Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Farewell Letter to My First-Born Son

My precious son,

There comes a time in life when it is time to leave home.  You are about to board a plane headed for the great unknown beyond the boundaries of your family.  As I recall the day you were born, I remember the thirty-four hour labor process that your mother endured to bring you into this world.  My eyes were fixated on the heart monitor that would drop each time your mother had her contractions.  I gripped her hand tightly and prayed that you would not be harmed during the difficult birthing process...back-to-back labor is slow and painful.

The moment that you finally decided to come out of the womb, you peered out with both eyes already wide open.  That moment is beyond description.  It was as if you were already scanning your new world with your giant eyes even before you were fully separated from your mother's body.  As I cut your umbilical chord, joy filled my entire body.

In a way, the chord is being cut once again as you head for Alaska, your heart filled with new hopes and dreams.  Your mother and I are experiencing a full range of emotions.  It seems like just yesterday when you entered the world.

As I reflect on your life and the lives of all children throughout the world, I cannot help but think about how much the Creator loves all of us.  As much as I love you and your siblings, I am not capable of loving you perfectly, the way God does.  I am so thankful for the years of temporary custody that were  given to me to raise you and teach you.  Being your dad has enriched my life beyond measure.

Next year, we will see your sister leave home and in four short years, your mother and I will once again cut the chord for your younger brother and the nest will be empty.  There is still much work to be done during this time and I plan to live each day to it's fullest.  Now it is your turn to climb mountains, swim oceans and explore the world that is out there waiting for you.  It is time to  discover all that it has to offer.  Go for it!  You were born to soar with the eagles...spread your wings and fly.



For those of you who are experiencing the separation of a loved one, I pray that you are comforted.  The most difficult part of our journey is being set apart from our Creator.  One day all of us will come together in a great reunion with our Heavenly Father.  Until that day comes, we need to learn to deal with the pain of separation when our children leave the nest or when our parents or other loved ones leave this world.  This is only temporary.  Our real home is not in this world.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Most Stressful Time of the Day

Researchers have identified 8:25 in the morning as the most stressful time of the day.  Families rush out the door to busy school and work days.  Traffic brawls and tension reaches it's peak.  How can we minimize the stress that is part of our morning?

Organize your day before you go to sleep.  De-clutterize your home.  Tune your radio to a Christian radio station.  Have that little talk with your inner voices and make sure that you become deaf to the voice of despair.  Spend five minutes doing some exercises to get your blood flowing.

Stressful situations will always be around us.  Decide as a family that you are not going to panic.  Work together and you can start each day on a good note.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

One Year Anniversary of Socalmulligan808

Today marks the one year anniversary of this blog.  My accountability partners have been there every day, waiting to call on me should I fail to post daily.  As I reflect on these 365 consecutive posts, I am thankful for all you from around the world that continue to read and share this blog with others.

When I first started this blog, I had no idea what it would turn into.  There are over 200 million blogs in the world and this one is being read as far away as South Korea, Luxembourg, Spain, China, India, Denmark, Brazil, Germany, Latvia, Benin and South Africa as well as my neighbors in Canada and Mexico.  If I left your country out, I apologize.  New visitors are stopping by daily.

I am approaching my deadline to complete my manuscript for "God's Black Sheep Squadron".  This blog has turned into a place where you can come to see what goes on behind the scenes in the writing and self-publishing world.  It is God's training ground.  You have encouraged me to stay on course.  This blog will continue until I am no longer on this planet.  On this first anniversary, I just wanted to say thank you.  There will be a special dedication in the credits of my first book to all of you, the ones who encouraged me to keep writing all the good that Jesus is doing...one day at a time and one page at a time.

I look forward to serving you in the years ahead.  Thanks for visiting...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Non-verbal Communication

Any of us that have been parents or who have been married for a while, already know this...it is not what you say that matters, but how you say it.  People around me say I have a poker face, meaning that I cannot hide anything.  Your body language tells the world what you are feeling on the inside.

If you are having a bad day, most likely, it is going to show on the outside.  Athletes who are under-performing have a way of dropping their shoulders or their head.  We do the same thing when our day is not going right.  So, how can you snap out of it?  This may sound a little crazy, but you need to excuse yourself and get in front of a mirror so you can have a conversation with yourself.

There are two inner voices that will want to talk back while you are locked in the bathroom.  This is what it looks like:

Self one:  "You idiot...what are we doing here, anyway?  You know this is a huge waste of time.  It's a bazillion degrees outside and getting hotter by the minute.  What a waste today is!"

Self two:  "Thanks for taking a break.  I needed to separate from the world for a while.  What hope is there to turn this day around?"

Outer self:  "As I look in the mirror, I know you each want to speak out.  I called you for a little conference because we are going to make some changes.  Self one, you need to take a little time out.  You are done talking for the rest of the day.  Self two, we are going to say a little prayer now and trust in the Holy Spirit to get us out of this mess.  Our body needs to hear from you loud and clear.  Are you ready?"

Self one:  "You fool, you are going to fail again aren't you?"


"Eyes, look in the mirror...head, straighten up.  What's up, shoulders?  Come on, look alive.  I am a unique creation, a child of God and I have a job to do today.  Face...are you ready to put on a smile that will brighten up the lives of others?  Do you see Christ in the people we will be meeting today?  Let's share that smile and turn this day around."

