Not just a team, but a family

Not surprisingly, in working for Edify I’ve learned that life in a non-profit requires being very thoughtful and judicious about how we use our resources and spend our money. Certainly, we could expand our manpower by hiring more staff or simply ‘throw money’ at every challenge that arises. That doesn’t work very well in the long run. In daily practice, the challenge is to find creative solutions or strategic trade-offs to keep our focus on our mission: To improve and expand sustainable Christ-centered education globally.

I’m happy to say that there is one thing, which comes at great expense, that is one of our wisest investments of our time and money: our annual team meeting. Each January, our (growing) team gathers to spend time together in fellowship, devotion, training, and sharing. In the past, the meetings have been in San Diego, but this year’s was our first in the field: Ghana.

When you think about all of the effort and expense that goes into flights, visas, lodging, food, and all the related logistics, it would be so easy to for our management to decide against it. Instead, the commitment to the time by our founders and senior management gets stronger each year.

I was fortunate enough to join Edify shortly before last year’s meeting so the one I’m just now returning from is my second. We now total 53 with over a quarter added in the past year alone. As I’m involved in getting each one set up and oriented, I have the benefit of being familiar with names and roles from the start. Hearing their voices on a weekly prayer call or other phone conferences only goes so far to really get to know people. Seeing them in person, sharing a meal, trading stories, is the only way to truly make a connection. That I did at every opportunity.

I can honestly say that my family has grown considerably since I joined Edify. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share my time and talents in service to them and our collective goals.

I have been blessed by the opportunity I’ve had. I cannot wait for us to be together again in 2018!

 

 

Starting a new chapter

Since my life-changing event back in March, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many different people and learn about several organizations, each one different from the others. I have also spent a significant amount of time determining who I am professionally (my strengths, weaknesses, and motivations). That combined with my belief that technology can truly make a difference in people’s lives and it has helped direct my search.

Through a most interesting series of events that I’m unable to adequately explain here, I learned of an opportunity at Edify which is a very special non-profit organization that is best summarized from the website: “To improve and to expand sustainable, affordable Christ-centered education in the developing world.” They achieve that by supporting private schools through small loans, training, and technology. To date, they have partnered with over 1,600 schools and have impacted the lives of over 300,000 students.

After many conversations it became more and more clear that there was a unique match between their needs and my background and skills. I’m happy and proud to say that they have invited me to join with them in their work and start tomorrow as their Vice President of Information Technology. I cannot convey how excited I am for this opportunity and look forward to making an impact in ways I surely couldn’t have previously imagined.

Having the Summer off to enjoy my family was a significant blessing. In light of having just taken my oldest child off to college for the first time yesterday, it all couldn’t have worked out better. Yet another sign that the Lord’s plans are the best.

A Troubling Mystery

I had an unexpected event occur yesterday and, honestly, it’s got me a bit concerned. Yesterday, while making breakfast, one of the outlets by the range started smoking. Nothing was plugged into it and nothing splashed onto it, but a trickle of smoke was there, nonetheless. After quickly throwing the breaker and allowing it to cool down I removed the faceplate and found this:

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With no specific electrical experience, I wasn’t sure where to turn. I decided to stop by the local fire department to see if they had any thoughts. They didn’t have any specific comments, but did recommend talking to the local building and safety department which should provide some good perspective. If there’s some defect or age-related problem, I certainly want to know so I can take the necessary steps to remediate it.

What’s got me concerned is the unclear cause. Honestly, it’s a blessing that I was standing right next to it. If we weren’t home, there’s a chance there wouldn’t be a home to be sitting in right now to write this. Without knowing the root cause, it’s a bit hard to sleep comfortably at night.

I called building and safety today, but with the holiday, I wasn’t surprised to only get voicemail. I’ll be staying home tomorrow to see if I can learn something useful. I won’t be comfortable until I do.

 Update (02/19/13):

I visited my local city hall and spoke with a gentleman from building and safety. He was quite helpful partially due to the fact he was a professional electrician before becoming a building inspector. He mentioned that about 90% of all house fires are due to situations like this. What likely happened was that a downstream outlet was pulling some significant current that ended up arcing through the neutral screw terminal. While it was 12 gauge wire, if they aren’t screwed down tightly or completely, it can end up arcing.

At this point, I’m satisfied that the replacement outlet or any other ones won’t just spontaneously ignite (like when we’re not home), but will certainly entertain evaluating all of the kitchen outlets for proper condition. On the plus side, I now have a bonus fourth day to my three-day weekend.

Many problems led to five steps

The family came to a decision this week and we have removed our son from his elementary school and will be homeschooling him along with his older sister. I wrote about how we came to the decision to bring our daughter home earlier this year and while this situation had many similarities, many aspects were different and the decision had much deliberation and prayer.

Our daughter was failed by the system which no longer actively supports students that aren’t a liability to their precious standardized test scores. In our son’s situation, honestly, he was let down by the other parents. His grade-level, for some unexplained reason, has had discipline and behavior problems since kindergarten. Attempts to correct problems were generally met with disbelieving and ultimately uncommitted parents and by the time the kids go to 5th grade, behaviors were well-solidified. Like our daughter, the problem went on for years but was tolerated until it reached the point it couldn’t be any further.

Brian’s teacher this year, Mr. ‘P’, was excellent which made this decision quite difficult. As we got reports from our son how his class got in trouble again or lectured to again over the dinner table, I couldn’t help but think Mr. P was not being a strong enough disciplinarian (my manager hat must have still been on). Last week, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Brian’s school* and spend some time in his class. Not only did I see first-hand how good Mr. P was but also how frustrating the behavior problem was. The majority of the class was ‘just’ bad enough to be a problem but without clear troublemakers to single out and reprimand though he did several times in the single hour I was there. He simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to discipline a class and try to teach them at the same time.

