Random Reflections: Hope In the Pandemic

Random Reflections 2020:Hope in the Pandemic!

Our sweet Bonnie Brae!

And in the midst of this Pandemic... we find Hope!

This is Bonnie Brae who just arrived yesterday, May 1st.

"A child arrived just the other day...

Came into the world in the usual way..."

Those words come from a song called "Cat's in the Cradle"

Unfortunately, those words do NOT apply to our sweet Bonnie Brae.

Nothing really usual about her last 2 months of life inside her Mama!

That's because... those last 2 months were spent with her mama Rachel dealing with Corona Virus while pregnant.

It was Rachel's first pregnancy-- something she has wanted her whole adult life-- to be a mom!

And those of us who love Rachel-- her family and her friends who are like family(I fall into the latter category) know...

She was meant to be a mama--

Rachel loved kids; and children loved Rachel.

Rachel has a gift to work with kids; She has been a Children's Church Pastor for several years; kids are at the heart of who Rachel is.

But life has a way of taking its time to produce the right moment and the right relationship to welcome a sweet baby girl into the world.

And for Rachel-- things just took a little longer.

She found the love of her life Al, and they marred 4 years ago on May 7th.

It was a beautiful wedding on a hill, next to a barn,  in Tennessee. The reception was in the barn-- it was just beautiful!

Then came the plan...

to have a baby...

And the plan was to have a baby soon.

Well... the plan did not unfold as quickly as Rachel and Al had hoped.

But they still had hope.

Then, when it looked like maybe that was not going to be "the plan" for their lives...

God unveiled His Plan...

And Rachel was pregnant.

There is a beautiful story of how all of this unfolded. Ask Rachel someday to share the miracle of it all-- she will beam ear to ear as she remembers.

But I want to highlight our "Brae of Sunshine" that arrived on May 1st, 2020!

I said Brae because, Brae is Bonnie's middle name.

Kind of a play on words, right?

So... Things have been different for the last 2 months.

Different how, you might ask.

No typical shower. Oh a BIG shower was planned-- her friends and family had a BIG SHINDIG all planned out.

It had to top the gender reveal party!

You know-- the gender reveal party that Al and Rachel hosted at their home with over 50 people in attendance--

Just to have the couple pull out a PINK Christmas Tree from a box! 

You have to know them to know--- they LOVE Christmas and all things Christmas!

Nope-- by the time the shower date came-- Corona Covid19 had taking over our lives.

No gatherings were allowed, so no: making a team dress a baby or guessing what the weight and height would be or that heavenly cake Mimi would make.

Nope-- none of that-- per the Shelter in Place national rules-- they could not have any non-immediate family in your home.

Could not have any gatherings more than 10 people at a time.

Could not hug or handshake or laugh or sneeze or cough around each other.

And everyone must be at least 6 feet away from one another.

Not anything typical about those shower requirements.

Rachel had a month of "Drive By" showers-- friends and family would drop off presents-- sometimes, it happened day after day.

It was kind of fun for both future parents-- all of these presents from all of these people, just wanting to wish the three of them well!

Rachel would post on facebook each present and thank each person/family who sent it-- so we all watched as she posted the presents.

Honestly-- it will be easy to write Thank You Cards because facebook will help her remember who gave what when.

But...not sure if or when she can send out cards for fear of contaminating someone with the card contents or handling.

Darn that Rona!

And then the doctor visits became weekly as we got closer to Bonnie Brae's due date.

But that was different also.

The streets were empty.

The doctor's office was empty.

The hospital was locked down.

And it really overshadowed the joy of this first pregnancy and getting prepared to welcome this little girl into this home that had prepared for her arrival!

And then...on Friday...

The Doctor said "it's Time! Daddy-- it's Time!"

That was my obvious reference to one of the South's most famous movies -- Steel Magnolias!

And just like that-- Rachel and Al were headed to the hospital to check in for a planned C-section at 8pm on May 1st.

A little earlier than planned-- Bonnie was expected on May 12th, but she had other plans!

And so...mom and dad went to the hospital, checked in, got taken to their room...and waited...alone.

All of the friends...

All of the family...

None of them could be there-- because of Rona!

Nope-- all of the usual and typical fanfare that happens when a baby is coming into this world-- 

None of that could happen for our sweet Bonnie Brae.

Even her delivery-- which typically would have had her mom in the room with her, along with Daddy...

