Thursday, December 29, 2011


I've been on a blogging hiatus for the last, I don't know, 6 weeks or so. When I committed to two posts a week I had every intention of keeping up with that. For a while I was able to, but I haven't posted at all since Cooper's birthday. I am not sure there is a reason. Sort of like the snowball effect that I wrote about regarding exercise, not posting just sort of snowballed on me. I didn't set out to take a hiatus, it just sort of happened.

As I have said on here many times, being creative is hard for me. Even when I am just writing about everyday life, most of the time it's hard for me. Words rarely flow out with ease. Then add on top of that my desire to not just blog to be blogging, it makes is that much more difficult. I am thinking through what I want my blog to look like. I may start over somewhere else, I may continue right here (sort of a grand re-opening), or I may just give it up and try to write/be creative some other way. I don't know. We'll see what comes of it. But for now I am not making any promises.

Do you ever have trouble writing? What do you do to get back on track?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Five. Years. Old.

It seems like just yesterday he was born. Just yesterday he said "Papa" for the first time. Just yesterday he took his first steps. Just yesterday he told me and his mama he loved us for the first time. Just yesterday he told us he didn't like dinner. Okay, maybe that was yesterday, but man, I can't believe our boy is 5 years old today.


I can't believe you are five years old. This time next year you will be almost half way through kindergarten. The old cliche says "time flies when you're having fun," and that's exactly what you mom and I do as your parents.

You are a joy to be around. You have a big, loving personality. For the most part, you know what you want and when you want it. You love school, so much so that you get upset many days when I come to pick you up. You are starting to take an interest in sports. Many days this summer and fall you and I played outside kicking the soccer ball until mom was finished making dinner. You love to build things. You love Legos and Lincoln Logs.

You love to read books. Every night before you go to bed you ask how many books we can read. On nights that we are out late or have other things to do, you are bummed if we don't get to read. You are a good boy. You have your moments for sure, but I think that is just you trying to find your way. You have a kind, caring, loving spirit. I hope that never changes. I am so glad God chose me and your mom to be your parents. I love you and look forward to seeing what the future holds for you.


Day one

Around your first b'day. You loved the Leapfrog Farm

 Just after your second b'day. You have always loved to "help."

You got this from Big Daddy for your third b'day. You have always loved Spiderman!

Celebrating being four with mom. You love your mommy!

Your last day as a four year old. I can't believe it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Snowball Effect

Many of you reading this know that I enjoy exercise. As a young person, I always thought that running was something you did as punishment or if someone was chasing you. When Allison was in law school, and I was about 60 pounds overweight, I started running. At first it was hard. I didn't enjoy it, but I kept at it. I started by running a 5k. Over the next several years I continued to run several days a week and ran several more 5k races. As I lost weight and got faster I noticed something: I felt terrible on the days that I didn't run or do some other type of exercise.

As I continued my running journey, I began to run longer distances. I started with 4 miles, then 5, etc. At some point I decided to train for a half marathon and now I have completed 4. As I look back on training I can see a definite pattern: the more I ran, the more I wanted to run. I have recently see the opposite hold true in general exercise for me.

Two weeks ago I went to lunch with friends several times. I didn't work out regularly that week and made many poor food choices. At the end of the week I told Allison, "I had a terrible week eating and exercising, but next week is a new weeks." As that week started I felt myself wanting to skip the gym and go out to eat. Each time I went to the gym or ran outside it was like torture.

I truly believe that the "snowball effect" has a big impact on my exercising, good or bad. If I go to the gym often, I am excited, or at least, look forward to going. If, however, I don't go several days in a row I find myself not wanting to go. I think the obvious thing here is to continue going to the gym. What I want to figure out is how to keep the negative snowball effect from taking over if I miss a few days.

Does the snowball effect get you? How do you overcome this in your life or workout routine?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Conversations with Cooper - Part 8

Last week we were driving home from dinner. We were listening to a CD that we got for Cooper that has songs that the preschoolers will be singing during their preschool choir presentation. As part of the CD the story of Jesus is told and at one point it talks about Mary and Jesus being at the inn when Jesus was born. If you remember last week, at this point things can go in any direction with Cooper.

Cooper: Mom, do girls have to be married to have a baby?
Me: Mom? (I mean, he asked her so I thought she should handle this one.)
Allison: Well, it's best if girls are married before they have a baby.
Me: God says he wants us to be married before we decide to have a baby.
Cooper: Yep, and not everyone should have a baby!

That, my boy, is very true. And more insightful than you even know! These questions are something else. I am often amazed and the questions he asks. While they are many times tough to answer on a 5 year old level, I appreciate that he is very inquisitive and honestly wouldn't want it any other way.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sick to My Stomach

Friday night, Allison and I attended a Secret Church simulcast at church. The title was Family, Marriage, Sex, and the Gospel. For those that don't know, Secret Church is a 6 hour, intense Bible study taught by David Platt, pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. This is my third time to attend Secret Church. It is a lot like drinking out of a fire hose, but the thing I love about it is I generally can't stop thinking about it for days. This time was no different.

During the first teaching segment many statistics were discussed. Many, if not most, of the statistics were astounding. I can't tell you the number of times I shook my head, my mouth fell open, or I simply closed my eyes because of what I was hearing. Many of the statistics were directed toward men. Platt also talked a lot about men and how we refuse to grow up and be what God designed us to be. For example:
  • 1 out of every 10 men have purchased a prostitute;
  • $13.3 billion was spent on pornography in the U.S. in 2006;
  • today there are 40 million prostitutes at work;
  • 130,000 abortions occur everyday;
Of 1,000 pastors surveyed:
  • 38% said they were divorced or currently in the process;
  • 30% said they had a one time or an ongoing affair;
  • 50% of pastors say they have visited a pornography site in the last year;
  • 30%  have done so in the past month.
These are some scary, scary statistics!

I am not sure what, but I have to do something. As I listened to these statistics I couldn't help but think, "Between me and my friends, statistically there are several of us that struggle with this or are in a situation they shouldn't be in." I am currently thinking through how my friends and I can hold each other more accountable.

What would you do to hold friends accountable to guard against these issues?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Conversations with Cooper - Part 7

Recently Cooper has really asked good questions. Not just your run of the mill "why?" He typically asks thought provoking questions that often require me to think about or even search out the answer. One day recently we were reading a book about the birth of Jesus. On a few occasions he's asked us how babies get out of their mom. We've been able to successfully avoid or answer the question without too much discussion. When we got to the part of the story where Mary and Joseph are in the stable, the picture of them was Joseph standing and Mary sitting next to Jesus laying down. The conversation that followed was really funny:

Cooper: How did Jesus get out of Mary's tummy if there was no doctor at the inn?
Me: (while Allison was doing all she could to keep from laughing) I don't know. Maybe Joseph helped.
Cooper: Do you think Joseph had a knife to get Jesus out of her tummy?