Note to outer self...do not leave the bathroom until self one shuts up and self two is ready to be in charge.  Ready?  Now go out there and have the best day of your life.  Let your body show the world that you are on fire and ready no matter what self one tries to say...

Friday, August 27, 2010

500 Days of Summer

As summer comes to a close and children return to school, some of us probably feel like it went too fast.  Wouldn't it be so nice to enjoy 500 days of Summer, like the title in the movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel?  By the way, if you haven't seen this movie, it is on DVD.

Each season has a role.  Autumn approaches now and some of us will witness brilliant colors as the trees begin their transformation on cue from Mother Nature.  I will never forget the train ride between Montreal and Quebec City in October many years ago.  The landscape was rich with colors that are unused in the the great southwest.

Yes, summer is almost over now and it is time to move on.  No matter what season we are celebrating, there is always something to appreciate.  Life would be so boring if everything looked the same every day.  Go out into nature and enjoy the change that is in the air.  Welcome autumn, she will bring you something new...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

When Much is Given Much is Expected

 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

As I was walking out of Church yesterday, my pastor greeted me with, "when much is given, much is expected".  He reminded me that the Treasure Box project is now up and running and it is time for my next assignment...organize a team for the February fundraiser which includes a dinner, dance and auction.  A team is in place from last year, however, it is missing a leader.  The people best qualified to do this are not available and my pastor is asking me to handle this.

At times, I feel overwhelmed from the day to day activities and assignments.  The verse from Luke, 12:48 shows us how we are to manage our gifts.  This is not something where we divide the tasks up evenly.  Jesus tells us that when we have been given much from Him, we are to give it all back to others.  My pastor knows this.  He also recognizes that a person can become overburdened.  The challenge is to stay balanced...to do everything Jesus asks of you without over-committing to the point where your work becomes substandard. 

Take a look at your priorities.  Are you managing your time and your life so that you can maximize your talents for the good of the world.  Take an inventory of your gifts and make sure that you are using them fully.  The more you have been given, the more that will be expected...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Encourage One Another

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing -  1Thessalonians 5:11

The inspiration for today's post comes from two of my teenage children, Nicole and Shane.  They have graciously allowed me to share lessons they learned on encouragement.  Nicole started playing tennis over a year ago and played on the high school junior varsity tennis team last year.  This year, there were only ten spots open for the varsity and Nicole, along with her cousin, Amy, decided they would help each other to make the team.

One week before tryouts, Amy injured her arm from over-playing.  Several times, she actually worked out three times in the same day.  These two young ladies continued to encourage one another.  They wore identical outfits to tryouts.  Each brought their half of the matching hearts to practice.  As one would play a challenge match, the other would cheer while holding the two hearts together.

Amy recovered from her injury just in time to win her spot on the team.  Nicole was on the edge the entire week at the number ten spot.  She was unable to move up to a safer position but also fended off all challengers.  These two cousins were like sisters.  The encouragement paid off for both and they made the team.

My youngest son, Shane, is an incoming freshman.  He is also new to football.  He too had to work hard to avoid getting cut since over 80 people were trying out for about 70 spots on the team, most with years of Pop Warner football experience.  His coach continues to push him to the limit and some days Shane feels like he does not belong in the company of so many experienced players.

My wife and I got to watch Shane play in his first scrimmage on Saturday.  He had just been moved to right tackle on offense and did not feel comfortable learning a new position with just a couple days of notice.  The third string team does not get much field time and Shane was concerned that we would be wasting our time sitting in the bleachers.

Near the end of the scrimmage, his number was called and he ran out onto the field.  His opponent was about a foot taller and heavier.  We watched him stop his man every time.  When the scrimmage was over, we congratulated him for his great performance.  "You played awesome" I told him.  "Dad, I owe it to the first string guy, I asked him for pointers and he gave me lots of help.  Now I understand what a tackle is supposed to do.  He has been playing football for a long time and his advice really helped".

I love learning from my children.  They fully understand that we are not to be alone in life.  We are all on this planet to encourage one another.  I will remember what they taught me the next time I am having a challenging day.  We all have something to learn from one another.  Let's share our gifts and help each other to become what we are created to be...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coming Home

Home is where the heart is, the soul's bright guiding star.
Home is where real love is, where our own dear ones are.
Home means someone waiting to give a welcome smile.
Home means peace and joy and rest and everything worthwhile.  (Author Unknown)

I have been very fortunate to stay close to home most of the time for my work.  I just returned from a business trip that took me away from my family for three days.  When I am away, it makes me appreciate my family that much more.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we have all been disconnected from our Heavenly Father.  He longs for us to come home.  Most of us are so busy in this hectic world, that we don't spend much time thinking about Him.  We don't have to wait until we are "coming home" to connect with Him.  Invite Him into your heart today and get connected.  It makes our daily journey much more palatable. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Power of a Group

When a group of people from various backgrounds meet in pursuit of a common goal, amazing things happen.  I witnessed this at my second meeting of the San Diego Christian Writer's Critique Group in Ramona.

Peter is the leader of the group.  He has been writing, critiquing, editing, and self-publishing for over thirty years.  As Barbara read her latest poems, Peter immediately visualized these poems as books for children.

