It has been said of me that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve made a living in a variety of ways in my life from working cattle on a ranch to making lumber in a sawmill. I’ve been an oilfield worker, professional photographer, carpenter, minister (20 years), realtor, developer, writer, speaker, founded an organization that empowered 120,000 volunteers to provide 20 million meals for disaster relief in Haiti and spend a great deal of my effort empowering people to feed the hungry.

I’m exactly what I want to be: curious and flexible. I leave very few stones unturned.

Learn More About Rick


Writer and Speaker

Robin Williams star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Thank you, Robin Williams, For Making the World a Better Place


“Avoid using the word very because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired; he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad; use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys- to woo women- and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”  - Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society.

Thank you, Robin Williams, for the knee-hugging-rolling-on-the-floor-wheezing-until-I-almost-passed-out-laughter that you brought to this crazy world.

Thank you for connecting phrases that most of us stumble around and putting them in such order that the mundane was replaced by the hilarious and we were re-positioned to view life with a heart of laughter.

Thank you for your unabashed willingness to change in and out of characters without reserve and the risk of looking silly in order to help us to poke fun at our own selves.

Thank you for the creative way you connected boring words flat on the page of a dictionary but jumped from your mind and mouth in unparalleled construct.

Each time you spoke, I listened and waited:

    • I waited to laugh
    • I waited to have you make sense of insanity
    • I waited for you to give me language for how I felt but couldn’t find the words to speak on my own
    • I waited for you to make fun of people who needed made fun of
    • I waited for you to christen champions with your approval
    • I waited for you to give me a new line I could repeat with my children
    • I waited for you to show me the magic of words
    • I waited for you to inspire me to be creative

Because of you, I eliminated the word very from my vocabulary.

Thank you for making this world a better place in which to live.

Rest in peace.

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The image used in this blog was purchased from istock.com.









No whinin

The No-Whinin’ Zone: How to Handle a Whiner


Tony, the tour director, stood at the front of our bus and said with a soft southern drawl, “There are forty strangers here that will spend the next eleven days together in a foreign country and I have one basic rule:

1. No Whinin’

There were plenty of opportunities in the following days to complain, but no one did.  Each time a person would start to complain, they would  mutter no whinin’ and the rest of the group would chuckle.

It sounded silly; but it worked.  When I began to lead international mission teams, I invoked Tony’s rule and mimicked his soft southern drawl with his no whinin’ rule. It is also one of my top five parenting rules.  Here are a few things I’ve learned about whiners:

      • Whiners are like fingernails screeching on chalkboard
      • Whiners can ruin the mood for the entire group
      • Whiners sow seeds of discontent that create more whiners
      • Whiners create distrust because they usually complain about people
      • Whiners cause people to dislike them and then they wonder why
      • Whiners drain co-workers of motivation and enthusiasm
      • Whiners- if left unchecked- can single-handledly destroy the morale of an office or a team

So how do you stop someone from whinin’?  Here are a few suggestions:

    • Create a culture and set the expectation that whining in considered childish
    • Don’t give into their demands; you’ll live to regret it; if the child in the checkout line is whinin’ for candy and gets it, he’ll whine for car when he’s a teen
    • Challenge the whiner to provide his or her own solution
    • Ignore them

There’s a difference between legitimate complaints and whinin’.  The way to differentiates between the two is to see if there is a solution attached to the complaint.

What tricks have you learned to handle a whiner? Please tell me, I’d like to know.

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Young Orangutan, young Pileated Gibbon and young Bonobo hanging on ropes against white background

My Serenity Prayer: Not my circus; not my monkeys


I grew up listening to enough Thee’s, Thou’s, Thy’s, and Thine’s to believe that God only spoke in 15th Century English.  Shakespeare with his where for art thou? and the Psalmist David with his thou makest me to lie down in green pastures made it hard for a Kansas country boy to read 500-year-old English and watch the characters jump off the page.

But I learned a trick; paraphrasing. In some circles, I would be labeled a heretic, but I learned to create my own version.  Where the heck are you? replaced wherefore art thou? and I took a nap in the hay field was a reality I embraced more than he maketh me lie down in green pastures.

