Sunday, February 28, 2010

The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Leaders

Some good thoughts....


Sent to you by Brad via Google Reader:


via What's Best Next by Matt on 2/27/10

From Dave Kraft's Leaders Who Last (Re: Lit Books), here's his list:

  1. They spend too much time managing and not enough time leading.
  2. They spend too much time counseling the hurting people and not enough time developing the people with potential.
  3. They spend too much time putting out fires and not enough time lighting fires.
  4. They spend too much time doing and not enough time planning.
  5. They spend too much time teaching the crowd and not enough time training the core.
  6. They spend too much time doing it themselves and not enough time doing it through others.
  7. They make too many decisions based on organizational politics and too few decisions based on biblical principles.

He then adds:

Notice in particular numbers 2, 5, and 6, which have to do with the kinds of people you spend time with. I say it again: the people you spend the majority of your time with can and will determine whether you are an effective or ineffective leader.

The fact is that many people in leadership roles gravitate toward hurting, draining, time-=consuming people because they have a need to be needed. They want to help people, to be there for people. If a leader has strong mercy gifts, leading becomes more difficult. Simply put, if you need people, you can't lead people. There is an inability or lack of desire to make the tough calls, speak the truth, or do the hard things. Motivated by a fear of disappointing people, this inability will seriously hamper and work against your ability to lead.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

"I am a Family Man"

"Family Man" from Trevor Little on Vimeo.

My Ethiopian Genes II

Just to update the blog world on My Ethiopian Genes, I wanted to let you know that I had another person this week tell me that Makaria and I look so much alike.

And for the record, these have all been Americans, not Chinese. I know that doesn't sound like an important part of is.

So, that's person #3 that has now told me that I look Ethiopian.

And I have told Brad that saying to a very white person that she looks Ethiopian is a very random thing to say. So, just imagine how many people have actually thought it and been too embarrassed to say anything :).

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I will tell you that there are days where the "inner me" feels a lot like 'Trinity' from The Matrix. I lay in my warm, comfortable bed, with the call of devos, prayer, and eventually the needs of my children shouting in my ear "GET.UP.CARRIE." I have found myself actually quoting that line from The Matrix.. "GET.UP.TRINITY." Seriously.

I picture myself laying at the bottom of the stairs with over sized guns in my hands and urging myself to get up. Sometimes it works.

But there are other times where my day feels more like this lovely specimen of grandmahood. Slow to get going. Wondering if the 'Price is Right' will be motivating enough to get me out of bed in the morning. On those days, I want the world to function without me. I want someone to come and take my arm, pull me out of bed and give me hope that not only will today not air a rerun of "The Price is Right," but that today will have many graces and wonderful treasures to discover from the Lord.

There are two verses that recently have been helping me get up and get going in the morning.

Psalm 90:14 "Satisfy me with your steadfast love in the morning so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."

The other one I read this morning comes from Isaiah 33:2 "O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble."

On the mornings that I allow these two verses to penetrate my mind, I feel like this wonderfully equipped lady here. I realize my utter inadequacy to make my day worthwhile. But I feel equipped to get up and tackle the needs of my family and community at large. And it's not because I am chanting over and over again "GET.UP.CARRIE". It's quite the opposite. It's because I serve a God who has promised to be my "arm every morning" and my satisfying love everyday.

And it's for those reasons that I can live like this:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Ethiopian Genes

I wanted to document this in the eternal archive of the blogsphere. And, my husband thinks it's funny, so I will share...

Over the course of our adoption journey, I (Carrie) have had two separate people, separated by a few months, tell me that I look Ethiopian. I, of course, was not at all surprised. I've always had this seed of doubt that I am a whitey through and through. You see the woman holding the little girl in these pictures above? I think that is what I would look like if I actually were Ethiopian. A little game we like to play is to find the Chinese equivalent of people who are not Chinese. I found myself doing it in Ethiopia too. It's weird when you find someone that looks like you though.

Hubs mocks me at how proud I am that those two people mentioned my Ethiopianess. I think he's just jealous.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Whitney Houston and Pampers

You know what that is? It's the last bag of diapers I'm going to buy. We've decided to start potty training Makaria. I know it seems a little early because she's only 19 months old. But I think she's actually a few months older than that and she's showing signs of being ready. But let's be honest, I'm also tired of changing diapers. It's been 8 years straight that I've been changing those things. I'm feeling very empowered at the moment. We just started 2 days ago, but we've already seen a ton of success. And we really aren't being very consistent with it. But she's sitting on her duck potty all by herself and going. So we're seizing the day. "Carpe Diem!"

I was further empowered today while in the grocery store. It was there that I decided I'm going to declare that I have bought my last bag of diapers. It's risky I'll tell ya. As I was swept into a wave of doubt at the mission in which we've embarked, I was seized by a Whitney Houston song. It was this same song that I listened to on my tape player before my gymnastics meets when I was a wee little one. I would listen to "The Greatest Love of All" over and over again until I felt like I could make the judges want to name an acrobatic move after me. All of the sudden, as if angels were descending upon the cracker isle, Whitney began to sing to me: "I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way..." It was at that very moment that I knew that Makaria could indeed succeed in my "last diaper bag" pact I've made. Because Miss Houston has declared it.

