Working on a Dream




Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pre-Marital Advice (Warning! You might get dumped soon).

Step 1: Place your left hand over your left ear.
Step 2: Repeat step 1, but now with your right hand over your right ear.
Step 3: Watch your significant others actions.

A Breakdown:
The best way to know what someone is all about is not by listening to them, it's by observing them. Your words mean nothing when they don't match your life.

Ladies, do yourself a favor & ditch the dweeb that thinks his smooth talk is a bandage to his selfish & childish behavior.

Men, get some self-respect and boot the gal that is stringing you along like a tattered puppet.

The Lesson:
You can find out everything you need to know about someone just by watching how they live. If you find yourself in a relationship and start noticing major discrepancies with what your significant other says & does ... dump them.

-And dump them now-

Proverbs 22:10
"Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Leadership lessons from my Back Yard

Hot is not the word to describe yesterday's Memorial Day.
What did I get myself into??
It was more like a scorcher.

Despite the heat, I took on a back breaking project and lived to write about it.
Yesterday, I had the bright I idea to cut down a tree, remove all of the branches, drag them in the woods behind my house, chop the tree up, remove about 100 stones (ranging from the size of large fist to a large head) all with no power tools. 
----Just me, a hatchet, a saw, a crow-bar and an axe. 

I love the little lessons God sends your way right in the middle of the mundane.

Below I will highlight several leadership lessons that I learned while transforming into The Axe man. 

It felt great to watch this big boy hit the ground!

1.  Preparation is Vital: 
Abe Lincoln said, "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my axe."  There is a powerful lesson entrenched into our 16th Presidents remark.  This lesson rang home yesterday as I began cutting some of the branches down with my hatchet.  I noticed that I was doing a lot of unnecessary work because the blade was dull.  My lack of preparation caused me to use more energy than I needed and since the day was hot enough to fry an egg, I was paying dearly for this oversight.
World Largest Tooth-Pic?  Na.

2.  Picking the right Tools:
As I mentioned above, I had everything that I needed to meet my desired goal.  The hatchet could reach small branches, the axe could thrash huge chunks of wood, the saw took off the trunk & the crow-bar ripped out roots.  Everything I needed was there.  Yesterday was a 1 man job, but in life it is improbable that you will accomplish much without the assistance of others.  This lesson also applies to teamwork.  Jim Collins, in his masterful book, Good to Great, teaches a concept that has stayed with me for years.
"Get the right people on the bus. The wrong people off the bus and the right people into the right seats."  This deserves a place on every leaders wall as a reminder of the importance of selective the right tools or people to accomplish the task.

Anthony the "Axe Man"

3.  Vision.  Get Some:
Before anything becomes a reality, it must first be a dream. Vision goes hand in hand with leadership because leaders are busy bringing about change.  Leadership looks to the future, leadership looks at problems in new ways, leadership brings life. This is what Wilferd Peterson meant when he said, "Big thinking precedes great achievement."  Where would America be without Washington?  Where would Scotland be without Wallace?  Where would African Americans be without King?  Leadership is a future oriented quality that is dedicated to bringing about change for the better.

4. Sweat:
Let's get real practical for a moment.  Your dream(s) should lead you to hard work.  I like to say, if your inspiration does not lead to perspiration, don't expect any fruition.  If you are not busy living out your dream, you are holding onto a delusion and need to wake up. It was Franklin D. Roosevelt that wisely stated, "Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” Look, you can sit around and talk all day about what you think should be done, but we both know that some people want things to happen, some others wish it to happen and others make it happen...

Good-bye roots!

This was the rock pile that had to be moved to make my dream a reality.

So you might be wondering, "why all the hard work?"

So me, my family & my friends can have a place to gather, share stories and foster memories.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day

I believe we should do more than sing the praises of the bravery and patriotism that our veterans have embodied in the past. We should take this opportunity to re-evaluate how we are treating our veterans in the present.

-Nick Lampson

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hard to Say

The other day I heard someone talking about a study concerning the subject of human relationships.  In the study, it was discovered that there are 3 phrases that people find very difficult to say to one another.

The 3 Most Difficult Things to Say are:

1) I love you
2) I'm sorry / Will you forgive me?
3) Help me

I started thinking to myself just how much damage is done toward our fellow man when these 3 phrases are left unsaid.
-For the lover that never hears, "I am sorry."
-For the co-worker that is too prideful to ask for help.
-For the child that never receives the words of "I Love you" from a parent.

