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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections of… Friends Who Are Closer Than Family!

Reflections Of... Friends Who Are Closer Than Family!

We have all heard it said—Friends are the Family you get to pick!

And sometimes—that’s really true.

It’s painful to say, but not everyone has the picture perfect family who all love and support one another and love spending time together.

Not Everybody!

And unfortunately, my family is one of those families.

It has been my biggest heartache in 2017.

I spent the year mourning the fractured relationships in my family.

For those who are closest to me—they just shake their head in disbelief.

My heart it broken in a million pieces—the pain is at times unbearable.

And yet—with God’s help—my wife and I survived the unbearable pain and walked through the fire of 2017—victorious!

And arrived to Hope Unforeseen in 2018!

And we have felt since the beginning of this year—HOPE is in the AIR!

Through it all—God sent angels disguised as friends who are more than friends—to love us, support us, encourage us, be our family!

And that guy in the picture?

I call him Teeto—and he is one of those angels!

He and his wife Stace and their beautiful 2 sons and lovely daughter—have been family to us.

He and I met the first day back to work after my heart attack!

We are both 100% Italian…Sicilians, actually.

30 years difference in age—yes, 30 years!

But…somehow—God sent Teeto to me—to help me laugh again!

And we do a lot of that—at ourselves, at life, at people (just kidding!)

And I am thankful for him and his adopting us into his family.

Loc&Load (my nickname for his sons) call me Uncle Alan and my heart just melts.

They love Bella and me like we are family—and from a child—it just doesn’t get better than that!

And for them—we are thankful.

Then there’s a cousin who is now a sister. “B” took the time out to spend Saturday morning with me—just catching up.

She is a great listener but also a great empathizer—she really cares about the struggles I am having moving on from the pain.

I’m not looking for someone to answer the unanswered questions—only God has those answers—but a friend who loves me thru it?

That’s all I’m asking for.

And there’s TT, and GrannyZann and my Bestie—these three ladies are sisters in this life—they love my Bella and me like family—

And they call at just the right moment—just to say “I feel your pain—and I am sending a hug thru the phone just to say...we love you!”

And that’s all we need.

Then there are my sons of my heart—my godson and my “other” son—one in Land O’ Lakes, the other in Houston.

I had the honor of officiating at both of their weddings—one of the greatest honors of my life!

They call just to check on dear old Dad! And this DAD loves being THEIR Dad!

What I want you to understand is—Friends Really ARE the Family you get to pick!

They WILL fill the void left from the cracks in your heart, bleeding from the feelings of betrayal and abandonment from your blood family.

Let God’s Angels minister to you—that’s why HE sent them your way!

Bible says that “We entertain Angels Unaware!”

So if you are going through the pain of family struggles, family abandonment, family judgments—

Let God heal the hurt by sending Angels to your rescue.

And those Angels….are the Friends who feel like Family!

I just want to pause and say Thank You to My Angels in My Life—

I thank God each and every day for you—I could NOT have made it through 2017 without your love and support!

God Knows—He sends Angels!

Take time to thank yours!

 

 

 

Reflections of…Blue Lives Matter-Too!

Reflections Of... Blue Lives Matter-Too!

So this is going to be a difficult subject—

And I accept that some of you will disagree with what I am going to say.

But remember—our 2018 theme is HOPE:

Helping

Others&Ourselves

Peacefully

Exist

So…let’s put that in action.

Right here….Right now.

With this controversial subject—Blue Lives Matter Too!

I am the first one to say—

What happened to shooting someone in the leg or arm to DISARM them?

Why are so many of the victims of these Blue crimes being killed?

So… I do NOT agree with how a lot of the shootings are happening.

And I AM DISAPPOINTED that all of the police charged have been let go and acquitted.

I mean the guy in New York who was selling cigarettes and they jumped him and he died at the scene?

Or the guy who was running from his car—shoot him in the LEG! Not 5 bullets in his back!

So please—there are injustices being done, and I agree that someone needs to pay for the wrongs they have done.

But, do we throw the baby out with the bath water?

Do we unequivocally blame ALL POLICE because there are some who are bringing shame and reproach to the shield?

Or… do we accept and understand that—there are rotten apples in every apple barrel—we don’t throw out ALL of the Apples!

