Special Post

I Will Never FORGET

There are some days in life that I will never forget, and 9/11 was one of them. 

We all have our stories.

I was shaving when my fraternity brother told me what was happening. My sister was living in New York then — was she alright? Were the people stuck in the tower going to get out?

A little while later, I was at my first class of the day, an elective drama class. It was an all-time favorite class! But this day was that day. I will never forget the sound of one of my classmates sobbing — a girl whose name I have somehow forgotten all these years later. “Is my sister alive?” she wailed. Her sister worked near the World Trade Center. 

In our drama class two days later, we learned that her sister was okay. And thankfully, my sister was okay too. 

But for thousands, the answer was different. 

Let’s remember those people today.

Let’s never forget.

If You Look for It, There’s Something Good to Find

On vacation this summer, I learned a valuable lesson about failure and being hard on myself. I’m sharing it, hoping some of you can relate. 

The Quintessential Father/Sons Fishing Trip

I wanted to take my sons Will and Ben out fishing.  I did the appropriate research and landed on a company with great reviews. In my mind, the boys would have the time of their life. I was going to the #bestdadever! 

We were all psyched as we pulled out of the harbor and headed to the fishing spot. I was not concerned until the boat headed to the open ocean. After all, this was not supposed to be “deep sea” fishing, so I did not know what the Captain was up to. Was he just giving us a glimpse of the open water? 

“The Look”

A mile and a half into our journey, Will gave me “the look” that kids give. It is kind of like “the look” my wife gives, the kind that you don’t need to interpret. The kind that you immediately know there is a problem. Onward we went, however, for another 1.5 miles. 

“Here we are at an old shipwreck,” the Captain said. 

How cool is that, I thought? The waves, however, tossed me to the side of the boat like a little crumb falling from the ice cream cone my kids would eat later that day. My next thought was, “How long will this last?” 

Kudos to the Captain regarding the volume of fish at the shipwreck. We caught fish after fish in the ~13 minutes we were there. The Captain even claimed I had a shark on my line for .23 seconds — the best .23 seconds of my life, an admission that would undoubtedly cause my wife to give me “the look.” 

Ben’s “look” came next. “Dad, I don’t feel well.” It was at this moment that I went into sales mode. “Captain,” I said, “we have a problem.” Captain informed me that his experiences are about “reef” fishing, which I admittedly misinterpreted not to be “deep sea fishing.” I can occasionally hit 300-yard drives, but I have a “25” handicap for fishing. However, I don’t care who’s to blame when seasickness is on the line. I owned my mistake and said he was getting paid regardless, but we needed land in a hurry! After looking at Ben’s face, the Captain knew his mission had been redefined. I later learned that he’s happily married and understands “looks” too.  

The Joy of Unexpected Delight

Ten minutes later, we were back in calmer waters, and the seas lessened considerably. The Captain asked Ben if he could fish there. Ben, of course, rebounded. The next few hours, we had fun fishing, although our success rate decreased considerably. And while we saw a small shark, none were hooked, much to my chagrin. 

Then something happened that I did not expect. While moving from one spot to the next, the Captain let both boys have a turn at the helm. Both were legitimately excited, and Ben had us looping around like he wanted us to be sick this time. His smile is something that words simply can’t describe.

What Does this Experience Make Possible?

As I retell this story, however, I have to confess something. During this moment I did not feel like the morning had gone well. I am embarrassed to admit that when Sarah asked how the morning went, I said it was a failure. I felt like I had failed Will, Ben, my father-in-law who had joined us, and even the Captain. Sarah reminded me that the Captain did not care as he was getting paid. 

Isn’t it alarming how negativity prevented me from seeing what was really going on and also led me to think things were much worse than they were? 

Ben, however, had rolled with the punches. He had lived out a credo I learned from Michael Hyatt, “What does this experience make possible?” 

Ben got it. 

I had missed it. 

I learned that I am so hard on myself about parenting, leadership, golf, and just about everything — even planning a once-a-year, 1/2-day fishing experience. It would be like someone who never plays golf getting mad at themselves for hitting bad shots, an occurrence that happens all the time at my local golf course! 

Yet, if I look for it — if you look for it — there is something good to find. 

You have to look for it, not just what you had hoped for. 

When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

The video of Ben driving that boat will be something I will think about when I am 80 years old. It never would have happened if we had sea legs and if things had gone to “Dad’s plan.” 

A few days later, as the vacation wrapped up, my in-laws asked all 14 of us what our best moment was. 

