Category Archives: Monthly update

I will not have a spirit of fear…


a much younger...Bob Cloyd


This morning I was thinking about all that is going on (and wrong) with the world…senseless shootings, deadly flu outbreaks, worries about the economy, about our government and about our future in general…lot’s to fret about…for sure…

Then I thought back to an event that happened to me many years ago…

I had been invited by a good friend, Hal Flowers, to accompany him driving his boat from Naples to Key West. Not that Hal asked…but I was not an experienced captain… As a matter of fact, as a kid, my grandfather let all my cousins sit on his lap and drive his boat and year after year… my turn never really came around… I guess he knew something…

Anyway…on the appointed day, Hal and I filled the boat with gas, checked the weather and left the marina in Naples and soon got out into open water and headed south. It seemed simple enough…just keep the land on your left! As we moved south, eventually we passed the southernmost point on the west coast of Florida and eventually lost sight of land entirely. Welcome to the Gulf of Mexico!

After hours of driving and several hours left to go, Hal was tired and wanted to take a nap. So he set the Loran (which is basically a GPS for boats, but it didn’t have a screen, just coordinates, and an alarm was programmed to sound if you got off course). Once the coordinates were set, he handed me the wheel and gave me these brief instructions, “just keep the boat within these coordinates.   I’ve programmed the Loran to the tower at the entrance of Key West harbor. But if for whatever reason we miss it, we want to miss it to the East, because if we miss Key West Harbor to the West, we’ll end up in Cuba.” And with that, he went below and went to sleep.

So there I was, in the open Gulf of Mexico, no land in sight and trying to stay between two invisible coordinates that made no sense to me. I looked behind me and the wake of my boat was not in a straight line, in fact, it looked like a drunk driver was at the helm. Then moments later, the alarm of the Loran went off! I adjusted course and the alarm went off. Then a while later, it happened again, and again I adjusted course. This kept going on for almost an hour and each time the alarm went off, it took me longer and longer to course correct and silence the alarm. This continued until finally, I could no longer find my course! The alarm sounded constantly…I was freaking out!

So what did I do…?  Did I wake up Hal?   Nope.    I turned off the alarm and kept driving.

I drove for several hours on my own, no Loran, no direction, no sense of where I was going and all the while, desperately looking for land and praying I wasn’t headed for Cuba. I had goofed up…big time. I knew we were in trouble…then Hal woke up…

He came up top and said, “Everything ok?” I took a deep breath and readied myself to confess the fact that we were lost and I was a horrible captain, and admit I was an idiot to turn off the Loran, and that I can never be trusted to do anything like this again…and as the words began to come out of my mouth…Hal looked over the bow of the boat and directly ahead of us and said, “cool!” And directly in front of us, I could just make out on the horizon… what looked like a tower… The tower at the opening of Key West Harbor!

So why did I think of this story this morning?

I guess I was thinking about all the things that have been on the news and in conversations with people everywhere I go. People talking about things to be afraid of…and I guess I’m just tired of it.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

When I think about this verse…one thing comes to mind…God didn’t give me a spirit of fear…and I don’t want anything that God didn’t give me…period!  So that begs the question…if God didn’t give me the spirit of fear… who did?  Hmmm?

I believe fear and worry pull us away from God. When we are afraid of things, we feel helpless, isolated and powerless…it renders us useless. Unfortunately, this has become a common message of this world…to be afraid.

The reality is, each time we find ourselves feeling fearful or worried, the alarm bells should be going off in our minds that we are moving away from God and the course He has planned for us…and that’s not a good place…for sure!

That doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands and leave it all to God!  No, we should certainly be wise in thinking ahead and planning ahead…we just don’t need to be worrying ahead!

This quote sums it up perfectly by an incredible woman named Corrie ten Boom:

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow, but it empties today of strength.”

So, when these feelings of fear, anxiety, and worry begin to sometimes take root in my mind, I need to discipline myself to immediately ask myself, “Where is my focus?” Am I thinking about God?  If not…I need to…

I need to “fix my eyes” and “cast my worries” on the only person that can do anything about them.

Whether it’s guiding my life…or guiding my boat… to the opening of Key West Harbor.

I’m making a list…and checking it twice…


December seems like the ultimate “list making”month.   We are all making grocery lists for all the Holiday meals.  We are making guest lists for the Holiday parties, we are making Christmas card lists for sharing our best wishes with others, to do lists for managing all the tasks that we’ve assigned ourselves to get accomplished and of course we have our Christmas “wish list” that we have either written down or created on Amazon  (you know you have one!)

