Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Month Out of the Cave

This blog is approaching the two hundred visitor mark and it has only been about thirty days since I walked out of the cave and into the new world. For those of you who are just joining, I wanted to do a quick recap of what has happened so far and what is going to happen.

Let's start with the end of the story. No matter how bad things look around you, remember how the story ends, you and I are with a bunch of people that are together when Jesus returns. Yes, God Wins! (Read the post, "My Biggest Bible Lesson").

Now, lets look at the beginning of the story. Our journey together begins on "Day 1- Coming Out of the Cave". In my first blog, I said I was coming out of the cave because I was called to "publish all the good that Jesus has done for me." I was called to do this a long time ago but chose to stay in the cave until I got the courage to come out.

Here are some highlights of the first thirty days of this blog:

"The Hood"- My reunion with my neighbors happened on the second day of blog writing. The lesson here is to connect with the people in your hood. Your neighbors are part of God's puzzle. Take time to get to know them.

"The story of Zoom"- The message here is that you are not to fear Goliath. He may take the form of your competitor in the business world or represent some kind of fear you are facing. Remember that the One who created you is also behind you and He is bigger than the giant in front of you.

"Hood Security" and "Keep the Burglars Out of Your Home"- These two posts are designed to help you protect yourself. Follow the list of pointers and you will slow down the bad guys. If you need an alarm for your home or know someone who needs one, look up these posts for the friends and family 800 number and for the special code. This is good in all fifty states.

"Accountability"- Like the commitment I made to my wife to write her a love letter every day until I "get called up", I have made a commitment to add to this blog every day for the rest of my life. All of you are my accountability partners. Every morning when I wake up I think of the end of the story, that is the day when Jesus returns for all of us. One person left out of the picture is too many. This is my purpose in life. Those of you closest to me are instructed to hunt me down should I ever go missing from this blog.

"Come Sail Away"- Our first 30 days together in this blog are just the beginning of a long journey. The Captain of the ship promises a cruise that will be life-changing. Just stay in the boat.

"The Flashes of Light"- If you are a song writer or an artist, you can relate to this. My blogs come to me as complete thoughts each day. Everything that you read on this site is unedited except for corrections in grammar or the addition of a picture or video to complete the message. The Creator provides the material and I just post it as it comes to me.

"My Biggest Bible Lesson"- This is the centerpiece of this blog. Once I asked the Holy Spirit to show me who I am, Jesus time traveled 2,000 years to meet me as if He were in the flesh. For me, His Words became Flesh. I know that Jesus will be back and this blog is your invitation to follow Him. I am just the messenger.

"Fear"- Over and over, Jesus has helped me to overcome my fear. He always shows up when I am in the most trouble.

"Goals"- There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Set goals so that your time is not wasted.

"Perseverance"- There are some good messages in this post. Don't ever give up.

"My Life Before I Met Jesus"- This is to show just how bad things can get when you try to do things on your own.

"Tribute to My Cousin from Mulligan's Island"- Check out my cousin's song, "Time". Read his bio on his website. He is making a difference in our world.

"God Has an In-Box"- This is a must read, especially if you are carrying fifty pounds of concrete on your shoulders.

"Life's 2 Minute Warning"- Another must read, especially if you find yourself in the fourth quarter of your life.

"Gratitude"- Thank others.

"Zoom's Best Friend- Tony Truggy"- Show appreciation.

"Flush the Toilet"- Another must read.

"Tennis Lessons"- Take a break. Have fun. Learn something new.

"Where There is Faith"- A little goes a long way. This video is one of my favorites.

"Falling Off the Horse"- Kind of nice when your kids teach you something.

"Who's Your Daddy"- Claim your inheritance!

"God's Puzzle"- He Created every piece, some of them just aren't shining yet. Love them anyway and find your place in the puzzle. One missing piece messes up the whole puzzle. Don't forget, the Creator sent His Son to be the corner piece of the puzzle. When we connect to the puzzle, we connect to the Son. When we connect to the Son, we also connect to the Father.

"Time Targets"- Dream big and make a plan to make your dreams come true. Deadlines conquer procrastination. Start today!

"The Meaning of 808"- Have balance in your life.

"Tony 530"- Pray for the sick and visit the lonely.

"Our Father"- He is every one's Dad so stop fighting with your enemies and learn to forgive them.

"Hug a Firefighter"- While you are at it, thank a teacher, give a thumbs up to those in the military and show appreciation for those who never get a pat on the back for their contributions to our world.

So now you know how this blog started and you know the ending. The in-between stuff will be added daily. Thank you for stopping by and letting me share my story with you as it unfolds, one day and one page at a time. If you would like to give me feedback or share your story, the email link appears when you click on my profile at the bottom left of your screen. This email is used exclusively for you, the reader of this blog. I do promise to answer every email, although it may be a few days before I am able to respond, so please be patient.

Time to reload my slingshot and go to battle with Goliath. It sure feels good to have some more people joining the Zoom team and we hope to be coming to your city soon. Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hug a Firefighter




The picture you see above this post sits on my youngest son's dresser (the second picture on the right is a satellite photo showing how the winds push the dust and smoke from the wildfires into the ocean). It was taken once we were allowed back to our home after the first wildfire. Fire season is upon us once again. The fire danger is in the extreme range and our firefighters are on high alert. Soon, the Santa Ana winds will be blowing with tornado force and one spark could force a third exodus from our tight-knit community.

Within forty eight hours of our first evacuation, there was a knock on the door at the home we stayed in. The man knocking was a federal firefighter who had been separated from his crew. He checked in with his captain and was told to stay in the community and help any way he could. He went to businesses on Main street and asked for food and water to take to the front lines. By the time he reached out to us, he had already logged over 1,500 miles on his truck delivering supplies to our beloved firefighters.

My friend promised our wives that if we helped him, we would be far from the flames (mostly true). We got some quick training in fire protection and stopped by the base to get some fire clothes before making our first round of deliveries to the front lines.

My friend bought a blue strobe light at K-mart and then used his badge to get us through the barricaded roads. The firefighters were all connected by radios and generally worked in pairs. They would come out of the Cleveland National Forest to get a water bottle or some food and then disappear. This went on for miles. There were firefighters from all over California helping to save our homes.

One of the female firefighters we met was craving peanut butter. We told her it was the least we could do. Many stores donated like Taco Bell, and KFC but the one I will never forget is Albertson's. They were in the middle of a strike when we asked for donations and they told us we could have anything we needed in the produce section. We loaded two trucks to the max with bananas, apples, water and... one jar of peanut butter. At the end of the day, we finally found the firefighter that requested the peanut butter and she ate it right out of the jar. Sadly, one of the other firefighters we fed would be eating for the last time. He lost his life fighting to save someone's property.

We continued our journey for two days and stopped once the roads were cut off due to the encroaching fire. I will never forget what I saw behind the scenes. These firefighters are some of the bravest people I have ever met.

The firefighters told me later that my next door neighbor lost her home before they could get to it. Her home became a "fire chimney" and deflected the flames from our home. Our home was filled with soot because we left so quickly that we did not close all the windows. We lost every plant around our home except for some pine trees in our front yard that we nursed back to life.

Another neighbor hooked garden hoses together and put out spot fires on all four sides of our home after the firefighters moved to the next community. It is tough times like these that bring out the best in people.

As another fire season approaches, keep our firefighters in your prayers. If you see one in your community, give him or her a big hug from all the gracious people in my community. I am keeping an extra jar of peanut butter in my pantry, just in case there is another special request.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Our Father

It has now been just over thirty days since I left the cave. As I reconnect with friends and family and meet new people, the question comes up, "what are you up to?" There is usually a surprised look when I tell people that I am doing exactly what I have been called to do and I will do it every day until the day I die. My "job" is to help you change your mind-set (see earlier post entitled, "Mind-set").

I have shared the Zoom story because many of you really want to know how the business is going but that is not my identity. My real purpose is to help you see how you fit into God's Puzzle. The feedback I am getting from all of you shows me I am on the right course.

Before I share today's message, it is important for you to know about my credibility. I really don't have much other than I have been called to write about whatever pops into my head. This includes publishing all the good that Jesus has done and is doing for me. If I had started this blog while in the cave, I would have written about prejudice, hate, anger and being unforgiving. I would have told you that God is too busy for you so go take care of your problems on your own (just like Ben Franklin when he said, "God Helps those who help themselves"). If I had started this blog too soon, you would have been following the demons that possessed me instead of the Creator of the universe. My demons are gone now, and all that fills my heart is the "Holy Spirit".

