Part of my purpose wherever I go is to stir up other writers. I love to write and have published a few books, so I know what it's like to hold something you've created in your hand. It's a great feeling. I want others to share that feeling, so I encourage aspiring writers to write and not worry about the outcome. It is difficult (but not impossible) to find a publisher, but the best option for most writers starting out is to self-publish.

There are more online publishing options than ever before. I have used iUniverse on several occasions and I am currently using Dog Ear Publishing to publish a friend's book from South Africa. You can check out those options and see that you can publish for very little money and then order books only as you need them. That avoids investing large sums of money to maintain book inventory. You pay more for each book by publishing like that, so you make less for every book that you sell. It usually pays off, however, unless you anticipate selling a lot of books once you have them.

If you would like an example to inspire you to write, may I recommend two books that I helped edit that are offered through iUniverse. They're volumes of poetry by my brother-in-law, Ed Folino. Ed has a gift for rhyme that he toyed with all his life. Then at the age of sixty, he took the plunge to publish and now he has published two books. He is working on his third volume as I write. When you go to iUniverse, you can put in his book names -- My Pittsburgh and Long Time Coming -- and the volumes will come up for you to see. If you want to be inspired to publish your own book, you can order one or both of his books to see what the self-published finished product looks like. They are available in paper or you can download an e-copy. You will see the quality of the work and how Ed has taken his gift and put it out there for the world to see. I am proud of him and urge you to do the same with your own gifts.

If you would like to know more about self-publishing, there is a great book entitled, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine. I would recommend you invest in it along with my sister-in-law's ebook on how to write a book that can be found on her site. The important thing is that you stop talking and start writing. Then it's important to see that publishing your long-awaited work is easier than you perhaps thought. If I can help or encourage you, please let me know

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Mess Yourself Up

Do you know who makes sure I write my books? Do you know who requires that I write for three blogs, produce magazine articles, or develop my weekly Bible studies?

The answer: No one!

Now you may say, "Well, what about the Lord?" Yes, God has put those ideas and concepts in my heart and He positions me to do those things. Yet there is no one who can force me to write. I must do it on my own. It all starts with embracing the fact that I am a writer.

For many years, I never knew how to fill out my entry form as I went into foreign lands. The form would invariably ask for "Occupation" and I would put down administrator, pastor, consultant or teacher. Then one day I put down "author" and something snapped into place. I am a writer! I had given myself permission to tell others and it was a major breakthrough. I had never been asked about what I do when I put down the other occupations. The first time I put down "author," the agent in the UK looked up at me and asked, "What do you write?" It proves the power of drawing attention and resources to yourself when you are honest about who you are and aren't.

So I am an author and authors write. So I started my blog and try to write one book every year. I have completed verse-by-verse Bible studies for 18 books in the New Testament, all ready and waiting to be published. Not wanting to wait until they are published, however, I send them out to 5,000 people free of charge every week.

I came across a prayer that I use in as a Pacific Institute facilitator and I thought I would share it with you today. It goes like this:

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.

Have you become too pleased with yourself? Have you dreamed too little? Sailed too close to the shore? Ceased to dream of great things? If so, stir yourself up! Don't put off on God what only you can do. And don't underestimate your ability to ignore the Lord if you are relying on Him to stir you. It's time to mess yourself up . . . and then put youself back together in a more productive way.

Pray this prayer with me and then get to work. There are lives to be changed and worlds to be explored. There is no telling what can be done by people, like you, who aren't afraid of failing and who know how to disturb their world so that they can do more, see more and go to more places than they ever thought possible.


Last week I was in Seattle and had a few hours to kill, so I went walking around Pike Place Market.  Across the street from the Market is a Starbucks.  So what's so special about that?  It just happens to be the first Starbucks ever opened.  It is interesting to stand at a simple store with a basic concept that has now spread over much of the world! 

I remember years ago when the president of General Motors was asked on a talk show, "How can your company make so many cars?"  His reply was, "Because we can make one!"  Starbucks today has 9,000 outlets because it learned how to do one and just kept replicating that again and again.  I know it's not a simple process, but it all started because Howard Schultz made his dream a reality by opening this first store.

What is in your heart?  What do you dream of doing one day?  You won't see your dream realized until you take steps to make it happen.  Once it "happens," there's no telling how big it can get or be.  So don't hesitate any longer.  Exercise your faith and start moving.  Whether it's a bakery, a book or a service, you won't be able to expand until you produce your first tangible evidence of your dream.  Who knows, one day I may wander by and take a picture of your first effort that will then be known the world over.  I hope so.


I Live For Mail Like This

I have said that one of the reasons I write is to get feedback and mail. People sometimes tell me, "I wanted to write you but I figured you get so much mail already." My response is always, "Write!" I love getting mail.