If your pride holds you back from incorporating these types of words in your life, it is time for a change.
I'd suggest you start right now.  Today

-Before it's too late.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An open letter regarding Marriage.

Whether you believe that marraige should be reserved for one man and one women or not, there should be one aspect that we can all agree on. A person's sexual orientation does not warrant a ticket to beat down alley or verbal lashings. 

It is wrong.  Period. 
It’s a downright shame that anyone anywhere would mock, taunt, or bully another human being made in God’s image.  As a matter of fact, I believe that it says more about the lack of character in the person doing the bullying than the person taking the barrage of insults and/or beatings. 

That said, I think we need to make one thing clear in regards to bullying:
To differ is not to hate
In other words, when you run across a person that does not believe what you believe, it's called a difference in opinion.  Do not confuse bullying with people having a mind of their own and expressing varying views in a thoughtful way ... when you do, it cheapens the entire notion of what true bullying is and makes you look downright silly.

-Following the Leader:
There is a motto that I live by. "I am Following the Leader." 
In John chapter 8, we find Jesus in a predicament that I am sure would have left most of us tongue-tied.  A women was caught in the act of prostitution and brought before Jesus with a hair raising question. "The Law says to stone fornicators, what do you say?"
After a Bob Ross moment in the sand, Jesus says, "Go ahead and throw your stones; as long as the person throwing the stone is without sin."

One by one, each man walked away...
Who was left was Jesus alone with the prostitute...
(Can you imagine witnessing this scene!!)
Instead of insulting her further, He sent her away with a message: "Go and sin no more."

Here, I believe, Jesus has set the gold standard when dealing with sin. 
He both (1) embraced the girl and (2) confronted her sin.

---Is this bullying? 

I will not even take the time to answer that question. 
But what I will say is that when the Bible is clear on a matter, whether it be homosexuality or heterosexual issues outside of marriage (which are equally condemned in the Scripture just as this current issue) ,we are called to follow The Leader. 
This means juggling the pattern lived out & taught by Jesus in John 8.  Many use the phrase, "hate the sin, love the sinner."  Call it what you want, I call it following in the footsteps of Jesus.  And if this is perceived as wrong, then I have to be OK with that. I will always choose to walk the trail blazed by Jesus over a shifting world made of shifty people. 

-Getting personal:
Saying this, I would like to make a confession about bullying.
I do believe that Christians have handled the issue of homosexuality poorly (generally speaking).  Gandhi has been quoted as saying, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”  Although this quote was uttered during a different time and place, unfortunately it applies today and many in the homosexual community would agree wholeheartedly with Gandhi here. 

-So I would like to apologize for all of my brothers and sisters in the Lord that only half-get-it and walk around like their is a pew stuck up their butts.

As I sit and write, I find it both scary and disheartening for me to know that people are walking around confused about how Christ really lived, spoke and taught. 

Only seeing His representatives misrepresent Him, sends my heart right into the abyss. 
The only condolences that I can offer is by way of a short story that I heard many years ago and is still with me to this day.

The story goes that a man was talking to another man about Jesus.
"Don't talk to me about your Christ!" the one man said angrily. "Your priests walk around with big crosses on their chests and little compassion in their hearts..."
The man sharing about Jesus paused and then said, "Can I ask you a questionWhat if I stole your coat, boots; hat and put them on, then robbed a bank and took all of the money?  Then I was chased by the police, but outran them. 
-What would you say if the police came knocking on your door and charged you with robbing the bank?
The Angy man said, "I would deny it because it was not true!!"
Ah!  But what if they say that they recognized your coat, boots; hat from a distance and charge you anyway?"

The point of the story is both vivid and powerful:

If the world has only seen a blurred image of Jesus it is because they are looking at His broken followers

Instead, look to the real thing. 
I am the first to admit that I get it wrong a lot.
That is why I spend time pointing people away from myself and toward Jesus.

In conclusion, I believe this post has led to a challenge:
-Follower's of Jesus, don't just sit back and choose to follow God's Holy Law and forget to follow the Royal law of Love.  The 2 were never meant to be separated. 
-For those that find people disagreeing with you.  Use wisdom to decide on whether you are being bullied or not.  Not everyone you meet is an ignoramus just because they do not agree with you.

--I hope you enjoyed this post!

I felt the need to write about these kinds of issues for many reasons.  One is because I feel a tension in the church and in the world due to the lack of clarity on hot button issues. And the other is due to the fact that the Church as a whole does not do a great job at answering significant issues like the ones being raised in a rapidly changing world.  I believe that the Bible is as significant as ever and offers the answers to mankind's deepest just takes a person to take the time to care enough about people to answer them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An open letter regarding the Sanctity of Marriage. Part 1

The Beatles got it wrong all those years ago when they sang, "All you need is Love" and I am here to tell you why.