We all have a place inside of us that we long to fill up. Some of us choose drugs, alcohol and sex to try and fill this space up but it is an infinite space that can only be filled up when we invite Jesus into our hearts. Now I fully understand the meaning of the perfect prayer that He shared with His first followers over two thousand years ago. Here is the prayer and what it means to me...

Our Father

(Jesus could have said "MY Father" since most of us don't like sharing but
the Creator is Father to all...Jews, Christians, Muslims, all other faiths, agnostics, even atheists)

who art in Heaven

(It is one of the only places where we haven't kicked God out. Our schools are a great example- no wonder our world is so messed up)

Hallowed be thy name


(why do we use His name to condemn others when it is sacred?)

Thy Kingdom come

(Jesus asks us to pray for Him to return for all of us)

Thy will be done

(God's plan is better than our plan)

On earth as it is in Heaven

(Everyone in Heaven speaks with one voice...no conflicts, no violence, no wars)

Give us this day our daily bread

(give us what we need to get through today)

and forgive us our trespasses

(clean us up)

as we forgive those who trespass against us

(help us to accept the other "pieces of the puzzle" even if they are different from us)

and lead us not into temptation

(Even 2,000 years ago, Jesus knew that there would be bad stuff on TV, the internet, etc, etc)

but deliver us from evil

(whether we see the demons or not, they are always trying to get us to the dark side)

For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever and ever


(You're the boss and you get the credit, I am just part of your puzzle)


Amen

(all of us agree)

Like I said, I don't have much credibility, but the One who sent me is Perfect. Ponder this perfect prayer as you face the day ahead of you and see how much easier it is to face whatever challenges are ahead. See you tomorrow!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tony 530

Today's post includes a prayer request for Tony, a friend I worked with while still in the cave. He is in the hospital and 530 is his room number. Tony is waiting for the doctors to tell him what he is facing and he is the newest reader of this blog. Please take a moment and say a prayer for Tony that he is healed. You are not alone, Tony. Thank you for the encouragement you gave me while we worked together and stay strong!

There is a famous quote that I have heard repeated many times, "God helps those who help themselves". Although many believe this is in the Bible somewhere, it actually comes from Benjamin Franklin. The truth is that God helps those who can't help themselves. We have needed God's help since the very beginning. He sent His only Son to die for us. This is God's way of showing us just how much He loves us and He helps us when we cannot help ourselves.

Everywhere that Jesus went, he helped those that could not help themselves. He gave vision to the blind, restored hearing to the deaf, and cured all sorts of illnesses. He can time travel into the past to heal your wounds or into the present to put his arms around you while you are reading the Good News. He is there for you when you can't help yourself.

Sometimes we are called to comfort those around us who can't help themselves. When I go to Church, most of the people around me are seeking help as I am. Some are praying for jobs so they can put food on the table. Others are asking God to heal them or comfort them as they deal with the loss of a loved one.

A wise man told me that we can be divided into two groups. The first group is in the middle of a bad storm. The second group is about to face the storm that is just out of site but is on the way. Both groups need prayers. If you are part of the first group, like my cave buddy, Tony, know that you are not alone in the storm. If you are part of the second group, pray for those around you who may not believe they can survive the hurricane that they are in the middle of. When your storm comes, don't be afraid to reach out for help. It may come from those of us who have been asked to be the hands and feet of Jesus until He returns. My prayer today is that those who are called to help others answer the phone and say yes.

As I write this, it is a beautiful Sunday. Why not stop in your Church and give some support to those who need your prayers today? If you don't know anyone who needs your prayers, offer one up to my buddy, Tony, in room 530. God Bless you.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Meaning of 808

The day I started this blog I was inspired to include the number 808 in my name. Numbers have always played a role in my life. The number three shows up five times in my direct line and reminds me of who I work for (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

If you tip the first number on its side, you have the symbol for infinity...  ∞.   This reminds me that the Creator has no beginning. The last number also represents the symbol for infinity when it is rotated 90 degrees. This shows that God has no end. He is the "Alpha and the Omega". The zero in the middle represents me. As long as I am included in "808" or "∞0∞", I am part of the universe and connected to the Creator. If I am "disconnected", my life is empty. By connecting, I become part of God's puzzle (see earlier post).

808 also represents the area code for Hawaii. This is the place where my wife found the ring I buried in the sand over twenty one years ago and said yes when I asked her to marry me. It is the place I dream about when I am facing a challenging day. Some of our most memorable family vacations have been in the 808 area code. I will always treasure the look on my mother's face when she saw Maui for the first time.

808 also represents the balance that I seek in my life. The 80 represents eighty days of work and the 8 represents the eight days off. This is an ideal that I strive for and I have a long way to go on this one.

808 is a target that I am sailing to in my personal, professional and spiritual life. At Zoom, we figured out that we can achieve more if we sail in one direction and speak with one voice. Seven captains doesn't cut it unless you like being docked in the harbor. One of my partners is part Hawaiian and he tells me the Zoom boat is sailing southwest (towards our goals and towards living our dreams).

In my spiritual life, 808 means being connected to God. Each of us has a choice to place our number in God's puzzle. Once our "number" is in the right spot, it begins to shine. It's value multiplies as it is connected to the other numbers in the puzzle. Some of the most famous "numbers" in the Bible started out so bad that God had to give them new "numbers" or names. Paul was called Saul before his number was "converted". He needed to "see the light". Once his number was changed, he became one of the best-known followers of God and his writings make up a substantial part of the Bible.

What happens when God calls your number? Does He get a busy signal? Are you part of a party line? Is your number on the "Do not call list"? Maybe today is a good day to answer the call. He wants you to be connected. Once you answer the call, your number will begin to shine just like the song below by the "Newsboys". These guys are God's telemarketers and if you are looking for a new job, there will always be an opening in God's Kingdom. In fact, you are the only one uniquely qualified for the job that is waiting for you. You don't need references. He already knows every hair on your head and He doesn't care about your past. Yes, you are just the one He is looking for, just answer the phone when He calls. I think I hear your phone ringing...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time Targets

This year is almost over. Many of us will be making New Year resolutions very soon. In January, The gym where I play tennis will be full for about thirty to sixty days and then return to the "regulars". We all want to be healthy but we let other things get in the way of our goals. "Time targets" may help us to stay focused on end results instead of making resolutions that are sometimes broken before the ink drys on our annual goals.

One of the craziest things I have ever done is escape from Alcatraz island. I am not the first in my family to do this and I have a feeling that a couple more family members will plan their own escape. I think I know what is going on in your head, you are thinking that this feat is impossible. The prison guards convinced the prisoners that anyone trying to escape would become a meal for the sharks circling the island. If the sharks didn't get them, the freezing cold water would.

If you are making big goals, you need big plans to follow through. Time targets allow you to see the end result rather than another broken New Year's resolution. Think of it as goals with deadlines. I start planning my goals with the final time target and then work backwards on the strategy until I am at today. Time targets can be used for something as crazy as planning an escape from Alcatraz or as simple as reducing debt. I will share my highlights of my time targets for Alcatraz as an example that you can apply to your specific goals...

Escape day: Get up at 4:30 am and put on wet suit. Record a video for friends and family. Catch the ferry to the island and get dropped off on the island with all the other crazy swimmers that do this twice a year. Swim to San Francisco. Call wife as soon as I complete my escape.

The night before: Eat a shark dinner with my friends that came to support me. Get a full night of sleep. Target weight is 158 pounds.

The final month of training: 300 stomach crunches every morning and 100 push-ups. Swim round-trip from La Jolla Cove to La Jolla shores in bad weather. Swim in the pool three times per week for one hour per swim.

(lots of stuff in between but you get the picture.)

Today: Eliminate all the bad stuff in my diet and do five push-ups and five stomach crunches. Visualize coming out of the water in San Francisco and do this daily to stay focused on the time targets.

(By starting small for the first thirty days, you avoid being overwhelmed. Your brain needs thirty days to make your goals a habit.)


Once I completed my time target list I put everything in order from start to finish. The complete list was very detailed and covered about one year of training. It started with super easy goals and progressed until the big day. Most of the 500 swimmers that swam with me made it out OK (a few got hypothermia and had to be pulled out of the 54 degree water). Some of the people that escaped in front of me included a twelve-year-old, a one-legged man and a dog.

