Category Archives: Review

Touch of Life

How does one cope with the loss of a family member or good friend? This week is Justice Week at ACU and I had the privilege of hearing Pam Cope, co-founder of Touch a Life Foundation, speak.

One of my favorite quotes I heard during her speech was, “The moon moves slowly, but touches the whole world,” an African Proverb.

Cope lost her son, Jansen, 11 years ago. He came home from football practice one day and reported being dizzy. That was the first sign of his sudden death. When he passed, Cope mourned, struggled with her faith and purpose in this world. Yes, she is a Christian, but these types of circumstances can happen to anyone. It’s just the way we choose to handle it that differs.

Her worst nightmare came true and she had to find the strength to live through it.

Cope used her son’s memorial money, a sum of $25,000, to start Touch of Life Foundation.

In Eastern Ghana, at Lake Volta, innocent children were being sold for a small amount of money. Parents sold their children for money to buy food. The children were alone in total abandonment. They were forced to work 20 hours a day, some kids as young as 4 yrs old. They did not get enough sleep or have a healthy diet, only getting to eat once a day.

Cope, having lost a child, hurt for the trafficked kids at Lake Volta. It was through her experience of rescuing them she was transformed. She found hope and healing in serving the suffering.

There’s no word that can be used to replace slavery. Even though the Touch of Life Foundation has rescued around 100 children, an estimated 7,000 children are still in slavery at Lake Volta. More than 27 million women and children are in some form of bondage in the world today.

Another issue is once kids are rescued, where does the rescuer place them? The Village of Hope and other rehabilitation centers welcome children of Lake Volta, but will there ever be enough room for 7,000 people?

All of this information really opened my eyes to what’s going on around the world today. It’s hard to imagine life outside of college, where I’m taken care of and getting a good education. It will rarely cross my mind that people are suffering elsewhere while I’m enjoying my bed, food and spending money on my cares and interests.

It’s also hard to think about how I would cope with a great loss. I hope I could, like Cope, find my purpose through my brokenness. Cope realized her mission was to tell these children’s story.

The kids’ lives and identities have been stripped from them. That’s the meaning of no justice. We have responsibility to give back, serve and love a hurting world.

I know I often go to the edge of a ditch, metaphorically speaking, and do not want to go any further because I’m scared. But I need to get into the ditch because as a Christian (my personal belief), I know that God is dwelling there and that’s where peace comes.

When I feel broken, that’s when I need to dig deep and find compassion.

Cope said she did not save the children, they saved her. She learned that being a mother means we make ourselves available to others. She found what she was created to do.

I need to remember that with a blink of an eye, I can be gone. My life is but a vapor. Life is the loveliest when it is simple. Self-absorption, money and busy schedules complicate things. I want to enjoy the life before and ahead of me to the fullest. Cope and her story opened my eyes to living life moment by moment, making the most of any circumstance.

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Overcoming Your Darkside of Leadership

More than likely you are reading this title thinking, “What? I don’t have a dark side; I do my best and am a good leader!” This is what I thought too until I started reading Overcoming the Darkside of Leadership by Gary Mclntosh and Samuel Rima. I did read this book in one of my Bible classes at ACU, but it can be recommended to anyone of any religion or belief.

Now, don’t get me wrong; there are great leaders out in the world today. But I wonder what exactly motivates these leaders? What are they seeking to accomplish with their leadership title and why does it really matter to them in terms of success? Mclntosh and Rima list five types of leaders: the COMPULSIVE leader, the NARCISSITIC leader, the PARANOID leader, the CODEPENDENT leader, and the PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE leader. Each of the qualities and tendencies within these different categories are normal and common.

However, it’s our job to recognize what motivates us. These five types of leaders show a person’s dark side. When I took the test provided at the end of each chapter describing each type of leader, man was I shocked! Not only did I have certain tendencies reflecting each area of the five types, I scored high in two of them. This was a huge eye opener for me and from reading the book, I was able to be true to myself and learn what I need to work on. I was subconscious to most of my flaws but now recognize what really motivates my drive for success and how to fix it.

