A Personal MOU

Over the years I have, on occasion entered into MOU’s and during this time it provided guidance and clarity to the direction each of the parties involved were traveling together. In the busy lives which we are all involved I find myself continually stretched beyond measure….how about you?

Then I came up with this ‘crazy good’ idea!!  I have been known to have a few…such as the ‘creation of the perfect chocolate cookie’….but, not to worry I’ll share about that and some other ‘great ideas’ another time.

For now, let’s think about developing a personal or even family MOU. The idea here is to acknowledge and understand the values and goals that I, or we as a family will hold to as we go through the journey we call “life”.

As I thought about this conceptually it makes more sense than nonsense.   Think about it…I don’t know about you; however until recent years I know I have spent more time going through life than living it! We have all kinds of plans; plans to build things, plans to destroy things, performance  plans, employment plans…..plans, plans, and more plans, yet for many of us if we were asked what our ‘living-life’ plan was, we would have a problem remembering what we might be doing this weekend.

Please don’t hear me wrong……I’m challenging us (including me), to put time into having a personal understanding our lives beyond

just one’s work, and beyond the “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go” attitude many of us have come to have.

While this MOU may include our workplace, again I encourage us to establish this on a foundation of thought and consideration of most importantly you, and your family. When have you put yourself or your family in the position of being on the top of a list such as this?  The idea behind this special type of MOU is that you, your family and those close to you recognize it serves a reminder that an understanding of this nature actually exists within me, and with us!

Not too many years ago Coach Urban Meyer of THE Ohio State Buckeye’s life was temporarily derailed by what was thought to be a heart attack.  His life had become his work, and this was all consuming to say the least.  His success led to even greater expectations for him to succeed.

While there was no apparent end to his success, his body had another idea.  Sometime after this and after having retired from coaching, Coach Meyer was contemplating re-entering the sport that once nearly took his life.

A ‘family’ meeting occurred and while his family supported him in returning to coaching, it was with the stipulation he entered into a contract, a MOU to say, with his family. It is as follows:

1.My family always comes first

2.I will take care of myself and

maintain good health

3.I will go on a trip once a year with Nicki (at minimum)

4.I will not go more than 9 hours a day at the office

5.I will sleep with my cell phone on silent

6.I will continue to communicate daily with my kids

7.I will trust God’s plan and not be overanxious

8.I will keep the lake house

9.I will find a way to watch Nicki and Gigi play volleyball

10.I will eat three meals a day

You get the idea…life is to be lived…we plan for everything else….lets plan to live and to love the life we have been given!

Memorandum of Understanding…..take a few moments to draw yours up today and let it be a constant reminder to live everyday this amazing, awesome opportunity we call ‘life’!

Be safe,

Steve's Signature

Giving in….Making one’s life matter

Over the years, I’ve been continually challenged by the opportunities we are given to serve those who have for some reason or another come into our lives.

Years ago I remember stopping at a gas station one morning and being approached by a guy who said his wife and son were stuck on the highway and he was trying to get enough money to buy gas needed to get them on their way.  In putting on my ‘good Samaritan cape’ I quickly went into action, both going to the ATM withdrawing money and then further soliciting money from other gas station patrons to help this family in need!!  He thanked me over and over with continued “God bless You’s”, and “you’re and angel sent from heaven” to which I thanked him.

I headed off to my meeting feeling a definite sense of ‘I could actually go home now; my day is complete for I have served those in need’……this was followed of course by a choir of angels singing hallelujah lifting their arms to heaven and exclaiming “well done good and faithful servant”!!!….what a great person am I!!!!

