Monthly Archives: October 2009

Lessons From a Party – Part 1 – Learning to be Open

I recently celebrated another birthday. Let’s just say I’m approaching 30…yikes. 🙂 We celebrate birthdays in my family by having a dinner over at my dad’s house. We really use any excuse we can find to fire up the grill and make a big meal.

The party was great, but the best part was the two lessons I learned while I was there. You see, I’m starting to have “Becoming Last” vision. Have you ever been passionate about something to where you start seeing it everywhere? For example, when you are engaged, you find any way to work your fiance into the conversation. I guess politics would be a good example too. If you are really passionate about a certain position, you tend to listen and see things through that lens. Well, I’m starting to see things through the Becoming Last lens. I love catching people in the act of Becoming Last and learning new ideas from them.

That night, I was taught two very important lessons. I’ll share the first one now and the second one later today or tomorrow.

Even now, I’m not even sure how to phrase the first lesson I learned. We’ll call it: Learning to be Open. Most of us probably imagine ourselves as rather friendly people, but I’ll be the first to admit that my schedule does not leave much wiggle room for letting others into my family’s world. As fast paced and as busy as our lives are these days, unless you make an intentional effort to build relationships with people it is unlikely to happen. So as we seek to love people the way God loves them we should not wait for some mystical, magical moment, but we should make the practical step of sharing our time and our family with them.

My dad and my step-mom Dee are exceptional at this. They constantly invite new people to join our family events. And these are not “important” people as the world would see them. They aren’t inviting people over to gain an edge or get ahead. Over the past few years, I’ve seen them befriend people who have just moved to America, just moved in their neighborhood, or are going through a significantly difficult time in their lives.

At the party, they had invited their new neighbor over for dinner. She was so appreciative and even brought over some gifts to show her appreciation! It was the neighbor who actually taught me the second lesson, but you’ll have to wait for that!

So I’m going to challenge us to learn to be open. Can we share a family dinner with someone this week? Could we plan ahead and invite someone next week? Who are the new, hurting, lonely, or needy that we could befriend?

I know this will take building some margin into my life, but I believe God wants my life to be more of a blank slate than what it is currently. What if I stopped planning so much and gave God the opportunity to create the story he wants with my family?

Thanks dad and Dee for teaching us to be open. Who can you be open toward this week?

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Dirty Water

This photo was taken by charity:water in central Africa. Photos like this always floor me. I can’t imagine filling up my Nalgene bottle with this water or serving it to my son to drink with his dinner. It baffles me that people live in conditions like this. Children drink that water filth.

That’s why simple things, like clicking a SocialVibe widget (on your right), matter. Sure, there is more to do, but our little clicks are more significant that we understand.

dirty water

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Helping charity:water

Congratulations! With your help, Vitamin Angels reached its SocialVibe goal! Becoming Last readers clicked their way to giving over 28,000 days worth of Vitamin A. Those are real lives that you impacted. Awesome job!

Now, we have a new charity to help. Let me introduce you to charity:water. Here is how they describe themselves:

charity: water is a non profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. We give 100% of the money raised to direct project costs, funding sustainable clean water solutions in areas of greatest need. Just $20 can give one person in a developing nation clean water for 20 years.

Right now, 1.1 billion people on the planet don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water. That’s one in six of us.

These folks are top notch. Everything they do, they do well. And they are doing terrific work in the places with the greatest need.

For those of you new to Becoming Last, I’m not asking for money. Just ten seconds of your time, once a day. That’s all it takes to help. To learn more about charity:water, watch this video. To learn how to help, scroll past it, and I’ll explain. Trust me, it’s easy! 🙂

How to help:

  1. Visit Becoming Last once a day.
  2. Click on the SocialVibe charity:water widget to your right.
  3. The sponsor donating money for each click is Colgate. You’ll see a screen that says, “Create Your Smile Story”. All you have to do is click “submit”.
  4. Then click “Send it” and you are done! You can leave me a little message on the last screen if you want, but that’s optional!

With three clicks of your mouse, you will help donate what equates to 146 gallons of drinking water! Wow. Too easy.

Thank you for all the help!

How can you Become Last today? (hint: 3 clicks = 146 gallons of drinking water!)

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The Battle With Trust

Today, I decided to take part in Bridget Chumbley’s “One Word at a Time” blog carnival. The word for this week is “Trust.”

At first glance, I wasn’t quite sure how trust would fit in with the theme of this blog. I guess that’s why taking a second look at things are so important because I’ve come to realize trust is absolutely essential to becoming last.