So in the spirit of this “list-making season,” I thought it appropriate to create my own list.   A list of things that either I believe and try to do on a regular basis or things I wish we all did on a regular basis.   Regardless, it’s a list that I hope can be checked off as completed this time next year.

My Wish List…

1. Do what you say.
to others
to yourself

2. Surround yourself with the right people.
people that are doing stuff
people that have good values

3. Relationships rule.
all opportunities come from people
be the friend you would like to have

4. Be effective not necessarily efficient.
be more concerned with results
remember it’s an ongoing process…not a result

5. Be intentional.
have a target
know why you’re doing everything you do

6. Grow.
read, travel, turn off the tv
be better tomorrow than you were today

7. Be grateful.
open your eyes, your mind and your heart…in that order
spend time outside in nature

8. Eliminate “good enough.”
good enough means you’ve reached the end of your comfort zone
good enough…never is…

9. Write it down.
thoughts, to do’s, goals, dreams, things you’re grateful for, people to pray for, memories of your youth
your mind should not be a file cabinet

10. Think like a sushi chef.
finish what you start.
clean up as you go.

11. Look people in the eye.
it matters
it connects

12. Listen more than you speak.
you’re really not that interesting
you might learn something

13. If it’s not nice, don’t say it.
you never have to apologize for something you never said
you can never “un-say” something

14. Everyone is important.
value the person, not necessarily the persona
everyone has a story…

15. Guard what you see and listen to.
just as you have locks on your home, protect what you watch, read and listen to
would you be proud of your “browsing history” if it became public

16. Don’t underestimate the power of a simple touch.
sometimes a pat on the back or the shoulder makes everything better
a tender touch can heal where words fail

17. Smile more!
be in the minority
it can be contagious

18. Watch your pennies.
and the dollars will take care of themselves
it just makes cents

19. Have people in your life that you are giving to.
like the Dead Sea, if nothing flows out…nothing lives
happiness = giving

20. Lose your baggage.
you don’t carry your trash can around with you…nor should you carry your regrets and mistakes
after you’ve learned from it…discard it…for good

Merry Christmas Everyone!  

Slow Down…Minimum Wake!

This morning as I kayaked out into Tampa Bay, I saw this sign for the first time.  I’m sure I’ve seen the sign in the past…but it wasn’t until today that it took on a new meaning.

We are now in the heart of the holiday season and our culture is under siege by marketing companies trying to make us feel a certain way and act a certain way…and it usually ends with us parting with our hard earned money in exchange for the false promises these companies tease us with.

The funny thing is…we all know better…

We all know what works for us and what fills our hearts rather than emptying our pockets…we know this…

So, my hope and prayer is that for this holiday season, we will all try to slow down.  Let’s try to be intentional about not only what we do…but why we are doing it.   

Here’s an idea… take each of the following suggestions and do only one a day…then at the end of the day, ask yourself how that made you feel.   Give it a try and add to the list as well!

  1. For one day, use your phone only to only talk on it!
  2. Look strangers in the eye and smile at them.
  3. Watch the sunrise and say “thank you.”
  4. Handwrite a note and mail it.
  5. Take something to Goodwill.
  6. Round up all your loose change and drop it in a Salvation Army bucket.
  7. One of my favorites…go to the mall at night and just walk around and enjoy the lights.
  8. Buy a couple of gift cards and put each in an envelope with a note of encouragement and just randomly pass them out to strangers that you’re drawn to.
  9. Turn off the TV at home and just play your favorite Christmas music.
  10. Allow other people to “go ahead of you.”
  11. Sit down quietly and write down all the things you are grateful for…also include all the people you are grateful for.

We all have so much in this culture, yet we often feel so lacking…   Maybe all we need to “do”  is to slow down and enjoy what we have always had…the time… to truly appreciate it all…

Blessings to all of you!   


Hurricane lessons…


Living in Florida requires me to learn about hurricanes. As many of us know, a hurricane in the Northern Hemisphere rotates in a counterclockwise direction. Also, if one was to look down on the hurricane from above, the area of the hurricane (traveling North) that can potentially do the most damage is the Northeastern quadrant. Here the winds are at their highest and most destructive as we all saw with Hurricane Irma.

