Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’

What do YOU do when you’re stumped?

June 9, 2014

I still remember the first time I found myself really stumped in my marriage.  Jealousy, mistrust….got to the point where we could not even talk about the situation without anger.  I remember driving down the  road screaming at the top of my lungs,  the “f” word being used quite freely.  Did not know  how to proceed, was this “issue” going to be part of our relationship long-term?

Somebody shoot me.

Very painful memories.

I am not proud of how I responded, but neither am I going to sit here and beat myself up.  I simply had not been equipped to deal with heavy-duty issues in marriage.

It was at this point in my life, I met Ron at a men’s retreat.  Ron was about 10 to 15 years older than I, very normal, down to earth guy who just happened to pastor a local church.  He was not a nerd.  Was not all “spiritual” and otherworldly.   Just a normal guy who happened to be a pastor.

What an original idea ;-)

Well, I found out Ron was married, and out of sheer desperation,I approached him on the side and asked if there was any chance I could set up an appointment to meet with him and his wife (and my wife) to see if we could untangle this issue at home.

It was a watershed moment in our lives.  Within 20 minutes we had.   His wife had normally not sat in on his counseling sessions, but in my mind, I wanted to hear from both of their perspectives, and I wanted to ask both of them candidly if they’d ever dealt with jealousy, and mistrust in their relationship?

Why in the world would a person spend years being stuck by some painful “life issue” when if you could find someone you trusted,  and you took a risk, you could find the insight to move past or cope with it???/

Pride, fear, or ignorance

I had all 3, and decided from there on out life was too short to let some “issue” suck the life out of me if I was unable to find the answer on my own.

I would find someone who was able to help us (me) get unstuck.

Hold that thought.

Two weeks ago we attended a marriage workshop on the topic of “emotional reactivity”  at the recommendation of someone who knows us well.  Premise is this,. all of us have “baggage” from our past, and sometimes (yea right regularly)..we bring that stuff with us into our adult relationships…and what to do to identify it then move past it.

In our case, there is some PTSD in our relationship,and I thought, couldn’t hurt, maybe we’ll learn something that will help us get past some of the “patterns”
After we got back from that workshop, I was sharing it with a friend, who  questioned the value of looking @ that sort of stuff in our lives…he didn’t use the words “navel gazing” but that was the implication.   He said, most of the people in the world today do not waste their time on this sort of stuff, nor did most of the people in times past.

Hummm..I said, yea, and I know from personal experience, there was a lot of dysfunction in my family of origin  going back 2 generations…and for you to tell me, they did fine with it, is a complete bunch of BS.  They went to their graves, carrying the pain of abuse, alcoholism etc.  So here I sit this morning, thankful.

Thankful I am not stuck in several of the patterns I brought with me into adulthood. End of Rant. DM

peace and quiet

June 30, 2013

aspire to live quietly

Chris and I were doing our normal random conversation gig @ coffee break last week.   I told him @ this point in my life “peace and quiet” are a high priority for me.  I proceeded to quote something I’d  written on an index card, which I have stuck on the dash of my truck..

Aspire to live quietly…to mind your own affairs… 

He jumped in and finished it, “to work with your hands, so that you may command the respect of outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

Wow, I said..I’m impressed! 

Turns out, when he took my truck to town earlier that morning, he read (and liked) that  verse as well, and had already started putting it to memory.

If it were possible for you to crawl into my head and  listen to the self talk that goes on behind the scene, you would discover  I actively, (even ruthlessly?)  guard and pursue some very basic and simple things in my heart and mind….

peace and quiet


It has not always been this way, and I would be the first to tell you, I have not yet arrived.


I am miles down the road from that season in my life where I thought it was my job to stay  continually  busy…especially in the arena of “christian” outreach and  service.   Youth group, men’s group,  couple’s group,  Sunday school, worship service, body life service, weekly Saturday work days.  Yep,  what I just described to you was a typical week in my life from 1985-1988…oh, and I forgot to mention, one day a week attending counseling classes @ CCEF, coming home at midnight to a wife and  2 small children, only to get up and go to work @ 6 AM the next day.

Someone compared my life to a gushing fire hose.

I still meet people on occasion who remind me of my younger self.  People pleasing, adrenaline junkies, who confuse business and a packed calendar with a productive fruitful life.

