Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reading for the trip

I was looking for a book Chuck Harris recommended to me called "Chasing Francis" about St. Francis of Assisi since we are going to Assisi, but I couldn't find it. While I was in the airport Borders, though, I found this one. I love reading Rob Bell and haven't had a chance to read this so what a great chance. I'll let you know what I think.

Day 1 |(or -1)

I'm sitting here in Houston Intercontinental Airport (or George Bush) waiting to board our flight to Rome, Italy, that has a stop over in Frankfurt, Germany. We left Lufkin at 11:30 a.m. and won't depart Houston until 5:30 p.m. I actually found a wireless link that I didn't have to pay $7.95 for. Freaking miracle. Why are we going to Rome?

Two years ago (2007) when Cole was in 8th grade, we went to a meeting about the GT English program at LHS and they announced that there would be a trip to Rome and Venice during Spring Break of 2009. They also said that Venice would be closing to tourists in 2010 or 2011 because of the flooding problem and their attempts to fix it. Knowing we probably would never have another opportunity like this in our lifetime, we decided right then that we would start cutting back on birthdays and Christmas for the next few years so we could save enough money for the whole family to go on this trip. And if we couldn't save enough, we would borrow whatever it took for us to go. There are few opportunities for us as a family to take a trip like this when our kids would be of an age that they would appreciate it. And when our schedules would allow it.

Can we afford to take this trip? It is a HUGE stretch. But we only live once and we don't do near enough with our kids outside of the gozillion "scheduled" things that they already do.

If the Italians have wireless links, I'll try to update this site with some pictures and videos throughout the week.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Last Sunday "Sermon"

And I use the term sermon very loosely. It's been a great six months and these are just my comments as I completed my interim time as the worship guy at FUMC Lufkin. Probably went 5 minutes too long and chased too many rabbits but......

Friday, January 30, 2009

I wish it HAD been Lincoln Brewster's song

Well, the day is over. It has been an emotional rollercoaster with mostly downs that overshadowed any of the ups. It's kind of like vomitting; you know when it's coming it's gonna be bad, but when it happens it's always worse than you imagined.

First off, we got a text from our manager at 10:02 a.m. that the calls were delayed and that he would text us when he was beginning the calls. The next text we got was at 10:21 a.m. saying he was starting the calls. In retrospect to what I know now, the delay was probably caused by the utter shock our manager felt when he saw what was about to take place. I can't imagine that responsibility and the sickness he felt.

My call came around 10:30 a.m. Plain and simple, you are retained, pretty much the same products, pretty much the same territory. That was it. He had to continue to make the rest of his calls. I could hear in his voice, though, without him telling me, it wasn't what he expected. At 10:48 a.m. we got a text that he was through making calls. When all was said and done, 9 out of 14 reps in our district had been severed from the company. 9 out of 14. Almost 65%. This from a team with over 115 years of Pharmaceutical sales experience, an average of >8.5 years experience, and 29 VPC or equivalent awards. A team recognized as one of the highest performing in the region if not the country. A team recognized by others as "the team to beat". These are not just outstanding sales people, these are outstanding people, PERIOD. Hard working, high character people. And this is just from my district. This doesn't include the other two districts in this area who lost people as well. People like my call cycle partner from another division, who happens to be my sister-in-law, who tonight does not have a job after 13 years of success with this company. I've watched her develop that "unbreakable" relationship with multiple customers that allows her access and success that others just dream of and tonight, no more.

I said earlier that I think this is the right move for the company and I still do. But that doesn't mean I like the methods or the results. Did the company keep good people? Sure. Did they let some good people go? Definitely. They let some GREAT people go. Excluding our specialty reps, we started the day with 27 reps in our area. Tonight there are 10. That is a little less than a 60% cut overall. That is a bloodbath.

So what now? Pray. Pray for peace for these people. Pray for jobs for these people. Pray for restoration for these people, because, regardless of the situation and severance and insurance and all that, this still hurts each one of them deep down. Pray for peace for the manangers who had to make the calls to each of us and have to live with the knowledge that somehow, something didn't work right if their people, whom they all love, are no longer with the company. It is a brutal reality.

