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We’re Back!

Well, for the past 6 months or so my wife and I have been working diligently to found the non-government organization Sembrar para Cosechar in Guatemala. In the States it will be the Merlo Foundation, but if you travel to Guatemala, you will need to call it by another name. We have been in the homes of dozens of children and adults who are marked with seriously debilitating illnesses and ailments, none of whom have resources to provide aid or help. We have been there walking a mile in their shoes and let me tell you, it was a long mile for us but only a mile for them. There are many in this world who are suffering, and in the United States, I believe, we have a unique ability to help meet those needs.

The truth is, we didn’t give more than time. We invested time by witnessing a lot of need, and seeing how we might be able to come along side the needs that people have, and what we might be able to do about it. But that is always the question right? How do we help without creating dependence? How do we help without creating more problems? Well I don’t have all the answers, but we didn’t give a dime… yet.

We did however teach an English class and a principles of leadership and organizational management course in the hopes that we might provide some non-tangible knowledge-based help that people might be able to lift themselves out of poverty, or enable people to find better employment, or at least create a safe (and free) place for people to learn in. We did spend a lot of time in homes, sitting with crying mothers, and playing with socially ignored children. We did help carry a very heavy burden, if only for a moment.

With all that said, we are back and ready for 2012. We will be taking on new clients. Nathan will be enrolling in a UC Riverside college admissions counseling program that will further equip him to effectively counsel for college admissions and prepare your students for a successful college career. We might even find some students who want to take on Guatemala as a Senior Service Project, or for the more daring, a GAP year service project. If you’re interested, please call me!

(619) 823-5974 (NATHAN)


Keeping it real

So I am in my master’s program and I am working and I am married. Right now I am in an Ethics class and it is hard. I am struggling. In fact I am down right procrastinating. I don’t want to do my papers, or my posts. In fact, at this very moment, I hate school. lol. Not really.

But sometimes I get so frustrated. I would so much rather be done with my degree, I would rather be working in the career I know I should be in. I would rather… [fill in blank here].

The reality (as we all “know”) is that the grass isn’t greener over there, but I sure feel like it ought to be. I would rather be working in some beach country after surfing all morning. Surf, work, eat, surf, work, wife, surf, wife, wife, sleep. This is an amazing life! But alas, it isn’t mine.

In fact I am quite sure I wouldn’t be happy with that life either.

So the fact that I am procrastinating leads me to write about how to NOT do it.

  • Set mini goals: Reward yourself! While the goal of graduating is a great goal, it can be a little lofty when I am threatening to quit THIS CLASS. Setting a goal like, “when I get done with this paper I am going to go get frozen yogurt.” Or, “When I get done with this class/semester I am going to go to disneyland/traveling.” Mini goals help with the over all goal of finishing strong.
  • Study at the times that are best for you: I hate studying at night, which of course is the only time I can study. But I hate it because I am not a night person. My brain is literally slower after about 4pm. After 8:30pm I am virtually useless. But at 6am? My brain is sharp as a whistle.
  • Study with others: Most of the time studying alone is going to be the most profitable. But sometimes studying with other people helps keep you on track and provides an element of accountability. It’s more fun too!
  • Just do it! I know I know. I ought to be studying right now. But typing my thoughts on the blog is so much more fun…

Alright alright. I’ll go study. Geeze. Ask me if I finished tomorrow.

What’s the Point?

By: Phil Ortiz

What’s the Point?

What do I like to do? What would I be good at? How do I even know if I will like what I do? What about college? Should I even go? I don’t even know what i’m going to major in. Would I be wasting money? Maybe i’ll just figure it out when I get there. How am I going to pay for college? Should I just take out loans? What if I don’t like the classes? What if I don’t like the college? How do I know what college is right for me? What am I going to do after I graduate? How am I going to pay off my loans? How do I even know what I would be good at? All my friends are going to this college, maybe I should go…if they like it then I might… My family went to that college, I should just go to the same one. There is no way I could go to college, I could never afford it.

Sounds pretty hectic, but that is exactly what is going on in students heads while in high school and right after they graduate. The facts are that these questions are so difficult to answer and students are so far off from anything they can call an answer that they don’t even think about trying to find an answer. So on the outside it looks as though they don’t care, but in reality, they do, they just don’t have the tools to answer these questions.

Deep within every student there is an immeasurable amount of potential to succeed. Yet that will never be unleashed unless the student knows where and how to apply that potential.  Every student coming out of high school was born with strengths.  Every student, your son or daughter,  or even you holding this book, were defined and wired for a specific purpose. But what is that purpose? What are these “things”? What are these “strengths”? How do I tap in this potential? Are you sure I actually have strengths? Yes, absolutely everyone has strengths. Our strengths were not given to us simply to achieve our own goals. Our strengths were given so we can fulfill God’s purpose and plan for our lives and bring His Kingdom. This is the concept of vocation, or calling. “A job is what you are hired to do, a calling is what you are wired to do.”

What students first need is for someone to “draw out” these inner talents, strengths and gifts then they can be “poured” into with personalized, focused and applicable education according to their strengths.  The object of students in high school is to identify these strengths then develop, cultivate and test these strengths in college.  Once you better understand and appreciate your personal strengths, you can get a clearer focus on your identity with a more specific direction for your future.  This will create a mindset that will not make work seem like an actual task. When you sit down to start a project, or a paper, it won’t feel like a burden, hanging over your head like those fill in the blank worksheets, research papers, or boring reading assignments about topics you don’t understand and subjects you don’t really care about.  You will begin to study subjects that excite your mind and will instigate your desire to learn.

