Sep 29, 2012

Sixteen Years of Love

In May of 1995 while visiting Kodiak for the annual Crab Festival I heard about a youth summer camp that the Kodiak Assembly of God was hosting with help with youth from Wasilla Assembly of God and the Alaska District Youth leadership team, including Pat Donelson & Jen Mickelson.

The camp was held on Woody Island in July of 1995 and I was there as an adult helper. This is where I met Mike Pinkston, Wade Nelson, Donnie Dysert, Frances Barlow, Joy Arestad (now Dysert), Mary Ruge (now Hancock) and many others for the first time.

That fall I traveled to Wasilla to decide whether or not to move there to be a part of their school of ministry, led at the time by Pastor Chris Miller. On November 29th I attended service at Wasilla Assembly of God and afterward a bunch of us went to the Kashim Restaurant where I met a beautiful young lady named Christy Lucus.  I won't go into the details, but her first impression of me was that I was a jerk.

 I made the move to Wasilla in January of 1996. A big part of that training time was heavy involvement in the youth ministry, led by Jeff Baker. There was a team of young adults that helped out, including Christy. As we all did ministry and life together, I began to see more and more what a wonderful person she was.

In the summer of 1996 the youth ministry did a two week mission trip to Barrow, Alaska. As leaders, Christy & I spent a lot of that time working together. After we flew back to Anchorage from Barrow, I hopped on another flight to Kodiak to help my friend Tim Thomas (who was now the Youth Pastor in Kodiak) do another youth camp at Camp Woody. After two intense weeks with the Wasilla team in Barrow, I was missing them when I got to Kodiak. But the more I thought about, the more I realized it was mainly Christy that I was missing...

Shortly after the time at Camp Woody, I realized I was broke. So in September of 1996, I went back to Afognak Island to work for a few months. Christy & I called each other almost every evening and wrote often. I had asked her to check my mail for my while I was gone, which gave me the excuse to call often...

On a Sunday afternoon on September 29th I got a phone call from Donnie Dysert. We chatted for a moment, and then he asked me about my feelings for Christy. On a hunch, I asked if Christy was there listening in on the conversation. Donnie replied that she wasn't there and that he was just curious... Turns out he was LYING. Christy was there. (Doesn't this sound like Jr. High all over again...)

I told him that I had realized my feelings for Christy had gone way beyond friendship. I then asked him if he knew about Christy's feelings for me. Christy, who was standing there listening in, told him "Tell him I 'like' him too, in a round about way." She was saying to tell me in a round about way, not directly. Donnie misunderstood and said "Yes, she likes you in a round about way."

That left me pretty confused... Until the phone rang about 15 minutes later. It was Christy. She was almost in tears, apologizing for making Donnie lie to me. She was there, she did have feelings for me. So now what? I was going to be on Afognak for another month and a half. Do we start "dating" or wait until I get back? So to decide, we flipped a coin. Heads we date now, tails we start the relationship up when we get back. Yeah, I know, it's silly...  The coin came up tails. But since we had already established that lying was okay, I told her it was heads.

Two months later, on the day after Thanksgiving 1996, which was November 29th, I got back to Wasilla and we had our first kiss. Two years later on September 29th, 1998 as the sun was setting behind Mt. Susitna at Point Woronzoff I got down on one knee and proposed. She said yes.

Ten months later on July 31st, 1999 we stood at the altar at Wasilla Assembly of God as Cecil Lambert officiated our wedding. And today Christy is my best friend, the love of my life, my biggest supporter and partner in crime.

Sep 22, 2012

Denali National Park ~ The Bears

Final of three posts... This one is looking at the bears we saw on our drive into Denali National Park.

Sep 21, 2012

Unleash!: Breaking Free from Normalcy

My 3rd post from our Denali National Park trip is scheduled to post tomorrow, but I wanted to interrupt to make a recommendation for a new book that just came out this week.

It's titled "Unleash: Breaking Free From Normalcy" and written by Perry Noble. It's available in bookstores, on Amazon (link) or at .

I'm only part way through the book, but I'm already really enjoying it. Here's an excerpt from what I was reading last night:
When I finally began to understand and embrace grace in its true form, it didn’t give me a free pass to live carelessly and use grace as an excuse to sin. Rather, it motivated me to surrender every aspect of my life to God, because I’d never been loved and accepted that way—by anyone! Embracing this God-focused mind-set completely revolutionized my life. As a result, I began to read the Bible not because I felt I had to in order to win God’s approval but rather because I wanted to know more about the God who loved me unconditionally. I began to pray not because I felt guilty if I didn’t but because I wanted to connect with the God who had gone out of His way to connect with me. These practices were no longer duties for me; they were delights.