What is holding you back from achieving your goals? Is it something that someone told you that convinced you your goal is impossible? Were you like the prisoners on Alcatraz that listened to their guards and never even tried to leave the island?

Why not put some time targets together and begin improving your life today? You are only limited by what you believe is possible. One of my friends told me I was trapped in my cave for so many years because I didn't believe I belonged on the outside. I just needed my Mentor to show me the light.

Try out time targets. You don't have to wait until Jan. 1 to do this. Start today. Chances are that you will have lots of room in the gym. Stay strong and stay committed!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

God's Puzzle

Have you ever put a large puzzle together, a really big one over 5,000 pieces? Were all the pieces there or did you discover that one or two pieces were missing? A couple of missing pieces destroys the big picture.

In God's puzzle, each one of us represent one part of the picture and this puzzle contains every color in the rainbow. As we look around at the puzzle, sometimes we resent the other pieces that we are supposed to be connected to. Some of us would rather be out of the picture than be connected to the other pieces.

God's puzzle has billions and billions of us in it. Most of us don't know what the big picture looks like and we have to trust the Creator of the puzzle to see how we are to fit in.

The Evil One is busy every day trying to convince us that we don't belong in God's puzzle or that we should eliminate other pieces because they don't deserve to be there. Just like us, when the puzzle pieces are finally put together, God will not be happy if one of us is missing from his big picture.

Most of the challenges we have in life have to do with not seeing the big picture. Now that I am out of the cave and back in my own company, I am trying to fit in to Zoom's puzzle. We have a "big picture" and all of us have a special opportunity to do something very special. We need to see how we are connected and not fight with one another.

Our greatest challenge is to figure out how a bunch of "equals" can agree on how we fit in Zoom's puzzle. Like the first apostles, we agreed that one leader would be better than all of us being leaders. This "first among equals" must convince the other equals that there is an awesome puzzle to be completed. It involves finding the missing pieces of the puzzle and connecting them to us. Right now, these missing pieces are scattered all over the country and they want to be connected.

You are a unique piece of God's puzzle and you are the only one that can fit in the place the Creator has reserved just for you. Don't be the missing piece in God's puzzle and try to get along with the pieces of the puzzle you are connected to. God will not be happy if a couple of us are missing when His puzzle is finished. It will be full of many colors. Don't be afraid to let your true colors show as you fit in to God's picture.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who's Your Daddy?

Today's message came to me in an email from a good friend. The story is a mix of fact and fiction but the daddy is real even though you can't see him. This tale shows what can happen when you discover who you are and you claim your inheritence...

>>>> A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, 'I hope he doesn't come over here.' But sure enough, the man did come over to their table.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> 'Where are you folks from?' he asked in a friendly voice.
>>>> ' Oklahoma,' they answered.
>>>> 'Great to have you here in Tennessee. Then the stranger said, 'What do you do for a living?'
>>>> 'I teach at a seminary,' he replied.
>>>>
>>>> 'Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I've got a really great story for you.' And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple.
>>>>
>>>> The professor groaned and thought to himself, ‘Great ... Just what I need ....another preacher story!'
>>>>
>>>> The man started, 'See that mountain over there? (Pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, 'Hey boy, who’s your daddy?' Whether he was at school, in the grocer y store or drug store, people would ask the same question, 'Who's your daddy?'
>>>>
>>>> He would hide at recess and lunchtime from other students. He would avoid going into stores because that question hurt him so bad. 'When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's your daddy?'
>>>> But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast that he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.
>>>>
>>>> Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, 'Son, who's your daddy?'
>>>>
>>>> The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, 'Who's your daddy?'
>>>>
>>>> 'This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy. 'Wait a minute! I know who you are! I see the family resemblance now, you are a child of God.'
>>>> With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, 'Boy, you've got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.'
>>>>
>>>> 'With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, 'Who's your Daddy?' he'd just tell them, 'I'm a Child of God.''
>>>>
>>>> The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, 'Isn't that a great story?'
>>>> The professor responded that it really was a great story!
>>>>
>>>> As the man turned to leave, he said, 'You know, if that new preacher hadn't told me that I was one of God's children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!' And he walked away.
>>>>
>>>> The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over & asked her, 'Do you know who that man was -- the one who just left that was sitting at our table?'
>>>>
>>>> The waitress grinned and said, 'Of course. Everybody here knows him. That's Ben Hooper. He's governor of Tennessee!'
>>>>
>>>> Someone in your life today needs a reminder that they're one of God's children!
>>>>
>>>> 'The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of God stands forever.' ~~Isaiah
>>>>
>>>> YOU'RE ONE OF GOD'S CHILDREN!!!
>>>> HAVE A GREAT DAY!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Falling off the Horse

"I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity... If knocked down, I will get back up, every time."

U.S Navy Seals


The credit for today's post goes to my daughter who agreed to share the video clip at the bottom of this message. The video was shot on St. Patrick's Day, her "sweet 16" and her present was a total surprise. My daughter was convinced that owning her own horse was years away due very limited funds. Her trainer, Debbie Bray, presented us with a plan to adopt "Wes" and the plan included putting my daughter to work for her.

Wes measures sixteen hands which makes him a giant among his peers. He was donated to Debbie when it appeared he could no longer jump. Debbie discovered that his problem was in his hoofs and with TLC she helped Wes make a full recovery. He needs special O-shaped shoes and they need to be cleaned regularly.

Wes is spunky. He also has a fear of large cameras. He has thrown my daughter off of him a couple of times. The most recent accident happened in front of a crowd during one of her first horse shows as Wes's new owner. My wife shrieked as we watched our little angel hit the ground hard. She paused for a moment, dusted herself off and got right back up on her horse!

This act of courage made me think of all the times I have fallen in my life (when you are in sales, this happens daily). Some falls are worse than others and the way I handle a fall is critical. My daughter is my example, when you fall, get up. When you fall again, get up again. You only fail when you stop getting up.

Wes is part of our family now. I thank my daughter's trainer for her big heart, she made Nicole's 16th birthday a dream come true. If you live in my town and need a trainer, look Debbie Bray up. You won't find a more passionate person than Debbie and her husband, Mike, completes the team.

As you watch this video clip, keep in mind that my daughter has no idea what is about to happen. I showed up to watch her ride on her birthday. This clip comes at the end of her ride and she is about to put Wes in his stall. There is a note on the gate that says "Happy 16th birthday, Nicole, today must be your lucky day because I am yours!"

Enjoy the home video and remember, no matter how many times you fall, get up, dust yourself off and carry on.

video

Monday, September 21, 2009

Where There is Faith

The song at the bottom of today's blog is from a group called 4Him. It talks about what happens when there is faith. You don't need much, a little goes a long way. In fact, Jesus says your faith only needs to be the size of a mustard seed. The mustard seed is one of the tiniest seeds in the world.

My faith is what keeps me in the boat as I sail on through my life. It allows me to believe I will be safe in case my wife goes overboard and I have to jump into troubled waters to rescue her. It reassures me that "God Wins" no matter how big the giant is in front of me. It gives me a force field that keeps the demons outside of me.

Take a moment and listen to this song. The group has broken up but you can still get their music if you are looking for something uplifting to add to your music collection. I gave this CD to a widow after the love of her life passed away and she told me it gave her comfort. May your day be filled with peace and remember, you are not alone...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tennis Lessons

Some of my most important lessons in life have come from my experiences on the tennis courts. Yesterday I got to play side by side with my daughter and our opponents included a couple of people that live on our street and a nephew and niece. There are two pros in our community that played for the local high school team and put our town on the map in the tennis circles. It felt so good to see so many talented players, young and old, filling up the courts on a beautiful Saturday. Yes, life is so good outside the cave.

My wife and I have always encouraged our three children to find their passion in life. We have exposed them to soccer, baseball, wrestling, gymnastics, karate, football, horseback riding, surfing and my favorite, tennis. It is such a joy to be able to share my passion for tennis with my kids and since I didn't break anyone's nose yesterday, my daughter has already asked me to play mixed doubles with her once a month in the socials that her tennis coach sponsors.

My first tennis lessons cost me about 25 cents each when I first made the varsity in high school as a sophomore. The number one player lived a couple of streets away so he was my ride home. After practice, I would bet him a soda that I could defeat him. He always wiped me off the court but I got great pointers for a great price and his guidance helped me to advance.

