Five Reasons Why You Should Employ the Golden Rule at Work

Golden Ruler  To start, let’s define the Golden Rule, rather than just assuming everyone knows. It was first spoken by Jesus and is a basic principle for life. The premise: treat others as you would have them treat you. If you want respect, give respect. If you want loyalty, give loyalty. If you want courtesy give courtesy. Will you always get what you give? Not always, but here are five reasons why you should still employ and encourage others to employ the Golden Rule in business dealings. They work in tandem with each other.

Better working environment.

If you want others inside and outside of your organization to not only get along, but build trust and rapport, then this is foundational. You must build relationships to succeed. It starts with how you treat people. People and relationships flourish in the soil of appreciation, respect, and trust. If you, or you allow others, to mistreat those within and without your organization, this equates to abuse. “Even a dog will stop being your friend if you continue to smack him.” Everyone by the very virtue of being a human deserves respect. Insubordination goes only one way – up. Respect and disrespect goes two ways. It has been said “employees don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.”

Law of Unforeseen Consequences.

A maxim I have used many times is “Be careful of the hell you create today. You will have to live in it tomorrow.” The way you treat people is a decision. A choice. Each choice we make, notice I said, choice not action, has consequences. Non-action is a choice. If we allow or exercise mistreatment, betraying of trust, gossip, or backbiting, then it will come back on your organization. Usually this is in ways that were unforeseen and to a level we did not expect. The same is true for treating and encouraging others to treat others well. It’s also the principle of sowing and reaping. You reap what you sow. Sow kindness, get kindness, sow trust, get trust, sow honesty, get honesty.

Structures and relationships will always change.

You do not know today what the structure is going to be like tomorrow. How many times have you seen someone work their way from an entry level position to one higher than yours or to become your boss? Another saying: “Be careful of who you tick off today, you may need them tomorrow (or they may be your boss tomorrow).” I could probably write pages about this one.   

I once knew a paramedic who was speeding and was stopped by a state trooper. The trooper gave the paramedic a hard time about obeying the law and how he was in the public eye, etc. etc. They got in a heated discussion. The trooper got mad and wrote the paramedic the maximum ticket. Several months later, the trooper flipped his car during a high speed chase. Guess who responded on the ambulance? The paramedic. They remembered each other. The paramedic took the high road and gave the trooper the best of care.

Seek first to understand.

We all want others to listen and understand us. If something must change in your organization, seek to understand what effect it will have on others. If you must “take down a fence (especially a sacred fence) seek to find out why the fence was placed there to begin with.” If you start a stampede you might wish the fence was still there.

We need each other.

“The turtle on the fencepost didn’t get there by himself.” For fun, people will put turtles on a fencepost (yes I know it can be deemed animal cruelty, but bear with me). The point is that turtle got there with some help. So it is in the success journey we are all on. We need others to help us. If we are too stubborn or prideful to seek or accept help, if we get to the top it will be lonely. If we do accept help, we should be quick to give credit where credit is due. I am not talking about handouts here, but hand ups. Help others and it will come back to you visibly in way you would have not expected and invisibly in ways you may never know.

There are many more ways you can improve the relationships you have worked so hard to develop. I have given you five here as a foundation treating others how you want to be treated. Employ these and see how the environment changes. The good thing – these can be used in any relationships to strengthen them.

What Happened to the Blog?

Question MarkRecently, several people have asked me this question. For the first time since September I don’t have a looming deadline for an audio book. It was in August of last year that I started my audio book narration career, stint, what ever you care to call it and through it all I did not have time to write anything. The answer to the title question: It didn’t go at all.

The problem is that I over estimated what it would take to do audio books. I thought it would be a simple process. I mean,  how hard can it be? It’s just reading a book into a mic, right? Wrong. What I found out is for every hour of audio someone records, there is about four hours of editing, producing, formatting, and performing a quality control check. Honestly, I got in over my head.

I over booked my self and then I joined with a great lady who has learned so much in the way of narration and is great at accepting coaching and critique. We formed a team for audio books that seemed to be missing in the medium we chose to use.

So far, I have  completed four books personally and Becci and I have completed four. We are currently waiting on the approval of our fifth and are set to start our sixth book together. Through these books we have learned to back off and have fun doing the books and to leave time and room for the unexpected and the priorities in life.