Ben’s? “Driving that boat.” 

Writing this post made me realize it was mine, too.

Alex’s Unofficial Rules of Little League

In the Hoffer household, every April through mid-July is Little League season! And as a veteran Little League parent, I’ve learned a few things over the years.

With that in mind, allow me to introduce my completely unofficial (and slightly tongue-in-cheek) rules for Little League parents. 

  1. Anticipate the weather being 30 degrees hotter or colder than the temp your weather app said it would be. Dress appropriately, even if that entails long underwear on Memorial Day weekend.
  2. Eat whenever you can leading up to the game. If you need to eat lunch at 10AM or dinner at 4PM, do it. The concession stand hot dog is only good when you are near starvation — and all those who claim it is good are near starvation.
  3. Do eat the concession stand popcorn. It somehow always tastes better at Little League.
  4. The bathroom situation is like Illinois state politics. For the sake of everyone’s stomach, I’ll leave it at that.
  5. Decide beforehand if “having fun” is REALLY what you believe. Every adult claims this is what it’s about, but only about 1% follow through on this belief after the first pitch is thrown.
  6. Remember that the umpire is usually a teenager (in-house game) or volunteer adult (all-star/travel). Neither umpire for a living. Both are human and WILL make mistakes. Ask yourself if you would A. want to umpire and B. be any better at it? If you answer both “yes,” please sign up at your local Little League — we play games every season without an umpire and could use the help.
  7. Obsess more over your kid’s handling of adversity than success. Hitting the home run may happen once or twice a career, but strikeouts will occur more often. So how Junior handles a strikeout, bad call, or any of the frustrations that come with baseball are the most applicable lessons of Little League.
  8. Everyone knows that 99.99% of these kids are not destined for a career in the MLB. A good practice for most dads (and moms!) is to start the day repeating this statistic to themselves over and over. Seriously — repeat it over and over!
  9. Yelling at kids in Little League is just as effective as yelling at your preferred news channel or your favorite team’s mediocre quarterback during the playoff game.
  10. Yelling at coaches and/or making sarcastic remarks is similarly unhelpful. Respectfully, get off your butt and coach if you know everything.
  11. If you’re coaching, however, remember that this is not game seven of the World Series. Elaborate signs, strategy, and the like make you look as petty as one of those politicians you are yelling at in rule #9.
  12. Speaking of yelling: There is simply TOO MUCH yelling at Little League these days. Leave the yelling to the kids clamoring for ice cream or donuts.
  13. Finally, a baker’s dozen donuts can single-handedly help a team come back from an 8-1 last-inning deficit. Don’t ask me how this happens, but I saw it with my own eyes at a tournament this season. Those kids chanted “Donuts! Donuts!” after the game ended. Now THAT is how every little league game should end! 

July 4th and My Papa

If I could do anything this 4th of July, it would be the same thing I would choose any other year: spend one more day with my Papa. He has been gone since 2005, and I always think of him on July 4th because his birthday was the following day. 

Papa was a man who served in World War II, worked his entire life in his father-in-law’s pharmacy, and was an avid baseball fan. More importantly, he was married for 61 years to my grandmother and an amazing father and grandfather. 

These characteristics are worth celebrating on July 4th:  


Our veterans demonstrate the American value of service at the highest level. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). 


Working the same job for decade after decade takes grit. Both of my grandfathers exhibited this kind of grit and along with millions of others, built the fabric of a country worth celebrating on July 4th.  


People will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom….The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.” 

Although the above is fiction from the movie “Field of Dreams,” I often look at baseball and am reminded of the progress of America. Perfect? Of course, not. But a work in progress just like our national pastime. 


The most important of human relationships we have! America is best when we are best for those we most cherish. Building the family, keeping it secure, and making it a place of safety, frees people up to thrive. And this is worth celebrating on the 4th of July! 

While July 4th may have been a week ago, I still wish all the readers of this blog a Happy Fourth of July. Treasure your family, and make some memories over the summer. I will do the same as I remember Papa and dream of watching one more baseball game with him.

