December 30, 2008


Back in September, I wrote a blog post about my family's amazing tradition of making our Christmas gifts. (click here for original post)

I've always known that my family was pretty awesome, but it wasn't until we started unwrapping this year's homemade blessings that I realized how remarkable my family truly is.

For the last 10 years we have battled stress, creative roadblocks, and busy schedules in order to keep our Christmas mornings magical. Each of us has racked our brains for 11 months, been on the verge of tears with frustration in mid-December, and utilized a glue gun on Christmas Eve in order to add some final touches to our "masterpieces."

And even though we've passively talked about changing the tradition, we refuse to throw in the towel and each one us continues to shine every December – coming up with insightful and thoughtful ideas.

I wanted to share some of this year's gifts with everyone:

MARY GRACE (my three-year-old niece): Framed finger painting

JAKE (my eight-month-old nephew): Personalized cards with
his handprint and picture
of him and the recipient on the inside (right).

SUSAN (my younger sister):
Memory journals that we are supposed to write in every week for the next year.
She provided 52 prompts to give us guidance.
(Example: "Describe someone in your life
who had a great influence over you in a short time.")

ALLISON (my littlest sister): Hand-sewn oven mitts
for the boys and belts for the girls.

MOM: Custom floor mats (ours was for our kitchen);
she made Allie an awesome rug/mat from needlepoint.

DAD: Hand-cut mesquite wood chips for the grill – with specific instructions: "Soak for 30 minutes, then put on hot goals." (Each family received a bundle that was neatly packaged in homemade burlap bags that were sewn with yarn.)

TANYA (my wife): Pickles and pickled vegetables; she cleverly named them "Puckerin' Pickles" and "Wickled Wegtables" and printed personalized labels for each person.

MICHAEL (my brother-in-law): Personalized stationary;
I received four pads, each with its own marks: TCU logo, e-Partners in Giving logo, my initials, and "World's Best Uncle." (Mike, who plays professional baseball, also got me a personalized Fungo bat with my name engraved on it.)

Every couple of years, I opt to put my Photoshop and design skills to use. Which, according to my wife, means I'm making something to hang on the wall.

For once...she was correct.

I took pictures around my mom and dad's farm and created the following...."Alpha Art." It started with the main image that I gave my mom and dad (below).

The rest of the gifts evolved from that (below).

My homemade gift to Tanya was similar in style, but I took photos around Fort Worth to create her image.


As the wonderfully great holiday season comes to a close, I'm starting to formulate my first annual Christmas Chaos Blog. (I use "chaos" in the most cherished way possible.)

Here is a sneak peak of my wild
and crazy December through pictures:

I've already said thank you through e-mails, text messages, and letters, but that only begins to express my appreciation for every single person who sponsored a client for our Safe Haven Christmas Extravaganza.

On December 22nd, we were able to capture the true meaning of Christmas. There is NO WAY we could have done it without the help from these individuals.

e-Partners in Giving stuffed 20 personalized stockings (with so much stuff there was a wrapped "overflow" package) for each Safe Haven resident. We also purchased a computer, monitor, and printer for the entire complex.

Our sponsors, including Rosa's Cafe, helped make all of this possible.

I wish I could capture a portion of the magic that was created when those 20 clients opened their stockings. There were a lot of smiles, a few tears of appreciation, and a lot of hugs.

One last time: Thanks to each
of you for making all of this possible.

December 7, 2008


NOTE: The introduction to this blog post is going to sound like I’m fishing for a compliment or even some validation – please, please, please don’t think that. I was simply searching for a solid “starter,” and this one kicked the most butt.

I LOVE receiving written comments about my blog posts.

They are pretty scattered over several posts – some here and a few more there – but they all speak to me in a unique way.

Here are some examples that I have received, and how they have impacted my state of mind or called me to action:

SUBJECT: Nothing more than some random nuggets
(e-Partners, Obama, and being “wonderfully great”)


MESSAGE: “ILY” (which is her little code for I Love You)

IMPACT: I think the Beatles said it best, “All you need is love…love is all you need.”

SUBJECT: My volunteer efforts and another company’s willingness to give back (Convergint Technologies and its “Social Responsibility Day”)

COMMENT FROM: Greg Lernihan, the president
and co-founder of Convergint.