At this point it was all Allison could do to keep from laughing. It was really funny to us, but you could tell he was really trying to figure out how Jesus got out and he didn't understand how that could've happened without a doctor present. Thankfully he just moved on and we didn't have to try to explain how babies are born when the mom's tummy is not cut open.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Proud of Her

I don't do it enough, but today's post is to tell you how proud I am of my wife. In 31 days she will get on a plane with 5 other women and head out for Africa on her first ever mission trip. While I am proud of her for the fact that she is going, I am even more proud of her for her decision/commitment to go.

When our pastor help a meeting almost 2 years ago outlining the initial trip, Allison and I decided that I would be a part of that first trip that our church took. As part of that trip, the five of us that went with Mark agreed to return as the leader of another group. I don't think that either Allison or I knew that she would feel led to go one day as well.

Matthew 28:19-20 says, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is a command Jesus gave to us all. We are all to make disciples of all nations.

Recently I overheard Allison tell someone, "I don't want to go, but I have to go." This isn't an easy trip. There are a lot of things about this trip that are uncomfortable. Allison, however, is acting on God's command to us and she's going "to make disciples." And this is why I am so proud of her.

They leave on December 2. Will you join me in praying for their group?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Conversations with Cooper - Part 6

Last Thursday was my mom's birthday. To celebrate, many of us went out to dinner. While there Cooper was talking to my cousin and her boyfriend. This was the beginning of their conversation:

Amy: Hey Coop, what's up?
Cooper: Nothing.
Amy: Whatca doing?
Cooper: Just chillin'.

He never fails to amaze me with the things he says, picks up, and repeats.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lessons from a Half Marathon

On Saturday Allison and I ran the Middle Half half marathon. This was our third year to run this race and my fourth half marathon over all to run. Of the four I've completed, this was my second slowest time and about 6 minutes slower than last year's race. Allison, on the other hand, ran a personal best 1:55. Over 2 minutes faster than last year. She is such a rockstar!

The interesting thing about this year's race was that the course, for many of the runners, was 0.509 miles longer than a true half marathon. This was the same course as previous years, however, at about the 1.5 mile point in the race a police officer blocked the correct turn creating the longer course. The race director sent an e-mail  and posted it on the race's Facebook page, but there wasn't really anything that could be done officially because some people ran the correct route and some did not. Unfortunately, Allison and I did not.

As I have done in previous races this summer, I tried to think about some lessons I could learn from this race. I have come up with a few:
  • Training is essential - This year I suggested we try a different training method. I thought it would save our legs and allow us to recover easier from long runs. In hindsight, I think we had too much recovery time. While we did just as many, if not more, miles than in previous years, we didn't do enough long runs in consecutive weeks to allow our bodies to get accustomed to running for  along time.
  • Your mindset can help or hurt you - Leading up to the race Allison and I talked a lot about how we didn't think we were as prepared and couldn't imagine that we would be able to eclipse out times from 2010. In the days leading up to the race, however, I tried my best to get us both in a good frame of mind. I even set a goal, that I thought would be tough to achieve, especially for me. Starting the race I was in a good frame of mind, other than I couldn't find Allison. I did, however, lose a lot of that when I learned we got off track on the course.
  • Run your own race - In the two previous years Allison and I have started together. We typically run about 10 miles together and then she speeds up and I try my best to keep up. This year was different because we lost each other just before the race started. This was great for her because it allowed her to run at her own pace and listen to her body and not my watch. Because of this she was able to run a personal best time on a course that was almost a half mile longer than she had ever ran before.
  • Take motivation where ever you can get it - At mile 11 a guy came up from behind me and said, "We've ran this whole race together. I'm not letting you slow down now." After about a minute I started to fall behind. He then said, "I'm not kidding. Speed up and let's finish this thing together." I don't know if he slowed down or I actually kept up with his pace, but in my mind I was totally motivated by his kindness to me in pushing me past what I thought were my limits. I am trying to figure out his name because I want to contact him and tell him thanks again for helping me.
Between miles 10 and 11 I told myself, "I'm never doing this again." Then about an hour after the race was over I started thinking about when I can run another race in order to get myself back under the 2 hour time. I'm a glutton I guess.

This is a great race. Even with the course error it was still a great day to run. The weather was awesome and the atmosphere at this race is always great. I am sure Allison and I will be signing up next year when they open up registration.

What are some lessons you have learned from an activity or hobby you do?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Conversations with Cooper

I know this usually comes on Thursdays, but this week "Conversations with Cooper" is brought to you on Tuesday, sponsored by the letter C and the number 4.

I've written recently about Cooper's new found love of Jeeps. This obsession love for jeeps hasn't waned, as evidenced by our recent conversation.

Lately Cooper is not so much of a morning person. We typically wake him up with just enough time to get ready and get out the door at or about the time Allison and I like to leave. We don't mind letting him sleep (we actually wish he could sleep until he woke up on his own), but if we want to get to work on time we don't have this option. After he got out of bed and got his clothes on he met me in the bathroom to brush his teeth and hair. As I was brushing his hair we had this conversation:

Me: Did you ask your mom if she would cut your hair into a mohawk? (Side note: while washing his hair at bath time recently I have been putting his hair in a mohawk. One night he asked if we could cut his hair into a mohawk and I suggested he ask his mom. I am sure you all know how that turned out.)
Cooper: (in a very low whisper-y voice) No. I don't want a mohawk any more.
Me: You don't? Why not?
Cooper: I just don't. But I still want to get a jeep.

I don't really know why he thought of that or what it had to do with a mohawk. Maybe he was just wanting to make sure I didn't forget that he wants us to get a jeep.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Slow Week at the Bussell House

Although it doesn't ever feel like a "slow week," there really hasn't been much going on at our house this week. A few things that pop out 1) I'm glad to have Allison home all week, 2) we're trying to figure out why Cooper won't go to sleep at night, and 3) I'm looking forward to celebrating Allison's b'day this weekend.

What about you? What are you looking forward to the rest of the week/weekend?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Observations from Acts

I am not sure if it's because I don't read carefully enough, if I've just missed these parts, or someting else, but I have made several observations that I've never thought of before. If you missed my most recent observations you can find them here.

This time it's Paul and Silas in jail. They have been put there, essentially, because they drove a demon out of a girl that was making money for her owners by being a fortune teller. After they drove the demon out the brought them in front of the chief magistrates who, in turn, had them beaten and thrown into jail.
"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out in a loud voice, 'Don’t harm yourself, because all of us are here!' Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he escorted them out and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'" Acts 16:25-30 (HCSB)
 My first observation is of Paul and Silas's faithfulness. It says "they were praying and singing hyms to God." What it doesn't say is "they were whining and complaining about God letting them be put in jail for nothing and they were plotting their escape." I'm not sure about you, but when I am wrongfully accused or am paying for something I didn't do I tend to get angry. It's at these times that I also start trying to figure out how I am going to get out of the situation. Notice I said "how I'm going to get out." These are the times that I am horrible about not leaning into God and putting all my eggs in His basket, so to speak. Because of their faithfulness God took care of them and allowed their situation to be resolved.

