Category Archives: General Update

Frisbees Speak Louder Than Words

In many ways, language inhibits our ability to truly communicate. We so quickly use words to express our feelings that our words have been sucked dry of meaning. Listen to what James says about this:

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

James 2:15-17

Imagine reaching a point in your life where you lacked the food to feed your children. Suppose you went to a friend and shared your plight and they essentially said sorry and wished you good luck. You would rightfully be discouraged and hurt. Although they communicated with words that they care, their actions spoke otherwise.

We too easily use words to wrap up a conversation or an encounter with someone because words make the break more clean. It is infinitely more convenient to say, “I’ll pray for you” to someone who is suffering than to invest the time and energy necessary to understand their suffering and discover a way to love them in action.

All of this crystallized in my heart when I spent a week in Brazil this past October. I knew not a lick of Portuguese, but one of our primary goals involved loving the children in a poorer part of the city.

I remember the first few minutes as we began to meet the children, I felt terribly out of place. I graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies. I am trained to talk! Yet, I could not use words to introduce myself or begin to get to know the kids.

Samela, one of my favorite kids from the trip.

Thankfully, love knows no bounds. Language does not hold love captive and over the next week, I got to know some of the most wonderful children in the world through a variety of ways:

  • Playing Frisbee – Seriously, greatest invention ever. The kids had more fun with that than anything else.
  • Having the kids make fun of me while I tried to repeat Portuguese words.
  • Getting schooled in soccer.
  • Building them a safer place to play.
  • Trying to sing songs in Portuguese.
  • Teaching them how to juggle.
  • Simply spending time with them.

Honestly, I felt like I knew the kids my whole life by the time I left. Although language made conversation possible, real friendships were formed. I may never have been able to have a long conversation, but I still tear up when I look at their pictures because they mean so much to me.

All this to say, let’s stop going the easy route. Yes, we can tell people how we feel, but let’s not stop there. Show them.

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Filed under christian, General Update, Realizations, Scripture, selflessness, Serving Others

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Apologies to Dave Ramsey if I grossly misquote him, but he is known for saying something like, “You need to own your money, before it owns you.” Part of this idea is naming where each bill goes. If you don’t tell it where it’s going, it disappears before you realize it.

I’m finding the same can be said for your time. I’ve never been an extremely scheduled person. It doesn’t come easy and so I normally fly by the seat of my pants. However, I think it’s time for a change. I don’t own my time anymore. It owns me. I often look back on weeks and wonder where in the world they went and what opportunities I missed!  I’m by no means the busiest person I know, but if you add up 2 jobs, grad school, family, and other responsibilities and hobbies you can see why I feel a bit pressed!

Wish you could stop time?

But here’s the thing. No one can serve and love others effectively if they are maxed out. Sacrifice is one thing. It implies an intentional giving up of something. We should sacrifice our time. But foolishly using our time and being burnt out is another thing altogether. I firmly believe I could use my time better and that would benefit my family, my work, my education, people I want to serve, and myself.

We all could use some lessons in time management. If we are to be effective stewards of the time God has given us on this Earth, we shouldn’t want to waste a single moment!

So, drum roll please….

This week is time management week at Becoming Last. We’re going to discover together principles we could all apply to make better use of our time.

Three promises:

  1. You will be challenged. I’m convinced we have a wealth of time and yet we squander it.
  2. You will be better off. Making better use of our time leads to less stress and more freedom.
  3. You will discover something new. Guaranteed. You will learn something new or have one of those “light bulb over the head” moments.

Look forward to seeing you around. I’m determined to make the most of these precious moments we have on this great Earth. Will you join me?

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Filed under Challenges, General Update, Time

Stories

People love stories. We get lost in them. We live through them. They inspire us. They give us hope. Stories provoke us to think and to dream.

I want to begin telling more stories of everyday people who contribute to our communities through serving and loving others.

Maybe you don’t feel like your story is extraordinary…it doesn’t have to be.
Perhaps you don’t want to get the credit…that’s o.k. I’ll share it anonymously.
Still don’t want to get the credit? Share someone else’s story!
Don’t know a story personally, but have a link? Share it!

Either leave me a note in the comments or shoot me an email if you have a story I can use. I’ll ask you a few questions and we can post it to encourage others in their efforts to serve.

I love politics. I’m a news junkie. But I get so tired of seeing the same, depressing stuff on the news. Don’t get me wrong. That’s reality. But it’s only have the story…

There are people who put their lives on the line everyday for others. Ordinary people who sacrifice their time, money, and energy to love people unconditionally. Those stories deserve to be heard.

Got a story? Please share it!