First let’s take a look at compulsive leaders. This type of leader tends to be status conscious, looking for reassurance and approval from those in authority. They are usually workaholics, try to control activities and keep order. Sometimes they are excessively moralistic, conscientious, and judgmental. They can have rebellious and angry attitudes, yet may often feel the need to repress their anger and resentment because they feel it improper to show their true feelings. A compulsive dark side allowed to operate unchecked can result in a personal and organizational rigidity that stifles creativity and frays our relationship with others. It produces a self-righteous, legalistic environment that alienates the people we are called to lead. This is the category I scored the highest in. I did not realize I was compulsive in certain areas or the motives behind my success in a certain task. I now know what areas I need to keep an eye on.

Narcissistic leaders are driven to succeed by a need for admiration and acclaim. They may have an over inflated sense of importance and grandiose fantasies as well as great ambitions. They tend to be insecure, self-absorbed, uncertain due to deep levels of inferiority, and often never satisfied with their success. Narcissism can cause us to exploit those we have been called to lead. In the worst-case scenario, narcissism leads to unethical and illegal behavior as the leader is driven to achieve regardless of the price that must be paid.

The paranoid leader tends to be suspicious, hostile, fearful, and jealous. When they are afraid someone will undermine their leadership, they become hypersensitive to the actions of others, attach subjective meaning to motives, and create rigid structures for control. They also have strong feelings of insecurity and a lack of confidence. Acute distrust between leaders and boards, guerilla-type job warfare, and an inability to enjoy genuine fellowship are all the results of a leader’s paranoid dark side run amuck.

Codependent leaders are peacemakers who cover up problems rather than face them, in order to balance the group’s system. They often have a high tolerance for deviant behavior, and are willing to take on more work just so they do not have to let someone down. They react rather than act. They have a hard time giving a full, honest expression to emotions or problems. A codependent dark side can destroy relationships because the leader tries to keep everyone at work happy and meet every other need while ignoring their own family and personal needs.

Finally, there are the passive-aggressive leaders. These leaders have a tendency to resist demands to adequately perform tasks. They are stubborn, forgetful, and intentionally insufficient. They often complain, procrastinate out of fear of failure, and dawdle as a means of controlling those around them and their environment. These leaders live with the shame and consequences of his or her uncontrolled outbursts.

I know this is a lot of information to take on but just remember, whether you are a compulsive, narcissistic, paranoid, codependent, or passive-aggressive leader, it’s never too late to overcome your dark side. If you are a leader of a business, organization or group, I’d advise to go get this book and read it. It’s changing me into a better leader for the right reasons and I hope it will for you too.

Rice Noodle at Taste of Asia

It’s a taste of home.

Taste of Asia s one of my favorite places to get home-like food. For me, it’s even better than many Chinese restaurants — it has a taste of home which I don’t get from other places.

Taste of Asia offers food from South East Asia like Vietnam, Phillipines and Thai Land. The food culture in my hometown which is located in south west China are greatly affected by people from these countries.

Rice noodle is a specialty at Taste of Asia. Rice noodle is not common in the Unites States. Common noodle is made from wheat and egg, yellow, while rice noodle is white. Common noodle is sticker than rice noodle but both are soft. Rice noodle is soft in a different way — it’s thinner and lighter.

Several different combinations with rice noodle are served at Taste of Asia, including sea food, pork, beef and duck. Along with the noodle and meat in a big bowl of soup, a plate of parsley, bean sprout and one or two pieces of lime are coming to the table as well. The soup is hot enough to cook the raw vegetables to the best point that’s crispy, fresh and smell good without losing its nutrition.

My favorite combination is beef and meat ball with rice noodle. The meat ball served in Taste of Asia is different from the common kind of meat ball Americans usually have. It’s chewy because it is made from beef tendon, flower and beef. It’s not all meat, so it has less fat and is healthier. When you chew it, your teeth squeezes the soup out of the meat ball, with its special fragrance; hone-like taste fills up your mouth.

I ask for extra lime every time. I squeeze the lime juice into the soup. I love the saucer taste from lime with abundant Vitamin C, natural and fresh. Spicy sauce is another must-have. Saucey and spicy creates the best home atmosphere for me. I love every part of the meal and I will finish the last drop of the soup.

Though the restaurant always serves rice noodle combinations with fresh parsley and bean sprouts, which have plenty fiber and vitamin, the soup is seasoned with aginomoto which is not always healthy. Some times, surprisingly, the cook can over-cook the rice noodle and it becomes soggy and looses its original great taste.  Because of where I grew up, I’ve tasted this special dish many times. Compared to the version of Asian food Americans seem to favor, rice noodle might be too exotic.  But if you’re willing to really indulge in the food from Asia, I feel you’ll enjoy the many flavors of Taste Of Asia, located at 2201 South 1st Street in Abilene.