Brian is also the more social of our kids and the thought of ‘loosing’ his friends was difficult for him but his countenance was clear every day he came home from school. There was a problem that had to be addressed. We decided to do a dry run and kept him home on Tuesday for him to get a taste of what it’s like to be taught by your mother. Of course, she didn’t have all the texts or a full lesson plan but was able to give him a good idea. He liked it but still agonized.

The debate that had gone on for weeks hit high gear. It wasn’t easy, but, thankfully, the Lord did guide us. The decision was made, the dis-enrollment form filled out, and personal belongings collected. Interestingly, there was no resistance and instead complete understanding. There were also many ‘off the record’ comments made about ‘all the good ones are leaving.’ That part really pains me in all of this. The school system is really breaking down both within (testing obsessed admins) and without (nobody ‘parenting’ anymore) and I don’t see that turning around. We’d fight, and we did, but we ultimately need to do right by our kids and not let them loose even if there may be a greater good. That’s why Brian’s new school desk is now five steps from the kitchen.

* If you’re a father of a kid in school, please do yourself a favor and ask if they have a WatchD.O.G.S. program. It’s an awesome way to support your kid and their school.

UPDATED: Fixed a few typos. Maybe I shouldn’t blog at 6 AM.

See you in a month

May will be an interesting month for me. I’ve been challenged to give up the Internet, TV, and other distractions to focus on more redeeming things like spending time with my family, reading, bible study, or old-fashioned things like a good ol’ walk around the neighborhood.

Honestly, I’ve been growing frustrated with the time it takes to “keep up” with things like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader. I first blogged about doing Reader “chores” three years ago and since then I’ve increased the number of feeds I followed and added Facebook to the mix. So, while I may have some DT’s going cold turkey I really am looking forward to what I’ll be able to fill the time with.

Of course, I’ll still “surf” as appropriate for work and will continue with email, but if you look for me online, I probably won’t be there. You’ll see me again in June. Unless I realize I really can live without it.

Have we hit bottom?

No, this is not about the national or world economic “crisis.” This is far more important. I am writing about my work, my job, and my ever-illustrious team of guys at work.

As you have seen in previous posts, tweets, and if you read between the lines, the lack of them, things have been quite stressful at work. Video games, being a luxury, are subject to soft sales when people are worried about their jobs which results in a “do more with less” mantra which can be especially frustrating in IT when things cost what they cost and doing without only works in the short-term. I have also had a position open sinceFebruary which really was needed to be filled back when I was promoted to manager last November.

While the ink isn’t dry, I am happy to say that a fifth member will be joining our elite team of geeks. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that shortly, we won’t need to be doing things part-way due to the workload. We’ll finally be able to get to all those things we know we should but always seem to never address.

Other changes at the office include just that, offices. We’ve moved around and while the current configuration is less-than-ideal, we are working towards a “center of excellence” which will allow us to work more closely with colleagues of another group which will end up making each of us better as a result.

Hope is a good thing, but only if it is realistic. You can dream all you want, but if there is no way to get there, there is no drive. No passion. Not only will things be different a year from now, they will be better and we’ll be stronger, smarter, and most definitely better looking.

In all sereousness, stress has been a frequent companion for most of this year. If it wasn’t for the skill, dedication, and flexibility of my guys, the moral support of my wife, and the strength of my savior, Jesus, I don’t think I would have been able to hold it together. Thanks to all of you.

A quickie on compliments

I just received a compliment from a colleague (a customer) at work today and it made me realize that they are always appreciated. To prove my point, let me ask you a few questions. If you ever got a written compliment at work did you save it (or them)? Would it take much effort to remember one? Might you remember them all?

I hope I don’t sound “whiney” but working in Information Technology is largely a thankless job, though I suppose that can be said for many vocations. If things are working, everyone is happy, but if something goes wrong, you’ll be sure to hear from all sorts of people.

I challenge you to make note of someone who regularly serves you and let them know you appreciate the service they provide. Better yet, let their boss know. Want a radical (albeit Christian) idea? How can you serve them?

Debt is Baaaaad

Becky and I have been really getting into the concept of living within your means and getting debt free. We are currently doing the Financial Peace University program with others from our church and have been listening to Dave Ramsey for a few years now.

I ran across this YouTube video from the movie “I.O.U.S.A.” which goes into detail how our country and, more specifically, our government, has been engaged in the “spend now-save never” mentality. It does a good job avoiding party finger pointing as the problem really is a universal one and more complex than party politics.

Below is a 30 minute abridged version of the fuller movie. Watch it.

A good time in life

Things are really good right now:

  • The people at work are some of the sharpest I’ve ever had the honor to work with.
  • I still have more things to do than time to do it but that is improving daily.
  • My family is healthy (mostly) and we just love spending time together.
  • Becky and I are going to be able to spend some good time together this weekend.
  • I finally got my PS3 back at work and was able to get a new TV for it as well.
  • I really enjoyed my two most recent reads by John Eldridge: Wild at Heart and Walking with God.
  • My progression towards manager is slow but still progresses. In fact I’m being included in a trip next week to visit Insomniac (the studio that produced Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, as well as Resistance: Fall of Man.

I have no question that I am blessed. The real question is what the Lord has in store next and if I’m paying attention enough to not ignore it.

A quote on arrogance

I subscribe to the GodThoughts Wired! mail list written byBrad Reichesand it’s been a good daily devotional. In one of the most recent ones, he had a really good quote on arrogance:

ARROGANCE IS FOR THOSE WHO

HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED ENOUGH

CONSEQUENCES.

I may come off as too conservative, but, in my opinion, in this day where parents want to be their kids’ friends and most everyone not wanting to offend people, there are far too many people who have not experienced enough consequences for their actions.