Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guest Post From Sweet Daughter, Trixie

How To Be A Star

Everybody wants to be a star. They want to be famous. Some people want others to envy their lives. They want to be in the movies. They want to be popular. Even I want some of these things.

But to be a real star, we have to be obedient without whining or complaining. Philippians 2:14-16a says, "Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..."
Even I complain when my mom gives me chores. But to keep from complaining when I do my chores, I try to find ways to make it fun. I turn on my radio or listen to stories. Or I turn my chores into a game. Try to make a challenge for yourself on a daily basis to stop yourself from arguing, complaining or grumbling and instead, make everything fun!

Here's my question: How do you make things that you don't like to do fun?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team--Chris Whitcomb

While going through a hard time, I stumbled across this author. Although promoting his novel Black, I decided to read his memoir Cold Zero also. Whitcomb actually began civil service during the Reagan years, writing speeches for a Republican senator. He recalls that while watching a State of the Union address in Nancy Reagan's box, he wished that instead of writing speeches for these guys, he could do something to protect them so that they could keep doing what they did. The next day, he began a training regimen to prepare him for entry into the FBI. After serving as a special agent in the middle of the nation, he tried for--and won a-- spot on the elite Hostage Rescue Team at the FBI. In this books, he shares his recollections as a sniper at Ruby Ridge and Waco.

To me, the best story is the kind in which a character is altered by the main conflict, and Whitcomb seems truly changed by his experiences during and after Waco. He swaggers through the beginning of the book, but after Waco, his stride bears an obvious limp. I empathized with his feelings of betrayal and his sense of impotence in certain aspects of his ability to serve and protect. Because, although endowed with extraordinary capabilities, in the end his is only one man, simply following the orders of his government.

What left the greatest impression on me was the difficulty of the application--or should I say "elimination"--process. Over and over, the men were given seemingly impossible physical tests in order to gather the most capable and strong for this team, the ones who perform best under duress. (In fact, one exercise resulted in a man falling out of a helicopter into a forest below!)

Here's my question: How does one push beyond normal human limits and achieve super-human feats?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life--Alan Deutschman

Is it possible to create life-lasting change in greater numbers than the statistics state? According to Deutschman, before beginning this book, expert upon expert pessimistically declared that only 1 in 10 people successfully change--even when life is on the line.

Since the author shed enough weight to make any Biggest Loser contestant proud and managed to keep it off for years and felt that he wasn't outside of the norm, he wanted to explore components of change by looking at groups that achieved a higher rate of transformation than the usual 10%.

He cited three groups who managed a 66% (or higher) success rate: (1) cardiac patients with acute heart disease agreeing to enter a pilot program with Dr. Dean Ornish who placed them all on a strict vegetarian diet, (2) hardened third-strike convicts who became model citizens and employees of the Delancey Street Foundation, and (3) auto workers facing job loss after a Japanese company bought their factory.

The author provides three fundamentals in producing change.

(1) Relate: surround oneself with a community of people who already emulate the
behavior one wishes to imitate.
(2) Repeat: minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year
behavior defines change that lasts. Each small step, coupled with success, walked out over
a period of time that begins with one minute and continues for years characterizes change.
(3) Reframe: create a new set of values to work from, enabling the mind and heart to
cooperate and direct new behavior).

For me, the 2nd example was the most compelling. The Delancey Street Foundation takes prisoners condemned to life in jail, with no hope for parole and changes the lives and behaviors of about 2/3 of those selected for the program. Many of these participants entered Delancey Foundation as third generation gang members, addicted to 2 or more substances and having committed some of the worst of society's crimes. And yet, they became model employees of the Foundation's many businesses.

At a lunch recently, a friend wisely pointed out that as a disciple of Jesus, I gain a new identity, too. I am no longer unclean, condemned, a white-washed tomb; instead, I am clean, righteous, a temple of God. Furthermore, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, fully pleasing to God, completely accepted. My question is this: If people with so many circumstances working against them can step out of an old frame and create behavior based on a new definition, why can't I? And why can't I seem to swallow those last three statements that the Bible makes about me?