While observing Peter's critique of Mandy's novel, I could see what was missing in my own story.  It is one thing to write properly.  An English professor may give a new writer an "A" for the correct punctuation, however, a writer must go further, developing characters through dialogue and other techniques in order to bring the story to life.  This is known as the writer's craft. 

The true work begins once the story is written.  Peter was told by a mentor to put his book aside and rewrite it.  He tried a shortcut to make everything look like a re-write, however, he didn't fool his editor.  Editing is more work than writing.  It is a necessary part of the process.  When it is done in a group, tremendous insight is uncovered by the other members.

I am so thankful for the people in my writer's critique group.  This week, my contribution was a fifteen minute presentation on how to create a blog.  I recalled that day nearly one year ago when God woke me up with a message to start a blog.  Each of us in the group has something to offer, even those of us who are not qualified to write yet.  With time and proper guidance, each of us will become published authors.

There are plenty of groups out there for you to join.  They will hold you accountable and help you reach your goals.  Join one today and enjoy the power of a group.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Going Deep

One of my tennis buddies gave me a fascinating book to read, something I can't put down.  If you haven't read the Shack, by William Paul Young, make sure to get a copy today.  The author has a special way of going deep to reach human emotions we often try to bury or cover up.

I am at a point now in my writing where I am confronting memories from my past.  It is like riding a roller coaster that won't stop.  At times, I wonder if I am about to lose my lunch.  The river of thoughts and emotions is flowing, filled with stage five rapids.  I have no life jacket to keep me from drowning should I be ejected.  My head is spinning.

Amidst the chaos of creative energy igniting within me, there is also some sense of peace.  I focus my mind on the end of the ride, the point where the final chapter has been written, re-written, edited, proofed and published.  I see you reading the pages and I am hopeful that you will find some sort of connection similar to what William Paul Young created when he released his novel to the world.

This connection that I am attempting to establish is not of this world.  The words that I type are not my own, they have been loaned to me by the Holy Spirit and they are to be given away for your benefit.  There is so much for me to learn in such a short period of time in order to become qualified to publish. 

As long as I am on this planet, I already know that my roller coaster ride will not end.  There will be short breaks between rides, however, my publishing days are just beginning...the first book is not even complete and I have already been inspired to start working on a second title.  I can assure you that I will be going deep, there is no other way to release what I tried to incarcerate from the outside world.   My soul will not be set free until I have finished the roller coaster ride.  There is plenty of room on this ride if you would like to join me.  There are days when I could benefit from a friend sitting next to me on this exhilarating journey.  Do you care to join me for a while?  Just sign the guest book or add your name to the list of followers at the right side of the blog.  I am thankful for all who keep encouraging me to press on, especially on those crazy turns and steep downhill descents...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Courage to Create

What masterpiece is inside of you that desires to be unleashed from your heart?  Do you fear what others will think if you go out on a limb and write, compose, paint, invent, etc, etc?  What will the world miss out on if you remain on the sidelines?

I admit to you that it does take a great deal of courage to create.  You must first win the battle with your own self, the battle of two voices struggling to be the alpha of your very soul.  Once connected to the voice that comes from the Creator, your invention materializes.  What do you do with it?  Fear enters and you worry about what others will think.  Do you release it to the world or forever keep it hidden?

I have chosen to publish without fear of what others think.  This is freedom.  If God put me here to write, then I must write.  My blog, my books, everything is a joint venture with the Holy Spirit.  The more I write, the easier it gets.  If just one person in this world benefits from thousands of hours of writing, then I consider my life's work to be a success.

How about you?  Have you discovered what it is inside of you that longs to be created?  Every one of us on this planet has something to share.  Keeping your gift hidden from the world is putting yourself in prison and you will die a slow and painful death.  You were born to soar with eagles.  Free yourself.  Go for it.  Create!  Let your passion flow.  Be bold.  The world is waiting to receive your creation...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Better Safe Than Sorry

 Good Shepherd, You have a wild and crazy sheep in love with thorns and brambles. But please don't get tired of looking for me! I know You won't. For You have found me. All I have to do is stay found." - Thomas Merton

When the atheists complain about the crucifix that is displayed above the hallway to my doctor's office, he tells them, "hey, it's better to be safe than sorry".  I would like to thank Dr. Jim Ricketts for allowing me to use his name on this blog.  He and his wife are not afraid to share their faith.  Over his years working with patients, he has witnessed cases that cannot be explained in human terms.

Dr. Ricketts at one time had X-rays from a patient showing a before and after look at a bone deformity that healed overnight after attending a special healing service.  When he sold part of his practice, all files were turned over including the patient who at one time had given permission to share her X-rays.

I was hoping to use these X-rays as part of my debate with my atheist tennis friend, Olivier.  The core of my position is based on faith which is difficult for a non-believer to understand.  I cannot explain how my conversion experience has transformed my life.  If you are on the outside looking in, I would like you to observe the fruit that has been produced in my life.

