Reflections of…Catching Up With Your Past You!

Reflections Of... Catching Up With Your Past You!

 

 

Can we talk?

 

This one won’t be long…I promise.

I had the opportunity, through Facebook, to catch up to Mike.

Mike and I knew each other when I was 13 years old.

Mike and I haven’t seen each other or talked to one another since I was 16 years old.

 

And yet… It was like no time had passed.

 

But how was that possible?

I had…

Lost my mother.

Graduated high school.

Graduated college.

Gotten married.

Had my twin daughters.

Had my son.

Lost my father.

Worked at IBM for 16 years.

Been through a horrific divorce.

Married the love of my life.

Blended a family with 6 kids.

Had 9, soon to be…10 grandchildren.

Had a near fatal heart attack.

Written two books that were published.

Started a blog that is read in 47 countries weekly.

Performed my son’s wedding, my godson’s wedding and 2 sons of my heart’s weddings.

Been at my oldest brother Joe’s bedside as he entered heaven.

Officiated the funerals of Ellen and Sandy—my two best friends who both went to heaven.

Received a healed heart from the Lord after a 21 day fast.

And…

Been in a near fatal car accident where I met a man named Norm!

 

Mike didn’t know about any of these facts of my life.

But he still…

Remembered me.

The “me” I was when I was 15—loved the Lord---was funny—and liked helping people.

And I kind of thought—that’s still me today!

And he mentioned one other thing…

He said “people have told me that you’re intelligent!”

Well…

Didn’t expect that one…

But…

Thanks be to God who gifted me with a brain that retains and a mind that analyzes—

I have proven to be an intelligent man capable of pragmatic thinking and applying “outside of the box” reasoning to all I do in life.

So…people say I’m intelligent—behind my back!

 

I walked away from our wonderful catching up session with a sense of validation.

 

A lot has happened over the years from 15 to 58, but…

I am essentially still a boy who…

Loves the Lord.

Loves to laugh.

Loves to help others.

 

And I am thankful that I haven’t changed.

My life still centers around my Lord!

Can you still say the same thing?

 

If you met your 15 year old self…

Would that self be proud of you?

Or…

Would they ask “what happened to change you into what you are now?”

 

Think about it…

 

 

 

Reflections Of…Is it a Bad thing or…A Good Thing?

Reflections Of... Is It a Bad Thing? or...A Good Thing?

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes..you just don’t know.

Is it a bad thing?

Or, is it a good thing?

 

Today is the one year anniversary of meeting Norm.

Who is Norm?

Well…if you really knew me…you would know Norm!

 

A year ago—around 6:45pm—Norm drove 60 mph through a stop sign…and almost killed me!

That’s my car in the picture—my Kia Soul—I nicknamed it Kobie!

I loved Kobie!

Apparently, Kobie saved my life.

His 6 air bags—one of which deployed from the steering wheel!

 

I actually saw it in slow motion—from the first rip in the middle of the steering wheel to the slow mo exploding of the air bag –into my chest!

 

I don’t think I will ever forget that moment!

 

When Norm tried to kill me!

 

The police and EMS guys all told me “you should have NOT walked away from this—your car is totaled, but you are alive—it’s a miracle!”

 

I didn’t feel like it was—my dominant left hand was broken—that was a first for me—never ever had anything broken before.

 

3 months later— out of work—unable to type or write—I developed a saying…

My friends would hear me say “Darn that Norm!”

Just said it every time I couldn’t do something or was unable to accomplish a task due to my broken left hand.

So…pretty much—all day long!

 

One day…my godson called me and said “godfather(he really calls me that—I love it!) I want to tell you a story.”

He told me about a man who had a horse.

The horse ran away.

The neighbor told him “that’s a bad thing!”

He told the neighbor “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing—I don’t know about these things!”

2 weeks later—the horse returned with 6 other horses.

The neighbor said “that’s a good thing!”

He told the neighbor “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing—I don’t know about these things!”

2 weeks later – his only son was riding the horse—and it bucked the son and caused the son to  have a broken leg.

The neighbor told him “that’s a bad thing!”

He told the neighbor “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing—I don’t know about these things!”