Now let’s change gears a bit and look at our life. My Guatemalan friend, Oscar Garcia shared with me his view of life in a simple diagram and I have taken his idea and added to it.

Here ya go:

Our lives are divided up into four main quadrants. And let’s say for example that we believe we will live to be 100 years old. So, the first quadrant encompasses years 0 to 25 years of age. The second quadrant is from 25 to 50 years of age. The third quadrant is from 50 to 75 years of age and the fourth quadrant is from 75 to 100 years of age.

Each quadrant is characterized by a primary focus that people in that quadrant are striving to achieve. For instance, those people in quadrant one (age 0 to 25) are focused primarily on Learning. From learning to walk, years spent in school pursuing a degree and also learning about life and the skills needed for living. That is the focus of Quadrant one.

Quadrant two people (25 to 50) are primarily focused on Earning. People in this age quadrant have completed the majority of their schooling and are putting that knowledge to use in the workplace making money. This is the group that also begins to use their earnings to buy stuff like homes, cars as well as investing and saving. Earning money is the primary focus of people in this group.

I’ll come back to Quadrant three…

Quadrant four people (75 to 100) are Returning. They have lived a full life (good and bad) and are focused on returning their knowledge, their time, their assets to those they love and causes they care about. They value giving back and giving of themselves. These and the people of Quadrant four.

Now for the Quadrant three people. These people, (50 – 75 assuming the person lives to be 100) are potentially the most damaging…to themselves and potentially to others. The primary focus of people in this group is Yearning. They are in a season of reflection. They are looking at their lives with “new eyes” and beginning to deal with new challenges that many resist. They are beginning to experience the aches and pains of their aging bodies. They are beginning to suffer relationally as couples experience the “empty nest syndrome.” They are beginning to experience a workplace where they are no longer relevant and valuable. They are beginning to reap the rewards of good financial management or suffer the pains and anxiety of bad financial decisions from earlier years. The view ahead is sometimes overshadowed by a longing to go back and change the decisions they made years before. This is the primary focus of people in Quadrant three, the yearning to go back and have a “do over.” This is why this period has the potential to be so damaging.

So what is one to do?

First, is to realize that all people must go through all four quadrants. Don’t get hung up on the age ranges, they will change, but instead, try to understand and embrace the quadrant that you are in and try to make the most of it.

So if you are in Quadrant one. My advice to you is to learn! Learn everything you can learn about utilizing all of your skills and talents. Don’t waste these years! Go as far as you can go scholastically and immerse yourself in learning. Begin to explore ways people will pay for the knowledge and skills you naturally possess. Don’t worry about making mistakes! Make many of them now and learn from all of them!

Quadrant two people need to have a plan. Make sure your plan involves discipline. You are in your prime earning years and without discipline, our culture will rob you of your future and your finances by appealing to your short term desires! Find ways of investing your earnings. Millionaires are made by investments, not by savings!

Quadrant three people need to focus. They can’t change their past…but they still have time to impact their future. They need to accept where they might be in life and focus on what their next step needs to be. They need to make “smart choices” in all areas of life. They need to invest in things that will provide for them long term. That can range from investments to relationships and the community involvement. Take off the mask and let other’s see the real you.

Quadrant four people need to share. Share time. Share knowledge. Spend time with those you love. Share yourself and make it a point not to leave any question unanswered or conversation un-had. Ask good questions of those you love. Have meaningful conversations. Make it a point to make each moment of every day count.

You see, I’m currently living in Quadrant three. It’s tough. It seems like every day I’m trying to play catch up…or trying to keep up! But I’m determined not to give up. Tough is fine for now…giving up or giving in is not an option. Quadrant three “can be destructive.” It’s where the strongest winds are. These winds can do damage if you get in their way and are not prepared, or they can propel you forward…if you are correctly positioned and prepared.

Yep, hurricanes have taught me a lot recently. I certainly respect them and am aware of the damage they can do. But if you have a plan and take action at the appropriate time, chances are you’ll come out just fine…even if you’re on the Northeastern quadrant.

Cross Currents…

Each morning at dawn you’ll find me in my kayak on Tampa Bay.  For me, it has become part exercise…part church.   It’s a place where I can silence my mind and just listen to the rhythmic sound of my paddles quietly entering the water with each stroke.   Beginning each day on the water brings with it new surprises.   Some days the water is like glass…perfectly quiet and smooth.  Some days the winds create a slight chop in the water which makes paddling a bit more challenging.   Also, as I navigate out of my neighborhood and into the open bay, I am sometimes met with different water conditions based on the intensity and direction of the wind.  Like life, changing conditions are around every corner.

