They Came To Sing..

12716370_10153942536174747_3112089178121282089_o.jpg

I sat there amidst the many.

Overwhelmed, my mind raced. It was like a thousand hearts had found their way to mine in the blink of an eye. What could one ever do to prepare for this?

Many had walked for hours just to see us. What brought them there? ..to find hope? What brought me there? ..to offer hope?

Behind each face was a story. “What was theirs?” I pondered.

With no translator, it was just me. Sitting there on the grass under a hot sun, I was surrounded by children. I mean, literally surrounded by children. So much so that my glasses began to fog up as sweat began to pour down my face.

With bracelets on their wrists, they began their wait. It was day one of our medical clinic near the Burundi border in Southern Rwanda.

Everything happened so quickly. One moment I was standing there trying to grasp what I was witnessing and the next.. I’m sitting there amidst these sea of faces.

“What do I do?” I quickly asked myself.

I then smiled what must have been a nervous smile as I looked at these precious children that sat before me. Amidst the scars, the wincing eyes, and what seemed like blood streaming down the face of a little one like beads of sweat from underneath the hat they were wearing, my heart stopped.

I had never felt the burden of a thousand prayers in a single moment before like I did right then. I had also never said a thousand prayers in a single breath before, either.

Sitting there staring at one another with all the curiosity of I can’t even begin to describe, the music begins to play and with this, the children began to sing.

With no hesitation and without even knowing the language in which they were singing, so did I. How could you not?

With this, my heart began to beat again.

If only I could sing over my circumstances like they were singing over theirs. If I could, perhaps I could find hope, too.

This makes me wonder… maybe I got this all wrong? No, I know I got it all wrong. Perhaps what brought them there was to offer hope and with this, what actually brought me there… was to find it?

I am singing.

Photograph taken by Gunnar Simonsen

Time Flies. It Always Has.

13346809_10154216578559747_1753878278954214837_n

Next week, she graduates.

Time flies. It always has.

Some say that parenting is much like archery in that at some point, one must let go (or release) praying you’ve aimed well.

Of course, one never ceases to be a parent nor ever stops.. praying, that is.

I’m beyond proud of her.

She is a world changer with a big heart. She is beautiful, smart, compassionate, and has an amazing sense of humor.

No one could ever get me to laugh like my father did. That is, until she came along.

Can’t wait to see what’s next. It’s going to be awesome.

What an honor we’ve been given to cheerlead her through life.

Many have asked.. what kind of world will we leave our children? I ask in response.. what kind of children will we leave our world?


Thank you Kira for making my world… so much more than I could ever dream or hope for.

Go get ’em!

Love you. Dad

People Matter..

pumping-gas.jpg

I don’t know his name, but I was like his 2nd or 3rd customer as he struggled to pump mine and the other customers gas. He stood out to me. I had been going to this gas station for years, but there was something about him.

He was trying so hard, but struggling so much that he was apologetic. I mean, he literally just started working there a few minutes before I arrived.

I remember sitting there wondering what his story was. We all have a story. We just don’t wake up one day experienced.

He seemed to be one that has not lived an easy life.

Seemingly in his mid-forties, he walked with a limp and appeared to me as one who tried hard his entire life to fit in and just be accepted. You could hear it in his apologetic and quite frankly defeated voice.

My heart felt it. My heart felt it in every last word, as if in each, sat the weight of a thousand lifetimes.. or maybe a thousand rejections.

Looking over my shoulder and out the rear passenger side window, he stood there pumping my gas. I told him he was doing fine and that it would be ok and that there was no need to apologize to me. He paused for a second amidst the other cars lined up and seemed shocked that I would even speak to him and tell him such words.

Why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t any of us? Are we just too dang important, too busy, or just too distracted with our technology?

I told him he would do fine and he would be a pro at this in no time. And then words flowed from my mouth that I didn’t expect.

I told him he was a good man.

You would have thought the world stopped at that very moment. The look he gave me I will never forget. The weight of a thousand lifetimes and the stress of that moment seemed to fade away right before my very eyes.

I told him I would see him soon, rolled up my window, and drove off. Tears filled my eyes. I prayed right then and right there that Chevron would give him a chance and that he would make the cut. He just looked like he needed to catch a break and get that chance.