Also, if you know anything about website design and would like to help me with a new project, shoot me an email!

becominglast@hotmail.com

How can you Become Last today?

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Filed under Examples of Sacrifice, General Update, making a difference

Positive Feedback

Have you ever had a truly horrific customer service experience? The type that makes you consider never doing business with someone again? A few years ago, I remember my brother calling the cable company to cancel a service. They give you several different options to choose from. Push 1 to sign up for a new service, 2 to modify/cancel a service, 3 for something else, etc. He chose 2 and sat on hold for over 30 minutes. Becoming a little frustrated he decided to see what would happen if he pushed 1 (the sign-up line!). He got out his cell phone, dialed the company, pushed 1, and BAM! Immediately, someone was on the line. You can imagine the frustration. They only wanted to talk to him if he was going to give them money.

We’ve all had those experiences and we tend to share them. My wife and I had one at Boston Market a few months back. I thought I had blogged about it, but I can’t find it anywhere. It’s a long story, but it was just an unpleasant experience. The point is: We told everyone about it. We posted it on Facebook, Twitter, and told our friends. We weren’t sure if we’d ever go back.

Which brings us to tonight…

After having our second little boy 3 weeks ago, people have pitched in to make us dinners and such. We also got a Boston Market gift card. So we decided to take a trip tonight and I just had to write about our experience.

It was a complete 180!

Seriously, you would think it’s a different place. The servers were exceptionally friendly. We had $20 on our card and were trying to squeeze the most out of it that we could so I asked the cashier if we had enough for a coke. She said we only had room for one drink, but ended up giving us a second one free. Awesome.

Then, we get to our seat and I realize they had forgotten to put a corn bread on my plate. Worried this might cause conflict (I could see them doubting I didn’t get one), I went up to the counter. The same lady was up there and not only did she help me, she apologized, and gave me two pieces of corn bread!

They seemed to be going out of their way to make our visit pleasant. My last visit, I took a survey and told them about my bad experience. I plan on doing another survey and telling them how great my visit was this time. I’ve always loved their food, but the customer service has been below par. It was great to see it improve tonight. It’s easy to spread the news when bad stuff happens. A lot of times we just expect things to go right so we don’t properly recognize people for doing a good job. Hopefully, they’ll be encouraged by the positive feedback?

Ever had a great customer service experience? Did you brag on them? Did you send them positive feedback? Take some time to encourage someone this week!

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Filed under General Update

Loving with Less

In the comments section on Tuesday’s post, I mentioned a blogger friend who had listed 100 ways to love people without spending a penny. Turns out it was only 5o (still a lot!), but I wanted to give you the link to it for those interested.

A couple of my favorites:

16. Turn in those Box Tops for Education – found on Pillsbury items. I’ll be honest. I don’t have a kid in school so I normally throw these away. Not that I don’t care, I just don’t think. But it’s free money for our school system and such a simple thing! I’m going to make a box top jar tonight!

27. Donate gently used magazines to a nursing home. What a neat idea. Never would have thought of that in a million years. Better than going in the trash right?!

51. (a bonus!) Host a game night with your family – eat dessert first! Turn off cell phones (ok – kids, you can leave yours on….) but spend time laughing together playing games! I love this one. Loving others starts in the home. Great way to have fun with your family and give them the quality time that shows them you love them.

Here’s the link: 50 Ways to Make a Difference…

Also check out the cool way Texas Football Coach Mack Brown goes the extra mile to love his wife: Click me!

Got any other ideas? What are ways you love people that aren’t on this list?

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Filed under General Update, making a difference, Serving Others, volunteer

Tuesday!

I thought I’d post some takeaways from Nikki’s post. Some things I learned or thought about while reading:

  1. What is Passion? – She shared she had a passion for humanitarian work, specifically for working with children. I think her life reflects that. Though I began to wonder if I really am passionate about the things I think I am. For example, my wife and I are reorganizing our finances because we want to live better. We’re sacrificing right now so we can live better later. That indicates I’m passionate about living a financially sound life. I’m willing to sacrifice. The question I have to ask myself is: Would I put the same effort into raising money or awareness for other things I claim to be passionate about (such as children living in hunger/poverty?) I don’t think it’s bad to live well because I’m making sound financial choices, but I wonder if I would make those same choices if I received none of the benefit.
  2. Out of the Comfort Zone – Nikki said she couldn’t get the kids out of her head when she came back to the states. Her world had been rocked with what she had witnessed on her trip. There’s something to be said for getting out of your comfort zone. Our priorities/thoughts/actions/motivations tend to change when our eyes are opened to stuff we’re not used to seeing. This makes me even more ready to take a trip overseas sometime soon to help with relief.
  3. Small Sacrifices – I’m glad she mentioned making small sacrifices like forgoing one meal out a week to give toward some project you care about. Like I said, I want to go overseas. I want to help people, but life can be constraining and so until I go I can begin to make small sacrifices. Even if it helps one child, it’s beyond worth it to that child. No amount of compassion is insignificant. No gift or sacrifice is too small. We can all begin to take baby steps in the direction of Becoming Last.
  4. Be a Freak – Some people aren’t going to understand why you do what you do. Friends may not understand why you’d rather not eat out or see the latest movie. Family may not want you to take a trip overseas. But I would encourage you, if you are called, go. Specifically, as a Christian, God calls us to be his hands and feet by loving/sacrificing/serving people. Are we heeding that call?