The unexpected for us included: increased travel for my day job, increased hours and responsibilities for her at her job, sickness, and learning the ropes for both of us. Learning the ropes was probably the hardest part. I have went back and listened to some of our first books. Boy, how I wish we could do those over again.

For those of you have inquired about my writing, thank you. For those who have inquired about the audio books, thank you. I plan to take the time to start blogging again, this being the first for 2017. The next will be concerning a new direction containing reviews in a format I call “The 360 Second Review with the Salty Eclectic.” I also hope to get back to doing the interview type blogs that I had started in 2016. I also plan to get back to the blogcasts. I believe you find they will be of better quality. Thanks again.

Meet Jeremy Bullard: Security Officer and Writer

When I was working on publishing my first book someone told me to join some writing groups. I did some searching around on Facebook and saw one I found interesting. It is one of those groups you have to be accepted in to be a part of it. I read some of the feed and thought this one was pretty interesting. So, I asked to join. Just like that, I was introduced to the group. I was welcomed by the group instantly. One of the administrators, who happened to be a resident of Dothan, expressed how glad he was to have someone from the group so close to home. When he saw where I was from, he reached out to me. I want to say “we hit it off immediately” because I liked his posts and his sense of humor. It was Jeremy Bullard.

We corresponded through posts and IM over the past year or so. Several months back I contacted Jeremy and asked to meet. It only made sense, since we both lived so close and were in the same writer’s group, to meet. He agreed. We met at a local coffee shop and discussed everything from books to theology. I recently asked Jeremy if I could recap some of that conversation and some of the other things we had discussed through the time I had been in the group. He graciously agreed.us

Q: Jeremy, could you give us a little background on you and your family?

Jeremy: I’m 44 years old, and have been married to my wife Mary for 15 years this October. We have three children, Olivia (12), Caleb (10), and Madison (8), who I am convinced, are going to be the death of me. If not from their homeschooling, from their EPIC level in-fighting!

Q: Family history?

Jeremy: History? That could take a while, but just to broad brush things… I’m the product of a broken home, twice over. My biological father left when I was a newborn, not to be seen again until I was 38. My Mom and the man who became my Dad just couldn’t keep their stuff together. But for all that (I could complain about stuff daddyinglike that), it actually taught me to see the OPPORTUNITY in the hardships. If not for my biological father leaving, I never would’ve met my Dad. If not for that broken home, I never would’ve had the benefit of going to school in Illinois and summering in Alabama. If not for the stark differences between my Mom and Dad, I never would’ve gotten my serious Christian walk, which is coupled with a strong “what if” personality. All of the seeming trials in my life flow together to create a unique experience that created a unique me, as it does with EVERYBODY’S life. 🙂

Q: I know you make a living at a career, but also have a side “passion” if you will. Could you tell us what you do for a living?

Jeremy: I’m an armed security officer at the local nuclear plant (and just to dispense with an oft-perpetuated myth; no, the radioactive material at a nuclear plant CANNOT “blow up” like a bomb). I’ve been there for ten years now, having started work there about a month before Caleb was born. I joke about the pay, but it is hands down the best job I’ve ever had.

Q:  But you have a passion for writing?

sisJeremy: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I was always all over the map with how my creativity manifested, but I had “specialties” for different stages of my life — angsty poetry as a teen, songs as a young adult, and fiction as a mature adult. My interests in writing tend toward the fantastical, thanks in no small part to my Dad who raised me on a steady diet of Star Trek and Dragonlance. No, I didn’t get into the Hobbit until I was well and truly grown, and even then, it didn’t really appeal to me. I LIKE it, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t speak to me like other fantasies do. It’s quite like Grape Nuts cereal — hard to chew for an interesting yet unimpressive flavor and it settles thickly in your stomach. I guess that’s the price you pay for being the first in a field.

Q: And you published a book? Tell us about that and what you are working on now.

Jeremy: I self-published a book two years ago, called Gemworld. I’m currently working on the second book in the series, with plans for a third and a stand-alone based in the same world. I’m a movie and TV buff, and my tastes are all over the place — typically the weird stuff. This, I guess, leads me to my more current writing. I tend to write what interests me — sci-fi and fantasy, heavy on the fantasy. My first forays into fiction were fan-fictions based on games I’d played. From that I moved to a Quantum Leap story that I dearly love but have never finished. I’ve also got a Dark Tower fan-fic that I’m convinced is my best work. I do the occasional horror (not my thing) and sci-fi (love to read, hard to write), but mainly it’s all magic and dragons and damsels in distress.

