08
Sep
13

Coming Home – Belize 2013

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As one of my missionary sisters said: “I’m not entirely sure why blogging just hasn’t come naturally to me this year. I could speculate, but when it comes right down to it, I’m really enjoying the simple things about just plain being here. While last year’s experience was colored by processing new cultures, new people, new sights, and new ways of life for the very first time, this year feels more like coming home.”

Now I know it’s not just me struggling to recount this alternate life. It seems like there isn’t much to tell. When you revel in the very work you do, its hard to pick out certain moment and say, “This one. Yes, this one is my favorite.” It’s just another day in paradise.

Of all the things we experience and re-lived in Belize this year, this simple revelation is my greatest take away: paradise is anywhere I am in the middle of God’s will carrying out His kingdom work.

Back in the states, I’ve started college and missions training with my church. As rough as this 55 hr work/study/training week is, I’m still in paradise. My God is on the move… and I see it more clearly every day.

Summary from the Spring and Summer

I spent the Spring Semester working with these incredible dudes at the Texas Capitol. Here is a re-cap of that experience.

Texas Watchmen

Jeremy Newman, Trent Williams, Ben Snodgrass, Paul Hastings, Yours Truly, David Huber

Also during that semester I took Perspectives. This was a phenomenal class that added God’s vision for the nations to my apologetics foundation. Every Monday night we would listen to a different speaker take us through a portion of the Biblical narrative. This class doesn’t discriminate in its application to any sort of occupation. Whether you want to go into missions or not, this class is for you… because we all are called to advance God’s Kingdom.

Summer

This summer I worked with the Georgetown Recreation Department taking kids on high adventure trips. Yes, it was my dream job… and yes, people pay you to do this. You can see some photo’s here.

And now… I’m back at Texas A&M working toward a double major in Rangeland Ecology and Geographical Information Services. Fun? You have no idea.

Blessings!

20
Aug
13

Your Key to the Capitol


 
 
Your Key to the CapitolI used to think that influencing government was restricted to calling legislators and voting. Now I understand that any group of dedicated individuals can directly influence laws through lobbying. This is your key to the Capitol. It’s not necessarily easy, but when we neglect the institutions of our liberty… it begins to crumble into a chaos of regulation.

If  you have a friend to help and some fundamental tools, lobbying certainly isn’t hard. Plus, this kind of “Raisn’ Cain” is pretty fun! Whether you’re a one woman army fighting for our second amendment rights or six college guys working for THSC, lobbying is your key to the Capitol and here are some helpful tips you should know before you dive in:

Five Practical Tips on Lobbying:

Tip 1: Focus

It is a mistake to go into the Capital and say, “I’m just going to keep an eye out for any suspicious bills and kill them as they come.” That’s a noble thought… but you’re not the legislator, only they can do that. Even if you were a legislator, to approach law making that way would be setting yourself up for failure. You must be proactive, not reactive. The first steps to being proactive is finding your focus, setting some goals (do you have a bill you want to pass?) and sticking to your guns. It will take discipline and determination, but that comes more readily when you have friends.

Tip 2: Find some friends

THSC WatchmenUnderstand that even some of the “smallest” issues at the capitol will be a handful for just one person. Like the example I mentioned in the intro, you can have a one person army. Even then you still need sponsors for your bills and a crowd of supporters to make calls and write emails.

When you head to the Capitol, here are four kinds of friends that are crucial to have:

Sponsors: Unless you are paying for your own lobbying licensing fee, housing, food, and transportation, you may want to consider searching out an already existing organization or a group of like-minded others who will fund your efforts. For example, THSC covered our expenses in exchange for our full time volunteer work. Check with your local Tea Party too.

Authors: If you have bills that you want passed you will need legislators to file and then champion them throughout the session. This is called “Authoring,” where a legislator takes on your bill as if it were his or her own. Just because they are authoring it doesn’t mean that the work is over for you. Legislators are busy people. You are going to have to walk the halls keeping the other legislators informed about your legislator’s bill. You will have to find co-authors, joint authors, and counter arguments and literature against it. Then you feed what you find to your legislators staff so that they can use it to better your bill.

