Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mayor's Prayer Breakfast

Our Nation has the National Day of Prayer and that is held on the first Thursday of May every year.  This year I was honored to have State Rep Bill Kennemer speak at our breakfast.  This yearly tradition was started by Mayor Melody Thompson nine years ago.  It is a free event, with no specific endorsements or funding from city government or businesses.  Donations were being accepted for the Canby Center at the event.

Put on by the pastors in our community, this event brings the community to discuss faith and to pray for our elected officials.  This year, we had over 70 people attend, one of the largest turnouts yet.  A number of the city councilors were there, Chief Smith and Lt Tro from the CPD, fire fighters, board members and so many other community leaders.  
Mayor Prayer Breakfast in Canby, Oregon
Photo credit/copyright: Brian Hodson

Here is a summary of my speech at the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast:

Thank you to Pastor Sam Flaherty, Pete Durkee, the other Pastors, and their support team to make this morning possible.

Thank you to all of you here today, who woke up early to be a part of this, where we can give thanks, praise, and pray for all of you, our leaders.

I am in awe of being able to stand in front of you on a day and at a time when there is no such thing as too much prayer.  How great is God?

President Andrew Jackson wrote that “The Bible is the rock on which our Republic rests.”  President Lincoln stated after receiving a Bible as a gift - “The Bible is the best gift God has given to men.  All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book.  But for it, we could not know right from wrong”. 

The Bible is our road map, our life manual, our guide through great times when Christ is right beside us and through the tough times when He is carrying us.

Last week I spent the day with my youngest son Owen – Emma, my oldest was at school; Meg, my wife, was on a class field trip with our oldest son Dylan.  So Owen and I hung out.  On our way home from burgers and fries Owen asks – “Is God alive?”
I responded with – “He is alive in all of us. It is called the Holy Spirit.”
Owen, questioningly, – “Holy Spirit?”
“Yes. The Holy Spirit is in us when we believe in God and Jesus,” I explain.
Owen: “I believe in God and Jesus...and Santa Claus.”
I told him I was glad that he believed in God and Jesus.  I believe in them… and Santa Claus too.

I want to share with you about God’s provision in my life recently.  Back in November, shortly after the election, I resigned from my job with a company that I had been with for almost 19yrs.  The time had come and this was what I call a 2x4 moment with God.  There had been several “signs” that I needed to move on to something else in the last 3-4yrs.  This last one was it.  I resigned weeks away from the busy Christmas season, no job lined up, a mortgage, 3 eating machines, some savings and I felt safe.  I knew God had a plan. 

I spent the next couple of months enjoying all of the Christmas season activities and preparing for my new role as Mayor.  When finances became strained God provided each and every time.  Family helped, friends and my church prayed, my wife’s business picked up enough, and yes we had help from the State.

With great wisdom and prayerful support from my parents I prayed for 4 specific things during my job search:
1)   That it be a job that will enable me to be flexible with my schedule for my family, my faith and for my role to serve as Mayor
2)   That it be in or near Canby
3)   That the job provide for my family’s needs now and for the future
4)   That I be with a company that has a solid Christian foundation

There were several opportunities that came forward which I am so grateful for, yet not what I felt God had in mind.  A Friday morning in February I and a friend of mine were the only ones that showed for our Friday morning Bible study.  Since it was just the two of us we opted for fellowship over biscuits and gravy.  It was then that it became evident that this is where God wanted to plant me.  Three days later I accepted a position and started a new career a week later.  God does not do coincidences. 

I share this because of God’s provision and faithfulness.  I let go and let God.  It had its moments of uncertainty, for sure.  God showed the way and it was through his words.  It had been a couple of years since I had dug into my Bible or been on my knees so much.  I trust His plan.

President Theodore Roosevelt said in 1901 – “A belief in Jesus Christ is the very fountainhead of everything that is desirable and praiseworthy in our civilization…The teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally – I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally, impossible for us to figure to ourselves what life would be if these teachings were removed”. 

Yet, we are seeing these teachings being removed and eroded.  Yes in the End, we win but that doesn’t mean we just roll over.  We must stand tall. 

Here today is OUR call to action:
·         read your Bible, study it.  It is your life manual.  Seek Him out!
·         pray every chance you get.  Whether it is a praise or prayer for someone or something. (I give a praise for making a green light)
·         Pray for all our leaders.  Pray that God’s will be done.  Pray that when His will is done, we know he has a plan and that we don’t ask why for too long. (He has a plan) Pray that the leaders He has raised up and placed into position will look to Him for guidance.  Pray that our leaders display a servant’s heart and practice courageous servant leadership of your people.
·         Tell your leaders that you prayed this for them. (I bet they smile and say thank you!).

