Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gold At The End of The Rainbow

I'm loving the time I get with Grace every morning for 10 minutes as I drive her to school. Yesterday was an insightful day. The conversation began like this: "Dad, I want to build a trap to catch a Leprechaun." "Really?," I ask inquisitively. "My kindergarten teacher last year told me she caught one." I was wondering what was coming next. Then she said "Do you think Leprechauns are real or not, kinda like Santa Claus?" I said, "What do you mean ?" "Well, you can believe in him or not believe in him. Some kids think Santa is just their parents." "Do you believe in Santa Clause?" I asked. "Oh yes! What made me believe in Santa for sure was the wii."
"How so?" I asked. "Well I knew it was from Santa because it costs like $1000 and I know you wouldn't spend that much on Christmas."
So she and I may go in search of the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Little Man - Help Me Please!

I've been in bed all day feeling lousy. Never a good time for me mentally, not to mention physically. But it is time to think and now I'm writing to help me gather some thoughts about a problem I'm having.
The problem is My Little Man. That's the thing I call him as a term of endearment. Ashley is "The girl I always wanted." Grace is "My special girl." Jordan is "My little man." And I so desire for him to be a man instead of the stage he is in right now. It's this place of being 13 in a body that's more like 11 and a mindset that goes from 7 to 13 to 10 to 12 to 9 all within the course of a day.
Jordan has always been able to make us laugh. He's always been funny. He's always been silly. He's always been a goof. If he harnesses those qualities he will be a fine comedic actor. Right now they seem to be used too often at the wrong times.
Jordan has also been our most sensitive child. And I worry that I have mis-parented the sensitivity right out of him. But I won't use this blog to bash myself too much.
At 13 we are really struggling with his lack of responsibility and his poor choices. He seems to be processing things so literally that it makes me crazy. Here is one example: After church I told him to stop running and jumping in the church. Moments later I watched him jump off the platform stairs. I called him over and said "What did I just tell you to do?" "Stop running and jumping." "What were you just doing?" "Jumping." "Why did you do that when I told you to stop?" "You said to stop running and jumping. I was just jumping." UUUUUUUUUUUGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So often we give him instructions that aren't followed. So often we ask him to do things only to find out that he didn't do them.
Before I get you thinking too poorly of him I am SO proud of how he has improved his studies this year. Every year we have struggled with school and homework. This year he is finally doing well and getting his homework done and turned in. Jordan is creative. He loves to draw and continues to get better at it. He has the musical genes. He is going to All State Honor Choir next weekend and has auditioned for the Wizard of Oz at his school. He's interested in how things work and interesting facts about people, places and things.
We have him playing Recreational Basketball, which he seems to like. Outside of that and school he doesn't really interact with kids his age. I worry about My little man, who would rather play with his 7 year old sister and cousin than with the older kids.
So, if you can give me any encouragement I'm open. I really lost it with him tonight. I just couldn't take his arguing, excuses, lack of responsibility and attitude that I worry I have fostered. Again, I'm not blogging about my lacking parenting skills right now.
Thanks for your help and prayers and empathy and encouragement.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Year Without A Christmas Concert

It was late June and amid the thoughts of swimming and camping trips I was also listening to Christmas music and ordering songs for the choir. “I must be crazy,” I thought because I hated hearing songs of the season while trying to relax in the summer air. This is not what I was in the mood to be doing. Fishing with the kids, building a fire for roasting marshmallows and making smores, talking to friends on my cell phone while wearing my Indiana Jones hat, those are the reasons for the summer season!

Every choir director has to do this. Nearly every choir I know of starts singing Christmas music before summer is officially over. “…walkin’ in a winter wonderland…”, “Joy to the world…”, “…pa rum pum pum pum…”, “I’m dreaming of a…” can be heard bouncing off the walls of music rooms around the country. Every choir and every director is working towards the climax of a holiday performance to rival the one before and honestly gives no thought to the very next Christmas just 12 short months away.

This year was no different. Everything was moving along as usual. Extra rehearsals, cramming lyrics, pounding out tenor parts. Everything was in order for the concert. No, not just one concert. Many concerts. Many singers. Many accompanists. Many audience members. Many moments and memories. None of them happened this year. I know it sounds dramatic, but have you worked for months on something that at the very last minute is cancelled?