Q: Jeremy thanks for sharing. Where can people find more about your book and find out more about or contact you?

Jeremy: I can be reached on Facebook, either on my personal page or on my book page. I’ve got a blog that I occasionally post on. You “might” reach me at my Amazon author page, but I highly doubt it. And I can be reached through email, though I gotta give you fair warning — my junk mail filter is KING!

I appreciate the writer group that we are both part of called Iron Sharpening Iron or ISI. They are a group of Everyday People who bounce ideas and hurts off each other as well as ask for prayer and advice. They are from all over the world and I have grown to love their posts and their journeys and their humor.

A little interesting side note, shortly after Jeremy and Ichi met at the coffee shop, I saw him again a few weeks later when I was at the veterinarian office for my cat. He came in to take care of some business with his pet. When we spotted each other, we smiled and greeted each other. With “we meet again” and “so soon”. One of those “it’s a small world” experiences because we both use the same animal doctor. As you can tell from this interview and pictures, Jeremy has quite a sense of humor and adventure.

You can find more about Jeremy through the links below and you can also visit the ISI group for more information about them as well.

 

Jeremy’s Book, Gemworld on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MJNSGW0

Jeremy’s Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/facetsofreality

Jeremy’s Blog – https://nashdude.wordpress.com

Jeremy’s Email – nashdude2011@gmail.com

Iron Sharpening Iron Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/417974044985457/?ref=bookmarks

BFF vs. SSF

Are BFFs practical?

You may have heard the idea that we all brighten a room, some by entering it and some by leaving it. You may also have heard the term BFF which is short-text speak for Best Friend Forever. As wonderful as it may sound, is anyone really someone’s friend forever? Okay, there is Jesus, but other than Jesus, can someone be your friend forever? Okay, my train of thought took another direction. Let me bring it back on track by giving you two examples of what I mean.

What is a SSF?

Have you ever had a friend who brightens your day any time you interact with them? You know the kind I mean, the one who brightens the room and your life when they enter it. I call them Sun Shine Friends or SFFs. These are the kind of people who are the most friendly and genuinely love others. We love being around them. When life looks gloomy, they say something or do something that brightens your day. I can think of two such people in my life, Connie and Cheryl. I don’t get to see either of them as much as I used to or like.

SSF Connie

Connie is a fellow church member. I don’t believe I have ever seen Connie when she wasn’t smiling. I think if I ever saw her sad or crying, it would just break my heart. She insists on giving me a hug whenever our paths chance to cross. Actually, if I don’t get a hug from her when we see each other, I feel that I have been cheated out of a blessing in my life and it is incomplete. It feels almost like the stars are out of alignment. It’s not one of those “Oh, I guess I better hug him” kind of hugs that equates to a dead fish handshake. Oh, no, it’s more like I love you and am so glad to see you kind of hugs. One you enjoy and will leave feeling good. It is always accompanied by a big smile. Like sunshine personified in her laugh and embrace.

SSF Cheryl

Cheryl was a coworker. Though she is a hugger, she is more of a doer. She loves to spread her sunshine by doing for people and by giving gifts that make you think about how much she loves and appreciates you. She came back to work for me a short time after she had left our company. Unfortunately, financially we could not keep her position the second time any more than the first. I had already started to refer to her as one of my SSFs and had explained to her what it meant. When she left the last time she decorated my office. On my wall she placed a “Faith Family Friends” plaque and she signed it. On my bookshelf she placed a stuff animal chicken that had a sign stating “Good morning, sunshine.” I had already started to ref20160909_163812er to her as one of my SSFs and had explained to her what it meant. She also left a wind chime hanging from a hook in the corner of my office. It had the usual little pipes that rattled and on top was a metallic sun. Where I work we have helicopters fly over on a regular basis and when they do the wind chime rattles ever so slightly. You have to know what it is when it rattles or you will miss it. It reminds me of Cheryl every time it does and I cannot help but smile. It has brought sunshine on some very down days. I say a little prayer, thanking God for my SSFs.