I want to pray for all of you because you all are leaders.  From the President to our city; to the leaders of our churches, schools, community groups, coaches, teachers and our own families.  Leaders everywhere need our prayers.

If God is with us then what can stand against us!  God Bless you, your families, our wonderful city, and our Country.

Thank you.
Brian Hodson

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My New Venture

Many of you know me as mayor.  Many of you know me as former president of the Chamber of Commerce here in Canby.  For many more, you have met me through my position as manager at the Starbucks here in town.  Last November, after I was elected mayor, my wife and I talked and made a decision that I had been weighing for a few years.  I chose to resign from Starbucks.

I worked for Starbucks for almost 20 years and I have nothing but praise and admiration for the company.  But retail is a tough job!  And I was longing for something more.  I do miss the daily interaction with so many of you.  But in my heart of hearts, it was time for a change.

Now, the Mayor position comes with responsibility and some weeks a number of hours.  What it does not come with is a paycheck.  I receive a monthly stipend that covers a haircut, coffee with constituents, and most of the dry-cleaning.  So I made this leap of faith with no job lined up and knowing this was the right thing to do.

I was able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family without the pressures of a retail manager or District Manager position.  I made every family gathering, all the Christmas parties and I was not falling a sleep at any of them!  I was feeling good about my decision to move on to something new.
I ultimately chose to become a mortgage advisor.  I work locally in town at Advantage Mortgage. I studied for and passed all my required licensing tests and now, I am officially licensed. I couldn't be more excited!  This new career gives me a chance to network with a lot of the people I have relationships with in and out of town. It gives me more flexibility for soccer games, t-ball games, and family time.  It also makes me more flexible to meet with the citizens of Canby and to schedule engagements in my role as mayor of our fine town.   It's working out to be an ideal position and I'm pleased.

You can find out more about my new position by visiting the company's website or by visiting my Facebook page.  Thank you for all the support and prayers from friends, family, and our Canby Alliance Church family these past six months.  God is good.

Until the next post...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: Remembering & Saying Thank You

Being Mayor of Canby has brought me some great experiences so far in this first six months: Welcoming at the Iwo Jima World War II Memorial; Introducing Abraham Lincoln at the library for it's Civil War series; meeting with county officials to move some of our city projects forward, long meetings about Libraries and several others. Monday brought another one:  I had the honor and privilege of welcoming guests to the Memorial Day Services held at Zion Memorial Cemetery here in Canby.

I do not know how those of you will take this blog post.  Those that know me will see this as another example of me wearing my heart on my sleeve on an emotional day.  Others may read this and think it is just another politician politicizing a key event.  Take this as you may.  This has become a somber day for me as of late.
Memorial Day in Canby, Oregon
Photo care of the Canby Herald
Growing up, I remember the family get togethers and BBQs at various family homes over the years.  I cannot recall that I truly knew what the day was about.  I may have been told that it was to remember the people that had passed away and were no longer with us.  I do not fault or think that someone should have pulled me aside and said "Hey, pay attention!  This is more about remembering those that give you freedom, not BBQ chicken and hot dogs!".

Both my Grandfathers served in the military.  Harold Hodson was in the Army and James Vlach was in the Navy.  Uncles and cousins have and are serving.  Friends have served.  Fathers of friends have served.  Thank you seems to be all I can say and yet it doesn't seem to say enough.

Admittedly, my new appreciation for Memorial Day, along with my continued love for the 4th of July, is about an overall appreciation for where we live and what this country stands for.  I think some call this Patriotism.  I would call it that.

My appreciation for this day is relatively new, from about 2 years ago really.  I had the opportunity to drive my Grandfather through Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.  Upon entering I was in awe by the powerful image of thousands of American flags.  Big ones, small ones - thousands.  Simply amazing, a sight to see!  You may say "Mr. Mayor, it looks like this at every cemetery across the country today", but I had not experienced this before.

As we drove through, my Grandpa remembered where every family member and friend was buried.  He told some anecdotes of friends and we lingered on family members.  I hung on every single word.  I wanted more time to listen to more stories.  With my Grandpa being almost 96 and myself having three children in school, I may not be able to make it there to tour with him on a Memorial Day again.  Though I have that memory of that day two Memorial Days ago.