Had to have Rachel's Mom outside the room, waiting anxiously to hear that first scream of her granddaughter.

Nope-- none of this was typical.

All because of this Pandemic we have been living thru for the past 8 weeks!

BUT...

None of that mattered when that sweet bundle of joy made her entrance into this world at 8:49pm on Friday night, May 1st!

NOPE!! Everybody who is Anybody told Somebody so there was Nobody who did NOT know-- Bonnie Brae had arrived!

And we rejoiced!

And we shouted!

And we hollered!

And all of the JOY and HOPE one feels at any "typical" delivery …. was exponentially increased BECAUSE of the atypical events leading up to her birth!!

Because of Rona-- we were that much happier!

Because of Rona-- we were that much joyful!

Because of Rona-- we were that much hopeful!

Bonnie Brae proved that there WAS HOPE in the midst of this storm!

Bonnie Brae proved that there WAS GOOD in the midst of this virus!

Bonnie Brae proved that there WAS LOVE in the midst of this pandemic!

And for that reminder--

We pause and reflect on the wonderful sense of "hope" sweet Bonnie Brae has brought to all of us!

And for that-- we are all grateful!

So when little Bonnie Brae grows up and  asks her beautiful mama and handsome daddy about her birth--

They will have such a great story to share...

How God sent us all a BRAE of HOPE in the midst of a pandemic!

 

Gardenia Scent

Random Reflections:April2020This is CRAZY!

Random Reflections 2020:This Is Crazy

So.. it is April 29th, 2020

If you are reading this months or years in the future..

This is CRAZY!

17 states have either partially or completely resumed life as we once knew it!

Georgia led the way last week-- allowing tattoo parlors, massage parlors, nail salons and restaurants to open for business!

Even though-- Georgia is still showing a daily increase in COVID19 cases AND deaths!

The Georgia governor is citing "medical findings" as his basis for reopening his state?

What medical findings?

Doctors Fauci and Birx, our Dynamic Duo of Medical/Science logic and reason, are touting that this is "too much, too soon..."

and yet... there are protestors in the streets saying "We have a right to work-- you can't stop us from working!"

And to that, I reply "you also have a right to die! do you want to exercise that right at the same time??"

This is just crazy!

The President last week wondered out loud at a press conference whether we could inject disinfectants into our body because it works so well on surfaces!

Look it up! I am sure that history books and google will replay that press conference for years to come!

And then...the next day, he says "I was being sarcastic!"

Who wants a president, the leader of our country, to be sarcastic about anything when we are in such dire need of comfort and encouragement--and direction!

Sarcastic?

No-- he was just letting us in on what goes on in his brain on a regular basis-- and that's the really scary part!

I am not bashing our President-- but I am asking him to PLEASE THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!

People are watching and listening who have proven that they will take your word and rants AND RUN WITH IT! even if it does them physical harm!

That was proven 3 weeks ago, when he said to "try this malaria drug called hydrochloroquine" that he said "what can it hurt?" a couple in Texas did just that!

And the husband DIED!! his wife was hospitalized.

She later said "The President said it could help and we had some at the house, so we took it!"

People listen to what you say!

And as I had to say on facebook recently "leaders are responsible for what they say and should understand not only the power in their persuasion but also the responsibility of their statements-- some people will follow blindly just because of their blind trust that a President would NEVER say anything to harm us!"

But he did-- maybe unintentionally, but still...her husband is dead! and she almost died!

One of my facebook "friends" stated if people are going to just blindly follow someone, then I guess that's why we have warning labels on poison!

YES-- that really IS!

We have to be so careful with how we influence others: with our actions AND our words!

And making comments about injecting disinfectants and "what can it hurt?" for malaria medicine? that is careless at the least and deadly at the most!

And whatever happened to leading by example?

If you tell us to wear masks out in public... shouldn't our leaders be wearing masks...OUT in PUBLIC?

VP Pence just visited Mayo Clinic-- who requested that he wear a mask, and everyone there WAS wearing a mask..

But NOT Pence!

This is just crazy!

WE have reached over one million who have been infected and 59000+ who have died.

We are interviewing Sweden and New Zealand-- who have taken complete opposite views of responding to COVID19.

Sweden said they are not going to social distance or quarantine and will accept that some will have to die for the greater good of their economy.

New Zealand did an immediate lockdown of their island of 5 million and shutdown their borders and are faring better because of it!

