Operation: Joint Effort
- Instructor Staff
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We know we aren't alone out there, we know there are a lot of other organizations seeking to help people. We were excited because this month's service project gave us a unique chance to link arms with one of those other organizations – Habitat for Humanity. Founded in 1976 Habitat for Humanity has become a world leader in tackling the problem of affordable housing. They believe that by helping to provide decent shelter for people in need it empowers them to build a better future for themselves and their families.
[caption id="attachment_193" align="aligncenter" width="340"] figure 1: men full of bbq ribs after laboring together on a house[/caption]
For us at Living to L.A.S.T their vision of providing for those who would not normally be able to provide for themselves is right in step with the heartbeat of our organization. Also Nathan attended college with the Construction Manager in the Portland office, so we were pumped to see if our organizations could join efforts. Habitat is very active through out Maine so we were invited to help out any time we could at one of their largest projects in Scarborough, ME. The overall housing project includes a total of 13 homes with several already completed and a couple well on the way.
Geared up and ready to go
The group of guys who turned out to help, as it just so happened, all had some prior experience with household construction. Ryan was our Habitat for Humanity Manager for the day and was really excited to have such a skilled group join him and eager to see if we could help them catch up on areas where they were behind schedule.
We broke into teams working to insulate the bulkhead mudroom, sheet rock the ceiling in the basement, hang all the doors throughout the house, finish decking along with a punch list of small items along the way. The eight of us who came out for the service project were joined not just by Ryan but also by the man who will be a homeowner across the street from the house we were working on. He was putting in some of his 'sweat equity' hours towards the construction of his families new home.
[caption id="attachment_192" align="aligncenter" width="340"] figure 2: men stretching[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_191" align="aligncenter" width="341"] figure 3: man waves at camera[/caption]
We all had a lot of fun and the days work gave us all multiple opportunities to enjoy chatting and sharing stories along the way. Grateful to be working indoors with the winter temperatures still holding on, by lunch time the sun was strong in the sky and the temperatures had become quite pleasant. We broke for a delicious lunch from Famous Dave's BBQ including ribs, chicken, coleslaw and the rest of the works.
[caption id="attachment_194" align="aligncenter" width="340"] figure 4: man fuel[/caption]
The Inner Man
Lunch time always provides us with an opportunity to be challenged by a devotional moment on what it means to be a man. This sunny afternoon was no different as Brandon Neujahr laid out for us the reality of needing to surrender, sacrifice and suffer for those around us. The hardest part of the challenge being that it is hardly ever in the big movie-like moments that these three things are required of us. Instead it is in the daily routine of life that we find ourselves needing to surrender, sacrifice, and suffer. The laying down of our will, our wants, our desires, our free-time. It is a lifestyle of these smaller moments done well that ensures we live in the fullness of our manhood making a difference in the lives of those around us.
Stop Reading and Join
Don't wait any longer. We continue to encourage any guys out there reading this to come out and join us. Once a month we give up a Saturday to stretch ourselves a bit, be exhorted towards a higher life call and learn some skills that might help us be a blessing to others in need. In the process we enjoy some great times, good food and meet other men with a similar passion in their hearts. No prior experience is necessary – just a willingness to learn. The needs around us in this world are endless. Society hungers to see men rise to meet these needs and stand in the gap for others.
For more pictures and updates, until next time....
LEARN. ACT. SERVE. TRAIN
Operation: Transformation Part 2
- Instructor Staff
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The sun was out and the temperatures were oddly warm for February in Maine this past Saturday. A welcomed change from the past week of constant large snow storms. As we had hoped, we were in fact able to return this past Saturday to continue helping The Transformation Project. For more on who they are and what they do, check out our last blog post. The TTP staff put in lots of hard work behind the scene this month, but it sure paid off!
With all the correct permits in place, we were able to fully jump into the demo work. Before hammers and pry bars started swinging, we moved the rest of the valuable goods out of the way. After that we divided and conquered. We put some guys on removing doors and some on removing all the various types of electrical covers. Others worked on salvaging parts of a bathroom that was due for destruction. This quickly lead way to the main event of ripping down drywall, studs, and ceilings! We made quick work to transform a sterile looking office area into piles of rubble and dust. See more pictures of the day. By lunch time we had the bathroom gutted, several walls down, and a good pile in the dumpster.
