Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

9/29/08

Scene from a New Day: Doing an Old Thing a New Way

Wheaton Academy
Remnants of morning mist lingered, waiting for sunlight as I drove in from Prince Crossing Road. Everything was new, except for what I will be doing. Writing, once I could write anything, was what I have wanted to do. That's what I have been doing. Nothing new there.

What's new? Context. Message. Vision.

Wheaton Academy.

That's my new employer. Started Monday, 8:00 a.m., with a wonderful boss, but, as rich as that is -- great colleagues.

What Makes a Colleague Great?
For now, first impressions, though in a few cases, old allegiances. People who love teaching enough make this their lifestyle, not just their career, fill the classrooms. These are Christians who understand the difference between doing a good thing and doing a godly thing, and do it without compromise. They are not just "Christians" at their workplace, but, in the rest of their lives, are feeding the hungry, walking with the lonely, and serving those in their lives.

Good ol' buddy Bob Vishanoff is on the IT front, heading up systems there. He's not the only one I know from "the outside." There's Kim, Lori, Cindy, just for starters.

A good first impression is hard to define, as what is new is new on many levels. WA is a private Christian school. That's three new things all at once.

Schools
I have been involved in schools as a substitute teacher and as a private tutor visiting teachers, and as a playground monitor while in college. There was a fun gig I had teaching storytelling and chess at the Blooming Grove Academy in Bloomington, IL. A private school, yes, but not a faith-based one.

Christian Ministry
WA is a ministry. Though a high school with strong academic credentials, it concurrently is working to engage the students as believers. I have worked in a few ministries over the years, and here, I see it is more than something that happens serendipitously. It is intentional, with the depth of the full Bible. More than trying to create little Billy Grahams (which is OK in my book), they are working to raise up students who excel in loving their neighbor, and will bring the love of Christ into whatever place they land as adults. This is not just something on their motto, then forgotten day-to-day. No, no. Much more. I see this in staff all around.

I have plenty to learn about the school. With 155 years behind them, it will take some time to catch up. As a communications director, which is a generalist position, there are aspects I need to hone up on, relationships I need to make, and the tasks at hand.

My First Day
Students, celebrating the upcoming homecoming events, wore mismatched clothing. At an assembly, I saw teachers got in on it too. I, wearing a trusty sport coat, mock t, and black slacks, was mismatched in that I matched (as pointed out by Steven Knoerr, who, ironically, is a friend from my own high school days).

Nikki, my boss, and headmaster Gene Frost took me out to lunch at the former King James, current Boondocks. We talked about the school and things I will involved with.

I met several teachers, including the head of the poetry club, an English teacher whose first love is grammar, and Jessie - a social studies/Bible teacher (great combo), and others whose names are fuzzy at the moment.

Took in part of the JV soccer game before the rain hit, and met a couple who happen to be missionaries from my Sunday school classes. Their son played for the other team, but we sat together anyway.

My Tasks
There's a lot that may fall across my desk, from increasing a media presence, guiding the presentation of the WA mission and vision through website content, brochures, videos, letters, and other types of communiques. There will be a strong electronic communications component, including HTML newsletters. As I get my feet wet, defining/refining editorial policy.

My days will be a combination of relationship building (getting to know the people and needs of the school, as well as related media), strategic planning, and lots of writing. Some of the writing will be quick e-mails announcing activities, and other pieces will be considered with more creativity.

And Tuesday, my second day? Faculty and staff wear orange, and each class wears a different color. With no orange in my closet, a quick trip to Target was required.

This is the beginning of a new adventure, and, like the verdant colors of a Midwestern autumn, will scan the range of subtle and bold derivations of God's glory. It is a good day.

Willie Nelson - Amazing Grace

Willie Nelson - Amazing Grace

Nice version. Classic Willie.

9/25/08

Good News - Crossway Books: A Publisher Worth Knowing

Good News - Crossway Books, a publisher you may already know about, is worth a quick look-see. Referred by some as the "House Frank Built," alluding to Frank Peretti, who had a bestseller published there. See below a few of their bestsellers now. Lots of John Piper. See their site for more. A few links might show up here leading to Amazon.com.

Why Good News - Crossway Books? I live near their offices, and know a few people who have worked there over the years. An unassuming, modest building, in a neighborhood just east of Wheaton College, Crossway's impact is far stronger than their facilities might indicate.

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die - John Piper
Bestselling author John Piper explores fifty things that Jesus accomplished through his death on the cross.

Don't Waste Your Life - John Piper
This book is a passionate call for this generation to make their lives count for eternity. John Piper acknowledges that the risks for those who seek to accomplish something in life--risks in relationships for the sake of righteousness and authenticity, risks with money for the cause of the Gospel, and risks in witnessing to the truth and beauty of Christ. Readers will find their passion for the cross of Christ enlarged as a result of reading this book.

Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions - Mark Driscoll, Gerry Breshears
This popular-level theology book introduces the person and work of Christ to those who are seeking answers to some of their most basic--and pivotal--questions.

What Is a Healthy Church? - Mark Dever
Guides both pastors and members to recognize key characteristics of a healthy church and then challenge each person to do his or her part in developing those characteristics in the local church body.

Don't Waste Your Life Study Guide - John Piper
This study guide is designed to be used in a ten-session, guided group study that examines each chapter of Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Working through Don’t Waste Your Life in a group setting with the help of this study guide will ensure you get the most out of the book.

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Foreword by C. J. Mahaney) - Mark Dever
Seeks to encourage readers to understand the fundamentals of evangelism and to challenge them to develop a culture of evangelism in their lives and their local churches.

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Foreword by David Limbaugh) - Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist argues that Christianity requires the least faith of all worldviews because it is the most reasonable. The authors lay out the evidence for truth, God, and the Bible in logical order and in a readable, non-technical, engaging style. A valuable aid to those interested in examining the reasonableness of the Christian faith, Geisler and Turek provide a firm challenge to the prior beliefs of doubters and skeptics.

You Are Special - Max Lucado, Sergio Martinez (Illustrator)
Every day Wemmicks do the same thing: either stick gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty and talented ones always get stars. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly dots. Kids will love seeing how Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is--dots and all. Parents will appreciate the message this story sends to kids: that regardless of what the world thinks, they are precious in God's sight.

The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World - John Piper (Editor), Justin Taylor (Editor)
Believers who wish to thrive in a postmodern world must cling to the joy, truth, and love that comes only from understanding Christ and his ultimate purpose in this world.

Disciplines of a Godly Man (Trade Paperback) - R. Kent Hughes
This inspiring and best-selling book has long been speaking to the hearts of men, and its words continue to be highly relevant. Using biblical wisdom, engaging illustrations, practical suggestions for daily living, and personal study questions, Kent Hughes offers hard-hitting discussion on major areas of Christian manhood: marriage, fatherhood, friendship, purity, integrity, leadership, prayer, ministry, and more.

The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright - John Piper
Pastor John Piper thoroughly analyzes the teachings of Bishop N. T. Wright on the topic of justification and sounds a call to discernment for the entire church.

Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God (Foreword by Paul Baloche) - Bob Kauflin
This book focuses on the essentials of God-honoring worship, combining biblical foundations with practical application in a way that works in the real world. The author--a pastor and noted songwriter--skillfully instructs fellow pastors, musicians, and worship leaders to root corporate worship in unchanging scriptural principles rather than divisive cultural trends.

What Is a Healthy Church Member? - Thabiti M. Anyabwile
For Christians, playing an active part in the local church is not optional. God intends for every believer to contribute to the mission of the local church and experience profound spiritual growth as a result. This book shows church members, pastors, and church leaders what a healthy church member looks like.

Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God - Voddie T. Baucham Jr.
This bold book is an urgent call to parents--and the church--to return to biblical discipleship in and through the home.

What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible (Foreword by Elisabeth Elliot) - John Piper
John Piper examines gender issues from a biblical perspective, showing how the teaching of true biblical manhood and womanhood affects the roles of men and women in the home, the church, and the wider society.

Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists - R. Albert Mohler Jr.
You know about traditional atheism. The contemporary strain of it--called the "New Atheism"--is more popular and widely respected than ever. Dr. Albert Mohler brings helpful perspective and keen insight for understanding, challenging, and countering this latest atheist thinking.

Feminine Appeal (Foreword by Nancy Leigh DeMoss; New Expanded Edition with Questions) - Carolyn Mahaney
In this book of instruction for wives and mothers, Carolyn Mahaney explores seven feminine virtues given in Titus 2 that have transformed her life and the lives of countless other women. Expanded edition with study questions.

In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement - J. I. Packer, Mark Dever
Combining three classic articles by J. I. Packer with a recent article by Mark Dever and a foreword by the four principals of Together for the Gospel, this compact yet penetrating anthology takes an unwavering, classically biblical stance on the increasingly controversial doctrine of substitutionary atonement.

9/18/08

Director of Communications at Wheaton Academy

That's my new title. It comes with the new job, beginning September 29, 2008.

Wheaton Academy is a private, Christ-centered high school in West Chicago, IL.

I'll manage a range of things, including PR, website content, various publications, and whatever falls under the category "what-not."

Check it out.

Cool, huh?

9/17/08

Meeting My Peers: Three Amazon.com Reviewers at Lunch

That's me, and two other reviewers from Amazon.com. This week, we met in a breakfast-lunch place of no great regard, although its quality doubled by the presence of my two companions.