So having said that, let me share with you a most recent email I received from Kenya (used with permission, by the way). This is why I do what I do. Why do you do what you do?

This is probably my third email to you since I've known you & you've impacted my life so greatly. And each time you send a reply even though I know you must be terribly busy and you know you really don't have to.

I was sitting in the congregation at Nairobi Jubilee Christian Church during the convention (the only one who raised her hand when you asked who gets your Monday Memo), and of course I remember the last time I heard you speak / preach. I was in the congregation at NPC three / four years so when you challenged us if we were one of 4 categories of people. I was in the fourth category. (I think it was Barnabas) The one where people are calling you something, God is calling you something but you just need to start calling yourself that thing.. & that thing for me was a manager. You asked people in that fourth category to rise up so you'd pray for them to fulfill their call.

I did accept that God has called me into leadership, (something I really had been running away from for at least 9 years before you preached that message). And needless to say, I was soon appointed supervisor in my department then went on to be manager.

I basically at this point manage the largest department (in terms of people) in the largest (I removed the reference here: JS) in the world, whose presence is very prominent in Kenya, as it is in other countries. I also provide a support function for our East Africa offices (Uganda / Tanzania / Burundi / Rwanda).

Looking at me however you wouldn't know as I usually pass for a teenager over the weekends - and really I like it that way. It just gets a bit tricky though when I have to sit at management meetings because I'm the youngest & the only female manager in my office & I have a face that looks more than ten years younger than my real age :-).

However, just listening to you during the convention helped me to realize an answer to a gnawing frustration I have had for a while now. That I've got to have joy when doing this - I have not had it & that has been slowly killing me. I won't go into just how crazy it's been just fitting into this role but I realized, and settled it during the convention, that I'm coming back & doing this thing with the joy of the Lord .. or not at all. For some reason God wants me here.. (still haven't figured why me - for the life of me).. but you see, I have another passion, which thank God I also realized as I sat listening to you.

While I need to fulfill the call of God to work here for a season, the one thing I completely loved doing when I was younger, is designing my own clothes & wearing them. Each time I wore my own designs people would ask me where I got them & it was so nice just saying that its my own. My only frustration was in not being able to stitch it myself (because you know a tailor can't always get it e-x-a-c-t-l-y as you want it). I had built this up in my mind to the place where I knew I would have my own design house (like Giorgio, Armani, & Versace). It would be called "House of Kristina". I even had the clothing labels designed for each line of clothes that I would do. It's one of those dreams that I discarded when I "grew up" (You gave me the courage to verbalize this when you talked about starting your purpose broadcasting station.) If you can do it at age 57, I will do it as well!

When you opened my eyes I was able to realize that even though I am in debt right now, I can already stat to do something. And the first thing I started to do is to draw. I have been like a loose cannon over this weekend, and I cant tell you how much pleasure I have gotten simply from drawing again. It's not very nice to admit that I was drawing right through the sermons at church yesterday, but I was.

Then I spoke to a friend who 'happens' to have also done fashion design and she looked at my designs. She is willing to share with me more on how to improve my drawings & we have a date set for this week. She also directed me to a very good - and very very cheap college run by nuns, and I was able to check it out today. I am also in the process of getting a sewing machine. Someone just spoke to me today on how I can get one for free & we're going to check it out tomorrow.

I have left out the challenges I have been realizing may be in the way since I began drawing yesterday. But I have left them out because they won't stop me.

John, I'm pretty determined that come February, my wardrobe will consist of at least 60% of my own designs.

I could write whole lot more, but really at the end I just want to say THANK YOU. For allowing God to use you in the way that you have. Each time I interact with you it impact my life greatly. I will make that dream come true.. and I will never forget you. - Kris in Nairobi.

Kris has told us what her goal is for the last few months. What's yours?

Feel free to post your response to this entry on the site where it is posted.

The Strengths Movement

There is a debate in leadership circles as to which is the most beneficial investment of time: trying to improve a weakness or to maximize a strength. The last Gallup poll I saw showed that 57% of those asked felt that improving a weakness was the best use of time and energy. I disagree, and that's probably why I like the business author Marcus Buckingham. Not too long ago I finished his latest work Go Put Your Strengths to Work. I actually listened to the book, read by Marcus himself. I guess the publishers feel that his British accent will add to his credibility.

I don't listen to Marcus because he's British; I listen to him because I believe he's right.

This book came complete with a CD of forms and exercises to employ while reading, I found the forms pretty elementary and not very helpful, but Buckingham's reminders and practical examples only bolstered my already strong belief that we are better off building on a strength than improving a weakness.

