Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day in San Diego

The picture here was captured by my daughter (see her photo album in the friends/family link in upper left).  As I look at the picture of the homeless man flying our flag over his makeshift shelter, I think of all the brave men and women who died so that we could be free.  How beautiful it is to see a stranger displaying what may be one of his most cherished possessions for the benefit of others.

The price of freedom is a high one.  This picture makes me think of those who serve in order to make this photo possible.  Rich or poor, better or worse, this flag flies for all.  We share one thing...our freedom.

On this special Memorial Day, let's pause for a moment and thank those who died for everything that this flag stands for.  Let's also thank all who are in the military today, protecting us from those who would like to take away our freedom.  God Bless our country and all those who serve to protect her.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

World Knowledge Accelerates

Stephen Wolfram is working on a new way to put the knowledge of the world at your fingertips.  A friend emailed the link to his site and, when I watched it, I thought I had been transported into the future.  It is mind-boggling.  Check out his video and then try the site out for yourself in the second link.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Continuous Improvement

Each day, I strive to do things a little bit better than the day before.  In the business world, this has served me well.  When we started our company, we knew a lot about serving our customers but very little about publishing, marketing, distribution, and management.  Small improvements daily, add up to big results.

I have learned that each part of my life is connected to all other parts.  The food I eat and my exercise program play a big role.  My relationships are better when I am healthy.  My finances are still out of balance due to the investment that was required to get our business started, however, small changes here are helping me to stay above water.

As far as this blog goes, I have been working on my time management to allow this to flourish while not hurting all the other areas of my life.  It is interesting how daily writing is actually helping the other areas of my life.  When you are doing what you have been created to do, everything has a way of falling into place.

Since discovering the post options on blogger, I have started writing advance posts which are scheduled for 8:08 in the morning.  For those of you that are waiting for my daily message, you can tune in at 8:08 AM for the latest post.

As I reflect on my life, I can't believe that a procrastinator like me can actually turn into a person who manages time in an organized and efficient manner.  I am now three days ahead in blog writing and on schedule to complete my manuscript for my first book the day before Thanksgiving.  All of this is enhancing all the other areas of my life which includes parenting and building a business.  This is what happens when you put God first, doors open and things start falling out of the sky.  This does not happen unless you make a commitment to build a relationship with the Creator.  Start each day with a prayer and watch how much better your attitude becomes.

May you find ways to improve your life.  No matter how small the improvement may appear today, some day it will bear much fruit.  Focus on the little steps and you will be well rewarded.  Thank you for coming back to visit my blog.  I am grateful for the feedback that some of you have given me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Staying On Course

The other day, I was asked to consider abandoning this blog because it has attracted the attention of the Evil One.  The reason behind this request is for protection as this person close to me is highly intuitive, he sees danger ahead as the forces of evil attempt to intervene and cause harm.

As you read my posts about being possessed by evil, some of you may think I am joking.  Evil is no joke.  It is real.  It is dangerous.  The Evil One is angry at me for standing up.  He lost his grip on me when I encountered Jesus.  Yes, there is danger ahead and I am ready.  My time in the cave was a time of preparation.  There are days when sharing my faith is not easy and I am tempted to retreat.  Then I think of you, the reader of this blog.  You are here because you are searching for answers.  This motivates me to stay on the path that will lead others to Jesus, just as the light house guides the ships to a safe harbor.

These posts are meant to bring hope and encouragement to others.  Maybe, as you read these messages, you are going through a storm in your life.  I know what it is like to feel alone.  I also know what it is like to have demon voices inside of you, taunting you and making you feel worthless.  I can relate to anyone who just wants to crawl into a cave and escape.  You are not alone and I promise that I will never ever retreat or stop publishing all the good that God has done for me.  Each of us has a specific job to do in this world.  If we stay connected and remain obedient, we can defeat evil.  The Evil One knows that in the end, He will lose and God will win. 

Once you decide to follow Jesus and connect with others, those demons can be cleansed from your soul.  They hate to lose.  They will attack people close to you just to get you to give up.  Once you discover how God wants to use you, you must follow Him and stay the course, no matter how difficult.

There are storms ahead.  Keep your sails up and stay the course.  We are in this boat together and the Captain will deliver us to calm waters.  He will not abandon us no matter how bad the weather gets.  Keep sailing...

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The process of changing from a caterpillar to a butterfly is known as metamorphosis.  It may be the closest example in nature to demonstrate what happens to us when we decide to become followers of Christ.  It is an extreme make-over.

My time in the cave was like placing myself in a cocoon.  This was a step that was needed to become the person I was created to be.  I cannot explain how Jesus was able to cast out the demons that had been confusing me all my life, however, my new life is as different now as the butterfly is from the caterpillar.

Many fear that they will lose their identity if they decide to follow Jesus.  Do not look at it as something bad.  We were designed by God to become like butterflies. Unless we invite Jesus into our hearts, the metamorphosis cannot begin.  Once the process is complete, we have new vision.  We have the ability to see the caterpillars the way God sees them.  We know that they can become butterflies if they decide to follow the One we follow.  The first step is to share the Good News with the caterpillars, then the Holy Spirit will do the rest.  Are you ready to do your part?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Private Faith

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them - Acts 2:4

I will never forget the night I woke up to see fireballs coming at my house.  We rushed out hurriedly to save our children, pets and neighbors.  Firetrucks were setting up a perimeter on the street below our cul-de-sac and we only had minutes to escape.

Some friends opened up their home to us and we were safe.  Then, we got a knock at the front door that changed everything.  It was a federal firefighter who attended our church.  He had been separated from his crew and was looking for some people to join him to bring water and food to the front lines.  He promised our wives that we would never get close to the fire.  As a precaution, he checked us in at the base station and gave us fire suits and a crash course on what to do if caught in a fire.

Our mission was to remain private.  When another friend asked what we were doing, I forgot about the secrecy thing and told him we were headed to the front lines with supplies that had been donated by all the businesses in town. Our caravan suddenly doubled in size.  My friend's firefighter badge and the blinking blue light he bought from K-Mart were all we needed to get through the multiple barricades.

My buddy logged over 1,500 miles feeding the firefighters who refused to leave their posts for food at the base station.  Word spread quickly that our group was bringing supplies.  As we drove near the front lines, firefighters would appear out of the forest, usually in pairs, and yell out their preferences.

My favorite position was on the back of the truck, on top of the supplies.  As I tossed water bottles and food, I would yell, "thank you for what you are doing, God Bless you!"  The winds changed and suddenly we were very close to the flames.  A news truck spotted us and asked what we were doing.  "We are civilians from Ramona and all this food was donated from the local businesses.  We are feeding the firefighters", I yelled from the back of the pick up.

My friend's boss saw us on the news.  So much for keeping things "under the radar".    When the fire became too dangerous, our mission was aborted and we returned to our families.  Our friend told everybody to keep what we witnessed quiet.  This worked very well until I saw my wife.  Her jaw dropped as I described the flames on both sides of the truck. 