While still in high school, I taught both my parents to play. My dad got tennis elbow and had to use a sling for several weeks. I loved coaching but my understanding of bendable joints vs. rotational joints was limited and it was not until I started coaching in Canada that my playing and coaching skills would be refined. I met Peter Burwash and he completely changed my forehand. He also taught me the causes of tennis elbow. He started out as a hockey pro and entered the tennis world after a hockey injury ended his career. He became the number one player in Canada and founded the largest tennis company in the world. My daughter's tennis coach worked for him before returning to his roots in our town.

During my three seasons in Canada, I got to meet the members from the young president's club. They booked the entire five star resort I worked at for a week. Their leadership skills intrigued me and I learned a lot from just being around these young leaders. You had to be under age forty and a CEO in order to be eligible for this group.

I got to be on Canadian national TV when the resort I worked for sponsored a celebrity Pro/Am tournament. My pro opponent was ranked 300 in the world and he made mince meat of me in the televised doubles match. My students from the camp wrote me to tell me how terrible I played. My future in tennis was not going to be as a player, but as a coach and I used money I made from tennis lessons to pay for college.

I became a member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association while still in college and landed a tennis director position at a resort in North Phoenix. I was selected from one hundred applicants. One of my first students was the owner of the local Auto Trader. He became a close friend and mentor and when I got married, he was in my wedding party. When the club changed owners, my student invited me to work for him and the best perk was that all of his employees got free tennis memberships. I worked for him until he sold his company. One of his first employees moved to San Diego to start his own Auto Trader in 1980. When my wife and I got married, I interviewed for the Auto Trader job in San Diego and we started our new lives in California.

The greatest lesson I learned from Peter Burwash was not about tennis but about the "3 C's"- Consistency, Commitment and Concern. These daily posts are about all three. First, I must strive for consistency and must do this daily. Second, I must make a commitment to do my best throughout each day. This means being the best husband, dad, and member of society. Finally, I must show concern for others in the world around me.

To quote a customer that I just saw the other day, "Every day, every time, without fail, no exception." This is what the "3 C's" mean to me.

I encourage you to put some fun in your life. For me, it means playing tennis once a week and spending time with my family. Why not take a tennis lesson? Maybe I will see you on the courts. If you live in my community, check out the Faila brothers. They will teach you how to play and I promise, you won't have to worry about tennis elbow. Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Flush the Toilet

As I woke up this morning, I laughed. This is only the 22nd blog of my life and I write about whatever pops into my head. God has a funny way of revealing Himself to me. The earlier blog about my biggest Bible lesson actually happened while I was sitting on the toilet reading the "Good News". So now the message is to "flush the toilet"...

Can you imagine how ugly it would be to live in your home with a broken toilet flusher? Your place would become so smelly that you would have to flee. What if all the flushers in the world stopped working at the same time? Would we resort to living in caves (been there, done that...not recommended)?

The sad truth is that for most of my life, I failed to flush the toilet even though this very necessary piece of equipment was in good working order. I just chose not to flush. I am not talking about the toilet I sit on while reading the "Good News". I am referring to the toilet that is attached to the bottom of my soul. It is where all the garbage goes. If it is not flushed on a regular basis, my insides start to stink.

Sometimes, we want to flush the toilet but something is broken and we need to call a repairman. The same is true with our souls. There is a really good handyman out there that started out as a carpenter and then got into fishing. It turns out He knows all about repairing toilets and He always has time when you need Him.

My toilet was clogged for a long time and that's why I had to live in a cave until the repairman showed up in the middle of nowhere to help me. It turns out that my "toilet" was full of anger, hatred, prejudice, guilt, greed, grudges, etc, etc. I wanted to hide from this problem. This "Plumber" told me that the toilet needs to be flushed regularly in order for it to work properly (that is what we are discussing when you look at the picture in "My biggest Bible Lesson").

You are probably thinking to yourself that some of the bad stuff in your soul can't be repaired. The demons inside of me convinced me that some stuff can't be flushed. My third year in college I found out that my high school doubles partner was gay. We played number one doubles together during my junior and senior years in high school. My doubles partner knew of my prejudice so he kept this part of his life secret from me and we often talked about girls that we liked. He was often picked on because of his small size. I will never forget the time our opponents made fun of us under their breath. I decided to nail these guys and when I got a shot I took it. The taunting got to me and I finally silenced one of them when my overhead smash hit the target. I broke his nose and blood was spilling everywhere. My coach rushed onto the court and cleaned up the mess while the demons inside of me rejoiced.

Scott's dad asked me to check up on his son since we were now at the same university and Scott was having trouble adjusting to college life. I went to see him but he was out. His room-mate told me what was up and I became furious. I walked out of his condo and never saw him or spoke to him again. He sent me Christmas cards that went unanswered. His mother called me to congratulate me on my new tennis director job and I thanked her for calling but never brought up her son in the conversation.

One day my brother called to tell me Scott's name was in the paper. He was in the obituaries and the cause of death was Aids. My heart sank. I had turned my back on a friend that could have used some comfort. I attempted to reach out to the family but the phone was disconnected and there was no new number. I learned about Scott's final days when another family friend told me she was in the same support group as Scott. Her son also lost a battle to Aids and both families spent time together coping with their circumstances.

A second tragedy struck when the father, a splitting image of the Wendy's founder, died of a heart attack right after his son's funeral. Now two wounds were piercing my heart and the guilt was piling up in my toilet. This broken toilet stunk up my soul for many, many years.

Once my soul was restored, I stopped judging others who are different from me. It all comes down to loving God with everything you have and loving others. I stopped trying to convert people who believed in God but played for other teams in other divisions. Some of the best talent at Zoom comes from people that I used to hate. My managing partner has a strange sense of humor and when a joke went too far, I refused to talk to him for an entire year. I did not care when other team-mates told me they were uncomfortable with my attitude. All of that has changed since my conversion experience.

If you find your toilet is clogged, hire a plumber. Don't forget, He died for you so that your broken flusher could be fixed. Why not give him a call today? It's time to go. I am playing in my first doubles tournament with my daughter and I promise not to break anyone's nose! It feels so good to be out of the cave now that my toilet flushes.

Don't forget to flush!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Zoom's Best Friend- Tony "Truggy"



If you find yourself fighting a multi-billion dollar giant like Goliath, it is smart to have a giant on your team. There is no bigger friend than my buddy, Tony "Truggy", as we affectionately call him at ZoomAutos.com.

When Zoom was born on St. Patrick's Day, 2005, we had only slingshots to defend ourselves. Our game plan was to share our story, one day at a time and one customer at a time. One of Zoom's first private party customers called us to place an ad for a boat he was selling. Mickey loved our story and told me I needed to meet his buddy, Tony. Mickey's family had been in my hometown since it's beginning and he knew everybody. He insisted that I meet Tony Montegna.

My first meeting with Tony was like drinking three energy drinks in a row. He thought we were clever to put a magazine on his driveway and he told me the timing was right for a competitor. He told me he was building a "truggy" and Zoom was going to be his first sponsor. He wanted to put Zoom on the map and promised to get us on the front page of the "Ramona Sentinel". A framed picture from the cover of the "Sentinel" hangs in his showroom at Main Street Auto Care in Ramona. Tony's circle of friends would be all we needed to stand up to Goliath. He introduced me to his dad, Tony Sr. (may he rest in peace). Tony Sr. was the president of the "Over the Hill Gang", a group of passionate people that share a love for vintage automobiles. When Tony Sr. passed away, Zoom published a tribute to this special man who welcomed us like family.

Tony invited me to his home for a ride in his truggy. We started in his back yard where he built a special launch ramp. He told me he could fly one hundred feet in the air and top out at 170 mph. Neighbors waved to us as we "zoomed" through his hood. This pride and joy was his pet project and he spent over 100k to turn his dream into a reality.

One day, Tony showed up at Goliath's headquarters to place an ad for his Truggy. He was acting on his own as a private citizen when he entered the parking lot with his pride and joy in tow. The "suits" watching from upstairs were seething as they glared at the truggy that had become the main attraction. He pulled out some cash and told Goliath he wanted to sell his truggy. They explained that the photo would be modified before it was published because they were not willing to advertise Zoom to their customers.