Who are your SSFs?

Let them know by saying so by sending them a text, email, or tagging them with this article if it reminds you of them. You can even let them know by giving them something with a sun on it, like a chicken, wind chime, or a card. I thank God He created Sun Shine Friends and He placed some of them in my life to spread that sunshine. After all they are more practical.

 

Meet Earnie Faulk: Entrepreneur & Seller of Snowballs

Several months back, my wife and I were in Sam’s Club stocking up on our monthly goods. We had passed several other folks with their buggies who were just shopping. You know the routine. Shopping at Sam’s Club isn’t exactly Date Night. Sometimes it’s just a necessary evil.

Except for this one guy who is I see coming down the aisle as if he is enjoying his club experience and life. I watched him as he came closer and his demeanor made me smile. He had a genuine skip in his step. When he got within range, my wife said hello. You know the range. It is the distance where the person is close enough to you to say something friendly, but not so close that you accidently spit on him; the safe distance. He responded with a friendly greeting and a happy smile. He stopped his buggy for a moment to talk. It was full of nachos, cheese, hotdog buns, and all the good stuff that you would find at a fair or good ole fashioned football concessions. I had to ask about his buggy full and he handed us his card. It was Earnie Faulk, owner of Earnie’ Snowballs. We converse a little longer and then he joyfully moved on. We moved on a little more joyfully too.

I gave Earnie one of my cards that day as well. Later we became Facebook friends. I had read several of his posts and found him to be very interesting. I messaged Earnie and asked for an interview.

Me: Hey, Earnie. We met in Sam’s Club and exchanged cards. I am a blogger and I have a category on my page called “Everyday People.” I started it because I meet so many interesting people with great stories. I like to introduce them to my friends. Would you be interested in an interview?

Earnie: No problem, T.J.

Me: So, Earnie tell us a little bit about you.

Earnie: I am 32, single, no kids. Born and raised in Dothan. I love to travel inside the United States and outside it. I really like mountain bike riding and trips near water. I am the owner of Earnie’s Snowballs on Ross Clark Circle. I started my business as a hobby because I have always wanted my own business. I knew that I was meant to create and not just consume.Earnie on the Rigs2

Me: I thought I had read in a post of yours that you once worked on oil rigs. Can you tell us about that?

Earnie: I worked offshore for 8 years. I traveled to towns like New Orleans, Texas, Mobile Al, Madrid Spain and Canary islands. I worked my way up to Rig Safety and Training Coordinator/ Offshore HSE Advisor.

Me: I bet you have some interesting stories.

Earnie: As far as interesting stories, I was born into farming and livestock, played high school football, became a college level Co-ed cheerleader, worked on a farm a little while, cook at a restaurant, cheerleading and gymnastics coach, Class A CDL driver, drove for Waste Management, and a former dental assistant.

Me: Ah, a kindred spirit. So, back to the Earnie’s Snowballs. How did you get started in that? You said you were born to create not just consume.

Earnie: I started the business 2 years ago. I got started by listening to the people whom I worked with who said I would be good at the Snowball business. I was also tired of the corporate world, traveling, and always being away from home. I was tired of partying and I wanted to settle down and build the foundations to start a family.

Me: Is Earnie’s Snowballs open all year round or do you work another job or have another passion?

Earnie: I am open all year except the end of December first of January. This is my passion and I am focused on it only as far as business at the moment. I will not work another job at the moment. Chili dog consumption should start becoming very popular soon.

Me: Ah, football season?Mobile Unit

Earnie: I think our mobile unit will be booked more due to football/party season.

Me: Do you cater?

Earnie: I have the ability to.

Me: So, tell us more about your mobile unit.

Earnie: I found my trailer on Craigslist. Sold some things to purchase it. It can be booked for just about any party type; kids or adults.

Me: Any advice for anyone who wants to own their own business?

Earnie: My advice would be to find a mentor. They are hard to come by. If they can’t find one buy books and mentoring programs.

Me: Tell us how people can find out more about you and Earnie’s Snowballs.

Earnie: People can find out more about me by adding me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They can even call me on my cell 334-685-5787.