I find myself, once again on the front lines of a spiritual battle.  My new atheist friend told me what she likes most about her best friend, the way she keeps her faith private.  They get along because her friend is able to keep her mouth shut about God.  Everything is between her and God alone.

I am not wired to keep my relationship with God private.  Just as my team of volunteers delivered food and drink to our firefighter heroes, we need to share our faith with those who do not know Him, it is commanded by our Creator.  The Evil One is allowing the wildfire to burn out of control by keeping the faithful ones hushed up.

The first apostles were given a gift, the ability to speak in tongues, that is, to speak in their native language and be understood by those who spoke in other languages.  It would not have been given if it was to be unused.  This gift was given for the benefit of others.

God will give us a crash course in "fire prevention" and keep us safe as we spread the Good News.  Do not be tempted by the Evil One to keep your faith private, silence is one of his favorite weapons.  God's people need help on the front lines... will you sign up today?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Religion and Politics

Over the weekend, my wife and I attended a party that was organized by one of my tennis buddies.  The families came together to celebrate the end of a tennis season.  The party hosts are from another country.  They love to talk about controversial topics, such as religion and politics.  It is interesting to address these issues with someone I have been playing tennis with for so long without ever saying much more than a hello, or... "see you next week" while on the tennis courts.  It is surprising to see such different points of view.

Our party hosts are getting ready to celebrate Bastille Day next month and invited me back.  They host friends from many different cultures and backgrounds, often entertaining until 3:00 in the morning.  Religion and politics, part two, will be mixed in with ping pong, pool volleyball, and Bocce Ball.

Before getting too embroiled in controversy during our conversation, I looked for areas of common ground.  This made it easier to go into the deep end, a place I have not entered since my high school years.  The party was a warm-up, a time to plant seeds.  The next party will be an experience I will never forget.

The last time I remember debating like this was in high school.  There was a group of us who studied Spanish for four years.  Our teacher would pick a topic and we would have "platicas", or conversations.  They became so heated, that one of the guys would switch to English in order to get his words out faster.  He was the son of a preacher and ended up becoming a preacher.  Those "platicas" are unforgettable, even to this day.

The lesson I learned from attending the party, is that you can get along with people who have opposing points of view as long as you respect their positions and listen.  All of us are searching for answers, we just need to be careful not to attack others because they think differently.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Next Generation of Coupons

I just picked up my treasure boxes for the month of May.  Some really yummy food for a great price.  In case you missed my last post about this non-profit site.  Check out this link:

Thanks to my sister,  I just discovered another little treasure.  This new-age coupon idea, called groupon,  is using collective buying power to get great deals on food, entertainment and all sorts of fitness and health related products.  The daily specials are out of this world.

The site offers $10 in groupons for every friend you sign up.  The only catch is that a minimum number of people need to agree to get the deal before it is sold to the group.  Some of the daily specials attract thousands of people.

I will definitely be using this site for gifts since the groupons have long expiration dates.

If you would like to check out this site, click on the link below.  This link is set up for San Diego, however, if you live in another area, just click on "visit more cities" near the top of the site to see if your city is on board.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Prayer Warriors

Today, many churches around the world will be celebrating Pentecost.  This is the day, fifty days after Easter, that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and empowered them with many gifts.  This same Spirit will be with us until the end of time.  One of these gifts is the power of healing.  When someone has this gift, healing takes place when hands are placed over the sick person or when the prayer warrior prays.

Sometimes, prayer warriors work in groups.  The power of community prayer results in God showing Himself.  This is so awesome to behold first-hand.  These prayer warriors work non-stop for the Glory of God.  The best example I have ever seen comes from my former neighbor.  I am sharing his story because his wife just sent an email requesting prayers as he faces one more heart surgery at 7:30 AM on Monday.  The surgery will go until about 2:00 pm at Loma Linda University Hospital.  His name is Michael Torretti.  Here is his story...

While serving in Vietnam as a nurse, he contracted Hepatitis.  This caused his liver to fail.  He had been on a donor list for years but was never sick enough to get a transplant.  His wife asked her prayer warrior friends to pray that he get worse in order to qualify for a new liver.

Every year, we vacationed together at a Christian camp.  This particular year, he was near death in the hospital.  Many at the camp knew Michael.  He was the one that woke everybody up at 7:00 in the morning with loud shouts during inner tube water polo (his poor liver never stopped him from being a fierce competitor).  He also wore a bright red shirt that read "Proud to be Catholic".  This led to spirited conversations amongst people who played for other teams and often misunderstood his team.

The entire camp prayed for a miracle.  He was within hours of death but still was not sick enough to be number one on the list.  He got as high as number two on the list that numbered in the thousands.  The number one liver candidate died and Michael would soon follow if something did not happen quickly.  At the moment that he appeared hopeless, a tragic accident occurred near the hospital.  The person who died at the scene was a donor.  The team of doctors moved at light speed and Michael received the new liver just in time.

Meanwhile, the week long camp was coming to a climax.  We met at a place called "Victory Circle" to praise God for all the good that He did for the people at the camp at the very end of the vacation.  During Victory Circle, we got a phone message that Michael's surgery was a success.  Shouts of praise resounded throughout the San Bernadino mountains.  Everyone at the camp signed their names on a special poster that we delivered to the hospital on the way home.

Thanks to all the prayer warriors who called out for help, God revealed Himself and Michael was given new life.  He went on to become an advocate for organ donors and now serves as a deacon in his church.  The couple adopted four more children in addition to their first four biological children.

Once again, the family is reaching out to all prayer warriors to please pray for Michael to have a successful surgery.  Please keep Michael and his family in your prayers.  If you know of any prayer warriors, please ask them to add Michael's name to their list of prayers.

Michael's family follows this blog and they will know that all of you are praying for him.  Thank you for joining the prayer warriors to heal this special man and for passing this prayer request to others.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Standing Up for God

My parents made learning about God a top priority for me and my siblings.  We did not have a lot of money, however, my parents dedicated a large part of the family budget to sending us to a private elementary school.  It was not until I entered a public high school that I learned about the other teams in God's Kingdom.  It was a bit of a culture shock, after all, many of the people in my classes were the same people that called us names because we were "different". 

Some people from the other teams tried to convert me because they were afraid I was going to Hell.  They were really good at quoting Scripture and despite my upbringing, I did not have anything memorized like my new friends.  My hard head was such a challenge for them.  As I look back on my high school years, I realize that my problem with God was that I knew a lot about Him without really knowing Him.  There was not much of a relationship.

As I look at the generation that is to follow us, I see some teenagers who know Him much better than I did, even though I spent so much time in private school learning about Him.  I think the youth groups that are Christ-centered have helped our children to form a relationship with our Creator.