After stopping for a brief word about being men that see and stand in the gaps in the "wall" of our society and world, it was time for lunch. While lunch was not as extravagant this time, every one was so hungry that silence fell upon us for the first time all day as everyone stuffed face. Quickly after though, the guys were anxious to get back to work. While some (including the guy writing this) were still working on "cleaning up" the plates of cookies and chips, many were already dragging loads of drywall to the dumpster. In not much time we had both ceilings down and the rest of the walls down. It was a flurry of dust, debris, and testosterone, but everyone was smiling and enjoying the work.
As more drywall and framing had been pulled down through out the day, more of the original building could begin to be seen. While many worked vacuums, shovels and brooms to clean up the mess, some got to show the TTP staff some of what had been behind the walls. They were excited to be able to lay eyes on some of the original timber beams and brick work that they hope to feature in the future cafe!
When the dust settled we had a 30 yard dumpster full of rubble and the beginning of a clear canvas for TTP to begin to build. While in a way the work has just begun there, in many other ways this is the fruit of years of hard work by the TTP staff. We were blessed to be able to help make their vision one step closer to a reality.
Until next time...
LEARN. ACT. SERVE. TRAIN
Operation: Transformation Part 1
- Instructor Staff
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Happy New Years to you all. Thanks for continuing to check in and see what is going on at Living to L.A.S.T. This past service project was a full day with a lot of new faces. I want to continue to extend an open invitation to any other guys who are curious about joining us. Please do! The need for men who are willing to sacrifice and serve others in today's society is huge. Hard-pressed, exploited and people in serious need of assistance are in every community. We can not continue to make a difference without you joining us on this mission!
The Parallel Mission
January 21st was a day for us to join forces with a ministry in Westbrook, ME called The Transformation Project. Their aim, through several approaches, is to help incarcerated young adults transition back into the community. They offer them training, mentoring, employment opportunities, community involvement and other such things that will best support them as they step back into the world on their own.
The Transformation Project just recently acquired a new building to call their home. The vision for this building includes everything from office and conference spaces to a cafe and actual housing for several candidates. Check them out here for more information.
Our goal this Saturday was to help them begin the large list of renovation work that must be done in order for the building to become the multi-use facility they have envisioned. The turn out was humbling and encouraging. Twenty to twenty-five guys came out to swing hammers, run saws, lift heavy objects, demolish and build. The workforce moved in constant motion as everyone had something to do and when one project become completed, guys were eager to jump into whatever was next.
A great BBQ chicken sandwich and Caesar salad lunch was provided as we all rallied during break to be encouraged with our life's focus. Men desire two things in their hearts at all times: 1. a mission to be on and 2. a team to be on mission with. Andrew Ochsner challenged us with these points and exhorted us to consider how we can better apply our lives to make sure we have a team and a mission.
Ken Hawley, Executive Director of The Transformation Project, was blown away by the work that was accomplished and was so blessed to see the vision begin to become a reality. (check out some pictures of the day!) Living to L.A.S.T has long discussed how we might partner with The Transformation Project and this is just the beginning! There is still more work to be done! Stay tuned because it is our aim to be there again next month. Bring a friend next time or come on out for the first time.
Remember STAY ON MISSION and find a TEAM to be on that mission with. You are always welcome to join us in ours!
Till next time...
LEARN. ACT. SERVE. TRAIN
Operation: For the Kids!
- Instructor Staff
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There are a lot of ways you can spend a Saturday. There is always that list of things you need to get done. There is usually a list of things you want to do. My experience over the past two years with Living to L.A.S.T has put their events on my WANT to do list! If you have never been able to get in on the action, don't miss out in the future. Every month we get a chance to help people who need the assistance or learn more skills that will enable us to help others in the future.