Coming out of my meeting some hours later, and still on this “serving high” as I was driving back to my office I noticed this person that I, let me again emphasize that “I”, “me” had personally and solely  helped hours earlier standing out in front of the same gas station.  Stopping to inquire as to his family and the present situation he told me he was now waiting for a tow truck and needed more money in order for this to happen.  Donning my ‘cape’, I again headed to the ATM to help this desperate soul in need!!!  As I began to withdraw money the attendant who must have recognized me from earlier, “hey buddy, please don’t tell me you’re helping that guy?”.  Not saying anything initially my thought was “of course I am, can’t you see my ‘good Samaritan cape’? Do you know who I am?” He began to explain to me that this same guy frequently stood in front of the station using a similar story to gain monies from us suspecting patrons. Feeling completely taken, it was now time to confront this imposter, and to bring light to his indiscretions. Possibly I could lead him to repentance, and renew a soul! Upon engaging with him, he simply laughed, and said: “its unsuspecting jerks like you that fund my day….thanks, idiot!!!”

This was definitely a reality check moment…..no more hallelujah choir, and my “good Samaritan cape” was now shredded. Feeling extremely sorry for myself, my emotions damaged I vowed to never, I mean NNNNEEEVVVVEEEEEERRRRRR let this happen again.  No one gets help….…NOOOO ONEEEEE!!!!  Now who’s the jerk?….now who’s the idiot? Not me brother, not me!!

Soon after this experience and after proudly turning away a number of ‘seekers of money’ I found myself again confronted with a person in need, a mom with kids and no gas only, this time, she was not asking for money….just asking for gas enough to get home….that’s all. My internal guard system clicked on as if to say “another person scrounging off others…..send them on their way!!

This is earth to Steve…..have you completely lost your mind”? Is this really you thinking and acting in this way???, why exactly do you serve???…to bring accolades to YOU!?!?!!?!?…..so you can wear your ‘good Samaritan cape’!?!?!? Open your eyes!!!

I must say that this eye-opening experience brought me to the place that while knowing why I did what I did that day, I really must say a word of thanks to this mom for renewing the belief within me that we are not called to critically evaluate the motives of those in need, we are called to open our hearts to them.  I have come to believe that in life there are times we need to discern “are we the doctor or the pusher”.  Are we helping a situation to be better, or are we creating a dependency that neither they nor we will ever end?”

For me, it brought me back to that place of seeing and believing “the more we serve the more opportunities we will be given to serve”…….I hope to always be aware of, and open to these opportunities.

Be safe,



A Good Day

To begin, the feedback from my first blog has been wonderful…thanks for your kind words and encouragement!!

The amazing things that have happened since moving to our new ‘home’ have been beyond measure. We have had visitors almost daily, and they have unanimously ‘loved’ the changes, and updates we have made.This would not have been possible without great Co-workers, a guiding and supportive Board of Directors, and our Foster and Adoptive Families who are second to none.

Imagine coming to work every day “serving families, youth, and one another with excellence”, and working alongside one another believing and experiencing “the more we serve the more opportunities we will be given to serve”….wow!

I continue to be asked…just how did we do this?

Sometimes I think I know exactly the answer, however, my conclusion is that there are so many things that have influenced this journey we have taken together.

Many things have changed here at Agape; most significantly the coming together of Agape Co-workers creating an extremely positive shift in ‘culture’ like no other time in our history. With this unified commitment we continue to build upon the ‘strength-based’ initiative we began nearly four years ago. Together we are focused and driven…supporting and uplifting one another and those we are dedicated to serve.

This gathering of Agape co-workers is the best in my history as Agape’s Executive Director and Founder. As a ‘team’ I remain thankful that we are centered on the mission and vision we have dedicated ourselves too, and model this philosophy throughout the agency. Our foster and adoptive families continue their unbending commitment to serve the youth entrusted to their care, loving them beyond their behaviors, and their challenges.

‘Agape Strong’….”we dont have ‘problems’, only ‘challenges’, that with our collective strengths, we will address and overcome”!

The journey we share required for us to come together, being genuine, and transparent in our unified support of the mission and vision of Agape.

Passion ‘embraced’, commitment ‘driven’, successful ‘results’…….we will settle for nothing less!

It’s an amazing time here at Agape!