One day, my niece was praying in public school with her head bowed before eating her lunch.  The boy next to her asked what she was doing.  "I am thanking God for my food" she answered.  The boy shot back, "There is no God, we came from monkeys."  After a brief pause, my niece asked, "who made the monkeys?"  Unable to come up with a good rebuttal, the boy bowed his head in prayer before eating his lunch.

We are going to face situations and people where it would be easier to remain silent than to stand up for God.  For example, I just learned that a new coin is out, the first one in US history to be minted without the words, "In God We Trust".  The easy thing to do is quietly accept the coin.  Maybe, God is calling us to stand up for Him.

Will you join me in standing up for God?  It is going to take a majority to get this coin taken out of circulation.  Although a majority exists, most will remain oblivious to the missing words.  How many more places in our country is God going to get kicked out of because we fail to stand up?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Soul Mates

A couple of days ago, someone close to me asked my opinion on soul mates.  Her main question is what happens if we discover that the person we are married to is not our soul mate?  What if we find this person after we have married?

One way to look at this topic is to observe people who have been married multiple times.  Since spouse number one wasn't the right one, why not just get out of that marriage and go with the next "soul mate"?  After the infatuation stage wears off, along comes another who is a much better fit... so why not move on?

Another way to look at the topic is to observe the Holy family.  Can you imagine what was going through Joseph's head when Mary came to him and said, "I am with child"?  She also told him that she was still a virgin.  Believable?  Soul mate? I am sure Joseph had a lot in his head about this Mary and her angel visit. 

We don't know much about the Holy family after they moved away to escape death.  Life in a foreign land must have been tough with no family or friends as a support system.  Joseph and Mary remained committed to raising their Son and helping Him to fulfill His destiny.

Marriage is like a roller coaster ride, many highs and many lows.  For me, it is a ride that I have committed to for a life-time.  The Evil One cannot stand to see two people stay together and He does everything to destroy something that is sacred.  Spouses are not made to be thrown away just because we are tempted by another that on the outside appears to be our perfect soul mate.

I would suggest to anyone who is unsure about their marriage to spend some time with couples who have been married more than fifty years.  Ask them about soul mates.  Also, try some counseling to see what is causing you to feel that your spouse is not your soul mate.  You may find the two of you do not understand each others' love language.

Take a look at your home.  Maybe your desire to seek another soul mate has to do with your living conditions.  The home improvement guy is knocking on your door and wants to move in.  As long as He is my room-mate, I can face any challenges and my marriage will remain strong.  I will also never forget that it is my wife who led me to Him.  Go ahead, answer the door and see how He will make all things new.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My New Room-Mate

Yesterday's message was about answering the door (finally) and letting Jesus move into my cave.  In order to make space for him, my wife and I needed to eliminate all the clutter we accumulated over the years.  Jesus was not interested in any particular room to reside in, He wanted to occupy the entire cave. 

One room would have been easy.  I could have removed the boxes from one area of the cave and everyone could co-exist while the rest of the place was still a mess.  No, not Jesus.  He wanted the total makeover. 

This room-mate is really special.  He is always asking me to take Him with me, everywhere I go.  When we are in the car together, His favorite radio station is K-Love, it reminds Him of home. 

Some of my friends aren't sure about my room-mate.  I think that is because they don't really know Him.  Let me know if you would like to meet Him.  He is eager to make some new friends.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home Improvement

My wife loves all the home improvement shows that are on TV these days.  Her favorite is "Fix to Sell", where a group of experts come in to help homeowners fix the problems that are causing their homes to sit on the market.

There is another TV show that I have only seen a couple of times.  It features people who have never thrown anything away, not even the trash.  There is so much clutter and garbage that the homeowners can't even reach the bathroom.  The homeowners are prisoners in their own homes and they don't know how to escape.

Before I came out of my cave, my heart was filled with so much clutter that I saw no way to ever come out.  I felt trapped.  Years of accumulating hurts and grudges that I refused to let go of took a toll on me.  I refused to open the windows to my heart for fear that I would be exposed and rejected.  The only person in the world that really knew me was my wife.  She deserved so much better.

Everything changed when I finally answered the front door.  Jesus was like the telemarketer that refuses to stop calling until you finally answer the phone.  There was barely enough room to let Him into my "cave".  The first thing He did was give me a big hug.  Then He told me He wanted to live in the cave with me. 

My life has never been the same.  As I look back, I am embarrassed to describe just how awful the cave looked on the inside.  Before I met Jesus, I used to swear...right up until the moment He moved in.  There are still times when I get mad, however, it is as if He grabs my cuss words before they are able to come out of my mouth and makes them disappear.

Ever since Jesus moved in, I have been working with Him to dispose of all the boxes of stuff I was hoarding.  Jesus needed more space and He was eager to help me.  I told Jesus that I could not lift the box marked "unforgiven", it was too heavy and it was blocking the boxes labeled, "hatred", "prejudice" and "pride".  Jesus put the heaviest box on His shoulders and carried it out all by Himself.  As He approached the front door, He stumbled on the box marked "greed".  I was so ashamed.  Before He got up, He told me, "Behold, I make all things new".  Then, with supernatural strength, He stood up and hoisted the box like a champion weight-lifter, then marched out triumphantly.  At that moment, a great weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and I was able to stand up straight.  Oh, what an amazing feeling!

Recently, my wife and I hung up a couple of pictures in our bedroom to remind us of all the good that Jesus continues to do for us.  The first picture is of our new room-mate, Jesus.  Next to Him is a picture of His mother.  He told me He was a terrible burden for her when she was raising Him, yet she never once complained, not even when a sword pierced her heart.  She shows up once in a while in the strangest places.  Her message is always the same..."listen to my Son and follow Him".  Her picture reminds us of what a loving mother looks like and how important her Son is to the world.

Our home improvements are just about done.  I am happiest about the pictures we found that were buried in all our boxes of stuff.  My wife said these pictures have been in her family for a long time.  If you ever come visit our cave, make sure you look at the pictures.  Jesus asked that we share His message with anyone who will listen.  He is available for anyone needing some remodeling.  If you need to check His references, just ask me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Guest Post: 4 Foot Tall "Giant" Inspires

"It does not matter the size of the rubber band you were born with, what matters is how far you stretch it" - Mike Mulligan

Here is an amazing story I found yesterday (credit goes to the folks at  If you want a double dose, the movie, "Blindside", is out on DVD.  Wow...a great movie for the whole family.  By the way, several guest bloggers have agreed to share their messages of hope and inspiration here on this site.  Look for them in the near future...

Perseverance pays off for student manager

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - With the confidence of a coach and the passion of a preacher, Zach Lipson has spent much of his teenage years telling anyone he meets about his plans to join one of the nation's elite college basketball programs.
It didn't matter to him that he'd never played a minute of organized hoops. Or that he stood little chance of ever being more than 4 feet tall. He still gave the same speech to just about everyone he met, whether he was chatting at a dinner table full of strangers or sitting across from a skeptical guidance counselor.
He was born with a spinal deformity, so he already had overcome long odds. What was to stop this Nashville resident from proving people wrong once again?