This last Service Project was in Lewiston, ME and we worked on a house that will be opening in November as the Children's Advocacy Center serving the Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford Counties. This house will serve as a welcoming location with an intimate atmosphere where children, accompanied by their families, can meet with counselors and the necessary interviewers whenever a child has experienced abuse in any way. The house is set up to allow the essential law enforcement and third party members to observe from a separate room via audio and visual feed. This entire setup allows for the least amount of additional strain on a child and family who have experienced such horrible acts.
As a non-profit themselves, the Children's Advocacy Center has relied on donations and fund raising to make the necessary renovations to the building. Money is begin to run thin and there is a decent amount of work to still get done. Living to L.A.S.T. brought in 12 guys to help for the day. Coupled with 6-7 other gentlemen who came to put in some community service hours we had a huge crew and tackled a ton of work.
The main goal was the flooring for the entire first floor. It consisted of 5 rooms and a bathroom. Most of the preparations had been made. The installation of the new laminate flooring was what awaited us. Breaking into crews to tackle the different rooms, there was something for everyone to do. Because we had so many helpers, some were even able to work on sanding the handicap ramp railings. (See more pictures of the day!)
During lunch we investigated the value of men needing to lock together in life with other men in order to fulfill their purpose. Taking our illustration from the flooring we had been working with all day, we discussed the danger of being alone in life vs sharing life with other men. As the saying goes, “No man is an island.” We took the illustration of the flooring one step further to talk about how the laminate flooring, even when locked together appropriately, is only as strong as the foundation it rests on. In like fashion, we can be linked together with other men, but when the foundation of our unity is non-existent we still are weak. Jesus Christ and the power of his life lived, sacrificed and resurrected serves as the ultimate foundation for us to lay our lives, in unity, together on.
By the end of the day we had finished the installation of the floors in ALL the rooms! (Check out our before and after photos). We had even begun putting finishing touches on the baseboard in the living room and had been able to stain the railings on the ramp. Living to L.A.S.T owes a huge shout out to the guys that came to put in their community serve hours. Some of those guys had even done flooring before so they cranked out a huge amount of the work. The whole day proved to be a huge blessing for everyone involved and the amount of work that was completed exceeded everyone's expectations!
There are always other things that can be done on a Saturday. What did yours consist of? This was an awesome way to spend the day. Other things can wait – there are children and families that need this place now! There are people in need all around you. What are you doing to change that? Are you trying to live this life on your own? Do you have other brothers to unite with on the only sure foundation that can make a difference in this world? If not, get in the action!! Join us as we seek to Learn – Act – Serve – Train.
Operation Surprise Restoration
- Instructor Staff
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A huge thanks to everyone who participated in this months Service Project in Lewiston, ME on Sept. 17th. I have to confess that it felt a little like being on Extreme House Makeover. We had the wonderful opportunity to work on a trailer home for a lady who was recovering from recent health complications. The home badly needed new carpet in the living room and hallway. Holes in the original carpeting had caused her to trip in the past. Additionally, the kitchen area had actually been carpeted at one point in time and was in bad shape. Lastly, the kind lady had long wished to someday have a living room window that actually opened so she could enjoy more fresh air.
Living to L.A.S.T linked up with 20 guys of all ages and tackled the job. With carpet gone in no time, a large team tackled the old adhesive with scrappers, brushes and cleaning agents to prepare the floor for the new carpet.
With more guys then there was room to work in the trailer, another team got to work cleaning the exterior of her home along with the lawn and garden areas. By lunch the grounds were pruned, raked, weeded, pressure washed and mulched.
Living to L.A.S.T was blessed to have some friends no only donate lunch but come and prepare it all for us. So with the smell of burgers and hotdogs in the air, we all enjoyed a break to refuel. Andrew presented us with some thoughts about the Latin phrase that had been selected for Living to L.A.S.T's logo. It reads “Vivite Pro Aliis” which is translated “Live for others.” Andrew encouraged us to remember that at the heart of truly living like a man is living selflessly in the small ways and the big ways as was modeled for us by Christ Jesus.
With extra food still to eat the neighborhood kids and families were invited to come and join us. Smiles were abundant and the joy of sharing could be felt by everyone.