Trust and I have been wrestling for quite some time. It’s been a pretty good fight. Until last week…when trust delivered a solid shot to my heart. I attended a conference where a man who had been adopted through Compassion was interviewed. His story struck clobbered me.

If you’d like to watch, here it is.

I could think of a million reasons why I didn’t need to sponsor a child. They all have to do with my money, my comfort, and my trust in God’s provision. The fact is my family is not rich. We make it, but the $35 a month would hurt. It would pinch things a bit, but do I trust God to provide for my family so much that I’d be willing to put us on the edge a little?

I wrestle with that. I know God doesn’t call me to take part in every organization in the world and save everyone from poverty, disease, etc. But I wonder if I, and most other Christians, have one of two problems:

  1. A Listening Problem – We’re not open to steps God wants us to take in serving others.
  2. A Trusting Problem – Will God take care of my needs, my family, and my stuff if I give all that I am to others?

That second question haunts me. We are part of God’s plan. Think of the abundance He has blessed us with. Are we willing to trust God completely or do we hedge our bets and offer up a few prayers on the world’s behalf? I’ve said this before, but sometimes I’ve wondered if, as I pray for people, does God look down and respond, “That’s why you’re there! That’s why you have the resources you have. Go. Be my hands and feet. Tell others about me through the way you love.”

Will we trust? Is our God big enough to place our lives, security, and possessions in his hands? Are we willing to lay everything down?

How can you Become Last today?

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One Note in a Beautiful Symphony

One of the greatest tragedies to befall a man is the belief that what he does is irrelevant. The more meaningless life becomes in his head, the quicker his life will mirror the belief. For me, one of the greatest paradoxes of life is the knowledge of how small we are in the universe, but how significant even the smallest of our actions can be. This video can give you a glimpse of the magnitude of the universe.

We may just be a tiny dot in the grand scheme of things, but we have a part in the play. In fact, even the action we believe to be the most insignificant can be life changing or world altering. Two of my previous blogs come to mind:

  • Your Small is Someone’s Large – This was my reaction to Vitamin Angels’ guest post. They wrote how: It costs Vitamin Angels just 25 cents per child per year to provide vitamin A and antiparasitic medicine to children in need. That means that for $1, you can provide a child under 5 with enough vitamin A for the four most vulnerable years of their life. Tiny contribution. Life changing consequences.
  • Life as a Textbook – One simple act of responsibility by my wife changed the way I look at litter forever.

I bring all this up because this past week I heard another story that emphasizes my point. I was at a leadership conference where they highlighted different social causes. One was Compassion International. They interviewed a 28-year-old (?) man who had been sponsored through Compassion since he was 8. He had lost his dad and his mom was very sick. He had even had to move to his Aunt’s house where he was the eighth child. His life was not going well. At that time, a 20-year-old college student (Mark) from Canada sponsored him for no more than $35 a month. Because of that generosity, the man was now training to be a pastor and was preparing to go back to Kenya to help others. The man had even saved the first letter he had received from the Canadian college student.

It was a touching story, but to top it off they asked him if had ever met his sponsor. “No, I have not”, he replied. And that’s when they brought his sponsor out. You’ve never seen a grown man cry as much and as hard as this man from Kenya. He hugged Mark for about five or ten minutes and they tried to continue the interview. However, he could barely stand and he just sat on the floor bawling. The look in his eyes contained a thousand words. They ranged from inexpressible joy to “I can’t believe I’m meeting you!” to “Thank you!” It was a beautiful moment.

Many of us may never receive that moment. Mark could have never met the man he once sponsored. But would that have changed the significance of what he had done? No. The Kenyan man’s life was forever changed.

Remember the small things. They are never really small. They are just small in the moment. Never believe the lie that says your life is irrelevant. You matter. I matter. People halfway around the world matter. Our lives may just be small notes  in the grand symphony of life, but imagine the ugly silence if those notes were removed.

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Limited Resources, Unlimited Potential

Call me lazy, but I had to share another video today. This is about a guy whose village went through a famine in Africa, he was forced to drop out of school (money), and yet he overcame. There are so many things I could learn from this guy, here’s two:

  • Humility/Selflessness – The guy is a genius. He could make tons of money, but his primary concern is the people in his village.
  • Determination – Think of all the excuses this guy had to not do anything: lack of money, lack of resources, lack of help, etc… He let nothing stop him and now his village is a million times better off.

Enjoy the video and don’t be afraid to dream big. No matter who you are, you can make an impact!

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