Team Members: Consider finding like-minded friends to go at it with you. Here are a few different functions that are best assigned to a specific person:

  • Leader: you need someone to keep the group focused on the goal. It’s best if your leader has some prior lobbying experience. Paul Hastings was our group leader and he had lobbied with THSC before. Because of this, he knew the strategy and a lot of the personalities at the capitol.
  • Lead Policy Analyst: the lead policy analyst heads up the efforts of the Policy Analyst Team. It is a very good idea to find someone who has experience in law for this (like an attorney or law student). If you are focusing on a specific topic area, this lead analyst will make sure that the team reads every single bill that might be relevant to that area, write (or delegate) the writing of legislative literature (for or against a given bill), and lead brainstorming sessions with your whole crew.
  • Policy Analyst Team: this can be made up of as many people as you think are necessary. The THSC Watchmen had two policy analysts plus the lead policy analyst, and this worked great. Each of the guys we had understood how to read and decipher legislation.
  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and you-name-it are tools of mass destruction for you. It is imperative that you not only use them, but have someone who knows how to use them well. These social media tools can help you reach your crowd of concerned likeminded friends who didn’t even know you existed.
  • Public Relations: Similar to social media, there is also print media (magazines, newspapers, etc), and visual media (local TV outlets). These media outlets are very important for giving your group credibility (a.k.a. klout) with legislators and your community. This person works on getting as many appointments, press conferences, articles, and show slots as possible and makes sure you are well represented at each occasion.

Followers: You need to find a large group of people that feel your pain for a certain issue. Build a facebook page, website, make calls, speak at conferences, do whatever you need to do to get the word out and get a following. Wield that social media to build some tight communication within your group.

Tip 3: Organize your tools

There were 11,678 bills were introduced during Texas’ 83rd Legislative session (extended sessions included). How in the world are you going to keep track and find all of the bills within your focus area? Texas Legislature Online is the tool to master if you want to effectively keep up with bills. Go to the website, click the “My TLO” in the menu, and create an account with them. This way you will have access to all the bill searching, tracking, and notification tools it has. There is a feature where you can set the topics you are interested in and TLO will send you any bills that match those topics as soon as they are filed. You must continually keep up with it though. New bills are filed daily and you need to be perpetually checking to make sure they are actually relevant to your focus area.

Tip 4: Establish and Evaluate Hot Spots

All the action for your bill is going to happen with certain legislators, in specific committees, and involve certain interest groups (other than yours). Find out the who, what, when, where, and why of these folks and meetings. These are your hot spots and you must never let them off your radar. Make it a policy to know what’s what and when.

Tip 5: Build Relationships

All the previous steps are useless if you don’t build relationships. Politics is all about relationships. Lobbying is all about relationships. This is good news for you if you are pretty social and you have the time to invest in the legislators. The bad news is that its time consuming. However, other groups are wielding this connection power to your detriment and have gotten some pretty crummy laws past. That’s why you’re here: to give those groups some competition. Go invest your life in the lives of your leaders. Give them something valuable, don’t just be another pesky visitor. Once you build a relationship with them, your interests will often become theirs.

That’s the gist of it. Focus, find some friends, organize (and become proficient at) your tools, monitor those hot spots, and most importantly, build relationships.

Tell me how it goes!

17
Feb
13

Watching the walls of Texas

Working at the Texas Capitol has really been an interesting learning experience. I live in an apartment with five other guys, we try to cook (more on that detail later), and we work to make sure Home School and Parental Rights are protected.

Now we are one of the lead stories on World Magazine’s Website.

God is good.


WORLD | Watching the walls of Texas | Alyssa Foster | Feb. 15, 2013
.

Here is my thought and I want to know what you think.

We are a pilot program. To our knowledge, no one has ever entrusted their entire legislative agenda to six home school graduates, like THSC has done, before.

Can, and will, this idea be effectively used nationally? Do you think it should be tried in other states? What about the National Government?

As to how effective our program will be, we will find out as Texas’ 83rd Legislative Session progresses.

Can it be used effectively by other states and even nationally? I wholeheartedly think so. This is the next step in putting the care, control, and upbringing of children back in the hands of parents.

Will this project be replicated? Depends on if the word gets out.

If you think this program is needed in your state, share this article with your friends. Like the article on Facebook and tweet about it.

I will keep you updated as to how things go here at the Capitol.