Now before we venture to the point of no return, let's lay some ground rules:
1.  This post is not intended to be the end-all-be-all on the subject of the sanctity of marriage.
2.  I have a motto that I live by:  To disagree is not to express hateI realize that the possibility of everyone reading this and agreeing with me 100% is never going to be the case.  That's OK with me.  Just do not interpret anything I write here with hating anyone.
3.  You have a responsibility after you get done reading this:  Think about it ... then reply, share it, or whatever, just do something.            --------(emphasis on the ... BTW).
4.  After you decide to reply, be nice.

I.  Love & Feelings are not a sufficient basis for marriage:

A.  Love is not an appropriate foundation for marriage: 

Last week I read an article titled, The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage featured in The Tech.  Since I do not consider myself that knowledgeable in Civil Gov't intricacies, I found their remarks thought provoking.  Below is an excerpt: (you can click on the link to the left for the full article).

The biggest danger homosexual civil marriage presents is the enshrining into law the notion that sexual love, regardless of its fecundity, is the sole criterion for marriage. If the state must recognize a marriage of two men simply because they love one another, upon what basis can it deny marital recognition to a group of two men and three women, for example, or a sterile brother and sister who claim to love each other? Homosexual activists protest that they only want all couples treated equally. But why is sexual love between two people more worthy of state sanction than love between three, or five? When the purpose of marriage is procreation, the answer is obvious. If sexual love becomes the primary purpose, the restriction of marriage to couples loses its logical basis, leading to marital chaos.

I personally found the case above very thought provoking because of the pivotal question(s) it raises and the fact that it is by definition a secular article (meaning without religion/or religious influence).  It seems that there is a silent slippery slope embedded in the argument for the right of a homosexual couple to marry.  BTW: If you have the answer(s), then I would like to hear them.  One last point about this subject that I find compelling is that both the political arena and the religious have historically come together and agreed that marriage is reserved between a man and a women.  (That is until our president declared otherwise last week.)   

I began this section by stating that love is not a sufficient basis for marriage; if that is the case, then what is?

-------------------------A proper foundation for marriage is Holiness------------------

Let me share an illustration:
During pre-marital counseling, I ask couples to go outside, pick two separate rocks of their choosing and bring them to me.  Returning to my office, they find me standing in front of a large jar.  I then ask the couple to place both rocks in the jar and instruct them to shake the jar together for 30 seconds.  After, I take the rocks out of the jar, I ask the couple this question:  What would happen to the rocks if you continued shaking them for the next day, month, year, decade?

"They would start to get really smooth & lose their rough edges."

CorrectOver time each rock would wear down the others sharp points and although the rocks are still the very same rocks that were placed into the container years and years ago, they have morphed into something even better.

Holiness is God's plan for marriage. 
Your mate will be the primary tool that God uses to bring you both closer to Him and His will for your lives.  So what's love got do with it? 
A lot.
Love, laughter, tears, drama ... are all part of the process -the fruit produced by Holiness, nonetheless, are all insufficient as the primary foundation for building a healthy marriage.

B.  Feelings are not a primary basis for marriage:

We all know that throughout our lifetime we have had strong feelings, maybe towards a person or a belief you held, and years later have come to think differently.  Feelings are a funny thing because they change over time.  Feelings will change throughout your lifetime umpteen times, and for many of you they have about 20 times since you woke up this morning. 
-If marriage were built on feelings, then what would keep a man who has fell out of love with his wife from leaving her for another women? 
-If love and feelings are the basis for marriage then why not marry as many people as we want? (Polygamy)
-If love and feelings are the basis for marriage, then no one can place any type of boundaries over marriage.  This opens the door to marrying inadamant objects, marrying animals, or even marrying myself!
This leads to a entire barrage of disastrous results.
Now for a side note:
It is at this point where I hear many raise the fact that marriage has become a laughingstock in this countryTo which I tearfully, yet gracefully nod and agree.  

Indeed, marriage is a total sham most of the time these days but I offer two remarks here:
1.  Mankind has failed marriage; Marriage has not failed mankind. 
2.  With the above being said, this does not void the original plan from our Creator for marriage.    

In conclusion, I want to add one last insight that I believe to be the core of the issue.  Since love and feelings are not the basis for marriage then what is?
--In a word, God

This concludes the end of today's open letter!  
I hope you enjoyed it.
I hope it made you think a little.
I look forward to your thoughts...