Gone from my life are all the rotten fruits that were once a part of me.  They have been replaced by new fruits, fertilized in fresh soil and watered by the Holy Spirit.  One of these fruits is this blog.  For 51 weeks, I have been publishing all the good that Jesus is doing in my life, one day at a time and one post at a time.  You have a choice to read these Spirit-inspired messages and share them with others, or ignore them.  I am only a middle-man with no special training or credentials, however, I have made a decision that I do not want to be sorry at the end of my life, when the Creator asks me how I used the gifts He Blessed me with.  How about you?  Is it better to be safe than sorry?...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Journey of the Naked Cave Man

I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish -  Luke 13:3

Peter Zindler, the leader of the Christian Writers Critique Group in my hometown, commented that I am a nut.  This comment came at the end of our first meeting after all the other writers in the group had departed.  We spent two more hours talking and praying together.  The "nut" comment was meant as something positive as he has met very few people who put God first in their lives.  The process of becoming a "nut" is part of a life-long journey.  As I reflect on my life, I clearly see that it can be divided into distinct parts.

The Bubble Years

My childhood was like living in a bubble.  Almost all of my peers thought like me and looked like me.  We even wore the same uniforms to school through the eighth grade.  My parents put me in a private elementary school so that I would learn all about God.  I spent my youth mingling with fun cousins and growing up in a neighborhood full of playmates.  We played outside every day until the sun went down.  Every day was an adventure.

The Rebel Years

Once I entered public high school, I was exposed to people who were different from me.  I met atheists, agnostics, and believers of all denominations.  My parents struggled to keep "Mulligan's" alive, a tavern that they bought when I was fifteen.  My father went to work every day at 6:00 am and came home late.  This took a toll on their marriage and on my family.  My parents declared bankruptcy and divorced while I was still in high school.

I remember praying every day for God to heal my family.  Silence was the only response.  My family was headed for a plane crash and I felt abandoned, especially when my father moved away.  I lost faith in marriage and pretty much rebelled against anyone who did not think like me.  Hatred entered my heart, along with pride and prejudice.  I would stay up all night arguing with my mother.  I felt my future was in my hands and I became driven in my desire to pursue a life different from my parents.

The Cave Man Years

Falling in love with my future wife was the beginning of a new era.  I was ready to move out of state, partly to escape the troubles that were in my family.  I withdrew from family and friends and worked hard to build a new life in a new bubble.  I wanted my children to be raised in a place that was similar to the one I grew up in, free from crime and people who were different from me.

The Repentance Years

The starting point of this era happened during the "Laying of Hands" ceremony, it was the moment that the Holy Spirit entered my soul.  Repentance comes from the Greek word, Metanoia, a compound of two words, "meta" (after, with) and "noeo" (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing).  When you put these words together, you get "to think differently after".  Metanoia is an after-thought different from a former thought; a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct.

For me, the repentance years are as different as night and day from the bubble years, rebel years, and cave man years.  It was the Holy Spirit that led me out of the cave.   The Holy Spirit taught me to forgive others.  He inspired me to love others, regardless of their attitude towards me or my country.  I understand the Bible from a completely new perspective.  I am a blind man who has received the gift of sight.  When I look at you, I no longer see your faults, just the person God created you to be, even if you do not see this in yourself.  This is Metanoia in its purest form.  This is my reason for writing every day, to help you understand just how much God loves you and wants to be the center of your life.

All of the Creator's attention is on you, even when you do not recognize His presence in your life.  These daily stories are for your benefit.  God's Black Sheep Squadron is also for you.  It goes deeper than these daily posts, which are God's appetizers.  You are being invited to the banquet right now as you are reading this.  I am just one part of God's puzzle which is connected to billions of others.  God's energy is being directed to those who feel they do not belong.  If you are one of those people who feel separated from God, there is hope.  That hope is in Jesus Christ, the one who sent the Holy Spirit to help us find our way back to the Creator.  All you have to do is invite Him into your heart.  He is knocking on your door and waiting for you to open it...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon was one of my favorite short stories from my days in elementary school (click the link to preview the first 65 pages).  It is the story about a mentally disabled individual who undergoes a special surgery to make him smarter.  The story is told through his journal as he gradually gets smarter.

There is a deeper meaning for me now as I recall this man's journey.  I see many similarities in my life as I learn to be a better writer and self-publisher.  The purpose that we seek for our lives is unique for each of us, however, the challenges and obstacles are something that we have in common.

Getting qualified is not an easy process.  Depending on our calling, it may take years of training and preparation to become the person we were created to be.  Daniel Keyes, the author of the short story and subsequent novel, was inspired to write because of his conflicted relationship with his parents.  They were pushing him to pursue pre-med studies while his heart's desire was to become a writer.  His own education was driving a wedge between him and his parents and he wondered what would happen if it were possible to increase a person's intelligence.  The aha moment came when one of his special needs students asked if he could ever get smart enough to be put in a regular class.

You have the power within you to become qualified to do the work you were created to do while you are here on this planet.  You don't need a special surgery to get smart.  Work hard daily to develop the gifts that you were born with and don't ever give up on your dreams.  The world is waiting for you to reveal your unique masterpiece.  Time to get busy...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are You Infected?

Computer viruses have a way of hiding themselves.  Left unchecked, they can destroy everything that is stored on a hard drive.  Our souls can also be infected without our knowledge.  It took an act of God to get me to see that I was in need of some first aid for my soul.