And we have 17 states who are saying "it's the economy stupid!"

It is UNTIL it's YOUR MOTHER STUPID!

I am convinced that all these protestors need to stop their rants about violation of their freedom is to have a family member come down with COVID19!

Then we will suddenly see them wanting medical answers and medical resources to SAVE MY GRANDMA!

Until then-- it's just someone else's war to fight so let's all get back to work AND PLAY!

I had a customer in Idaho tell me that this was all a hoax! all made up by the fake news!  no one in Idaho have Corona Virus so he knew it was a hoax!

Idaho?

Not exactly a metropolis of 12 million like New York City.

But... to him, in his world-- no one had this virus so it must be a lie.

So far, 9.5% of our population who has tested positive with COVID19 has died.

That's under 10% and most of those have been our elderly.

Collateral damage. Like I stated previously.

"Hey, they have to go sometime-- it was just their time to go!"

Believe it or not-- that's what some are saying.

Well? I have a question for you.

When it's your Dad or Mom or grandpa or Nana...

Will it still be okay for them to die?

This is just CRAZY!

If you are reading this in the future-- just know that I did NOT think that this was okay and losing 10% of our population was acceptable...

EVEN IF they were our elderly members.

PLEASE-- IF you are reading this in APRIL 2020--

Do NOT go back to life as usual!

Self Distance!

Quarantine for as long as possible AND BE safe!

DON'T inject disinfectants into your body or take malaria drugs if you DON'T have malaria!

And THINK FOR YOURSELF!

Remember-- there are WARNING LABELS because some people need them.

If you don't-- good for you!

But don't go around tearing  those labels off because...

Some people REALLY do believe what they hear a leader say...

And they will DO what is suggested or pondered out loud.

WE all have a responsibility to speak rationally and with wisdom...

Especially at a critical time like this!

I do NOT want to be one of the elderly considered collateral damage.

Do you?

 

 

Random Reflections:Collateral Damage!

Random Reflections 2020:Collateral Damage

 

 

Covid19-Collateral Damage!

 

The obvious things about this pandemic are known to all of us at this point:

Shelter in place

Work at home

6 feet and more apart at all times

Only go out for the "Essentials" in life.

But something we have not considered is: what is Covid19's collateral damage?

I found out today...when my elderly neighbor died in a hospital!

She had been a cancer survivor!

She was in remission and taking back her life.

She lived across the street from me, so I would check in with her, ask how she was feeling and compliment her on how great she was looking.

And she always said "Thank you! I'm going to beat this cancer!"

And I smiled and said "That's our prayer!"

And you know what?

She was 6 months into her remission-- and the doctors said she had a great likelihood of beating cancer!

Answered prayer!

And then 4 weeks ago, she fell at home.

The ambulance came and whisked her away to the hospital.

This was right after the pandemic started, so...

Her husband was not allowed to visit her.

Her 2 daughters were not allowed to visit her.

Her grandson was not allowed to visit her.

No one was allowed in-- but the nurses would give the family updates on her progress.

It all seemed like a matter of time and she would be sitting in her front yard again, waving at me as I drove by.

And then last week-- her kidneys starting shutting down.

She started dialysis twice a day.

Her progress started deteriorating.

Then at 2am on Thursday morning, 4/16/20-- her husband got a call no one wants to get.

His wife had died.

He had not seen her in 4 weeks, and now-- she was gone.

Her daughters did not get to see her before she passed away.

Her grandson did not get to hug his grandma before she went to heaven.

And now...they could not even plan a funeral because...she was the collateral damage of this horrible pandemic!

And he said to me "and now, I cannot even have a final moment with my wife, pay respects, honor her at her funeral--it is not allowed!"

And unfortunately, this story is becoming typical during this never expected, never could be predicted hour of our world history.

In America, we have now lost over 40,000 lives.

Many of them are elderly-- all of them died alone or with a wonderful nurse who stepped in at the final hour to be a family member.

But...the one thing that we fear the most...dying alone...is the biggest collateral damage of this painful moment in our lives.

And it isn't just the elderly-- some are infants, some are 30somethings, 40somethings, 50somethings...

It originally was slated as killing our elderly so many people said "I'm not old, so...I don't have to worry about it getting me!"

Well friend-- you need to worry now!

My neighbor was 73-- that's just not old anymore--but the irony here is-- she did NOT die from Covid19--but her death was lumped into it.

She still didn't have family around her.

