End To End Thinking

End-to-end is a key concept in technology. Investopedia has the best definition, in my view, on what the term actually means. “End-to-end is a term used to describe products or solutions that cover every stage in a particular process, often without any need for anything to be supplied by a third party. It also embraces a philosophy that eliminates as many middle layers or steps as possible to optimize performance and efficiency in any process.”

Over the past few days, I have been participating in a course on Accelerating Social Transformation (AST2018). The discussions we’ve had with a variety of social sector actors and players such as: Vulcan, Tableau Foundation, Gates Foundation, and Global Good have reinforced my view that end-to-end thinking is a key concept and practice in accelerating social transformation. Those who want to achieve impact, at any scale, must apply this thinking. However, there is one significant distinction, in my view, between this type of thinking in the technology sector and this type of thinking in the social sector.

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The God of Silence

As I walked through the neighborhood today, it was a gift to contemplate and be reminded of how much one can come to know and understand of God in the silence.

Holy Saturday is a day in which we consider what it means to silently wait. The Christian mystic St. John of the Cross, who wrote in the sixteenth century, said that “silence is God’s first language”. In 1948 Thomas Merton wrote “God [is] hidden within me. I find Him by hiding in the silence in which He is concealed.” In his comments on this beautiful, deep insight of Saint John of the Cross, Thomas Keating, in his work Invitation to Love, wrote: “Everything else is a poor translation. In order to understand this language (silence), we must learn to be silent and to rest in God.”

Many wonder what did Christ do on Holy Saturday? This question has spurred centuries of debate, Continue reading

Stand in the Gap for Vulnerable Children

We know more than ever about how to help children who have suffered abuse and trauma.

(Reposted guest blog post for M.J Murdock’s Thoughts From The Road)

The headline stuck in my head. “Malnourished 5-year old girl found locked in closet under stairs.” It was like a second round of mortar piercing my heart following a news story I happened to read a few weeks earlier: “Thousands of child sex abuse photos found on Wilsonville man’s phone.”

These are not stories I seek out. Honestly, I’d prefer to not know of such horrors. But for the past 25 years my career and calling has brought me face to face with the harsh realities many children face. I’ve seen the impact of abuse and neglect firsthand in countless children served through a variety of programs. I’ve stood beside a loved one coming to grips with years of hidden abuse. I’ve seen the crippling effects of trauma on children’s self-esteem, motivation to live, and ability to thrive.

Along the way we’ve learned a lot about the way abuse and neglect affect children. One significant finding came from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. This groundbreaking public health study Continue reading

Survivor Sunday Reflections

Gun violence is the 3rd leading cause of death for children in America, and 30,000 lives are lost each year to gun violence.

Today, I’m sharing a reflection and prayer that I was asked to write for Survivor Sunday. You can also find information online on the Facebook page. Survivor Sunday is an invitation for churches and individuals to join together in prayer for those affected by gun violence.

Survivor Sunday reminds us to not only rejoice with those who rejoice but also to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). It is a time for us to be in solidarity with gun violence survivors, their loved ones, witnesses, and communities. It is also a time to share hope in the midst of darkness. Jesus told His disciples that some things can only be driven out through prayer. (Mark 9:29) Survivor Sunday reminds us of the power of prayer to change us and the world around us. We have an opportunity to begin a prayer journey. Prayer is fueled by faith (Matthew 21:22), delivers (Psalm 107:28), calms storms (Psalm 107:29-30), opens doors (Matthew 7:7), and calls forth needed resources for the work (Mark 11:24, John 14:13-14). Gun violence leaves a wake of trauma and tragedy in its aftermath. Survivor Sunday reminds us that “because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your (His) faithfulness.” May we use Survivor Sunday to be a light in the darkness, to provide hope in the face of fear, and to seek our transformation and the transformation of others. Let us cry out to the Lord for the healing of our land with full confidence that we will not be consumed!

Let us pray: Lord we come to you in our grief and distress, casting every care upon you. We seek healing for ourselves, our community, and our country from the impact of violence and loss. We offer our mustard seed of faith to you, trusting that You are faithful. We repent of our own indifference, lack of knowledge, or lack of action and offer ourselves to you to be used for positive change. May all those affected by gun violence experience the beauty that only You can reveal in the midst of pain, trauma, and tragedy; we pray this for survivors, loved ones, witnesses, and communities. We stand against principalities, powers, and the forces of darkness in the powerful and precious name of Jesus. We call upon you, Holy Spirit, to comfort, protect, defend, and equip Your people. May we live into our true identity as the beloved children of God and our true vocation as people called to good works, pleasing the Father in all that we say and do in these challenging times.

Start today! Do what you can with what you have right now. If you need to learn more, learn. If you need to say more, speak out. If you need to do more, take action. Prayer is powerful, and it must also be combined with positive deeds that reshape and change our world.

Grounded by God

One’s first image of being grounded by anyone, especially God, looks a lot like the cover photo. We imagine the words coming with a stern voice, sharp look, and even a loud shout. I can say after a year of being “grounded by God” that I had none of these feelings around my experience. I haven’t blogged or really written for a year primarily out of a sense that God was calling me to restrain myself from these activities. It took me some time to recognize the feeling of restraint as being grounded.

Why might I call it being grounded. The primary reason is that grounding represents being restrained from something one might otherwise want to do by someone with the authority to do so.  Grounding someone is a uniquely human activity. However, being grounded in God is very biblical.  Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus is that they would be “rooted and grounded in love” The prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19 points to a different way we might think about being restrained by God and how it can strengthen our faith. Restraint from some things can ground us in others.

Given this, I thought it would be fitting that my first blog post after a full year of silence would be about this experience. There are three things that I learned from the experience.
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The Rise of Hope: The Challenge of Fear

“The arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I have found myself in a number of discussions about the two narratives in our current political debate. Some have described it as the difference between a narrative of hope and a narrative of fear. I’ve had to think long and hard about these narratives in the past few weeks.   Continue reading

Do Single-Parent Families Put Children at Risk?

blog-spLet me start with a clarification: This post is neither a criticism of single parents, nor a condemnation of their status as “single.” I know single parents love their children just the same as married parents do, and that many of them make immeasurable sacrifices for their children’s futures. Rather, this post is meant to explore the experience of children in single-parent families, and the realities that single parents face. It’s probably one of my most academic blog posts to date, but I hope you’ll bear with me, because I think it’s worth it! Continue reading