Ed Mathis–Advice for Business Owners

Welcome to my blog! Can you tell us your name?
Ed Mathis. Ed is the easiest name in the English language to spell. When I was born my parents took one look at me and said, “This boy’s gonna need all the help he can get.” So they named me Ed, so I could spell it. I guess they wanted to give me a ed-start… on my ed-ucation. I could go on…

What do you do with your time?
I am the semi-retired owner of Mathis Electronics. We design and manufacture printed circuit boards for a number of different industries, as well as LED replacements for wedge base bulbs that are used in autos and landscape lighting. Everything is manufactured in Asheville, North Carolina and has a lifetime warranty.

Before that, my wife and I were missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Zaire, Africa, and then with TransWorld Radio in Monte Carlo. The hard thing about being a missionary in Monte Carlo is trying to raise enough support for the yacht. Those darn things are expensive!

How old are you?
I’m 62. No, wait… 63… yeah… 63.

And where do you live?
Arden, North Carolina

Where can we find you on the internet?
I don’t have a personal website, but my business websites are:
wedgelights.com and, coming soon, edsongs.com

What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited?
Hard to say. I’ve been to a lot of places and each one has its points of interest. Kenya is perhaps one of the most fascinating. It’s a very harsh but hauntingly beautiful country.

Favorite meal?
At this point in time I would have to say that my favorite meal is steak au poivre (pepper steak) at Bouchon in Asheville. Amazingly delicious!

Pet peeve?
I suppose my recent pet peeve is the way many news agencies distort the truth to make a sensational story so they can get better ratings.

What’s your favorite movie?
“Sling Blade,” without a doubt. “Coffee kindly make me nervous when I drink it. Mmm.”

If someone wants to pray for you they could pray for?
If anyone wishes to pray for me, please pray for my sanctification. Sanctification mystifies me, and seems to largely elude me. I want to write a book someday. In fact, I’ve already written it in my head. It would be titled, “Why Doesn’t God Fix Us When He Saves Us?” The book would consist of one page with one sentence at the top which reads, “Darned if I know.”

Are you married? Any children or pets?
I’ve been married to Sheryl, the finest woman to ever walk the face of the earth, since 1979. I have trouble believing that she really loves me, but she does, and I am devoted to her.

We have three adopted children, Sam (25), Rachael (20), and Miriam (17). The last few years have pretty well convinced me that I’ve been the worst father ever.

My first grandchild, Dakotah, is due in September. Can’t wait to get my hands on him!

Pets? I’m in a good mood. I’d rather not talk about pets. Actually, though, my daughters’ two pups are starting to grow on me.  Ok, that’s enough on pets.

Something most people don’t know that you can do?
Most people probably do not know that I speak three languages, including Lingala, one of the trade languages in Congo (used to be Zaire). Mbote!

I didn’t know that. If you had any spare time what would you do with it?
I have a good bit of spare time now, and I try to stay out of trouble by writing, arranging, and singing songs for men’s four-part a cappella harmony.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered?
One of the greatest blessings of my life at this time is singing and playing guitar (and mandolin) with my father and brother in a group we call “The Stepsons of the Pioneers.” Cowboy songs, western swing, classic country, gospel, and an occasional jazz or pop song. We play almost exclusively at nursing homes. The residents really enjoy it, and it’s a great blessing for my dad, who is almost 90 and has lost the ability to do a lot of the things he used to enjoy, but he can still sing and play guitar well. He really looks forward to our gigs. It’s also a great blessing for me and Kevin.

Recently they’ve started bringing a lady in to hear us sing when we go to Fleshers in Fairview. She’s in a wheelchair and for all practical purposes is out of her mind. She just says, “Jesus, Jesus,” quite loudly, then waits a few seconds and repeats it, etc. The first time she was there, I just decided, ok, we’ll have a Jesus, Jesus night. So we sang “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him. How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er…”, and then, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name…”. As we were singing I watched her to see if she might clue in or sing with us, but she seemed to be unfazed by our music, and just kept repeating “Jesus, Jesus.”

At a certain point I looked and she was gone. When the song was over I asked what happened to the Jesus Jesus lady. The staff lady said she took her out because she was afraid she was disturbing. I said, “She’s not disturbing me. In fact, if I ever get to the place in life where I can only speak one word, I hope that word will be Jesus.”

