Saturday, July 31, 2010

Serving Others

The happiest people that I have been around are the ones who look out for those around them.  Grandparents do this naturally for their grandchildren and friends stick together in tough times.  What about the people who somehow come out of their comfort zone to serve a stranger without expecting anything in return?  Do you see that glow on their faces?  It comes from the inner peace they have found by getting involved in the community.

If you find yourself disconnected from others, why not try volunteering?  Share something you are good at with a neighbor or help out in a local charity.  This does wonders for the inner soul.

If you live in my community and want to help distribute food boxes from the Treasure Box, stop by and visit us today between 10:45 am and 12:00 noon (we are distributing 95 food boxes today and taking orders for next month), or send me an email and we can put your talents to work.  There is no way to describe the joy that comes from serving others...the only way to get that special feeling is to become a volunteer.  Give it a try.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Volcano Erupts

By the time this post is published, my love will be back in her home-town on a one week vacation, she is apart from her man and her children.  This is a birthday present from one of her precious sisters...a chance to celebrate the 125th birthday of her mid-western hometown and see childhood friends.  I have found the people from this town of two hundred to be loving and genuine. This will be an awesome vacation for my wife and she can't wait to see her family.

The magma of interior thoughts is reaching the surface of this fifty year old volcano.  It is like the one that erupted recently in Iceland, pushing through the ice-cold glacier that hid it's true identity, revealing this author's reason for existence.  The lava spews into the stratosphere, finding it's way to the manuscript.  While my wife is away, I will observe the content of the lava and follow it's meandering course down the volcano.  Each eruption is a new chapter, inspired by the Spirit that burns inside my heart.

It is a busy week, one that includes a tennis double-header and an evening "July with Jim".  Three teenagers will be leaning on their dad for something fun to do and I also cannot forget about my day job.  The rest of this week away from my love will be dedicated to writing, writing, and more writing.  I must write while the spark is ignited, this week is like being in the perfect storm.  The energy is there, the time is available and the volcano is erupting.  I see the chapters in the it is time to shape them for you and transform the lava into words...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Inspiration from a young soccer player

Funny how each of us is connected to one another, even the ones we have never met in person.  For me, I am awe-struck at how a young boy living in another country can reach out and touch others simply by being himself.  I don't have permission to use his name, so I will give him a special nick-name today, Energizer.  I know his father and his aunts and uncles very well, however, my years of living in a cave in such a remote area have kept me from meeting this little "Energizer".  Some day soon, I will give him a hug and thank him for touching my heart.

Energizer is quite an amazing soccer player.  He loves to beat his dad.  This is incredible because I know what a talented athlete Energizer's father is.  Energizer never ever gives up, no matter how tough the odds.  I have a feeling that he is somehow connected to his mother who now lives in Heaven.  Every day when young Energizer is challenged for a soccer rematch by his daddy, his mother watches from above. She smiles as she watches her son score goal after goal.

Some days, when he kicks the ball, he feels a little bit of pain from the car accident, but that does not stop him from swiftly running around his dad and toward the goal.  There it is again, that trademark smile that I have seen from Energizer's daddy...he sets up to take another shot...GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!  Final score, Energizer,15...daddy,6.  The crowd is going crazy...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Modern Day Jew Meets Jesus

Art Katz had a remarkable conversion experience while he was traveling around the world.  He shares his conversion experience in the video below.  He has written many books since that special rainy day when hope appeared lost.  Watch the top video first, then take a look at the second video with Art's message about the Cross.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Getting in the Zone

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you- Luke 11:9

We have all experienced moments where everything clicks.  Everything we touch is golden.  In sales, the customers all say yes.  In sports, the basketball finds the net every time, the tennis ball lands on the line, and the golf ball soars with pin-point accuracy.  No Mulligans are needed.  Everything goes right the first time.

How do you find this zone and how do you stay there once you have found it?  For me, it has been accomplished by filling the void that is inside my soul.  Emptiness comes from being disconnected.  It is like one wheel on your car being out of alignment, causing your vehicle to swerve or the steering wheel to vibrate.  When you are in the zone, it is like turning on the cruise control.  Everything appears effortless.

People can sense tension, it makes them uncomfortable to be around you.  They also sense peace, it attracts them to you and they don't even realize the reason why.  Daily prayer brings on that feeling of being "in the zone".  It takes patience and practice.

Some people say that their lives are too busy to add prayers.  I have found the opposite to be true.  Adding Prayer somehow streamlines our lives and creates free time.   Instead of scurrying to find the right people you need to see on a particular day, they somehow appear in front of you.  For example, I agreed to approach the other churches in my community to expand the Treasure Box.  This is time consuming.  In just one evening that started with a group prayer, I met one lady from the senior center (a target group I was preparing to approach), an associate pastor, and a couple of other writers from other denominations that will spread the word.  That is the God-zone and I feel like everything is clicking.  Why?  Because prayer gets you into alignment with His plans for you.  God wants you to hit the three point shot every time for His glory.

If you find yourself out of the zone, don't give up.  Seek Him and you will find the zone.  Through daily prayer, you will learn to hear His voice.  Try this the next time you are late for a meeting and you are in a traffic jam.  Pray for the person in the car ahead of you that just cut you off to have a Blessed day.  If the lights all start turning green and the traffic speeds up, you know who to thank.  Seek the God zone and you will find it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The First Chapter

The hardest part of my new book to write is the first chapter.  The end of the story is complete, the credits are in place and the title is set.  The middle chapters are in my head and need to be put in writing.  At last, this morning, I got the first chapter hand-written.  Now, it needs to be typed so that I can deliver it to my critique group for feedback.