A note of caution...if you attempt to perform this action, your soul's hard drive will never be the same.  I am referring to what happens when you ask the Creator to examine what is deep inside you and report what is uncovered.  I did not expect to find a demon living in the hidden part of my soul, it was a shocker to learn just how many viruses were revealed. 

The only way to keep your mind, body and soul safe from infection is to stay connected to the Creator.  When you stray beyond the boundaries, you will become susceptible to all kinds of worms and other viruses.  Don't be afraid to invite Jesus in.  He will make your soul white again, no matter how many infections He finds.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Safe Zone Complex

How many times have you been told, "that idea will never work", or, "you will get yourself in a lot of trouble if you try that"?  Most of the people around us love us dearly and they do not want to see us fail.  For some, they realize that if you succeed with your ideas, it may force them to make changes in their lives that they are not comfortable with.  Asking you to give up on your dreams keeps  relationships safe.

I was fortunate that our start-up plans for Zoom were kept a secret from everyone.  The dream killers were out in full force once we launched and some even asked if it was too late to jump ship and return to the safety of my old job.  I was told repeatedly about the very low success rate of new businesses.

The lesson I learned about "safe zone complex" is that the people around you fear change so much that they will do everything to convince you that your ideas will fail; you need to avoid them at all costs.  Find new people who have succeeded at implementing an idea and get them to share their plan for success with you.  Be bold with your life and dream big.  The safe zone is the shallow end of the pool.  Maybe today is a good day to discover what is in the deep end?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Yoga Time

My wife and I have decided to make Yoga a part of our lives.  It is something that both of us can learn together.  We have decided to get a couple of videos and start out in the comfort of our home.  We are both excited to make this a priority in our busy lives.

Since neither of us really know much about Yoga, maybe someone out there in the blog world can offer some advice?  One of my business partners is raving about the martial arts program he started, however, I think this  may be too intense for my wife.  Our crazy hours will be a challenge as well, however, this is something both of us want to do and it will help us to stay healthy.

If you are feeling the affects of stress from long work hours or raising a family in our busy world, why not give Yoga a try?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brain Scientist Has Stroke of Insight

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist who suffered a blood vessel explosion in the left hemisphere of her brain.  She describes her incredible journey and discovery in the video below.  Her book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, is a best seller.  Click on the link below to check out Jill's  video and pick up a copy of her book for a fascinating journey of discovery...


Friday, August 13, 2010

Ramona's Evening of Prayer- Date Changed to Sept. 4th


 Note:  The date has been changed to September 4th

My son's high school wrestling coach, Peter Zindler, is bringing together people of all faiths to pray for the youth in our community and in our nation.  He just completed twelve days of fasting and praying and is doing everything he can to deliver our youth from evil.

There will be a praise band playing September 4th from 6 to 9 pm at the Ramona Oaks Park.  The address is 25341 Pappas Rd.  Please come out in support of our youth.  If you are unable to attend, please keep Peter in your prayers on that evening.

Check out the flyer below for more information and come join Peter for a night that will be very special.  Thank you Peter, for serving the youth of our world.  May their lives be touched by your work...

Note:  The date has been changed to September 4th

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Can You See the Light?

It had been one week since she departed for her vacation to her home-town.  As I waited for my love to get off the plane, my eyes were fixated on the walkway above the escalator.  Families were re-uniting as I waited patiently.  My heart stopped as my wife suddenly appeared before my eyes, she surprised me by taking a different route.  Immediately, my heart started up again and beat out of control as we kissed passionately.  A lost passenger interrupted us to ask for directions and we snapped out of our blissful moment.

As I held my lover's hand, I felt a warm breeze touch my soul and a new energy fill my body.  She glowed like an angel.  On the way home, we stopped for a quick bite and she told me about her time away.  It had been a while since she vacationed alone and it was good for her soul.  How happy I was to be with her once again.

My love inspires me.  The light that shines from within her brightens up my world.  Can you see it?  It comes from her faith in God.  It was her lighthouse that helped me get back on the right path, drawing me closer to my Savior. 

Surround yourself with people that have that special light inside of them.  They will help you find the spark that will fire up your soul.  Welcome home, my lady, and thank you for brightening my world...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

God's Masterpiece

Thanks, to my friend Robin for posting this video on her Facebook page.  If you have ever felt inferior to others or just plain worthless, take a look at this video.  I like what the character says about how God does not make junk.  I also like the man's letter to God.  Check it out...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

God-Centered Goals

There was a time in my youth when I was a maniac at setting goals.  Some may have called it a sign of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).  As I reflect on my life, I see how selfish many of my early goals were.  When you believe your success is in your hands alone, you do become laser-focused and the fear of failure motivates you to fight hard.

My attitude towards goal planning has changed dramatically over the years.  As I plan for the future, I start my goal planning with prayer.  I ask, "Father, is this the direction you want me to go?"  I wait patiently for some kind of inner voice.  The answer does not always come right away.  Sometimes it is in the form of a stranger who says the right thing at the right time. 

There are always two distinct paths with every goal, the one you want for yourself and the one God wants for you.  When you learn to take the road that God wants for you, events unfold that are out of this world and people come into your life that will amaze you.  Impossible obstacles will disappear and your life will become meaningful.