Both Jeanne and HistorianWannabe were more than delightful. Each was laid back, personable and engaging. Our time was brief -- not more than two hours. I fought the remnants of a cold, bringing less than my A-game of lucidity with a terrific headache, but they extended grace and patience.

It is always challenging meeting online people in person. Making the transfer from persona to personality is not easy, as part of who someone (if not all) is online who is who they are in person.

Remembering the online persona is also a challenge, since in real life we use real names. There, I am seen as A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com, and often signed posts with my initials, ALT. HistorianWannabe has a real name too. Jeanne is Jeanne. My image of both was different than reality too.

It was hard to be friendly when I was wishing I could scrape out the inside of my head, clean it out like a cantaloupe. Standing in the rain Sunday watching a half marathon endeared me to a cold, for which Monday was filled with ache and suffering.

We avoided any contentious topics, and instead enjoyed what we shared. We all have in common a love for books, reading, and looking at life thoughtfully.

I hope we meet again, and draw others into this fledgling flock.

For the record, The Red Apple Pancake House is not bad. It is what it is, a pancake joint. Better than IHOP by far (only Denny's is worse), but no Walker Brothers.

Red Apple Pancake House
414 S Schmale Rd
Carol Stream, IL 60188
(630) 871-2911‎

Walker Bros Original Pancake House
153 Green Bay Rd
Wilmette, IL 60091
(847) 251-6000‎

9/16/08

You, Me, Us and Them: Spiritual Arrogance in a Fallen World

As long as they are not we, we will have no peace with them.

Who are "we," and who are "they"? That depends how we divvy up humanity. Who counts as one or the other may not be shared by the other. Someone might think I'm OK, one of them, yet I might think they are not.

Race is the most obvious of discriminators, one of which is poised as a factor in this year's election. It should not be, and, for me, will not. I won't divvy up the colors.

Gender, religion, economics, all are others.

Then there are Sox and Cubs fans, a big deal to some here in Chicago. Trivial? Yes, but more than one buffoon has gotten into a bar fight over team colors.

Which are they and we? It comes down to faith issues for me, but, those who are "they," not believing in God as I do, are still OK in my book. The only book which counts, though, is God's book of life. Either you are in it, or you are not, but at no point am I permitted, as per God's Word, not to love even the one least like me or what I believe. I don't have a say in who gets into this book. I'm even called to love my enemy.

With an "us and them," perspective, we are forced into some kind of spiritual arrogance. I believe God chose us, with the freedom to reject Him. As such, it had nothing to do with me, or how good or holy I am. I'm not all that. I'm not any of that.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me." Nothing in that song says how great I am that God was smart enough to wrestle me from Earth to be exalted into Heaven. Not if you knew me -- and He, like no one else, knows me.

Why no peace? Lots of people either don't like what we believe (Muslims, atheists, anyone rooting for the other baseball team), or they see Christians acting like boneheads (and we too often do, so get off your holy horse). Jesus Christ is open to a lot of things, but rejection is not one of them. He draws the line by declaring Himself God, the only God, and one with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Brain hurting? Love your neighbor. He's wretched, but, then again, you and me aren't so hot either.

9/12/08

Moving to September 12: Love is All You Need

The morning of September 11, 2001, I was on the road to a project management seminar in Arlington Heights, IL when the rock station broke in for news. You know the rest.

What now, seven years and a day later? Do we labor in the memory of what happened? Yes, but we do not stay there. While looking back, we must also look forward.

Nothing changed except America's awareness of reality: Islam's message includes Jihad. Jihad includes a concept of fighting a visible enemy, which many Muslims consider the "west" and/or "Christians." I put these in quotes knowing both are misunderstood terms, just as the Islamic perspective of Jihad. See Wikipedia's definition of Jihad. Nothing new here, not under this sun.

The short version is a significant group of Muslims want to kill Americans until America becomes Muslim. Since this will not happen, the war will rage on. Kill Osama bin Laden, and a new leader of this slime will rise up. That mosquito will be slapped, but be ready for what spores will replace him.

Press on in Iraq. Exterminate the lack of hope. You want the audacity of hope? Go to Iraq, and foster hope. Whomever becomes president has this duty.

Next, love your neighbor. Hate by a Christian is an oxymoron. Whether he is Muslim, gay, atheist, vegetarian or a St. Louis Cardinal's fan, love him. No excuses.

9/11/08

Amazing Grace - Marines and Bagpipes

Amazing Grace - Marines and Bagpipes

Has Amazing Grace ever been played on a sunny day with bagpipes?

2006 Scottish/Irish Highlands Festival in Estes Park, Colorado. Mass band with several different bagpipe groups and the Marines playing Amazing Grace

9/10/08

Charging Toward Significance Through Self-Promotion

Self-promotion is the name of the game in these political times, and so, emulating our two well-funded candidates and Madison Avenue, here I can be found, albeit a more one-man grass roots style.