Zachary Lipson's passion has him headed to Kentucky as part of the basketball program.
"It's an amazing story, pretty incredible," Lipson acknowledged. "Whenever you have a goal in life, there are always going to be some obstacles that try to stop you. There will be people who try to tell you, 'No, you can't do it.' But you can't let it beat you down." Lipson's story proved inspirational enough to earn him a spot as a student-manager at Kentucky. He is expected to live at Wildcat Lodge - the same building that houses the players.
That represents a stunning turn of events for someone who has overcome more obstacles in his 19 years than most people face in their lives.
Lipson was born eight weeks premature and weighed less than 2 pounds. He required CPR in the delivery room. He has undergone more than 30 surgeries. And if that weren't enough to make him curse fate, Lipson also has a twin brother who is healthy. Lipson doesn't need to wonder what might have been: He has a walking reminder in his home.
Lipson has resisted the temptation of self-pity. He instead has faced every challenge with the same upbeat approach that has helped him serve as an inspiration to friends, family members and classmates. Kentucky's latest recruit won't develop into the next Tony Delk, but he just might become the next Tony Robbins.
"I wouldn't be the speaker I am today without my deformities," Lipson said. "I've used them to make myself a stronger human being. That's a very radical idea. That's how I want to be an inspiration to people.
"I want to tell people you don't have to fall and beat yourself up over your problems. You can take them and help them make you stronger. You can turn a losing situation into a winning situation."
Born to inspire
He wasn't always this upbeat. Lipson remembers being teased by grade-school classmates who didn't know any better, and he occasionally would look at his brother and wonder why he couldn't be blessed with a healthy body.

Former Vanderbilt star Drew Maddux calls Zachary Lipson a student assistant coach.
The turning point came when he was in first grade. Lipson, a devout Christian, had an epiphany. He was in a hospital room when he started to understand how he could make the most of his situation. "I learned humility at that point in my life," Lipson said. "I realized my true purpose here on Earth is to share the gospel, to share my story and to be an inspiration to people."
That's when it dawned on Lipson that he wouldn't get to live an average life. He was being called to do much, much more. He would tell his story to anyone who would listen. He doesn't consider anyone a stranger.
"I noticed when we go to places, if we were sitting at a table, he'd end up not sitting at our table," said Lipson's mother, Susan. "He'd be sitting at a table with people who he didn't even know. He'd get to know them, talk to them, encourage them. They'd say, 'Wow, what an amazing story. I can't believe what he's been through.' "
He eventually found a way to spread his message through sports. Lipson grew up hating athletics because his health problems prevented him from playing organized sports or from joining his classmates in playground activities. His attitude changed after he took over as a student-manager for the football team at Christ Presbyterian Academy, the Nashville school he attends.
He caught on so well that he also became the student-manager for the basketball and soccer teams. And he made himself into the best manager a school could possibly have.
When a coach wanted him to do something during a game, Lipson would sprint to wherever he needed to be. He commanded such respect that CPA basketball coach Drew Maddux never called Lipson a manager and instead labeled him a "student assistant coach."
"He's like one of my sons," said Maddux, who played basketball for Vanderbilt from 1994-98. "I've really grown to love Zach."
Not only did Lipson perform the typical managerial responsibilities of fetching water and collecting equipment, he also gave locker-room speeches and even assisted Maddux in advance scouting.
Lipson's pep talks were so legendary in the Nashville high school ranks that officials at rival school David Lipscomb High asked him to give an inspirational speech to their entire student body.
Bleeding blue
Lipson fell in love with his manager jobs so much that he wanted to continue on what he considered the best and biggest stage of all - the University of Kentucky. But he considered this goal more than just a dream; he saw it as his destiny.
"People describe me as a passionate person," Lipson said. "I have such a love of life. What better basketball program than the University of Kentucky, which has so much tradition and passion? I think that's what was drawing me there."

Zachary Lipson has given some legendary pep talks in Nashville.
Lipson speaks with the authority of someone twice his age. He's a history enthusiast who has treasured the opportunity to visit more than 25 countries. He's teaching himself to read and write in Russian. How many other teenagers would discuss leadership by referring to Napoleon's attack in the Siege of Toulon? But for all his obvious intelligence, Lipson still lacked the necessary grades and test scores to get into Kentucky as an out-of-state student. In fact, when he mentioned his goal to a college counselor, she indicated that wasn't a realistic possibility.
"She said he needed to look at Plan B," Susan Lipson said. "Well, there was no Plan B for him. I saw how he took his knuckles, gripped his chair and said, 'I will go to Kentucky.' "
Lipson did everything in his power to improve his grades. He spent his lunch hour studying in his school's locker room and took countless hours of ACT preparatory courses. All that extra work allowed him to qualify academically. Then, a remarkable chain of events brought his goal within reach.
Kentucky fired former coach Billy Gillispie after the 2008-09 season and replaced him with John Calipari, who in turn hired Martin Newton as the school's director of basketball operations. Maddux's father, Ray, and Newton's father, former Vanderbilt basketball coach and Kentucky athletic director C.M. Newton, were friends and had helped found "The Rebounders," a club for former Vanderbilt basketball lettermen.
In addition, before being hired at Kentucky, Martin Newton had worked for Nike alongside Tim Thompson, a former Vanderbilt player and one of Maddux's closest friends.
Maddux used his connections to get Lipson an opportunity to work at Kentucky's basketball camps last summer. Lipson wasted no time making a name for himself with his work habits and his indefatigable spirit.
"I had never been to Lexington," Lipson said. "I didn't know anyone. I was a little ... not shy but a little afraid and nervous because I'd never been to the campus before. But I worked, helped out in the team camps and put my name out there."
Lipson apparently made quite an impact. Kentucky utilizes about six to eight student-managers each season and annually receives at least 50 applications for those positions. Lipson's application stood out.
"Zach's story is a unique one, not only because of what he's overcome in life but also because of his passion for Kentucky basketball," Newton said. "This is a young man who absolutely loves University of Kentucky basketball. He lives in Nashville. His mentor is Drew Maddux, a guy who played at Vanderbilt. Yet it never squelched his passion for Kentucky basketball.
"The combination of the type of person he is, the things he's overcome and his passion for Kentucky made it a really easy choice."
Student-managers are an integral part of just about every program across the country, but that's particularly true at Kentucky, where longtime equipment manager Bill Keightley played such a vital role that an honorary jersey in his name hangs from the Rupp Arena rafters.
The student-managers work the same hours as the players. They're present for team practices and weightlifting sessions as well as participating in more menial activities such as laundry duty.
Lipson is ready to perform these tasks to the best of his ability, but he also believes he can offer something extra. He wants to encourage Kentucky's players and his fellow classmates the same way he has inspired just about everyone else he has met.
"The biggest thing I'm looking forward to is working with people," Lipson said. "I feel like I'm going to be a big impact in their lives. I'm going to influence the way they think and look at things. I can show someone a positive influence.''
And if Calipari ever needs someone to help out with a pep talk, he won't have far to look. He need only turn to his new manager, who can go into painstaking detail on how various financial moguls made their fortunes or discuss the personal traits that caused Winston Churchill to succeed and Adolf Hitler to fail.
Better yet, he simply can tell the story about his improbable path to Lexington.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for He can be reached at

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Rubber Band Theory

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked - Luke 12:48

One of my closest friends in junior college was a high jumper on the track team.  He was working on a new record and kept getting closer with each workout.  I promised that I would watch him but only if he would go for the record.  It would not be easy for me to come out as I was on the tennis team and worked three different jobs after school.  One day, the stars were in alignment and I got to see my buddy compete in a tri-meet against his toughest opponents.