That was a year ago.

I walked into that station this morning. Standing there on a quick break, he looked over at me and said..

“You know what? It’s been a year this month that I started here and you know what Chevron has done for me? It helped me buy my first house.”

He was so proud and if I hadn’t been there when he first started, I would never have recognized him. He was a different man. He seemed confident.

I don’t know him. And this is not about me. This is about him. I don’t know who else may ever tell his story. But dang it, I will.

He’s a good man. He just needed a break and maybe some cheerleaders along the way to cheer him on and tell him that he matters and that he is indeed, a good man.

We all need that from time to time, don’t we?

I know I do.

Hey, if you have happened to make it this far and have read this entire post, you’ll see what I am about to say to you and know that in this, I believe it with all my heart. Whoever you might be and where ever in life you might find yourself and whatever you might have done..

You matter. You are valued. You are loved.

Here’s the link to the original post from my Facebook page.

Beaverton High Athletic Director Invites Alumni to Homecoming

1172516_164915573701203_1690057367_o

 

As a former senior class president (88) at Beaverton High School, I wanted to pass along this special invitation to this week’s homecoming game by their new athletic director and longtime friend and teacher Mike Blok, or as I still call him.. Mr. Blok.

Here’s his invitation:

Homecoming!!! What does that mean?

Well, literally, it means coming home. When each of us realize that BHS is our ‘HOME’ and we treat each other as FAMILY we’re going to impact lives.

Last Friday night was great victory for our BHS FB team (5 wins, 1 loss –> RANKED 7th in State!), but, I also think it was a great victory for our community as we paid tribute to a young lady named Nathalie Traller. Nathalie was a Sunset HS student that passed away last week from an incurable form of cancer.

Our students, (and ALL the other student sections in the Metro League), PURPLED OUT to honor a young lady that we embraced as part of our family/community.

I would GREATLY encourage you to come out this week and celebrate Homecoming. Let the community, your classmates, and the current BHS students know that you are support them and Beaverton High School!

Plug in to an event or two and celebrate Homecoming with the Beaverton Beavers!! (www.metroleague.org) Friday Night is FOOTBALL vs Southridge 7pm!!

We will give ALUMNI TOURS starting at 5:45pm in the STUDENT CENTER. GO BEAVS!!

– mb Mike Blok, Beaverton High School Athletic Director 2015–> 503-259-4889 Project NANO Co-I GO BEAVS! @BHS_Athletics15

The NEW @RonBlockAKUS Record is a Masterpiece! (My Thoughts..)

12045236_10154367969805752_5412536960826256939_o

A few thoughts of mine on the new record from Ron Block of Alison Krauss and Union Station:

“When my dad went home to be with the Lord, I am most certain it was the sounds of bluegrass that helped call him forth. Dad would have loved this album. I can see him now sitting there in his favorite chair leaning in thoroughly enjoying each and every note as he taps his finger in step with every beat.

This entire album takes me back to that place where dad taught me how to appreciate really good music. But this isn’t just really good music.. this is a masterpiece redefined.

This is one of the best albums I have heard in years, regardless of genre.

Thanks Ron for making my heart sing and my memories with dad.. still being made.. with every listen.” – Gunnar

Get it on iTunes: http://apple.co/1gVhD0b

Golfing with Dad: Remember that one time when…

IMAGE_King-City-Civic-Association_Golf-C

As we left the store on this dark and gloomy day, the smile on my face was as wide as the moon.

Today, my dad bought me my first driver and he would not be denied his first opportunity to take me golfing to test this new club out. The rain was hard. The wind was fierce. We even saw lightning strike a power line on our way to the course.

This was golf in Oregon. This was golf with dad. This was for the love of the game.

A father and son… A new club…

We arrived at the small 9 hole golf course located out in the country. The parking lot was empty. We had the whole course to ourselves as the stormy weather had kept other golfers away.

The first hole was a short par 4 and straight as an arrow.

A metal framed barn sat in the near distance, just past the green about 150 yards… to the left, a country road. We made our way to the green, the rain washing us clean as the wind howled past us on every side.

There we were… just me and dad.

As I stood over my ball preparing to putt, dad was shuffling through his clubs to find his putter.

“SLAM!”

