Beginning a new year and reflecting on the past!

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Today I received a letter from a former employee of Quakerdale.   In the context of the letter he mentioned the value of Quakerdale to the kids that he served in his tenure.  I can attest that when people know you are from Quakerdale they come and they tell you how their life was impacted by it.  Maybe personally or a family member or friend who made important changes in their lif
e.   They received the things they needed to “become.”

I’ve had people on the street, at conferences, in campgrounds and through social media share their stories of growth.  It is inspiring!

How great it is to be a part of a place that helps people “become.”

As 2017 is about to begin  Quakerdale is seeing sweeping changes.  Are they changes we want?  Usually not, because we like good things to stay just like they are!

The nature of things is to change.  We must stretch beyond the comfort of where we are today in order to meet the calling of God for us tomorrow.

It is a bittersweet activity!

Today I reflect on the people we have interacted with for decades and I celebrate them!

  • I revel in their “good”ness for children!  I think of the miracles we have witnessed in lives changed.
  • I ponder how many generations of children and children’s children have been impacted by the changed lives through Quakerdale.
  • I celebrate the super individuals who have shared their lives by working at Quakerdale with our kids.
  • I consider how our workers made our world better.  How they made me better!

Let us celebrate what was and move forward into what will be in 2107 and never forget to share the good news of how Quakerdale has made a difference!  Even better let’s look forward with anticipation how God will  work through us in the years and decades to come!

Have a Merry Christmas and a great 2017 and I hope you will keep Quakerdale in your prayers!  God is doing a great work here!

In Christ,

Robert C. Talbot

Executive Director
RobTalbotB&W_SMALLER

The Greatest Present

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One of the great things about working at Quakerdale is the investment that our leadership puts into staff at all levels.  One of the ways that occurs is through reading books and having discussions with co-workers about how we can make improvements in the areas that are outlined in the book.  The Present is a book that we recently went though – it was a very quick read, but had some significant points that were made through the story’s fable. Spoiler Alert – I am going to tell you what the Present is, so keep reading at your own discretion.

The Present has a fable that is the main part of the book, but is bookended by how others introduce the fable to others and use it in their lives.  In the fable, there is an old man who gives out wisdom, much like Yoda, a little bit at a time to a neighbor boy as he is growing up and through adulthood.  He lets the young man know that there is a Present that everyone can have that will make them happy and more successful, however they define success.  The young boy doesn’t understand what the present is and for a long time believes that it is something that someone would give to him.  Once he becomes a young man in the business world, he is passed over for a promotion that he expected, even though he did not put in the necessary work.  He also has a girlfriend who breaks up with them during that same time.

Through introspection alone in nature, he discovers that the Present is actually the present moment.  If he is continually focused on the future – what he will do later after he gets off work, when he get the promotion, after he is in a committed relationship, etc, rather than what he is doing right now, he is distracted and not in the Present.  By focusing on what is happening right then, he is able to enjoy doing what he needs to – including doing tasks he put off because he believed them to take too long or be too difficult.  He was more attentive to those around him and was able to enjoy relationships more.

After a while, focusing on the Present only got him so far and other conflicts arose.  He was working with another person who wasn’t pulling her weight, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get it done by himself on time.  He returned to the old man and learned about the impact that the Past can make.  The old man suggested to him that he learn from the Past, apply it to the Present, and then move on.  The young man went back and addressed his concern with his co-worker, who made improvements to her performance and they were able to work better as a team.

The young man was doing well with learning from the Past and focusing on the Present and he received promotions and increased responsibilities.  With the increased responsibilities, he had difficulty prioritizing and he sought out his mentor.  The old man talked about planning for the Future – by planning for the Future, the young man did not need to be anxious or overly-focused on the Future.  He needed to come up with short term and long term goals to keep him on the right track and engaged in the Present.