Me: That is all awesome. Great stuff. Thanks for the conversation.Best Ice Treats 2016

You may think you have seen the yellow building for Earnie’s Snowballs, but just can’t quite place it. It is located on the Ross Clark Circle near 84 West. This year, 2016, Earnie’s Snowballs was voted the Dothan Eagle’s BEST of the Wiregrass for “Best Ice Treats.”

And as you may have surmised, Earnie serves more than just snowballs. Like I mentioned at the beginning, he serves all the good stuff you would find at any tailgate party or high school football game and more. Click one of the links below to find out more about Earnie’s Snowballs or to book his mobile unit for a kid or adult party. Earnie told me he has seen some folks take his snowballs and make “tipsy” snowballs. I’ll let Earnie tell you about that.

Earnie’s Snowballs on Twitter

Earnie’s Snowballs on Facebook

Shack

 

Meet Ashley Smith: Accountant & Amish Retailer

Introduction

Meet Ashley Smith, mother, wife, accountant, Hubby and Daughterhorse lover, and seller of Amish goods. I was first introduced to Ashley when we both worked together. I had recently been promoted and was given a budget for the first time in my new position. Honestly, I didn’t understand the process and codes. It was all Greek to me. I was told to “go talk to accounting.” So, the testing of patience for Ashley and her fellow accountants began and continues even to date. And patient she was, as well as understanding and helpful. Truth be told, I do my best to make the folks in accounting my best friends and they truly are.

Ashley no longer works with us, but her friendships continue. As so often is true in life, her passion turned her in another direction. I and the accountants have been fortunate to keep in touch with Ashley and her adventures which often take her and her family to Tennessee to the Amish country. I caught up with Ashley and I asked her if I could share my conversation with her with you. She generously agreed.

 Our Conversation

Me: “So, Ashley, I would like to introduce you to my friends. You good with that?”

Ashley: “Absolutely.”

Me: “Great. So, tell us a little about yourself and your family.”

Ashley: “I’m 42 years old, married to Stacy for 15 years, have one child (13 year old girl-Carsyn). We enjoy living in the country & riding horses. I have a BS & a Master’s in Accounting. I work at Harris Tire Company during the week as their comptroller.”

Me: “How many horses do you have?

Ashley: “We only have two right now.”

Me: “You say you work as a comptroller during the week. I know you ride horses in your spare time, but you also like to travel to Tennessee a lot, especially the Amish Country  there. Do you own a house in Troy where you live and in Tennessee?”

Ashley: “We live in Troy but my parents have a second house in Tennessee.”

Me: “I see. I know from other conversations and via Facebook that you sell Amish items. Mostly handmade. How did you get into that?”

Ashley: “For the past 20 years I have been Acorn Birdhousevisiting the Amish in Tennessee several times each year. I have accumulated several of the things that they make. After having people repeatedly tell me how they like my purchases and how much they would like to have the same thing; I decided to start trying to sell some of the smaller Amish handmade items myself. So, in the summer of 2015 I started selling Amish handmade wooden items such as birdhouses, cutting boards, bird feeders, rolling pins, etc.”

Me: “That’s pretty cool. Tell us more about your experience with the Amish people.”

Ashley: “We love going to visit the Amish and relaxing at the house in Tennessee. Over the years we’ve made friends with some of the Amish. I like selling stuff the Amish make so that hopefully people can learn to appreciate the craftsmanship the Amish have and all without electricity!!”

Me: “Would you be willing to give up being an accountant in making this a full time pursuit?”

Ashley: “I would love for this to turn into a full time job one day!!”

Rolling PinMe: “Somehow I see you loving this too much to call it a job. So, you have a store online. What is it called?”

Ashley: “Going Back In Time.”

Me: “How can people get a hold of you or get an idea of what it is you are so passionate about?”

Ashley: “People can reach me by phone/text at 334-618-3201, Facebook, or email ashsmith.1974@yahoo.com.”

Me: “Great. Ashley thanks for your time. It was good conversing with you again.”

 A Little More Information

If you would like to see more of Ashley’s line of handmade Amish items, click on the link below to go to her Facebook Page “Going Back In Time.” When I approached Ashley about doing an interview she told me that she was excited about it and thanked me for thinking of her. I think you will agree that even though this article is listed under “Everyday People” on our blog site “The Salty Eclectic”, Ashley is an interesting Everyday Person and I thank her for letting me introduce her to you. Be sure to like her Facebook page.