I kept waiting for another "love letter" from Goliath's attorney but Tony's actions were within his rights as an individual and Zoom could not be blamed for his jokes. He followed Goliath around like a pesky mosquito that won't leave you alone when you are at a picnic. He used a blow horn to announce Zoom when Goliath was only yards away passing out their magazines. "Do you still watch black and white TV?" he asked the crowd. "Come over and see the new color photos. It's time to come into the 21st century!" His "Zoom girls" all looked like models and they dressed in Zoom uniforms as they passed out Zoom magazines to the crowds that followed Tony.

Tony's calendar quickly filled up with requests to go to car shows, special events and military appreciation days. A commander from the naval hospital walked up to Tony at his Zoom booth and asked to check out the truggy. Tony told him to jump in and they were suddenly off for another joy ride. The naval hospital was our first military location and today Zoom is a hit with all twelve military installations including four bases and all the auxiliary support centers.

Tony picked up some wounded warriors at the hospital and treated them to a car show. When the raffle winner was announced, a thankful "Over the hill gang" member turned around and split the cash with Tony's war heroes. These men gave everything to protect our freedom and now Tony was using his "toy" to show his appreciation. We are so proud to be Tony's first sponsor!

I have never met a person with the kind of creativity and passion that Tony exudes from every cell in his body. He has won many awards for his acts of kindness and I thank him for coming to Zoom in the middle of the night to rescue me when my starter failed. Tony signed us up for "Make a Wish". Perhaps some young cancer patient will get the ride of his life if he wishes to spend a day in the desert with Tony? He has already helped all of the Zoom partners to live our dreams by promoting us to his friends. I know in my heart that our two dads our looking down at all the good that Tony does in our world and both of them have smiles as big as Tony's heart.

Thank you, Tony for being the giant that stood with us as we fought our battles. You are the main ingredient in our "special forces". If any of you living in Ramona ever need your car repaired, go see Tony (and his partner Vince-another outstanding business leader in our community) and tell him the "naked cave man" sent you. The entire staff will treat you right.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mind-set

Yesterday I got the opportunity to see my daughter and my niece on the tennis courts. They were competing against another high school team that was a little bit better and the team only managed one victory. Most of the players on this junior varsity squad are new to tennis and they have come a long way in a short period of time.

As I watched my daughter play, I recalled one of my first tennis matches of my high school days. My competitor walked onto to the court with his coach by his side. They both stared at me as I pulled my racket out of my bag. As soon as I held the racket in my left hand, my opponent threw his hands up in the air. His coach offered some encouraging words but they had no impact... the match was over before it started. This player had never won against "lefties".

Many of the defeats in the world today have to do with what is going on in our heads. If we feel that there is no hope of winning, we are right. The level of success we achieve is directly related to our mind-set. If we can change our mind-set, we can change the outcome.

At Zoom, we have no problem finding superior talent to join us as we expand across the country, one city at a time. After all, Goliath laid off over 4,000 people when they believed they could no longer win in print. These unemployed workers are on the sidelines. They need a new boss with a winning attitude and we can't wait to put some of them back to work.

The conditions we face in our country today are difficult. A superior mind-set is needed to get America back on its feet. It starts with each one of us. Lets promise each other that we will work on our own attitudes and belief systems first, and then go out and make a difference. Victory must be achieved in our minds before it can become a reality in our world.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gratitude

Today's blog is about gratitude. As I was waking up this morning, I found myself thinking about the awesome people that have helped me on my journey. Some of you reading this have been around since I was born.

I want to recognize my aunt Marcie and uncle Mike in a special way today. They have given me permission to share their story and they are also the first to make public comments about this blog. There are many other friends and relatives that have helped me along the way and I want the world to know that I am here today because of their prayers and support.

My mother's youngest sister is Marcie. Before she was married, she spent time with my family on vacations and she was always fun to be around. I remember watching her when she was on national TV during the junior Miss America contest. The whole family rejoiced when she made the top ten. Her future husband also made the national spotlight when he was brought in as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game with bases loaded and two outs (finals of the college world series). Tension in the packed room mounted as the count went to 3-2. I could barely keep my eyes open as my uncle swung at the final pitch. For the rest of the story, you will have to read their blog (are you ready to write yet, aunt Marcie?).

I still can't believe that my uncle Mike and my junior college tennis coach were room-mates. Some would call this a coincidence, but I prefer to call it a "God-incidence". God has a way of putting people around us to help us serve Him better.

My uncle went on to coach baseball and some of his players that he recruited have become superstars. They have four adult children spread out all over the country. The youngest, Ryan, showed up at my father's funeral wearing his "Dress Blues" to honor a fellow marine. He told me that he had only worn this uniform a couple of times because it was only to be worn for special occasions. I held back tears as he presented me with the American flag at the close of the ceremonies.

The amazing part of this funeral story is that my aunt is from the "other side" of a divorced family and there she was with her son honoring my father. Even more amazing is that my mother (the ex-wife) spoke at the funeral reception and had many kind words for my dad's family. The wounds of this divorce were very deep but my aunt demonstrated that wounds can heal. My mother taught me it is better to forgive than to carry around anger.

As I close this post today, I just want to say thanks to uncle Mike and aunt Marcie, and all the other special relatives that have contributed along the way. Your prayers and support have allowed me to be the person God created me to be.

Please show your gratitude today. Maybe it is your food server who is trying to keep food on the table for his or her family. Maybe it is your spouse who loves you or an aunt or uncle that watched your back. A few kind words can go a long way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Life's 2 Minute Warning

Today's blog was inspired by one of my best mentors. He was the very first person I called when I learned it was time to exit the cave and he asked me to come visit. I will never forget his phone call last December while I was away from Zoom. He told me he received a message for me and my partners. "Be encouraged", he said. This message came at an important time for Zoom because we were struggling to stay alive and we were running out of money. Within thirty days of his call, we learned that Goliath decided to retreat from publishing and would instead focus on the internet. For Zoom, it was like completing the "Hail Mary" as the clock ticked to zero.

I got to re-connect with my good friend yesterday and he shared another powerful message. I asked permission to share his story with my blog buddies and he agreed.

Doug McDaniel has dedicated his life to bringing others to Christ and he has always been there to encourage me on my journey. Yesterday he told me about a 92 year-old man that he met while he was teaching Bible study in nursing homes. Everyone in the group of seniors got along except for this newcomer. He made life miserable for those around him with his negative attitude and Doug was not excited to have him in his study group but it was open to anyone who wanted to attend.

Most of the seniors were at the "two minute warning" of their lives. They shared about their time on this planet and most knew that they were headed for Heaven. Doug asked the group, "how to you get to Heaven?" Everyone had a great answer except for the newcomer. Then Doug asked a follow-up question directed at him, "have you ever accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?" The man shook his head and said "no".

This 92 year-old is probably one of the oldest people on the planet to invite Jesus into his heart. Doug never saw this man again because he moved out within a week of saying yes to God. This home was for people in the final stages of life on earth and the man suddenly became so full of energy that they moved him to a home for more active seniors. He had a new outlook and his anger was replaced with joy as he began his new life.

Doug told me that this story is amazing because the odds of "conversion" diminish over time as we become more set in our ways. No matter how old you are or how far away from God you are, it is not too late to invite Jesus into your heart. If you are looking at your time clock and you are facing the two minute warning, don't wait for the game to end... Say yes and spread the word.

Thank you, Doug, for your words of encouragement and for being a "light" in this world.

Monday, September 14, 2009

God has an In-box

Before I exited the cave eighteen days ago to begin my new life, there was one final lesson to be learned and it was one of the most important moments of my "training period" in the darkness. I remember sitting at my computer and feeling out of it. Something was going on in my personal life that was causing much anxiety. It was something that I did not want to share with anyone at work and I was pretty much keeping to myself as I muddled through my day.

At the very moment when I was at my lowest point, I got an email from another Christian I worked for at ADT. The message stated that it was from God. I could feel goosebumps as I opened the email. I can longer access my email from my old job, so here is my best recollection of the message...

To: You
From: God

Please place all of your problems in my in-box. Do not attempt to take the problems back out of the in-box. I will get to them on my time, not yours...

The email was longer but this is the part that got to my heart at just the right moment. I immediately placed this problem in God's in-box and went to work. The message and the perfect timing of the message really impacted me.

I thanked the person who sent me the email and he told me he was just an agent of God. If you think about it, we are all called to be agents of God. He wants all of us to be connected to each other and He created us with different gifts to be used for the benefit of others.