Stop back soon for part 2 where I'll be talking about shellfish, trimming beards, God's authority, bullying and whatever I can think of from now until then...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Marriage: Why you (or I) don't get to redefine it.

"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four.
Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
Abe Lincoln.

Marriage has been defined by our Creator in Genesis 2:24,
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

Mankind has no right, no matter how popular or unpopular an issue is, to redefine something that is not open for redefining.

"We the people" may be the majority at times, but "we the people" are still subject to error. This is why we need a higher moral authority to appeal to.

That's my 2 cents.
Short & Sweet!

"God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar..." Romans 3:4

Reaching my Destination: A lesson in Inspiration

Of course, I could not have done what I have done without inspiration
And providing night after night of musical determination was my troubadour of soul, the Tramp hailing from New Jersey; Bruce Springsteen.  He went with me all those years ago to college and his music still grabs ahold of me to this day. 

There were many nights that I wanted to not just throw in the towel but burn it.  Inspiration is a funny thing; it comes from seemingly nowhere and all of a sudden it takes hold of you and propels you further than you would have believed.  The first mile becomes the second mile, your no becomes a yes, and you find yourself further than you thought.  If you don't believe me, just listen to the Rocky Soundtrack the next time you are doing...ANYTHING

Listen, I know that I could have listed dozens of Springsteen songs here:
In Thunder Road he tells the young couple that, "It's a town full of losers and we're pullin' outta here to win!"
In Lonesome Day he proclaims, "Let kingdom come, I'm gunna find my way, after this Lonesome Day..."
In Atlantic City he tells his lover, "Now our luck may have died and our love may be cold but with you forever I'll stay..."
And in in Dancing in the Dark he's so fed up with being so fed up, "They say you gotta stay hungry, hey baby I'm just about starving tonight..."
Land of Hopes and Dreams is special because Bruce wrote this when he reunited with The E Street Band after a long hiatus. 

It is a song of Hope.

A song that embraces loss, fear; the ugliness of life.
But in classic Springsteen fashion, he lifts your eyes beyond what is seen.
He gets you to believe in something greater.
This has been his modus operandi from day one.
And for that I am grateful. 

--This is for you Christen...
This is the Land of Hopes of Dreams
Grab your ticket and your suitcase
Thunder's rolling down the tracks
You don't know where you're goin'
But you know you won't be back
Darlin' if you're weary
Lay your head upon my chest
We'll take what we can carry
And we'll leave the rest

Big Wheels rolling through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

I will provide for you
And I'll stand by your side
You'll need a good companion for this part of the ride

Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there'll be sunshine
And all this darkness past

Big wheels roll through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

This train Carries saints and sinners
This train Carries losers and winners
This Train Carries whores and gamblers
This Train Carries lost souls
This Train Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train Faith will be rewarded
This Train Hear the steel wheels singin'
This Train Bells of freedom ringin'
This Train Carries broken-hearted
This Train Thieves and sweet souls departed
This Train Carries fools and kings

This Train...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reaching my Destination: A lesson in Perseverance.

It was Saturday, May 5th, 4 p.m. and I was sitting at Geneva College's graduation ceremony. 

What people saw was a huge smile, exuberance if you will, on my face...
Among the people in attendance were my lovely wife and two parents. 
Sitting right next to me were my classmates.

What was not visible to the human eye was what was going on in my heart and mind at the time. 
Like a tidal wave, my son Anthony's memory was pressing upon my chest.
Something was wrong with the day...
He wasn't there.  This emotion was like a thick could hanging over me and I knew that if I gave into my emotions; I would have broken down to the point of no return.

Many of you know about the terrible passing of my son last January.
What many of you do not know is that I was smack dab in the middle of the MSOL program.
And I had a choice to make:
Do I go on?
Or better yet, can I go on with the program?

Many in my Cohort were wondering the same thing, and the majority of them thought that they would not see me enter that classroom again. 

But I did.

It has been said,"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." Trust me, I was grasping desperately onto the last thread of my rope hanging on for dear life.  More clearly stated, looking back, I know that it was Jesus that was hanging on to me rather than the other way around.   