The metal framed barn across the way just got hit with lightning! Too shocked to be scared, I scrambled to throw my putter in my bag. No sooner than I could do that, I turned to see what all the commotion was behind me.

In a flash, several clubs had fallen out of dad’s bag. He quickly picked them up and proceeded to run faster then I have ever seen him run in my life!

Normal protocol for a kid my age was to be overwhelmed with fear. However, thanks to dad’s sprint to the club house, I found myself laughing out loud as I tried to keep up with a sprint of my own.

As we arrived at the clubhouse, my dad, slightly irritated at my laughing as well as my lack of urgency, sought out a “rain-check” for another day.

We did play another course that day. We just waited for the lightning to stop. (Of course that course was flooded, which made for some interesting strategy. But, I’ll save that story for another day.)

And so it was growing up with dad.

We golfed for the love of the game. And now I know that we golfed for much more than just the love of the game… but for the love of the memory.

Thankfully, those memories are many. (By the way, my dad was a great player too. He had a short game that was untouchable.)

I lost my dad in 2003.

What I would give to have one more time on the course with dad. I wish I appreciated then what I so miss now.

Time with dad walking the course.

As he grew older and weaker, he was no longer able to get out and play. Yet still, I would find myself on many occasions sitting with him and swapping stories about this course or that course.

Golf is one of those sports that gets personal for me. I can never play without feeling as if dad is at my side or a certain memory of our times playing a round or two.

Today, I wish I could get out more and play. When I do, I carry that club in my bag and look forward to that point during each and every game, where I pull it out and tee it up.

This one’s for you dad!

Watching The Masters is fun for me. But, to relive one of those memories with dad… priceless.

Without knowing it, dad was making his moments make a difference. In this, he was planting memories for me to unpack years later with a smile.

I wonder now how I am at making my moments make a difference?

I wish I could tell him thank you. But instead, I’ll just pull out that club and tee it up.

Thank you dad!

Life will pass us by, but..

passenger

Life will pass us by. We need not do the same.. to life.

Brief Observations from Sitting Front Row for Late Show with David Letterman

alg-letterman-leno-jpgI had the unique opportunity to be in the studio audience for both The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as well as the Late Show with David Letterman.

Both were such different experiences. Certainly watching Amy Grant and Vince Gill perform on The Tonight Show was incredible and then to go backstage to meet up with them, which also meant standing in a small hallway while Melanie Griffith walked by was pretty surreal.

But the Letterman experience…

It was 10 years ago I got to sit front row for Letterman in the Edu Sullivan Theater. While waiting for the theater doors to open while standing in line inside the lobby, I was struck by the simplicity of the aesthetics of this historic place. I recall dim lights, white walls, and a small framed picture of Ed Sullivan hanging there on the wall.

As the interns came out to pump up the crowd awaiting the band to start, the doors to open, and then to find our seats, you could literally feel the electricity start to amp up the place.

When that time finally came, I was blown away at the electric feel you got walking into the theater while the band was playing. It was the kind of electricity that was intoxicating to the point of all you could do was just laugh at anything and everything.

Maybe that’s why we were selected to be in the front row. They wanted all of the goofballs that couldn’t stop laughing up front. Better for TV.

I don’t remember much about that night other than Ice Cube was a guest along with two guys out in the alley tasked with watching a bowl of water in the sub freezing temperatures. They were to report to Dave the moment the water became ice.

Classic.

For certain, Letterman and Leno will be missed. But for me, the king of late night will always be Johnny Carson. But these two experiences will forever go down as some of the most fun I have ever had.

Snapshots: Each Day, Do This

11189116_932812173406344_139756875_n

“Look for the Light in each new day ..and drive towards it.” – Gunnar Simonsen

Photo by me.

 

Snapshots: What Drives a Message the Farthest is Not Simply..

Moving-Forward

What drives a message the farthest as well as makes it stick the longest is not simply the clarity of the message alone, but also in one’s ability to sustainably execute that which the message is proclaiming in the first place.

While in Beirut to teach my course on message strategy for social media, a good friend of mine shared this statement with a few of us.. amateurs talk about strategies, professionals talk about logistics.

Me? I have since added to this.. and historians will talk about execution. It seems so elementary. But… how often do we miss the mark with this?