2 weeks later – the son was sitting on the porch when a gang went by with the intent to kidnap all the sons in the village.

But…they saw the son on crutches—and they kept going to the next house and kidnapped other sons—leaving the one son.

The neighbor said “that’s a good thing!”

He told the neighbor “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing—I don’t know about these things!”

 

My godson said “I don’t know why God is allowing you to go through such a tough time with your Darn That Norm, but He knows why!”

 

I started to cry. Yes, on occasion, I am a man who cries.

What my godson did NOT know was—early that day—I had settled with Norm’s insurance company.

 

It was an answered prayer financially—one that God reminded me “didn’t you pray about financial blessing in your yearly January fast?”

And yes God—privately—that was my prayer—for a financial windfall!

 

And…that’s what God provided!

 

So… one year later—if he is listening somewhere out there—I want to say “Thank You Norm!!!”

 

You never know what God chooses to use to answer your prayer!

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections Of…God’s Plan Unfolding!

Reflections Of... God's Plan Unfolding!

http://rstthermal.com/lg-new-england/RfSeZ/ My Sweet Bella on her Birthday!

I purposely waited until today to write this.

You see…today is the last day of a journey that my wife and I have been on—together.

Most of you have no idea what she and I have faced together—as a couple—best friends—love mates.

And why would you?

You each have your own journey to travel—you are absorbed in your path, your hurdles, your dilemmas.

As it should be…

But—sometimes…it’s good to know—God has a plan!

 

Bella just had her birthday last week.

I asked her to take the day off work.

If you knew how dedicated my wife is to her career—you would know—NOT an easy task!

But…she did.

 

I surprised her as she awakened with—her BIG birthday present!

I never do that—I always draw it out until the end of the day, at dinner or at a surprise birthday party in her honor.

I’ve done the “surprise” birthday party a lot for her—she had never had one until we started dating.

I am pretty sure in the past 20 years—I have more than made up for that!

 

But this year… I wanted to do what she wanted to do…

Which is…nothing planned, no schedule, no timeline, just mosey through the day and do whatever she wants to do—or do nothing.

 

So…she loved her BIG present—I replaced her Past/Present/Future diamond pendant that she lost in Publix about 5 years ago.

That’s a whole other story!

But…I had said at the time “I’m not going to replace it! It was a once in a lifetime gift—and you loved it, and I loved giving it to you, but..no replacement!”

And… I meant it.

At the time…

 

But…so much has happened in our lives over the past 5 years—I started thinking at Valentine’s that I would surprise her with a replacement.

Did NOT know it would be that difficult to find a replacement.

Apparently, they don’t make them anymore.

So…couldn’t find it for Valentine’s.

Gave her a 14k gold circle pendant—she loved it—not knowing that it was just filler until—I found that replacement.

And it took a month to finally find it!

So… when I presented her with it, I said “you are my past, my present and hopefully, my future—and I had to make sure the world could see!”

She loved it.

And…that was the end of my plans!

I told her that my gift was…no plans at all!

She was startled—in disbelief—until she asked “what’s next?”

And I said “all depends on you—what do YOU want to do?”

And we did it.

A movie.

Lunch at her favorite spot.

She went and got her nails DID—I meant to say it that way—it’s southern for “glad she doesn’t make me go with her to do that!”

I know—you millennial men—going to the salon WITH your wife, sitting right next to her—having YOUR feet did!

As an old-timer—I will say it for all of us –YUCK! Turn in you Man Card! Lol!

Then we went to a late dinner—her choice!

 

She told me at the end of the day “this has been my kind of birthday—thank you for listening!”

 

And I really did!

 

The Lord has been so good to us…

God took the “Norm” dilemma and turned it into a financial blessing.

God honored our 2018 January Fast with moving mountains to make her transfer possible.

God brought our daughter Tiffany and our grandsons home to live right before Bella’s birthday.

 

And it was all part of HIS plan!

Jeremiah 29:11 states “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper and have an expected prosperous end!”

 

Notice that He says “ expected END!”

It may not feel like it’s a good middle….

It may even feel like it’s a horrible beginning…

But remember—HE promised an Expected Prosperous END!

Prosperity is NOT just financial!

It can be good health.

It can be good relationships.