Burning the candle on both ends in the name of “ministry”  or  career advancement is not a virtue.   Might  be a way to drown out the inner poverty, but definitely not  a way to live life that  I  aspire to  (anymore.)

Feel free to disagree and do otherwise.  ;-)

side note- (Ever seen an apple tree grunt to produce fruit?…. – No, me neither)

At one point, Chris  said  , -“As the outer, so the inner.”

“What does that mean,” I asked?

I think it means, the ideal is for our inner life and our outer life  to match.  Not just look peaceful on the outside, but practically speaking experience peace on the inside.  

(Now isn’t that a novel thought, I  thought to myself)

I’ll close  with a quote from the book The Anxiety Cure by Archibald Hart which also continues to shape the direction of my life :

You can’t escape the realities of our high-stress world.  You certainly can’t turn back the clock to simpler times – although, I must confess, this is a wonderful fantasy that I occasionally indulge as a form of escape.  I frequently reflect on the many happy childhood times I had with my grandparents.  They lived a simple, country life.  They were totally self-sufficient, tilling a small piece of land and raising their own food. ….With only a shortwave radio to connect them to the rest of the world, life seemed siple yet luxurious to me as a child.  There was a sense of unhurriedness and simple pleasures.  All the money in the world couldn’t buy such luxury in today’s world.  It is not for sale; you have to create it.”

I’ll close with some random pictures  from our  home, which we’ve created since that painful fateful season in my life when  I stopped confusing business with fruitfulness:

August night2012

to the east


crates in the cooler2011

sq ft gardening4

Things I wish someone would have told me…

March 23, 2012

I was asked to give a 30 minute presentation to a group of high school students  this morning at a job  and career fair.

I was asked to talk about on how I got into construction, what I look for  when hiring someone, etc.

I wanted to tell them  things I wish someone would have told me when I was their age…

Here are some of my notes…


When I was your age, I did not have a clue as to what I wanted to do when I finished high school.   I felt the pressure of having to decide what I wanted to do with my life and I               just            didn’t                    know.

Several of my peers were planning to attend a state university.  (currently this year, that school would cost you about $21,800 for room, board and tuition)

I thought to myself , why spend thousands and thousands of dollars  just to party????   (I could do that and still live @ home) :-)

So, I decided to work for a year in construction, save up some $ and see where things were at in a year.

My grandma was very disappointed her eldest grandson decided  not to go to college…

After a year , I realized I LOVED my job.

I loved the variety of what we did.

I poured cement, assembled metal buildings….

I loved the fact that my job moved around.

I loved that my job kept me in shape.

It was mentally stimulating.

The pay was good  and the potential was there to make more.

My days would just fly by.

What I’m telling you is,  I got into construction by accident.

Years later, I came across this quote that has become one of the touch stones of my life:

“Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”


Quick story about my sister

My sister Karen  is a realtor

She  gets   paid on commission….no sales/ no paycheck :-(


Does anyone have any idea what a realtor makes?  (  answer: they gross between  3% to 7% on a sale typically)

So, if she sells a $150,000 house, she will gross between $4,500 and $10,500 for that one sale.

Karen  was telling me about some training her company was paying for her to attend…my ears perked up when she told me it was being put on by Dale Carnegie. Their seminars on leadership training are  not cheap/  but the information they cover can translate into thousands of additional dollars in the course of your lifetime.

If I had the  money, I would pay for each and every one of you to be able to attend.

It  is just that good.

I can’t do that, but I can do the next best thing….  I can tell you where to go to get the information they cover and it won’t cost you a cent.

You don’t even have to buy a book.  You can check it out @ your local library:

How to Win Friends and Influence People.

It is an easy read.

I read it 25 years ago and  to this day, I regularly apply things I learned from that book.


Finally, I want to talk to you about the unlimited earning power of your mind.

If I get paid by the hour, there is only so much I can make in a week…if I get paid $10.00 per hour, and work 40 hours, that’s $400 gross.  If I really bust my chops and work 60 hours..that’s $600 a week.  but that’s a long week.  Even if I were to get paid $25  or $50 an hour..there is only so much I can make by myself…

Let’s say I start my own business…XYZ painting company.