Abilene’s Best Of Broadway

The following is a piece “In Review” by Anthony Mincer. It’s of “Abilene’s Best of Broadway – Aluminum Show” from January 25, 2011

Enjoy.

The spotlights were moving quickly across the audience changing from
red to blue and as each light passed over my head I was blinded in
that moment. But I remained poised, hands held high to catch or punch
or give some kind of karate chop to the flying silver. Well, I’ll call
it a pillow. These flying silver pillows, at least five feet in
length, were bouncing around the crowd like a beach ball at a football
stadium. I’m estimating that at least forty were set free with the
unspoken challenge of reaching the back of the Abilene Civic Center.
Thirty minutes later in the show, I courteously urged an enormous
growing silver worm over my head to the awaiting hands of my new
friend in the row behind me. This worm made from industrial strength
aluminum air conditioning ducting was being inflated from massive
machines located somewhere off stage. My shiny vivacious tubular
friend then suddenly shrank violently back toward stage as the
machines changed their directions.

I will certainly never look at aluminum ducting the same ever again;
nor will my fellow audience members that attended The Aluminum Show at
the Abilene Civic Center. In fact I have high hopes for their
imaginative ideas in regard to industrial strength materials, but more
on that later. The latest Broadway venture to journey across west
Texas is the brain child of Israeli dancer Ilan Azriel. Ilan made a
name for himself as a contemporary dancer in Tel Aviv. Soon he
branched into puppetry and started choreographing shows that combined
both dance and puppetry. One day, on a routine trip to the hardware
store, he noted that a small piece of ducting could be used as a
puppet. That’s when he had the vision to use ducting large enough for
a grown man to fit inside.

Aluminum is the 13th element in the periodic table (AI). Aluminum is
strong, light, abundantly available (the most abundant metal in the
earth’s crust), and corrosion resistant. It’s also inexpensive. The
metal is used in building construction, computers, cars, aircraft, and
fighter ejection seats. The metal is perfect for ducting.

During The Aluminum Show, imagination and the suspension of disbelief
are required. The short summary of the show goes something like this.
Two large slinky objects become attracted to one another and fall in
love. They have a little slinky baby. Slinky baby becomes lost from
her parents. Slinky parents and slinky baby try to find one another
while meeting a wide variety of other creatures (all made from
aluminum inflatables or ducting). Finally after a great deal of
puppetry, dancing, music, crowd interaction, and acrobatics, the
reunion of the family is heartfelt. Mind you, the show is
approximately two hours long so that simple plot is carried along by
lots of visual theater and humor.

Ilan Azriel’s production first debuted in Jerusalem in 2003. In 2005,
they performed their first international production in Istanbul,
Turkey. Since then they’ve covered the planet with shiny distractions
worthy of attracting all the Dory’s of the world (reference Finding
Nemo).

Other than punching silver pillows or passing mechanical earthworms,
some of my highlights from the show were the “factory scenes”. The
cast inflated a number of large pillows for five minutes of the
production with no apparent rhyme or reason. Then they attached these
pillows to a massive silver giant who then walked amongst the crowd
via the help of steel poles and four talented puppeteers. Later, I
was envious of the lucky audience member who had the pleasure of being
pulled onto stage and eaten by one of the slinky creatures. Sacrifice
for science, I say. The Aluminum team included a group of robotics
experts who controlled the baby slinky’s movements around stage. The
only awkward moments of the production was when one of the male cast
members paraded shirtless on stilts wearing an aluminum skirt. I still
have no idea what that was all about. Judging from the silence from
the crowd, I think we all missed that punch line.

After the show, the dancers came into the lobby with the robotic baby
slinky and a variety of aluminum ducting that was used as dance props.
Children and adults alike had the pleasure of interacting with the
industrial materials just as the dancers had done during the
performance. Ilan has made a fortune, gained fame, and traveled the
world off his creativity with an everyday household item. The
production Stomp became world famous with their artistic use of
garbage cans. So, what’s next on the list of common household items to
be used in a famous Broadway production? Hmmm, what about something
with garbage bags? Ceiling fans? What about step ladders? Maybe you
will discover the next great household item sensation. Until I see you
on Broadway, I hope to see you at the next traveling Broadway
production,
Beauty and the Beast, gracing our beautiful city on February 21 & 22.