Friday May 21, 2010

As the week winds down, and we all prepare for a weekend, I am thinking about all of those people thinking about going to college. I wonder if they will find what they need for their futures? Silly I know, and you’re probably wondering if I am really thinking that. But I am. I think about people’s purpose and calling regularly; it drives me. I want to uncover potential, and help students (and parents for that matter) find that ‘motive passion’ that drives them to greater heights. See ya’ll on the flip side when we’re all back to the grind.

Elena Kagan’s Undergraduate Thesis

Find this:

In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism’s glories rather than of socialism’s greatness. Conformity overrides dissent; the desire to conserve has overwhelmed the urge to alter. Such a state of affairs cries out for explanation. Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force? Why, in particular did the socialist movement never become an alternative to the nation’s established parties?

In answering this question, historians have often called attention to various charcteristics of American society… an ethnically-divided working class, a relatively fluid class structure, an economy which allowed at least some workers to enjoy what Sombart termed “reefs of roast beef and apple pie”–prevented the early twentieth century socialists from attracting an immediate mass following. Such conditions did not, however, completely checkmate American socialism…. Yet in the years after World War I, this expanding and confident movement almost entirely collapsed….

From the New York socialist movement’s birth, sectarianism and dissension ate away at its core. Substantial numbers of SP members expressed deep and abiding dissatisfaction with the brand of reform socialism advocated by the party’s leadership. To these left-wingers, constructive socialism seemed to stress insignificant reforms at the expense of ultimate goals. How, these revolutionaries angrily demanded, could the SP hope to attract workers if it did not distinguish itself from the many progressive parties, if it did not proffer an enduring and radiant ideal? How, the constructivists angrily replied, could the SP hope to attract workers if it did not promise them immediate benefits, if it did not concern itself with their present burdens?…

Through its own internal feuding, then, the SP exhausted itself forever…. The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism’s decline, still wish to change America. Radicals have often succumbed to the devastating bane of sectarianism; it is easier, after all, to fight one’s fellows than it is to battle an entrenched and powerful foe. Yet if the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope

College Sucks

Yeah, I know… what?! I am a big fan of college for a number of reasons, but if you think you’re going to love every minute of college, you are sorely mistaken. Interwoven into the threads of the college experience are all these pesky things called “tests” and “readings” and “syllabus”. College also has this concept of opposing viewpoints that just really gets in the way of opinions and mindsets you didn’t even know you had… College sucks! Well, really it is just challenging. Let’s list some of those challenges, shall we?

  1. College threatens to “change you”! It’s true, we all go to college with our own proclivities and preconceived ideas; college will challenge the way you think about life in general. And it OUGHT to. The challenge for you isn’t the challenge that college provides, rather the challenge is to change on your terms, not theirs. Learning new methods of thinking and reasoning is uncomfortable (to put it mildly), but learning how to think critically is truly the challenge- just because someone says something doesn’t make it true, no matter how many letters are after their name, but there IS truth- so we’ve got to find it!
  2. College is expensive! Many people who choose to go to college haven’t actually prepared to go financially,t hey just do. Why? Because it is the expectation of our society. Is this right? Wrong? I don’t know. It just is. In order to fund this expectation many people will use debt to “invest in themselves”. College costs you something, usually a lot, but the investment is TWO fold. The first investment is financial; it is an investment in a degree that you will hang on your wall. The question to ask here is, what is the degree worth? This is asking, what is my return on investment, the ROI. You can find this on Career, simply multiply the average annual earnings for your area in your field by the years you plan to work (adjust for inflation). The second investment really is in yourself, and it is unseen in many ways. College is a way to sharpen your brain, it provides skill sets that are deeper than learning Office 07 and Dreamweaver. It isn’t about what you learn, but how you learn. This is something that can be achieved outside of college, but is most easily learned through the brutal structure of the college environment.
  3. College is hard work! Yeah I know it blows, but you will actually have to read, and write and discuss if you want to make it through college in one piece. This means that even in preparation for college you have to work hard, it won’t change once you’re in college, and here’s a newsflash, the work only gets harder after college. College will help you to read faster, understand more and more quickly, write more efficiently, and hopefully, if you learned from challenge #1, you will learn to think for yourself.
  4. College can get you lifelong friends! Or you can lose lifelong friends. Truly college is the great divider of friendships; hopes and dreams are made and broken on the steps of the college campus. Making friends in one area may be an eye opening experience, you may lose friends that you had for many years in order to open new doors. I would encourage you, don’t forget your roots, “from whence you came.”
  5. Faith is lost. Something like 75% of those with some element of faith who go into college come out with little to none. College, knowledge in general, has a way of puffing people up. I have been accused of being too heady, talking down to people, assuming I know more than others… this is an unfortunate consequence of a college education. Knowledge puffs up, and we must remain humble.

Just a few little challenges of college. My hope is that you will actually find that unique being inside you, the one that only you can be. You were created that way, it is time to embrace that, not run from it. Don’t treat college as a petri dish of social experimenting, but rather a challenging of your own mind and preconceived


Knowing your purpose is a bit conceited. When I was preaching more, I would be asked on a regular basis, “How can you be sure”? The question is posed because people don’t understand how such a vague and general question about purpose can be articulated. But it can! You can know what you are supposed to do, and then set our goals to get it done!

Joel Barker said, “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” Joel Barker is a man who understands vision and how it is achieved in the world. We must be a generation who lives their life with conviction and purpose to action. For too long people have been talkers and not doers. We must be both. “Seeing” the way the world could be is only part of the paradigm, we must also go out and ‘Just do It’.

I encourage you, before you decide to invest multiple thousands of dollars and countless hours on college, ask yourself, why? Why go to college? What is the goal after college? It’s not all about being happy, it is about living in your strengths with purpose for life. Then success will follow. Then making a difference in the world will follow. Then being fulfilled will follow.

If you’re reading this, if you can hear me… Let me know if I am wrong. How do you feel about this idea?