Let's think about the world of sports. If you have an American football quarterback who can throw the football with accuracy, you don't really care how fast he is or whether he can block and tackle. You want him throwing and leading the team because those are his strengths. You want him spending time getting better at what he already does well. There may be other aspects of his game that he can spend some time on, getting a little less ineffective in those areas. For the most part, however, you want him building on his strength.

That is how we should think about the human resources in our businesses, schools and churches. That is also how you should direct your own life and time. Don't spend one minute more than you must on making your weakness less weak. Take the time you could employ in that exercise and use it to be even more effective at your strength. I think you'll be happier and the team you are a part of at work, home or ministry will be better off with you doing what you do best as often as possible.

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Write It Down

Someone once said that the problem with taking mental notes is that they fade so quickly.  That is so true.  If there is one secret, and it's not such a secret to my productivity, it's that I write things down that I need and want to do. 

Where do I write things down?

I carry some index cards in my jacket pocket.  Sometimes I write things down there.  I have a Treo 680 phone organizer and I write things down there as well. The Treo syncs with my computer Icalendar and task list. I am violating a rule that you should only have one location, but I go one step further and also record some things in my journal.  I then regularly go back over these four locations to consolidate into one daily to-do list.

I just sat at my office desk (lit by generator power, I might add) and did two hours of work, and it was all fueled by my to-do list, my written to-do list.  I never rely on my memory to keep track of what I need to do.

I have also used the Franklin Covey Classic organizer and lately the Covey pocket compass system.  I am not a bigot as to which system you use, but I am rigid on this one principle:  Write it down. 

I hope when you read this you will refer to and compose your list of things to do and then will get busy doing them.  Sorry, I have to run to my next appointment, or at least that's what I have written down. 

The Middle Seat

I mentioned that I had a middle seat for my eight-hour flight from London to Nairobi on this last trip.  I haven't had a middle seat in 10 years!  It was so frustrating because we left for the airport in plenty of time to arrive early and have that seat changed, but an accident snarled traffic. I barely made the flight to begin with, and arrived at the gate as the plane door was closing.

I considered waiting until the next day to fly, because I know how middle seats can be.  Then I decided to give it a try, and ended up between one nice lady from Canada and another from who knows where--she never said a word or even made eye contact with me. 

We departed at 9:30 PM and I did alright until about 3:30 AM. Then I awakened and felt like I could not sit there a minute longer.  I was cramped, sore and a bit claustrophobic.  It was then that it dawned on me:  God gave me this middle seat for a reason.  He wanted to tell or show me something.  I asked the woman on the aisle to excuse me, I grabbed my notebook and went to the back of the plane, where I stood for the next two hours.

It was in the back of that plane that I got an idea for a novel/play that I had been thinking about.  The theme and characters became clear.  What's more, I took notes on several other ideas important to my work.  I returned to my middle seat for breakfast and I had no other cramps or discomfort for the remainder of the flight.

There is an effective prayer that I pray when I am in a situation that doesn't seem quite right.  The prayer is, "Open my eyes, Lord, to see what I'm not seeing."  I couldn't see why I had a middle seat until I asked and then it was clear:  God had a message for me.  I have always said that God is a great communicator.  He speaks every language, He speaks through circumstances, His Word, through people who know Him and people who don't.  He'll even speak through a donkey, as we see in Numbers 22:22-31

Can you apply that simple prayer, "Lord, open my eyes," to some situation you are in right now?  Do you believe that God can and indeed will open your eyes? 

To help this process along, I am going to take the next few days to share some examples from the Bible of this eye-opening principle.  It has happened to many others, but I want you to see that it can happen to you.  What's more, it must happen for you to be as purposeful and productive as you can be. 

I don't know why God chose to use that middle seat or the flight to Kenya as a time for us to "talk."  That's His business, not mine.  By the way, I had exit row aisle seats all the way home from Kenya last Saturday.  I guess I had gotten the message and there was no need for a middle seat any longer.


Feel free to post your comments or related stories on the site where this entry is posted.  You can also subsribe there to automatically receive these entries as I write them. 

You can read or subscribe to my weekly email, The Monday Memo, on the site where it is posted.  You can also read or subscribe to my weekly Bible study at its home site.  We are currently studying Mark's gospel.

Finally, please remember PurposeQuest and the Stankos in your missions giving

Here is my itinerary for the next few months:

  • March 18-24 -- Dallas, Texas
  • March 25-27 -- Seattle, Washington
  • April 24-29 -- England
  • April 30-May 7 -- Nairobi, Kenya
  • May 8-June 30 -- Zimbabwe

Let me know if I can help you with your PurposeQuest when I come to your area. 


Can You Do More?

I told my wife yesterday that I am taking the next seven days one hour at a time, working to get everything done I need to do before I depart for Zimbabwe next Wednesday.  Before then, I will drive my son's belongings to New York City.  He found an apartment in Brooklyn and will work at a restaurant in Manhattan.  On Sunday, I have friends who just happen to be in New York City at the same time, so we will try to get together.  Someone also contacted me today for a profile/purpose session on Sunday.