MESSAGE (excerpts): “I read your blog and appreciate your comments on our company;” “I appreciate what you are trying to do - very inspiring.”

IMPACT: He posted this one month after I wrote the blog…I was floored. (I really hope Mr. Lernihan had some medical training, because he gave me shot of adrenaline that revved me up for several weeks.)

SUBJECT: Focusing on being successful rather than focusing on failing


MESSAGE: Quote from Eleanor Roosevelt… "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

IMPACT: Inspired me to write this particular blog post.

Now….the clich├ęd segue (Oh yeah…I thought it was “segway,” too….NOPE….FYI: Smooth transition.)

I’ve always been a firm believer of this thought process: You can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
If you can dream it, you can live it.

I dare ANYONE to say those two statements are not accurate.

I’m not trying to be Johnny Rosecolorglasses or
Eddie Overoptimistic – I realize doubt, negativity, and/or fear can rear its ugly head. There have been plenty of times in my life where one of the following statements crept into my head…

• “I CAN'T do that.”

• “That’s TOO difficult!”

• “I only WISH I could accomplish something like that.”

I refuse to let those thoughts consume me, though.

I refuse to let them linger and destroy me from the inside out. As soon as I think it (or even whisper it to myself), I push it out as quickly as I can.

I replace them with thoughts and rhetorical questions, like:

• “I’ve done it before…and I can do it again.”

• “What is there to be scared of?”

• “If I fail, I will simply get back up and attack it again.”

• “God won’t put me in a situation that I can’t handle.”

I had one of these personal pep talks as drove home from Oregon.

I had another one when I quit my job to become a football coach.

With my new business venture, I have a pep talk about once every six weeks.

“If I want something bad enough….I’m going to take it!”

“There is NOTHING I can’t accomplish!”

Sometimes I need little help driving this home, though, and all of this verbiage has led up to this video. If you EVER feel like you can’t accomplish something or you're scared of failing…WATCH THIS!

First...a little background:

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team that have completed 984 athletic/endurance events (marathons, triathlons, etc.) since 1979.

• On their web site it says, "It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can't walk or talk."

• At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development.

• With the help of a specially designed computer, Rick told his dad that he wanted to compete in a community 5K event in 1977. After the race, "Rick told us he just didn’t feel handicapped when we were competing."

• Both of their lives were changed forever.

• Now they have completed nine Ironman Triathlons (26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming)

• They have trekked 3,735 miles across America.

They are a true inspiration and a reminder that no mountain is too daunting to climb.

November 17, 2008


I had a really tough time turning 25 years old. 

Looking back, I have no idea what my mindset was at that time in my life. I guess I thought I was getting old. The fact that my little sister told me that I was “a quarter of the way to death” probably didn’t help. (My response, in my fragile state: “Yeah….if you live to be 100!”)

One thing I do remember was a piece of advice that I received from a friend of mine. “Take the focus off of yourself,” she said. “Put the emphasis on someone less fortunate than you. Give back.”

That’s when I got involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and kick-started my mid-20s in grand fashion.

My friend was right. Even though I was attending the world’s biggest pity party, there were other people, groups, and causes that were struggling with a lot more than a 25th birthday.

That’s what I want everyone to remember as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, and the economic turmoil in this country is causing EVERYONE to have a metaphorical 25th birthday.

I would like to echo the advice I was given exactly nine years ago: “Take the focus off of yourself and put the emphasis on someone less fortunate than you. Give back.”

I know things are tight, but they are tight for EVERYONE.

If you’re a middle-class family of four that is feeling the brunt of the economic crunch, how do you think a single mom – who is working two jobs to support her three kids AND her brand new grandchild – is doing? What about the dad in the exact same situation? (The only difference with him...there is good chance that he was just laid off.)

While it might simply be a tighter belt for you, it’s a daily punch to the gut for them.

From now until Christmas I will be sharing unique ways you can remove that focus from yourself and give back during this holiday season.
(If you have any causes that tug at your heartstrings – I would encourage you to share those as well in the Comment section at the bottom of this blog.)