That memory flooded back to me this past Monday.  To be there honoring those that served was humbling.  I met three gentlemen that were in WWII.  One was a Marine, spent his entire enlisted time in the South Pacific.  I could not shake enough hands and say 'Thank You'.  They wanted to thank me for being there and I could not accept it.

When the ceremony ended and the crowds cleared away, I walked about five rows of head stones.  Flowers adorned most, yet not all.  There were husbands and wives, children, some had entire families.  It was quiet, except for the sound of the flags being whipped by the light breeze and the gentle crunch of gravel under the few cars coming through.  I walked back to my car and called my Grandpa back in Cleveland.  With a little choke to my voice and welling eyes, I left him a message that simply said - "I was thinking of you, and Grandma, and of the day.  I wanted to tell you I love you and thank you".  It did not seem to be enough to say.

Here is my welcome speech from Monday May 27th 2013.  The italicized portion was omitted due to time and the tremendous amount of rain that was falling on the attendees:

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to American Legion Post 122, Memorial Day Observance and Service. 

Thank you to Carl Coffman, Commander of American Legion Post 122, for inviting me to be a part of these Memorial Services.  I am honored to be involved in this day of remembrance.

Several years ago I had the honor to visit Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio with my Grandfather on Memorial Day.  As we drove the roadways through the cemetery I was moved to a different level of appreciation of what I have because of the men and women who fought for what freedoms I have.

Row upon row of small flags lined the headstones; many were adorned with flowers and other signs of remembrance.  Neatly and meticulously placed, they all celebrated life, said we do not forget you, and thank you.

As I drove my Grandfather around, he knew where everyone was laid to rest – Grandparents, Parents, Aunts and Uncles, Cousins, Nieces and Nephews, and many friends that he has outlived.  They span two World Wars, himself a Navy man in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. 

I am in awe of the men and women who have and do sacrifice for the freedom of the United States of America and their families that support them.  It is bravery that is unmatched.

Our nation is free because of brave Americans like these, who volunteer to confront our adversaries abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. Our nation
mourns the loss of our men and women in uniform and we must honor them, more often than we do.  Today we pray that those who lie here have found peace with God, and we resolve that their sacrifice will always be remembered by a grateful city and nation. 

We must also not let their efforts be in vain.  We can honor them best by showing our vigilance and commitment to community here in our own cities.  Find an hour a week or month to give back to your community or hold your elected officials at every level accountable to “We the people…” and us, the citizens.  This how we remain a great nation, and a model for other countries to strive for.

In a little bit we will hear music and lyrics that we have heard many times, our National Anthem.  President Ronald Reagan in a Memorial Day speech said – “I can't claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don't know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: Does that flag still wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask”.

May God bless our fallen heroes, those serving here and abroad, you all in attendance, your families, the city of Canby, and our Great Country.  Thank you and God Bless.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

First Friday in Canby

Have you been to First Friday in Canby?  First Friday is an effort organized by the Canby Main Street program.  The first Friday of every month is dedicated to celebrating downtown Canby businesses.  Many businesses stay open later and offer specials and unique offerings.  It's a chance for residents to see what downtown has to offer and for businesses to attract new visitors and possibly reveal something new about their business.  
                                                                Canby Main Street - Canby, OR
A lot of Canby residents don't know about First Friday!  I'm working closely with the city to ensure the word is getting out about this special event that happens once a month.  

Businesses that regular participate in First Friday include:  Puddin' River Chocolates, Miss Adelines, Wallflowers, Salon L, Place To Be Cafe, Park Avenue Salon,  and many more.

In addition, there has been a lot of partnerships that have formed, linking downtown businesses with other area Canby businesses.  Recently, Park Avenue Salon hosted a fashion show, featuring prom dresses offered by Degrees of Chic.  Degrees of Chic was also recently showcased at Miss Adeline's. 

The goal of this program is to highlight the history and uniqueness that downtown has to offer and the businesses that make up that area.  The goal is to also incorporate the outlying businesses of downtown, which does include businesses along Highway 99E.  

I like the trend of businesses working together to coalesce downtown.  My emphasis during my campaign, as well as now, is that we should honor all Canby businesses.  This is one way that we are highlighting the businesses of Canby.  Another way is the Canby Saturday Market that is now open.  I invite your comments and suggestions about First Friday, as well as other ways to promote Canby businesses.
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