Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 in cities

01 - Denver, CO, USA
02 - Milford, CT, USA
03 - New York City, NY, USA
04 - Cambridge, MD, USA
05 - Budd Lake, NJ, USA
06 - Hacienda Heights, CA, USA
07 - Secaucus, NJ, USA
08 - Bridgeport, CT, USA
09 - City of Industry, CA, USA
10 - Southbury, CT, USA
11 - Sumter, SC, USA
12 - Hilton Head Island, SC, USA
13 - Zurich, Switzerland
14 - Vaduz, Liechtenstein
15 - Geneva, Switzerland
16 - Barcelona, Spain
17 - Valencia, Spain
18 - Malaga, Spain
19 - Tangier, Morocco
20 - Estepona, Spain
21 - Malaga, Spain
22 - Washington, DC, USA
23 - Dallas, TX, USA
24 - Herndon, VA, USA
25 - Crystal City, VA, USA
26 - Death Valley, CA, USA
27 - Whittier, CA, USA

[2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 in cities]

Excellent year in travel and our family has, maybe obviously, always valued travel. One long standing personal goal has been to get to outside the US once a year, another goal is #50in60, 50 countries by the time I turn 60, in 2029. This year, I added four countries to the list, the last one being Morocco which was country #32.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

2023 in Books

01 - Ruse, Robert Kerbeck
02 - Hidden Genius, Polina Marinova Pompliano ^^
03 - Metanoia, Alan Hirsch ^^
04 - Gonzo Capitalism, Chris Gulliebeau
05 - End of Story, Andrew Perriman
06 - The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday **
07 - No Happy Endings, Nora McInrney **
08 - It Didn't Start With You, Mark Wolynn
09 - Righteous Brood, Hugh Halter
10 - Essentialism, Greg McKeown
11 - Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck
12 - Same as Always, Morgan Housel **

^^ - didn't quite finish yet
** - best reads of the year

Monday, November 13, 2023

Monday, October 23, 2023

October 2023 Update

Well it has been forever. Hello.

Ember is still in business. But it is more like special projects these days. I've been on the board of directors for Communitas since early 2021 and that has been a fun perspective. I've also been helping with some organizational things with The Salaam Center. Intersections among these three have also been fun. As always, if we can help the young people that you know get involved in cross cultural leadership, get in touch.

I attended a one day conference called Renew at National Community Church [yes, still an unhealthy obsession with NCC] in September and although I had understood the ideas of sodalities and modalities from the Perspectives class, one of the sessions there really gave me some insight and focus for things Ember maybe should be involved in moving forward. Apostolic structures for apostolic people. Picture above [edit: via Tyler at Missional Labs]. If you want to chat about this over coffee, get in touch.

Deanna and I were in Europe for a few weeks this summer and traipsed to some new countries along with spending time at a Communitas gathering in Malaga, Spain. I have a goal for 50 countries by the time I turn 60 years of age, in 2029. I'm also potentially having a 60th birthday party to celebrate, in either Chamonix France or Valencia Spain and you are invited. Maybe make some plans. #50in60

Our oldest Katie finished grad school in May and started working for the Los Angeles Homeless Authority. Emily is a senior at Biola and graduates in May. Both are doing great and we will see them for the holidays.

Last week was a series of visits and meals with various people doing interesting things around the world - the current Communitas board chair, a young couple leading training starting in Kansas City, another young couple in London transitioning to the Balkans, a semi-retired couple helping mission teams in our local church, celebrating the one year anniversary of a church plant run by a dear friend in Baltimore, structures with The Salaam Center. A front row seat across the world.

Saturday, April 01, 2023

In Honor of Leslie

I first met Leslie in 2003, she was a high school junior and my wife and I had taken on a little project at our church to get kids interested and involved in community service projects, get kids out of the church walls, and maybe a little more. Leslie was probably just out of the adolescent angst phase, barley probably, because she would tell my wife and I that "Tammie Brettschneider was a saint." But just over the angst, because like some young people that age, she wanted a faith that mattered and if that meant bucking the status quo of American suburbia, than damn the torpedos. I mean, who wouldn't love that in a 16 year old? 

Over the next number of years, Leslie would invade our lives with that sarcastic wit, that ball of energy, that maturity and spunk, those random weird faces. From a high school student that led her peers to give up a Saturday for various community service projects, she transformed into a passionate, intuitive, intentional leader of teams. Throughout her college years, she would help me lead 4 different international high school teams, one to Brazil, one to Cameroon and two to Hungary. 

In Brazil, she befriended our missionary host family like an old friend had come to visit, doing the dishes, helping the boys with homework, folding laundry. In Cameroon, she helped me fend off a mutiny by a smarter than her own good 10th grader. Once in Paris, she took our team of 10 to the Eiffel Tower because I was sick in bed. She was a leader that did what needed to be done. 

As our team prepared for our second time in Hungary, she helped orchestrate special events every evening for the kids of missionaries. Pirates and Princesses, Wacky Tacky, Campfire nights. Third culture kids are a special breed - unique family experiences, different concepts of home, conversations go deep quick. One of the many images stuck in my head is Leslie hosting a dinner table for middle school girls every night for dinner. No secret now, but she loved people who were going through the unconventional. 

Our family was young during these days, our girls were 10 and 6 when they along with my wife started joining these teams, the two to Hungary. Those are some of our family's fondest memories and Leslie, of course, interspersed that season of life. She lived with us one summer, she babysat frequently and was around a lot. In that season, there was a lot of work around planning, logistics, who does what and where. But underneath it all, there was a lot of dreaming. Dreaming about what we might inspire the next generation to do. Dreaming that apathy and indifference would be put on the shelf for a season. Dreaming that students would sacrifice their all for those hurting and less fortunate, based on the One that first sacrificed for us. Leslie loved to dream and her dreams were the best of ours. 

When I started a nonprofit to do this same kind of thing outside of a local church, Leslie was one of the first names that came to mind for my Board and she served with us again for another eight years. Towards the end of that season, she was fully devoted to her career and we slowly lost touch, which is a current regret of mine. But her wit, spunk, and dreaming all continued to inspire us over those years. 

20 years after I met Leslie, she is still one of the most remarkable people I have ever known. She made our dreams come true. As it says in her obituary, dearly and daily missed.