On the inside, I was in awe at how high my buddy could jump, but on the outside, I kept asking him when he was going for the record.  I was getting under his skin.  Many of the other high jumpers had been eliminated in the early rounds and it was down to my buddy and two others.  He asked them if they wouldn't mind skipping protocol and raising the bar to a level that he was aiming for (probably to just shut me up).  I witnessed my friend, Steve, soar like an eagle as he broke the record.

Steve was the same way in the classroom.  By the end of our second year, Steve had already been offered a full track scholarship to Arizona State University or a full academic scholarship.  While we hung out together, we came up with crazy "theories".  His was the basketball theory.  "Each course I take is like a member of my basketball team", he said.  "Each must be play to his best ability and a rotation is necessary so that everyone can rest."  His theory was tested each year, while he carefully logged the number of hours that each player was on the court.  He maintained a 4.0 GPA for all four years and went on to get a masters degree.  After graduating, he soared even higher and became a senior manager for his company.

Steve's basketball theory served him well.  He grew up in a family of non-Christians.  I sat next to him on the first day of school and sensed there was something about him that made him interesting to be around.  He had just become a Christian and he would be someone that would be around any time I needed a friend.

I came up with my own theory I named the rubber band theory.  The idea is that each of us is like a rubber band.  We come in a variety of shapes and sizes, however, the one thing we have in common is that all of us can stretch our rubber bands.

We cannot judge others because we don't know if they are really using their abilities to the maximum potential.  Our focus needs to be on stretching our rubber bands to the limit.  I knew that I had to be successful and I stretched my rubber band to a point of snapping.  My freshman year was unbelievable...three jobs at the same time and a position on the tennis team.  I did not follow my buddies theory because my "players" were not allowed to rest... I slept four hours a day every day during my first year in junior college.

It was not until many years later that I started reading the Bible.  What a shock to find a verse that looked like my rubber band theory (see the quote above)!  Maybe it was the daily prayer asking for wisdom so that I could accomplish my goals.  At that point in my life, I knew God was too busy, so I just prayed for wisdom so I could get by on my own.  He gave me a little bit at a time and by His Grace, I survived.

It is nice to come up with theories and to go through a trial and error process, however, it is even better to learn from the examples Jesus gave us in the Bible.  Follow Jesus and you will soar like an eagle, just like my buddy, Steve.  Are you stretching your rubber band all the way?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Every Knee Shall Bow

 For it is written, "As certainly as I live, declares the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will praise God" - Romans 14:11

The proper way to hit a low shot in tennis is to bend your knees.  It also works very well when praying.  We may worship in different churches and we may be divided on our idea of who God is, however, there is only one Creator.

The statement that Jesus makes in the scripture quote above is very bold.  It raises a lot of questions...When will every knee bow?  How is Jesus going to pull this one off?  Why will every knee bow?  Remember,  the last time He was here, most people wanted to crucify Him and the only people who listened to Him were the ones who were blind, deaf, and hungry.

God made a lot of promises in the Old Testament.  He sent prophets to give us advance notice of His plans.  He did everything He promised.  Why would He lie to us now?  In today's world, every knee bowing is a lot of knees...billions.  In all of mankind, there has never been a time when we all agreed on something.  Brother fights against brother.  Churches split.  Hatred and prejudice can go on for thousands of years.  How is EVERY knee going to bow?  How is every knee going to know He is back?

In order for every knee to bow and every tongue to praise, each of us will need to change.  It is as if we are suffering from the same blindness and hardness of heart that the Israelites had, even as they witnessed miracle after miracle when they were freed from slavery.

Maybe the change I am referring to is not related to knowing about Him but knowing Him.  Each of us represents a piece of the puzzle.  We need to learn how we are to be connected to others.  Those who already know Him need to share with those who don't.  Are you ready to do your part?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spiritual Triple Vision

I was first introduced to triple vision by one of my tennis mentors, Peter Burwash, at a training session in Canada many years ago.  He was a former NHL Hockey pro who became the number one tennis pro in Canada after suffering a back injury on the ice.  He studied ideas from other sports and applied them to tennis.

Most tennis instructors tell you over and over, "watch the ball".  If a player is constantly hitting the ball on the same spot on his racket, he is clearly watching the ball- the real problem is that he is not aware that he is either too close or too far away to hit on the sweet spot.

If you observe a professional athlete, notice how he is "watching" three things at once.  If he is a receiver in the NFL, he knows exactly where he is on the field, where his opponent is, and where the football is.  Watching slow motion replays on HDTV, you can see miracle catches where both feet are within an inch or two of the sidelines while the player's body is almost completely horizontal.

Spiritual triple vision works the same way.  In today's world, your opponent is shadowing you everywhere you go.  Your field of play is marked by boundaries, just like a football field.  The "ball" represents your goals.  If you work with your team-mates, you can score many touchdowns while keeping your opponent on defense.

Spiritual triple vision is crucial.  There have been times when I have found myself beyond the boundaries of the field.  Temptation is everywhere.  Our neighborhood borders on an Indian Reservation.  When I drive by, I can't believe how many cars are parked there.  One year,  the casino gave away free buffets for two on your birthday, I could not resist.  The offer included ten dollars of free slot play.  I went twice, once on my wife's birthday and again on my birthday.  The food was excellent, however, I felt awkward playing on the machines.  There is a reason for boundaries, it is to protect us.  Once the ten dollars was used up, I pushed the credit button and turned in my slip for one dollar.

Stay focused on your goals while also keeping your eye on your opponent.  He is bigger and more clever than ever.  Pay attention to the boundaries and make all your plays in bounds.  Rely on your team-mates to set up a strong offense and you will score often, no matter what position you play on God's team.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Part 2- The Five Monkeys

This is part two of "The Five Monkeys" post from yesterday...

A stranger entered the cage.  He did not immediately pursue the banana.  He was more interested in learning why the five monkeys behaved so strangely.  His job was to restore the monkeys to the lives they had before they were forced to live in a cage.  Their odd behavior did not make sense.