When you set God-centered goals and you have faith that the Holy Spirit will be there to help you, there is absolutely no way that you will fail.  You will stumble, yes, but you will eventually reach the goals that God has placed you on this planet to attain. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Fall of a Giant

It has been nearly a year since I made the promise to share more about how Zoom survived our start-up phase while battling one of the largest corporate giants in America.  I am well aware that my competitors are reading these posts daily and I have first-hand experience dealing with their attorneys so I must also protect my team from future battles.  Goliath put us on notice that all the Zoom partners are forever bound to never speak about "trade secrets" we learned while working for them over the years.

If you did not see "the Story of Zoom", please read this first and then come back here for the rest of the story.

The Final Days at Goliath...

It had been nearly a year since several of us got the idea to leave Goliath and become a competitor.  The meetings with our world-class attorney with ties to Washington D.C. and the countless hours of top-secret preparations encouraged us to enter the battlefield.

Jeff was the first one to leave.  He held on as long as he could but the new quotas were impossible to attain in a market where almost 100% of the customers were actively advertising.  Jeff had become the first victim in the plot to eliminate us, one by one and replace each of us "with five monkeys that could do the job for less pay", our district manager told his colleagues.

Jeff applied for work in the internet division before his impending termination.  When they checked his references, our district manager lost it and told his counterparts that Jeff was "on the plan" and about to be terminated.  He drove over to meet the top people on the .com side of the business to review 400 applications.  His purpose was to uncover any of us that might attempt to switch from print sales to internet sales.  He uncovered one name and pulled him from the files, declaring that none of us were worthy to have jobs there.  Jeff's future bosses really liked him and his stellar credentials.  They lobbied to get him but they told him he would be the only one allowed to work there.  The rest of us were black-balled from every branch of this monopoly that owned six competing publications in our market.

Jeff was able to monitor the print division at his new job and quickly become one of the top reps in the nation.  His bosses were incredible, they treated him very well.  We were concerned that he may become so happy that he would lose interest in our start-up plans.

Our attorney advised us that an attack by Goliath was inevitable.  We knew too much about the business and our status as top reps made us targets.  Our battle plan was centered on inventing software and protecting ourselves against claims that anything we created was property of Goliath.  In order to accomplish this, our software developer needed to quit first, then begin writing software code that was time and date stamped.  Anything invented during employment with Goliath would not belong to us.

A timetable was set up that started with Christmas Eve, Steve's last day at Goliath, and ended one week before St. Patrick's Day, our target launch day.  One by one, each of us quit our jobs.  Carmen, the number one rep out of 2,000 was the most stunning in his departure.  He waited until the third week in January, 2005, to quit.   All of the bosses were out of town.  He turned in his final paperwork, said goodbye to a few key people and then typed, "I quit" on his computer.  He sent the email to his boss and walked out the door.

I was the last one to quit.  I gave a two week notice two days after Carmen and hoped they would walk me out the door as they had done for a couple of my future partners.  Some new software had just been installed and it was not working properly, causing major headaches for everyone in the company.  It was such a nightmare.  Every morning, I showed up, hoping to be escorted out of the building.  At this point, our start-up plans still remained top-secret.

On my final day, I completed my paperwork and said good bye to my peers.  The general manager asked me to come into his office.  Our regional manager was with him.  He said, "God, I sure hope that you don't ever compete with me."  I answered, "if I ever do, I will give you the same dignity and respect that I have given all other competitors for nearly twenty years".  The smile on his face disappeared as I shook his hand and exited.

As I said goodbye to our human resources person, she told me that enough people had quit recently to start up a new magazine.  I agreed with her and walked out the door to meet my future partners.  A meeting had been set up that evening to make the final preparations to get our last partner on board.

We met in the conference room the next morning with our ex-boss, the founder of Auto Trader in San Diego.  He had sold out to Goliath exactly five years and one day earlier.  His non-compete agreement was set for five years.  Non-competes are legal in California if you are the seller of assets and provided there are reasonable time constraints on the non-compete period.  Five years is at the extreme edge.

If took us approximately thirty minutes to convince David that he should join us.  We offered an equal share in the LLC and no day-to-day duties.  We were most interested in using his great reputation to add credibility to our new company. 

We nick-named Valentine's Day, "the Valentine's Day Massacre" because five employees walked out the door at Goliath on that day.  We were accused of sabotage but had nothing to do with people leaving other than a few we had hand-picked to join us.  People were leaving because they no longer wanted to work there.

After all of us had left Goliath, we began contacting customers about our new magazine, Zoom Autos. War was declared by our ex-bosses.  All employees were called into Goliath's conference room and our names were put up on the board.  We had become the enemy.  During the meeting, we received virtual text messages regarding the war plans and were able to get the information to our attorney for our counter-attack.  In a two page letter, our attorney pointed out flaws in the war strategy, advising Goliath that we knew the law and we would hold Goliath accountable for any illegal actions.  We were able to obtain a video showing an employee vandalizing one of our racks and we forwarded the video to their attorneys.  We also discovered missing Zoom racks in Goliath's warehouse and filed police reports to document all the facts.  When the police showed up to help us recover our racks, Goliath told the officers that they had no idea how our racks showed up there.  We were steadfast in keeping our company alive.

The suits were flying in from all over the country.  They could not believe that something as large as this could have taken place without inside help and a witch hunt began.  Many at Goliath were loyal to us and innocent  people suffered just because they were our friends.