It can be good fortune in life.

Don’t get hung up on prosperity ONLY being a financial blessing!

 

It’s HIS plan—and HIS promise—for an Expected End!

 

And that’s why I wanted to wait until today—so I can declare that HE DID Provide us with an Expected End that is PERFECT!

 

Ponder this…

Trust in the Lord

Lean Not onto your own understanding

In all of your ways acknowledge HIM

And HE will give you the desires of your Heart!

 

He really does know…

Exactly what’s BEST for you!

 

And for every “season”…He has a “reason!”

 

So… IF you’re going “through it” right now…

Remember that the Word says…

“And it came to pass…”

See?

It didn’t come to stay…

It came to pass!

Trust HIM to know…what your END will be!

God has a PLAN…for you…to prosper!

 

Reflections Of…It’s A Small World-After All!

Reflections Of... It's A Small World--After All!

 

http://bergauplumbing.com/service-areas/ Empanada Anyone?

Anybody ever been to Disney World?

Anybody ever ride the “It’s a Small World After All!” ride?

Anybody remember that annoying song that keeps playing in all different languages—but says the SAME thing!

Yeh—me too!

 

But look around—this big blue marble is pretty big!

With 7.442 billion people—on 7 continents—in 24 time zones—not sure it’s so small, after all?

Or…is it?

 

It seems, that song may be correct after all!

Follow me on this one…

About 3 weeks ago, I was watching a daytime talk show called “Pickler & Ben”.

They reported on a daughter who used twitter to save her dad’s business.

It was an empanada business.

It was in Houston.

In Houston?

As the story was reported—when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston—this business was one of the few to remain open.

The owner supplied food to many of the hurricane victims as a way of helping out his community.

Of course…there were so many who came and were fed by this little empanada company in the first weeks of Harvey.

And then…more places opened up and business started to wane and now…he is struggling to stay open.

Inspiring story…and yet, so sad to have him on the brink of losing his business after helping so many…

And I thought…

Wait—one of my sons of my heart- Joshua—lives in Houston.

I got on the phone and said “hey Josh, it’s your Dad—can you do something for me?”

I asked him to go visit, bless their business by buying an empanada—and send me a pic!

He didn’t know exactly where it was, but he promised to go check it out.

I asked him to tell the father if he got to meet him that we were praying that his business continues to prosper.

We both doubted that he would get that opportunity.

Historically, when people get a taste of notoriety—they tend to remove themselves from contact with the general public.

 

So…two weeks go by and…I suddenly get these pictures from Joshua.

 

It’s the place that I saw on Pickler & Ben!

 

I called my son and said “you went! Yay! How was it?”

 

He told me the following story…

Josh said he went in, ordered some empanadas to go(he was taking them to his lovely wife Rosie and my grandkids Maddie and Brian).

There was an older man up at the register.

Josh asked the guy to leave a message for the owner.

He told him that I had asked Josh to drop by and bless their business and let them know that people in Florida were praying for prosperity!

The older gentleman pointed up at a picture behind the cash register!

The picture was of an older man and a younger girl.

It was the older gentleman at the cash register—in the picture!

And that was HIS daughter—the same girl who had used twitter to get people to come support her dad’s business.

Josh was speaking to the owner who had helped so many in Houston after Hurricane Harvey by feeding them and remaining open to help.

Josh expressed my burden to pray for prosperity for his business and to let him know that people in Florida were praying for him.

He said in his broken spanglish- “Tell him we are grateful for the prayers and God is helping our business by bringing in people like you!”

 

Guess it really is…A Small World After All!

 

We are all part of a family—God’s Family—The Family of Man!

 

And you may think that you are in Florida and this business in Houston is so far away—how can you help them?

Well…

First—Prayer transcends time zones and miles.

Second – caring is the first step to helping.

Third—you never know how you might know someone who knows someone who knows someone who can help!

 

The Word says that We are ALL HIS Hands Extended Here On Earth!

 

And…it really is…A Small World After All!

 

So…

why not help…

where you can….

when you can!

What Would Jesus Do?

enter Those Empanadas do look good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections Of…Family We Choose!

Reflections Of... Family We Choose!

Dad Dancing with Cinderella!