Full from lunch, we broke back into teams to complete our mission. New carpet was getting installed by one group of guys. Another was working on cutting and fitting the linoleum in the kitchen. A close friend and connection with Portland Glass had arrived with a donated window for the living room and it was well on its way to be installed.
Feeling the squeeze for space again, a team of 4 men broke off and went door to door in the trailer park until they found a neighbor in need of assistance. Rot in the floor of two rooms had left the owner with holes large enough to put furniture down through. Materials were already on site but the lady was trying to get it done herself with little experience. With time working against them the team managed to shore up and add the needed floor joists to support the new floor. Plywood was cut to fit and the project was left ready for the owner to nail it down and keep moving forward.
This entry does not provide the space to share the details of the blessings and joys of the entire day. Needless to say, the work that we set out to complete was finished. The entire neighborhood was excited to see the work and encouraged to know that it was happening for a lady many enjoyed having as part of the community for around 20 years.
Many man hours were spent for a great cause and we all wish we could be there when the owner gets to open the door to her home to see the surprise that awaits! Keep up the good work guys. Until next time:
Learn. Act. Serve. Train
Men of Action or Men of Adam?
- Instructor Staff
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I remember the first time someone showed me.
There, in that infamous story in Genesis:
In the Garden of Eden, Eve holds the future of all humanity in her hand as she decides whether or not to heed the serpent’s words and cede to temptation. She takes a bite, and then upon discovering it tastes good, turns to Adam.
TURNS TO ADAM!?!?
You mean to tell me he was right there when this was happening?
And he did nothing?
I was floored. Thoughts and questions raced through my mind. How could he allow that to happen? He should have done something. He knew better. He should have intervened.
Well, would you have done the same? Okay, maybe it's difficult to place yourself there, but can we really trash Adam all that much? Are we not guilty of the same failure to act? An honest look at our lives shows we too are “sons of Adam.” We too fail to act even in the clearest of situations. Adam's problem is our problem, and it isn't limited to when a lady is involved and needs saving!
A key part of manhood is taking initiative and doing the things that need “getting done.” Adam should have taken the initiative and done something. Rather than sit by and watch his wife be deceived, he should have told the serpent to get lost.
Often we tell ourselves we’ll act on the big stuff- the stuff that “matters,” but the little things aren’t as important. Yet reality shows if you are inactive in the little things, you won't act when it matters either.
Part of Living to L.A.S.T's core values, the letter “A” stands for “ACT on what you do know.” No matter your age, knowledge, place of responsibility or skill level, we can probably all think of things we know we should be doing and just don't.
You should be eating healthier and exercising
You should be reading your Bible and praying regularly
You should be holding the door open for people
You should be spending more time with your wife and/or kids
You should go to bed earlier
You should spend less and save more money
You should ….You fill in the blank!
The “big stuff” probably won’t come around every day, but I say the “big stuff” is in the little things. For when you are faithful in the little things, you can be counted on when the things that “matter” happen. True character is shown in the little actions of everyday life.
You want to be the first one to respond when someone needs help? Then be the first to respond when the trash needs to be taken out. Train your servant’s heart. Train in selflessness. Train your eyes to see the needs of others, and respond rather than pass by.
Being a man does NOT mean waiting for serpent to make his move, it means crushing the serpent before he can.
Get out there and ACT on what you already know!
10 Things to Keep in Your Car this Winter
- Instructor Staff
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Last winter, AAA Roadside Service reported “rescuing” 175,000 drivers here in Maine. With the winter season now fully upon us, it might be good to review a few items that can make or break your ability to help someone (or yourself) in a wintery jam.
1. Compact shovel
Whether you buy a high end backpacking shovel, or visit your local army surplus to get a trenching tool, it’s a great idea to have a shovel with you. Many cars that end up off the roads are hung up, or 'floating,' on top of the snow. Having a shovel will give you the ability to get the tires back on the ground, and reduce the amount of friction if you’re in a towing situation.
2. Hand warmers
These can be a real help if children and/or the elderly are involved in your scenario. Both of these parties have a much harder time maintain their own body temperature, and their extremities are in greater risk in extreme temperatures. It’s not uncommon for roadside assistance to take 45 minutes to reach you. If the car is disabled it will cool down quickly, and having these around can help warm those outer extremities for hours.