Second, they didn't try to leave whenever the jail door was flung open and their chains were removed. I've never been in jail, but I imagine that most people who are in there, whether or not they are guilty, would make a bee line for the door if it were open and they thought they could get away with it. Not these guys. And it's because of they faithfulness and the fact that they didn't take advantage of the situation that they were able to minster to this jailer and lead him to a relationship with Christ.

I wonder how often I miss opportunities to minister to someone simply because I am irritated, upset, or consumed with my own circumstances? How much better would I be at reaching people for Christ if I would quit worrying about how I am going to get out of our current circumstance and make the best of the situation God has placed me in?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Would I Be Willing?

"So the called them in and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, 'Whether it's right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.' After threatening them further, the released them." Acts 4:18-21a (HCSB)

"After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name." Acts 5:40-41 (HCSB)
These passages were part of what I read the other night. Since I read these I can't seem to get out of my head the question, "How would I react in the same situation?"

In the first passage Peter and John are teaching and the government tells them to stop. Not only do they not plan to stop, they actually tell them "we don't really care what you say, we can't stop teaching about what we've seen." (Bussell paraphrase) I just can't help but think that even if I planned to keep doing what I was doing, I probably would blatantly tell the government that I wasn't going to stop doing what they told me to stop doing.

That brings us to the second passage. So, we have Peter and John doing what they told the Sadducees they were going to do: they kept teaching about Jesus. After being arrested they were flogged. Now, this would be tough to swallow. I've never been flogged, but I am sure I wouldn't be a fan if it happened to me. Then, not only were they flogged, they were excited about the fact that they were able to be flogged in the name of Jesus. What an awesome attitude! Probably one that I should keep in mind more often. Not necessarily about being flogged, but about teaching about Jesus in every situation. Even if it's tough, an uncomfortable situation, or any other excuse I can come up with. Because these guys did it in direct opposition to what they were told to do. And were flogged for it. And were excited. Wow!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guys Weekend

This weekend, Allison and several of her friends went to Birmingham to attend the (dot)Mom conference. She said it was a great conference and she and her friends plan to attend again next year. She was gone from early Friday morning until Sunday afternoon, so Cooper and I had the weekend to hang out, eat, watch football, and play.

Friday night we went to the Ensworth High School football game. This was Cooper's first high school football game and he had a great time. We ate dinner and ice cream from a food truck. Saturday after we went for a run I was making lunch. Cooper came into the kitchen and said, "Dad, is the football game from last night on TV?" I told him no and asked why. He said "Well, is there any football game on TV that we can watch?" Yes son, yes there is. So we watch Oklahoma State play Texas A&M on TV while we played with Playdough. After watching part of the game we left and went ot the playground to play for a while and then on to the grocery store.

Sunday morning we got up and had doughnuts for breakfast. On Saturday night while we were getting ready for bed I told Cooper, "Tomorrow we are going to get up, go to church, and then come home to eat lunch." Before I could continue to lay out the day's plan he stopped me and said, "You mean we are going to get up, eat doughnuts, and then go to church. Right?"

Overall we had a great weekend together. He really seems to enjoy when he gets to spend time alone with both me and Allison. I hope that continues to be that way for a long time.

One more thing he said to me on Sunday as we were driving home from church. "Dad, do you think we can go watch another football game next weekend while mommy's out of town." I think he may be catching the fever!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mission (Almost) Accomplished

 I know I don't say it enough (especially not on here), but I am so proud of my wife. Three hundred and fifty-one days ago she started a goal that many of us start at the beginning of any given (or every) year. And for a lot of us we get stumped or stuck some where along the way. Usually, for me, it's somewhere in Deuteronomy. That's right. Many people have a goal to read the Bible through in one year. We start and we get through Genesis. We get through Exodus. We make it into Leviticus and something starts to happen. Other things start creeping in and encroaching on our time. And by the time we get to Numbers we're behind. And if we make it to Deuteronomy we've found our self so far behind we call it quits.

This post is not to talk about getting stumped. It's to talk about how proud I am of Allison for forging ahead. With nine days to go, she has six days of reading left. There have been times that she got behind, but she has made sure she caught back up and she will complete her goal of reading the Bible through in a year sometime in the next week or so. I am so proud of her. Not that I ever had any doubt that she would complete a goal that she set for herself. I'm proud of you, Smalls. Great job!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Big Monkey

As a CPA, I am required to get 40 hours of continuing professional education. I feel this is sort of excessive, but I still must have the hours. Today I had CPE for the entire afternoon. I have heard this particular speaker on several occasions. He's the Director for Municipal Audit for the State of Tennessee and fairly entertaining so it wasn't as bad as it could've been. In a lot of these sessions I don't feel that there is much that pertains to my specific job. Today was different and I took away something I will not only use in my job at LifeWay. but at home as a husband and a dad.

The interesting thing is, it pertained as much (maybe more) to my job as a parent, husband, and overall leader of our family as it does to my job as a financial analyst. He called it his Big Monkey Theory. He said he could explain it in four words: Monkey See, Monkey Do. As it pertains to business, including my job, he was referring to "tone at the top." I loved this. I truly believe in this concept and have seen this modeled at my job from my boss on a daily basis. I think, however, this is very important for me as a parent. We guys,as parents and husbands, have to set the tone for our family. Frankly, I don't think guys do a very good job at this, generally. Men, God has given the opportunity to lead our families so we have to do a better job of doing this. It is time for us to step up and lead our families as God intended for us to lead them.

I can tell you that I will remember the Big Monkey Theory. I just hope that I can be the best "Big Monkey" for my family that I can be.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday is for Cooperisms

For sometime now Cooper has been a big fan of convertibles and jeeps. Our friend Derrick has a jeep he's working on and Cooper thinks it's great. A few weeks ago Cooper said "hey dad, you think someday we can get a jeep." My response was "I don't know. Why don't you ask mom when we get home!" As you can imagine, Cooper asked his mom if we could get a jeep as soon as we got home. Since then, evertime we see a jeep he points it out. Lately even Allison has gotten in the act and points out jeeps to Cooper if he doesn't see it first.

Tonight on our way to church a white jeep with the top off was in front of us on Franklin Rd. This was our conversation:

Allison: Coop, look at what's in front of us.
Cooper: Jeep! And it's a Predators Jeep (it had a Predators cover on the spare tire). Dad, can we get a Predators jeep when we get one?
Me: Nah, I don't think we should get a Predators Jeep.
Cooper: Okay. I love that we're getting a jeep.