So I'm left with only one bag of diapers and one box of wipies standing in my way to finding victory and because "I've decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows. And if I fail, if I succeed, at least I live as I believe."

(as an epilogue to my little moment in the grocery store, 2 songs later I heard "Doe, a deer, a female deer. Ray, a drop of golden sun...")

Monday, February 08, 2010

Thailand getaway

This is normally what I look like when I walk into a zoo. I hate zoos. They are sad and oppressive and weird to me. The last zoo I went to in America was in St. Louis and I'll tell you that I had a melt down at the gorilla cage. I cried and cried and had to run out, pretending a mosquito had flown unknowinly into my eyes. It was awful. I won't even get started on the zoos in China. It makes the zoos in the States look like a five star hotel.

But this is happy me at the zoo in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Why? Because the animals are all out in the open. This zoo would never pass regulations in the States. The animals are kind of just all over the place. You'll see in pictures to follow that we can get really close to them and feed them and pet them. It's wonderful. The Thai people are about the most laid back people on the face of the earth. Their zoo definately reflects their view of life.

Here's Malachi feeding some animals grass.

Ok, so admittedly the penguin cage was a little sad. "Hey zoo people, it's ok to eliminate some of the exhibits if their natural habitat is the exact opposite of yours. Just stick to the African animal side of things and you'll be just fine."

I love this picture because it very much represents our entire time in Thailand. I went with just my oldest two kids. We were there for a home school conference. But while there, we met up with several friends. The zoo day was so much fun because we had 10 kids and 6 adults. It was fun because both of the families I was with that day had 4 kids. So we all understood exactly what life was like. It was a blast. We laughed and played and had a fantastic time. One of the dads in the group retold a story about when we first met them. He said "I knew we'd love to be your family's friends when your son peed in a fountain and you guys just looked at each other and said 'oh well!'" I love both of these familes.

Sweet Selah bear.

I think these are the rhinos. You could feed them too.

This is one of Malachi's sweet friends. They've known each other since they were 3. They often talk about getting married. We wouldn't mind that, we will love the in-laws! We actually thought about telling our kids that it's normal for Americans to arrange marriages. They wouldn't know any different and it would sure prevent some heart ache in the process.

We took some of the kids to a fish foot massage. It was crazy. These little guys nibble off the dead skin and make your feet feel really soft. We paid for 15 minutes and got about 45. Again, it's a Thai thing. Keeping track of time is overrated. We all screamed at first. It was very much a mind over matter thing. There are fish biting my feet and swimming between my toes, yet I'm supposed to not yank my feet out and scream. It was so funny and honestly, our feet felt so good.

It's crazy to think that just 48 hours ago, we were swimming and hanging out in the sun. Now I'm looking at the polluted white skies and wearing a jacket. Ahh, I'm ready for springtime.

Well, Thailand, you've been good to us, yet again. Until next time...

Charis' 4th!

Happy Birthday, Charis!

My baby is 4. And as Charis has discovered: the world is full of possibilities simply "because I'm four." She can do better devotional time....'because I'm four'. She can serve her own food....'because I am four.' The possibilities are endless. When we left the States this last time, she was only 1. So most of our friends in America have yet to get to know her. We'll be back this summer, so we're excited to introduce her to friends and family.

We had a blast celebrating her birthday. We had some good friends in town, so they joined in on the celebration. A little while back, these party blowy things were in a package. Once our kids learned how to do them, they became the instant hit. And, I've decided that I like these toys because they don't make any noise. Toys that make noise were invented by people that have no children.

Since she was the birthday girl, she got to pick the meal. It was cinammon rolls and cereal. We told all the wonderful things we love about her. A few were: she's very generous, loves to serve the family by cleaning in the house, a great big sister, funny, and is full of compassion. Her latest thing is that she hates dolphins because they will eat her dress.

For lunch that day, we headed to a local Western Chinese restaraunt. It was wonderful XinJiang food. The food is much more Middle Eastern in it's taste. It was really good. They use flat bread, and when flat bread is in a meal, it's a gonna be good.

Here's our small village standing outside a local Catholic church. I'm tired of all of our pictures having our couch as our background, so here's this church is my new favorite backdrop.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

My Favorite Biblical Insight from 2009 (and why it matters to all of us) --Part 2

How does the insight from Romans 6:16-18 discussed in the last post relate to parenting?

First a verse:"As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him." (Psalm 103:13)

This verse has massive implications on our view of Scripture and parenting. We spend much time teaching people how to interpret and understand the Bible, often forgetting how our experience will contribute or hinder that process.