She still didn't have her husband by her side.

She still didn't have her grandson hugging her goodbye.

She did not die from the Corona Virus!

But...she still died alone.

And we don't know when or IF she will get a proper send off with a Celebration of her life or a funeral and burial.

Collateral Damage.

The dishonor in death she did NOT deserve.

Nor will you...

 

 

 

Random Reflections 2020

Random Reflections 2020

 

 

2020--what a year so far!

 

This is NOT the year so far that I expected!

at New Year's Eve 2019-at 11:58pm, the Lord gave me a word, a promise, about the new year.

He said that "as the cankerworm, palmerworm and caterpillar have eaten away from you FOR YEARS,

I will restore unto, not just for this year-- but for the coming decade!"

I was startled!

Wow! I have never been one who looks for a "word from the Lord" because I rely on HIS WORD to guide me.

But there it was - Joel 2:25-27! and He was promising me restoration!

I looked at my Bella and said "Baby-- you are NOT going to believe what the Lord just told me!"

She started to cry as I repeated what I had been told.

If you really know me-- and most people don't-- the only thing that I needed restoring was relationships!

I have some very important fractured relationships that Only God could heal and restore.

I have to say-- In the month of January, he started working on my most important fractured relationship.

And then in February, out of the blue(no- it was God working) another impossible situation started healing.

Once March had rolled in, my Bella and I were shaking our head and raising our hands-- God had restored two relationships!

We were just so humbly elated at the work that God had done--and those around could not dismiss God's hand in all of it!

I give God all the glory for all that He has done for us in restoring relationships that matter so much to us!

Our hearts are full of joy and gratitude!

Then March 18th, 2020 happened.

My complete work site was sent home-- due to the Corona Virus called Covid19!

In the space of 7 days-- AMERICA was SENT HOME to work!

And it happened!

We all started working from home, started something called "social distancing", began "shelter in place" and started hearing about deaths in America!

Not mass shooters!

Not the flu!

Not murders!

No-- this was a virus that started in China in January 2020 and worked its way over to Italy, where thousands were killed in one month...

And somehow-- found its way into America!

And we were starting to hear about our own people dying from this virus!

New York City quickly became the epicenter of this virus!

Hundred were reported dead; thousands had contracted the virus.

We were shell-shocked!

How did this happen to our country?

And why couldn't it just be fixed?

Why were we being told to stay in our homes, wear masks IF we had to venture out, and prepare for months quarantined in self isolation.

This is NOT what we thought 2020 was going to be!

A new year!

A new decade!

New hope. New dreams. New experiences.

Bella and I had planned our trip to Italy in October-- fly into Paris, train ride to Venice, plane ride to Sicily. 6 cities in 12 days! Trip of a lifetime!

All cancelled-- Italy was mourning their 10,000+ deaths!

As of today-- we are still waiting to hear when we can return to work, when our children can return to school, when social distancing is over!

But so far-- none of that has happened!

I just heard of our first colleague who was 34 and diagnosed with Covid19 on March 28th... he passed away April 10th.

Every state has now lost at least one person to this virus.

It feels like hope is lost, our nation is in upheaval, our citizens are stunned.

And yet still...

I have a Hope...that's steadfast and sure, I have an anchor that will endure, My anchor holds against the grave...

For JESUS my LORD, the Great Resurrection-- is Mighty to Save!

We hear about goodness and kindness and love being spread among all of our citizens.

Random acts of kindness are prevalent these days.

Everyone is helping everyone.

Hurting people are feeling the love from those all around them.

The government is sending out stimulus checks to help everyone.

But what is helping the most is-- each other!

I am hopeful that America HAS found its Soul again!

We are feeling each other's hurts, and we are raising that hurt with a help and a hand and a hug.

Well...while keeping our 6 feet or more distance.

And those relationships that God had restored before CoRona showed up and took over our lives....

They are STILL restored, and they are STILL repaired!

Because God is Faithful-- what He promised, He will deliver!

And HE promised AMERICA that HE would be our God and our Savior in our hour of need...

And one thing America can agree on--

We ALL NEED JESUS!

So... if you are reading this and wondering what happened 1st Quarter 2020--

Random Reflections just caught you up!

And just know-- 7 continents became one community, one family, one people--

Binding together to kick Rona's Rear right off our Planet!

And...with God's help-- Rona doesn't stand a chance!

 

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!

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!

 

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?

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!