I'm looking forward to getting further into this book over the next few weeks as I get time to read it....

Sep 20, 2012

Denali National Park ~ The Moose

This is the second post with pictures from our drive into Denali National Park. This post focuses on the moose we saw. You can see the first post here...

Sep 18, 2012

Denali National Park ~ The Views

Some of the pictures from our trip into Denali National Park this weekend. We were one of 400 vehicles able to travel the park road normally only open to the park buses. My brother-in-law has the better camera and got better shots, but these aren't bad.

I'm actually going to break this up into three different posts. This post will just be view shots.

Sep 14, 2012

Unleash! ~The Path to Something Great

I recently got a sneak peek at Perry Noble's first book: Unleash! I'll be doing a few post on it over the next couple of weeks as I read through it. I've been a fan of Perry Noble for awhile and even got to meet him once. You can read that story here...

The book is focusing on the life of David. We are all familiar with David... He killed Goliath, he was King of Israel, he wrote the book of Psalms, he was a man after God's heart. But he did he get there? Every story has as starting point... where did David launch from?

That story can be found in 1 Samuel 16:1-13. (Take a moment to read it...) Here's the key passage:

In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.”  Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”
“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”
So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.
And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”

Here's what Perry Noble says about David's launch into something great:

The point I find especially intriguing about this story is that
David wasn’t out looking to do something great. He woke up one
morning, and everything was normal.
But in the span of one day,
the entire course of his life changed.
It’s interesting to note that David wasn’t doing the pursuing
here; it’s the Lord who was seeking out David. God knew that
David’s life was filled with tremendous potential—David just
needed to be unleashed from taking care of sheep so he could
transition to leading a nation of people. 

Simply put, David was faithfully doing what he was suppose to do. He wasn't sitting around waiting for something to happen.  And then after that moment, he didn't just sit back and wait... Perry Noble says it this way:
After the encounter with God’s prophet Samuel, David quickly
realized that God had more in store for him than his ordinary
circumstances seemed to imply. I imagine from that point on
he began watching for the opportunities placed in front of him
although there was no way he could have dreamed all that God
had in store.
 Bottom line: the path to something great is paved by doing what needs to be done each day and watching for the opportunities that God will place before you.

Unleashed! will be available in stores on September 18th and online September 20th. In the meantime you can see a preview at

Sep 9, 2012

Wisdom From the Great Mike Rowe...

Mike Rowe is the host of the TV show "Dirty Jobs." He wrote an incredible letter to Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for the 2012 Presidential Election. I'm pasting the text of the letter below without comment other than to say I couldn't agree more... Oh, and Mr. Romney tweeted a picture of himself reading it...

"Dear Governor Romney,
My name is Mike Rowe and I own a small company in California called mikeroweWORKS. Currently, mikeroweWORKS is trying to close the country’s skills gap by changing the way Americans feel about Work.  (I know, right? Ambitious.) Anyway, this Labor Day is our 4th anniversary, and I’m commemorating the occasion with an open letter to you. If you read the whole thing, I’ll vote for you in November.

First things first. mikeroweWORKS grew out of a TV show called Dirty Jobs. If by some chance you are not glued to The Discovery Channel every Wednesday at 10pm, allow me to visually introduce myself. That’s me on the right, preparing to do something dirty. 
When Dirty Jobs premiered back in 2003, critics called the show “a calamity of exploding toilets and misadventures in animal husbandry.” They weren’t exactly wrong. But mostly, Dirty Jobs was an unscripted celebration of hard work and skilled labor. It still is. Every week, we highlight regular people who do the kind of jobs most people go out of their way to avoid. My role on the show is that of a “perpetual apprentice.” In that capacity I have completed over three hundred different jobs, visited all fifty states, and worked in every major industry.
Though schizophrenic and void of any actual qualifications, my resume looks pretty impressive, and when our economy officially crapped the bed in 2008, I was perfectly positioned to weigh in on a variety of serious topics. A reporter from The Wall Street Journal called to ask what I thought about the “counter-intuitive correlation between rising unemployment and the growing shortage of skilled labor.” CNBC wanted my take on outsourcing. Fox News wanted my opinions on manufacturing and infrastructure. And CNN wanted to chat about currency valuations, free trade, and just about every other work-related problem under the sun.
In each case, I shared my theory that most of these “problems” were in fact symptoms of something more fundamental – a change in the way Americans viewed hard work and skilled labor. That’s the essence of what I’ve heard from the hundreds of men and women I’ve worked with on Dirty Jobs. Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce.  We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.
Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)
Which brings me to my purpose in writing. On Labor Day of 2008, the fans of Dirty Jobs helped me launch this website. began as a Trade Resource Center designed to connect kids with careers in the skilled trades. It has since evolved into a non-profit foundation – a kind of PR Campaign for hard work and skilled labor. Thanks to a number of strategic partnerships, I have been able to promote a dialogue around these issues with a bit more credibility than my previous resume allowed. I’ve spoken to Congress (twice) about the need to confront the underlying stigmas and stereotypes that surround these kinds of jobs. Alabama and Georgia have both used mikeroweWORKS to launch their own statewide technical recruitment campaigns, and I’m proud to be the spokesman for both initiatives. I also work closely with Caterpillar, Ford, Kimberly-Clark, and Master Lock, as well as The Boy Scouts of America and The Future Farmers of America. To date, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation has raised over a million dollars for trade scholarships. It’s modest by many standards, but I think we’re making a difference.
Certainly, we need more jobs, and you were clear about that in Tampa. But the Skills Gap proves that we need something else too.  We need people who see opportunity where opportunity exists. We need enthusiasm for careers that have been overlooked and underappreciated by society at large. We need to have a really big national conversation about what we value in the workforce, and if I can be of help to you in that regard, I am at your service – assuming of course, you find yourself in a new address early next year.
To be clear, mikeroweWORKS has no political agenda. I am not an apologist for Organized Labor or for Management. mikeroweWORKS is concerned only with encouraging a larger appreciation for skilled labor, and supporting those kids who are willing to learn a skill.
Good luck in November. And thanks for your time.
Mike Rowe
PS. In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I wrote a similar letter to President Obama. Of course, that was four years ago, and since I never heard back, I believe proper etiquette allows me to extend the same offer to you now. I figure if I post it here, the odds are better that someone you know might send it along to your attention."