Going Back In Time Facebook Page

Meet Michelle Elkins: Cake Artisan

Meet Michelle Elkins: college student, newlywed, and (though she will not call herself this) cake artisan. Michelle is pursuing a degree in business at Troy University while working and learning what it is like to be a wife. She makes her home with her husband, Jonathan and three cats in Headland, Alabama. I had the chance to sit down with Michelle and ask her about her cake creations. I found out, as I already suspected, that she is very creative in crafts as well. Here is our discussion in a Q & A format.

Me: “How long have you been decorating cakes?”

Michelle: “Since the 6th grade in school. So, a little over ten years.”

Me: “How long have you been doing this professionally? I.e. working in a business.”

IMG_20160722_123135
Cat Cake

Michelle: “For well over a year. I started with Delectable Edibles in Dothan, Alabama and they have just recently went out of business. I currently work at Sweet and Sassy, also in Dothan off of Westgate.”

Me: “So, Sweet and Sassy picked you up, as it were, from Delectable Edibles shortly after their closing?”

Michelle: “Yes.”

Me: “How did you come to creating these cakes? I know you say you are a cake decorator, but these cakes seem to be more like creations than just mere cakes. I would consider you a cake artist.”

Michelle: “Well, I don’t know if I am a cake artist. I had an interest in cakes from watching shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes on the Food Network and it really interested me. My mom started taking cake classes at Michaels and she began to teach me what she learned. Then she would let me create my own. I filled in the rest by internet searching.”

Me: “Was there a lot of trial and error? Did you fail a lot?”

Michelle: “Oh, yeah. I still do, but I have learned so much along the way.”

Elkin's Wedding0660Me: “You have been recently married and I understand that your mom wanted to let someone else make the wedding cake and the groom’s cake, but you convinced her to let you do it. You also created the cake for your husband-to-be’s man shower.”

Michelle: “Yes. I did all three.”

Me: “What would you say is the hardest cake you have ever done? And what made it the hardest.”

Michelle: “A four tier wedding cake. It was all pound cake, so it was heavy, and by the time I was finished with the swirls and scrolling, my wrists were hurting.”

Elkin's Wedding0668

Me: “What would you say is the cake you enjoy making the most and why is that? And could you give us an example?”

Michelle: “It would be the cake where I get to be the most creative. Recently, a lady asked me to do a cake for a coworker who is an accountant. She really wasn’t sure what she wanted, so we brainstormed and I came up with a cake that she loved. I was able to create a cake that was unique to her situation and for her coworker.”

Me: “You also do crafts. Tell us about that.”

IMG_7341Michelle: “I love to paint on canvas and create other things like door hangers. I also like to draw and illustrate.”

Me: “Where can people get in touch with you and/or get a better idea of the cakes and crafts you create?”

Michelle: “The best way for people to reach me is through my Facebook page and they can see more pictures of my cakes and crafts on Pinterest. Both are called “Cakes and Crafty Things.” They can also find me at Sweet and Sassy on Westgate Parkway in Dothan.”

One can see by the pictures of cakes scattered throughout this article that Michelle is indeed more than just a cake decorator. She told me she “decorates” cakes ranging from cupcakes all the way to full sheet cakes for all occasions. For reference, the common birthday cake you or I would get at a bakery is called a one-quarter sheet cake. Imagine four of those put together into one cake.

For more on Michelle’s Cakes and Crafty Things or to contact her, you can click on the link below:

Michelle’s Cake Facebook Page

Movie Time Cake
Movie Time Cake

 

Super Hero Cake
Super Hero Cake

 

 

A Year Later…What I Have Learned….

2016-07-29 13.47.59About Book Publishing, that is.