The stranger had the only key to the cage and wanted to free the monkeys.  He explained that there was a better way of life but the monkeys did not comprehend the meaning of the stranger's words.  In order to free the monkeys, a great sacrifice would be needed.

A plan had been devised by the boss before the stranger entered the cage.  The stranger tried to explain the plan to the monkeys, but they could not understand what was about to happen.  Without a major intervention, the monkeys would be forever doomed.

The stranger's time for action had come and he moved closer to the banana.  Within seconds, the five monkeys jumped on top of the stranger and began to beat him severely.  The stranger lost his life.  His dead body was left in the cage.

Three days later, the five monkeys woke up and saw that the stranger had returned from the dead.  He was eating the banana and shared it with the five monkeys. 

"What's your name?" asked one of the monkeys.  The stranger answered, "they call me Jesus."  The experiment was now over, time for the monkeys to move on.  They were finally free.  They decided to share their story with the whole world.  Jesus taught them to stop fighting (sometimes easier for monkeys than for humans).  At last, the group was done monkeying around.  Their new lives would never be the same...Jesus asked them to follow Him out of the cage to meet His Boss.  Bananas were waiting, enough for everyone to last until the end of time...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Five Monkeys (Part 1)

Someone from my office left the story of the five monkeys on my desk yesterday.  I think it was meant as a joke, however, it is based on a real research project.  The easiest way to get the gist of this is to take a quick look at the experiment in this video:

During the night, I kept thinking about the banana and the monkeys that fought to keep the other monkeys from getting it, even though monkeys really like bananas.  Clearly, there is a reward for the monkey that overcomes the brainwashing.  If this reward is shared with all the other monkeys, the group wins.

There is a great risk in thinking differently.  Without the risk, the banana reward is permanently out of reach.

Is there anything in your life that you are doing or not doing that is preventing you from getting your banana?  Do you follow the crowd because you don't want to suffer the consequences of change?  Is there a way to win?

I am thankful for the people who came before me who decided the banana was worth going after.  People like Christopher Columbus and Thomas Edison.  Are you the next visionary?  Don't let the world stop you from sharing your gift or ideas...go for it!  Your banana awaits...(see part 2 of this story in tomorrow's post).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Getting Things Done

Have you ever heard the saying, "if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person"?  Why is it that some people accomplish so much while others flounder?  I am amazed at all three of my sisters.  They have multiple children involved in all sorts of activities, yet still have time for entertaining and leisure activities.  What is it that sets them apart?

This is an area of my life that I am still developing.  For me, it helps to tackle my top priorities as soon as I get up.  These love letters that I write my wife (and she writes me) have become a habit.  She goes to work ahead of me and I return later in the evening.  These letters are a way for us to remain connected in our busy world.  I must write her before I do anything else.

This daily blog is my promise to God and to my community.  This is also a "must do".  The book is an extension of the blog.  I have calculated the amount of time it will take for my part of the book (the co-author will be announced at a later date).  In order to have the manuscript complete by Thanksgiving Day and the book released by March 17th, 2011, the required time is a minimum of thirty minutes per day.

Certain time wasters need to be identified in order to get through the daily "to do" lists.  Keeping a time log for a week may surprise you.  I have cut out most TV, however, when I do watch something, I record it first so I can skip the commercials.

The biggest lesson I have learned about getting things done is that if there is a purpose behind your activities, your motivation increases.  You learn to jump over hurdles instead of being frozen by the size of the obstacle.  Your energy level increases as you focus on the finish line.  Each finish line you cross increases your confidence levels and you "raise the bar" in goal setting.

Now that I have committed myself to writing a book and I have set a "time target" (see post from 9/25/09), there is a plan in place to help me get things done.  Whatever you wish to accomplish with your life, invest some time in writing the goals down and then...GO FOR IT!  Send me an email and let me know what your plans are for your future.  I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shabbat Shalom

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid -  John 14:27

One of my business partners is part of God's Chosen Ones.  My other partners like to greet him with a Shalom upon his entrance.  Now that I understand the meaning of Shabbat Shalom (peaceful Sabbath), I will incorporate it into my vocabulary.

Words sometimes lose their full meaning when they are translated from one language to another.  Hebrew words, like Shalom, have many meanings.  What was Jesus really saying when He said "Peace be with you"?

Shalom is a noun and a verb.  It is something that you receive.  Once it is accepted, action is expected.  The Shalom is intended to be spread to others.  So, what do you get when Jesus gives you a Shalom?  You get everything you need to be who God created you to be.  From one word, you get hope, faith and love.  You get the Holy Spirit who supplies you with wisdom and understanding.  You receive the ability to forgive others and let go of grudges.  Pretty neat, huh?  It's like an all-inclusive package to a vacation resort...everything you need to have the time of your life is there for you.

What are you doing with the Shalom that Jesus have given you?   Did you bury it in the sand like the slave in the Bible story?  Remember him?  The one who was afraid to return his talent to his master in poor condition, while the other two invested theirs and multiplied it?

Jesus came to us to give us Shalom.  Action is required.  Do not return it to Him wasted and unused.  Make sure that your Shalom is more than a greeting...make it your verb...your call to make a difference in the world around you...Shabbat Shalom!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Neophyte

 "Preach the Gospel at all times.  Use words if necessary" - Inspired by the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi

When I met my cousin, Emily Everett, for the first time, It was at her grandfather's Memorial Service that we celebrated at the "Casa" in Arizona.  Emily and her brother, Matthew, led some prayers during the service and there oratory skills shined brightly.  Young Emily had seen me before, although she did not recognize me until her mother, Debbie, told her I am the one from the "naked cave man" video.

Father Alanso de Blas, a family member by marriage (his sister is part of the "I'm married to a Mulligan club") was quietly preparing for the service when he heard this rumble...a sign that the clan was reuniting.  It was like the 7.2 earthquake we had in southern California on Easter, only louder and it lasted much longer.

Father Alanso used his God-given powers to hush the crowd so that the service could begin.  Appearing in his Franciscan robe, he reminded me of Obi-wan Kenobe from Star Wars. No light saber needed.  He calmed the crowd and then fed them with words of wisdom that come from years of service representing the Almighty One.

The three children participated in the service ensuring that 2nd quarter profits for Kleenex would exceed expectations.

Saying good-bye to my relatives and to the Casa was difficult.  It was a day that I will treasure always.  What an honor to be asked to link this blog to this special man.  Watch out, the Red Sox fans are about to crash the party.  They are about to see just how crazy your relatives are, Debbie.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, it did.  I was celebrating Mother's Day with my mother at her home and asked her what she would like to do.  Before I could do that, I had to wait for her to return from her hour long walk that she starts at 6:00 am every day.  She wanted a return visit to the Casa for Mass.

This service was the icing on the cake.  I will share some of the message in a later blog.  At the end of the service, a young neophyte to the church got up and shared her testimony.  Too bad all the Kleenex was used up at the Memorial Service, because is was needed as this woman spoke about her journey.  As I listened, I thought I was looking at a female version of myself.  At the end of her talk, she told everyone this was the first time she was celebrating Mother's Day...she had been adopted by the woman who led her to Jesus and to the community of believers at this special place, a spiritual oasis in the heart of the desert.