So…about five years ago…

I met a young man…

Shane was his name.

 

He was my high school best friend Sandy’s firstborn son.

He was also my godson.

 

His first words to me were:

I don’t hug.

I won’t ever get married.

I’m not sure about you.

 

My response was:

I do hug—get used to it.

IF you ever do decide to get married—I can perform your wedding.

I will grow on you—you can count on me!

 

And five years later…

My godson hugs me every time we see each other.

He and his beautiful bride were married almost four years ago—I performed the wedding!

He now welcomes me into his life as his parent because his mom and dad have both gone to heaven.

 

It’s all about family – you choose.

 

You see that picture?

That is Shane with his daughter Suzette at her Sweet 16 Birthday Party!

I say daughter because… that IS what she is to him.

Legally, Suzette is his step-daughter, but…there’s no “step” in this relationship.

He loves her and her sister Gabby just the same as he loves his biological daughters Amber and Aliea.

And the four girls are growing up as sisters—NOT step sisters!

 

And the girls think of us as their Uncle and Aunt—we are so honored to have them in our lives!

 

When Suzette invited us to her Sweet 16 Party—she said it was a masquerade ball and everyone should wear masks—I was elated!

 

Elated that she wanted us there!

 

She and her sister Gabby are such sweet girls, along with Amber and Aliea—who always make us feel loved and wanted in their lives.

 

And their mom Jessica—my daughter in law!

 

She is the BEST thing since sliced bread! That’s a southern colloquialism that just means—she’s the Bee’s Knees! Another one!

 

She loves those four girls like they were all born from her—and treats them that way, too.

 

But mostly—she is sooo good for my godson Shane.

 

She has proven that she is committed to him and his wellbeing, and… she is not going anywhere!

 

And yes—I have an investment into seeing that they succeed.

 

I take officiating a wedding seriously—I only perform ceremonies for those I care about and so… I support their growth as a couple.

 

Back to the party…

The “sweetest” thing at this party happened at the beginning…

Both Dads—biological and step –presented her to the audience.

Each had one of her hands and walked her into the party together.

Both smiling that smile that said “this is my daughter and I am so proud to be her Dad!”

And they walked her into the middle of the crowd…

Sat her down in a throne of a chair…

Both bent down and put one of her Cinderella glitzy high heels on her…

And then…

The music started…

It was a Stephen Curtis Chapman song he wrote for his daughter that said “I danced with Cinderella”.

Suzette’s biological dad danced with her first—it was sincere and thoughtful as the danced together and shared smiles and this moment.

Half way through the song…

Shane tapped him on the shoulder…

The men nodded to one another, approving of each other…

And Shane danced with his daughter!

They looked so perfect together!

Like he had been her Dad from day one of her life!

 

And this godfather was just so proud of his godson!

The man who did not hug, would not get married and wasn’t sure about me…

Was dancing with his daughter, married to her mom and so sure of the life God had given him…

 

A life full of love and…family he chose!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections of…Belonging!

Reflections Of... Belonging!

 

And he lived happily ever after!

One of the simplest needs of mankind is…

The need to belong.

To something.

To somewhere.

To someone.

Just to be connected with somebody and feel that—no matter how far it takes or how much time it involves…

There is a place where we all belong.

Everybody who belongs…

Just assumes…

Everybody else belongs.

But there are people in this world…

Who spend their lives wishing for one thing…

To find someone they can belong to…

To find somewhere where they belong.

And when they do find that someone AND that somewhere—there is no greater comfort in knowing—they finally belong!

I went to visit Rich and Kristin and their children Emma and Cohen.

They live about a hundred miles away—Bella and I love to drive—okay, so she drives, and I ride along.

Rich and Kristin mean a lot to us—it one Saturday, February 14th, 2015—yes, that would be Valentine’s Day…

When the most beautiful wedding scene I have ever witnessed happened.

There was this Central Park in Winter Park, Florida—around 2pm on a sunny day filled with families playing catch and tag in the Central Park.

Until a bride—on her way to her wedding—walked thru the middle of the park and…everyone stopped and gazed at the beautiful bride!

Kristin was that bride- Rich was that groom- I was that preacher performing the ceremony!