On Sunday at noon it was announced that our church choir concert had been cancelled. On Tuesday at 9 am the e-mail went out that informed everyone that the Voices of Hope Choir benefit concert was cancelled. On Tuesday night the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen notified us that school was cancelled which meant the 1st grade Holiday Concert would be cancelled as well. Wednesday night the same news told us the High School Concert was cancelled and Friday at 5:30 am a text message let us know the concert would not happen tonight either.

Though choirs have been singing Christmas songs since the end of summer they don’t really want to sing them after Christmas. Rescheduling a Christmas concert seems kind of silly. The church is going to try it. Voices of Hope Choir will not. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the schools will do. But right now we are just a bit sad that this was the year without a Christmas concert.

The widespread reason for the cancellations…the beautiful winter white snow fall and the below freezing temperatures. Not since 1979 has it been so cold for so long. Rarely does Portland see snowfall before the biggest holiday of the year. It’s not too often that a snowman can be made on the lawn of Tualatin home. But it happened the year without a Christmas concert.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hofer Christmas '08

Many of you have been hit hard by the recent downturn in the economy. Some of you that I have heard from have not only lost jobs but have also come to the stark realization that you have not known how to manage your finances well and this is an especially difficult time. I can share your feelings during this season and just feel grateful that I still have a job.

We have decided to totally change our approach to gift giving for the first time. In years past we have worked to get our “Christmas List” ready by Thanksgiving. It meant spending time with the catalog and a notepad. In fact, I’ve watched my kids take a red sharpie and circle most things in the toy section.

We have decided that our shopping will be limited to The Dollar Tree this Christmas. The kids have short lists and if they are blessed with some Christmas money they might use it for things on their lists. However, each of us will spend some time at the store and buy gifts for everyone on our list.

Today I took Grace and Jordan separately. It was amazing as they thought about each person on their list and took time to think about what they like. As we walked the isles it was fun to discover the treasures that they believe will be appreciated as a gift. Sure, I guided them a bit. But they were full of ideas as they saw things in a new light.

Not everyone in my family is convinced that this is a great idea. No names, but the 16 year old apparently hasn’t bought in yet. I think it will be different once we get there and get going.

So there will be not big debt from Christmas. There will be no worries in late January or early February about how we will pay the bill. And we won’t be filling orders this year. We are thinking about what each person might appreciate. Hopefully that is part of some lesson we need to learn this holiday time.

In the spirit of “Advent Conspiracy” (http://www.adventconspiracy.org/) we are assisting my colleague at work by giving to a family in need. This mother and her 4 kids had to flee an abusive situation and need lots of clothes and could use other things. Each of us has found things that may not be meeting our needs currently but will be a blessing to someone else. In addition to some nice clothes that aren’t being worn any longer, Grace gave a brand new doll. Jordan gave one of his bikes. Ashley had some clothes she never wore for whatever reason. There are books and toys and much more. It feels really good to all of us to give to this family.

We hope that as you celebrate the season in whatever way you choose this Christmas that you keep in mind the Child born to save our souls. God thought of us and gave the ultimate Gift we never expected. In fact, our list included lots of other priorities, yet he knew what was perfect for mankind. For that, we adore Him!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Lord of The Rings/This Is My Father's World

"Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadow lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring the all in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadow lie."
(from The Lord of the Rings)

Around Thanksgiving I get the urge to watch The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. So we got out The Fellowship of The Ring last night. I love that movie and find so many deep thoughts and concepts to chew on.

Today I caught a few of the “extras” and found out that J.R.R. Tolkien disliked the use of allegory. "As for any inner meaning or 'message', it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical... I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.” However the reader, or in this case the observer can interpret or apply meaning to what is seen. And I have had a haunting sense from what I’ve heard throughout the movie in it’s musical theme.

Maybe you have noticed it, the haunting melody with varying harmonies; “This is my Father’s World…” You can find some audio examples and some comments of similarities between this hymn and the Shire Theme at the following website: http://www.geocities.com/magpie930/SIMILARITIES/musical_similarities.htm
It is stated on the site, “This is My Father's World…is hymn 111 (Eleventy-one) in the United Methodist Hymnal. He writes, "If you think about it, he is quite clever really. Bilbo's is at the heart of the Shire. It is through Bilbo that we are first introduced to the Shire. And he is about to celebrate his 111th birthday." I don't know if this is deliberate on Shore's part, but it makes for great serendipity if not.”

Here are the lyrics to the hymn by Maltbie D. Babcock.

This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!God reigns; let the earth be glad!