What I’ve also come to learn from my early morning kayaking is how deceptive a cross current is.   It’s one of those currents that approach my kayak not straight on or from behind…but at an angle.  Those are difficult because when I look at the chopping waves of the cross current approaching my kayak, I can get disoriented from the direction I am trying to paddle and my kayak ends up moving in the direction the current is moving…rather than remaining true to my intended heading.   It literally makes me dizzy if I look at it!

So, what I’ve learned to do is to ignore the current entirely… and instead, pick a single point on the shoreline to paddle towards.  Single point of focus.  This way I can maintain my heading…

Hmmm…that sounds like good life advice as well!

All too often, we find ourselves going through life and without thinking about it, we find a “cultural cross current” acting on us.   Unlike the currents that hit you head on (which we can all deal with)…or power you from behind (which we all love), these currents are deceptive.   They are sneaky and are constantly trying to divert you from your intended heading.

So what if you don’t have a heading?

That is a problem…  Without a single point of focus off in the distance to move toward, you’ll most likely soon find yourself way off course!  Why?  Because that’s what the “cultural cross current” wants.   It wants to take you off course…even it has no real place to take you to…it just wants to interrupt your heading.

I have seen this play out in real life all too often.   Many people I know have been taken off course by a variety of “cultural cross currents” pulling them away from their path.   They are so common to us, we barely recognize them, so let me list a few just so you know where to spot them:

  • Most TV shows
  • TV Commercials of all types
  • Music
  • Movies
  • The News
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Some friends…and even some family
  • Social Media and cell phones in general.

Currents are a fact of life and when you’re on the water…currents are a part of the environment.  We can’t fight them…but we also can’t (and shouldn’t) ignore them and their potential impact and influence on our heading.

Pick a spot out on your horizon…and row steadily towards it…and most likely…you’ll be fine.


As a kid, I used to watch a TV program called “Kung Fu” with David Carradine.  I watched every episode in the early 70’s…  “my impressionable years.”  I remember one particular episode when Kwai Chang Caine (the Shaolin monk played by David Carradine) said the following: 

“One should always be the willow that bends with the wind rather than the mighty oak that breaks in the storm.”

Evidently, that episode made an impression on me because that act of “bending” or  “submitting” is what has been on my mind over the past few months…so I guess it’s time to write about it.

In our culture, “submitting” is not something that we celebrate as a strength.  When I think about it, I believe our resistance to submit is the basis for the majority of the problems most of us wrestle with today in our relationships.  We are taught at an early age to “stand up for ourselves” and to “speak our truth” and “not to back down”, and I believe all those things are true and valid. I also believe many of us have associated the act of submission with giving up…and it’s not…it’s simply “giving in.”

Giving up is much different than giving in.  Giving up is admitting defeat.  Giving in is yielding to someone you care about in order to reach a higher gain. It’s losing the battle to win the war.

Pastor Andy Stanley gave a sermon on marriage a couple of years ago. He said that a strong marriage is marked by mutual submission. Each person yielding his or her preferences for the benefit of the other. It’s taking the focus off of my wants and acting on what they might want. Not defending my point of view, but really trying to understand their point of view. That’s great advice but it’s incredibly difficult!

At times we all act like 2-year old’s defending positions that in the grand scheme of things…mean way less than the value of our relationships.   Yet we still fight on!

Being married, I’ve practiced the art of “submitting” just about every day. From TV program choices to furniture placement in the home to how the toilet paper goes on the roll right down to where to put the sponge in the sink.  All these things are opportunities for me to suspend an opinion and just focus on on the betterment of the relationship.  You know… it works…it makes me a better husband… and it makes our relationship better.

Giving in is not giving up. It takes way more strength and love to suspend your wants just because you love someone else more.

If you don’t believe Matthew 26:42.

“He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

Submitting changes everything…for the good.

The Power of “and”…

10 years ago, I was working in San Diego building the Rock Church.   I worked with an interior designer on the project and she taught me a valuable lesson.

Her name was Robin Wilson Carrier and she would always listen to my suggestions about what we should or should not do on the project with regard to design.   I would often have this great idea and I would be excited to tell her all about it hoping to convince her to incorporate my idea into her design.   She would just sit there and listen to me smiling and when I would finish talking, she would nod and say, “and… we might also think of…,” then she would go on to share her much better (and professionally trained) idea…and at the end of the conversation…I felt heard and I felt good about her decision.

