Ethan’s First Fireworks

The Fireman’s Parade ended where we were seated about 8:30 pm. We packed up the stroller and returned home.

By that time, Ethan was ready to go to bed. We followed our evening routine (getting Ethan dressed for bed, reading a Bible story, praying with Ethan while he drinks milk from his sippy cup). Tonight was my turn to give Ethan his milk and put him in bed, and just about the time I returned downstairs, the fireworks began at the Clearfield County fairgrounds behind our house.

Joleen and I headed outside to watch the fireworks (with the baby monitor nearby). Because of the loud noise, Joleen went to check on Ethan, who was standing in his crib quietly, at that point. She brought him outside where I was taking photos of the fireworks.

Standing outside, the fireworks were a bit too intense for Ethan so he and Mommy returned to Ethan’s bedroom where they finished watching the fireworks from the upstairs window in Ethan’s room. He soon went back to sleep, thankfully!

Ethan’s First Parade

This week is the Clearfield County Fair, a big week in the life of Clearfield. One of the highlights is the Fireman’s Parade which took place this evening.

The parade is like one continuous block party. Someone told us you have to “earn” a place along the route, which can take years. It’s a good thing we have hospitable church folk! As we went out this morning, just a half block from our house, to place our chairs by the parade route, we found that most of the spots were already taken. But Rick and Becky were passing by in their pickup and invited us to their corner for their party.

We had a great time with great folks and great food. It was amazing how many church people from both West Side and Centre Grove we bumped into on the way to our seats on Weaver Street, a few blocks away from where we live, especially considering that we’ve only been here one month!

Ethan enjoyed the parade tremendously. He let out squeals of joy like we never heard before as the fire trucks passed by. And when the bands and music played his foot would go round and his hand would tap to the beat. He even waved, arm outstretched, at one fire truck crew.

Loose Reunion

Saturday, July 26 was the Loose Reunion. Loose is pronounced with a long o, as in “low.” My maternal grandmother, Sara Aurandt, was a Loose.

There are now only two surviving siblings from that generation — my great aunt Esther Strayer who lives in Newport, PA whose health prevented her from coming this year, and my great uncle John Loose who lives in Martinsburg with his wife Beulah.

Until last year the reunion was held at the Beagle Club just outside Williamsburg. My mother hosted the reunion again this year at her home in rural Williamsburg. As you can see by the pictures, food and conversation are the main stay of the gathering.

This was Ethan’s first family reunion. He and my cousin Kevin’s twins got to “play” together again for a bit (read about the first time here). The twins are just two weeks older than he. Ethan also let his great great uncle John hold him.

Task Management

How do you manage and keep track of your tasks? Do you scribble notes on a piece of scrap paper or write a daily/weekly To-Do list? Do you use a daily planner, a PDA, or use an application on your computer or on the Internet?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my own journey of managing tasks. Since one of my core beliefs is …

There’s always a better way!

I’ve spent nearly two decades looking for a better way to manage tasks.

When I was a junior in college, I bought a Franklin Day Planner after hearing a pastor teaching other pastors / future pastors how to use the Franklin Day Planner in their ministries. I used the day planner for 6 years.

In 1995, I stopped buying the refill pages from Franklin and started printing out my own sheets, adapted from Franklin’s. Around 2000 or 2001, I bought an electronic PDA and used that for a while. I didn’t like using the tasks program on the PDA, mainly because I couldn’t see all of my tasks at a glance. The PDA was good for contacts (as well as Solitaire and Scrabble 😉 ).

For the next few years, I went back to printing out my own master task list. But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been feeling the there’s-gotta-be-a-better-way itch. I’m sure it’s partly due to the new life of having a child and beginning new ministries.

This time, I’m doing a couple things. Joleen and I have set up 4 different Google Calendars, each with a difference color (each of us can view any or all of them on one calendar): Randy’s Work, Joleen’s Work, Our Work, and Personal & Family. We’re hoping the calendars will provide a central location for planning work and family activities.

The other thing I’m doing is checking out some of the latest online task management applications. After a little research, I decided to try out a free service called, Remember the Milk (RTM). Using RTM, I have created personal and ministry-related lists.

But it’s more than simply putting task items on a list. Last year, I read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. I especially like the subtitle!

There seems to be quite a movement devoted to “Getting Things Done” (GTD) and there are a number of resources online, including: David Allen’s Web site, 43 Folders, and LifeHacker, among others.

It’s too early to tell if I will like using RTM, or any other an online task management system. But even if I don’t like it/them, I still expect to learn some things from the experience that will help me with my next system. 🙂

What Ethan is Teaching Us About Change

I often say (somewhat cautiously) that I like change. For one thing, I’m in the business of change — is there any greater change than the kind of life transformation (i.e., change!) people experience through Christ?

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5.17, NLT)

Leaders are change agents. Christ-following leaders are called to bring about change in people’s lives. Often that involves being an agent of change in the way the church operates so that it can be more effective, and thus, bear more fruit for God’s kingdom.

I say “somewhat cautiously” (that I like change) because it’s easy for leaders to say they like change, especially if the change is their idea! The real test of their commitment to change comes when the change is someone else’s idea.

But I think I’m safe saying I like change. I get bored when things stay the same too long. Not only is it boring; worse, it produces ruts which keep us from being effective!