Writing a book is different from blog writing because it requires a very deep look inside myself to grab the find words to describe them.  It also requires visiting memories that have been buried for decades.  The painful ones are difficult to face, yet, I am ready to move forward.

The biggest lesson I have learned during this experience of writing is that if you do a little bit every day, you can accomplish much.  It takes a commitment to stay focused.  Don't let anything get in your way of the vision God has for your life.  Once you discover why you are on this planet, go for it.  For me, there is no turning back.  The first chapter is written.  It will be rewritten many times before you finally see it next March.  What are you doing today that will make the world better?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Completing the Puzzle

For me, writing a book is like putting a puzzle together.  All of the pieces are there, I am just not sure how they fit together.  There is a co-author on the other side of the country who is helping me with this process.  She is also uncertain how each chapter fits together.  The story is already written in our hearts and minds, but much of it still needs to make it to the manuscript.

Strange, how I don't feel any tension.  I have never attempted anything so large or time consuming in my life.  I tried to make this blog hard to find, however, you keep coming back and the counter keeps spinning.  The Evil One tried to convince me this book thing was a waste of time.  I know better.  God wouldn't keep sending me rain drops from Heaven, unless He wanted me to stay on this every day, I work on this puzzle, refreshed by the cool water that flows from the Holy Spirit and into my very soul.

I appreciate you joining me every morning at 8:08 AM and thank you for giving me the feedback I need to improve my writing so that it will give meaning to others.  I have shared the outline of the book with my new Christian writer friends and they believe the story is worth sharing.  The Evil One believes it too, that is the reason He is attempting to be that pesky mosquito that won't go away.  In fact, His presence confirms that the path I am on is the right one.   I see this great community rising up to join the fight and overcome the havoc He wreaks on my town.

Every day, while I am driving to work, I am reminded about the damage He has done...the crosses line the roads of young people that made poor choices.  On August 20th, my friend, Pete will be putting on a concert for anyone in the community that wants to come together to pray for our youth.  We will join hands and ask God to intervene.  Stay the details of this special evening unfold, I will post them here so that we can share an evening together.  Evil cannot be destroyed, but it can be pushed back when we come together in prayer.  Let's hold hands, each of us from our own individual denominations, and join to ask our Creator to Bless our youth and inspire them to become the fine young men and women that they were created to be.  Mark your calendars and come out to show your support for the next generation that will lead our country when we are gone.  It is all part of God's puzzle and we cannot afford to lose any more pieces...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Initiation into the Christian Writers Critique Group

"Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything
that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or
more are gathered together in My Name, I am there in the midst of them." -- Matthew 18: 19-20

It was my first night sitting with published and self-published writers from my hometown.  This group has published seventeen books in the last three years.  They are on schedule to surpass twenty books before this year is over.

Byron Mettler is the author of seven books, including his latest, The Best Book on Self-Publishing With Createspace.  (click here to order his books). He handed me an autographed copy to assist me on my journey.  I left the meeting with unedited chapters from future books and amazing poetry inspired by Barbara, a new writer who is in the final stages of preparation for her first book. Pete, Byron, Barbara, Gayle, Mandy and Adelaide gave this unpublished writer a warm and fuzzy feeling... I knew in my heart that I was at the right place at the right time.

When Jesus tells us "where two or more are gathered in My name, I am there", this is no understatement.  I felt His presence in this group.  I now have a new set of accountability partners.  It was nearly one year ago when I asked several people to hunt me down the day I missed a post.  Every morning when I wake up, I think of them, just knowing they are there to keep me on the right path helps me to stay true to my promise to write and publish daily.

Byron asked me an important question last night..."Mike, who is your target it Christians?"  I think that Christians will like this book because it affirms what they already believe in and where they are headed, however, The REAL audience is the people who feel lost, abandoned, unloved, unappreciated, insignificant, hurt, or fallen.  I was a part of this group for too long.  It was as if the Evil One picked my dad out of a special family of ten children and then put His claws deep into him, refusing to let go as my parents teamed up to bring six children into the world.  This torture from the Evil One took its toll on my family.  The rest of this story is in the book.  It is important to know the ending so that you give hope a chance in your life...God Wins!

I promise you a roller coaster ride.  I will release this book to you with confidence that it can help counter any dark force that you face in your life.  That confidence comes from knowing the One that is with the others in my new group who are gathered in His name.  Thank you to all of you for sharing your work with me and I look forward to sharing my chapters with you for professional editing so that this book will be written according to God's will.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Ramona Writer- Barbara McBride, Gives Preview from Her Book

Barbara McBride, A Ramona resident, is about to self-publish her first book.  She is a part of the Ramona Writer's Christian Critique Group.  You will be able to find her book on soon.  Here is an excerpt she gave our group for review.  I thank her for giving me permission to share it with my friends in the blog world...

God is Love
by Barbara McBride

God is love and love is God- a fact that some deny.
He holds us in His loving hands yet we wonder why?
When I look down at myself I see the stain of sin.
'Who am I that You should love me', my sad thoughts begin-
"Because I died to make you mine," the dear Lord does reply.
"You are covered in My blood so don't you worry why.
Rejoice always and be glad because I love you so
Remember, my little one, I will not let you go."