I have 2 employees.  So in addition to my hourly rate, I also can make additional $ off the people  that works for me.  I pay them a good wage….plus overhead..and when it’s all said and done, I might make an additional $10.00 per hour off each not only am I making $25.00 on myself, but also an additional $10.00 per hour on my co-worker.

Then let’s say I bid on painting a parking lot…I bid it for $2,000 and get the job…we end up getting done early…after expenses I make an additional $500.00…so not only do I make my hourly wage, plus profit on my employees, I also make an additional $500 profit on the job…  I am now  working with my mind, in addition to my hourly paycheck.

Nobody ever talked to me about these things when I was your age..they just encouraged me to get a job.

I would encourage each and every one of you to think about starting your own business.

An honest profit is not a dirty word.


Finally, I want to talk to you about the importance of knowing how to get along with  people.

There is more to a job than just having a skill.

You can be the best finish carpenter in the world, but if you have a dark, brooding personality, I won’t want to work with you.

People are people…sometimes when I order something through the lumberyard, things happen.  maybe it get’s lost, or back ordered, or there’s a mistake.  If I get angry and chew out the person on the other end of the phone…how are they going to feel?  (maybe hurt/ then get mad)  I guarantee you they are not going to recommend me to the person that comes to the store looking for a good contractor.  So keep that in mind when you’re dealing with people.

Learn how to get along with people and you will go far.


and finally, here’s a link  titled
A modern take on Carnegie’s how to win friends and influence people

Arne Saknussemm

February 24, 2012

In 1864 Jules Verne wrote  Journey to the Center of the Earth, a fictional story of 3 men, following in the footsteps of a Mr Arne Saknussemm, to the very center of the earth.  They encountered trials and situations beyond their wildest dreams.  At certain critical points, they would discover the name:

(Arne Saknussemm) carved into rock. That meant that in spite of what they were going through, that yes, they were on the right course.  Arne had been through this very same area and had returned to the surface to tell about his adventure, so they could keep pressing on.

I became a Christian May 4th 7:48 PM 1980.    Since that time, I have on occasion found myself in various  trying situations , some relatively short-term, others that caused me to stumble for weeks and months. For the most part, I have felt alone as I would attempt to gain (or keep) my spiritual bearings. Most of the mentoring that God has used to keep me on track has come in the form of good books and biographies.

While I am thankful for all of those timely books, I believe there is a better way….somebody who could have looked me in the eye and said, “Yes, I hear you,” or “Yes, I too can relate to what you are struggling with,” or “What you are going through happens more often than you might suspect.”

I am not talking about quoting verses about this or that, or telling you to “claim the victory” or other cheap trite platitudes.  Rather, as one battle hardened, battle- weary soldier to another.

All of us, sooner or later, to one degree or another, will taste many of the same pains:  Addictions, depression, grief, loss, betrayal, rejection, slander, loved ones who wrong us in a significant way, other Christians who turn on us, etc. etc.  Really, the list is endless.  Not one of them will come into our lives without first having to pass through the hands of God.

Even as Satan (yep, I do believe he’s real) could not touch so much as one of the hairs on Job’s camels without God’s permission, so too, nothing comes into our lives without the same permission.  There is not one harsh word, one look, one bit of slander, not one wrong doing that comes into our lives without first passing through the nail- pierced hands of Jesus.

Let me close by sharing a few things  I learned when I passed through an extended season of depression and discouragement, at a time where I lost all but one my closest friends,  and my life goal suddenly disappeared right before my very eyes. (I’m not talking about some short term, project, but something I had invested years of my life.)

#1  My focus was to remain “connected” and “soft” to God and  other people.  when I was tempted to get angry ( I was and you will be)  I could not afford to harbor bitterness.  Instead  I needed to pray God’s best over their lives.  I did it, and so can you.

#2  I wrote out my inner turmoil on paper.  Gradually it helped to clarify the many feelings and thoughts swirling around in my head.

#3  If you are depressed, you are in great company.  Elijah, David, Spurgeon, Luther, Winston Churchill and a host of modern day Christians have walked where you are walking.   Sometimes, it’s not due to any wrong doing on your part whatsoever.  Sometimes it is as simple as “burning the candle on both ends.”  Vince Lombardi put it like this; ” Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

#4  Schedule some R and R into your life. (Remember Elijah?  God sent him to a B and B (well sort of);-) to recharge)

#5  Seek Godly counsel, someone removed from your situation with whom you can “unpack” the whole tangled mess.  My experience has been that some of these things are rather complicated.