My first opportunity to share has a special place in my heart, and there is a tremendous opportunity for you to help to help deliver some Christmas magic.

e-Partners in Giving, my new company, is hosting the inaugural Safe Haven Christmas Extravaganza at Fort Worth’s Presbyterian Night Shelter. Safe Haven is the mentally ill wing of the homeless shelter. It houses 20 residents that I have come to know very well through my volunteer efforts over the last seven months.

We are prepared to throw them a genuine holiday bash on Dec. 22nd – with food, music, decorations, and gifts.

It’s the gift aspect of the Extravaganza where there is a fantastic opportunity to briefly take the focus off of yourself.

I am asking 15 people who read this blog to adopt a Safe Haven client this holiday season. We have set a price point of $35 that will help us buy one present and stuff one stocking for each resident. (We’re only asking for 15 because five people have already generously offered to support our Extravaganza.)

Each resident submitted a Christmas list – and it would break your heart to read what they asked for. You would think they would have wished for the stars, but they were all very practical. Here are a few samples:

• Wal-Mart gift card
• Tennis shoes
• A coat
• Perfume and cologne

Some were a little more “over-zealous,” asking for a radio, CD player, or a watch, but there was not one single outrageous request.

One gentleman simply asked for, “To stay sober; Give to others; Recover Physically.”

They all need so much, but they all want so little. That makes me smile.

Our stocking stuffers will include things like socks, toiletry items, candy, and other items that Santa would leave at our house on Christmas morning.

In regards to how you want to handle the gifts and stocking stuffers – we want to make it as easy on you as possible. If you would like to go shopping yourself – that’s awesome. (We will supply you a list and send you on your way.) If you want to give us the $35 and let us take care of the rest – we can do that, too.

Just send me an e-mail and let me know.

I will go ahead and say thank you to everyone in advance. I only send this blog to a certain number of people – each one of you has the heart and spirit to answer the bell, re-shift the focus off of yourself, and help us give back. Your support and generosity is appreciated more than you will ever know.

I encourage you to refer back to the blog on a regular basis – read people’s comments about other ways to get involved, and share your stories about giving back this holiday season.

November 9, 2008


Advice: Don’t get behind in your blogging.

It’s been several weeks since I sat down and penned a post. (If it weren’t for a couple extensive airplane trips, it probably would have been a lot longer.)

The reason why I encourage you not to fall behind – it’s borderline painful when you start again. It’s a lot like running. You can be burning up the pavement for 20 miles a week, but if you take significant time off (three or four weeks), a 3-mile run seems like cruel punishment.

The underlying question – in both instances: Where do I start?

I’ve decided that small, easily digestible nuggets of thoughts and information are the best ways to ease back into this new-found hobby (when is comes to running…a lot of walking tends to help):


We continue to move forward with our start-up process. We are finalizing our web site and have already started developing partnerships within the death-care industry.

Reminder: We want to make memorial giving as easy as possible.

We attended the National Funeral Directors Association meeting in Orlando and had a VERY positive response in regards to what we’re trying to accomplish.

Besides developing partnerships, we continue product development and have started doing research on securing additional capital.

I recently had an initial sit-down with the Small Business Development Center in Tarrant County. I probably should have had that meeting months ago, but I’m still excited about working with its advisors.


I have marked several things off my “Attacking Life” list of 101 things in 1001 days. (I’ve also tried to document each “accomplishment” with a photo.)

Here are some of the items that I have been able to cross off (
to see the entire list click here):
  • No. 29 (Help build Habitat
    Humanity House)
  • No. 43 (Participate in “Yoga Flow in the Japanese Garden”)
  • No. 49 (Vote in a Presidential Election)
  • No. 94 (Watch a football game at the “Horseshoe”)
Here are some 
of the items that I’ve started:
  • No. 27 (Accumulate 1,000 volunteer hours). I have already posted 82 hours in 96 days – that puts me just a tad behind schedule
  • No. 45 (Participate in regular Bible Study). I’m in the middle of a men’s fellowship at my church. The course is entitled, “Winning at Work and Home.”
  • No. 93 (Read 200 books). I have read/listened to seven books to date. I’m currently reading “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman and starting to listen to "Art of War" by Sun Tzu. (Are audiobooks cheating?)
Here are some of the items that I see coming down the tracks (I’m anticipating them to be crossed off before the end of 2008):
  • No. 7 (Attend a Bikram Yoga class)
  • No. 36 (Make Christmas cookies for my neighbors)
  • No. 74 (Start customer service blog)

I was amazed at the Facebook Wall Posts after Obama was officially projected the 44th President of the United States. What amazed me more than anything was the significant discord and anger amongst my “friends.”