Thank you, Barbara, I look forward to reading your book when it is released.  I will post a link here for anyone wishing to pick up a copy once it is published (See family/friends link at top of blog for a link to get your copy).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Boomerang

Boomerangs are used as weapons or for sport.  The boomerang I am writing about today is the one I throw out daily with God's messages of love.  After nearly a year of daily writing, my boomerang came back to me in an unusual way.  Somehow, it connected with the Holy Spirit while it was flying through the air, all the way to Texas before returning to Ramona.

I was sitting next to my friend Pat, taking orders for the Treasure Box and he told me about one of my blog readers.  They met at a hospice meeting in San Diego and Pat told his new friend he was from Ramona.  "I know someone from Ramona", the lady from Texas said.  "I read his blog every day and it inspires me.  Do you know him?... he is the naked cave man".  Pat nodded affirmatively.  This is such a God thing.  He has a way of connecting all of us even when we are as far away as Texas.

What message do you have to throw out to the world today?  Will what you have to say give another hope?  Will your message someday return to you like a boomerang?  Even if your boomerang never returns to you in this world, you will see how it made the lives of others better when the Creator gives it back to you the day you meet Him in Heaven.  Go ahead...throw it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dealing with Stress

I want to begin today's message with a special welcome to my buddy, Tom, a blast from the past.  We were doubles team-mates in junior college and worked at the same resort teaching tennis.  We also entered the business world together. 

Tom, you were there during the ups and downs of life as young adults.  Much of the time period we shared helped me to become the person I am today.  I am thankful to be re-connecting with you and look forward to catching up.  There is a reason I withdrew and entered my own private cave.  You are one of the few from my past that knows the real pain I had deep inside my heart.  It will be a joy to share the "conversion experience" with you and with the world when I release my first book early next year.

Today's message is an important one.  It was inspired by something my wife shared with me this morning after we exchanged love letters.  She is reading about stress in Joyce Meyer's book, In Pursuit of Peace.  Joyce talks about stress, something many of us face in our difficult times.

Stress unchecked can lead to serious health issues.  I like what Joyce says about pushing ourselves beyond the point that God intended for us to go.  God has placed natural safety alarms in our bodies to warn us.  There are times when we need to hear the alarms clanging and respond with rest.  Failure to do this will get us in a lot of trouble.

If you are having trouble sleeping at night, have a feeling of being tied in knots, or simply cannot find a way to relax, chances are you are suffering the affects of stress.  My wife has found Joyce's book to be a relief.  I have found that the Bible is my source of solace.  Exercise and meditation are also helpful.

Do not let stress overtake you.  If your foot is on the accelerator and you never use the brake pedal, you are headed for danger.  The brakes are there for a purpose and you are in the marathon of life, not a sprint.  Pace yourself...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Community that Cares

It is in tough times that you get the opportunity to see the best in others.  One such anonymous person in my community did this after reading the article about the Treasure Box coming to our community.  She went online, placed a food order with her credit card and asked that the box be donated to a needy family in our community.  A family that this generous woman does not even know will be celebrating Christmas in July.

This is what makes our country strong, every one of us pitching in for the good of our communities.  This is how we are going to get through these difficult economic times.  I am also thankful that my local paper, The Ramona Sentinel, publishes positive stories about people helping people.

It is important that we show gratitude when a neighbor steps out of his or her comfort zone to help others.  Remember the Bible story about the ten lepers who Jesus healed.  A foreign visitor to our church gave a talk about this using broken English.  He said, "when Jesus healed them, all of them came back except nine of them to show gratitude."

One small act of kindness can go a long way to brighten the lives of others.  I am deeply inspired by this anonymous lady who donated food to someone she does not even know and I hope that her gesture touches your heart today.  Imagine what our world would look like if every one of us did something like this...

Monday, July 19, 2010

San Diego Christian Writers Guild Meeting Today

Enthusiasm is building for my first meeting with members of the San Diego Christian Writers Guild.  These local people all help each other to get their material self-published.  Even though I am writing this post three days ahead of our meeting, this is on my mind constantly.

Imagine that you have found the meaning for your life and you have been pursuing it daily, mostly alone.  One day, you look up at the sky and you see rain drops.  The landscape instantly becomes alive with rich colors.  All life around you is soaking up these droplets.  The grass is greener, the flowers are opening up... everything is alive again.

These rain drops are sent from Heaven, each one a participant in something our Creator has been planning since before the day any of us were born.  Today, these rain drops will come together, forming a union that will stand up to the Evil One.  Each will contribute and all things will become new again.  At last, the drought is over.  The days of living in a cave are so distant now.  I am ready to take my place with the other Christian writers in my town and do what I promised our Creator I would do...publish all the good that Jesus has done.

Today is just the beginning and I am happy to share it with all of you.  Have a great day.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two New Members of God's Family

Last weekend, I had the honor of becoming a godfather to my two nieces from Florida.  These two little angels have been awaiting Baptism for a long time.  At last, they are fully initiated into the family of God and I could not be happier.  I share god parenting activities, with another sister.  Together, we will do our best to reach out and share our faith and welcome them into our church.

Over the years, there have been many times when the Evil One attempted to get in the way of these two children.  The final roadblock was removed just twenty four hours before the big day.  What a joy to see my nieces Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  I believe choirs of angels were singing from Heaven above at that very moment.

No matter what hurdles you are facing in your life, recognize God's presence and His power to overcome any obstacles that are between you and Him...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Day from Hell

The day started as a typical one...a love letter to my wife, followed by a blog message.  It was getting very hot outside and my mind was already drifting to the tennis courts, part of my mid-week ritual.  I was hoping to get all my work done in time to meet my tennis buddies for my evening work-out.  There would be some extra assignments to do since our managing partner was on vacation.