At the end of the service, I asked my mother if we could take a couple of moments to thank the young lady for her brave testimony.  This is what our journey on earth is all about, sharing the Good News.  Our words are important, but our actions are what spread the Good News the best.

If you are in the Phoenix area, pay Father Alonso a visit at the Casa and tell the Franciscan "Obi-wan" that the naked cave man sent you.  He will make sure that you learn how to use "the force" inside of you to serve in God's Empire.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

To all the mom's in the world...especially my mother on earth and my wife's mother in HEAVEN:

May you be filled with peace, joy and happiness.  We are here today because of you...we are who we are because of you...the world is a better place because of you.

This is your day, the day we celebrate all mothers, living and deceased. 

For the mothers who have children away because they are serving our country, we thank you for allowing your sons and daughters to serve so that we can enjoy our freedom.

For the mothers who have children in prison, know that God hears your prayers and He will comfort you and your loved ones.

For the mothers who have lost a child, trust that one day you will be re-united in Heaven and may you be comforted by the people God has placed around you.

For those of us who have lost their mother, like my wife, may you find the peace of Jesus as you remember her on this special day.

May God Bless all our mothers...Happy Mother's Day!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

On the Road Again

Greetings from the desert.  I am in Arizona to attend a memorial service for my Uncle Bill (see post from April 12th... "Tribute to William H. Crean").  Today's post was written one week in advance to avoid complications since Hotel de Mama Mulligan is not internet equipped.

My thoughts for today are centered on my Uncle Bill's family.  His battle with his brain tumor was fought bravely.  He lived his life to the fullest and on this day, we will honor a life lived unselfishly.  I will give my very special Aunt Peggy the hug I promised and meet some of my cousin's children for the first time.

The grieving process is not an easy one.  My Aunt's brother, Fr. George, will deliver a sermon that will touch the hearts of the congregation just as my Uncle Bill touched my heart and the hearts of so many around him.

There is joy in this day, knowing that the four years of pain and suffering have been replaced with eternal happiness that comes from being in the presence of God.  There is hope for all of us that we will see William H. Crean again after our work here is done.  Please pray for this family today as they celebrate the life of the one who finished the race ahead of them...may they be consoled in their loss and may William's spirit thrive in them and in us forever.

The song below is from one of my favorite groups, 4Him.  I dedicate it to my Uncle Bill's wife and children, and to those who's lives were touched by this special man who now sits near the Father in Heaven and patiently waits to be reunited for those who still have work to do on this planet...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Broken Hallelujeh

Sadness.  Brokenness.  Tragedy.  The loss of a loved one...Praise?  Now?  At this moment?  Is this even possible when are insides are ripped apart?  Does God hear us?  How does a Hallelujeh sound to Him when we can barely squeeze the word from our wounded self?  Can Heaven tolerate our cacophony?

If singing a Hallelujeh is twice praying, then singing a broken Hallelujeh is priceless.  God's love for us is constant even when our world is fickle.  Choirs of angels join in with our broken Hallelujehs and a symphony like no other reverberates throughout Heaven.  Yes.  He hears you... He is pleased with your song of worship, especially when it is sung from a heart broken.  Jesus makes all things new...even a soul whose light has gone dim because it hurts...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mulligan Stew

What do you get when you throw together some meat, potatoes, veggies, and whatever else can be begged, scavenged, found or stolen?  If you were a hobo in the the early 1900's...Mulligan Stew.  If you are a member of my clan...the phrase, "you are what you eat" means you are going to find some interesting combinations in the "whatever else" portion of the recipe.

Mulligan family reunions are special, mainly because those who married into the group have really spiced things up.  They even formed their own club.  You would think that you were at some sort of AA meeting by the introductions they make. "Hi, my name is Jeff (pause)... and I'm married to a Mulligan."

Some who married into this family may have felt they discovered a diamond in the rough.  Attempts to break through the hard-headedness and strong will that pervades generation after generation have been met with mixed results. Today's blog is just for you.

For those who managed to survive the roller coaster ride that comes from joining this club, I salute you.  Your names will be forwarded to the nominating committee for sainthood when you leave this world.  When I exit stage left, will someone from this family please make sure my wife is at the top of the list?  Yes, membership in this family has its rewards but it also has its "moments".  Just ask anyone in the club...We Mulligans have begged, scavenged and even stolen to survive and we owe so much to our spouses in the club who make the Mulligan Stew recipe so tasty.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Day Jesus Cried

 Jesus Wept- John 11:35

I was just a young boy when my Abuelita "little grandmother" passed away.  In her final years she was bed ridden.  Since she only spoke Spanish, I had no way to communicate with her except to smile.  I wished that I could talk to her but Spanish was a secret language for my parents- a way to talk without us kids understanding the conversation.  For my great-grandmother, a smile was all she needed.

The funeral still burns in my mind even though it took place over four decades ago.  I will never forget the image of the coffin sinking into the ground.  It was the first time I cried in public.  I blame my Grandpa's sister, Cuca, for this.  She wailed like a coyote and the rest of us just added a little harmony.

I guess I am in good company because Jesus was also  moved to tears when he saw how sad the crowd was while standing in front of his friend's tomb.  This story perplexes me because Jesus knew where Lazarus was headed, yet he still cried.  Why?

Because Jesus is both human and Divine, He feels the same emotions that we feel.  The Divine part of Him knew that Lazarus would live forever in Heaven.  The human part was feeling that deep sense of loss of someone very special in his life.  He felt the pain of each person in the crowd and could not help but shed tears.

My father hated tears.  To him they were a sign of weakness.  The only time I saw my father cry was at our reunion when he and Molly returned from Morelia, Mexico.  It is a moment that I will cherish forever even though my father later apologized for his "outburst".  The love he had inside his heart could not be restrained.  My father knew deep down that our reunion would only be for a short while...that Jesus was calling him to his final destination.  At his funeral, his twin brother shared a letter from my dad that was written before he left Mexico.  He said "it is not over til the fat lady sings but I already hear her humming a few bars."

When Jesus called Lazarus out of the cave, it was not for Lazarus's sake but for the people in the crowd.  It was also for you and me.  Jesus wanted all who follow Him to know that he has power over death, a door that all of us must pass through to reach our ultimate destination.

I miss the people on the other side of the door and I know just how my relatives feel this week as they prepare to celebrate the life of someone very special.  I am certain that my father had tears in his eyes as he hugged his brother-in-law for the first time in Heaven.  Tears are not a sign of weakness...they are merely a sign of the love we have for one another both in Heaven and on earth...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you - Joshua 1:5

Many of the Vietnam Veterans that returned home wish they could forget the dark memories of their time in the jungle.  One of those people is part of a father-son team that owns two car dealerships.  I have known both for many years.  Although I thought I knew everything about this family, the most important part of the father's story was never disclosed until yesterday.