Now, I have my own version of this popular serenity prayer originally penned by Reinhod Niehbur.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

The serenity prayer is based upon the determination of personal responsibility. It assumes we recognize a problem and then asks us these questions:

  • Can I fix this?
  • Do I need to fix this?
  • Am I being asked to fix this or am I butting in?
  • Do I have the skills needed to solve it?
  • Do I have the authority to implement solutions?

Here is my paraphrase:

Not my circus; not my monkeys.

I loathe wasting time, resources, worry, and sleep on things that I can’t fix. I have expended a lot of mental energy fighting battles that were simply not mine to fight nor were battles anyone could win. I’ve become quite cautious about getting sucked into the drama of others.

Sometimes it is my circus; sometimes they are my monkeys; sometimes I need to throw myself passionately into providing order to the chaos.

But sometimes it’s not my circus; they are not my monkeys.

Wisdom is determining which circus I buy tickets for.

 The photo used in this blog was purchased from istock.com


jack plane

Getting Back to the Basics


The legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers- Vince Lombardi- would gather his players around, hold up a football, and say, “This, gentleman, is a football.”

I have a woodworking shop full of mechanized equipment, but nothing feels quite as good as grabbing a jack plane with a razor edge and smoothing a piece of oak. Every once in a while, I have to get back to the basics.

I made a promise to a starving girl and myself many years ago that I would spend the rest of my life feeding hungry people. I started out doing it in-person as a direct service; taking truckloads of supplies into some of the hungriest villages in Central America and Africa.

I don’t do any direct service anymore, but I work for an amazing organization, Outreach, Inc., that in the last ten years has facilitated the packaging of over 260 MILLION meals for the hungry. I also serve on the Executive Board of the Alliance to End Hunger in D.C. and co-chair their Advocacy Committee.

I’m incredibly involved- indirectly.

To make sure I keep my focus, I frequently open my photo library and look at the places I’ve been and the people whom I indirectly serve.

For me, I have to know the why before I can fully engage in the what.

Reminding myself of why I do what I do keeps me the bullseye in the center of my sights.  This photograph is of a child in the largest refugee camp in the world, Dedaab, Kenya. I took this in 2012.


This is why I do what I do.

What do you do to get back to the basics?

If you’d ever like to get involved in the fight against hunger, please let me know what I can do to help!  Email me: rick.mcnary@gmail.com




once upon a time

What is the Story you Tell Yourself?


I’m still not sure why we didn’t get killed or end up on life support, but I do know that it all started with the story the young girl in the red SUV was telling herself.

Recently, I was pulling our camper with my wife riding shotgun on a stretch of Kansas road called a Super Two; a road with narrow shoulders along each side instead the pavement immediately giving way to a deep ravine. Dotted along the shoulders are broken down vehicles, boat trailers missing a tire, and dead deer.

I was doing the speed limit and my truck was drinking gas like drunk at happy hour. I watched in the mirror as the young woman in the red SUV pulled out to pass. I looked at the oncoming traffic approaching rapidly and assumed the SUV would sidle in behind me until there was room.

Nope: she decided to go for it. I started moving over the rumble strips, looking for broken down cars, and wondering when I’d have to go cross country through the barbwire.

A hundred questions looked for answers: Was she playing chicken? What were the drivers in the oncoming traffic going to do? What if she didn’t move? What if she decided to take the shoulder? What if she came my way instead? Did the drivers behind the first oncoming car know what was happening? Did I remember to put clean underwear on?

It all began with a story the driver of the SUV was telling herself. From where I sat, I can only assume this was the story she was telling herself:

      • My life is so full of urgency I will take unreasonable risks
      • My car has enough rocket power to close the gap
      • If I don’t get out of the way, others will
      • I’d like to scare the living daylights out of a least a half-dozen people

She involved each of us on that stretch of highway in her story. She caused us to tell our own stories about what was happening and try to guess what stories the drivers in the other cars were telling themselves. Fortunately, we all ended up telling the right story because there was no crash. She finally pulled  to the other side and stopped. I’d lay odds she didn’t have clean underwear on anymore.

Life is a story. Sometimes we have to react to the stories others are telling themselves, but drag us into.

And always, always, always, we act on the stories we tell ourselves.

Our life’s story depends on us telling ourselves the right story.


Photo purchased from Istock.com 





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