#6 Don’t beat yourself up, cut yourself some slack, be patient with yourself.


I originally wrote this back in 2000.  Since that time, I’ve dealt with the sexual assault of a daughter,  some heavy duty marriage stress,  one child landing in jail for drunk driving, just to name 3 significant life events.  I’m still on track and plodding .  DM

Into The Woods

April 6, 2010

     “Did you know there is an old abandoned apple orchard back in the timber just west of your parents?    I bet there are at least 20 to 25 trees.”

        My buddy Jim   told me about this orchard last Summer.  My first thought was-  why in the world would I want to mess with more apple trees-  We  already have  100  of them on our acreage, which is more than  enough to keep me entertained.   ;-)

     My curiosity got the best of me last Fall however and I decided to stop-  to see what I could see.  And what I discovered got me excited. 

       There in the middle of a timber was an old orchard filled with heirloom trees- apple varieties  I have never seen before.

    One of them especially caught my eye- White, firm and sweet. .

       That discovery set in motion my latest project- grafting

 I marked the tree the white apples were  on and made a mental note to come back this  February.

   I’d attended a grafting workshop last April and  knew I needed to find some new growth if I wanted a successful graft.  The first step is harvesting the young branches at pruning time while the tree is dormant.

    You’ve probably seen those apple trees you can buy with 6 different varieties of apple on the same tree- here’s how that works-  it’s not the root of the tree that determines the variety of apple, but the branch.  

     So I pruned 20  small watershoot branches off this antique  tree this past February, wrapped them in a wet paper towel- tucked  them in the walk in cooler   I ordered some  semi dwarf  (EMLA7 ) rootstock off the Internet and will do the actual grafting this week.

     There are a couple of important tips to this type of graft-

#1  make sure the very outer layer of the branch and rootstock line up-  The life of root flows into the branch through this layer.

#2 make sure the joint is completely sealed. 

      I had  a profound spiritual insight as I’ve learned about grafting-  In many ways, you and I are like the different varieties of apple trees in my orchard.  We are not alike- the attributes of our Braeburn trees (see picture below):

are different from our  Suncrisp: (See picture below)

     Both of these trees are attached to the same rootstock (Semi-dwarf- also known as EMLA 7)   and yet, the color of the fruit, the time of year they mature, whether they make a better eat or cooking apple, on and on…that is determined by the branch not the root.

        So too, as individuals,  you and I  have different gifts, different interests, different personalities and yet, in order for us to have a fruitful, abundant life, we need to have a firm spiritual connection to our creator.   This union does not take away my individuality.

     Why are we so afraid to be different from the pack ? 

     And in terms of fruitfulness, apple trees go through various seasons-  they need those times of dormancy  to recharge for the next seasons crop.  Just because the branches don’t have any leaves on them – let alone apples, doesn’t mean the tree isn’t alive-  it is very much alive.  I could go on..but don’t want this to sound like a sermon ;-)  if you’ve read this far- I’m impressed.  your friend DM

Winding Down

March 14, 2010

     “People have schedules.  Plants have cycles.  People will stay up late, get up early, skip meals, cut corners, drive too fast, and otherwise work themselves into a frenzy to get something done in less time. 

      Some people live their entire lives this way, rushing from one thing to the next…   Plants aren’t like that.   Plants know just what is meant by “the fullness of time….”  Joyce McGreevy


     Before I started blogging in 2007 I had an e-mail group  I corresponded back in forth with also called “heart to heart”- this went on for several years.      

     There came a point however where I felt the creative urge begin to dry up so I quit sending out those “heart to heart” e-mails.  As a result, I lost touch with 90% of the people on my e-mail list.    Several months later,  I discovered the world of blogging, and for the past 3 years  this blog has been my personal window  to the world- giving anyone who cared, a glimpse into my  heart.

When I started blogging I….

    -purposed to keep it real

     – tried my best to stay off  the soap box

      -tried to stay away from rants

    – and tried to stay away from spewing “trite platitudes”

      My thought was, if someone took the time to read my musings , then I owed it to them to keep it real.