Two new links, or enhanced/updated links to keep you clickin'.

9/5/08

PADS Run Tomorrow (western suburbs of Chicago)

PADS 5K Run (western suburbs of Chicago)
I am volunteering. Join me. Show up at 6 am.


PADS' home office happens to be next to where I start many of my longer runs. They help, in short, people short of a long-term housing situation. In this case, various churches have banded together to provide volunteers, floor space, food and more for people to use during the coldest months.

In Chicagoland, where I live (around 30-35 miles west), cold really means cold. God has blessed our family greatly, and this experience I have never known. However, I worked for many years with the homeless, and have seen its difficulties second-hand.

As I love running, helping with a road race is easy stuff. You don't need to know running, though. They can use you. My friend is helping coordinate volunteers, and said they have plenty of needs for just a helping hand.

Donuts and coffee will be available, so no need to stop at Caribou. Just show up. Plenty of parking across the street.

Laptop Blogging Blues (poem)

Laptop Blogging Blues
Anthony Trendl

Hear me tell the poem with images of my garage, ala Jack Kerouac



I'm sitting hunched on an Igloo cooler in my garage:
No windows. No sun.
Just 100 ceiling watts. 1280×800 bits of monitor light.
Old suitcases and auto supplies flicker in shadows on the wall.
My laptop is set on a blue foot stool.
Spilled my coffee.
Wiped it up with an old rag used for washing the car.
Humid. Hot. It didn't rain today.
Logged on. WiFi blowing in from the college across the street.
Walking heard on the sidewalk,
muffled by the echo in the garage.
Message posted.

9/2/08

42 Years in the Making (And Not Done Yet)

How I Spent My 42nd Birthday

The Gift
Aliz gave me my gift early: a Garmin GPS watch - the Forerunner 201. Runners and bikers like these because it tracks distance and pace, and when I load the info into the computer, will show a map of where I have been. While I know where I have run, this is especially handy showing accurate distance, knowing I crossed streets or ran straight down the middle of the road, running on a sidewalk versus the grass, and, if I run in the woods, it knows exactly where, even if I go only where the deer run.

I slept poorly Friday night, and woke up at 4:40 am. Laid in bed until 5:30 am, got up, made coffee, checked my e-mail. Happy birthday from a few people, some of which I had not heard from in a while. I sent a long e-mail to my brother.

The Race
At 8:00 am, I ran a 5K (3.1 miles). It was sponsored by a Catholic church in Downer's Grove -- a very local, modest race, without all the fanfare of a big race. All went more or less until around the 2.5 mile area. A large dog ran out of his yard directly at me, growling. This was not a friendly, "How're YOU doin'?" kind of dog, but a dog that thought I was fast food (Get it? Runner = fast food - ha ha [*cough cough*]).

The Finish Line
I had my best race since 1999, got 18th place out of 230, finishing with a 21:35.5. That's not very fast, as any high school kid will tell you, but let's see what they've got when they're 42! In fact, compared to the others in my age group, I did OK. I have a little red third place ribbon to prove it. That's the first age group award I have won since maybe the late 1980s, when I was in college.

The Zoo
I headed home, and Aliz took me to a surprise, Brookfield Zoo. First on the list was the Dolphin Show. I can't remember if my brother and I saw it as kids, so this became a priority. Nice, but not quite the spectacle I expected (say that fast). I wanted dolphins flying hundreds of feet into the air, snatching a fish from some tiny kid's hand. Then, I hoped the dolphin would dance in sync to a Michael Jackson song, like the famous YouTube dancing walrus.

Onward to the rest of the zoo, we worked our way to most of the exhibits. We saw the giraffes -- which is one of my first Brookfield memories, seeing it with my Grandma and Grampa Trendl.

While in one of the primate exhibits, a baboon (that is a baboon, no?) decides it is time to get his funk on. No music, just a baboon dancing to an unheard band. Sometimes, you just gotta shake what your momma gave you.



When I was 21, none of this would have been all that tiring. Now, I was exhausted, but there was one more important stop to make: dinner.

The Meal
Dinner was planned at a place in LaGrange, but one quick look around, and we 'Plan B'ed it to Uncle Bub's, a favorite Westmont BBQ joint, a favorite. We split a meal, and headed back.

The Age
So now, in the beginning of my 43rd year, stuff aches, my hair is starting to turn gray, and, a middle-aged favorite, ear hair. But, all is not dour. I weigh significantly less than when I was 40, my resting pulse and blood pressure are very good, and, my back no longer hurts (thanks to the weight loss and general getting into shape).

The Rest
Such was one day of the 15,341 lived thus far. Only a hundred thousand more to go. Better use 'em right.