So…we are invested in them as a couple and as a family.

We had a great afternoon of just catching up with everyone. They have two remarkable children- both of them are gifted in their own right.

It was a pleasure talking with both Emma and Cohen—on their level—on what mattered to them—just connecting to them.

As we started to leave—I asked to pray for this family.

We gathered in a circle and I started to pray, but before I did…

I reminded Rich where he was 5 years ago.

You see…5 years ago, Rich was in New Hampshire, dealing with a lot of baggage—and not living happily ever after.

I reminded him that MySandy, his stepmom, called me and said “I have to find my husband’s son—I don’t know how but I know I have to. We found each other so maybe I can find Rich the same way—through FaceBook!”

And 3 weeks later—she had located Rich and confirmed that he was the son of her husband—they had not seen each other in 20 years.

A month later—Rich came for a visit to meet his Dad—it was Sandy who picked Rich up from the airport—they had talked a lot in that last month.

Visit went well—2 weeks later—Rich was moving from New Hampshire into Sandy and his Dad’s house.

And that was 5 years ago.

During that time, Rich met a girl named Kristin, who had a son and a daughter—Cohen and Emma!

The two of them fell in love—the four of them became a family.

Two years ago—I connected those four as a family when I officiated those two becoming a couple.

And the young man who was “NOT” living happily ever after in New Hampshire 5 years ago—

Is now the happiest man on the face of the earth—over worked and sleep deprived maybe—but still…

Happily ever after is now where Rich lives.

And I looked at him and said—“Rich, look around…5 years ago—you didn’t know where you belonged in this world…

You just didn’t know that God had a plan and place and that your “Belong” was waiting for you in Ocala, Florida.

But finally…you have a home, you have a wife, you have a family—you belong here!”

And we all cried a little—joy can do that to you!

The Word says “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper, to have an expected end…”

To have a place where…

 You belong!

Reflections of…Availability!

Reflections Of... Availability!

 

Alan and Bella
Celebrating Valentine's!

Are you available?

Available for what, you might ask?

Available for God to use you to help someone else.

In one moment, in one instance, in one “do it now!”

Are you that available to the Lord?

Like-- what if God asked you to pray with your neighbor…on the sidewalk, in front of their home.

Would you be available to do that…for the Lord?

My best friend Kay did that one day—God impressed on her to pray with her neighbor, who was going thru chemo—fighting cancer.

Most of us would just wave at the neighbor and smile that smile that says “I’m so sorry for what you are going thru—I’m praying for you!”

All of that said—in your smile?

We don’t want to be bothered with someone else’s burden—or we are afraid to put ourselves out there as “someone who literally prays!”

I was a youth pastor for 17 years—and in my Youth Pastor’s office, I had this sign, that I must have taught the youth at least once a year.

It said simply…

God is not looking for your ability…

He’s asking for—your AvailAbility!

It’s that simple.

You can’t please God with your abilities—HE gave you each and every one.

But…you Always Please God when YOU are AVAILABLE for HIM to use you to help some stranger, or friend or family member.

Available ANY WHERE!!

Like…while having a delayed Valentine’s Dinner with your wife in Savannah…at a swanky restaurant called Olde Pink House?

Apparently… yes!

If you are really available—you can’t tell HIM when you are and when you are not! He calls the shots on when to use you.

And I have learned—obedience is far better than sacrifice.

So I pray each day…”Lord, I am a man of unclean lips, but…If you want to use me, use me!”

And this past Friday night, in Savannah, GA, at a really nice restaurant called Olde Pink House, HE chose to use me.

How, you might ask…

Glad you asked.

My wife and I were having dinner. Our waitress was Angela. Hmmm? I just got that—our waitress was ANGELa!

We were enjoying a romantic dinner, sharing cards and gifts, just celebrating the gift God gave us in each other.

ANGELa asked if she could clear our plates from the table.

We said “of course!”

ANGELa stacked all of the plates in her arm and turned…

When she did—the plates went everywhere…ending, on the ground!

BAM!! It was loud! Everyone turned to look at our table.

I did my usual when a waiter/waitress drops a plate!

I start clapping and yell out “Bravo! Bravo!”

And I start laughing—to lighten up the mood—come on people—it was only a plate dropping—no one lost their life! Lighten up!