The Jesus Jesus lady has become one of my heroes. I later found out that her name was Martha. You know, as in “Martha, Martha…” Now she’s saying, “Jesus, Jesus.” Brings tears to my eyes. Actually, in recent visits I’ve heard her say two new things. It’s still almost always “Jesus, Jesus”, but I recently heard her say, as she was looking out the door and motioning with her hand, “Come on, Jesus.” Then, a little later, she said in her loud, rough voice, “I love Jesus.” I melted. When I recovered enough to talk, I said to the audience, “I just love that lady.” I’m so impressed that a woman who has basically lost her mind is still proclaiming the name of Jesus with every breath. May it be so with me!.

Thanks much, Ed, and that’s a wonderful story.

As you know, here on “Advice for Everyone,” I ask people to offer counsel to wildly differing interest groups based on their own background. Could I ask you to offer some advice to circuit designers?
…..I’m coming up dry on this one. How about a couple of tips my dad taught me about running a successful business?

That works for me. Fire away.
1. Profit is not a dirty word. Don’t be afraid to make a profit. In fact, making a reasonable profit is a biblical concept. Many would-be business owners feel guilty about making a profit. They want to give everybody the “good buddy” price, and their family suffers for it.

2. Plan to make a profit every day. If you plan to start a business by breaking even the first year with the intention of making money next year, you will probably not make it.

3. Probably the best business advice I’ve ever heard comes from Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have, for He himself has promised, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Balancing making a profit with being content with what you have is probably the biggest challenge of running a business.

Ed, thanks much for sharing some of your adventures with us, and God bless.

Chris Harbin–Advice for Substitute Teachers

What is your name?  Chris Harbin

What is your occupation?  Missionary, seminary professor, pastor, author, finance professional, interpreter, substitute teacher

That’s a very impressive resumé.  Okay, how old are you?  Batting at 50

And where do you live?  Davidson, NC

Do you have a website or a blog or a Twitter account or anything where people can learn more about you?

What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited?  Iguaçu Falls in Brazil, the Scarlet Ibis Sanctuary in Trinidad, and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Mexico.  

Your favorite meal would be?  Groundnut Stew

What’s groundnut stew?  Stew made with chicken and peanuts, served over rice with diced fruit, tomato, onion, bell pepper, & dried coconut. I’m attaching the recipe from Karen’s dad’s first cousin who was a missionary to Nigeria.  

Great!  It sounds delicious.  I’ll include the recipe after this post.

Can I ask you to offer some advice for substitute teachers?  As a substitute teacher, you are in charge of the classroom for the day/hour. The students look to you as the person in charge unless you convince them otherwise. Depending on the plans set for you, you should feel free to add to the material from your personal experience. Tangents in education can be useful for helping students connect to material being presented. If you are not comfortable as the material is new to you, it is also new for the class you are teaching. There is no reason to be afraid to say, “Let’s learn together.” After all, college professors must continue learning in order to teach the subjects in which they are already experts. There is often a student in the class who readily understands the material. There is nothing to be lost by asking them to help explain material to others.

Favorite book?  “Out of Poverty” by Paul Polak.  Movie? “Dead Poets Society.”  Television show?  “The Librarians.”  

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for…..?  Completion of my discipleship cell group material series.

Family and/or pets? Married for 26 years, two kids nearly grown, three exchange students over the years.  We have a dog and a cat and we used to have chickens.

Pet peeve? Discrimination against immigrants and other minorities.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?  Woodworking.

Can you tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered?  I performed lead roles in high school plays, I led a barber shop quartet in college, I cook creatively, but don’t follow recipes closely at all, I’ve studied eleven languages and speak three of them fluently, and I’ve lived half my life outside the United States.

What languages do you speak and which ones have you studied?  I speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese.  I’ve studied German, French, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Aramaic, Latin, & Ugaritic (a dead language from Ugarit, on the Mediterranean coast near Tyre).

You’ve had some amazing experiences, Chris.  Thanks for sharing with us.  Following this is the recipe for Groundnut Stew, which I’m going to have to try some time.  

Marian’s Nigerian Groundnut Stew
Ingredients:  6 pounds fryer chicken, 3 cups peanut butter, water, flour, 1 t. cayenne pepper, and a dash of black pepper/


Banana, sliced
Pineapple, chunks or tidbits
Salted, roasted Peanuts
Onion, chopped
Tomato, diced
Grapefruit, canned
Mandarin Orange, canned
Green Pepper, chopped
Coconut, grated

Collard greens, sautéed

1. Stew chicken in water with 2 cups peanut butter until cooked.  
2. Remove chicken and put aside. Measure broth so that enough flour to make a medium white sauce consistency can be added to the broth.
3. Add 1 t cayenne pepper and dash of black pepper.
4. Add 1 cup peanut butter and reserved meat. Simmer.

Serve over rice with one or two tablespoons of each topping item.  Each item should be used unless the person is allergic to something.