Our #2 in command (he was also sick) sent me a text message that would drastically change the plans for the day.  The text message stated that our production manager was in the hospital having his appendix removed.  One of our employees had been going through cross training on how to put our magazines together to send to the printer, however, the training was untested and incomplete.  I was the only other back-up and had only gone through minor simulations, never had to do the real thing, let alone the pressure of being late for our weekly deadline.  We were already hours behind due to the emergency in the middle of the night.  Since founding our company, this had never happened before.  It was a scary moment.

 A computer programmer, Shari,  who helped us with our software set up a program on our computer to be able to see our monitor from her work site and she walked us through the process in time for me to still play a little tennis.  Kudos, to our display artist, Alex, for rising to the occasion and showing us your gifts.

After a night of tennis, I went home exhausted.  It was a scorching hot day.  As soon as I fell asleep, the electricity went out around 11:00 pm.  Unable to sleep, I went outside and laid down on our swing.  I rocked the swing to create a small breeze.  When I woke up, it was sunrise.

It is always nice to see the sun come up after a long night.  My day from Hell was finally over.  A new day was already heating up and it was time to go to work.  We will have some great stories to share with the "A team" when they get back.  I just want to make sure that the "B team" knows how much they are appreciated.  You gave everything you had and got the job done, even when all the odds were against us.  Thank you!

If you are facing a "Day from Hell", just remember one thing...the sun will come up tomorrow and a new day awaits you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Witnesses

Every wonder why there are so many different versions of an accident?  The witnesses were all there at the same time...they saw the same event, yet they all saw something that others did not see.  If the accident is serious, investigators get involved to determine what actually happened.  Attorneys are called in to represent the various parties or to convince others to change their stories.  Some would prefer not to give their names as witnesses because the process is tedious and time consuming.

Two thousand years after Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, people are still talking and writing about the event.  The people who were there at the scene all have different points of view.  The Roman soldier who lost his ear in the first confrontation with Jesus, only to have it fully restored, is an important witness.  The people who heard Jesus say, "Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing", they are also a big part of the story.  When someone is on his deathbed, anything he says is worth listening to.

Those two criminals hanging on crosses next to Jesus were part of the scene.  When the one admitted his errors and asked to be remembered, he gave hope to the rest of us that there is salvation for those who repent, no matter how far we have drifted.

Many people have stepped up over these last twenty centuries to be witnesses for Jesus.  They spend their lives sharing their personal testimonies.  The Evil One always shows up to confuse the witnesses or to attempt to get them to change their stories.  Never in our history has the Evil One been more powerful than He is now.

Lately, I have been hearing from many of these "witnesses" that they are under some sort of spiritual attack.  I can relate to what these followers of Jesus are seeing in their lives and I pray that they do not back away from their destiny, to bring others to Jesus.  Listen to what these witnesses are saying about Jesus.  They are on this planet for you.  What happened 2,000 years ago was no was the greatest event in human history and now you are part of that story.  Will you also become a witness?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Special Shout to my Wife of 21 Years

and the two will become one flesh. 
So they are no longer two, but one - Mark 10:8

Today marks the 21st anniversary of our marriage.  As my love was swimming in the ocean in Maui, I planted a diamond ring in the sand.  After her swim, we talked while laying on our beach blanket.  I asked, "what is your wish?"  She closed her eyes and thought for a moment.  Next, I prodded her to share.  She told me her heart's desire was to always make me happy.  After 21 years of marriage, I can say that she has been able to do this without fail.

"What is your wish?" she asked.  As I played with the sand, I told her I'd rather not share because it was impossible for my wish to come true.  "Tell me anyways", she said.  I explained that  I wanted a diamond ring to appear in the sand...suddenly, I pulled a small box out from the sand.  She was stunned.  It was the diamond ring I wished for.  I opened it up and popped the question...The rest is a fairy tale, a dream come true.  God has placed her in the palm of my hand to love and cherish forever.

On this day, I just wanted to take a pause and let the blog world know that she is the love of my life.  Happy Anniversary to my special love, her family calls her Helen, but she will always be my Lucy.  Yes, I am more in love with her today than the day she found her diamond ring in the sand.  She is the one who polishes this "diamond in the rough" and comforts me as we walk together along the journey of life.

God Bless you, my lady, and all whose lives you touch in this world.


your RRRicky

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

African Missionaries Pay a Visit

One of my business partners got an opportunity to visit Africa a while ago with a group of Christians.  They were on a mission to see the "Ark of the Covenant", which is hidden away in one of the poorest and most remote places in Africa.  His trip was life-changing.  When he shared what he saw, I was deeply moved and promised to help him when we are successful.

Funny, how God works...His timing is so different from ours.  If I keep waiting until I am successful to help others, it will be too late.  One of my uncles sent me a book, the Hole in our Gospel, to read in my "spare" time.  After many months, I am only on page 181...there are still about 100 pages to go.  The book is on my night stand and I get in one or two pages between love letters, blog writing and working on my manuscript.  The author talks about his own life journey and it is profound reading.

When two female missionaries visited my church this last weekend, the reality of life in Africa really hit me hard.  I met with Sister Birungi Priscilla after her talk and got her email address.  She and her friend shared their message of hope.  For those in her community that suffer from leprosy, these missionaries are a bright light...they are the missing fingers, hands and limbs that hold babies when the parents cannot.  This is the Gospel in it's simplest and purest form.