The final week that Steve was completing our new software, he told us he was one week behind.  There would be no time to test his newly invented software.  Instead, we just typed and hoped that everything would work.  Goliath found out about our software challenges and told our customers that we would not launch as promised.  I will never forget typing ads at midnight on deadline day.  Our screens kept going black.  Steve was a few cubicles away, laughing as he added the final code in the final hours.  When he hit the "send button", everything worked flawlessly and the printer received our first Zoom Autos magazine in time to launch on St. Patrick's Day, 2005.

Five years and five months later, we are still here.  Goliath promised all of our customers that we would not last more than 90 days.  They are the ones that laid off more than 4,000 employees and stopped publishing auto magazines throughout the country.  They also shut down all other competitors which they owned in favor of internet only.  Ironically, they allowed the top print reps to join the internet teams.  Had they given us the same opportunity to change divisions, Zoom would never have been born.

Today's post is in honor of all the brave people who joined Zoom.  I have never met a team of people so dedicated and loyal.  We are living the dream thanks to all who believed in us and today we are in three cities.

If you have dreams, don't listen to the dream killers...go for it.  Don't be afraid to fail.  You will eventually succeed as long as you keep getting up.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's 808 Today

I must admit to you that I have had many doubts about this blog thing ever really making a difference in the world when I first started nearly one year ago.  I deliberately made it hard to find so that you would not be able to discover it and read about all my failures.  At fifty years old, I still have plenty of failures ahead.  Now you are here, reading all about them and you keep coming back.

My friend, Pete, tells me that publishers start taking you seriously when you have an audience of over 10,000.  Why do I want a publisher?  The publishing world is changing so fast that self-publishing will one day be the norm as long as writers commit to high standards of excellence, including serious proofing and editing.  Publishers have marketing expertise and that is a good thing, however, I don't think there is a publisher out there that is more committed to promoting your book, than you, the writer.

I have finally accepted the fact that writing is what God wants me to do, every day.  I have embraced all of the tools that are available, thanks to the folks at Google, Facebook, Blogger and Createspace.  God's timing is perfect.  He created all of us to be here at this moment in time.  There has never been a better time to be a writer or a self-publisher.

That 808 that you see in my name stands for something.  The zero in the middle is me.  Without the eights that surround it, is is without value, meaningless.  When you rotate the numbers surrounding the zero by ninety degrees, you get something extraordinary...the alpha and the omega, that is, the symbols for infinity.   When you insert yourself into these symbols, you become connected to Jesus.  He is connected to the Father and the Holy Spirit.  He is also connected to everyone else on the planet, living and dead.

My life as a "zero" is over now.   I have meaning as long as I stay connected to the Alpha and the Omega.  Are you ready to give up your old number?  I promise, life will never be the same, even if you try to hide in a cave...been there, done that.  God has a way of finding you, even when you are lost and separated from others.  Trade in your number today and encourage others to do the same.  The world is waiting to see what you can do once you get a new number...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Letting Go of the Banana

While I was listening to my pastor speak last Sunday, he said something that really hit me hard.  He asked the crowd if we are aware of how monkeys are caught.  It is really quite simple.  The hunters set a trap with one small opening and then place a banana inside.  The monkey reaches inside the trap and grasps the banana.  There is no way the banana can fit through the opening.  As long as the monkey holds on to the banana, he is a prisoner.

There are too many bananas in my life that I have been holding onto.  Like the monkey, I have become a prisoner.  The voice inside me tells me to let go.  The world may judge me for letting go of the banana but I am more concerned about trusting the One who is leading me.

Once the monkey is caught, his freedom is lost forever.  I hope I can learn from the monkey.  As much as I love to eat bananas, I am ready to try something different.  How about you?  Are you ready to get out of the trap?  Let's go into the jungle together and search for a new fruit, one that will satisfy our hunger like nothing we have ever tasted before.  Are you ready?  Just let go of the banana and you will be free...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010


5 "After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you - 1 Samuel 10:5-7

Shekinah is a Hebrew word for God's presence.  Literally translated, it means to settle, inhabit or dwell.  I discovered this word for the first time while reading a book given to me by a member of the Ramona Christian Writer's Critique Group entitled "You Shall Receive Power".  He told me he was moved to give me this book and I believe the reason I am reading it is to pass on valuable insights to you.

I have been Blessed recently to meet people that have the voices of angels.  Music is so important in God's Kingdom.  In the quote above, we discover that when you hear a series of musicians playing their instruments and prophesying, then, the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you and you will prophesy with them.  Music is the beginning of the Shekinah, or God's presence inside you.

When you listen to the Youtube video below, you will not be able to understand the words...this is something that happens when people speak in tongues, a language used by the Holy Spirit.  For me, it is like hearing the voices of angels.  I think of those prophets coming down from the mountain, playing their musical instruments and proclaiming God's presence.  Are you ready to receive your Shekinah?  Why not ask for it while you are listening to the voices of His angels in the video?  By the way, the singer in the video, Darlene Koldenhoven, played a nun in "Sister Act" with Whoopi Goldberg (she played the tambourine like the one mentioned in the quote above).  All you have to do is ask...rivers of water will begin overflowing from deep within your soul and you will become a part of His choir, even if your singing ability is like mine, filled with sharps and flats...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

I first read Dr. M Scott Peck's book, the Road Less Traveled, nearly a quarter-century ago.  It begins with the words, "life is difficult".  When I wrote this post this morning, somehow, as I was publishing the story, it's contents disappeared.  I am doing what I always do, starting over...taking a Mulligan.  This journey that I am on is something I only want to do just once.  I have no desire to go back to my youthful days, preferring to keep my eyes focused on the destination.