The Dad List 2023

Random thoughts of a 41-year-old father of three (presently aged 6, 9, and 11)  

  1. Tell your kids you love them with words. They still need to hear it. 
  2. Walk close to your kids that want to walk close, and let your kids that want to walk ahead do so. Parenting is a simultaneous combination of closeness and looseness.   
  3. Always point out what your kids are doing right on the sports field, in school, or at home. Positive affirmation will help them grow more than negative correction. 
  4. Correct their character when it needs correction. This sounds contrary to number three, but it isn’t. Character is much deeper than “form” or “performance.”  
  5. Loving their mom wholeheartedly may be the best way to serve your children. 
  6. Hug your kids before bed every night. 
  7. Explain the “why” behind the decisions you make. Help them to understand the decision-making process so they can use it themselves. 
  8. Loosen the reins as they get older. Remind them that the reins are only loosened with trust but lead them in the transition from “rule-based obedience” to “personal discipline.” 
  9. Cast a vision of what being an adult looks like — things like taking responsibility, leading yourself, and effectively managing money, among MANY other things we’ve talked about this year.
  10. Model the joy of learning. Talk about what you are reading, listening to, and learning. 
  11. Model the positive use of technology. Put your phone away during a one-on-one conversation, or explain why you are answering an email at a professional sports event. Obviously, the goal is not to be. But modeling how — and more importantly, why this is OCCASIONALLY (emphasis intended) necessary is essential as they prepare for a technology-dominated future.   
  12. Demonstrate what a Sabbath looks like. The world is non-stop, so explain why and even how you rest. 
  13. Humanize people in the news through the lens of grace. Try to explain opposing viewpoints in a way that gives them the proper respect. This is counter-cultural and Biblical. 
  14. Try to make your kids laugh from time to time. I occasionally achieve this by talking in a funny voice (I do impersonations if I’m in the right mood!), gently poking fun at them, and talking trash when I dominate them in basement basketball. 
  15. Tell them you love them with words. They still need to hear it. Yes, I am repeating number one, but this is the most important thing. So do it twice. 

Mothers: The Original Leaders

As you know, this is a blog about leadership. Leaders are those worth following, and leadership is the process of doing things with and through other people. But the more I think about it, those characteristics also describe mothers! Let me share some examples of moms in action as we celebrate Mother’s Day. 

My Mom

My mom always made our home welcoming. My friends loved coming over because she made it that way! As my wife points out, my mom has the gift of being interested in what other people are interested in — this is one of the reasons she is worth following. She also cares about the community and regularly volunteered her time to help. This example is something I see in my sisters and something I work on modeling in my own life. I am blessed to have the mom I have! 

My Mother-in-Law

Watching my mother-in-law can be like watching a CEO lead a business. There is action everywhere, and the food is always prepped and ready for dinner. And the food is always great! More than this, thanks to her hospitality, her home feels like home to everyone who comes there. 

My mother- and father-in-law regularly welcome a staggering number of guests to their house — a true testament to their generous spirit. I am blessed to have the mother-in-law I have! 

My Wife

Then, there is my wife, Sarah. The day I met her, I said she was amazing, which was an understatement. Besides being brilliant, she is one of the kindest, gentlest, and most humble people I know. She cares deeply for others, especially our three kids. When the COVID-19 pandemic came, she embraced it with possibility thinking, “What does this make possible?” For Sarah, it made homeschooling possible. 

Sarah didn’t just dip her toe in the water with homeschooling — she dove in! Now our kids are several years into the homeschooling journey. Not only are they having fun with it, but they’re making a lot of progress. For example, our two boys are reading at a level I didn’t achieve until much older! I credit Sarah fully for that. 

Complicated Relationships

Reflecting on the amazing mothers in my life, I remember that not everyone shares in such positivity. Sometimes human beings get it wrong. 

So if you don’t have positive memories of your mother, just know that a Heavenly Father still loves you beyond human understanding or ability. 

Further, as Sarah has reminded me through her Tuesday morning Bible Study, there are women out there who can form the bond of sisterhood that approaches the level of intimacy one has with their mother. It can never replace it, but it can certainly help. Sarah’s leadership of this group is another thing I admire about her.   

Thank you, Mothers!

Happy Mother’s Day to all. Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers working from home or balancing careers and motherhood like my two sisters and our VP of Sales! Happy Mother’s Day to those I will never forget, like the memories of my two grandmothers and those you are thinking of as you read this post. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Hope Springs Eternal

The end of Jesus’ life on earth was filled with alienation, pain, and mocking. As Matthew recalls in the 26th chapter of his Gospel, “…the men stepped forward, seized Jesus, and arrested him” (26:50). The first reaction of Jesus’ disciples was violence (verse 51), but Jesus said no protection was needed from his friends (verses 52-56). This was, after all, the plan. As crazy as that sounds. 

