Author Archives: Tom Cramer

A Mighty, Mighty Los Ranchos

My older brother was the first to play high school football, so we four younger brothers idolized him. I remember packing into the family station wagon and driving to his night games. I couldn’t wait to get there. It was all so exciting – the smell of hotdogs and cotton candy rising from the snack bar, the band playing rally songs, and the roar of the crowd when a big play was made. As young … Read More

When God Shares His Footstool

We don’t have a footstool in our house. That’s okay because most of our furniture is “motion furniture” anyway. It doesn’t matter where you sit, a footstool pops up whenever you push a lever. So, in truth, we have footstools everywhere, thanks to LA-Z-Boy. In our generation, we think of footstools as a symbol of relaxation, but in ancient times they were symbols of power, and were often associated with the throne of a king … Read More

Not Just Talk: Conversations that Work

One of the books I read this spring while I was on study leave with my learning cohort was Conversational Intelligence by Judith Glaser. I didn’t suggest it; one of my colleagues did. I thought to myself, “Sheesh, if we are not good at conversations by now, I think we should find another profession!” But, as often is the case when we think we know it all, I discovered that there was so much more … Read More

Grab My Hand

Every eye in the room was focused on Tamara as she began to share her story, “I’ve had my life threatened twice. There are people there who are very angry, and I’m there to break through the barrier with the love of Jesus Christ…When I say, ‘Grab my hand’ to someone who is struggling emotionally or spiritually, it’s not just my hand they are grabbing. They are grabbing a hand with the full weight of … Read More

Fostering Ambitious Humility

Last week, I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with a friend. He had shared with me multiple times how much the program means to him and how it has completely transformed his life. Although he is a Christian, and attends church regularly, he said that there is something about his AA group that makes it as much as a spiritual home for him as his own church. Because I was interested in why he would … Read More

From Merry-Go-Rounds to Flywheels: How Los Ranchos is Going from “Good to Great”

Back in the day, almost every park had a spinning platform called a “merry-go-round.” The object was to get the platform spinning as fast as you could by running alongside it while holding a bar that separated its slots. Then, in one courageous move, you would jump onto the platform and feel the forces of physics take over. If you were really bold, you might attempt one of your favorite moves, like holding on one-handed … Read More

Looking Out the Window

When I was 12 years old, my parents thought it was a good idea to camp through Europe with their five younger children. That meant five children under the age of thirteen riding in the back of a Volkswagen campervan for an entire month. After one week of non-stop brawling, with arms and legs flying everywhere, and my parents valiantly trying to keep the van steady while driving, they did what any reasonable parents would … Read More

The Avocado Tree

As a boy growing up with four brothers, fighting was an everyday occurrence. It didn’t help matters that we were all about the same size and shared a communal shelving unit in our laundry room upon which we stored our clothes. Part of our morning ritual was to get up early and grab the best outfit for school. Unfortunately, more times than you would think, you would find another set of hands on the same … Read More

From Oprah to Belhar: The “Why” behind the “What”

I’ve made a big deal lately about supportive partnerships and their power to sustain spiritual, physical, and societal transformation. I realize now that I’ve written and spoken about the “what” without saying too much about the “why.” So, I thought I’d take a moment and give you a glimpse into my thought process, as orthodox as it may seem. When I reflect on our mission on earth as disciples and congregations, I think most about … Read More

Vegetables for Breakfast

Millions of people do it every morning. The French do it. The Thai do it. And, I’ve noticed, many athletes do it, too. They eat vegetables for breakfast. I didn’t think I could ever get used to the idea myself, especially with my penchant for Sausage McMuffins and warmed cinnamon rolls, but my friend and I looked at each other last March and decided to do something about our potbellies. We were tired of carrying … Read More