I have great respect for the men and women who wear blue and a shield each and every day—putting their lives on the line for my safety.

I pray daily for their safe return to their family and home—no child should lose their parent in the line of duty—NO CHILD!!

They never know when a routine traffic stop for a busted tail light ends up with them being dragged as the driver decides to drive away—

With the police officer in tow!!

And yes—that has really happened!

Most of them are dedicated to the honor of serving their community.

And you have to know—they do NOT get paid fairly for what they daily sacrifice.

It is an honorable profession—at least, it used to be.

But in 2018…with Ferguson in our hearts and minds—things have happened that should NOT have transpired.

And it was at the hands of a police officer.

None of their actions are acceptable or defendable.

We deplore those bad apples that have made this environment that we now live in—when those in Blue are disrespected and distrusted.

Those who have done the misdeeds deserve the dishonor—but then there are "that" majority— who tirelessly serve and protect US -who do NOT!

The Bible says to pay honor to whom honor is due!

And for those out there, doing the job, with the low pay and high possibility of loss (life or limb) at the hands of those they are serving- I salute you!

I won’t jump on the bandwagon proclaiming all police are bad and deserve to be shot!

That’s anarchy!

When we choose to defame the ones who are committed to protect and serve us—we are legislating a lawless society!

And we all know—we CAN’T have that!

Laws may be for those who abide by the law...

But cops are for those who refuse to abide!

And when they are caught by the police—the police make our society a little safer because at least today—a police officer has secured the area for the rest of us.

So…

When you respond, and I sincerely hope you select the “Contact Alan” at the top of the Menu Bar and send me your response…I want to hear it…

Please remember that I do NOT defend the undefendable—those bad apples that have given our “servants of the people” a bad name.

Remember HOPE and what it stands for…

We can calmly and peacefully have these emotion filled possibly combustible conversations with one another—and NOT lose respect for each other.

Help ME make HOPE Happen!

Write! Share! Discuss!

 

We Salute all who serve! Military and Police!

 

Reflections of…Let’s Give HOPE a Chance!

Reflections Of... Let's Give HOPE a Chance!

It’s been awhile—I know—a long while.

Just haven’t really found a reason to write.

I always promised myself that I would only write when I was inspired.

With that promise kept…it’s been several months since I have felt inspired.

2017 was such a year of adjustment for so many I know.

Adjustments to so many unexpected changes.

If you know my life--- you have no doubt heard of a man called Norm!

I kicked off the “Darn That Norm!” campaign in March 2017—after Norm hit me and totaled my car and left me with a broken left hand.

All of the unexpected adjustments I had to make to my life due to someone else’s actions that adversely affected my life.

I am a severe Lefty—so, losing the use of my left hand was severe!

And every time I had to endure some change due to it—I would shout “Darn the Norm!”

It became my comical way of coping with the adjustments to my life!

And yet….by the end of the year, I was saying “Thank you Norm!”

Why? Let’s just say that, Thanks to the actions of Norm—our home is NOW PAID OFF!

Thank you Norm!!

But this year?

I felt the Lord whisper into my spirit—“there is Hope—don’t give up—have Hope!”

And this was confirmed by an old friend I have not spoken to in years—she reached out to me and said God revealed the same thing to her!

Hope it is!

What is hope, you might ask?

H= Helping

O= Others

P= Peacefully

E= Exist

Can’t we all use some hope in our ever changing, more combustible than ever, polarizing world we live in?

I can no longer talk to my brother about politics—we are still both republicans, but we do NOT agree on the current president.

I can no longer talk to my friends about football—I chose to boycott the NFL because I don’t want politics when I am watching football.

You have every right to protest whatever you want—our Constitution guarantees you that right!

But…do it where it is appropriate—like in front of the stadium, with your placards raised—showing your peaceful protest in action.

Don’t take a knee when the National Anthem is played—whether you are intending to offend our military doesn’t matter—

Because….you are!

And I can no longer talk about religion with my Islamic friends because people assume because I am republican, I must want to deport them.

I AM republican, but I am NOT a Trumper, I am NOT in favor of building a Wall, and I do NOT want innocent dreamers sent home—they ARE home!

So…if we can each take HOPE to Heart and…Help Others to Peacefully Exist…

Can’t we change this world for the better?

Can’t we be the change we want to see?