Some memories are just too difficult to share.  After hearing this man's amazing story, I got an opportunity to see the son at the other location and I told him how happy I was to learn so much from a true hero.  The son told me that his father almost never talks about Vietnam...too many painful memories.

How can someone who sacrificed so much keep this part of his life a secret?  I am talking not one, but two purple hearts!  Perhaps the answer lies in the anguish that is associated with the past.  Maybe it is the daily ache that this man carries deep inside of him?  Is the shrapnel that is so dangerously close to his spine part of something that can never be removed?

I got an email from another special relative yesterday and she shared a story about her garden.  She had planted some seeds that were given to her at a funeral service for my father's second wife.  The seeds that she planted started blooming and my relative shared that it brought back fond memories of Molly and my dad.  The flowers that bloom in her garden are called "forget-me-nots".

Each day as I add to this blog, I feel like I am walking on a tight rope.  I knew that God had been calling me for a long time to publish, however, like my friend with the two purple hearts, there are days when I would rather not share memories from my time in the cave...too much shrapnel close to my heart.  I deliberately made this blog hard to find hoping that only a few people would read it.  God has different plans.

The focus of this blog will always be on you, the one searching for the meaning of your life.  I will share all the good that Jesus has done for me so that you can have hope...hope that no matter how difficult the challenges are in your life...there is a flower blooming in Heaven planted by God to remind all of creation that you will never be forgotten, just like Molly.  Her flower is blooming today in Heaven, and, thanks to my relative, it also blooms today on earth...

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Day at the Ballpark

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest- Matthew 11:28

Yesterday, my wife's aunt was beside herself.  Our home team was playing the team she grew up supporting and she did not know who to root for.  She would catch herself yelling out a word of support and then try to take it back.  The fans sitting around us laughed as she entertained them.

Before the game started, the Padres players lined up to have pictures taken with the fans.  We arrived early to meet our son's heroes.  For our son, this day was even better than going to Disneyland.  The line went all around the outfield and we searched quickly for the back of it.  What a surprise to learn that the players would come to us once we got a place.  Instead of meeting just the one player that my son picked out in advance, we met seven.  What a joy to see the smiles on my kid's faces as they got their pictures taken and visited with the ball players.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, the marines came marching in, all in single file and not far from our seats.  I approached one of the leaders and told him my son would be joining their team in about four years.  He assured me that they would take care of him.

In the seventh inning, a local high school girl sang "God Bless America".  Yes, there are still places in our country where we have the freedom to sing this song in public.  We munched on peanuts and cracker jacks while enjoying our shady seats, a must for my wife who can only tolerate small amounts of sun.

In the end, our home team came out on top with an 8-0 shutout.  We all went home with smiles on our faces, even Aunt Susie who can now go back to rooting for the Padres full-time.  The lesson I learned is that nothing beats a day of rest and relaxation like a day at the ball park with your loved ones.  If you have not had a break in a while, why not check out a game?

Sunday, May 2, 2010


The word perspective is a derivative of the Latin word, perspicere- per means 'through', and spicere means 'to look'.  As my daughter is looking through her camera lens in the photo above, she sees one thing while I am looking through my lens and see something else. Both of us are in the same place at the same time, yet our perspective is different (click here to see my daughter's photo gallery:

Yesterday, something very bad happened to someone close to me.  To keep him anonymous, we will call this young man "Kevin".  Kevin is living on his own for the first time and is sharing a room with some college students.  He is on his own journey attempting to discover what he wants to do with his life.  He was out late when someone knocked at the door.  His room-mate thought it was Kevin and opened the door to five armed robbers.

Kevin is hard-headed and bench presses about 330 pounds.  Had he been home, he would have fought the men and probably been killed.  Kevin retold the story of the robbery from his room-mate's perspective and described the perpetrators using negative connotations.  His language revealed a prejudice to all people who share the same skin color as the intruders.

After listening to Kevin's story, I cautioned him not to judge an entire race because of this small group.  This is the same mistake I made when I chose to hate everyone from Iran just because the radicals I saw on TV were burning our flag and calling Americans the "Great Satan".

When I began to meet people who fled Iran and listened to their stories about torture from their government, my perspective changed.  Some of these people are now very good friends.  They have lost parents and siblings because of their political views.  They left friends behind and now have lower paying jobs.  They are looked down upon by people in our country because they look like terrorists.  They felt the pain of seeing innocent Americans being killed by extremists on 9/11.  They call themselves Americans today, even though they will never be fully accepted by others based on their looks.

Each of us has our own perspective.  The best perspective of all comes from our Creator.  It hurts Him when He sees us fighting each other based on the color of our skin or what particular faith we belong to.

I told Kevin that the five African-American males that robbed his place may have been jealous of the future that these college students have. It is very likely that these robbers grew up in the absence of father figures.  Most people join gangs because they want to belong.  Regardless of your own political perspective, it is good for minorities to see a president who looks like them.  This gives young people hope that they can belong in a world that accepts people regardless of skin color.

I pray that Kevin and his room-mates are protected from evil and that they learn to see the world from God's perspective.  As long as there is evil in our world, each of us will have our own perspective and we will fight over which point of view is the right one.  We will never be one people until we learn God's perspective...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

White Spray Paint

Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness- Matthew 23:27

The problem with spray paint is that it can only cover up external things. Calling anyone a "whited sepulchre" means you are calling him a cave or a tomb filled with garbage. The insides are rotten. Jesus has X-ray vision and He can see beyond the white spray paint.

When I met my future wife, she could see past the white spray paint I used to paint my outsides for so many years. I tried so hard to cover up the ugliness that was inside of me. The day before our wedding, the priest from Helen's hometown asked if anyone would like to go to confession. My silence disturbed him. I was full of sin but there was no way in Hell that I was going to let anyone see past the white spray paint, not even an agent of God. Besides, I barely made it past the first "screener". My sister recommended him because she, like my wife, saw past the white spray paint and knew I needed all the help I could get to get married in the church.

Things got a little complicated on my wedding day. My mother yelled at me for staying in the pool when I should be getting dressed. I was having fun hanging out with the men in my wedding party and guys only need a few minutes to get ready. It was so hot that when we were kneeling my wife started to get dizzy.

I wanted to interrupt the pastor because his sermon was never-ending and I was sure my wife was going to pass out. Finally, he noticed her side-to-side movement and stopped. He told me to remove my wife's veil so she could be more comfortable. The demons inside of me were ready to spew but I obeyed and he talked for what seemed an eternity.

The demons that once controlled me are all gone now, there is no longer a need to hide in a cave. Once I invited Jesus to live in my heart, I threw away the white spray paint. Yes, there is hope for all the black sheep in the world. Unless the light of Christ is shining in you, anything else is just a cover-up...Are you ready to throw away the can of white spray paint?