Only a handful of people watched me during the 9 days of immense struggle with my son. 
If you were there, you would have seen that I had my computer with me and was communicating with my professors to make plans on how I could catch up with the rest of the Cohort so that when I come back home, I could seamlessly enter back into the class and not miss a beat.  This meant special meetings with professors outside of class and other hoops that I had to jump through just to stay in the program. I did all of this in the middle of tragedy.  Let me tell you something, tough times reveal ones character, so if you are waiting around to start living right, please start right now because when the storms is too late.  It has been said that the strongest metal goes through the hottest fires and I was in the middle of a white hot volcano erupting like nobody's business.   

There are some important lessons that I learned over the years in the MSOL program, many of them are here in my blog, Working on  a Dream.  But one that I feel like I need to highlight is the importance of perseverance

Persevering is perhaps one of the highest virtues, because this is what separates many people from reaching their goals.  Persistence is connected to your belief in yourself and your dreams.  And trust me, you will meet many along your journey that do not believe in either your dreams or yourself.  Persevere my friend.  I have faced doubters, haters and rotten people all along the way and I kept on keeping on.  People often attribute finishing two Master Degree Program's with being smart, but I like to think my hard work was just as, if not more vital to finishing the program.  I like to tell people that perseverance is putting one foot in front of the other, every day, whether it's sunny or gloomy outside; whether you feel up to it or not.  One day, after perhaps a thousand steps, you will be standing right in front of your goal, face to face with success.   

This brings me full circle, back at that auditorium, standing at Geneva College last Saturday. 
There was something missing.
Anthony should have been there.
I kept on sitting there imagining him in my wife's arms watching daddy from the audience.
Just that thought alone is enough to shatter someones heart into a million pieces...

But instead of folding, I took a page right out of my son's book. 
--I fought.
I persevered.  In the words of Winston Churchill, "If you are going through hell, keep going." And that I did.
I pushed past what would have leveled the average person and walked right across that stage like a triumphant victor. 

Anthony, my son.

You came right in the middle of the MSOL program and only stayed with me 9 days. Many counted me out afterward -but I took a page right out of your book and fought to the end.

Somewhere over the rainbow

Way up high,

There's a land that I heard of

Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow

Skies are blue,

And the dreams that you dare to dream

Really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far

Behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops

Away above the chimney tops

That's where you'll find me.

"I can do all things through Christ that gives me Strength." 
Philippians 4:13 

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Journey: The Beginning, not the Ending. (part 1)

(n.) The day when degrees are conferred by colleges and universities upon students and others.
(n.) The first existence of anything; act or fact of commencing; rise; origin; beginning; start.

I learned something interesting the other day while sitting at my commencement ceremony at Geneva College.  The term commencement actually has two meanings: the first meaning is familiar to anyone that has graduated from high school or received their Ph.D.   It is the day that you gather with your fellow classmates to receive your degree.  The second, and less popular meaning is,"to start something." 

I mention this because I find it ironical that we title the end of something like graduation with a term that actually means to begin something.  I am starting to wonder who was responsible for this universal mishap?  Who is the one that decided to call the ending of something the beginning?  I mean when you start a race you always run to the finish line ... right

--Well, maybe there is something deeper going on here.

Commencement always gets tagged at the end of ones graduation because it signifies not the ending of something rather the beginning.   Sadly, most of us associate commencement with the conclusion of a journey rather than the start of one. However, this is precisely what is meant by declaring the finalization of your college experience as your commencement. 

The wise person knows that their time spent studying was not just to reach the graduation ceremony, rather it was to prepare them for a lifelong journey.  I tell people that their graduation from higher education is not the closing of a book; it is the turning from one chapter to another in the same book.   

The point in all of this is that you are venturing to new endeavors & new beginnings!  All the greats have understood this concept from Henry David Thoreau when he said, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined" to Ray Kroc that wisely stated"When you're green, your growing. When you're ripe, you rot.”

-Realize that your life is really just about to begin. 
-Never stop learning, never stop persevering.  
-Yesterday was to prepare you for tomorrow. 

Anthony J. Kladitis

Gearing up at home for my big day!
"...I really don't want to mess up the hair today..."
Ben and I.  We hit it off from day one.
Oh No!  There are 4 of me!!
Moments before I get into my garb.

My wife Christen is proud of her man!
Don't worry, no matter how many degrees this guy gets, the proudest day of my life will always be the day I married my wife.  Nothing even comes close...

It all started with supportive parents many years ago that believed in me and my dreams.
I figured since I paid for this I might as well get as much use out of it as possible.
Me and my best friend! 
Charlie helped me study many many nights and kept me motivated by his endearing chants.   

Right in front of Geneva's Motto: "For Christ & Country"

Right in front of the library!
This is one of the aspects that I will miss the most...Books, Books, BOOKS!!