I post this tonight as a tribute to each of these people who now turn the next page in their lives. I pray for each of them to find solace in the only One who can truly provide comfort and that, through all of this, this becomes a faith strengthener and not a faith tester.

Today is the Day......No not the Lincoln Brewster song

For those of you who know me well know that today, January 30th, has been marked on my calender for several weeks.

This is the day that the company I have worked for for 15 1/2 years will inform its sales force who has been severed and who has been retained. Cuts are expected to be in the 50-60% range. Our managers found out their fate on Wednesday. My manager, who is not just my boss, but a really good friend of mine, was retained, but in a different position. That means that even if I am retained, he won't be my manager any longer.

Now, lots of people might be bitter about this "restructuring", but to be honest with you, if I was in the CEOs position, I'd be doing the same thing. What my company is doing is right for the company/stock holders, right for our industry, and right for our customers. Is it brutal? Yes. Are people's worlds going to be turned upside down? Definitely. But it is a good move and, even if I'm let go, it's still the right move for the company. There are 4 of us that work in this area(and 2 unfilled positions), all great people and fantastic at their jobs. There may only be 2 left at the end of the day. It won't be easy, but it will be right.

I truly believe God has a plan in all of this and I have faith that it will be what's best for me and my family, either way. As a matter of fact, this has been more of a faith solidifier than a faith tester. At the end of the day, I'm excited about the potential for new opportunities.

So.........I'll blog later about the end result of the day. I just ask you to remember everyone enduring these uncertain economic times in your prayers and for God's guidance for each of them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I was assaulted.....BY A POP TART

I am here to inform the public of the unknown dangers of that most famous breakfast snack, the Kellogg's Pop Tart. The S'mores Pop Tart in particular. Though I still love them as the fine, nutricious breakfast snack they are, I must take this opportunity to let the population at large know of the tragic incident that occurred on December 29th.
You see, I had purchased a new toaster for Anita for Christmas, kind of as a joke, but also because the one we had we received as a wedding present 20 years ago had stopped working up to it's maximum performance. So this is the one I got for her. A fine toaster, don't you think? However, being the guy I am, I didn't read any directions or use any common sense for that matter, apparently. On the morning of December 29th, I threw 2 S'mores Pop Tarts in that new toaster without considering that I would need to use a different setting than I used on the 20 year old toaster. A setting of 8-9 was a bit much I guess. From the other room, the odor of burning Pop Tart overtook me and I rushed into the kitchen to find them burning and that fine gooey chocolate and marshmellow filling oozing out on the toaster. I immediately tried to rescue the Pop Tarts and salvage them for my consumption. When I grabbed the first smoking hot breakfast gem from the new Atomic Toaster, it collapsed on my left hand, the goo spreading over my middle finger on my left hand and sticking to it like a nuclear super glue. I ran to the sink (2 steps) and immediately ran cold water on it, to no avail. Within hours I had a mammoth blister about an inch long on top of my middle finger. It just kept growing, and burning, and growing, and really, really burning. I didn't get a picture of the blister before I lanced it to let it ooze, but here is a picture, post lancing and then another today. I might recover, but I have to say that, in my opinion, Pop Tarts may be the spawn of satan.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

20 years......No Really!!!

Back on December 31st, my wife Anita and I boarded a plane and flew to Denver, Colorado. The occasion? December 31st was our 20th wedding anniversary. 20 years. Hard to imagine. That month of December in 1988 saw Anita graduate (in 3 1/2 years) from Texas A&M on the 17th, celebrate Christmas the next weekend, then marry me on the 31st. Four days later she went with me to Fort Benning, Georgia as I began an almost 5 year stint in the Army. Anita has been the most phenomenal wife and partner I could have ever dreamed of, and an even better mother to our two children, Cole and Corinne. I love her more today than I did then, and I didn't think that was possible. It hasn't always been easy, mostly because of me, but I can't imagine my life without her. God has blessed me more than I deserve by giving me her as a wife and I hope and pray I can be the husband she deserves for the rest of my time on this earth. This is our picture in Keystone, Colorado on our last night of our anniversary celebration. It was a great trip to spend with my very best friend. Here's to you, Anita, the love of my life.