I am sitting in the Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) airport watching people go by, knowing each has a story. Not too far from here, some of our nation’s greatest moments in history are immortalized; I.e. Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. I hear in my head the words from Ben Franklin: Write something worth reading or live a life worth writing about and I wonder if I will ever accomplish either. In a recent exchange with my publisher I have finally retained the rights to my first book. Part of the issue was the non-marketing of my book as promised. This was just about where I was this time last year when I began my book publishing journey. In the process of the last year I have learned the following things:

  • My mom will always read my writing and brag on it, no matter how good or bad it is. Thanks, Mom.
  • Not everyone will want it. Not everyone will read it. It is not for everyone.
  • The whole process is harder than you think, but it is worth it.
  • Some people want your book, but won’t read it. I wonder if they are just being polite.
  • Some people want your book if they don’t have to pay for it.
  • You can write a book, but it doesn’t mean others will read it.
  • Be thankful for those who do read the book and are honest with you.
  • If you have to pay anything for the publishing of your book, it is self-publishing.
  • Be thick skinned.
  • My publisher is really not as interested in my success as much as I am.
  • Find a good editor.
  • Get a marketing plan.
  • Stick to one project at a time, if you can and finish them.
  • Never stop learning.
  • The follow up can be daunting.
  • Those who really liked your book will ask when the next one is coming out. That said, I think I have one true fan. Thanks, Mike. Hopefully, the sequel will be released next year.
  • Don’t give up, no matter how you feel. It’s not about feelings.
  • I published two books. That is more than most of the population can say. That in itself is a success.
  • I am responsible for the production, content, and marketing of my work.
  • My dream is worthy of the process.

I also realized that I need to write because I love doing it. Because I have a million ideas and stories in my head and it drives me nuts if I just keep them there. I hope to live a life worth writing about as well as writing something worth reading. With that, thanks for reading this.

Why America is Christian in Name Only

2016-07-07 07.02.01

The title sounds a little pretentious, maybe even a little bold. A friend sent me a link to a Fox News report called “Where Have All the Christians Gone?” You can do an internet search and find it dated for 2009. (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2009/09/25/bruce-feiler-christians-americans-gone.html)

The report states the number of people claiming to be Christians is dropping. Along those same lines, not too long ago our current president stated America is not a Christian nation. Could he be right? Honestly, I think so. Here’s why:

The Situation

The current generation of Americans wants to be entertained more than anything else – at work, at school, and at church. This is not unlike most every other civilization that has been decimated from the inside out. Part of this “wanting to be entertained” is due to apathetic and self-centered attitudes that revolve around an “it’s my right” mentality. Most Americans focus on what is rightfully theirs. We don’t have a problem telling someone what we think of them or what they have done. We don’t mind telling others what our opinions are and we don’t mind making it known when something belongs to us. However, “don’t tell me what you think of me or what I have done and certainly don’t tell me what your opinion is. How dare you!!”

The Problem

Adrian Rogers, well know evangelist and orator, once said that he believed the basic problem with America is the lack of civility. Americans, he explained, don’t even perform the basic acts of kindness or consideration for others. Is he right? Look at the models of society that is held up before us on a regular basis as the brightest, most talented, and best looking people in the world. Surely these people are the cream of the crop. It begs the question: “Does Hollywood and Washington reflect society as it is or does it influence it?” What civility or kindness do most of them espouse?

When selfish and apathetic attitudes are my primary focus, then being a Christian and all that it entails is not. Jesus is just too demanding today, one might say. No, not true. He is no more demanding today then he was when he walked the earth. He was too demanding for the selfish and apathetic then as well. Christ is not too demanding for a particular time, but for the selfish and apathetic, which is indicative of our time and our country. Just because someone calls themselves a Christian does not mean they are Christian in the truest sense. Jesus said, “Not everyone who calls me Lord shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

What’s in a Name?

We have bigger problems in America than naming ourselves a Christian in some survey. No, if America is a Christian nation it is name only. The attitudes, actions, and beliefs of her citizenry, which is shown in such surveys and studies, shows that America on the whole does not operate on Christian ideals. Our governments do not operate based on Christian principles. One look at Hollywood and/or Washington and/or most of our newspapers, large and small is proof enough. After all, who funds Hollywood by supporting these actors/ directors, and who is it that elects these officials to office and who is it that appears on the front page of the papers? We the people.

We the People

Psalms 33:12 says “Blessed is the nation whose god is the Lord.” We have been a blessed nation for over 240 years. Yet, we the people have let our Christian heritage erode and no longer hold accountable those in authority over us. The same reason for the decay is the same solution for the decay: we the people. When we get back to the basics of Christianity and run our daily affairs in a Christian manner with Christian principles, then our governments, local, state, and federal will operate on those principles and it can be said again of our nation that we are truly a Christian nation.