When the missionaries were done with their talk, they offered us a song and dance from their native land.  There was a special exuberance that emanated from these spirit-filled people.  It is one thing to read about the situation in a place far away or hear stories from third parties.  These two missionaries are living in the center of poverty and they are relying on us to prevent sickness, starvation, and death.

The lesson I learned from their talks is that I cannot wait until I am more successful before helping others.  The time for action is now...for all of us.  If you would like to learn more about how these missionaries are changing lives, why not send an email today?  Your thoughts and prayers will go a long address:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Angels in the Outfield

As the deadline approaches to complete my manuscript for "God's Black Sheep Squadron", I am getting very excited about how the pieces of God's puzzle are coming together.  This whole process is such a joy.  Since starting this blog nearly one year ago, I have spent a total of zero dollars on this blog site and zero dollars on the book (when you have no money, you become resourceful).

An army of supporters continues to show up on a daily basis and my vision of reaching 10,000 visitors by the end of the year is becoming a realistic possibility.  The best part of this journey is that God has Blessed me with the people, the tools, and the energy to pursue my destiny...leading others to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

What is the next step?...I am gathering a special group of  supporters to assist me.  I will rely on Pete and his team for self-publishing and marketing guidance and I believe I can get the manuscript to press with a budget of $300.  I promised my family that I will not use any income from my "day job" to get this done.  That means I will need to raise some funds through supporters who believe this book will be beneficial to others.

This group will be asked to contribute ideas, feedback, and pray daily.  In return for becoming one of ninety nine "Angels in the Outfield", you will receive a numbered (#2 to #100) and autographed copy of this book and your name will be listed in the credits on the last page of the book (unless you prefer to remain anonymous).  The first numbered book is reserved for the highest bidder at the auction in February and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to my church (see First Fruits for more details).  More on this will be announced in the weeks ahead.  The name of the first owner of the collector's book will also be highlighted at the top of the list (unless anonymity is requested).  This will provide authentication for God's very first fruit and give special recognition to the auction winner.  I am trying to figure out a way for people outside of my community to participate in the auction so that anyone can have an opportunity to be the winner and many more special prizes are being donated for this very important fundraiser.

If you are interested in becoming an "Angel in the Outfield", the first step is to become a follower of this blog...just click the "follow" button on the right below my welcome message.  In order to reserve one of the "special collector's edition" books, a donation of $25 will be requested.  If this economy is beating you up like it is my family and the $25 is not in your budget, don't let that stop you.  Your prayers and your ideas are what is needed most and I will waive the donation request if you can help me in other ways.  Just send me an email and let me know you want to help.

Anyone who becomes a follower will receive a welcome message from me with more information about how to become more involved...I will post more details about "Angels in the Outfield" once everything is in place.  Thank you for your support, there is much work to be done in the months ahead and I deeply appreciate your willingness to keep coming back...

Monday, July 12, 2010

There's Something About Mary

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, has been the source of many questions over the centuries.  In my denomination, a favorite trivia question I like to ask people has to do with the location of her burial site ('s a trick question).  We believe that because Mary is the Immaculate Conception (see Immaculate Conception), she was conceived free from original sin, that is, free from death and the aging process.  No death means no burial site.

At the direction of her Son, Jesus, Mary is able to appear to us to help point the way to Him.  When she appeared in Mexico, they called her "Our Lady of Guadalupe".  One translation of this is "one who crushes the snake".  The physical evidence of the "tilma" (outer garment used to carry the flowers to the local bishop) still exists hundreds of years later.  The material used to make a tilma is a cactus plant.  It's useful life is very short, however, this plant still shows a picture of Mary today.  There are no visible paint strokes in the picture.

There is something mysterious about Mary's eyes that was first observed by an opthomogist studying the image in the 1950's.  Click this link to learn more:  Mary's Eyes.

Regardless of your personal religious (or non-religious) views, it is interesting to take a look at Mary's purpose.  Ever since saying yes to becoming the Mother of God, she has been a great example for the rest of us.  Everything that she represents in her messages has to do with her Son, it is a simple one...follow her Son and do everything He asks.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Becoming Qualified

I sometimes wonder how Mary felt when the angel asked her to become the mother of God.  She was but a teenager.  There was no electricity, Facebook, or cell phones.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, an angel appears and asks her a life-changing question.  She surely felt unqualified and her future husband must have had many questions on his mind about his fiancee.

I share Mary's feelings about being qualified, I am writing a book yet I am unqualified.   In just ten months, I have been able to learn how to use some of  the incredible tools that are available to anyone who wishes to share his or her stories with the world.  I did not know at the time I started this blog that this would lead to self-publishing a book, yet it is becoming more of a reality as each day passes.

My friend, Pete, has invited me to become a part of the San Diego Christian Writer's Guild and meet with his group of writers twice a month.  These are the people that will help me with my writing and I will share all I have learned with them.  It is such an exciting time in my life and I can't wait to meet others who share my passion for writing.

In just eight short months, you will be able to come back here and get a copy of my first book.  Many chapters still need to be written, edited, and re-written.  This time in my life is just like preparing for a new baby to be born.  I guess you could say that this writer is one month into his first trimester.  There will be labor pains ahead.  I will need to learn how to breathe properly and will rely on the coaches who have "been there done that" for a successful delivery.