    Well,  for several months now, I have felt  that familiar sense of  “winding down” of my creative juices on this blog  s0 I’m thinking it may be time for a change. 

       I know most of my regular readers @ this point-  Many of you are on facebook- some of you I’ve even had the privilege to meet in person…so assuming this blog is winding down,let’s  stay in touch  either on facebook-email, or come for a visit :-)

    If you do read my blog but have never left a comment, I would love to hear from you.  Anyone that blogs knows knows most of us wonder who in the world is out there reading our “stuff” 

    Well, time for my Sunday afternoon powernap. DM

John Piper’s Prodigal son

November 25, 2009


    We were driving down Old Mt Vernon Road tonight headed to Mercy Hospital then  Home Depot.   As I listened to 101.9 FM KNWS on the radio   my ears perked up when I heard the name   John Piper in the same sentence as  “his prodigal son” Abraham

     John Piper is a widely respected Christian author and pastor.  He’s a little deep for me but he’s the real deal.  And to think that even he and his wife had dealt with a prodigal son in some strange way gave me hope. 

     At this point in my parenting journey, I  am still carrying the heartache of prodigal children-  Fortunately, we have great lines of communication with each of them,so  I’m not going to post something on the internet to in any way jeopardize that. 

     Here’s a portion of what I heard on the radio tonight:

      When I was 19, I decided I’d be honest and stop saying I was  a Christian.

     At first, I pretended that my reasoning was high-minded and philosophical.  But really I just wanted to drink gallons of cheap sangria and sleep around.  Four years of this and I was strung out, stupefied and generally pretty low.  Especially when I was sober or alone.

      My parents, who are strong believers and who raised their kids as well as any parents I’ve ever seen, were broken-hearted and baffled.  I’m sure they wondered why the child the tried to raise right was such a ridiculous screw-up now.  But God was in control.

     One Tuesday morning before 8 o’clock, I went to the library to check my e-mail.  I had a message from a girl I’d met a few weeks before, and her e-mail mentioned a verse in Romans.  I went down to the Circle K and bought a 40-ounce can of Miller High Life for $1.29.  Then I went back to where I was staying, rolled a few cigarettes, cracked open my drin, and started reading Romans.  I wanted to read the verse from the e-mail, but I couldn’t remember what it was, so I started at the beginning of the book  By the time I got to chapter 10, the beer was gone, the ashtray needed emptying and I was a Christian.

     The best way I know to describe what happened to me that morning is that God made it possible for me to love Jesus.  When He makes this possible and at the same time gives you a glimpse of the true wonder of Jesus, it is impossible to resist His call.

     Looking back on my years of rejecting Christ, I offer these suggestions to help you reach your wayward child so that they too, would wake up to Christ’s amazing power to save even the worst of us.

1.  Point them to Christ

      Your rebellious child’s real problem is not drugs, or sex or cigarettes or porn or laziness or crime or cussing or slovenliness or homosexuality or being in a punk band.  The real problem is that your child doesn’t see Jesus clearly.  The best thing you can do for rebellious children-

4.  Don’t expect them to be Christlike

     If your son is not a Christian, he won’t act like one, and it’s hypocrisy if he does.  If he has forsaken your faith, he has little motivation to live by your standards, and you have little reason to expect him to.

     If he’s struggling to believe in Jesus, there is little significance in his admitting that it’s wrong to get wasted, for instance.  You want to protect him, yes, but his most dangerous problem is unbelief- not partying….

12.  Point them to Christ

    This can’t be stressed enough.  It’s the whole point.  No strategy for reaching your son or daughter will have any lasting effect if the underlying goal isn’t to help them know Jesus.

     The goal is not that they will be good kids again.  It’s not that they’ll get their hair cut and start taking showers….the goal is not for you to stop being embarrassed at your weekly Bible study or even for you to be able to sleep at night, knowing they’re not going to hell…”


If you’d like to read this  whole letter check out this link

Well, we’ve been invited out for dinner so I need to go-  DM

My Journey out of Crippling Shyness

November 4, 2009


“The shell must break before the bird can fly. “
       – Tennyson

      Len was a carpenter on my dad’s construction  crew when I was 16.  He was in his 30’s – single, quiet, hard-working, and painfully shy.  I remember thinking to myself ,  – if I didn’t somehow  get a handle on the shyness in my life, I would turn out just like Len –  and that thought   scared the crapola  out of me ( Crapola  is Low German for Hell BTW )   ;-)

     From the 7th grade until my senior year in high school,   I can  count on one hand the number of one on one conversations I had with girls.  That is no lie-  my mind would  go blank, I would mentally freeze.