Allison and I cracked up! We gone from "can we get a jeep," to "I love that we're getting a jeep." Maybe if he keeps this up his mom will give in and let us get one!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Mom's Away

There are very few days when both Allison and I aren't home in the evening for dinner and Cooper's bed time routine. Our evenings usually consist of Allison cooking while Cooper and I play outside or find something to do inside. Some days we ask Cooper to play by himself as she prepares dinner and I try to get things going for the next day. There are, however, some occasions where one of us has to be away during this time. Tonight was one of those occasions.

As we were sitting at the kitchen table playing with Playdough, Cooper asked if we could go to the place that has Mango sorbet. He was either referring to Jeni's Spendid Ice Creams or Glazee. When I asked was he talking about Jeni's he said "yeah, can we go to Jeni's?" I told him no that it was too far away for a week night trip, so he asked if we could go to Menchie's instead. As a compromise we went to a new place near our house. It is the newest middle Tennessee location (I think) of Sweet CeCe's. The ice cream was good and Cooper was happy.

Whenever one of us are gone for the evening, or even and extended period of time, we try to do fun things with Cooper one-on-one. Just recently we were talking about each of us taking a trip with him individually. Hopefully these are the times and memories that he will cherish and keep with him. And hopefully Allison  and I will do a good job at creating an abundance of those memories.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Latest Installment

As has become regular here on Thursdays, here is the latest installment of "Cooperisms."

Last week we went to Lexington to visit friends. Just as you get into Lexignton there is a castle that sits on the left side of the road. Apparently it has burned several times, but it has been restored since we moved back to Tennessee and now is used for parties, weddings, etc. As we drove past it Cooper saw it and asked who lived there. We told him we didn't know, but someone may live there since the lights were on. His response:

"Why would a person like us live in a castle on earth?"

Allison and I cracked up. I think what he was asking was "why on earth would people like us (read: non-kings or queens) live in a castle." He cracks us up almost every day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two New Lessons from Triathlons (And One Repeat)

As of Saturday I could not longer be considered a beginner triathlete. In most triathlons there are several categories. There is age group, in which the vast majority of people fall in. There's Clydesdale for men over 200 lbs. There's Athena for women over 150 lbs. And there's beginner for those that have participate in less than 3 triathlons. I participated in my fourth triathlon Saturday, the Cedars of Lebanon Triathlon.

It was a great race. This was easily my best time in each of the three disciplines. Although I fell in terms of my place inside my age group, I finished 9 minutes faster than I finished the same race a year ago. As I have thought about what made me faster this time, I think there are three main things that really helped me along the way.

Familiarity is a great help - the more familiar we are with our surroundings and our situation the better off we'll be. I had been on this course before. I knew what to expect in each of the three areas.

Timing is crucial - In a race in which you are competing for an extended period of time many people need some type of nutritional supplement or energy boost. I have tried several different types, but I have found that more than what you take, when you take it makes a huge difference. I didn't wait until I was hungry or feeling as though I was hitting a wall, but I also didn't take it before I needed to. This allowed my energy to stay up the entire race.

Encouragement along the way - I know I said this in my last post about lessons from my triathlon, but I really think this is the biggest factor for me. First of all, Allison does a great job of maneuvering herself around the course in order to get pictures as well as cheer me on at different stages. She is the biggest help of all. I fully believe that I finish races faster because she is there cheering me on. In this race, however, I had multiple participants give me encouragement as well. With about 1/2 mile to go I stumbled and twisted my ankle. There was at least one person that called me by my number and said something like, "less than 1/2 mile to go. You got it." That was a great help.

What "lessons" have you been learning lately?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Story Teller

Many days when I get to school to pick up Cooper either Mr. Ramone or Mrs. Sandra is reading a story to the kids that are still in the class. Today was no different, but when I came in the room Cooper said, "I wanted to read my book to my friends." I didn't really know what he was talking about, but I told him that was okay and watched what was going on. He went to his cubby and got out a folded sheet of paper with several letters on it, a ghost, and a purple piece of paper cut into the shape of a hook. He took all of these items over to Mrs. Sandra and began to tell his story. It was really funny to watch.

Over the last several months we have really started to see Cooper use his imagination a lot more. He plays and makes up stories to go along with his playing much more than he used to. I love to see this and try my best to foster it as much as I can. As I posted last week, I am not the most creative person in the world, but I hope to keep Cooper creative or at least creating. I took this short video of Cooper telling his story.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Break From the Busyness

Last week was a stressful week at the Bussell house. Allison had a trial so things tend to get a little out of sort. Not that things don't get taken care of, but we just are out of our normal routine. She often has to work late during trial and sometimes work at home until it's time for bed. Weekends are also often busy for us. Between hanging out with friends, visiting with family, and other activities we often find ourselves saying "We are doing way too much. We have to stop scheduling so many things to do."

Well, after a long week we didn't have very much scheduled this past weekend. We hung out and watched a movie with Cooper Friday night. Saturday was pretty much a "do what we want" sort of day. We went for a run in the morning, hung around the house during the day, and had some friends over Saturday night for dinner. Sunday we went to church, took a nap, and had dinner at my mom's. As I type this it seems to be a lot, but trust me, it wasn't and it was a perfect weekend to end and otherwise stressful week.

Sunday at
church the message was from Luke 10:38-42. This is the story of Mary and Martha in which Martha is irritated that Mary is sitting listening to Jesus while she is up working. One of the things I wrote down was "Martha allowed service to take away from her worship." If you don't go to ClearView or you missed the service on Sunday, I recommend you listen to the podcast. It was a very good and very challenging message.

How often do we do this? Whether it's in our walk with Christ or in other things in our lives, how often are we more worried about doing than we are about just being? This weekend was a good example of us having some much needed down time from the busyness of life and having time to relax and hang out as a family. It was great! Hopefully that will become more the norm than the exception.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where Does It Go?

Many of you probably saw my post on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend, Cooper got light-up shoes. And let me just say, I don't know if he's ever been more excited about anything we've ever bought him. We were at the park on Sunday after church and he told a boy on the playground, that wasn't with our group and he had never met, about his shoes (and he didn't even have them on). Hilarious!

The other day, while I was making pizza, Cooper took his new shoes off and we had the following conversation:

C: "I really like my shoes."
Me: (Smiling) "I know buddy, I really like them too." (Which really isn't true because I think they're horrible. I do, however, love them for him because he is so proud and excited to have them.)
C: "You really like them?"
Me:"Yes, I like them for you, but I wouldn't like them for me to wear."
C: "Why not?"
Me: "Because grown-ups don't really like to wear light-up shoes."
C: "Why not?"
Me: "That's a good question, buddy."

I have started some version of this post several times. Generally I think about this and start writing about it just after Cooper and I have played army men, pirates, sword fight, or some other creative game that takes a lot of imagination and the willingness and/or ability to think like a kid. It always makes me wonder, "Where does all of our creativity go as we get older?"