Words of disgust and hate overshadowed an historic day in the United States of America.

I made only one Post: “Drew hopes this

election inspires change. One man was elected president – WE must be the change, though.”

I don’t pretend to know if Barack Obama is going to be a good president, but I will say that America is paying attention right now.

As I was sitting in the Philadelphia airport, our new President-elect was holding his first news conference since the election. I won’t say everyone in the terminal was reading the closed captions on the TV monitors, but there were a significant number of people glued to that television.

Ironically enough, as I was scanning the crowd – wondering how many people would be paying attention if George W. Bush was holding a news conference – I saw a teenage girl walk by wearing her trendy Obama T-shirt.

As I watched his election-day speech from Grant Park, I said this to my wife, “I can only pray that he is able to build on this excitement that he is generating in this country. Right now, he has tremendous momentum working in his favor.”

I was checking in at the Pittsburgh airport recently, I heard a conversation between a customer and a ticket agent that stopped me cold.

The customer was a middle-aged gentleman with a mental disability. When the gate agent asked how he was doing, he responded in the most genuine tone you can imagine. “Wonderfully great,” he said with a smile. (It was almost like he was thrilled she actually inquired.)

I couldn’t help but smile, too.

When the ticket agent was assisting me, we briefly discussed the dialogue between her and the gentleman. We both agreed that if anyone asked either one of us the rest of the day, we’d both be “wonderfully great.”

As I walked away from the ticket counter, I wondered why everyone can’t always choose to be “wonderfully great.”

October 19, 2008


When was the last time you saw someone throw a piece of trash out of their car window?

I hope it’s been a long time, because I recently witnessed this disrespectful act and it was like someone punched me in the gut.

I was driving down the freeway and the driver of the car in front of me rolled down their window. That didn’t get my attention, but when they stuck out the empty water bottle, twirled it around like a lasso, and then let it go…GUT SHOT.

I think I actually said out loud, “Are you kidding me? Did that really just happen?” (I actually included some colorful language in there as well. I’ll let you add those yourself when you close your eyes and actually visualize someone being this rude.)

I guess I really shouldn’t be shocked. Just pay attention as your driving down the road and look at all the trash. It had to get there somehow, right?

Sacks of fast food.
Beer bottles.
Plastic bags.

It really is unbelievable 
when you think about it.

A couple of weeks ago, Tanya and I got to see this phenomena first hand when we participated in a local trash clean up (North Richland Hills Trash Bash). For two hours on Saturday morning, we picked up trash along a half-mile stretch of road north west of Fort Worth.

This was NOT a punch to the gut.
This was a continuous whack of a baseball bat to the face.

It was nothing short of unbelievable 
how much garbage two people in a VERY 
small area picked up in a two-hour period 
of time.

The bed of my pick-up was full. We had a few large items (boards, logs, pieces of tires, etc.), but most of it was trash.

Here is a quick breakdown (for the photo gallery click here):

• Every fast food restaurant was represented, with Taco Bell winning, hands down. (“What should I do with this hot sauce packet? Hell, I’ll just throw it out the window.”)

• Not a single beer distributor was left out of the clean up.

• We didn’t pick up every cigarette butt, but that could have easily filled another two trash bags. (“Oh, it’s so small….it doesn’t matter if I flick this out the window.”)

• Water and soda bottles were pretty prevalent on this stretch of road.

• People must think that candy wrappers and chip bags are biodegradable.

• Random articles of clothing?

• Newspapers, grocery sacks, and lottery tickets were significant.

• Tanya found a half dozen bouncy balls. I concluded they were from a Jack in the Box kids meal – there was one across the street.

