Helping Others Transition: A Lesson in Leadership from the High Command

And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.’ – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

This sweet-faced boy is my father at 17—the age at which he enlisted in the Navy and went off to boot camp to prepare to serve his country in World War II. Happily, the war ended the month before he was slated to ship out and so, by the age of 19, he was a veteran, back home with his relieved parents, and planning to start college with the aid of the GI bill.

He is now 90, and although his time in the Navy lasted just a few short years, his military experience has had a lasting positive effect on his character and identity. As one of America’s “greatest generation,” he has always viewed his service in the Navy with great pride. His love for both his country and the sea has never died, and he still wears a Navy ballcap as he heads off to the VFW meetings in his retirement community.

My brother recently found this treasure—one of the few letters my father has ever kept. Personally addressed to “My Dear Mr. Nelson”, it was signed by James Forrestal, the wartime Secretary of the Navy, and dated July 1946, the month after received his my honorable discharge.

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What Makes You Happy?

Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” – Psalm 144:15

Browsing in a gift shop yesterday, I came upon a wall of rustic wood signs hand-painted with inspirational sayings. Trendy and very tempting, yes, but who among us hasn’t had this thought—why spend $25 when I could do that myself? I remembered I had some scrap wood laying about and even began dreaming up catchy names for an Etsy shop. As I took stock of my possibilities, however, I realized that I lacked paint, stain, the right brushes, hardware for hanging, workspace, time, and calligraphic skill.

Faced with my clearcut deficiencies, I sank back to earth and returned to reading the assorted clever sayings and cliches displayed before me. My attention was drawn to the message painted on one especially winsome square fashioned from rough-hewn pine planks—“Do what makes you happy.”

Now this was an arresting thought which gave rise to quite a few questions to ponder on the drive home. Was it true or false? Good advice or bad? Should I do what makes me happy? Does God want me to do what makes me happy? Do I usually do what makes me happy? What does make me happy?

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Dancing with a Star: A Tribute to My Mom

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

You already know the most important thing about my mom if you read my April 19th post about her recent baptism at the age of 86. Now here is the rest of the story of this crazy fun lady who brought me into this world.

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Small Change: Four Ways to Ease Transition

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. Zech 4:10

What do you do with the small change you accumulate? When my kids were small, I used to throw mine in a coffee can and every few months roll it and have enough to pay for a babysitter and a night out.

But there’s been a big change in small change. My current jar is high-tech, actually keeping track of the amount I’ve fed it. In the last year and a half I’ve managed to accrue the whopping sum of $14.83. Coins just don’t get used much any more. In high school we used to keep dimes in our penny loafers for emergencies— a phone call home or THAT machine in the girls room. Just twenty cents could cover 90% of your teenage crises. I still keep some quarters in my wallet out of habit, thinking I might need to make a call. But where would I even find a pay phone?

It may not be long before coins are obsolete and the expressions I’m exploring here will sound like Shakespeare to a new generation. But before that happens, let’s look at how some of our cliches about coins can help us remember that strategic small changes add up to long-term victory in the face of constant change.

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Just For You

Whatever you do, do your work from the soul, as for the Lord, rather than for men. – Colossians 3:23 (NASB)

If we were to play the “find something in your purse that tells us who you are” icebreaker, I would most certainly whip out my 4 color pen emblazoned with Thomas Jefferson’s words, “ I cannot live without books.” I’ve had a lifelong love affair with both novels and nonfiction, and I’m never more than an arms-length from the written word other than when I’m swimming in the ocean. And even then, there’s a paperback waiting for me in my beach bag.

I also confess to an inordinate desire for writing implements, and I’m constantly engaged in a quest for the perfect pen. As a child I longed for stamp pads and colored pencils, I begged my grandfather for his delicious new legal pads, and when my mom took us to the store I would always choose a treat from the stationery aisle rather than the toy department.

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