Now that Ethan has been with us for a while, he is teaching us some things about change. Not only have we had to change the way we do life, we’ve also paid attention to the changes he experiences through his daily growth and development. Much of that is positive. It’s exciting to watch him learn new things and develop new skills (watch for more on that in an upcoming post).

But (and this is why many people do not like change!) with change also comes loss. To begin doing new things involves letting go of other things. To do something a different way means not doing it the old way anymore.

After two weeks of taking a step here and there, all of a sudden one day, Ethan changed his preference from crawling to walking. He gave up crawling (which was working just fine, thank you very much) for walking (even though it meant having to relearn his whole concept of getting around; it also meant falling a lot, in the process).

Some of the things Ethan used to do or say, he doesn’t do or say anymore (including some of the things we listed earlier in Some of Our Favorite Things).

While we miss some of those things, we realize that change comes with the territory. It’s all part of growing up! (and I’m not just talking about the getting older kind of growing up 😉 ).

Slow Down in the Curves!

Some of the more popular search topics that bring people to this blog are searches related to Andy Stanley. I’ve written about Andy Stanley’s (and Lanes Jones’) book, Communicating for a Change before (see One-Point Preaching). This book has been the single most impacting book I’ve read on preaching.

The first part of the book is a story about a truck-driving preacher mentoring a young pastor in the art of preaching and communication while on a road trip. The second half of the book discusses the themes that were revealed in the first half of the book.

At one point, Stanley offers suggestions on navigating the sermon using driving terminology (I’d look up the page number, but we haven’t unpacked our books yet). One suggestion is, “Slow down in the curves.”

By that, Stanley means taking it slow when transitioning from one part of the message to the next. Otherwise, you risk jerking listeners (i.e., passengers) around when moving from one section to another.

What happens when you don't slow down in the curves!

What happens when you don’t slow down in the curves!

I thought about this recently after arriving home with groceries. As you can see in the photo here, the chocolate milk didn’t handle the curves too well!

Slowing down in the curves is a good reminder for communicators. When we navigate the transitions (turns, lane changes, etc.), we have to make sure our passengers make the turns with us without getting knocked around.

Ultimately, it’s about flow. Flow has always been important to me in writing and in communicating. And because I’ve focused on flow for so long, I don’t even really think about transitions anymore.

But I may need to revisit my transitions to make sure my listeners fare better than the chocolate milk!

Ethan’s First Mission Project

Ethan completed his first mission project just before leaving Manor Hill, with the help of the Manor Hill congregations.

At Dave and Jean Norris’ retirement dinner, there was a Mission Central “relay baton” at each table. Because of his birth date (the baton went to whose birthday was the closest at the time), Ethan received the challenge of filling the relay baton with quarters in Dave and Jean’s honor.

This challenge was not very difficult to fulfill with the Manor Hill folk around. We just passed it around the congregations and it was done!

So here’s to you, Dave and Jean! We are honored that we had the privilege to already involve Ethan in mission!

Transparency and Risk

Looking at our blog now, you might think that posting pictures of Ethan has always been *easy* for us. 🙂

Truth is, we struggled with whether or not to post that very first referral picture last September. We ended up posting one (of the 6 photos we received) in the It’s a Boy! post.

When we received the second and third batches of photos, I think we only posted one from each of those as well. We also only posted one photo from our first meeting with Ethan (see 1,000 Words) five months ago in Korea.

Admittedly, posting photos of Ethan has gotten much easier, but our purpose, I think, remains the same — to inform and to influence.

But that kind openness and transparency comes with a price. It makes us vulnerable (I don’t really want to go into details here).

But vulnerability comes with the territory of leadership and influence. One of my last messages at Hope and 12th Street was on courage where my point was …

The difference between courage and comfort is the cost!

Choosing comfort is the natural choice, but choosing courage is necessary for people who want to influence others.

So we’ll continue to write about what God is doing in our lives and in our ministries in the hopes that God will use the seeds that are planted in people’s lives through this blog!

Influence

Life. Leadership. God’s Mission.

Those are the areas we’ve chosen to write about on this blog. But those areas have developed over time. We started out simply posting the text of our sermons. Later, we began reflecting on, and writing about, leadership.

Over the course of the past year, we’ve begun writing a lot more about what’s going on in our lives — mainly the adoption process. Originally, our main goal was simply to inform family and friends on how things were progressing.

However, we’ve continued to write about the adoption journey, including the process of adjustment since bringing Ethan home, not only to inform, but also to influence.

That makes sense, since as leaders, we are influencers (leadership expert, John Maxwell, has long taught that “leadership is influence”). Our influence through this blog has grown, apparently. We’ve received over 16,000 page views in the last 6 months from all over the world (which isn’t necessarily a lot, just a lot more than it was before that).

Currently, there is a link on a Korea Blogroll of another blog, from which we’ve received 134 page views by people who have clicked on our link over there.

We certainly hope that our story and our experience, ultimately our journey of being faithful to God’s leadership and work in our lives, is helpful to the people, who for whatever reason, choose to come here!

Unpacking

These pictures are a little slow in coming, but we couldn’t resist sharing them. Ethan was quite the helper with our unpacking.