Now I realize that not everyone loses their creativity. There are tons of creatives out there. I would be willing to bet, however, their ability to play and pretend like a kid diminishes as they get older just like us non-creative types. Don't get me wrong. I still play with Cooper and try my best to pretend. It is often a struggle for me though. I have a hard time sustaining it. I often want to try to get him to play something else. Something that doesn't force me to use my imagination. Why is that? Why are we taught, as we become adults, to stifle our imagination? To become stuffy and serious all the time.

So far it hasn't gotten easier for me. Almost every time Cooper wants to play something that is pretend I struggle. But I'm still going to try. I'm still going to play pretend games with Cooper and hope that it gets easier before he doesn't want to pretend with me any more. I hope that I don't rub my stuffy adultness off on him so that he thinks it's not fun or cool to pretend. In the meantime, I'm hoping that some of his ability to make a game or something fun out of two sticks and some dirt rubs off on me. Hopefully, as he and I get older I will become more like Rufio and less like Peter. "Bangarang, Peter!"

What was the last pretend game that you played with a child?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another Cooperism

So it seems that I may have a series of Cooperisms to post. I've posted several of these in the past, but I may have to make them a regular here on the blog. This was something he said one day last week while my mother-in-law was here visiting.

Cooper: See Ninny, this is the rocking chair.

Ninny: Yeah, but it's not beside the window.

Cooper: That's not what I said. I said the one that's not a rocking chair is by the window. (Looks at me) Ninny was confused.

He says some of the funniest things.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Conversation With Cooper

I am often amazed at some if the things Cooper comes up with. Then I remember what I often tell people when they are surprised at the things kids say or do. "They are people too, just smaller with fewer life experiences."

Sunday we stopped by our favorite I've cream place on the way home from church. Unfortunately, the place doesn't open until 2pm on Sunday and it was only noon. As we discussed our options Cooper didn't really give much input, but later it was obvious he was listening. As we were trying to figure out what to do I jokingly (not totally) complained that I had hoped to get ice cream twice that day because our original plan was to get Menchie's after dinner instead of trip to Glazee after lunch.

After we got home I was sitting in the reading room while Cooper was playing in his room. He came out and stood next to me.

Me: What's up Coop?

Cooper: Nothing. Well, I was thinking maybe we could play in the sprinkler and then go to Sonic for ice cream.

Me: But we're going to Menchie's after dinner.

Cooper: We aren't getting both?

He is so funny. First "I was thinking that..." totally cracked me up. But he was totally listening to Allison and I earlier in the day when I mentioned that I thought we were going to get ice cream twice. I tell you what, nothing gets by that one!

Do you have any funny "isms" that your kids have said recently?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Visit From Friends

We met Jeff and Ashley Beck during Allison's first year of law school. It's hard to believe we've know each other for almost 10 years. We met lots of people while Allison was at UT, but I don't think I can say we met any that mean as much to us as Jeff and Ashley do.

Ashley and her youngest daughter, Camille, flew in on Friday afternoon and left Tuesday afternoon. It was a relatively quick trip, but one that Allison really enjoyed. Because the Becks live in Baton Rouge, we only get to see them once, maybe twice a year. They've made the trip to Tennessee several times and we've made the trip to Louisiana several times.

This visit was similar to most of our visits with the Becks. It was filled with lots of coffee, conversation, and relaxing. I think since Allison and Ashley got out of law school about seven years ago, there has been at least one child that was under one year old at each visit, with the exception of when Ashley and Jeff visited us in Lexington. During that trip Ashley was pregnant with Caroline, their oldest daughter. We visited some of our favorite restaurants, enjoyed a new ice cream shop, and otherwise spent time catching up with Ashley. Unfortunately, Jeff, Caroline, and Charlotte were not able to make it on this trip.

Every time we go to Baton Rouge or they come here we leave the visit wishing they lived closer. We miss hanging out regularly with them as we did while the girls were in law school. We miss mountain bike riding, trips to Starbucks, and visits to P.F. Changs. While we are disappointed to see them go, these trips make us cherish our friendship with the Becks even more and, therefore, really appreciate each time we get to visit.

Thanks for coming Ashley and bringing Miss Camille for Allison to meet her. And thanks Jeff for hanging at the house with the two oldest girls so that Allison and Ashley could have a chance to catch up. You guys are the best!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's Not Just About the Cash

I have been reading a blog written by my Twitter friend, Dustin, for a while. He writes at Abraham Chronicles and I definitely recommend you go over and check his blog out if you have a chance. On Monday he guest posted on The Compelling Parade. It was a great post on following through and it spurred me to make a visit to my homeless friend that sells The Contributor near the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in downtown Nashville.

Our post office box is in the post office located in the same building as the Frist. Almost every day there is someone standing outside on the corner selling The Contributor, Nashville's homeless paper. I needed to check our box and this would give me an opportunity to check on my friend, Mike, whom I haven't seen selling papers for several weeks. When I reached the corner I noticed Mike wasn't there, but another person was selling papers. As I walked by I said hello and asked if he'd sold many papers. He said no and told me that it was probably because of the heat.

As I have become accustomed to doing, on my way out of the post office I stopped and started a conversation with him. I asked him some of the usual questions I ask and just generally tried to engage him a little. I learned that he was from Grand Rapids, MI and he came to Nashville because the economy is so bad there he couldn't find work. He's lived here for 7 months and has been living on the street the entire time. I also learned that some vendors can make upwards of $1,000 per month selling the paper. He told me that he could probably get a job at a hotel doing maintenance, but after taxes are taken out he doesn't bring home as much as he can selling the paper. He also asked me if I had seen Mike. This bothers me because the last time I saw Mike he was very down and seemed ready to give up. I hope that isn't the case.

As I was starting to leave I told my new homeless friend that I didn't have any cash or I would buy a paper from him. In response he said, "No problem, it's not just about the cash anyway." Of the 15 minutes or so that I stood and talked to him, this is what keeps coming back to me over and over. "It's not just about the cash." It's about contact and relationships. It's about conversation and community. Sure, they want, and need money, but they also want someone to talk to. Someone to care. Someone to inquire. I don't know if he had talked to anyone at all the other day. I do know that if I would have stayed I probably could've talk to him all afternoon. "It's not just about the cash."

If you see a homeless person and stop to talk to them, what are some of the things you ask them? What are some of the things you avoid saying or asking?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

They're Always Watching

"I've been watching you, dad ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you." This verse really caught my attention yesterday on the way home.

Yesterday Cooper stayed home with Allison, Ashley, and Camille. They spent the day together hanging out and went to the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro. When I met them for dinner, as soon as Cooper got out of the car he came over and gave me a big hug. On the way home I heard the song "Watching You" by Rodney Atkins. If you've never heard it, it's about a dad, his son, and the fact that his son is always watching and wants to be just like his dad.

