have caught a couple of years ago. It's humbling to know that my game is declining and I'm just not as good as I used to be. Oh well, I always can look forward to coaching Carter and living through him. Speaking of Carter, he got the chance to attend his first viewing slash wake slash funeral home experience. Apparently he did very good. I was a little nervous, it just didn't seem right for him to experience something like that at 5 months old... of course he will never remember it ��� but you never know. This is probably totally inappropriate to share, but everytime I attend or think about a viewing or funeral my mind wonders back to "Goonies" where Chunk was stuck in the freezer and he realizes he's not alone and yells, "It's a stiff!" Like I said, probably inappropriate. On that note, I'm out and going to bed to sleep 10 hours...or whenever Carter wakes up ��� ya he's getting five teeth in at once ��� OUCH!

Originally uploaded by toddruth.

My first Dairy Queen

What happened to the icecream?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

20/20 Vision

I have vision problems. I have to wear glasses to help me keep my focus on what I need to see. If I take my glasses off, everything gets blurry. And that’s not good – especially when I’m driving! Being able to focus your vision is important, especially when it comes to your life. Check it out:

Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. Romans 8:7

You know, it’s so easy to focus on yourself and what’s going wrong in your life. It’s easy to pick out what is going wrong at school, work, in your family and in your friendships. It’s easy to dwell on what you haven’t gotten or what you’re waiting for that seems like you’re never going to get. And there’s nothing wrong with communicating those feelings to God. But God doesn’t want you to stay focused on that. He wants you focused on Him and what He’s doing in your life because when you stay focused on yourself and what’s not going right in your life, He knows that those thoughts will steal your joy. So, fix your vision problem. You can only have 20/20 vision when you focus on God and the positive things He’s doing in your life.

I Dare You...

"I dare you, while there is still time, to have a magnificent obsession."
William Danforth

Friday, June 17, 2005

Breaking News...

It was reported earlier this morning that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got engaged in Paris. Witnesses said that they were wearing lab coates and drinking wine from beakers.
Tom and Katie Get Engaged

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Wire"less" Day

The horror struck my heart about 20 minutes into my drive to work on Monday as I reached across to the passenger seat. No, it wasn't a flat tire. And I didn't get into an accident. It was worse - much worse... I suddenly realized that I had forgotten my cell phone. Now instead of Cold Play or Three Days Grace running through my head, the terror of not being connected was racing through my brain. So for the next 20 minutes I drove in silence wondering what life would be like without my cell phone. As I pulled up to work I made a B-line for a phone to check my messages - “no new messages” the recording told me. I checked my voicemail - my lifeline to the world - each hour, all 10 times receiving the same recording, “No new messages.” Finally work ended. What seemed like a lifetime was actually 10 hours, but I had made it. I had made it without my cell phone. Now I had to face one last mountain… the drive to my softball game, where hopefully my wife would bring my cell phone with her. Knowing that I was connectionless made my drive very lonely. There were so many people that I wanted to call but couldn't. I caught myself reaching in vain towards the passenger side of my car only to realize that I was indeed alone. So many questions I needed to ask - how's my little boy, how's my wife doing, is my softball game still on or did it get rained out. Sadly, I would have to wait to get the answers I so desperately wanted. Game time. Honestly my mind wasn't in it. Every so often I caught myself gazing out into the parking lot looking to see if my wife was coming. And then it happened, bottom of the third, nobody out, two and two count on the batter. Could it be? Yes, yes it was. My wife had arrived and sat down in the stands. The inning ends and I ran to her to get what I need like a crack addict runs to his dealer. “Do you got it,” I ask her. She looks at me like I'm actually on crack, and hands me my cell phone. I check the display, no voicemail and no text messages. I hadn't missed a thing without my cell phone. My world didn't end as I knew it and I do feel fine. (Ok, bad pun. If you didn't get it you either haven't been to Granger Community Church this past week, or you haven't been watching Tom Cruise interviews.) Sometimes I want to just turn off my cell phone or leave it behind when we go on vacation… Wait, no I don't. Ok, gotta run. I need to reply to a text message.