     In addition to being shy, I  struggled with low self-worth- I’m sure they are interrelated.   I thought I was ugly- my ears were too big, I hated my name, and I was a very late bloomer.   When I read the story of the Ugly Duckling, I totally see myself in that   bird.   

        Shyness does not have to be a life long curse, though I seriously doubt it will go away on its own.  

  Here are some  snippits  from my own journey out of shyness in random order:

 #1 I made a decision-  I was going to rid myself of shyness,- one way or the other. 

#2- I asked for help.  I remember asking two of my  cousins to line me up with some of their friends while I was still in the dating game.  Those first dates helped crack the shell of my shyness

#3  My growth was gradual but real.  To use a word picture- looking back it feels  like I spiraled my way out shyness: 


#4  Side note-  I am thankful for my years of shyness now- Why? 

     Two reasons- It gave me a sensitivity for people who struggle.  Secondly,  I would rather start out shy and learn how to be more confident than start out haughty and turn people off by my arrogance.

#5  I took  a class in conversational skills.    I attended a weekend workshop where we roll played things  like how to have a conversation with a stranger @ a party.  It was fun :-) !    Being a good conversationalist is a learned skill- what are you waiting for?

#6  I see my inner life as an ongoing personal improvement project.   I read and applied books like    “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.   It should be mandatory reading in school.

#7  Cultivate the spiritual..   Spiritual vitality and inner confidence are  related.

#8   The battle is  won or lost in my  mind-  It had nothing to do with the size of my ears, or my name (both of which I  now appreciate)

     I’ll never be the center of attention at a party or a dance.  I don’t want to be.    That was never my desire. 

To use a word picture, life as a shy person was like listening to music on an AM radio station- vs. listening to good music through a  Bose acoustic wave…you don’t realize what you’re missing until  you have a chance to compare the two.

    How about you?  Do you wrestle with shyness?  In your case- what seems to be the reason(s)?   Do you have any tips for someone else?


Real Masculinity (According to me)

October 3, 2009

     “The hands of a brick layer, the heart of a poet.”  

                           Saumel J Kirkwood/ Former Governor of Iowa

kirkwood-hammer certificae

     I’m probably going to step on a few toes with this one, but you know what,  I’m not going to lose any sleep over it

     I’ve been given the  privilege this Fall of teaching  8 young men in a construction program.   I am 30 plus years removed from my High school days- a season in my life I would not want to repeat. 

    Since completing High School,  I’ve spent   30 years together with the same woman- (and we still like each other), We’ve raised 4 children now in their early to late 20’s- ( and  have  a healthy  relationship with each of them).     

       In addition to  teaching , I’m a general contractor.

       I am a people person, and have known and worked alongside literally dozens of men (and women) in the construction industry with every personality type you could imagine.- I n all these years, there is only 1 man who  hated my guts-  a  former bible college graduate twerp with a mouth.

       I love pouring cement, stick framing a roof, riding motorcycles, writing poetry, baking my grandma’s rye bread from scratch, shooting  a  semi automatic rifle,  working in our  apple orchard, stacking bales in the haymow, butchering chickens,  bringing my wife and I coffee in bed

     What am I trying to say? My feet are firmly planted in real life.

      When I was a young man ( like the guys in my class)- there were very few healthy role models- at least role models of what I would consider a masculine male-             Most of the “masculine” males  were either stoic males without emotion, or jocks whose sole purpose in life was to “get some”…great qualities to have in a future husband don’t you think?

      I  am here to tell you, a real man can be tough and know how to stand his ground, but he can also be tender, and know how to admit when he’s wrong.         Real men  are in touch with their feelings- regardless of what anybody else may be telling you. 