Your feedback is always appreciated and God's Black Sheep Squadron is being written for you.  Your Creator has called me to share all the good that He has done and is doing in my life so that you can see what can happen when you say yes.  There is much good ahead for you, too.  When you answer the call, do not worry if you do not feel qualified...He will send the right people to help you become qualified, just as He helped a pregnant teenager give birth to the One who would make all things new.  It all starts by saying yes.  Are you ready for a new baby in your life?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Red Tape

I got an opportunity yesterday while visiting a long-time customer to be reminded of all the good we have been able to accomplish at our business these last five years.  We founded Zoom because we discovered that our previous bosses were intent on placing too much red tape between us and our paychecks.  The more we fought to get through the red tape, the more they fought to get better and stronger red tape.  Eventually, every single person in America that worked for Goliath in the print division got wiped out by the red tape.   4,000 people became jobless!  My heart still aches for those that were displaced.

Red tape comes from two sources, good and evil.  God sometimes places red tape in front of us to give us the opportunity to grow, while evil uses red tape to make us feel helpless.  If you can find the source of the red tape in your life, it can help you to keep hope alive.  For example, when the obstacles in your life are forcing you to develop your gifts, they are probably placed there by your Creator.  My company exists today because the Holy Spirit wanted my business partners to get out of our comfort zones.  For us, the obstacles turned out to be a good thing.  Had we just gone with the flow, we would have eventually ended up unemployed.  God used the red tape to stretch us and shape us... now we are living the American dream.

Even though red tape may sometimes lead to a positive result, I have a hard time with it.  Instead of immediately rebelling, I find myself asking the Holy Spirit why an obstacle is in front of me.  I must recognize that God's will for my life will prevail as long as I trust Him to show me how barriers are to be overcome according to His timing, not mine.  He wants us to learn obedience, patience and resourcefulness.  He also wants us to learn to become dependent on Him for everything we need to get through the red tape of life.

God has big plans for you.  As each day passes, I become more encouraged, I see the connections that all of us have with one another.  Some obstacles, by design, are just too big for one person to handle alone.  Do not be afraid to connect with others to get rid of the red tape you face in your life.  A house divided cannot stand...a house united can overcome any obstacle.  Let's get connected.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Let's Help the Politicians Create Jobs

I work very hard on this blog to keep my own political perspective or specific views on my faith out of the mix, however, I could not resist to comment on the person who is just two heartbeats away from the presidency.  It should be good for at least one laugh...

Pelosi:  Unemployment Checks Fastest Way to Create Jobs
(July 1, Fox News, Photo credit to AP)

 Unemployment benefits are creating jobs faster than practically any other program, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

Talking to reporters, the House speaker was defending a jobless benefits extension against those who say it gives recipients little incentive to work. By her reasoning, those checks are helping give somebody a job.

"It injects demand into the economy," Pelosi said, arguing that when families have money to spend it keeps the economy churning. "It creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name."

Pelosi said the aid has the "double benefit" of helping those who lost their jobs and acting as a "job creator" on the side.

"It's impossible to think of a situation where we would have a country that would say we're not going to have unemployment benefits," Pelosi said. 

After reading this article, I thought maybe we should assist our politicians with creating jobs.  Let's follow Nancy's suggestion and fire all the politicians.  I am not sure if they will qualify for unemployment checks since they set up their own retirement programs, but I am willing to test out Pelosi's idea for the good of our country.  We could celebrate with an old-fashioned tea party.   More jobs could be planners, sign makers, bakers, confetti makers... small businesses everywhere could jump in and help with our government's job creation efforts.  We wouldn't want it to overshadow all the jobs being created by our lawmakers, but I think small businesses all across our country may be able to do something to help our politicians create jobs.  I know this may be a radical idea for those living in Washington, D.C.

It will be hard to say goodbye to Pelosi and all the career politicians, but we must think about the needs of the country, unemployed politicians are vital to job creation.  Are you willing to help the politicians create jobs?  Don't forget to vote, the country's future is at stake.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Indian Givers

When my mother asked where my wife and I would like to go for a birthday dinner celebration, my wife reminded me of the new menu at the Barona Indian Reservation, our neighbors to the south of us.  Amongst the miles of machines and gaming tables, there are a few hidden gems.

Now that all of you are stretching your groceries dollars (thanks to the treasure box folks), allow me to suggest a way to have dinner for two for under five bucks...First, enter the casino through the main door and make a left turn.  There is a fountain machine for sodas and a variety of fruit juices (I went for the yummy pineapple juice).  If you would prefer bottled water, just ask one of the employees pushing the coffee cart around.  These drinks are FREE.

Next, work your way over to the buffet area.  A little further, you will find the casino's best kept secret, the place that serves $1 burgers, $1 cheeseburgers and $1 french fries to Barona members.  If you don't have a card, there is a place near the entrance that will set you up.

If you and your loved ones are looking for a way to eat out without breaking the bank, hurry on this exceptional deal.  The natives can't keep giving everything away, that is, unless you get sucked in to some of the other temptations in their house.  Danger, Danger, Will Robinson!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

At the Precipice We Change

But it's only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve. This is our moment - Professor Barnhardt (character in "The Day the Earth Stood Still")

In the movie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (the remake of the 50's original), Klatuu is played by Keanu Reeves, an alien sent to save the earth.  Here is the dialogue that goes on between the alien and a couple of the main earthling characters...