Can’t we live by example instead of by words?

Who is willing to join me?

We can’t make it better until we are willing to fight for HOPE!

Let’s make 2018 the year we….

Help Others Peacefully Exist!

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections Of…Borrowed Time!

Reflections Of... Borrowed Time!

Happy 4th of July-Independence Day! We celebrate the greatest country in the world—We are proud to be Americans!

Welcome Back!

It’s been a few months since I have written.

I’m ready to move on—and start writing again.

But I’m revising and adjusting—and I am writing LESS!

Yes LESS- I will keep it to 300 words—I was averaging 700, sooo…I wanted to shorten the reflection so you can enjoy it more.

So…new LESS of me—might mean—you get MORE of me by me giving LESS!

Please let me know what you think of the “new” format.

Here goes…300 words starts NOW!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Today is my 8th year anniversary of my heart attack!

That day the doctor said “you should have died today and your wife should have been a widow!”

So much of life has been lived in the last 8 years.

So many memories that I am so glad I was around to share and experience.

Performing my son Schuyler’s and godson Shane’s weddings.

Our 15th anniversary vow renewal on the beach!

Births of 5 of our 9 grandchildren.

Saying goodbye to my forever friend Sandy, my brother Joe and my second mom Ciria.

And yes – there have been painful moments that I can’t bring myself to articulate.

But….still…

Definitely glad that I was allowed to stay—God apparently had a lot more life left for me to live.

What have I learned in the past 8 years?

I started out so afraid that the “second” heart attack was around the corner every day.

I was afraid to be alone—I didn’t want to die alone-- like my dress rehearsal, which I had all alone.

8 years later—I spend a lot of time alone, and I am still scared that I will die alone, but…

I have accepted that—when it happens—I will know—I lived “a wonderful life”-- and I am grateful for the extra time I was given.

Grateful—that’s how I want to be remembered!

How do you want to be remembered?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections Of… You Never Know!

 

 

 

 

 

In an instant—your life can change—and you never saw it coming!

I was driving home Tuesday afternoon, around 6:45pm, when all of a sudden, I see a red car dash in front of me, going 60 mph…

And I said out loud “this guy’s gonna hit me!”

And at that moment- my life changed forever.

He DID hit me—or ran in front of me so quickly that I t-boned him- between his front and back driver side door.

I literally watched in slow motion as my air bag deployed—right in my chest!

Within 30 seconds, a twenty something young man was at my door.

“Sir, are you okay? Can you get out of your car quickly please? There are all sorts of fluids coming out of your car and I just don’t think it’s safe for you to stay inside!”

I was shaken up and disoriented, but I followed his lead as he walked me over to the curb and helped me sit down.

Then I saw it—MY CAR! It looked like an accordion in the front and side.

My car---my Koby Soul! I had named it Koby when I bought in for my birthday in January 2014!

Only 32,000 miles and never had any food in it—Never!

That drove my wife crazy—no fast food in MY car!

And for all that—there was my Koby—in the middle of the road, cars whisking past.

Within a few minutes, I got to meet Norm.

Who is Norm?

Norm is the 74 year old guy who met me saying “I didn’t see you—I just didn’t see you!”

Even at 57—I was raised in the South—we respect our elders.

So…I couldn’t even yell at him.

He said “I’ve been driving 47 years and never an accident…until today!”

I did retort “so why’d you pick me?”

We both laughed.

Norm was not hurt.

My left hand was throbbing and my right chest was killing me!

You have to remember that I am a heart attack survivor so…any pain in my chest concerns me!

The police and the tow truck guys said Koby was totaled- the damage was extreme.

My brother and sister-in-law came to get me.

I kept saying “I can’t believe he hit me!”

My wife looked at my chest—black and blue from where the airbag deployed IN MY CHEST!

My left hand was still killing me.

She said “as long as you can wiggle your fingers—it’s not broken!”

Remember that for later.

I didn’t sleep well- kept waking up from a dream reliving the accident.

My wife said that I was yelling “this guy’s gonna hit me!”

Over and over again.

I went to the ER the next morning to get checked out.

X-rays of hand and right side were taken.

Ribs were NOT broken- yay!

But…

Remember that finger wiggling comment from my wife?

Well Nurse Jessica dispelled that old wife’s tale with the declaration “you’re hand is broken!”