    One of my best friends  from New Jersey  would probably be  thought of as stoic by   the rest of the people in his life….and yet, I’ve gotten to know the man behind the mask- I know things about him his wife probably  doesn’t know-  he can be  funny and  fun loving as anyone , he cares, hurts, worries,  just like you and I- but I’m guessing you (and his wife ) will  never see this side of him  unless you established a level of trust with him.

     I love working with the biker/just got out of jail types.  I love to look them in the eye and mess with their minds.  Three years ago,I spent the day with Johnny- he was helping out a friend of mine remodel a building.  Johnny was on work release- muscular, in his mid 30’s- I came with my sawzall, and  chop saw with a diamond blade.  My job was to cut a hole through the side of the masonry building 2 stories in the air.  I  looked Johnny in the eye and said,   ‘”I’m afraid of heights”  (because I am) :-) 

     He looked @ me and said with a little sarcasm, “Man, what kind of carpenter are you,  afraid of height?”

     About 1/3 of the way into the process, there was an accident- Johnny, accidently stabbed me with my sawzall- new blade, with pigeon dung on it- slid right into my forearm like a steak knife-  we made a trip to the emergency room..2 hours later, we were back- my arm all stitched and wrapped up.  I couldn’t leave because we had to finish the project- I had the tools and know how…I watched Johnny as he struggled with the chop saw- it was driving me nuts..finally, I said, “Let me have it”-  I grabbed the saw with both hands and went back to work- two hours later, we were done-  Johnny, looked @ me when I finished with the saw  and said, “Man, you are one bad @#s .”

     Music to my ears. 

     Thoughts, comments, questions?


My New Teaching Gig

September 3, 2009

me sitting in the office

      Standing in front of the class today I began to diagram how to frame  the rough opening of a house window.  I looked at the marker in my hand and gasped- it said “permanent marker

       I grabbed the eraser, took a swipe at the black  line- nothing happened , so I grabbed the spray bottle full of cleaner,  saturating the board, the black line began to bleed.  The students loved it.   ;-)

     This is my second week of teaching part time in a local community college.   I’m teaching  a series of  construction related  classes.  One of the things you want to keep in mind as a teacher is to start each session  with an attention grabber -this certainly was.

   As I set up the syllabus (class outline)  for the class,  I decided to grade the students in  3 areas- information,  their notebooks, and attitude.(also called “professionalism”) 

     Information changes.   In my mind, what’s the point of memorizing tons of random bits of construction trivia  if 10 years from now it’s obsolete.    Only 50% of their grade will be tied to knowing facts.

     In the work world I inhabit,  a person’s ability to get along with their peers (and customers) casts a much larger shadow than most people realize.  This sort of stuff was never mentioned in high school  when I was growing up.  You either pick it up later   (or not) after  you graduate.     

        In my class, it counts for 30% of your grade.  What I’d really like to do is make it count for 70%  :-)…. maybe next year. 

     Finally, I”m asking all of the students to keep a 3 ring binder for the class handouts.  In it there is a section for a glossary, class notes, field trips,  review sheets, the course syllabus, etc.

     This also ties into what I”ve discovered as a businessman- it’s called keeping a “paper trail“-noting important conversations.  Who I talked to, when I talked to them, what we discussed.  It’s making copies of anything  I send in to the insurance company, Big Brother, I mean the IRS.

      Document, document, document.

     In my mind, if I have one year to shape young minds, I’m going to   impart some things they can take with them, no matter what career path they choose.

     Last Friday, it was time  to do some review, so we played a combination Jeopardy/ Wheel of Fortune.  I needed Vanna White, so I e-mailed our school administrator who is a great sport..  She agreed to be Vanna,  she came in for  30 minutes while we  reviewed Safety, Loads, Footings, plans and specs, Concrete, etc.

      Here’s what you would have heard….

      Concrete for 10 ….
“Your friend built a new home just two years ago.  He calls you up to tell you the driveway in front of his garage door has developed a large crack.  What do you suspect is the reason?”

Safety for 50

      “What do the initials PPE stand for?”

      And finally, here photo from my other job illustrating something my dad taught me several years ago….

“Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.”

bucketing mud1

Here’s  of 3 of us cleaning the mud off of our footings after pumping 5 feet of water out of the hole…here’s what it looked like before we got the water out:

4 foot of water

I love my job(s)  :-)  Thanks for reading along! DM


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