The key thing I learned was the power of the word “and.”

So what is so great about that three letter word?   When I was a kid, I would spend my Saturday mornings watching, “Schoolhouse Rock.” From that show, I learned that the words “and, but and or” are conjunctions.   Remember, “Conjunction junction what’s your function?  Hooking up words and phrases and clauses…” anyway…

The use of these three conjunctions are very similar, but the effect they have on others…can be quite different.

For instance, when we use the conjunction “but” connecting two thoughts, we are many times negating the first thought by introducing the second thought.  It’s like we are saying “you’re wrong and I’m right.”  We hear it all the time on TV news programs as the talking heads on the TV scream and yell at each other trying to make their point.   

Similarly, when we use the conjunction “or”, we are usually offering a choice. These choices generally take us in opposite directions.  Up or down, good or bad, chicken or fish.  Either this or that.  What we are implying is that neither choice is necessarily bad… just different.

Then, there is the “and” conjunction.  I think it is the “feel good conjunction.”   It “validates” the first thought as being important, yet offers more…an additional thought!   Using “and” makes people feel better.   It is a “unifier” and I believe if we consciously used “and” in situations where we typically use “but”…we would all be a lot better off.

So why do I think about these things…?

Well, I have struggled for several years with the ultimate direction of my professional life.  I spent 30 years in the Construction industry and I thought I was good at it.   However, as the years wore on, I felt like I lacked a sense of purpose for my efforts and I blamed that feeling on the industry.  Project after project would come and go and I never felt any connection to the “why” I was doing it.   

About this time, I began to go on mission trips and serving people in other countries.   It gave me everything I was looking for!   It gave me purpose and filled that huge void that the construction industry could not.  

So I struggled for years wrestling with two primary beliefs:

  1. I loved the personal satisfaction that missions gave me, but in order to have that, I would have to give up making money and totally rely on God to meet my financial needs.
  2. I was to follow God and serve people in missions or work in the secular world with a normal job.

I never thought about using “and” until recently…

After returning from almost two years serving in Guatemala, I moved to Jacksonville, FL for a short time.  While I was there, I was constantly searching for what God wanted me to do.  What was my next step?  Ministry or Construction?  Ministry or Start a Business?

One day, I attended a C12 meeting and the answer to that question became clear.   The C12 organization is comprised of CEO’s within the community that are Christians and run their businesses using Christian based values.   It was during this day-long meeting that I got to speak with, and listen to Christian leaders that identified their businesses as their ministries.   They did so not in an overt or heavy-handed way but simply living out what they believed.   What a concept!   Ministry was their business and their business was their ministry!   I got it!

Fast forward to now…

Now, I am back in the construction industry building projects and… lovin’ on people as I was able to do in Guatemala and Africa.   I see ministry opportunities in my workplace everywhere! I see chances to encourage people and to help people each day and that new perspective has allowed me “live on mission” and earn a living doing what I’m skilled at doing.

My workplace is my ministry.  God didn’t make me give up anything…He added to…!  

I have learned…and am finally living… the power of “and.”  

Thank you, Robin!



A manifesto for living in the new economy.

Having been out of the country for almost two years, I’ve effectively been out of the day-to-day marketplace.   The fact that I’m not ready to retire, means that I’m not ready to stop working.

But the challenge becomes…how do I get back in the game?    So I sat down and put together a strategy that I’m hoping makes sense…not only for me…but for all those people currently doing the same thing.

Please feel free to forward it to one of YOUR friends that might be in the same boat!

Change your thinking:

  1. Looking for a job is a powerless position.  If you are looking for a job, you’re basically trying to persuade someone to find value in you.   Once you’re an employee, you become a simple line item in their overhead budget and that and costs them money.
  2. Alternative:   They need you!   View them as a client.   You must boil down what talent you can bring them.   You must give them ideas of how they can use you.  Specific ideas.  Give them real life examples of the problems you can solve within their company.  Either with photos, names, pursuits or problems you know they are facing.
  3. Bring value from Day 1.   There will be no learning curve.  They need you…they just don’t know it yet.