I realize now that my gift is to "publish all the good that Jesus has done in my life". Your gift may be to write music, like my cousin from Mulligan's Island. Whatever your gift is, make sure you share it with the world around you. When you run into a problem that is too big to handle, put it in God's in-box and leave it there. He is never too busy to resolve your problem and His timing is perfect.

Touch one person's life today and thank someone around you that touched yours. Have a great day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tribute to my cousin from Mulligan's Island

I mentioned in my earlier blogs that I come from a very special family. Yesterday I wrote about the "quarterback" of my family who is now with the Lord. The rest of us who are still on this planet have much to do before we "get called up" and today I want to recognize someone who has always been one of my personal heroes. Since he is already "world famous", as my old quarterback always used to say about everything (including his burgers), I don't have to keep his identity private...Please welcome my cousin, Mark Mulligan, to my blog.

Mark has the distinction of having two wives (no, he is not a polygamist!). His first love is now hanging out with my quarterback in Heaven. Her life here was cut short when a drunk driver crossed the double yellow line. Their two young boys survived the crash and have made full recoveries. Mark has been Blessed with a new wife and he is on his honeymoon as I write this tribute.

Mark's family came to his side during his mourning. They helped with the kids and they gave him the encouragement he needed to sail on without his first-mate. He just released his 10th CD and is back on tour.

It has been a little over two weeks since I got out of the cave and I have been busy reconnecting with friends and family members. Mark is a little harder to locate since his permanent residence is south of the border and he is on a honeymoon in Costa Rica for a few more days.

I wanted to give him a little surprise for his honeymoon with this blog, so, here goes... I found a clip of him on YouTube and it is posted here for you to play. If you like his music, check out his website, www.MarkMulligan.net and order a CD or two. Make sure you read his bio. When he is not writing music, he is busy raising money for a charity he founded called "castaway kids". Why not give Mark a little boost and send him a couple of bucks to help the kids? All of the info is on his site.

If you ever get the opportunity to meet my cousin, make sure you tell him the "naked cave man" sent you. Now its time to check out a sample of his music. I wanted to thank all of you who read my blogs for your support and encouragement. I am also thanking you in advance for helping Mark as he begins his new life outside the cave...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My life before meeting Jesus


I have been asked by a family member to share about the anger I had as a teenager. I will do my best to respond in a way that does not violate the privacy of my family. This is an important topic since it allows me to share how I found the solution...

Growing up in a large family is like being a member of a football team. When you are prepared, you win and it is fun. When you fail to communicate or watch each others' back, bad things happen.

The early seasons for our "team" went very well. New players were added over a ten year period and we were a strong family. As we grew up together, we camped and hung out with other teams from our "division". The teams in our division all looked similar on the outside, that is, we worshiped the same God, and shared the same values.

It was not until high school that I started to meet players from other divisions. Some did not even believe in God. A few even went so far as to tell me that I would not go to Heaven unless I changed teams and signed up with them. I loved fighting with these wackos because I was certain that they needed to be straightened out.

Just when I needed my "quarterback" the most, he left the team. He didn't just leave the team, he left the city, and later, the country. He would visit his old team about once a year, usually for about an hour and then he would go back to his new team.

Our team began to have losing season after losing season. The players lost their sense of direction. At times, we thought we might be getting a new quarterback and the thought of this made me angry. Our old quarterback was never going to come back and life was not good.

I asked God to take me off of the team. The pressure of losing daily was really getting to me and I wanted to quit football forever. God said no. Then my anger started to turn into hate. I hated the players from the other divisions. If they didn't think like me, they weren't worth my time. I pretty much hated everybody outside my division, communists, gays, nonbelievers, etc, etc. I was really messed up. Everywhere I looked, I could only see evil. Little by little, the Evil One was taking advantage of my broken team and soon I turned into the "naked cave man possessed by demons" (see earlier post about my first Bible lesson). I only went to church so I could be an "example" for my younger team-mates. I sat in the back of the church and if no one was there, I turned the sound off because I wasn't in the mood to listen to anyone in authority.

The Evil One had clever ways of confusing me. I stopped praying the "Our Father" because I thought it was some sort of trap. What I mean by that is there is a clause the says "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others". Was I really asking God to punish me since I punished every enemy that crossed me? Forgiveness would not be in my vocabulary for many, many years. This attitude added about fifty pounds of concrete to the heavy load I was already carrying. It did not make me a valuable member of my football team.

Once I realized that God was not going to take me off the field, I began to pray for Wisdom so that I could survive. The Evil One put thoughts in my head that God was too busy to get back to me. My prayer for Wisdom was so that I could solve my problems on my own, I just wanted a couple of pointers now and then.

It is hard to acquire Wisdom when you are possessed by demons. Since I was so stubborn and "uncoachable", God sent me my future wife so He could reach me through her. From the moment I met her, I sensed there was some good in her that I was attracted to. She went to church regularly and I started going with her. Finally, I had something to thank God for.

The day I opened my mostly unused Bible and asked God to show me who I am, is also the first day my demons were cast out of my messed up mind. I did not even realize I was possessed until God revealed it to me. Jesus showed me that He can transform Himself from Words into a real person and "time travel" 2,000 years into the future to meet me as I am reading about Him.

This experience inspired me to begin fulfilling my destiny... publishing all the good that Jesus has done for me. You are reading this post today because you are part of the story and we already know how it ends...GOD WINS!

My journey continues now that I am out of the cave. My next big experience after the first Bible lesson was to go to a retreat. During this three day weekend, I discussed my unforgiving ways with the "shepherds". Something happened when an ancient technique called the "laying of the hands" was used on me at the end of the retreat. It had to do with inviting Jesus in to my heart. At the moment the hands were placed over my head, I had a vision. Jesus was next to me but I could not see Him. In front of me was a long row of people. They all had something in common, they were all people that had crossed me and that I had never forgiven. One of the people was my old "quarterback" who abandoned his team when it needed a leader. In the vision, I was thanking Jesus for each and every one of them. A few minutes after having this "vision" I woke up and the church was mostly empty. A strange sense of peace that I had never known before was in my heart.

One of the first things I did after the retreat was send an email to my old quarterback telling him of my experience at the retreat. When he replied, he told me he wanted to visit. I was stunned because I never thought I would see him again after he moved deep into Mexico.

A series of miracles occurred almost daily when my quarterback returned for his thirty five day visit. He asked for a "huddle" with his old teammates and everyone including his ex-wife agreed to a meeting. It would be the last time I would hear my quarterback speak but his words and actions inspire me to this day. He had brought a checklist with him and made sure that every item was complete before the game was over. We were now at the two minute warning and my quarterback had his eyes fixed on the end zone for the game winning touch down.

As our quarterback looked around, he and my mother rejoiced at how the "team" had overcome so much. We were much older and now there were grandchildren who were being groomed future games. It was time for our quarterback to make the final play call and all of us were eager to defeat the enemy that had kicked our butts for so many years.

The final play call was a "HAIL MARY". The receiver he picked was often overlooked in his early years but he got up to speed quickly during the thirty five days that our quarterback was in town. There was no way that this receiver was going to drop the ball. The enemy had harassed him all his life and this time he was going to be open for the game winner.

As the final seconds of the game clock clicked to zero, my brother was open and my left-handed father threw a pass that was executed to perfection. We all jumped up and down for joy. The enemy had finally been defeated and the game was over.

Then, we looked over at our quarterback and he was down. The defense had piled up on top of him just after he threw the final pass. There wasn't much left of him due to the cancer that had riddled his body and he never got up off of the ground. I whispered into his ear, "its OK, dad, its time for you to be with Jesus, your work here is done and the game is over now. We won! We love you!"

Our team huddled over our quarterback one final time and ended with the "Our Father" prayer. We had just won our first Super Bowl and the enemy had been conquered. Jesus was our coach and our Solution and now He had called up my father to spend eternity with the team owner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Memory of 9/11

Today is a day of remembrance. One of my cousins lost a close friend who was traveling on a plane on 9/11. He was one of the brave passengers who rallied others and stood up to the terrorists. He was a family man and a Christian.



I have a feeling that he said a prayer before he said, "lets roll" and brought the plane down before it could be used for evil purposes. I am posting Psalm 91 in honor of my cousin's friend and all those who lost their lives on 9/11. Pay special attention to the last lines in the Psalm and say a prayer for the families that are missing their loved ones...



