Wrap on the Ruts

mason-and-brenda-auctionI wrapped up writing the Ruts Series on lifeontherutledge.com with the close of January.  I still need to put a wrap on it.  This weekend I had someone ask about the series and I realized that it needed a summary or a conclusion to the series.

Thanks to those of you that have given positive feedback about the series.  It has been encouraging to hear how folks have discovered their own ruts and the need to find health, life and growth outside of those very ruts.  I am now walking with a handful of people that have launched their journey from the rut.  It’s nothing more than being a successful survivor and ensuring others that they’ll survive the jump as well.

For those of you that missed it, here is a summary of the seven-part series. You can also click on the date to get the entire post.

January 3 – The journey starts by choosing the high road.  It’s not the easiest road to take but take it, remain on it and enjoy the blessings that will come your way because of your choice.

January 4 – Relationships will change.  Be ready for it and understand the challenge.  You will lose some “friends.”  The good news is that there will be new, deep and fresh relationships that will develop during your transition.

January 6 – As you leave have top of mind the wonderful blessings that came from that job or experience.  Be thankful.  You may not want to, but choose thankfulness.

January 9 – The military has the principle of “Up or Out,” you are either moving up an organization or out.  If you aren’t moving up or have been passed over, it’s time to move on.  Don’t sit in the pain, discomfort, the unknowing but move onto the next great thing.

January 12 – As you transition, your “story” will have to be translated for the world to understand.  They won’t understand all of what you’ve done or for how long, so be prepared.  Prepare, adapt and tell about your journey well.

January 16 – Trust your gut.  This is especially true as you consider your future with an organization or business.  Listen to your instinct and don’t be afraid to ask questions based on what you are hearing.

January 23 – It was last but it was most important.  Remember that God has a plan.

It’s a step of faith. It’s a leap into unknown.  It’s a jump from safety and security.  When it’s time to get out of that “rut,” step, leap, jump.  I hope this series has encouraged you and, for some of you, helped you embrace the fact that you will be alright.

See you in what’s next.


Not a Political Post

first-presWalking to church on Sunday, my wife and I discussed the issues of the day.  Knowing I’m a prolific poster, she warned, “If you post anything political, I’m going to be very, very angry.”  She didn’t say she’d be “mad,” but “angry.”  I got my sermon early that morning.

So this is not a political post.  You see, Brenda is my check and balance.  She is the one that saves my sanity in my swirling head and heart of designs and dreams.  She knows the questions to ask.  She knows when to ask them.  She asks them appropriately.  She’s earned my utmost respect by both position, as my spouse, and performance, as a 25-year proven partner in life.

So this is not a political post.  You see, this morning I am thankful for checks and balances.  This is especially true in our world where thoughts, ideas and opinions can shoot off unchecked.  Therefore our society has appropriately developed checks and balances.  These systems not only have positional authority, but have also proven themselves through decades of performance.

As a citizen of the West Coast of the United States and having earned a minor in Political Science from the Washington State University (impressive, I know), I have certainly known of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  I’ve known of them, but I have not supported them.

This week that changed.  I have prayed for the 9th Circuit Court more this week than I ever have in my life.  The bar wasn’t real high to start.  I don’t know if I’ve ever decidedly prayed for any court.  This week I prayed.

My prayer was very simple.  I prayed for wisdom.  These are wise people that were selected by wise people.  I prayed that their wisdom would shine bright.

I’m thankful for the checks and balances in my life and our world.  In writing this post today, this could look like I’m making a statement about the issue.  That is not the case.  I could have just as easily written this post yesterday morning or early this week.  The thankfulness of checks and balances holds true…and that is why this is not a political post.

Whew.  Glad no one is angry.

Bouncing Through Kenya

land-rover-and-goatsWe take pride at World Concern in working “at the end of the road.”  You’ll read it.  We say it.  I can tell you firsthand that we do not work at the end of the road.  We work well beyond the end of the road…our work is actually about 40 minutes past the pavement, where we ramble down a bumpy dirt path and turn onto a goat trial where we bramble through an undistinguishable field to our destination.

World Concern works beyond the end of the road.  Many of the people we work with have not seen the paved road.  We work with the least, the forgotten, the unrecognized, the mistitled, the lonely, the helpless and the hopeful.  That’s where you find our staff.

This trip was my chance to be an eyewitness to our work and I first learned that we work beyond the end of the road.  As has been many lessons in life, this was emphasized on my backside as the Land Rover bumped along.

My venture to Kenya was a part of a trip with Alderwood Community Church.  They are one of our amazing church partners.  This group of 12 was made up of two teams, one that worked in Nairobi and the other in the Rift Valley.  I had time with each group, but spent most of my time around Narok in the Great Rift Valley.

The local World Concern staff knew everyone in the greater Narok area.  We would be driving down a dirt road, they would stop another car and start up a conversation (in Maasai) about the news of the day.  We’d stop two young shepherd boys, along the road with their goats, and offer them a bottle of water in the extreme summer heat.

You see, most of the World Concern staff are from the communities they serve.  They know the people because they know their parents and probably their grandparents.  They have lived in these places and needed a cool water as they walked their goats.

Business professionals from Alderwood Community Church provided training to local business owners.

The third conclusion is that our work is comprehensive and community-owned.  We don’t just put in water tanks, we plant trees to provide shade.  We don’t just build an solar-powered fence to protect a field, we supply beds.  We don’t just offer spiritual development, we offer business training.  This comprehensive work doesn’t originate with our staff.  It develops from our constituents.  We ask questions.  What do you need?  They build the answers with us.

I witnessed many examples of this comprehensive and community-owned approach.  One was a school where World Concern had planted trees.  The school said their students needed shade.  They helped us with the planting.  They owned the idea and the implementation.  That wasn’t all.  Since this was their idea and their trees, they took it to the next level.  The school built a system of canals to get water to each tree.  In this dry and arid flatland, it was genius.  It was the kind of genius that develops when that is your tree.

This is just a start to what I learned.  I was only in the “field” for a long weekend, Thursday to Sunday, but I laid witness to so much.  The most important thing to tell you about the teaching-in-narokfield and the number one thing I believe our staff would want you to hear about World Concern’s work in Kenya is, “Thank you.”

Come see it for yourself and hear it.  Be prepared, though, because you will have to go beyond the end of the road.