Since then, I have been thinking about that song and how it pertains to me. I have been thinking about the things that Cooper sees me do, or not do, and the impact that those things have on him. I am thankful for the opportunity God has given Allison and I to raise Cooper. At the same time it can sometimes be frightening to know that every decision you make impacts and molds a little life. Am I being the role model that I should be? Am I doing the things God would have me do? Am I spending my time with, and without, Cooper that I need to be doing in order to be the best dad I can be and to ensure Cooper is the best man he can be?

These are just some of the thoughts that have been going through my mind. I think Allison and I are very intentional with Cooper. We try our best to influence him in the best way we know how. My hope is to always be intentional in the way I parent and the things I do with Cooper. From my thoughts to my actions, I want to keep in mind how each of those things affect him and our family as a whole.

What are some of the things you do in order to be intentional with your kids?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good Customer Service Keeps Customers

I have worked a few jobs in which my pay was dependent upon good customer service. Mainly as a server, if I didn't produce good customer service then my tip was reflective of that. That doesn't mean that every time I gave good service I got a good tip, but if I gave bad service you can bet that my tip was almost always reflective of that.

Recently a new bike shop opened on Franklin Road near our church. With a few triathlons coming up I knew that I needed to get my bike tuned up and ready for the upcoming races. It's not the closest shop to my house, but when I called they told me that they could get my bike in and out in less than 24 hours. This was win #1 since the shop that closer to my house told me it would be 10 days before I could get my bike back.

I took my bike in and, as promised, I was called less than 24 hours later and told my bike was ready to be picked up. When I got my bike home I noticed that I couldn't get into the top chain ring. No big deal, I made the adjustment and planned to go for a ride the next day. I rode my bike a few times and noticed that the chain was starting to rub the front derailleur. Again, I made an adjustment, only this time after making the adjustment I couldn't get into the top chain ring once again. After this I took the bike in to have the mechanic look at it. After a few minutes, several adjustments to the derailleur and cleaning the shifter all appeared to be good to go. Because I had just been in for a tune up he didn't charge me anything for the time it took to get me going again. During the Music City triathlon, however, I was not able to get back in the gear after getting in and back out one time.

The day after the race I took my bike in again and left it for the mechanic to take a look at. I was told that I may need a new shifter, but they would definitely try to fix the one I currently have. The next day, again less than 24 hours, I got a call that my bike was fixed and there was no need for a new shifter. On top of that, he only charged me for the parts it took to fix my bike. I took the bike out yesterday and everything works great!

Because of a few small things, R.B.'s Cyclery in Franklin has not only earned my business, but I will tell everyone I know that rides or is in the market for a bicycle about them. First, they gave my an expectation and they met that expectation. Jason, the mechanic, told me that my bike would be ready the following day twice and both times it was ready. Second, they managed my expectations well. I was prepared for the fact that it may be an expensive fix. I wasn't told one thing and then sold something else.

In my opinion, customer service is not hard. If you manage your customer's expectations and show them that you are willing to work hard to get their need taken care of you will earn their trust and their business. I can tell this first hand. And I will continue to give my business to R.B.'s.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lessons from My Triathlon

This weekend I participated in The Music City Triathlon. This was my second time to complete this race, and my third triathlon overall. I have at least one more that I and racing this year and possibly a second. Last year's Music City triathlon was my first and so I went into it not really knowing what to expect. I knew the events and the distances, but I didn't really know how I would react, how my body would react, or even how well I would do. This year, however, I had a plan going in as well as a goal. I accomplished my goal and completed the race 10 minutes faster than I did last year! As I have thought back through the race several things have come to mind that I think I can apply, not only to triathlons and other races that I compete in, but in life in general.

It all begins with preparation - I trained a lot for this race. I don't know that I trained more this year than I did last year, but I think I was more consistent over the previous 12 months. The results are that I am in better overall fitness, therefore faster on race day.

Have a strategy going in - I had a goal that I wanted to accomplish in the race and a plan on how I was going to attempt to get it done. I thought about the things I believed it would take to accomplish my goal and worked to implement the strategy.

Don't be afraid to make adjustments on the fly - My plan going into the race was to use the run/walk method for the run portion: running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. As I started the run I felt strong but immediately came to a steep hill. After a few cycles of the run/walk, however, I felt pretty good and knew that if I was going to keep up my time I would have to run more. I was able to run more than I planned and this helped me achieve my goal.

Encouragement along the way is HUGE - This may be the biggest part for me. I am pretty sure Allison has either competed in or been a spectator at every race I've done with the exception of one when she was pregnant. She and Cooper get up early and fight traffic only to see a few glimpses of me along the way and to see me at the finish line. This, however, is great motivation for me. To see them smiling on the side of the road, cheering, and yelling my name is such a great feeling. Every time I see them I get a burst of energy that keeps my feet moving.

I have completed several races other than the three triathlons. I don't think, however, that I've ever really come away with things that I learned from the race or at least I never took the time to think about it. From now on, after a race I will definitely try to sit down and think through some of the things that I learned and can possibly use going forward in other races or in life generally.

Have you ever competed in a triathlon or other endurance race of some type? If so, what did you learn in the process?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Need to Unplug?

I have recently read several articles about unplugging and how most people either don't or at least hide the fact that they don't unplug on vacation. I have been on two trips in the past 3 months. One trip I didn't even open my work e-mail from the day I left work until the day I returned. On the other I deleted unwanted e-mails every 2-3 days, but left all others to be taken care of when I returned. That has never really been a problem for me. When I leave work I am typically able to leave it at work.

In my mind, social media is a whole other animal. Allison and I took a hiatus from social media during Lent. We didn't check or post to Facebook or Twitter during this time and I will tell you, both of us are glad we did this. It showed us how much time we spent looking at these and I don't think either one of us have gone back to the level that we were at before Lent.

I will admit, I love social media. I love community and I am a natural extrovert. I have an account on many of the social media outlets and check many of them daily. I also realize that sometimes we should be unplugged. Allison and I have certain rules that we try to go by with regard to our phones and computers. I haven't done this, but I wonder if from time to time we should just unplug completely? Turn off all forms of communication or at least don't answer them unless it appears to be an emergency. I can't guarantee this will happen, but I think I may try to do this on a regular basis.

What about you? Do you go by any rules when it comes to social media, smart phones, e-mail, ect? Do you unplug on a regular basis?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Not Another Empty Promise...I Hope

Okay, I'm calling do over, or start over, or second chance. Maybe it's past my second chance, but that's not the point. The point is that I am starting over. I have considered a new blog and even created one, but I am not sure that will help my lack of writing or inspire me, in any way, to write more regularly. I am, however, committing to post on a regular basis. If I still have any readers left, I am committing to you that I will post more often then, say, every 114 days. I am not committing to posting every day. I am starting with twice per week, on Tuesday and Thursday. If I decide to post more than that, so be it. But for now I am only promising twice. Feel free to call me out if there is no post on any given Tuesday or Thursday, I may need encouragement and/or prompting.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Really? 114 Days?