This is my Father's world, dreaming, I see His face.
I open my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, "The Lord is in this place."
This is my Father's world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son, Came - a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father's world, should my heart be ever sad?
The Lord is King - let the heavens ring. God reigns - let the earth be glad.
This is my Father's world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father's world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father's world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate'er my lot, it matters not,My heart is still at home.

The first 3 stanzas are what are typically sung and so many of the lines resonate with the story of Frodo and his band of characters as they travel and face the challenges of good and evil. I can’t help but allow the lyric “This is my Father’s world…” to resonate in my mind as I watch the film. I would challenge you to do the same and see what types of thoughts and feelings are arisen as a result.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Divine Appointment #1

First let me say thank you to you blog readers, especially to my special friends and family who leave comments. It's a lesson to me that I should comment more.

So, most know that I am an Associate Insurance Agent for Nationwide
(is on your side). Through a series of events completely out of my control, my compensation package recently changed. I am no longer receiving the base along with my commission. However, my commission percentage has increased. I had an idea how it would impact my income but didn't now forsure. My first pay check ended up being my 2nd largest since I started at the agency nearly 3 years ago. Unfortunately my next pay check was about the 6th lowest since I started. I'm not sure what my next check will be. I do know that the last 3 weeks have been very bad for sales and I'm nervous.

Now our Agent/Owner has some plans to build the business. We are moving our office from retail space to office space. He gave us a book by a top producing Farmers agent about successfully growing an agency. As I began reading I found out that this agent is from Visalia, a town just miles from where I grew up. So with a desire to learn and grow in my business I looked at this author's website and e-mailed him to let him know I would be in town and to see if I could spend 15 minutes with him to gain some knowledge from him.

To my surprise I got a call from him on my cell. He would be in town and would have his secretary add me to his calendar. I hung up and turned to my boss and said "That was Troy Korsgaden..." His jaw dropped.

So I met with him at his 3rd story private family apartment in downtown Visalia. After giving me a short tour and showing me pictures of his family we sat down and he shared with me the key to being successful in this business and how to retool the way I work to accomplish my goals. He said "This crap sells itself." He told me I have to talk to 10 people every day and set 4 appointments every day. I don't have to sell them anything. In fact, many of my appointments will include me saying "I'm not here to sell you anything..."

After my 30 minute meeting and a short tour of the first and second floors of his building, a restaurant and nightclub he owns called Crawdaddy's, I left feeling energized and excited to get back to work. And now I'm working differently, trying to work smarter, developing a list of people to contact and beginning a new attitude of growth. Oh, I sold a fair amount this week, even though it was only 3 days long.

So if you would be willing to introduce me to your friends, I promise to build a relationship with them before I ask them to buy anything. But when they think insurance I want them to think Don Hofer.

And when I think Insurance, I'm thinking "Divine Appointment."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Divine Appointments

This past weekend I went to my home town of Dinuba, CA. My purpose was to visit my Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma was recently moved into a Convelesent Home. I wanted to make sure she was doing OK and being well taken care of. She is very happy and doing very well. It was wonderful to see them.

But come to find out that was NOT the reason that I was to go home. I had 3 "Divine Appointments" plus some much needed R & R. One of them is a bit to private to share. One is in regards to my career in insurance. One is in regards to my personal journey. So in the coming days I'll tell you more about these "Divine Appointments."
As to the R&R...I got to see the Gaither Concert in Fresno. My favorites, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound was on the program, as was The Gaither Vocal Band, Janet Pascal, Russ Taff and others. My Uncle and Aunt drove my mom and dad and the rest in one of their Limos. Nice way to travel to an evening on the town. I also got to drive my dad's 1986 Corvette. I have never driven such a car. Amazing. A nice way to travel when your need is to go from 0 to 100 in only a few seconds. I ate great Italian food at our favorite spot, DiCicco's. I visited Bass Lake, a wonderful resort spot between Fresno and Yosemite. I saw my brother and his wonderful wife. She was a great "date" to the concert since my brother was out of town. Pamela and Daniel were fun to see. It's great to see how they have grown. I got to visit my sister's new home in Visalia and had a great time with her and her husband. I was blessed to celebrate my niece's 3rd birthday. Haley is a beauty. Her brother Alan schooled me on Wii. I treated my mom to a birthday lunch. I watched some football. I took a nap and had a Thanksgiving Turkey dinner almost a week early.
Since so few read my blog I figure most don't care. But it's still fun to write about that stuff. I hope you will be blessed in the next few days as I share some neat events and let you see what God did over that weekend.