I watched "Extraordinary Measures" with my youngest son last night and it reminded me of all the challenges my business partners and I have gone through in our battles to survive against all odds.  I met the man who was once my boss while at the ballpark celebrating "July with Jim".  My first instinct was to ignore him and walk the other way.  Something inside me nudged me to shake hands with him.  I offered him a non-verbal "Shabbat Shalom" and then introduced him to Jim and his son.  The amazing part of this story is that this man was slated to be the next CEO of one of the most powerful companies in America.  We helped him earn top honors year after year and our city was considered the flagship in an organization with 2,000 sales people.

When this man devised a plan to replace all of us with a cheaper sales staff, he made sure that all doors were closed to other company-owned divisions in order to prevent us from competing with him.  When we uncovered his plan, we decided that our only option was to start our own company and compete, even though the odds of success were slim.

My partners all agreed to never speak to this man again when we quit our jobs to go out on our own.  The pain we suffered and the sacrifices we made were too high to let go of the past and we kept our promise to cut off all ties.  On this cool day at the ballpark, I sensed an inner peace inside my own heart as I approached this man that was once my most despised enemy.  Forgiveness is so good for the soul.

If you find yourself on the road less traveled, remember this...you are not alone.  Don't ever give up.  Watch the movie "Extraordinary Measures", about the power of the human spirit, with Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell and Harrison Ford.  You can find a way to win, no matter what the odds are and you can find a way to forgive your most hated enemy, the power is within you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Living Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God - John 1:1

Ever since our first ancestors appeared on this planet, our Creator has been seeking us.  He has done so much to get our attention.  He gave us His word that He would send us a Savior and then made His words come alive in Jesus Christ.

In this great country, we have never had as much access to our Creator as we do now.  More and more, we are reading our books electronically as opposed to paper editions.   Everything we need to know about God is written in the Bible.  Can these words actually come to life as we are reading them on our Kindles or in other types of e-books?

Think of the Bible as a full-coarse meal.  The Old Testament is like having appetizers, that is unless you are Jewish.  For the Jews, the Old Testament is the main course.  For the rest of us, we are asked to eat the Bread and drink the Wine to remember Jesus until He returns.  This is our feast, the entire New Testament gives us everlasting life.

Most probably do not like the bitter taste of the entree served at the end of the meal, the Book of Revelations.  Just like certain vegetables that we might prefer to skip, eating this food gives us a well-balanced diet...it is a necessary part of the meal.

All of us are looking forward to dessert.  We have not seen this on the menu for thousands of years but our Creator promises that one day we will all be invited to sit at the table and enjoy what the Master Chef is preparing.  What is this desert called?...Heavenly Paradise.  Are you ready?  Don't forget to eat your vegetables first, they are words you can live by.  Everyone is invited to the feast but not all will R.S.V.P.  Don't miss out, the dessert is out of this world.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Who is the Greatest?

But the greatest among you shall be your servant- Matthew 23:11

The followers of Jesus questioned themselves about who was the greatest among them.  When Jesus got involved in the conversation, He told them that the one who serves is the greatest.

Many in our society feel that the world revolves around them.  They see others as pawns or slaves.  In God's eyes, the one who serves is actually the one who is the greatest. This coincides with God's commandment to love one another.  Loving one another requires us to take the focus off of ourselves and shift it to our neighbor.

Why not try going through a work week with the goal of serving others?  Don't tell anyone what you are doing, just do it and watch what happens in your life.

Remember this, you cannot outdo God in His generosity.  What you give to others, God will return to you in ways that you cannot even measure.  As you  work on becoming a  better servant, you will see your life become more Blessed.  Need a good role model for this?  Follow Jesus, He is the master at being the servant...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bite-Sized Goals

A little over 200 days ago, you probably made a list of all the big goals you wanted to achieve by the end of this year.  Did you give up?  You could wait another 150 days until this year is over and repeat the broken process, or make a small adjustment today and get some results before this year comes to a close.

Perhaps your brain is overwhelmed by the the big picture, filled with dreams that seem impossible to turn into reality.  Take another look at your goals and break each one down to bite-sized chunks that you can chew on, one at a time.

For example, instead of concentrating on losing fifty pounds, focus on your next meal.  Eat a banana instead of a doughnut.  Next, when you make the grocery list, pick three foods that are unhealthy and trade them for something in the fruits and veggie category.  Decide how many ounces you are going to get rid of in the next three days.  Make this realistic.  Focus on the bite-sized goals until you reach the mini goal and then build on it.

Big goals are just a bunch of little ones connected to each other.  Don't bite off more than you can chew.  Keep it real.  You can do it.  By the time the end of the year is here, you will be satisfied that you can achieve major goals just by taking care of the bite-sized goals first.  Stay consistent and keep moving forward, one bite at a time...