Before long, however, Jesus was alienated and left to fend for himself. Peter gets picked on by modern readers, so it is important to clarify he was not the only one that left Jesus. All did. But Peter did deny that he knew Jesus (verses 69-75). Later on, this was all forgiven, and it serves as a reminder that we can always come back home to Jesus (John 21:15-17). 

Next for Jesus was physical pain. The soldiers “…spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him” (Matthew 26:67). A “crown of thorns was set on his head” (Matthew 27:29). “They struck him on the head again and again” (verse 30), and led him away to be crucified. Crucifixion involved the nailing of irons into his arms and legs. It was a brutal and unimaginably awful way to die. 

Yet, this was not the end. 

Besides the alienation of his friends and the pain he endured, Jesus also dealt with mocking. Early on, it came from the soldiers: “Then they knelt in front of him (Jesus) and mocked him” (verse 27:29). Later on the cross, it came from two rebels who hung beside him. Then it came from the religious leaders watching all the events take place in front of them: “…the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him” (27:41). 

The end seemed to be now approaching, but it was really just the beginning. 

You Are Not Alone

Do you feel alienated? 

Do you struggle with physical pain? 

Do you feel mocked? 

Do you feel like the end is coming? 

You are not alone. 

“After the Sabbath…Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the Tomb” (Matthew 28:1). If you were going to make up a story two thousand years ago, your last choice of witnesses would be two women. Women were not considered credible witnesses in that culture, yet Jesus’ resurrection starts with women because everyone matters to Jesus, and all are welcome. “Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him” (verse 9). 

Have you come to Jesus? The invitation is for everyone and anyone! 

But the religious leaders were not done yet. “When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘you are to say, ‘his disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’” (Verses 11-13). 

What are we to make of this? Did the same disciples who alienated Jesus come and do this? Did they somehow manage to overcome Roman guards and move a large boulder guarding the tomb’s entrance? Or is this whole story just made up? 

I cannot speak for you, but I find it hard to believe that these disciples – the same ones that just alienated Jesus – would turn-around and come to spread the message of Jesus’ resurrection. Not only that, but that they would do so with such fervor that ten of them eventually would be martyred for doing so. That is, unless they were doing so from a place of being certain of what they had witnessed!  

But you have to decide on your own. 

The Hope of the World

In a world lacking hope, and in a world full of ridicule, alienation, and mocking, maybe it is time to reconsider the Hope of the World. 

Jesus is the one I follow because he is the perfect example of truth, love, and hope. He is my Savior. In fact, there are not enough words to describe him in the dictionary! My entire life changed when I discovered the Hope found in him. And there is nothing blind about it. It is there for anyone to see if they look for it. 

If anything written above tugs at your heart, maybe you should consider reading the book of Mark. You can read one chapter per day for the next 16 days and learn what Jesus says on his own. His words are better than mine! 

What I can say is this: 

Jesus welcomes all. 

You can set your bags down. 

There are no qualifications needed. 

Your past is just that, your past. 

You are home now. 

Easter morning is here. 

Hope springs eternal because of Jesus. 

Applying What We Learn

In recent years, one thing I have felt convicted about is my continual pursuit of more learning. Admittedly, this sounds silly on the surface. Undoubtedly, learning can’t be a bad thing, right? The reality that I’ve discovered, however, is that there are two dangers in continual learning. 

First, it can lead to pride. This can lead you to believe that your self-worth is tied to reading books, listening to podcasts, or learning from Ted talks. It might even tempt you to think that you are superior to those who fail to read or pursue improvement. None of these attitudes are healthy for a leader. 

Secondly, and more to the point of today’s post, continual learning keeps one moving from one thing to the next. There are always more books, podcasts, and potential pathways to self-improvement, especially in our current information age. But what happens when “more” is just that — more?  In other words, what happens when the information just stays as information? 


I am passionate to continue learning. But I’m also passionate about ensuring that my learning is accompanied by some application of what I’ve learned.

I use the qualifier “some” intentionally because not all information needs to be actionable. For example, I might read a book on a subject like bald eagles just to learn a few things about them and to engage in a subject that interests my 11-year-old son. Of course, this doesn’t mean I need to apply the learning directly and become a zoologist.  

But there are areas in my life, like leadership development, where I need to be a little more disciplined in terms of what I am applying. To do this, I need to remember, reflect, and respond. I’ll show you how to do this below using my blog homepage


This post is the 13th I’ve published since the start of 2023. I have covered a variety of topics that one can review by quickly scrolling. Does one jump out? For example: 

New Year, Same Old Mechanic (Spirituality) 

My New Year Promise (3 questions to start the new year) 

One More Question for A New Year, New Perspective (Attitude) 

The False Self Series 

The point of remembering is to reengage your mind on the material you have previously learned. 