Psalm 91

My Refuge and My Fortress

91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say [1] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge [2]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kobayashi Maru

My wife discovered some unused movie tickets while she was cleaning and we decided to take the family to see the new Star Trek movie. As we were driving to the movie theater, I shared memories of my childhood with my three teenagers. The first time I watched Star Trek, it was on a black and white TV. Now, we were about to see my childhood heroes on the big screen. How exciting to share this experience with my family.

Since my wife had never really seen more than a couple of episodes, I decided to give the family a little background on this group of people who had a mission to go where no man had gone before. I shared the story of the "Kobayashi Maru", a no-win scenario that star fleet cadets had to face. No matter what choice the cadet made, it led to certain death.

The day before the big test, James Kirk reprogrammed the computers so that he could win. He shocked everybody with his "creativity" and became a hero that lives on more than forty years since Gene Roddenberry created the original series.

My wife looked at me with a huge smile as we watched Kirk on the big screen. There he was on the bridge showing no signs of fear as the enemy approached. The "Kobayashi Maru" was repeated for my whole family to see and we were sitting so close to the screen that I felt like I was on the bridge as Kirk did the "impossible" and conquered his 23rd century Goliath.

One of the biggest problems that I see every day in our world is that many of us think we are facing the "Kobayashi Maru" scenario and there is no way to win. Instead of getting creative, we give up.

At Zoom, the attitude is that if there is no current way to solve a problem, we need to invent a way. Sometimes, the best way to win is to get the customer to look at his problem differently. Some customers believe print is dead. We show them how we tie new internet technology to old ideas and how our new "hybrid" is better than any other solution on the market. In essence, we are doing just what captain Kirk did...finding a way out of the "Kobayashi Maru".

The lesson I learned from these fictional characters, is that even when I am faced with certain death, I refuse to give up. I am thankful to have a wife and business partners that have the same attitude. Success comes from changing your mind-set first.

Live long and prosper!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Perseverance

Today's post is in honor of one of my cousins who is celebrating his 49th birthday today. When we were growing up, he was like a twin brother to me. One of our favorite activities was playing tennis and when we were in high school, we actually competed against each other. My cousin is the superior athlete and I look up to him even though I am older (by two months and five days).

The scar on my knee came from trying to beat him in a downhill race when were kids. He fixed me up pretty good but he still tells me he wished he could have done something for the head injury. Today, he is a world-class doctor and parent. My cousin is one of the best examples of one who perseveres and he has always been an inspiration to me. My birthday present to him is to just say thanks for always being there and for being such an awesome cousin.

Once I have secured permission from others, those of you following this blog will have access to extraordinary talent that comes from other friends and family members. Some of the stories border on the unbelievable but the success comes from persevering in the face of adversity.

I started playing tennis just prior to entering high school. Many of my friends moved on to a private high school and I found new friends in my neighborhood public school. Although most people around me thought I had my head together (except maybe my cousin, the future doc), I was carrying around a lot of anger inside of me. When I would be on the tennis courts, I could block out all the negative stuff that was in my head. My cousin and I would ride our bikes to the courts and play for hours and hours.

I spent my first two years of college at a community college and competed on the tennis team. It seemed like every number one player from all of the surrounding high schools was trying out for this team. I was not as talented as these other players but didn't want to be anywhere else except on a tennis court.

It was at the start of my second year on the team that my coach told me he did not think I could make the cut. We had some new talent vying for a spot and it did not look good for me or my doubles partner. We asked the coach not to cut us. Instead we would work longer and harder on the courts to prove that we belonged on the team. We fought hard and we won. At the end of the year, I earned a special award, called the "spark plug" award for my contributions to the team. This was also my first lesson in perseverance.

When we decided to compete with Goliath, we knew that this would be a battle like nothing we had seen before. We set up about a thousand distribution points in less than thirty days. We invented software from scratch. There were days when we watched the sun come up while still working. Then, the unthinkable happened...when we distributed our second batch of weekly magazines, we discovered that very few customers had picked up magazines from our launch the week prior. We knew we would be dead if the results weren't there right away. In fact, we lost most of our customers during our first two months in business because Zoom was not making the phone ring. They even had proof, compliments of free telephone tracking numbers provided at no charge by Goliath.

We came up with a plan to "re-distribute" these magazines on driveways. The only problem was that we were already working overtime to sell ads, type ads, and distribute magazines. We got our spouses and children involved in the re-distribution process. The kids would rubber band the magazines and throw them on driveways, usually until about midnight.

Our customers started to get phone calls (thank you, Goliath, for giving away the tracking numbers showing how Zoom was working) and we survived. Goliath had predicted that we would not be around more than 90 days. Almost five years later, we are getting ready to launch in our third city and Goliath has retreated from the publishing arena. They told their customers that print was dead. Our tire customer that is getting 1,700 Zoom calls per month may have trouble believing that statement!

It is time for me to go to work. Goliath laid off about 4,000 talented people when they exited the print business. My partners and I will do our best to hire some of them. Maybe we will be in your city soon. You can follow us by checking out our website, ZoomAutos.com. For now, don't ever give up, no matter how challenging your situation is.

Happy Birthday, cousin!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Goals

One of the first things I did when I entered the cave (see my first post) was to prepare a list of about 30 goals. The list included fun things like "play tennis once per week" and difficult things like "help my boss get our team to #1 in the country". I worked diligently to achieve these goals and they allowed me to stay focused.

As I begin this day, two things on my "to do" list will be complete before most of you wake up. My wife has her love letter and I have "published" all the good that God has done for me. The rest of my day will be dedicated to my Zoom partners. I know where I am going and what I need to do. My work day will end around midnight.

You are probably asking yourself how some people seem to get so much done while others flounder. For me, it begins with goal setting. First, I set goals that are in alignment with the Creator's will for me. This includes spending time learning from those that are smarter than me. I spend a minimum of 90 minutes per day commuting and I use this time wisely. Why not listen to a motivational tape on your way to work? If this is one of your goals for the day, don't allow a distraction to get in the way.

While I was in the cave, my employer sent me away for some training. I was impressed with the abundance of food they gave us. As I was leaving to fly home, I asked the trainer what she was going to do with the left-over food. They were planning to throw it out so I asked if I could have some extra food to take home.

When my plane landed, I knew exactly where I was going. There are a group of homeless people that I met when I delivered Zoom magazines near our airport. Some are there for a short time until they get back on their feet and others are there permanently because there is nowhere else to go. I made sure to meet these people and spend time with them every Friday when I was on my Zoom delivery route.

I parked my car and started walking with this lunch box. The lady I found was wrapped in a tattered blanket. I asked "How are you today?" She greeted me with a warm smile and replied, "fine". She had no teeth. I offered her the extra lunch and walked away. As I departed, I wondered just how long it had been since she had a visitor or a meal. My goal for the day had been completed and now it was time to return to my family.

Maybe your goals include losing weight or getting rid of an addiction in your life. Write down how much weight you want to lose and break it down into daily goals. Get accountability partners to help you stay committed. Start by losing one ounce and build on that. Change the way you look at food or addictions. Imagine yourself in the future at your desired weight and don't stop. Make exercise a part of your life. Live your life to its fullest.

Carpe Diem!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fear

I will never forget my first public speaking appearance. I was in grade school and there was this public speaking contest that took place in front of all the grades. My mother was in the audience as I read an excerpt from Erma Bombeck, "the Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank." Some of my peers were nervous but I couldn't wait for my turn. It was a home run and I earned a 3rd place award.

That appearance gave me confidence to say yes when another cast member got scared and dropped out of a grade school play. He had the lead role (Ebenezer Scrooge) in "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. You see, my character had to deal with ghosts from the past, present and future and these spirits helped Scrooge to change his life. This was my first experience dealing with ghosts. I had limited time to learn my lines. If I got stuck, someone would call my lines into me from off-stage. Most people would have stopped public speaking after going through these miss-steps in front of a crowd, but this was just the beginning of what the Creator had planned for me.

I brought up public speaking first since this is the number one fear for most of you reading this post. My greatest fear is getting stuck with needles. I was so scared when the blood mobile came to my work and I tried to avoid giving blood. My peers cajoled me and I ended up in line. After going through so much anxiety, the nurse rejected me. She told me it would be too much trouble to get the blood to come out. I asked to get a note from her to show my buddies that they refused me.