In some respect, my children’s ability to perceive the Lord’s compassion rests on their seeing a picture of it in their father. This is a weighty reality that I can hardly bear. I recall thinking to myself a few years ago, “I can’t teach them this. I’m not all that compassionate. How can they understand this verse?!”

Romans 6:16-18 has helped us understand our moral inability. God alone is the one who frees us such that we are able to obey from the heart. This is not our own choosing. HOW does this relate to parenting?

I frequently lack patience with the mistakes of my children that are due simply to their being children, i.e. from their clumsiness, forgetfulness, poor judgment, short attention span,…. Yet, they can hardly change since they are kids. In much regard, they are unable to do anything else. I tend to have too high of expectations for others and myself.

To address this, I must know what the Bible says about sin and what I have learned from experience—I am unable to change my own heart. I have been a slave to sin and my freedom was granted to me as the cost of Christ’s life. I have a far more serious inability. Theirs is typically intellectual or biological. Mine is moral. The weight of this struggle, my fatigue resulting from my moral impotence ought to ground compassion for my kids, whose weaknesses are relatively minor.

As I have wondered how to become more compassionate, it helps to grasps the full measure of compassion shown in the gospel. Christ did not merely overcome a legal problem—my guilt—He overcome my heart.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

My Favorite Biblical Insight from 2009 (and why it matters to all of us)

The well of gospel waters is deep. I am constantly being made aware of what the cross accomplishes not merely accomplished (past tense). Many people know that the New Covenant [i.e. what Christ’s blood enacted] includes the forgiveness of sin; few seems to notice or relish that it also includes God’s giving us a “new heart”, “causing us to obey” His words [Ez 36:27; Hebrews 8, etc.]

ROMANS 6:16-18

But savor with me Romans 6, which unpackages this for us. Paul writes, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

Verse 16 clearly says we are all slaves, either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. There are no other options. Absolutely no one is a “neutral” seeker. Verse 17 clarifies for us what this language “slave” means, particularly being a slave of righteousness. Being a slave of sin is contrasted to becoming “obedient from the heart” to God’s word taught through Paul. To be unambiguous, Paul adds in verse 18 that this precisely means “having been set free from sin”. Being set free from sin does not mean we become sinless, but rather we are now free to love Christ, which we could not do before until God sovereignly choose us. This is why the idea of so-called “free will” is so potentially dangerous. It tends to obscure the Biblical concept of freedom and replace it with a Stoic, worldly, philosophical concept.

To be clear, notice who Paul says is responsible for this saving freedom, this radical change of heart—God. In verse 17, Paul says “Thanks be to God…” We don’t thank someone for something unless they actually did it. I don’t thank my one year old for the meal my wife graciously prepared. We can learn much about God’s nature and work by reading those places where God is thanked. This helps us now understand Paul’s rejoicing in Romans 7:25, after discussing the tension every Christian feels between remaining, indwelling sin and our new Spiritually imparted disposition, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

To be continued…. How this should affect our parenting

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Open Secret of Christian Maturity

From the Gospel Coalition blog:

It’s important to note that in these verses Paul doesn’t pray for something the Colossian Christians don’t have. Rather, he prays they will grow in their awareness and understanding of what they do have. Christian growth doesn’t happen by working hard to get something you don’t have. Christian growth happens by working hard to live in the reality of what you do have.

I used to think that when the Bible tells us to work out our salvation, it meant go out and get what you don’t have—get more patience, get more strength, get more joy, get more love, and so on. But after reading the Bible more carefully I now understand that real gospel fruit happens, not as we “work harder” but only as we continually rediscover the gospel. You could put it this way: rediscovering the gospel is the hard work we’re called to.

You see, the secret of the gospel is that we become more spiritually mature when we focus less on what we need to do for God and focus more on all that God has already done for us. The irony of the gospel is that we actually perform better as we grow in our understanding that our relationship with God is based on Christ’s performance for us, not our performance for him.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Hard but Clear Words on Why Evil Exists

Every day, there is a new reason to ask why does God allow evil to exist? Why doesn't he stop this or that from happening? Why better answers would require more time, here's some concise help from Exodus 9 and 10. They are directly from God's mouth, as he explains the plagues and why he tolerated the wickedness of Pharaoh, including Israel's slavery.

Exodus 9:14-16

For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.

V 14 say God is the one who would send the plagues. Verse 15 says he is tolerating Pharaoh's ongoing evil. Think of the extensive suffering that resulted both from the plagues and Pharaoh's rule.

Yet, verse 14b and verse 16 tell us why he ordained those evils as well as all the ones we see today, "for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth."

Exodus 10:1-2 echoes this idea again, though God's action in verse 1 raises the theological stakes:

"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.""

Sadly, our contemporary Christianity has no place for God's glory. It makes no sense to us that God's self-glorification would ultimately be most loving to His people. We tend to be a short sighted people.
For Further Reading:

AP article on Matt Chandler's Cancer

This is a good summary from the AP on Matt Chandler and his cancer.
Here's the most recent video update:
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