Here is where you go deeper. It is also where you have to look within yourself. The question is, what jumps out at you? I heard the most feedback from readers about this post: The False Self Series, Part 6: Beating Myself Up about the Past. Maybe this post spoke to you? The point here is to listen to your gut, reread what jumps out, and reflect on how you need to implement it. 


After remembering and reflecting, here is where you apply the material. If you chose the post about beating yourself up, one application could be to find an accountability partner that you can meet with weekly. For example, I meet twice per month with my accountability partner and one of the areas I report on is how I talk to myself about myself. I’ve discovered that trashing myself indicates a lack of faith because my negative self-view of the past doesn’t align with Jesus’ current view of me. 

While I have used my blog as an example today, you can use the remember, reflect, and respond technique on just about any material you are studying. The point of today’s post is to encourage you to do so. This ensures that your head knowledge becomes heart knowledge, and I believe this will help you on your journey of becoming the kind of person others will want to follow.

robert hoffer

Dear Grandpa, Part 2

Check out part one of my annual letter to my grandpa here.

Dear Grandpa, 

Recently, I took my dad and two boys to a Purdue basketball game. As we pulled into West Lafayette, dad started to reminisce about visiting his grandfather in West Lafayette as a child. Realizing the significance of the moment—it is not every day that my dad reminisces about the past—I asked dad if he wanted to go see his grandpa’s house? 

He did. I turned onto Grant Street and slowed the car as we approached your childhood home — what dad refers to as his grandfather’s house. The red brick house stood out against the small pile of snow on the lawn. Dad commented that Grandma would still be upset about the house next door, and then explained that she never wanted to sell the land it now occupies. He played games on that dirt, he said. The more he reminisced, the more I thought about how the dirt is the one thing that remains constant. My boys represent the fifth generation from your father, so it is natural that the neighborhood, and life for that matter, is now radically different. 

But the dirt remains the same.  

Buy Dirt

As Hoffer Plastics turns 70 this week, I have thought a lot about dirt. This is probably because of a country music song that keeps finding its way onto my playlist at the gym. Here are a few of its lyrics: 

A few days before he turned 80

He was sittin’ out back in a rocker

He said, “What you been up to lately?”

I told him, “Chasing a dollar”

And in between sips of coffee

He poured this wisdom out

Said, “If you want my two cents on making a dollar count

Buy dirt

Find the one you can’t live without

Get a ring, let your knee hit the ground

Do what you love but call it work

And throw a little money in the plate at church

Send your prayers up and your roots down deep

Add a few limbs to your family tree

And watch their pencil marks

And the grass in the yard all grow up”

‘Cause the truth about it is

It all goes by real quick

You can’t buy happiness

But you can buy dirt

When I hear these lyrics, I immediately think of you and your generation. I picture my Papa smoking a pipe outside his garage in Evansville, and I think of you tending your greenhouse in Elgin, and the word that comes back over and over is contentment. Your generation pulled up its bootstraps, worked, and “sent your prayers up and your roots down deep.” 

There are literal pencil marks in your old basement charting the growth spurts of two generations! 

The refrain I often hear from well-intentioned people is that they are leaving Illinois because of its unfriendly business climate, high taxes, and bad weather. I cannot argue with these challenges. But as last year wound down, the message I continually received from my prayers was:

Buy dirt. 

Different, But Not Unique

One of the moments that reoriented me last fall was driving by your house on the way home from a business trip. I think I mentioned driving by your house almost every year because it is always impactful. This time I realized that buying dirt was precisely what you did. You stayed in the same house from 1953 until the end. You refused to chase better when you were already happy. You embodied contentment. 

We moderns like to trick ourselves. We think things are particularly hard right now and that business challenges are unique to our generation. The word I like to use is “different.” Things are definitely different, but they are not unique. And regardless of external circumstances, we still walk on the same dirt you did. 

Obviously, I don’t know what the future holds. Today’s different circumstances may prove to be too much. There is no defeatism in me when I say these things; I am just pointing to the reality that nothing is assured. Well, nothing outside of time passing by and the dirt staying dirt. 

Rediscovering Hope

While some readers might find this reality depressing, I do not. As I shared last week, I rediscover hope every time I look into the eyes of the people who make up our team. I see the possibilities in the next generation, and they excite me. My task is to ensure that the seeds are planted, that the plants are tended, and the harvest is plentiful. 