While I have never experienced it here in Maine, I know other states receive weather that can leave people stranded on the roadways for extended periods of time. Having a little something to keep you going can be a real morale boost. Make sure it has a high calorie count, is compact, and will keep well in a range of temperatures.
4. Salt, Sand or Chemical Deicer
While this item can be tricky to find space for, if you can squeeze it in then do so! Ice and packed snow can limit or neutralize even the most capable 4-wheel drive vehicles. Used wisely, even a single bag of deicer can buy you just enough bite to get the job done!
5. Headlamp or Flashlight
Shorter days = shorter light. In the winter season, your chances of driving in the dark are much greater. A headlamp offers the benefits of hands free operation, so you have both hands available to perform your work. Being in a bind in the winter is bad enough; being in a bind and not having enough light to diagnose a problem only compounds the difficulties of your situation.
6. Blanket, Clothes and Boots
This one ties hand-in-hand with the hand-warmers, as the need to stay warm, dry, and preserve your body temperature is important. I have never worked a job where I had to wear a suit and tie, but many guys do. Penny loafers and cufflinks aren’t exactly the best aids in getting a car two-feet deep in snow back on the road. Having a change of clothes fit for the conditions is important. The blanket can be a big help if you come across an accident that first responders have not been able to reach yet. It will keep a victim warm without having to move them!
7. Jumper cables
I would expect you to already have this in your car, but if not – get a pair! The cold does nasty things to batteries, and exploits those that were already near needing to be replaced. Giving someone a jump is one of the easiest things to do, yet without cables, it doesn't matter how willing you are to help them, you’re powerless. I would recommend getting a pair at least 16' in length and made with a heavier gauge wire. That way, you have the highest chance of being able to reach their battery terminals even if you cannot put your cars nose to nose. The heavier gauge helps ensure the easiest transfer of power from one vehicle to the next.
8. Tow straps
I know you might be thinking, “I drive a sedan. I can't tow anyone.” The reality is – you might actually be able to. Sometime a little tug is all that is needed; so don't underestimate your vehicles abilities. The longer the strap the better, as you never know what conditions you will find yourself in. Lastly, consider that the strap might be to help someone else get YOU out of a jam. You might not have a truck, but if the person who stops does, there is still a chance they might not have a tow strap, and you’ll be there to help them help you!
9. Wiper Blade and Fluid
Winter can wreak havoc on wiper blades. They put in a lot of work, and we’re often rough on them with our scrapers. Having them break or not work properly is no fun when you need them. However, it doesn't take much effort to tuck a replacement in with your spare tire. The washer fluid is pretty self-explanatory. Unless you’re diligent in checking your fluids regularly, there’s a chance you will run out when you need it most. If you have room, stow either a full or partial one in a sealed container somewhere.
If you’re helping someone, or are in need of help yourself, winter weather conditions make roadside assistance extremely dangerous. Limited visibility, nighttime conditions, and poor traction reduce driver reaction time. A road flare can ensure your safety when dealing with a vehicle near a roadway by alerting others of the potential hazard. When buying flares, keep in mind that burn times vary greatly. Make sure to buy the right number accordingly.
Hope these tips and ideas helped spark your initiative to prepare your vehicle this winter, and hopefully you can help yourself or someone else get out of a bind! Stay sharp and drive safe!
L.A.S.T Part 1: Fear of Failure
- Instructor Staff
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I imagine many (if not all) of you have seen the movie Saving Private Ryan. It’s a movie that tells an amazing story from World War II, capturing the reality and brutality of war. At the very end of the film, long after the explosions and gunfire have ceased, Private Ryan is seen standing in front of the headstone of Capt. John H. Miller. Captain Miller was responsible for saving his life during the war. Now well along in years, Private Ryan stands alongside his wife, children, and grandchildren. After gazing for a long while at the headstone, he looks back at his wife and says, “Tell me I have lead a good life. Tell me I am a good man.”