God Bless!

01
Feb
13

Crisis of the Boy Scouts

If you would like to see my tame analysis of BSA’s recent leadership considerations and how it would effect home schoolers (as it would effect all fathers and sons) follow this link because THSC put it on their website! Read it, Like it, Share it… or comment about why you didn’t.

The BSA leadership is voting on this amendment February 5-6. Call in before then and tell them not to compromise!

Tweetables

“Don’t let BSA compromise its principles.” Tweet it!

“Scouting sets a clear standard for manhood. Encourage them to continue doing so.” Tweet it!

“Oppose allowing homosexual men leading our young men.” Tweet it!

“Liberal left is seeking to take possession of our young men by applying financial pressure to BSA.” Tweet it!

19
Jan
13

Note to Self

O dreaming man,
You waste your strength with planning,
You exhaust your mind with intensive training,
How little you truly know,
How little you can do.

Have you forgotten?

Are not your thoughts meant for the One who gave you the ability to contemplate?
Is not your strength meant for the One who filled your chest with iron and your hands with skill?
How is your mind a tool only for you?
Did you endow it with it’s efficiency and miraculous purpose?

O Lord,
How little I truly know,
My being is worn out from striving,
You know the heart and plans of a man,
You guide his steps and make his purpose sure,
You fill his life with good things.
I shall not want.

But…
One thing I do ask of the Lord,
This is what I seek…
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
That I may gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,
And seek Him in His holy temple.

Selah

03
Jan
13

How to catch Pearls

Catching pearls is the art of being a life long learner.

I like useful, practical, and tactical ideas. It turns out that other people do too. These “pearls” are in high demand and if you aspire to do great things you will need cornerstones, words of wisdom, and advice other than your own. There is a saying that goes something like, “getting a really great idea normally comes after you have gone through a lot of not so great ideas.” On a similar note, not every clam has a pearl. When you mine for gold, what do you find? Rocks, dirt, and mud.

This is common sense. We tend to forget, however, to be ready when, after sifting through the sand and dirt or cracking open that 150th clam, we do find that priceless nugget.

We are continually encountering new ideas weather we like it or not. We already know that a few of them hold some priceless treasure (like the honest critique of a friend or a suggestion from some one smarter than you). The question is: How are you going to catch that falling star?

How to Catch Pearls:

Define your pearl…

What is it that you are aiming to catch? What are you looking for?

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” C. S. Lewis

Psa 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.”

Only God has what you want. Make Him your chief end and the real rest, best, and the most come with Him… but not in a way you would expect.

Always carry a net

If you are going to catch pearls, you have to carry a net. I didn’t realize how much I was missing until I began carrying a 4″ x 6″ black notebook to record ideas, phrases, and advice as I heard them or they came to mind. It soon filled up and I am actually writing this post from it.

This “net” can fit in your back pocket and is the pen and paper you need when those lyrics for the song you’ve been writing finally pop into your head. It can also hold prompts for profound thoughts that come out of the mists of contemplation.

This is a tried and true method of catching and making the most of the treasures you may come across. Here are a few great minds who used pearl catching nets: (Compliments of The Art of Manliness Crew.)

Mark Twain
Alexis de Tocqueville
George S. Patton
Thomas Jefferson
George Lucas (still a great mind… even if he did sell Star Wars.)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ernest Hemingway
Benjamin Franklin
and the list goes on…

Hang around places where pearls tend to roll

You are very much made by the company you keep. Surround yourself with a group of Godly friends: people who are smarter than you; people who are honest. Try creating a Mastermind Group to facilitate this kind of community.

Once you find those people, listen to them.

The company you keep is not only with people, but also with books.

Read… Don’t just read books that entertain. Read books which inspire you to act, which give you the tools for success, which not only open doors to new worlds but also uncap the fountainheads of revelation.

Then make note of what you find.

Pay attention

To catch pearls you have to pay attention. To retain them, you have to note them. To solidify them, you have to write about them in the context of your own ideas.

That is why I blog.

Share Your Pearls With Care

I love the book of Proverbs. After reading it over a few times and thinking it through, I realized that Proverbs (and any proverbs in general) are not words to quote at other people. They are words to live by.

