Sunday, November 30, 2008

Timing is everything. As I now post just my second blog, I read Michael Kinsley’s essay in the December 1 issue of TIME where he asks: “How many blogs does the world need ? There is already blog gridlock.” This is consistent with me entering the stock market at its peak. When I get in, that’s a signal for everyone else to get out. However, now that I’ve taken the blog plunge, I plan to stick around for awhile. So…..

Do you have any regrets ? I try not to dwell on the past; I like to call to mind Satchel Paige’s advice: “Don’t look back; someone might be gaining on you.” Nonetheless, I do have two regrets. The first is that I didn’t spend a year after college traveling the world.

The second regret is that I didn’t start to think about passion until I was in my 40’s. The other side of the coin is that I am grateful that I started thinking about passion in my 40’s rather than my 60’s, 70’s or never.

I am passionate about family and about vulnerable children around the world – society’s marginalized; Jesus’s “the least of these”. To lead the Gladney Center for Adoption into the next decade is such a humbling and awesome opportunity for me, because now I wake up every day, and my passion and my job are one and the same.

In the movie “Braveheart”, Mel Gibson screams one word before he dies – “freedom”. If you were to scream one word (a noun, not a name) at the end of your life, what would it be ? For me, it would be “passion”.

Besides figuring out what we are passionate about, I think we are also called to live passionately. What does this look like ? It involves risk – it means purposely placing yourself in situations that aren’t always comfortable; that cause you to reach beyond yourself.

Tim McGraw’s song encourages us to “Live Like You’re Dying”. Good advice, since it applies to all of us. Our days are numbered. Maybe in order to live passionately, the question to be asked is: How do you want to die ? I want to die broke, having just given away my last dollar. I hope to die with no regrets. (I’m gaining ground on the two I mentioned previously.) I want to die with scars and bumps and bruises because I went into uncomfortable places. I want to collapse at the finish line, with no gas left in the tank.

Let me know if these thoughts resonate with you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

With these comments, I am entering the blogosphere. My intent is to write a weekly blog that I hope fellow-travelers will find interesting and relevant. It’s kind of scary - like buying a stock online for the first time or using eBay.

As Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I want to reflect on gratitude. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday – Football, Food and Family. Wait… I mean Family, Football and Food. It’s a time to take a step back and acknowledge all that we have to be grateful for.

The opposite of gratitude could well be entitlement. As our kids get older, they may express their sense of entitlement - to a certain vacation or a car or the latest cell phone or iPod. But if I’m honest, I feel entitled, too. I’ve worked hard and basically stayed out of trouble. Life must owe me something. Well, I’ve learned it really doesn’t.

Chuck Swindoll reminds us that we are not in control of our circumstances, but we are in charge of our attitudes. Starting with myself, I’d like to encourage each one of us to have grateful attitudes. Hey, people say life isn’t fair and I agree ! It isn’t fair that I was born in America, have a wonderful family and never have to worry about food on the table when over a billion people around the world struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day. It’s sobering to travel to the least developed countries and see what “less than a dollar a day” really looks like.

An attitude of gratitude enables us to live from the inside out, allowing a grateful heart to release us from being captive to our circumstances. Such an attitude compels us to give back. This Thanksgiving, as we dwell on our blessings, let’s go beyond acknowledgement to response. We are indeed blessed to be a blessing to others, especially those without a voice – orphans, the homeless, the poor and destitute.

I think this mindset can apply to organizations as well as individuals. The Gladney Center has been blessed in so many ways during our 120 year history. And we strive to give back – both to our communities and to the world. In countries where we work, we are just as focused on helping children who will not find permanent homes as those who will. As you think about your response to your blessings this Thanksgiving, please consider joining Gladney on our journey to positively impact children’s lives all over the world. It’s an exhilarating and urgent adventure.