WIRED 2016 – Construction 36 – A Personal Experience

WIRED 2016 Worship

With all the chaos, violence, and uncertainty in our world and country, there was a life changing event this past summer that deserves mentioning – WIRED 2016. It was designed to “occupy” the Southeast Alabama area as a force for good during the last full week of June. A stark contrast to the forces in the world to move to destroy, WIRED 2016 moved in a positive, life-changing direction.

What Is WIRED?

The brainchild of Mark Anderson and friends in 2008, WIRED is an organized effort to “wire” together the churches and Christians in unity and mission. That mission is to reach out, touch, and affect the lives of others in a positive way. One of the mantras of Christianity is “to be the hands and feet of Jesus.” WIRED exemplifies this mantra through setting up and conducting “mission sites.” These sites were construction, evangelistic, child outreach, and non-profit agency support, in nature. This year forty-six churches sent youth and chaperones to man over ninety-five (95) such sites.

Construction Sites

This was my second year as a chaperone at WIRED. Both years I was involved in a construction site. Even though it was construction in focus, this site was consisted of the same make up of every other site. That is, youth who came from different churches, at least two adults from different churches, a track leader adult (usually a college student) and the mission contact. On the construction sites, the mission contact is a site foreman and sometimes an assistant. Unlike most youth camps, mission and otherwise, the work is not done by church groups. Rather, the work is done by members from different churches. The goal here is to do missions as the Body of Christ rather than just as a local church group. This not only broadens the horizons of the youth involved, it exposes them to missions with brothers and sisters they never knew before. Sometimes lifetime friendships are created as they work side-by-side with fellow believers to minister to those who may be less fortunate.

Praise and Worship

Every morning the group assembled in the Dothan Civic Center for a brief moment of worship, a word of encouragement and inspiration, and marching orders for the day. Each night is filled with a time of praise and worship through songs and exploring the Word of God. Everyone heard the teachings of Jesus and then put them into practice the next day. Part of the worship and praise was a recount of the day’s events through a video and announcements. Sunday through Thursday consisted of the WIRED group. On Friday an invitation was extended to anyone who wished to join the WIRED group for a night of worship. Friday night, the Dothan Civic Center was packed to overflowing. It was an awesome sound to hear over 5000 voices singing songs like “Good, Good Father.”

The last night of the week, Mark spoke to the WIRED and extended group. He told us if we counted up all the volunteers who were ministering at each site, both youth and adult, the count was close to 1600 volunteers. Add up the hours of each volunteer for the week and you would have over 45,000 volunteer hours in the community. It would take one full time volunteer over 20 years to accomplish what this group had done in one week. Impressive.

Construction 36

There were thirty-nine construction mission sites this year. I, along with the 15 passenger bus from our church, were assigned to Construction 36. Our mission: scrub down, prime and paint the home of an elderly couple in the community. Additionally, we were to remove and replace all soffit and fascia from the home, build a walking ramp, paint the front door, and shore up a sagging cabinet in the home. Our team consisted of ten youth, our track leader (Hayden Bush), and three adult chaperones (Meda, Kevin, and I). Unfortunately, when we arrived the first day we did not have a foreman. He had a family emergency and would not be there that week. The duties of leading and directing the work fell to the adults, who did a superb job.

The Workday

The youth were phenomenal in their participation. The cleaning, priming, and painting stayed right on schedule. They tore off the soffit and fascia in no time. Replacing it in time was questionable and fortunately for us we had back up through Tom and Steve to install it while Kevin, Meda, and Hayden helped the youth paint. The front door had to be rebuilt and painted. The walking ramp was a simple build and was done in half a day. We did not get to the cabinets. At lunch Hayden led the group in a bible study of the principles they were living out that week and hopefully for the rest of their lives.

WIRED 2017

I am very proud to have served with the group known as Construction 36 and with over 40 youth and adults from Balkum Baptist Church. Provided below is a catalog of pictures of these wonderful people who I will always remember and cherish. Next year’s date is already set: June 26-30th. If you want a challenge as well as a blessing serving for at least one week as the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need visit the website for WIRED at www.wiredministries.com.  You can also go to my Facebook page and look at the album I have shared there.