Change the way you view money – Finances:

  1. Your life is a balance sheet. You are looking for income.  Yet, you are also cutting expenses.
  2. Income.   People are always looking for people to take care of a problem they have.  The bigger the problem, the more they will pay.   Your job…find problems.  Then either fix them, if you have the skill and expertise… or find someone who can fix them… and then manage the process.
    1. You do this by getting to know people.
    2. Asking them questions about themselves.
    3. Learning…about them.
    4. Listening to…you guessed it….them.
    5. Do this…and at some point you’ll hear what they are struggling with. Spend time looking for problems…then solve them….and get paid.
  3. There are also other means of income.   SELL YOUR CRAP!  Literally!   If you have moved at any point in the past few years, you will undoubtedly have said…I’ve got too much crap!   Most of us do and it all has a price tag!   Bottom line…if you are not actively using it…it’s crap…and it is just as good as a stack of bills…just waiting for you to find a buyer.

Change the way you deal with people – Networking:

  1. Hang out with people who are working!   Don’t hang out in the library, at Starbucks, Panera or any other place that has free wi-fi.   Everyone there is in the same boat as you…they are not working!
  2. Working people are busy!   You must schedule a time to get on their schedule.  These are the people who you want to be around because they have money, they have problems that they deal with every day and they have both connections (that are working) and money to pay you.
  3. Meet new people. Attend events that are specific to your business and expertise.  Not generalized loser mixers…where everyone is looking for the same thing and nobody there has any authority to hire you.
  4. Make it easy for people to find you and learn about you.
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Blog
    • Visual CV
    • Personal website

Change the way you view yourself –

  1. Get up each day and get out of the house by 8 am.
  2. Get dressed in business attire.
  3. Eat lunch downtown.
  4. Smile.
  5. Workout.
  6. Never say you’re unemployed, you are consulting.
  7. Never have a bad day.
  8. Business comes from people…not computers…get in front of people.
  9. Alway call…never text, email or other spineless ways of trying to get in front of someone.
  10. Advertise your success on Facebook, LinkedIn…  But in a professional way.
  11. Bring value.  If you read something interesting.   Write a note to a colleague and send it.   Highlight several points so they can see you actually read it and boil it down to why you sent it to them.  (Remember, they are busy…they have a job).
  12. You are a BRAND!   If I googled you…what would I find?   Would it be consistent and would it support the message you are telling me and the world about you?
  13. Work on your BRAND every day.

Now quit reading this…and go out and get a new Client!



Well…it’s been almost one month since I’ve been back in the U.S. after living in Guatemala for almost two years… and I have to say…re-entry has been enlightening.

With Guatemala, its customs, its conditions and its people still fresh on my mind, jumping back into the U.S. way of being has allowed me to see and appreciate both countries with a new perspective.

Let me share and compare some of those perspectives.

Driving. (Winner – U.S.)
Driving in Guatemala is organized chaos. The lanes are very narrow and mean nothing. If a car, truck or bus can fit on it…you drive on it. Chicken buses rule the road and are very aggressive…if they want your lane…they are going to take it. I remember praying each time I got behind the wheel in Guatemala, and luckily I did ok.

Driving in the U.S. is wonderful. Most everyone follows the rules, drives in their amply wide lanes, obeys traffic signals and so on. Roads are well marked, and streets have signs and numbers. Wonderful!

Food. (Winner – Guatemala)
The food in Guatemala is wonderful! The markets are everywhere, and there is nothing “marked as organic”…because it’s ALL organic! Carrots are as big as the end of a baseball bat, and fresh fruits of all kinds are for sale on every street corner. The meats are all grain and grass fed, and although they are not a huge part of the daily diet, they are great quality. The best part is the price! Cheap, cheap, cheap!

I’ve been in “food sticker shock” ever since I got back! The average cost of breakfast with two eggs, hashed browns, bacon, toast, coffee and orange juice is roughly $10.00, and in Guatemala, I would spend about $5.00 for the same thing. Also, while the number of restaurants and choices in the U.S. far outnumber Guatemala…I have to say…I still dream about some of my meals in Guatemala.

People. (Winner – Guatemala)
The people in Guatemala are wonderful. They are courteous, helpful and happy. They may not engage you first, but once you muster the guts to engage them…you’ve got an instant friend. They look you in the eye as you pass on the street and always return the smile you give them. The family is huge to Guatemalans, and they spend lots of time together…just being together…and they love it.

In the U.S., people seem busy, preoccupied and anxious about something or other. Most conversations I hear, (yes, I’m eavesdropping on the conversations of others…), are people complaining about politics, family, their job or something. It’s rarely good conversation…always problems. Most people are doing something on their phones rather than looking around and engaging in the world around them. That’s unfortunate and more than anything; I wish that change.