Helen Benson: I need to know what's happening.
Klaatu: This planet is dying. The human race is killing it.
Helen Benson: So you've come here to help us.
Klaatu: No, *I* didn't.
Helen Benson: You said you came to save us.
Klaatu: I said I came to save the Earth.
Helen Benson: You came to save the Earth... from us. You came to save the Earth *from* us.
Klaatu: We can't risk the survival of this planet for the sake of one species.
Helen Benson: What are you saying?
Klaatu: If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. There are only a handful of planets in the cosmos that are capable of supporting complex life...
Helen Benson: You can't do this.
Klaatu: ...this one can't be allowed to perish.
Helen Benson: We can change. We can still turn things around.
Klaatu: We've watched, we've waited and hoped that you *would* change.
Helen Benson: Please...
Klaatu: It's reached the tipping point. We have to act.
Helen Benson: Please...
Klaatu: We'll undo the damage you've done and give the Earth a chance to begin again.
Helen Benson: Don't do this. Please, we can change. We can change.
Klaatu: The decision is made. The process has begun.
Helen Benson: Oh God.

Professor Barnhardt: There must be alternatives. You must have some technology that could solve our problem.
Klaatu: Your problem is not technology. The problem is you. You lack the will to change.
Professor Barnhardt: Then help us change.
Klaatu: I cannot change your nature. You treat the world as you treat each other.
Professor Barnhardt: But every civilization reaches a crisis point eventually.
Klaatu: Most of them don't make it.
Professor Barnhardt: Yours did. How?
Klaatu: Our sun was dying. We had to evolve in order to survive.
Professor Barnhardt: So it was only when your world was threatened with destruction that you became what you are now.
Klaatu: Yes.
Professor Barnhardt: Well that's where we are. You say we're on the brink of destruction and you're right. But it's only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve. This is our moment. Don't take it from us, we are close to an answer. 

It is at the very end that the alien discovers we can change.  It is at the precipice that we do adapt.  Do not fear that you are on the edge of the cliff, this is your time to grow into the person you were created to be...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Walking the Plank

Once again, I find the waters splashing over the sides of the boat...some of it's passengers question the direction of the ship, others, the motives of the captain.  Some wish to throw a few team-mates overboard.  There are not enough life preservers.  Difficult choices confront the skipper and he must decide what is best for the good of all.

The last time I found myself in this situation, I volunteered to walk the plank.  The captain has always had my permission to toss me overboard should I not be able to carry my own weight.  This time, however, the short supplies have left us without even enough life jackets should anyone else be asked to depart.

The hard part about walking the plank is that some do not understand what it means to go "all in"... to sacrifice everything for the good of the team.  Should I be asked to "walk the plank", I first turn to those who challenge the captain with these words..."Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."  I offer my life vest to anyone else that may also be asked to give up their seat in the boat, my strength and hope are in the Lord and I trust He will lead me to calm waters, whether I am in the boat or in the water....He is my life vest and I cling to Him in the storm.  May all who are in the boat with me stay calm.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A 50th Birthday to Remember Forever

Yesterday, as I was walking into church with my family, something UNEXPECTED happened, I was asked to announce the big news about the Treasure Box approving us for our community.  I did not expect Martha, Michelle, Amy, Joe, and Pat to be manning the booth on a Holiday weekend, especially because the approval did not come until the day before (thanks, Kristy, for sacrificing your time on a Holiday weekend to push the paperwork through).  There they were, all joyful and ready to take orders for food at a discounted price.  My family went in to church ahead of me while I hugged the volunteers.  Martha asked me to please announce the good news about our approval and I was moved to tears knowing how this program was going to have a very deep and profound affect on our town.  I took a seat in the first row in front of the choir (Joe and Amy are also part of the choir and they were smiling at me as I took my place...they both knew that they were part of something incredibly special).

My two nieces from Florida were in the row behind me with more extended family and my mother was next to Lucy (yes, Lucy, we were all home, in God's house).  When it was time to make the announcement, I almost had trouble getting the words out.  "Praise God, all the hurdles have been removed, stop by and order your boxes today, and spread the word", I proclaimed.  "Soon we will be networking with all the other churches and organizations to bring restaurant quality food to Ramona at discount prices."

When I walked outside to check on our group of volunteers, the crowd sang Happy Birthday to me.  My heart rejoiced as I saw the line of people gathered at the booth to place their orders.

Once I returned home, I opened my birthday present from my oldest son, Ryan.  It was the perfect gift at the perfect time...God's time.  My jaw dropped as I read my friend's name on the cover of Self-Publishing & Marketing From The Trenches, by his high school wrestling coach, Peter H. Zindler.

If you have been reading my recent posts, you are aware of the epic spiritual battle I have found myself in the center of.  I cried out for help...for prayer warriors to send up their smoke signals to the Heavens.  An entire battalion of writers are right here in my home town...they are being led by Peter, an associate pastor at a church I was preparing to call on to join with us to feed the hungry.

I spent the entire day reading this book, ignoring birthday calls in order to finish it before heading to a 4th of July BBQ.  The book reached it's target audience, a servant of God who was called to write but not qualified to write (at least...not yet, not until the final pieces of God's puzzle are linked together).  Peter has been doing this for thirty years.  He knows publishing and he knows marketing.  He has helped others in his group to self-publish and he gives his Creator all the credit.  Yes, he is the right one to help me get qualified in time to release God's Black Sheep Squadron by St. Patrick's Day.