I am not sure if I'm lazy in writing, not interested, not creative, but I just noticed that I haven't posted here in almost 115 days. That's almost 4 months. It's not because I don't want to, because I do. I think I have just hit a block on what to say. I can tell you one thing though, it's not because nothing has been going on. Since the last time I posted I or we have: celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, been to Africa, ran a 5k, trained a lot for a triathlon or two, gone on vacation, hosted 71 people at our house for a 4th of July party, and continued work on our house. We have done other things as well, but these are the major highlights. Things are well and hopefully I will get back to a normal routine of posting to the blog. We'll see about that...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Publix vs. Kroger - Week 4

My experiment is over. I spent the last 4 weeks shopping at Kroger in order to compare grocery shopping at Publix. You can read week one here and week two here. I was out of town for the weekend of the third week, therefore Allison did the shopping and I didn't post on her experience.

Obviously, there are many contributing factors that may skew the results of my very non-scientific experiment. Allison and I did, however, keep our shopping consistent. We have recently tried to make an effort to cook more at home and eat out less, but overall the 2 four-week periods were consistent in the types of items we shopped for.

Most of my opinions were outlined in week one and didn't really change. The main non-monetary issue I have is that Kroger doesn't have as many generic items as Publix. The other big deterrent was that Kroger does not appear to carry grass-fed beef. Publix carries it, but we are probably going to start getting it at the Nashville Farmer's Market so this may be a moot point. In terms of dollars, both stores are essentially the same for the Bussell family. Through 4 weeks at Kroger we spent a total of $8 more than the 4 week period at Publix.

Based on this experiment, it appears that financially it may not matter where you get your groceries. It mainly depends on, at least for us, on items and the shopping experience. And if you're like Cooper, which store will give you get a cookie. He refused to go shopping with me once he learned we weren't able to get a cookie from the Kroger bakery.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Publix vs. Kroger - Week 2

This past weekend capped the second of four weeks that I am shopping at Kroger in my comparison of Publix and Kroger. You can read my thoughts and observations from week one here.

Okay, I'll admit, my bias toward Publix came through a little strong in my last post. I decided that if I was going to be able to change grocery stores, should my experiment favor Kroger, I need to have a little more open mind about shopping at Kroger. That being said, I went into my weekly shopping trip with a much better attitude than last week. Disclaimer: last week Cooper went to the store with me, we were in a rush because we were going to the Vandy baseball game, and given the fact that I usually shop at Publix I couldn't find things at Kroger. None of those things are Kroger's fault, but it did affect my attitude.

This week was much better. I didn't have as much to get, but I was also able to find the things I needed. I still think that the store is not as well lit and the aisles are more narrow than Publix, which can become uncomfortable if the store is crowded, but things seemed much better yesterday. I am also still of the belief that Kroger has taken some tips from Publix. Everyone I encountered was super friendly and helpful. After 2 weeks the dollar comparison is starting to come into view. I am , however, reserving that opinion, especially on here, until all 4 weeks are complete.

There is definitely one advantage that shopping at Kroger has over Publix. By using your Kroger card you accumulate points. Once you reach 100 points you can redeem those points at participating Shell gas stations. I realize that 10 cents isn't a huge amount, but when gas is $3.49 per gallon, every little bit helps.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


When Allison was in law school we met Jeff and Ashley Beck. They became, and are still, some of our very best friends in the world. It was through this relationship that we were first introduced to Lent. Traditionally Lent is 40 days in length. This represents the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert, during which He was tempted by Satan. There are several practices that are associated with Lent. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer, fasting, and giving. Since learning about Lent, Allison and I have tried to give something up each year. I also think each year I get a better understanding of what Lent means or at least what it means for me.

One day in the last week or so Allison suggested that I give up Facebook and Twitter for Lent. My first thought was, "Nah, that would be no fun at all." If I'm honest, however, that thought had crossed my mind more than once prior to that conversation but I had just brushed it aside. By her mentioning it, it was sort of confirmed that maybe that is what I need to do. So, beginning today I am fasting from Twitter and Facebook. I don't necessarily think they have a grip on me or are a vice, but they definitely take up time that I can use to grow closer to God. I am also going to try to add another hour to my day. Typically we try to go to be around 10pm and I get up around 6am. I am going to extend those hours. Probably 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night. These will be times I use for prayer and studying God's Word.

My prayer is that I can use Lent as a time of reflection, learning, and growth toward God. Not just for the 40 days, but as a springboard for the future.

I would love to hear what others are doing. Do you give anything up for Lent? Do you add anything?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kroger vs. Publix

I've decided to do a little experiment. Allison and I started shopping at Publix when we lived in Smyrna. We have also shopped at Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Bi-Lo during periods of time in our marriage. At some point we just decided to give Publix a try. Because we follow the Dave Ramsey cash envelope system, we could easily tell if going to Publix affected our budget one way or the other. After several weeks we determined that it appeared as though Kroger and Publix were comparable when it came to price and because of the great customer service and friendly people, Publix was the place to go.

Fast forward a few years. We are still using the cash envelope system, however, we are using to track our budget and spending. This method compiles the information on a monthly basis, whereas before we essentially budgeted on two-week time frames. For the month of February we shopped at Publix for our groceries. And for the month of March we are shopping at Kroger in order to be able to compare the two to decide if it may be worth a switch.

Here are few of my thoughts and observations from week one of my experiment. Keep in mind we are BIG fans of Publix, so I definitely have a bias. Also, I don't really use coupons. We buy a lot of generic items and shop based on need and a list, therefore coupons and sales are really a bonus for us. My first observation was Kroger didn't seem to be as well lit and the aisles seemed to be more narrow. Keeping in mind my bias, I don't think this was because of pre-conceived thoughts I have. This, however, is not a reason to stop shopping somewhere. My second observation is that Kroger does not have a big of a selection of items/brands as Publix does. This could end up being a deal breaker. As I said before, we buy a lot of generic items. There were some things that I was not able to get generic at Kroger that I can at Publix. In this same vein, there was not much organic/grass fed meat and only 1/2 gallon in organic milk. After watching the movie Food, Inc., Allison and I try to eat organic/grass fed beef and drink organic milk. The third thing I noticed is that Kroger, at least the one I was in, has taken notice of the friendliness at Publix. I was engaged by several employees and everyone seemed very helpful. This was a big deal to us when we started shopping at Publix. It was just a better shopping experience.

As I'm typing this I realize that my bias toward Publix is shining through. I am definitely trying to be open minded and if there is a significant amount of savings by shopping at Kroger that is what I will do. As I've told people in the past, it's worth $5ish per week to me to shop at Publix. If the amount goes above that I'm not sure it's worth it. I plan to shop tomorrow and hopefully will have some additional thoughts and observations to share.