Years later, I was approached by another blood mobile in front of Home Depot. "The blood supply is critical", I was told. I decided it was time to face my fear and I got through it but it was not easy. I ended up on their phone list and always avoided committing because of my fear of needles.

Recently, my wife signed up to give blood at our church. She knew my fear and told me I was "excused". I thought of my neighbors from my hood (see earlier post) and decided I would donate. My blood came out slowly but enough came out to make the donation a success.

Another childhood fear I experienced daily had to do with selling "starts" on my newspaper job. It would take me all morning to get the courage to go out and ask for the newspaper order and many slammed their door in my face. Thank God that McDonald's was close by so I could buy a milk shake and work up the courage to go knock on another door. I started delivering newspapers in the 7th grade and found that I could increase my income if I overcame my fear of "selling" and got new orders for home delivery.

When I was fifteen, my dad sold me his '71 VW Super Beetle to raise money for his business. I paid him cash from my paper route money. The car was parked until I got my driver's license on my 16th birthday. This is when I experienced one of the greatest fears of my life...

I gathered up my friends in the hood for my first camping trip without parents. We headed to the white mountains in Arizona and camped for a couple of days on the Indian reservation. On the way home, my friend in the back seat yelled that the engine was on fire. I quickly shut off the engine. Next, the steering wheel became locked. We were coming up on a right turn and I was about to cross the line into traffic. There was a 300 foot cliff and I was either going to go over the cliff or have a head-on collision. Because I was forcing the steering wheel to go right while in the locked position, I could not get the key to turn. I kept going straight to the cliff.

When it looked like we were all going to die, I cried out, "God help me!" The key turned, I regained control of my VW and we pulled over. We used a rag to put out the fire. When the traffic cleared, we crossed the road to see how steep the cliff was. This was the beginning of my prayer life.

Our very first brand new vehicle was a Chevy Lumina van. I was on my way to the dealership to have them fix an electrical problem when it went completely dead at a red light. I noticed two vehicles in my lane behind me. They were approaching at about 60 mph and did not know I was stopped. Frantically, I tried to restart the van...Nothing! I thought the best thing to do was jump out of the van so I unbuckled my seat belt. It was too late, the vehicles were about to rear end me and my life was about to be over. Just like my childhood prayer, I yelled out, "God help me!" I was totally helpless and the cars were about to strike me. I didn't even have time to re-buckle my seat belt.

The first car swerved to my right and missed me by inches. The skid marks stretched all the way around the van. A few seconds later, the second car swerved to my left, also missing me by inches. I looked in my rear view mirror and more cars were coming. Then, I tried the key again and the van started. I pulled off to the side of the road and parked the van. A few minutes later, my work buddy pulled over and asked me what was up. He shook his head as he looked at the skid marks and then offered my a ride to work. Once again, I thanked God for answering my prayer.

It doesn't rain much in southern California so it took months before the skid marks disappeared. They were my daily reminder that I must have some kind of purpose here on this planet. My time in the cave has given me time to reflect and prepare for what is ahead.

We attended a pool party yesterday and I heard "Come Sail Away" just after I talked about my new blog experience. Putting your sails up all the way may be scary and getting out of your comfort zone may also cause anxiety. The lesson I have learned about facing fear is that you can face any goliath in front of you if you remember just how big God is that is right behind you.

May you enjoy this Labor Day without any fear or anxiety. Don't forget to sign up to be an organ donor... Erma Bombeck is no longer with us because she died from kidney disease. Too bad, because she knew how to make the world laugh and I thank her for giving me such great material. I will always remember her any time I am doing public speaking.

Fear not!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Biggest Bible Lesson


Yesterday I was one of over 750,000 people to take advantage of Labor Day Weekend at the beach. While most of the people were celebrating the end of summer, I was celebrating the start of my life outside the cave. A family member was in the back seat telling me to forget about the beach parking lot. He said, "it will be impossible to find parking on a day like this". He was about to get his first lesson in manifesting, a very special tool that can be used when you find yourself in an impossible situation. I began my prayer of manifesting so that we would be Blessed with an ideal parking space and my prayer included a thank you to God in advance for honoring this request. We got row 2 parking and this family member learned how to pray effectively. God even threw in a bonus that I received while waiting for everyone else to park... a free towel from a radio station promoter. "Think Blue" was stamped on the towel and it was the last one. This was the very similar to the slogan ADT used and it was God's way of showing me that I was on the right path by leading others to him. The bonus gift is funny to me because I only prayed for a parking spot. God loves to "over-deliver."

As I share my biggest Bible lesson ever, I need to give you some more background first. I was born on the 4th of July. As a child, I thought all the fireworks were to celebrate my birthday. My favorite book was "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel." It was a story about a steam shovel owner who cherished his pride and joy named Marianne. When the steam shovels became dated, Mike Mulligan made a bet that he could compete with the newer equipment and could finish a job by sunset. He and Marianne worked at this very fast pace to complete the job on time. The more people that came to cheer them on, the faster they worked. The job got done in time but Mike Mulligan forgot to leave a way out for Marianne. The story ended when Marianne was converted from a steam shovel to a power supply for the new facility she was stuck in.

I am much older now. As I look back on my life, I see many errors in my thinking. I also see that without God leading me, I could easily end up "trapped", just like Mike Mulligan's steam shovel that had no way out of the hole he dug for her. I have also learned that even though it appears there is no way out of a bad situation, God can "convert" my challenge into something worthwhile.

One day I was listening to a visitor at our church. The message he delivered was that reading the
Bible is like looking into a mirror. Each character is a mirror-image of ourselves and the lessons these people learned can help us when we are lost.

I went home and told my wife I was going to try out this mirror idea. The first thing I did was pray to the Holy Spirit to "reveal" who I really am in God's eyes. I opened my mostly unused Bible to a "random" page and began reading the upper right column of St. Luke. I started with verse 26 of chapter 8. The character that was revealed to me was this "possessed" man who lived in a cave away from the town. He did not wear clothes and his life was a mess.

At first I was shocked and angry about this character but as I continued reading I realized something Divine was happening. This naked man sees Jesus and his buddies getting of a boat and he confronts Jesus. First question out his mouth is "what do I have to do with thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God?" Next, Jesus starts talking with the man to find out who he is. The man answers, "legions" (meaning multiple demons). By the way, how did a crazy man know who this stranger was when his own followers did not know (great topic that we will deal with another day)?

Jesus orders the demons to leave. The demons don't want to go to hell so they beg Jesus to send them somewhere else. Jesus sends them into the swine who are close by and they go crazy and jump over a cliff. The people taking care of the swine go back to town to talk about the naked man (me) and Jesus. When the whole town comes out to see what's up, the man (me) is clothed and sitting with Jesus having a great conversation.

The people in the town are afraid so they ask Jesus to depart. The man (me again) asks Jesus to take him with him in his boat (I am hearing "come sail away" again). Jesus says no. He orders the man to stop living in the cave (are you starting to see the connection from my first post?), and he asks the man (me) to tell of the great things God hath done to thee.

In this Douay Rhiems version (lots of thees and thous) the man "publishes" the great things Jesus has done to him. When Jesus comes back, the whole town is there waiting for Jesus and everybody lives happily ever after.

For the first time ever, I experienced Jesus as if I was there in the cave when he arrived about 2,000 years ago when St. Luke wrote this story. The demon thing explained all my confusion with our world. There was a time in my childhood when I actually prayed for God to take me and he said "no". This naked man was me and Jesus revealed my past, present and future with one strange character that was my alter ego. It took many months to absorb this Bible lesson.

So, my job is to publish all the great things that Jesus has done for me. It has been many years since I had this "conversion" experience and I must confess that I let other things get in the way of doing what Jesus asks of me. It is not easy to surrender completely to Jesus. This is why I ask my wife to stay in the boat with me no matter how stormy the conditions or how hard it is to just sit there when there is no wind.

My life since letting Jesus be my Lord and Savior is very different. I realize that He is going to keep giving me "flashes of light" that are to be published for the benefit of you, the reader of this blog. I know how this story ends..... Jesus returns and all of you are waiting for Him. That is the job of the "cave man", to publish until the day He returns. When that day comes, I won't have to be worried about any more flashes of light or "bolts of lightning". Jesus will finally answer my teenage prayer and we can all sail away.

If you feel like you are a steam shovel and your life is meaningless, ask God to convert you. There is always something for you to contribute even when you think you are "dated". Happy Labor Day weekend and God Bless!