On Monday, I will leave New York for Nashville, where I will do some work with my friends, Tom and Bonnie Deuschle.  They are here on a sabbatical of sorts from Zimbabwe, and we have some projects that I have to take with me to Zimbabwe when I leave on Wednesday.  I won't even tell you my schedule while I am in Nashville, but it will be crazy. I will also pick up a third suitcase in Nashville of nutritional supplements for an orphanage in Zimbabwe.  How could I tell them I could not bring them over, even though it's such a headache to do so?

On Wednesday, I fly from Nashville to Detroit to Amsterdam to Johannesburg, where I will overnight before I head up to Harare on Friday.  I arrive and a few hours later I will drive three hours out of Harare to do a purpose seminar at Africa University on Saturday.  Then I will drive back to Harare late Saturday to speak at Celebration Church on Sunday morning in two services.

Do you see why I said I am taking it one hour at a time for the next week?

Why am I writing this?  For sympathy?  To complain?  Not at all.  I just want to make the point that you don't often know what you can do until you try.  You may be limiting your effectiveness because you underestimate what is possible for you to do.  When you don't think you can do something, then you won't even try.

Why not reflect on your next seven days to see if you are selling yourself short.  What is your plan for those days?  What could you do if you tried?  Where are you limiting yourself?

I have never said that anyone has to do what I do to be effective.  You just have to live up to your potential and, who knows, that potential may take you to places neither of us dreamed possible.  Why not give it a try?  If you like, please write to let us know what your plans are for the next week and then follow up with how things went.  You can post your thoughts on the site where this entry is posted. 

Gotta run.  I have to finish packing! 

Want To/Have To

I continue my thoughts on the topic I raised a few days ago about coercing someone (or yourself) to do something, even if it's the right thing to do.   There are two things I want to write today.

1.  The first are a few verses from one of Paul's writings.  I have used these as a guideline when I am working with any of my clients, partners or churches.

8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul — an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus —  10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him — who is my very heart — back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced (Philemon 8-14).

Paul was writing to Philemon about an escaped slave, Onesimus, who was now a believer and returning to his former master Philemon.  Paul could have coerced Philemon, instead he appealed to him for the stated reasons.

2.  My friend, Robin Brumett, gave me this article entitled "Letting  Go."  I think it is apropos for our discussion:

    • To let go doesn't mean to stop caring,
    • it means I can't do it for someone else.
    • To let go is not to fix,
    • but to be supportive.
    • To let go is not to cut myself off,
    • it's the realization that I can't control another.
    • To let go is not to enable,
    • but to allow learning from natural consequences.
    • To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
    • I can only change myself.
    • To let go is not to judge,
    • but to allow another to be a human being.
    • To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
    • but to allow others to effect their own outcomes.
    • To let go is not to be protective;
    • it is to permit another to face reality.
    • To let go is not to deny,
    • but to accept.
    • To let go is not to care for.
    • but to care about.

Several have posted their thoughts already on the site where this entry is posted.  Why not take the time to write a comment yourself?  Let me hear from you and let me and my readers know your thoughts. 

I Have To vs. I Want To

I am in the West Palm Beach airport heading home to Pittsburgh.  As usual, I had a great time with my friends and family at Urban Youth Impact.  We left West Palm last Friday to drive up to Orlando for our weekend retreat.  I was driving a vehicle following the bus holding 19 staff.  Suddenly, the bus had a blowout at 75 miles per hour!  I don't know how the young man driving was able to control the bus, but he did and no one was injured.  That certainly got everyone's attention.

We rented a seven-bedroom home near Disney World for the weekend.  Our theme was "Seeing What You Can't See."  The most interesting and spirited discussion came around the topic of doing what you want to do and not what you have to do.  When you coerce people (or yourself) to do something, you get less-than-spectacular results.  One man expressed the opinion that the concept wasn't biblical because God coerces people, and he used Jonah as an example. 

The discussion carried over to the staff meeting when the team got back to West Palm on Monday and I think they will discuss this issue for quite some time. I wish all the church and its leaders would discuss this topic.  I think it would cause people to evaluate why they are doing what they do and set people free from the legalism that torments and drives the body of Christ.

Care to weigh in on this subject?  I know I haven't written much about it in this entry, but you can still respond as you see fit.  The issue is:  Do Christian leaders have the right to demand that people do something, even if it's the right thing for those people to do?  When is it appropriate to tell someone to "suck it up" and just do it?

Feel free to post your comments or feelings on the site where this entry is posted.  Don't hold back.  Let me hear from you and let me and my readers know your thoughts.