Even IF I can wiggle my fingers?

YES—even IF!

So…cast placed on left hand- they want to put a pin in my left hand when they do hand surgery.

Bella and I went to get my personal effects out of our Kia—

And I saw it—and it hit me!

I walked away from that!

To God be the Glory!

I heard the scripture that promises “and lo, I am with you always!”

And He was!

In an instant—One Unexpected Event—my life changed—the moment I met Norm!

But…my bride is NOT planning a funeral and my friends are NOT writing eulogies…

Because God saw fit to let me walk away!

I’ll never forget the day I met Norm—but mostly, I’ll never forget having the chance to be alive to meet Norm!

And all I can keep singing is “How Great Thou Art!”

 

 

 

Reflections of…Always Be Ready!

The scripture says “Preach the Word--Be instant in season…and out of season!” II Timothy 4:2

What exactly does that mean?

A little ABR—always be ready!

Like at a 10 year old grandson’s birthday party!

Marcus Riley Johnson is our 2nd oldest grandchild—and he just turned 10.

Nano, that would be me, started a tradition that all 9 of our grandkids get, on their 10th birthday—100 $1 bills!

Yes—100 $1 Bills!

I know, I know—that can be expensive!

With 9 grandkids—you betcha!

I did NOT think this through before I said it—but, now I have to keep the tradition going!

And believe it or not—you can’t take your money with you, so…why not make a 10 year old smile ear to ear!

You see-- $100 to a 10 year old is HUGE! To a teenager? Not so much!

So…if you want to impress your grandkids—do it when they are impressionable—like at age 10!

And oh—what  a memory you will make! For them—AND for you!

Nano and Nana playing dodgeball with the grands!

So Nana and Nano put on this party for Marcus—I have always called him MarkyMarc! Nano’s nickname for him!

We themed the party SPIDERMAN! The cake! The plates! The toys—all Spiderman!

And we had games—like water balloons, water guns, skittles n straws and Dodge Ball with the grands!

The kids had a lot of fun!

Nano and Nana were exhausted.

We saved the best for last—the presentation of the Mulah! (Money! 100 clams!)

But wait—back to the scripture.

I ordered a dishwasher for my wife—it’s her birthday on Thursday, so I wanted it delivered before her birthday.

Jay and his coworker showed up with the washer—he had difficulty installing it.

He said “Saturday is my day for blessing people—so I am not leaving til we install this!”

And with a lot of hard work and some ingenuity—it was installed.

I thanked him and shook his hand—something hit me when I did—and I asked “may I pray with you?”

Who does that? Pray with a service provider?

Yeh—that would be me!

So I prayed with him—asked God to bless him big for his commitment to quality and to open doors he didn’t even see there!”

When we finished—he was smiling ear to ear.

He said “this is what you didn’t know. I have been in a deep valley for 3 months—wondering if I would ever feel God’s presence again. I prayed each day for me to feel His presence, but nothing! I asked him to let me feel Him no matter where or when! But nothing—for 3 months—nothing. But today, when you prayed for me—I felt the Lord’s presence for the first time in 3 months! I had to come here to meet you to have you pray for me to feel God’s presence. Thank you for obeying the Lord—He used you to answer my prayer!”

And he hugged me.

Wow!! I didn’t see that coming—in the middle of a 10 year old’s birthday party—but, I have learned ABR!

Always Be Ready!

And wherever and with whomever God wants to use me—I am His to be used as He sees fit!

Is that how you feel? Do you yield to the Lord to be used as He sees fit?

There might be a Jay who needs you to do what God says—when He says it!

You could be His Hands Extended to touch a heart and confirm a prayer—yes--- YOU!

It’s really simple when you no longer think about being embarrassed or being offensive or being wrong!

Trust the Lord who loves you to never cause you embarrassment—He’s not like that—EVER!

ABR—Always Be Ready! For Him to use you!

Back to the party—When I prayed over Marcus and gave him his 100 $1 dollar bills---

He wanted to make it rain! And he did!

Then he said “Nano—I want to roll in the money!”

And he did that too!

MarkyMarc rollin' in the money!

It was everything I hoped it would be—for him AND for me!

Memory made by all—and prayers answered to boot!

A-B-R! Just that simple, just that easy—IF you want it to be!