Well, I hope her post was encouraging and inspiring to you. I enjoy hearing about people’s experiences and their perspective on Becoming Last. I’m not sure what’s ahead for the week. I bought a book last night I hope to recommend to you after I finish it. It’s got potential. Until then…

How can you Become Last today?

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Filed under christian, General Update, poverty, Serving Others

More to Life

Nikki and Frankel and Mother Theresa's Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Nikki and Frankel and Mother Theresa's Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Becoming Last welcomes Nikki!

Last week I got an email from a fellow blogger, Matt, asking me to guest blog on his own blog, Becoming Last. Also eager to communicate with other like-minded bloggers, and to share my experiences, of course I agreed. Maybe I should start this guest post by introducing myself… My name is Nikki Cochrane, and I am a 20 year old student in my last year of the cultural anthropology program at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. My passion in life is one thing, and it seems to consume my every thought; humanitarian work. Throughout most of teenage and adult life I have volunteered and sponsored children, but I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life the summer after my grade 12 year when I first went to the Dominican Republic. I went with an organization called Hero Holiday (www.heroholiday.com); working in and around Sosua… building schools, helping in an orphanage for handicapped children, and learning just a little bit about the Dominican and Haitian people with whom I was working. When I got home, I cried for a week. I couldn’t get the kids’ faces out of my head, and every time I opened my fridge and saw food (some that wouldn’t even be eaten), I was overcome with a sense of guilt. I knew I had to do more. The following summer I returned to the DR again with Hero Holiday, this time for a month. Every day of the month brought moments and experiences that even further changed me and my perceptions on life. The following February sent me to Ethiopia, Africa. I worked in an orphanage for HIV+ children, was able to meet my World Vision sponsor child, Tsehay, and taught English classes to children who were very eager to learn. I ate injera and dora wat for the first time and learned how to maneuver through a bustling African market. This past summer, I spent two months in the Dominican Republic again; the place I call my second home! I was able to spend a few days in its neighboring country as well, Haiti, working mostly in a hospital for children, most of whom are dying or very sick from malnutrition. The first time I walked into the hospital I was so overcome with emotion that I had to step back out, after seeing a 6 year old, Frankel, so skinny and lethargic he could barely lift his head. I was shocked when I heard him speak, for he was so tiny he looked like he would be too young even to know how to talk. I later learned he was 6 years old… I hugged him very tightly after that and hoped he could feel my love.

I am not sure exactly what the future is going to bring for me, but I know there are going to be big changes in my life. I will be heading back to the DR for 2 weeks over Christmas, and then moving there in May when I am done University. My life has been changed in so many ways because of this work, but it is not without its struggles. There are some parts of my life where I have to make sacrifices, and although it is all worth it, it is difficult at times. Money is one of those sacrifices, and it leads me to pinching every penny just to afford to live when I am in the DR. I have drifted apart from some friends, who don’t understand the way I feel about life now. It has even caused some conflicts with my family members, who are hesitant about seeing me leave. But when I look at the big picture, I couldn’t be happier. I know that with every sacrifice I make, there is a bigger purpose behind it. Something much bigger than just me, and my own little Canadian bubble. There is much more to the world than many people think, and I believe it is up to each of us to do our part in making the lives of those struggling a little easier… a little happier.

If you want to read more about my work, you can check out my blog at www.heroholiday07.blogspot.com I also have a fundraising blog, www.madebynikki.blogspot.com where I design blogspot blogs to raise money for my travel and living expenses.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post! I hope that it will inspire you to think twice the next time you spend $10 at McDonalds, or your toonie on a coffee. There are so many needs in the world; children that need to be fed, that need to go to school, that need uniforms, clothes, shoes, clean water, education… YOU can make a difference, even if it is in just ONE child’s life. I will finish by leaving you with my favorite story. It has inspired me and is something that I find myself reading during the times when I feel unsure…

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”

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Filed under Examples of Sacrifice, General Update, Uncategorized, Websites