And…that’s what I did.

Within 3 seconds, a woman appeared out of nowhere—we really did!

She asked my wife “are you okay? Did the food get on your clothes? Is there anything I can do to help?”

Who was this woman who was so concerned about my wife and the recent Plate Tragedy?

Apparently, she was our appointment with destiny due to our schedule of availability.

I just didn’t know it yet!

I made chatter with the Hostess named Maddie—she was sincerely interested to make sure that the Plate Tragedy did not ruin our evening.

And from there…God took over.

We ended up talking about life, about family, about parenting, about children.

That’s how it got to this point of Maddie saying “I can’t believe I am talking to a stranger about this, but…I just feel like I can trust you!”

I assured her that I have counseled couples for years and I was a youth pastor for 17 years, so I spend time with troubled families.

She says “I just feel like I was meant to meet you—and I can trust what you are telling me—like you are counseling me about my Eric!”

Eric? That’s her 17 year old son who is in trouble—he is acting out, rebelling, disrespecting her as his mom and…threatening to run away.

We talked about Dr. Gary Chapman’s book “The 5 Love Languages!”

She said “we have that book, on the shelf, we’ve never read it!”

I explained how important it was to know Eric’s love language—as his parent, it was important to speak to him in HIS love language.

I also reminded her that, although consistency is key when dealing with teenagers, being flexible goes the long haul in relationships.

I told her “lighten up a little, let him know that you are going to love him for the rest of his life, no matter what he does with his life—you’re his Mom!”

I also taught her “a father’s love is earned, but a mother’s love is assumed—remind him that he can count on your loving him –no matter what!”

I ended with…

 “20 years from now, no one will remember the rules that were followed or broken—but they will remember a mother’s unconditional love!”

My wife Bella gave her some comforting words, as a mother of 6 children—and she gently assured her that—this was not a chance meeting.

We prayed for Maddie and Eric, for restoration, for wholeness, for healing of the relationship.

And then…

She said “I feel like I was meant to talk to you …”

Maddie said “may I hug you? I just feel like I want to hug you!”

And she did…

Then she went her way…

And came back with…a free dessert!

So I ask you…

What if I had said “not tonight Lord—we are off the clock!”

Ask yourself—would YOU have been available?

Do you see how Maddie and Eric may have benefitted…

Because we were!

If you really want to please God…

Be AVAILable for HIM to use you…

Your Maddie may need to meet you!

Availability versus Ability!

 

 

 

 

Reflections of…Love!

Reflections Of... Love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cherish Your Love!

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day!

The one day of the year when those who are loved are bestowed gifts and appreciation.

IF you are in a relationship!

But then…I also found out recently that Valentine’s Day is also known as “Single Awareness Day”

Why, you might ask?

Well…because in America, if you are not in a relationship on Valentine’s Day—you AND the world is aware that you are SINGLE!

I have to admit…

I have been in a relationship since I was 11 years old—yes, 11! I started out young appreciating the opposite sex.

So…I have always had someone to share the day with.

And I have to admit, I am BIG on Valentine’s Day!

We even took a week off one year and spent it at the SummerHouse in Savannah,GA.

We always go out to dinner and exchange presents and make the most of the moment.

We celebrate our Love!

And we take a moment to thank God for giving us each other!

That’s right!

We know and understand that so many people are not fortunate enough to find love a second time around.

And for that second love to be—Our Love of A Lifetime!

So, we pause and give thanks to our Lord and Savior for the gift HE gave us when HE sent US each other!

Sounds kind of corny, I am sure, but…

Is it?

IF you are in a relationship that makes your heart sing and makes you feel loved and appreciated…

Shouldn’t you be thankful to someone?

Someone like your significant other?

And if you are really aware of what a precious gift their love for you is…

Thankful to the Good Lord up above who made it all happen for you?

Look around—be aware of all of those who are NOT in a loving relationship and won’t be exchanging any symbolic gestures of love tomorrow.

Many of them would LOVE to be LOVED like you are LOVED!

And they all deserve it—

So?

Aren’t you the lucky one?

Blessed Beyond Measure.

Maybe you just take your love for granted.