Eventually, the old man died, and the young man went to the visitation.  He was surprised to see how many others the old man had impacted – there were people of all ages there.  After some reflection, the young man realized that the old man had lived his life with Purpose – he was trying to “help others become happy and successful” (pg. 74).  The young man then began passing along what he learned to others around him.

Here is a great video that also paints a picture of the book:

 

The Present has several good ideas on ways to focus on the Present, learn from the Past, and plan for the Future and is worth the time to read.  While the book does not delve into spiritual matters, I believe there are ways to incorporate what God tells us.  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

When we are anxious about the Future, we can remember the following passage: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:31-34 NIV

How we define success is an individual decision, although God, through the Bible, gives direction.  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:36-39 NIV.  By focusing and being Present for our lives, we can better do what we’ve been instructed to do in the Bible.  How many times have we missed a chance to focus on God in the Present, being thankful for all He has given us?  When have we missed an opportunity to serve others because we were so wrapped up in the Past or the Future, we missed what was right in front of us?

357bc0742fe714f139cc99eb3df2daabSarah Zollar, on behalf of the Quakerdale Team.

Johnson, S. (2003). The Present. New York, NY: Doubleday.

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Rest Easy

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One of the big issues that impacted our recent restructuring at Quakerdale had to do with a lack of employees willing to do the jobs we needed done. I was reading about a survey done with workers hired to do the types of helping jobs Quakerdale hires and the results were interesting.

Tom Woll, a consultant to non profits like Quakerdale, recently interviewed three hundred workers in our field what it would take to stay at their position for two years. (Just two years!)  Tom stated that the answers revolved around five issues associated with the work: Stress, discouragement, belonging, purpose and fulfillment.

These were Millennial workers exclusively and all of them had concerns about the work that were very practical. They felt like the work they were doing was beyond their skills and that their training didn’t prepare them for the task. This led them to feeling discouraged and stressed out. These feelings of discouragement followed them home and had a negative impact on their personal lives. Many stated that if they do not feel calm in their work they will leave.

I know we all like to feel encouraged, stress free. We like to feel that we are fully prepared for the task and that those around us show appreciation and give us the feelings of purpose and fulfilment.

Where do feelings of stress, discouragement or belonging, purpose and fulfilment come from?

The last time I checked lasting feelings of contentment and well being  don’t come from others. The process of growing and “becomming” demands stress, anxiety, challenge and general discomfort.  Then we move to the next level and become the person we can ultimately become.  Then we better know our purpose, where we belong and what fulfils us.  Have you ever went and listened to a survivor story?  Someone who overcame something really terrible?  These people know who they are and it is because of the difficulty they experienced.

We as parents, friends or co-workers can model how to overcome hardship and take on challenges because we all have them.  We can find contentment in the midst of the trials and challenges of life even if our challenges are not bad enough to put us on the 6 pm news!   When we are modeling how to handle these challenges we must allow our kids  to experience increasing levels of hardship or challenge when they are young.  Kids who face difficulty or challenges experience stress and discouragement. Kids can learn that belonging, purpose and fulfilment come from going through difficult things instead of quitting.

So where are you helping yourself or your children avoid something difficult? Are you actually helping your child grow if you allow them to avoid the problem or fixing it for them?

Today try to take a look at life through the lense of growth and remember good things always require extra effort and they don’t come easy! Then we are better prepared for the next hard thing that always comes!

James chapter one is the place I go when things are hard in my life and I realize I am in a growth opportunity. You see as the old hymn says: “My hope rests in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” You see when our happiness is dependent on others or even the circumstances of this world we are surely going to be disappointed. Teaching our children, co-workers or our friends how to find happiness isn’t quitting or avoiding. It has to do with where we put our trust and happiness and how we go about our lives.

on-christ-the-solid-rock-i-stand

I want to share a great song with you with an introduction in a concert. Not only are we expected to extend ourselves as in James chapter one, but then we can also rest easy knowing God will carry our burdens!

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