I sent out smoke signals and the calls for help were answered by Peter, a modern-day fisher of men.  Now he will teach me to be a fisher of men.  Help was found in the back yard of my own neighborhood, the smoke signals only needed to travel a few miles.  Praise God!  If you would like to read any of Peter's books, click this link.  Thank you, Peter, for autographing the book and for helping me on my journey.  The video below is one more piece of God's puzzle, a necessary solution to counterattack the Enemy.  If you know of anyone who wants to become a writer, please share the following video with them.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Born on the 4th of July

Holiday birthdays are unusually common in my family.  It started with my father; he and his twin brother were a Christmas present for their parents.  My wife came into the world on Memorial Day and I was born on the 4th of July, fifty years ago (the AARP application arrived just in time to remind me just how old fifty really is).  Two sisters were born on the first day of Spring but in different years.  My daughter was born on St. Patrick's Day...she also shares a birthday with another cousin.

Many may say these birthdays are an amazing coincidence, however, I know better.  You see, when my wife was pregnant with our second child, I started praying for her to be born on St. Patrick's Day.  As the big day approached, the doctor said, "no way, tell your husband nothing is happening...expect the baby near the end of March (oh no, the only holiday left was...April Fool's Day)."  Around 8:08 pm on March 16th, my wife announced that she was in labor.  "Slow down", I shouted, "it's not time yet, we have four hours to go!"  Even the doctor was surprised and he barely arrived at the hospital in time to deliver our little girl...on St. Patrick's Day.

As you celebrate the 4th of July today, take a look at all the "Godincidences" in your life.  No matter how trivial you think your prayer requests are, your Creator is listening.  When He answers, make sure to give Him all the credit.  I thank Him for being with me every day these last fifty years and for inspiring me to write about all the good He is doing in my life every day.

Happy 4th of July...

Saturday, July 3, 2010


As of 12:00 noon on Saturday, July 3rd, the Treasure Box is NOW ACTIVATED for all of Ramona.

Click here (then click "find a location" and enter your zip code to place your online order or to contact Martha for more info).

The Deadline to place your order is July 18th for the Saturday, July 31st pick up.

Pick up times are to be announced but will be Saturday AM, volunteers are being coordinated.

If you would like to volunteer, please email

Thanks to all who made this opportunity come to fruition, especially on a Holiday weekend...please spread the word.


The War is On

 The Spirit brings order out of chaos and beauty out of ugliness. He can transform a sin-blistered man into a paragon of virtue. The Spirit changes people. The Author of life is also the Transformer of life.
R. C. Sproul

In order to protect the innocent (and a couple of not so innocent), I keep certain things in my life private.  Some of you close to me may think that this war I am referring to has to do with you.  This is a possibility as I am facing a spiritual battle like nothing I have ever seen in my life.  The battle is so fierce that I even hesitate to seek the counsel of my pastor or disclose the ugliness that is now attacking.

The most difficult part of my journey is that my loved ones are under attack in an effort to persuade me to run away and give up.  I cannot bear to see these innocent people get drawn in.  It hurts.  Evil does not have boundaries and I am caught behind enemy lines.

I have seen the storm on the horizon for a long time.  It is here.  My job is to man the lighthouse, to keep the light of Christ shining so that others may find their way out of the storm. If you are a prayer warrior, I call out to you.  If you feel lost, I ask you to see the light of Jesus and focus on Him for His guidance.  If you are part of the Evil that is trying to disrupt the plans God has for me, in the name of Jesus, I command you to depart.  I refuse to retreat from the lighthouse, no matter what price I must pay.  You are too important to Him and I will be here to help you find your way to Him, every day, every time, without fail, NO EXCEPTION!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Lesson in Socialnomics - Social Media Blog

Every day, I learn something amazing about this new buzz, the social media blog.  My oldest son laughs..."blogs have been around for a LONG time" he says.  The youth have fully embraced this new media, while my fellow baby boomers are just starting to catch on.

There are now over 200 million blogs in our world!  For those of you in my generation who want to catch up to our kids, click this link for some cool statistics.  I haven't read "Socialnomics" by Erik Qualman yet, but you can get it by clicking on the link.

Some day, our grand kids will ask why we walked uphill in the snow (both ways) to get to school when learning on the Internet is so much better, or why we chopped down so many trees to put our news on paper when a simple tweet is free.  I hope they still remember how to walk or drive so I can savor the old-fashioned face-to-face visit...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Walking the Tight Rope

I accidentally looked down the other day and noticed that the safety net below was missing.  "Lucy", I yelled out (this is her nick-name...when I return to the casa de Mulligan, I like to greet her with a "Lucy, I'm home" and she rolls her rrr's as she hugs her RRRicky).  "Lucy, I'm looking down and I don't see the safety net.  Where's the safety net?"  She responded, "Sorry RRRicky, we needed some extra pesos, so I sold the safety net at the garage sale".

Okay, so there is no safety net.  Maybe that wouldn't be such a big deal, however, the winds are picking up and the Evil One is behind me, jiggling the rope.  Rats butts!  The only way off the rope is to keep moving forward.

The good news is that there are some incredible people around me that don't want me or Lucy to fall.  Some have been on the sidelines, content to watch my tight rope/ juggling act while eating popcorn.  Others have decided to join the circus. 

I can see from the blog counter that a crowd is gathering (welcome to my new friends from India and the Philippines).  For those of you who are coming here for the first time, I welcome you.  I wanted to give a special shout to my pastor who just started reading these posts.  I came to you for some help to keep the demons from spoiling the three-ring circus and I am thankful that you will guide me. 

Many of you are asking about the book.  Remember this, you are the biggest part of the story.  Even though I have already given away the ending (God Wins), there is a lot of stuff in the book that I can't wait to share with you.  There is so much work to be done.  Can someone please tell the Evil One to stop jiggling the rope?

Time to go out and earn a few more pesos for Lucy and the kids.  See you at 8:08 tomorrow for some more fun...