• Some of the most 
interesting things we found were an ear pad to a football helmet, a family photo (right), and a half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Towards the end of our morning clean-up effort, I started to develop a profile of these lazy people who roll down their windows and use our planet as their personal garbage can.

They are Taco Bell-eating smokers, who like to read the newspaper and scratch off their lottery tickets on the way home from the liquor store. During the drive home, they are throwing back a couple colds ones, some of them are stripping, and they’re ALL being disrespectful and lazy pigs.

Again, it’s unbelievable.

As I was filling my tenth garbage sack, I started asking myself if I was actually adding to the problem by participating in this clean-up effort.

As the residents of the near-by neighborhoods drove by us that morning, where they thinking to themselves, “Hell, I should throw MORE crap out the window. Those poor schmucks will clean it up.”

When are people going to take pride in our town and cities? When are they going to take pride in their neighborhoods? When are they going to stop being lazy – not to mention disrespectful and rude?

When are our city officials going to hold people accountable? When are other people going to confront these litter pigs and let them know that enough is enough?

As I think back to my water bottle cowboy, who twirled his trash before letting it fly…what could I have done? Chase him down? Cuss him out when he got out of his car? Picked a fight and got my butt beat?

I guess if I’m not willing to do that…I should check the local calendar for Trash Bash 2009, huh?

September 29, 2008

PERFECT WORLD: Nothing says parenthood like a leaking bag of throw-up and a little blood

I am ready to be a father.

I know there are a lot of people reading this blog who think that statement is…
a.) Scary
b.) Humorous
c.) Unimaginable
d.) All of the Above
The reason why I say that….you have no idea how many people have told me – with a devilish smirk and a slow shake of the head – “I can’t WAIT until you have kids.”

I think I’ve heard that statement around 86 times – each reference with the same underlying meaning: “Don’t worry, Drew. When you’re a dad, you’ll get yours!”

Well, I’m ready to get mine.

Tanya and I have started seriously trying. (“Seriously” consists of ovulation tests, prenatal vitamins, and her screaming “hurry up and put the dog outside.”)

We’ve also been talking about the possibility of adoption. Because of our ages, our desire for a large family, and our intense desire to give back, this is a tremendous option. (Tanya’s involvement in CASA – a national child advocate program – has also helped open our eyes to the lives we can touch through this process.)

In a perfect world, we would get pregnant right now, have a summer baby, start seriously looking into adoption – possibly pull the trigger this time next year, conceive another child a year later, and have a BIG, loving family in less than three years.


“Drew, are you really sure you’re ready for that?”

It’s funny you ask.

This weekend, I received a sneak peek into my “perfect world.” I spent two days with my business partner, her husband, and their children. (Three boys – ages 4, 6 and 8.) We made a marathon trip to Oklahoma to watch TCU play the Sooners.

It was towards the end of the trip when someone made a slap-across-the-face comment to me. I think I was staring blankly at the three little boys running around their uncle’s living room like they were on fire.

“Don’t worry. If you spread them out a little bit better than we did, it’s not as overwhelming.”

Ummmm….remember earlier in the post…have baby, adopt, have another baby, adopt…BIG family…not spread out?


I think I’ll be OK, though. This weekend was a good test. Here were some of the highlights (Not to brag, but I think I scored a C+ ... which IS passing):

The six-year-old got carsick 40 minutes outside of Fort Worth.

• “Daddy can we pull over?”

• He threw up in a grocery sack just as we pulled into a Braum’s parking lot.

• The bag had hole in it and started to leak before he could make it outside the van.

• The oldest kept talking in third-person and reminding himself not to look.

• The youngest, very aware of where we were, kept asking for ice cream in the middle of the chaos.

• The sick child had to be stripped down, and he rode the rest of the trip in the seat right behind me with no shirt, a package of Wet Wipes, and a new plastic bag.

• There were no more incidents.

The site and smell of throw-up didn’t make me hurl … I think anytime someone speaks in third-person it’s hilarious (especially when that person is eight years old) … the fact that there were no other incidents was HUGE – especially because of the new seating arrangement in the van.

g g g

The youngest decided to head-butt the sidewalk.

• He actually tripped over the curb in a dimly lit parking lot and smashed his face pretty good.