Here's the link to the original post from Mike Rowe.

Sep 8, 2012

The Magic of Living Below Your Means

I'm reading the book Linchpin by Seth Godin. Seth Godin is well known in marketing & business circles, and you can find his blog here....

The basic premise of the book (or at least what I'm getting out of it) is that if we view what we do as art, instead of mind numbing work we'll be inspired to do what we do with passion & creativity; producing far more than before. Furthermore, if we view what we do as art, we typically would happily do it for free if we can. We get more joy out seeing our art enjoyed by others than we get out of getting paid for it.

For the sake of time, I am over simplify the book, but I wanted to give you a little background before sharing the following quote from the book:

"One of the reasons people give for not giving gifts is that they can't afford it. Gifts don't have to cost money, but they always cost time and effort. If you're in a panic about money, those two things are hard to find. The reason these people believe they can't afford it, though, is that they've so bought into consumer culture that they're in debt or have monthly bills that make no sense at all.
When you cut your expenses to the bone, you have a surplus. The surplus allows you to be generous, which mysteriously turns around and makes your surplus even bigger."

I've read it several times over... I've typed it out... But I'm still working to get my mind wrapped around the full meaning of it. But it kinda reminds me of what it says in James 4:2-3: You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

What do you think... Would you do what you do; whether it's answering phones, turning a wrench, typing in numbers or serving others for free if you could?

Sep 4, 2012

Baby Carrots

Ever had a baby carrot? Sure you have... It's a staple in every kid's lunch and presented on every vegetable tray ever put together. But wait... Those aren't actually "baby carrots." True baby carrots are immature version of a full grown carrot. They tend to be sweeter & more tender than full grown carrots. Kinda the veal of the vegetable world.

What you know as baby carrots are more accurately called "baby cut carrots." And their story is pretty fascinating. You see, ugly carrots don't sell well. Carrots that are twisted or curved don't bag up well. So for years, they were discarded, ground up and used as animal feed or fertilizer. As much as 70% of the crop was being thrown out in search of straight, uniformed carrots; the kind that would make Bugs Bunny proud.

Watching all those perfectly good, but misshapen carrots going to waste was driving Mike Yurosek of Newhall, California nuts. He was a carrot farmer and one day he had an idea... He took a batch of the rejects, peeled them and cut them into two inch chunks. He bagged some up and sent it to one of the stores. They called the next day and said that from now on they only wanted the smaller carrots. He bought a used green bean processing machine that cut the carrots to the proper length then used an industrial potato peeler to scrub them down and round them off.

Today almost all the carrots sold are the baby cut variety. What was once thrown out as trash is now a gold mine. The mark-up on the baby carrots is often over 100%.

The lesson here is huge... No one hired Yurosek to develop a new carrot. No one even knew that such a product could exist. The government didn't do it for him. He didn't learn how to do it from someone else. He didn't lay in bed as a child dreaming of shorter carrots.

What other people saw as a problem, he saw as an opportunity. And he didn't wait for someone else to act. He took a risk and it paid off. Big time.

So what about you? What is your baby carrot?

Here's a great article on this story from USA Today...