I must tend the dirt as you did. 

There is a profound purpose in doing so. 

Until next year, I will keep watching the pencil marks of my kids’ growth grow, I will keep saying my prayers with Sarah every night, and I will keep digging our roots deeper and deeper into the community God has placed us in. I will do this regardless of how different things are, and even when those differences irritate and frustrate me. 

I will do this because that is our family history. Until God calls me elsewhere, I will tend to the dirt he has given us. 

You understood this. 

I am starting to. 

I miss you and love you, 


robert hoffer

Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa, 

It is that time of year again when I think of you in anticipation of the remembrance of your birthday. While others like to think of those “up there” looking down on us, I don’t think that is the case. My hope is that “up there” is so amazing you wouldn’t give “down here” a look. But someday maybe I will tell you about these letters…

They do help me. They help me because as I talk to my Heavenly Father — as I often do in my head as I start to walk our production floor — I remember you. I remember your passion for the business we get to do. I remember how much you loved interacting with the people. I remember the sense of duty you had in helping the community and the industry. Remembering you gives me a renewed sense of energy. 

Looking for Contentment in All the Wrong Places

As I have already shared on my blog, I fell into a big rut last fall. I became self-absorbed. I was asking for my work to fill a void that it was never intended to fill. In my pursuit, I became irritable and discontented. Honestly, I was not a good leader. But as your example reminds me, leadership is about other people. It is about supporting them, giving them opportunities, and building into them. Frankly, I think we in contemporary America spend too much time fixated on ourselves. This is what I was doing last fall, and my sense of peace was shaken.

I had two speaking opportunities last fall. One was with MAPP (Manufacturing Association for Plastic Processors), the other for the TMA (Technology and Manufacturing Association). In both cases, I put a lot of effort into creating messages that would encourage the audience. I was prepared and did my best — I think you would have been proud. Still, I left both stages feeling like a fraud. 

To be clear, I didn’t feel like a fraud because of what I said. In both cases, I believed in (and, to the best of my ability, lived from) the convictions I shared. No, I felt like a fraud because of the discontentment I felt inside me. I had looked at these events to fill some void in me that they weren’t intended to fill. Instead, they exposed my vanity and desire for human approval. And no human affirmation was going to fill that void.  

I then came back to Hoffer Plastics looking for contentment. But co-leading a plastics manufacturing company only creates issues, not contentment! (I smile as I write this because I know you would understand.) Then, when I was at my worst and didn’t feel like walking our production floor, I had to walk past our mission poster with your face on it. It always kicked me in the behind and reminded me to keep going. 

I spent weeks in prayer about my discontentment, and it took weeks for things to change. One of the most effective prayers I pray is this: “Lord, please do not change my circumstances. Rather, help me to change for my circumstances. Because if you change my circumstances, I won’t learn what you are trying to teach me through my circumstances.” 

A Wake Up Call

A few moments stand out that are worth sharing. 

First, mom and dad were down in Florida at their condo, living through a category one hurricane. I am sure you would have something to say about that since you never had a condo, but stay with me. I was in one of my discontented moods grumbling about all the “have to dos” I have at the business. All of the sudden, Lizzie (she has worked on our floor for 52 years now!) asked me about my parents. “Alex, are they okay?” 

Of course they are, I replied. 

“OH GOOD. I was praying and praying for them with that hurricane.” 

Full stop. 

It had not dawned on me that Lizzie was asking about THAT. I thought she was just being polite. 

She continued. “You know, Alex, you all are part of my family.” 

Grandpa, that wrecked me. It jolted me awake from my vanity. It was God’s way of reminding me that the purpose of work is doing things with and through others, not providing me with contentment. In fact, the way to find contentment is to lose myself in the pursuit of others. 

I went home that night, and with Sarah, I prayed for forgiveness for my selfishness and self-centeredness. Like Jacob, that comment awoke me from sleep, and I echoed his thoughts that, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Genesis 28:16). Of course, I was aware. But I needed to be reminded and this did it!  

My circumstances didn’t change in the weeks that followed. In fact, our business started to slow down due to the economy. I could even argue that circumstances made life a bit harder. 

Yet, I rediscovered the peace that grows from Jesus’ spirit. My inner life realigned to my external life. I followed the teacher, and arguably (you would have to ask others to be sure), became someone worth following again. 

I will stop here for now. 

Next week, we celebrate our 70th anniversary as a company, so it is only fitting that I share the other moments then. 

I love you,