Creature Comforts. (Winner – U.S.)
I have to say…I don’t miss wondering if I am going to have water from one day to the next! Many times in Guatemala, I would turn on my faucet and hear that dreaded gurgling sound. I also don’t miss the noise. The sounds of Chicken buses, the loudspeakers on the Zeta Gas trucks blaring their sales jingle, the constant explosions of firecrackers at daybreak for signifying someone’s birthday and roosters that crow at all hours of the night. Nope…I don’t miss those things.

Being home in the U.S., it’s funny how quickly I take these things for granted. Of course, I’ll have water…and I can even drink it if I want! Although there is noise, it seems to be a constant hum of traffic that is almost relaxing. I can turn on TV and get all sorts of channels…and I can understand everything they are saying! Also, if I need something, there is always a store that has it, or I can order it online and have it delivered in days! Something that was never an option in Guatemala.

Yep, I have to say that being back in the U.S. is nice in many respects. I’ve been able to see my family and friends and I don’t worry about my safety and day to day life is just…easier. However, I most certainly miss many aspects of my Guatemalan home. I miss my friends; I miss feeling that “connection” with people, I miss the smiles and laughter, I miss the beautiful children and hardworking work ethic of their parents. I especially miss seeing how far $10 will last me!

Re-entry has been enlightening…and I hope I can carry the best of what I experienced in Guatemala with me and share it here in the U.S., but I also realize the unrest that will always live inside me…as expressed best in this quote:

“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

― Miriam Adeney

Anticipation…one of my favorite feelings…


I love this time of year! But not for the reasons you might expect. It’s not for the lights, the music or Santa…for me it’s the Anticipation! You see, I love that feeling! If Christmas were up to me…I would never open a gift…I would just leave it there…all wrapped up so I could look at it and wonder what was inside. I wouldn’t shake it or gently peel off the tape from the wrapping paper…I would just look at it…and that would make me happy.

Well, it’s Christmas time here in Antigua, Guatemala and the churches are celebrating Advent, which means “coming” in Latin. Each Sunday leading up to Christmas, the streets are filled with people, bands and processions carrying statues of Mary, Jesus and various Angels. They shoot off fireworks in front of the procession as well as after it passes.

The anticipation of the birth of Christ and the celebrations that are to come in just a few weeks cannot be ignored. I catch myself being both joyous and humbled as the crowds of people pass by my door in celebration that God came thru with His promise.


Thinking about the fact that 400 years passed between the promise of the coming Lord (Malachi 3:1) and the news of His arrival (Matthew) humbles me on several levels. First of all…that’s a long time to wait… and secondly…it’s a long time to hold hope. I’m not sure I could have done it. But as always…God was true to His word.

So, as I think about “Anticipation” being one my favorite feelings, I begin to wonder where that feeling originates. I believe it originates with “Hope.” This may not be the correct definition, but this is what I believe. I believe Hope is the belief that something is good is coming and Anticipation is the feeling that is caused by Hope.

We don’t hear too much about Hope these days. Maybe it’s because many of us feel like we are in control of our life and circumstances and we feel like we don’t need it. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Everyone needs Hope! I love this quote:

“Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”           – unknown


I believe it!

I have been working here in Guatemala for several years and living here for almost two. During that time, I’ve been involved in training pastors and business people, working in medical clinics and building stoves. All of that has been wonderful and I think we have made a positive impact on the community to some degree. But what I think has made the greatest difference is just being here… and lovin’ on people.

I think that just lovin’ on people gives them Hope. Hope that they are ok and that they will be ok. I think it provides a spark where Faith can grow. Faith that might lead them to do something that will improve their life, Faith that tomorrow might be better than today. Faith that God has not…and will not…abandoned them.

Yep, I think Hope is the spark to everything that is good. We need it…and we need more of us dishing it out to others in massive proportions.


So my prayer for all of us this Christmas season is to make a concerted effort to “love on people.” Anybody you can, wherever you can. Love on them with a smile, a pat on the back, a “good morning” or a “thank you.” Everytime you pass by that man or woman ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, drop some of your spare change in the bucket…not necessarily for them…but for you.

Everyone you can…wherever you can.


Give Hope this season…it costs you nothing…but its affect never goes unappreciated…or unnoticed.

Merry Christmas.