At this point in your long term relationship, maybe you just are ho-hum about each other.

Is that fair?

To each other?

To The Lord who gave you each other?

Why not spice it up and surprise your spouse/significant other with an overabundance of gratitude for Your Love of A Lifetime!

 

The Word talks in 1st Corinthians, chapter 13 about Love:

Love is Kind, Love is not puffed up, Love sees the best in us, Love endures all…

All reasons why—we need to appreciate the Love that We Feel for each other!

 

Maybe it’s roses.

Maybe it’s chocolates.

Maybe it’s just a card with your heart thoughts written out.

Maybe it’s just a night with no TV, no distractions, no noise.

But…make the effort, take the time, show the love!

 

I promised more controversial topics this year…and this is controversial!

Take the Time to Make your Mate feel Special!

Of course that should be every day, but…

Especially on Valentine’s Day—

The Day our World takes notice of those who are fortunate enough to be Loved and Cherished, Appreciated and Valued.

We really ARE…The Lucky Ones!

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections Of…Conversation!

Reflections Of... Conversation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I waited a few days to write this...wanted to make sure I grabbed the essence of the moment.

Remember when I wrote about boycotting the NFL this year – because of the players taking a knee during the national anthem?

I just had enough—and I said “I boycott you!”

I am the first person to defend anyone’s right to boycott and peacefully protest—it’s our greatest right—to free speech!

So…even if I don’t agree with what you are saying—I salute your right to express yourself.

However, 2 things I don’t ever want to get political—when I go to church and when I watch football.

And when Colin Kapernik first took a knee, I was like “that’s kind of inappropriate while the national anthem is playing!”

 

But then everyone started saying “he is protesting what is going on with black lives matter and the racial injustices in our nation!”

 

And I thought “okay, you have every right to stand by kneeling for something you believe in, but…you are at work, and…

If I can’t protest at my job, you can’t protest at yours. If you are really committed to your cause, quit your job, call in sick, and

Stand outside and carry your placard stating what you are protesting—fair is fair—if I can’t protest on my job, you can’t protest on yours!”

 

Well…as is usual in my life—I announced my boycott of NFL – and a few people stood with me—but most?

Most just kept watching.

 

So…it’s been the first year of my adult life that I have not watched a single football game all season long.

 

And it is also the first year of my adult life that I don’t know who is going to the superbowl—well, I know now!

 

All of that, just to bring home my point…conversation—how it cannot ever be replaced by texts or emojis !

 

We were at dinner Saturday night, and our waiter was Tony.

Tony was a very pleasant African American young man.

We exchanged pleasantries throughout the night.

My wife always asks me why I must ask their name, address them by their name, engage in light discussion.

I tell her “hey, they are handling my food—I want them to play nice!”

And…I love to exchange thoughts and experiences with complete strangers—I have learned so much from strangers—very interesting!

 

So we ask Tony what he is doing for the superbowl.

He starts telling us that he originally didn’t have plans but then Tuesday, he got a call from an old friend. Then Wednesday, his roommate said “we should have a superbowl party. Then on Thursday, his Sunday School teacher invited him to a church superbowl party where he could bring his old friend AND his roommate.

 

Then he asked “what are y’all doing for the superbowl?”

 

I thought for a moment, “Do I dare chance this opportunity to exchange possibly diametrically opposing views with a complete stranger?”

Then I said “ahhh! Why not?”

 

And I started with why I have been boycotting the NFL and why I won’t be watching the superbowl this year!

After I completed my diatribe—replete with “I would join Colin outside the stadium and carry a sign for him!” statements,

I even reminded Tony that I understood the need to protest against injustices—but there’s a peaceful appropriate place to do it.

I also commented that I know “Colin would never intend for people to think that he is disrespecting our military or our flag!”

But unfortunately, his message has been sullied by the inferences of others that have angered a nation.

 

I ended with “Tony, I would never want to offend anyone, including you, but I just thought you and I could have a conversation- a hard one, yes…

But a meaningful positive conversation, nonetheless!”

 

Tony smiled at me and said words that I think I will always remember for as long as I live.

Tony said “it was all in your tone—your tone made the difference in how I received your message—I could hear your heart in your tone!”