Do any of you have a preference? Is there a reason you grocery shop where you do?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Playing from Behind

Over the past several weeks I have been playing racquetball with my buddy, Kyle. We seem to be pretty evenly matched, so he wins some and I win some. Today during our last game he got ahead early and stayed that way pretty much the entire time until he won. He won the first game as well after going up about 8-2 to start things off. Now, I'm sure there are certain circumstances and certain people who thrive when they are down. Apparently, I am not one of those people. It's not that I get discouraged when I'm down or that I just throw in the towel. I think that I just spend a lot of energy catching up so that once I get even, it's tough to get over the hump to finish off the victory.

As I was thinking about playing from behind, I started wondering about this in when it comes to our relationships with our spouse and children. As a society, are we constantly playing from behind or are we being proactive and staying ahead in the most important relationships in our life? It seems to me that if we intentionally parent our children early then maybe are children will lean toward making the right choices. Obviously, kids are going to make some bad choices, but aren't their chances of making a good choice better if we've intentionally invested time into teaching them what the correct choice is as well as (and maybe more importantly) how to make the right choice? I think the same goes for our marriages. If we work on our marriage we will be much better equipped to handle disagreements and situations that are stressful. We work hard to stay ahead at our jobs and other things we do in life. Shouldn't we work even harder to stay ahead in these two very important areas of our lives?

What are some of the things we can do to keep from playing from behind in our marriages and with our children?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Face Lift

Okay, I've had this blog for a while and I've never really changed the look of it. I don't know much about the behind the scene stuff and I'm not really willing to pay to get a makeover. Therefore you may see various versions of it over the next few days/weeks. If you see something you like, something you don't like, something that you think suits me, or something that doesn't, I would love to see comments letting me know what any readers I have out there think.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How Long Will It Last?

There were a few moments last week that Cooper really caught my attention.

Let me set the stage for you. My feet are almost always cold. And we have hardwood floors throughout our house, which doesn't help warm my feet. Since we moved into our new house I have almost always work flip flops around the house. Because I was tired of wearing them around the house, I mentioned wanting a pair of house shoes for my birthday and Allison got some for me.

One day last week I asked Cooper to put his pajamas on and then we were going to do something (I can't remember what we were doing, but that doesn't really matter). He apparently noticed that I had my house shoes on and he, excitedly, said "okay and I want to put my slippers on too!" The next night Cooper asked if we could play when we got home and I told him yes. When we got home he decided that he wanted to color and he went in his room and played on his own. After dinner we told him we had to get a bath. After his bath it was time for bed and sometimes that can be a point of contention. This time, however, it wasn't because he just didn't want to go to bed, although I think that was certainly part of it. Mainly he was upset because we hadn't had a chance to play. He also kept saying, "I just want to spend some time with daddy."

Guys, our kids look up to us. They want to be like us. And they want to be with us. Today we are pulled in a million different directions. Some of them in our control, some of them out of our control. If you work, work pulls you. If you are involved in your church, church pulls you. If you are married, your marriage pulls you. Then on top of that we have other things that we allow to pull us; Facebook, Twitter, blogs, ESPN, etc., etc., etc... These things aren't necessarily bad, in fact many of them are great and/or necessary. If I don't work on my marriage and spend valuable time with Allison how am I supposed to model how to treat your wife to Cooper. If I don't get up and go to work how am I supposed to instill a good work ethic in Cooper. If I don't... you get the point.

All this to say, as guys we have to do a better job of making time for our kids. Whether it's playing football outside, playing legos inside, or simply watching another episode of Dora the Explorer, we have to be available and fully plugged in with our kids. I am trying my best to be conscious of this because I know, one day, Cooper isn't going to want me to sit down and play or watch a show with him.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some Thoughts on My Birthday

This morning didn't start out much different that most...I woke up, got a shower, and headed back to our bedroom. As I was getting clothes on I heard Allison in Cooper's room talking to him quietly. I wasn't sure what they were up to, but when I turned around he was standing in the closet doorway with a HUGE smile on his face and his hand behind his back. He said "you know what I have?" I said no and he jumped as he swung his arm around. Unable to contain his excitement, he said "happy birthday!" and gave me with a card. He and Allison made it last night while I was at Bible study and he had written his name and, at least helped with, "Happy Birthday Daddy." It was awesome!

I am the luckiest guy in the world. I have an awesome family that, at least on my birthday, woke up with me on their mind. I have a great job and great friends. What else can a person ask for?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Almost Isn't Good Enough

"World changers aren't looking for a way to feel better about themselves but a way to spread light and joy in places that are dark and dreary." - Wayne Elsey

Recently I saw a tweet about a book that was to be released around Christmas time. I didn't give it much thought and then saw another tweet about some of the work that Soles4Souls is doing in various parts of the world, specifically in Haiti. I read that they had recently given away their 12 millionth pair of shoes and they have a goal of giving away 11 million shoes in 2011. It was at that point that I decided to read the description of Wayne Elsey's book, "Almost Isn't Good Enough." I was told that it was a good road map for how to run a nonprofit, and since I have a friend that is starting a nonprofit soon, I thought it may be a good book to read. Wow, was that a good decision.

Don't get me wrong, this book isn't going to tell you how to run your business or nonprofit, but it does give a general idea of how Mr. Elsey started and runs this company. He doesn't believe that simply because they are a nonprofit that his employees should be willing to work for "the cause," and not get paid market value for the talent and work they bring to the table. He has great expectations of his employees and they are given the margin and latitude to make decisions in order to meet those expectations. Having audited many nonprofit organizations while working in public accounting, I can tell you this isn't the norm. Many of these organizations feel that either their hands are tied or they simply can't afford to pay employees what they could make in the same position at a for profit company. Souls4Soles simply refuses to operate this way.

The best thing, however, that I got out of the book is Mr. Elsey's love for people. His attitude toward making a difference in the world shines throughout the entire book. You really get the sense that he believes he is on this earth for one purpose, to give shoes to the shoeless. From the background of him leaving an executive position in corporate America to the stories of him going to as many shoe distributions as he can around the world, his care for this cause is evident.

If you run or work at a nonprofit this book is a must read. If you work for a company, run your own business, or have any interest in business leadership, this book is for you as well. It is a very well written easy to read book with a great message.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Word for 2011

As I was making my list of goals for 2011 I started to see a theme. It wasn't a theme of certain activities, but a theme of what I wanted out of many of the activities on my list. Because of this theme, I decided it would be my word for the year. Now I realize I'm a little late to this party, but my word for 2011 is consistent. That's what I want to be throughout 2011, more consistent. I don't mean in one area or another. I mean in everything I do. I want to be consistent in reading the Bible, consistent in prayer, consistent in improving my marriage, consistent in being a dad, consistent in fostering important relationships, consistent in learning, consistent in blogging, consistent get the point. So that's it. My word for the year. Now I just need some of you to help me maintain my consistency.

What about you? Have you ever come up with a word for the year? If so, what is it?