• After the initial shock wore off, he realized he was injured and wanted everyone else to know it, too.

• His sweet aunt ran to his rescue.

• Even though he looked like he was in a car wreck, he was bouncing off the walls the next morning.

I saw him face plant, and while his aunt was loving him up, I just kept telling him to “shake it off” . . . when I saw the blood, I decided to let a “real adult” handle the situation . . . I also learned that kids are pretty resilient.

g g g

On our way home, we had to stop for a bathroom break 6 minutes into the trip. (That is no lie and/or exaggeration . . . 360 seconds from leaving the house.)

• As we’re pulling out of the driveway: “Did everyone use the bathroom?” . . . “Let’s see if we can make it all the way to Fort Worth without stopping!”

• Six minutes later: “Daddy, I need to use the restroom” . . . “I thought you went right before we left” . . . “I went pee pee, but I held my poo poo.”

• As they’re getting out of the car, the youngest says, “I need to go poo poo, too.”

It really wasn’t that big of deal, we had to stop anyway because in the hustle and bustle of packing up and leaving, their mother left her keys at the house. A family member was in route to deliver them . . . It made me wonder, though: Would they have continued to “hold their poo poo” all the way home OR would we have stopped a few minutes later anyway? . . . I think kids just know when to take advantage of an opportunity.

Other minor tests included a running request/inquiry to play with my cell phone, the peaks and valleys of sugar highs, and the fact that watching cartoons and playing Wii trumps Sportscenter on Sunday morning.

Here are some other things that I simply learned:

• Kids don’t sleep in – even if the adults tailgated for over five hours the day before and finally went to bed around 1 a.m.

• If you give a child under 10 years old the choice of where to eat – it’s going to be McDonald’s.

• Chocolate milk is VERY popular with young kids. (Temperature of the milk is not important.)

• If you don’t want kids to climb on the furniture – don’t buy it.

• There is always A LOT of hustle and bustle when there are kids involved.

When I told their parents that I was going to blog about me tagging along on their weekend family get-away, I saw both of them cringe.

ME: “Are you worried?”

MOM: “I just don’t want people to think we’re a crazy family.”

I wasn’t going to use the adjective “crazy” – I think “perfect” is a lot more fitting.


Gus did not disappoint on his birthday. After posting his blog – highlighted by a photo gallery of random things he has eaten – he had a monumental day.

During our morning run, we had to stop with two miles to go so he could throw-up two nice-sized rocks.

That night, while I was out and about, he decided to kill another one of his sleep pads. When I opened the door to the bedroom it looked like it had snowed. He was rolling around in the stuffing like he had accomplished the most impressive feat in the world.

Here is his handy work:

A few months ago, my mom said, "I wonder if the stuff we put in the recycle bin actually gets recycled." It was kind of a random question, but irony quickly out weighed her randomness when I received the following flyer in the mail:

Fort Worth's Environmental Management Department hosted the "Cowtown Trash Trail Field Trip" on Sept. 20, and I was there along with my curious mother.

It wasn't at all what we expected. I told anyone and everyone that I was spending my Saturday morning on a tour bus, "following a trash truck around Fort Worth."

I never saw a trash truck, but I did see behind the scenes of a multi-million-dollar industry.

We drove out to the recycle center in Arlington and watched them shuffle through the "single stream" of recycled items and sort it down to the item of the day. On this particular Saturday, we watched aluminum go through the line. (The best part of seeing mom got her question answered.)

After that, we visited the landfill in south Fort Worth. They told us how the "cells" of the landfill are constructed. They put an emphasis on how there used to be dumps and now there are strictly regulated landfills.

I just kept seeing dollar signs.

While people on our tour bus were commenting on how clean the landfill was, and how impressed they were with the new environmental standards, I kept firing off questions about the cash.

"How much does it cost to build a cell?"

"How much to you guys charge to have trash delivered here?"

"When will this particular cell be full?"

"How many cells will this particular landfill have in its lifetime?"

Did I say multi-million-dollar industry? about multi-billion-dollar!

Overall, the "Field Trip" was good. I learned a lot. Got some behind-the-scene research on some investment opportunities. But the best part of that Saturday morning was just spending it with my mom.

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