 

We shook hands and wished each other well.

 

And I have thought about what Tony said for the past 4 days—“it’s was all in your tone!”

 

That’s what I want us all to get from this chance encounter with an Italian American and an African American.

 

We can have those hard conversations IF we use the right tone.

 

And…it takes a person to person exchange of ideas, a dialog, not a monologue—to engage a change that will positively affect our nation.

 

Also reason why – texting and Facebook entries will NOT make this change for us because ---you can misinterpret tone in ALL CAPS!

 

So I challenge you—start a conversation that may have a difficult emotional topic, but…with the right tone, it could be received well.

 

And remember—the Bible says “Be Ye KIND—one to another!”

 

Yes—I meant to capitalize the word KIND--- because who can ever have a bad tone while being kind?

 

No one I know.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections of… Joy And Peace!

Reflections Of... Joy AND Peace!

 

 

 

 

 

In due season, He will restore what the cankerworm has eaten away.

That is a promise that God gave to His people in the Old Testament.

He also heard David’s prayer in Psalms when David prayed “restore unto me the JOY of my salvation!”

JOY?

Just what is it?

Joy is that leap in your step as you walk down the street—like you want to skip all the way home.

Joy is that feeling in your heart when you want to break out in song “How Great Thou Art!”

Joy is that sense that Something Good is About to Happen—you don’t know what and you don’t know when—but you know!

Joy makes the difference between a "Mundane Monday" and a "Can’t Wait to Get Oughta Here Friday!"

I KNOW you know THAT difference!

Joy is the difference between surviving and LIVING!

Can you understand what I’m saying?

Why would you ever want to live a single day…without JOY?

But…

You can’t “fake” JOY.

You can’t “pretend” JOY!

You can’t “act” JOY!

JOY starts way down in your toes and just starts to build and grow until suddenly you are singing “everything’s comin up roses!”

JOY makes you giggle!

JOY makes you laugh!

JOY makes you sing!

Once you have known the pleasure of JOY—you just can’t settle for anything less than—Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory!

That’s why David begged in Psalms for God to restore to him the JOY of his salvation!

And only God can give JOY!

Doctor can’t prescribe it.

Doctor can’t counsel it.

Doctor can’t inject it!

NOPE – it is sincerely only endued from Heaven!

That’s why those angels sang “JOY to the World!”

Peace is different!

Peace is the absence of anxiety.

Peace is calm in the middle of the storm.

Peace is assuredness in an unsure situation.

Peace is when you know that you know that God is gonna work it all out even though—nothing looks like anything will ever work out!

Peace is only prescribes by Dr. Jesus—and it does not come in a capsule or a pill or an injection—Peace is passed to you through HIM!

Both are gifts from God!

Both feel so good!

But Both Feel sooo different!

Peace lets you sleep at night.

JOY lets you sing all day long!

Life without peace leads to no sleep and no rest.

Life without joy leads to no happiness and no light spirit.

You can pray for both—but both come with a price!

You see—neither Peace nor Joy wait until AFTER something is fixed!

No—that’s too late!

God gives you Peace in the MIDDLE of the battle, in the dark of the storm!

God gives you Joy when you have no earthly reason to smile and sing and lift your eyes to Heaven!

And the price that it takes to receive BOTH Peace and Joy?

T TrustingYour

R RelationshipAnd

U UnderstandingIt’sAllInOur

S Savior’s

T Timing

TRUST—you have to TRUST God to answer your prayer in His way AND in His time!

You see—if it was fixed, you wouldn’t need God to give you JOY or speak PEACE over you!

NO—God rewards Faithfulness!

What is Faithfulness?

TRUSTing God To take care of your needs WHEN HE decides to take care of them!

Can you do that?

Can you be found faithful?

That’s the test!

That’s the proof!

That’s the key!

TRUST and Obey…All things are Possible…IF you Trust and Obey!

And on this Final Day…God gives me a dream to reassure me—

“My Son…I haven’t forgotten why you are fasting—I have heard your prayer—

In MY Time, I will bring about the answer—just know—until then, I have your back—continue to TRUST and Obey!”

And I woke up with… the JOY of my Salvation restored!

God rewards Faithfulness!

Be Faithful!