In the same way, pearls are not for throwing at other people. They are for you to live by. They are meant to crown your head, adorn your neck, and shine from your fingers.

However, wise counsel is made from the delicate sharing of pearls. That said, here is my conclusion:

Pro 25:11 “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

Tweetables

If you enjoyed the post, share it!

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” C. S. Lewis (click to tweet)

Psa 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.” (click to tweet)

“Only God has what you want. Make Him your chief end. The real rest, best, and the most come with Him, but not in a way you would expect.” (click to tweet)

“Read books which inspire you to act, give you the tools to succeed, and uncap the fountainheads of revelation.” (click to tweet)

29
Sep
12

Interviewing Skills with F. Lawrence Coleman

Learning Interview Skills with F. Lawrence Coleman at the enVision Conference

Why is a manhole round?

How would you answer that question if you were interviewing for Apple or some other company in the future?

When most people answer this question in an interview, they do a stellar job of being exceedingly…

Boring.

When you are in an interview for that job, what will be your “wow” moment?

How will you be remembered? What do you want to be your lasting impression? What will be your overall theme about who you are and what you are?

What can I do in this moment that will be uniquely different than anyone else?

The following questions from F. Lawrence Colman are a great resource for your interview preparation.

Before you go, this is the to-do list you should go through:

  • Verify the particulars.
  • Where is the interview?
  • Google whoever is interviewing you.
  • With whom will you be interviewing?
  • What time is the interview?
  • Know the company.
  • Name of the company.
  • Age of the company.
  • Products or services of company.
  • Where do they rank in the industry in size and sales.
  • Current problems of company Chief Competitors.
  • Geographical location of position.
  • Be prepared to tell them something they don’t know about their company.

Interview killers

  • Showing up late.
  • Poor grooming.
  • In appropriate dress.
  • Smoking is no longer acceptable behavior.
  • Bizarre behavior.
  • Lying about anything.
  • Not necessary to share any and everything.
  • Watch your body language.
  • Failure to look them in the eye.

What employers seek in a candidate:

(Can you do the job? Will you love the job? Will you actually take the job if I offer it to you? Will you fit in with the rest of the group? Will you make me look good?)

  • Knowledge of the company and industry.
  • Relevant education and work experience.
  • Focus (One team, one fight).
  • Communication skills.
  • Personal characteristics.
  • Initiative.
  • Motivation.
  • Flexibility/adaptability.
  • Teamwork skills.

Effective networking (especially at career fairs)

  • Don’t show up and throw up.
  • Write a script ahead of time of what you are going to say.
  • Be succinct, pleasant and confident when contacting a resource.
  • Do not “drop in” on individuals without their permission.
  • If you are calling based on referral of someone else, provide that person’s name at the beginning of the conversation.
  • Keep email messages succinct and to the point.

STAR Interview type, (typically only used for interviewees with experience.)

  • BE HONEST, don’t try to be clever.
  • Situation, what occurred?
  • Task, what needed to be done?
  • Action, what did you do?
  • Results, what was the outcome?

5 Key principles for Wow moments

  • Appearance.
  • Know the companies culture.
  • Introduction. They ask, “how are you?” don’t answer, “fine.” FINE = feelings I’m not expressing. Answer, “I’m perfect.” Latin root for perfect is perfectus and it means “complete.”

Potential Questions you will encounter and warnings for your responses.

  • Tell me about yourself. (Its an ice breaker, they really don’t care about you. Give them something they will remember.)
  • Tell me two things that you think you could improve upon. Or what is your greatest weakness? What can you tell me about my company? (Answer this honestly)

Potential questions that would be in your best interests to ask:

  • What do you feel are the key skills to be successful in this position?
  • What strengths do you feel I bring to this position?
  • What concerns do you have about my background?
  • Ask for the job.
Think Tank session with the enVision Conference

Think Tank session with the enVision Conference

Luke Macias speaking at the enVision Conference




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Who’s What’s his face?

If you really want to know...;) Nathan is a 21 year old home school graduate, Eagle Scout, Christ follower, pro lifer, College Kid, Speech and Debate Alumni who wants to be a Real Man. A big brother to three little men and an Aggie (whoop!) he loves Jesus, music, people, the outdoors, traveling, carpentry, musing and manliness the way God meant it.
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