That scene grips me every time. Private Ryan had an incredible motivation to live a good life and be a good man. He was instructed with Captain Miller’s dying breath to “earn” the opportunity he had given him to live a full life. Many of us don't have such a motivation. Yet it has been my observation, as well as my own self-recognition, that those same doubts of Private Ryan's are common among many men.
Many of us have a deep-seated FEAR that the lives we lead are not good enough or meaningful enough. We may not even realize it, but we have a fear that, deep down, we are not good men. If people knew us on the inside, if they truly knew what we were like, we would be found drastically wanting.
We fear FAILURE.
We don't want to fail, and we definitely don’t want to be viewed as a failure. So we ask ourselves these questions: “Am I a good man? Do I have what it takes? Am I making a difference in this world?”
I think this fear can creep so far into the heart of a man, that it keeps him from ever truly succeeding!
We think “If I never try, then I will never fail,” and that thought becomes the foundation for our life and actions (I know because I have been there). Fear grips us to the point of inactivity. But the reality is, such thinking is illogical, and if we continue in it, we will never be able to answer those “worth” questions positively.
When I sit there paralyzed by fear of failing, I often let people down, let opportunities pass by, and in extreme cases, let people get hurt (both physically and emotionally). This only ensures I am NOT a man who will make a difference or leave a legacy of any sort.
Central to Living to LAST are four values:
We firmly believe these core Living to LAST values are also core to your manhood.
The first of these is learning what you don't know.
This core value has two meanings:
Testing and pushing yourself hard enough to find the limits of your skill sets, gifts, wisdom, knowledge, strengths, etc.
Changing that reality- learning more to extend your abilities!
A large part of Manhood is about taking initiative.
The problem is that with so many guys afraid of failing, they never take any initiative. The first half of learning what you don't know will never happen if you stay in your current comfort zone.
Ask yourself: “When was the last time I tried doing something I have never done before?” Maybe it was a household project or a task at work that no one prompted you to do? Maybe it was a hobby, skill or topic you are just tired of not knowing more about? If you can't think of anything, I would wager you are letting the fear of failure drive you.
Ask yourself another question: “When was the last time I was in a situation where I realized if I had more knowledge, skills, wisdom, etc. I could have altered the outcome of the situation for the better?”
Do you remember what you felt the moment you realized you could have made an impact? Do you like that feeling … of helplessness or inability? I sure don't! But I will admit I know it all too well.
Don’t become numb to that feeling. Don't let yourself be comfortable with wishing you could help. Don't just bury it with distractions. Do not let it destroy your confidence. Instead let it drive you to LEARN what you need to so you can change the outcome next time.
Life is about learning, and if you aren't willing to learn, then your experience of living is going to get painful and boring quick.
Yet, we must remember that with learning comes failing.
I can’t stress this enough: YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO FAIL. No one masters anything without failing along the way. We must change our thinking about what failure truly is! Trying and failing does not make you a 'failure' or less of a man. However, never being willing to risk failure and letting your fear control you does!
It may not be easy to learn something new at first, but part of the process is training yourself how to learn again. Some learning experiences will be easier then others, but don't give up. Press on and press in! You will be a better man for following through in the end. After a while, you may find yourself with a growing appetite for learning new things rather than watching opportunities pass by. What will feel truly rewarding is being able to help make a difference with what you’ve learned. Taking the initiative will be easier when you realize, with greater confidence, that YOU can help. The saying is true - it is far better to give then receive. We want you guys to learn to be men who give sacrificially and experience the fullness of life where the threat of failing does not limit you.
Lets wrap this up by encouraging you to do a few things. If anything I’ve said resonated with you, don’t wait- take action now!
Take the initiative to do something new. Extend yourself to discover your limits.
Humble yourself and be comfortable with admitting your limits. Until you are honest with where you’re starting from, you can never move forward. There is no shame in this.
Go learn something new. Ask an uncle/father/friend to show you how to – fill in the blank -, take a first aid class, pick up a new hobby, audit a class at the local community college, learn how to service your own car… ANYTHING! The opportunities and options of what, where, when, and how to learn are endless.
In doing this you will start living in such a way that will LAST.