Be safe,

Steve's Signature

Why I Do What I Do

Being asked recently “why do you do what you do?” my thoughts were filled with about a ‘k ’zillion’ (it’s so great talking with little kids) possible responses.  In truth, this question brought me back to years ago during the beginning years of Agape when we were establishing the very foundation of the agency. The mentors of that period are long gone from the field, some going on to do other things, others sadly have passed away.

In a spirit of great appreciation, I would like to share some memories of those who have influenced ‘why I do what I do’.

Doug Geib Sr., (my dad)-remembering like yesterday his main question during the beginning year of Agape. “Are you scared?” in which I recalled responding with an emotional “well….yeah!!!” His very direct response was an emphatic “good” which based on the look on my face he knew that he had confused me even more than I already appeared. “Fear either motivates or freezes you….only you can decide”. He followed up with a smile, and said: “stay motivated, and stay warm”. Over the years, while I have definitely have had to remind myself of his response, it remains in the forefront of ‘why I do what I do’.

Preston McMurry, (a special friend)-who reminded me during a critical time in my journey of the gift that Agape was, and the gift Agape remained…..and “why on earth was I considering giving up this ‘gift’ that I felt to be of, and from God?” He was short and to the point…..”In that ‘He’ has not said otherwise, do not give away that which is not yours to give away. Get focused!”

Randy Pavlak, (Board President/friend)-for his mentoring of me through good times and times of challenge. For patting me on the back for work well done, and ‘motivating’ (i.e. providing a proverbial motivation from behind) during times I considered ‘throwing in the towel’. He said one time during a Board dinner….”there have been times where I have seen him so down and was concerned he was going to give up; and honestly given the things he had been through would not have blamed him….however I’m glad he decided to stay, and I believe the mission of Agape is where it is as a result of his dedication.”

Rhonda Reagh, (coach)-who has taught me so many valuable lessons; of them the value of getting 10,000 feet above a given situation in order to look at it from above, and map one’s course through the forest of trees before them. Further, that “the strength to grow and move forward is within each of us…..yet it is up to us to recognize this strength and pursue it”.

Donald Bell, (who I’m honored to call a friend)-for providing me the visual of foster care through the eyes of a youth who had been there…..influencing me, even more, to provide additional opportunities to the youth we are entrusted to serve. One of my favorite ‘Don-isms’ remains “I may not be where I want to be, however, I’m better than I was yesterday”.  I definitely have shared that phase with the youth we serve….remembering always to ‘give hope for tomorrow’.

‘Kid President’ (check out his videos on YouTube) comes to mind as probably the youngest of mentors. One of his encouraging messages concludes with “keep going, keep going, keep going…do something to make the world awesome” and has had a life impact upon me!! What a great message!!!…think about it….each of us taking responsibility for creating ’awesomeness’ in the world!!

While there are many more that have influenced “why I do what I do”, I would be remiss not to share my heartfelt appreciation for my family.  I begin with my ‘kids”, now young adults married, some with children of their own. Stephen, Emily, and Kaitlyn have been nothing short of wonderfully amazing.  Late nights, early mornings, ‘shared holidays’ and attending most every agency celebration during their young lives, they each independently embraced the serving mission of Agape, and have continued to live out ‘servant serving’ in their adult journeys.

Finally, that leaves me with Sandie (my wife and co-worker)-words cannot express my thanks for this amazing person who has so influenced and supported me, and is absolutely without a doubt one of the major influencers of “why” I do what I do”.  Be them the foundational principles of ‘serving with excellence’, being ‘positive, professional and progressive’,  and ‘Agape Strong’-Giving Hope for Tomorrow”, she has remained steadfast in standing firm that “the more we serve, the more opportunities we are given to serve”. She has been not only my greatest cheerleader; she has always reminded me that what we do is truly a ‘gift’…we are called to share with others!

In answering ‘why I do what I do”, I can honestly respond that it is because I have been blessed with a passion for serving, encouraged and influenced by amazing friends and mentors, surrounded by ‘service beyond self’ driven warriors, and provided love and support by family that is unmatched which drives me even more to share this ‘gift’ called Agape with those entrusted to our care.

Steve's Signature