Monday, February 28, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

I was fishing YouTube yesterday, looking for a Hallelujah song to help me set up a scene in my head for a chapter in my memoir. I found something extraordinary. 

Imagine yourself sitting in the middle of a packed food court during the holidays. You are stressed as you scramble to find an empty seat. All day long you've been fighting the crowds. You are having a day from Hell. You close your eyes to thank God for your food and you pray that God sends you one kind person to restore your faith in humanity. You open your eyes and there is a lady standing next to you with a cell phone in her hand. She smiles at you and then… (Watch the video to see what happens next).

When you're done, come up with a random act of kindness of your own...maybe flash a hand-written note to a friend who is going through a hard time with the words, "FREE HUGS" when they least expect it?  The world needs smiles.  Offer yours.  They're contagious. Life is to short to go through it grumpy...

Here's another good one, shot at a crowded train station...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ramona Family Survives Epicenter of 6.3 Earthquake in New Zealand

On January 1st, 2010, I kicked off the New Year with a story about my good friend, and tennis buddy, Leland Rolling.  Click here to see the story.  Since that story was posted, Leland has climbed to the top of his age group, earning a top ten national ranking in his age group.  He and his family were invited to represent the United States in an international tennis competition in New Zealand.

During the competition, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the town where Leland was staying, destroying buildings and wiping out the tennis court he had just practiced on four hours before the quake struck.

I spoke with Leland on Saturday evening just after he returned to Ramona and he described the horror he, his wife, and two boys witnessed while they were there.  The pictures you see below were taken by Leland before he was evacuated.

Leland and his family will be our guests at our church on Sunday as they are looking for a church community they can call home.  They are great witnesses for Jesus already.  I hope we show some great hospitality and that they decide to return permanently.

Leland is also interested in checking out a few of our practices on Wednesday night.  Slowly, my tennis buddies and I are improving.  It will be nice to have a player of Leland's caliber to get us to a higher level, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Thanks, Leland, for giving me permission to share your story about New Zealand on my blog.  Leland and his doubles partner defeated Japan 6-0, 6-1 prior to the quake.  The players were sent home early due to the destruction of the tennis courts and surrounding towns.  Look for Leland on the courts and wish him well as he goes for a national number one ranking.  Welcome home.  And thanks for sharing these pictures you shot in New Zealand just outside your hotel room.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Power Weekend

The finish line is in sight now. I have rounded third base, heading home. My memoir will be released in just 18 days. This weekend is devoted 100% to writing the remaining chapters. This morning, my wife entered the cave and served me my patented breakfast of Ancient Grains cereal, topped with sliced bananas and pure almond milk and a couple of slices of Ezekiel 4:9 bread. She recognizes that  I need to remain confined in my cave all weekend and she will make sure that I am free of all distractions and that I don't forget to eat.

A cold front has moved in from Canada and the forecast calls for snow at the 1,500 foot elevation, the same altitude our home sits. This picturesque setting gives me a great view from my mountainside cave as I work away using my new dictation software to write.

There is the sense of bewilderment  inside of me this weekend. Reflecting on the newest acquaintances in my life that consider themselves atheists, like the gentleman I spoke with yesterday, an aspiring author, I see how God plans to use me to bring these people to Him. These people are not your casual nonbelievers. They are steadfast in their beliefs. These people are so important to God and He is using me to reel them in, not with facts and figures, but with heart and passion.

I look forward to my exit from the cave once this book is complete. It's time to get back to work now. I'll be seeing you soon. Don't forget to sign up for the Angel in the outfield program. Time is running out and that will be the last page that I work on before sending my book off to be published.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Retreat Returns

I tried to hold back, to bite my tongue and keep quiet during the first stewardship meeting at my church.  My plan was to show up, listen, shut up and leave.  My pastor was only asking for me to check out one group meeting and I knew I was already too overloaded to take on another project. God had different plans.

As I listened to my pastor speak about lighting a fire in the church and getting others to become engaged, I got a warm feeling inside of me.  Suddenly, the Spirit within me leaped out and I blurted out that we needed to bring back our retreat.  It was the same Spirit that prompted me to become a speaker at our church retreat, the One who inspired me as I spent hours putting talks together for future sheep.

The wheels are in motion now and our pastor has approved our plans to bring back the retreat, most likely to be held near the end of the year.  Our lead evangelist is making plans to modify the retreat to fit our youth group.

My good friend, Michael T. has volunteered to be an evangelist.  He was part of the original group of speakers when he lived in my hometown.  He is also the person I mentioned in my blog about seeking organ donors.  Click here to read Michael's story about receiving a new liver as he was just hours away from certain death.  Since receiving that transplant, he became a deacon and  adopted four more children, bringing the total number of children to eight.  We are blessed to have him return to share his story in the upcoming retreat.  He will bring several people with him from his church so that they can become the seeds for a future retreat in their community.

This particular retreat is special for me because this is where I first experienced the Holy Spirit moment that set up a new direction in my life.  It is safe to say that it is the moment I became "born again."  Soon, others will get to experience Jesus as the first followers of Jesus experienced Him.  I can't wait to get involved again with this very special group of people.

My only regret is that this retreat is open to members of my own denomination only and not available for the general public.  My calling is for ALL the lost sheep, not just the ones of my faith, however, God has not fully prepared me for that role.  I do know that I am to play a part in bringing His people together who are scattered and divided.  He wants His people to be ONE PEOPLE.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Love Letter to my Community

Today's blog message goes out to the entire world, although it is inspired by members of my hometown in Ramona.  The love that has been given to me and my family nourishes my soul and I feel so alive.  At last, the separate parts of my life are coming together and individuals that lift me up are getting to know one another.

The other night, two separate committees in my church sat together, mapping out a future course.  I spoke of the legacy that we will leave our children and grandchildren similar to the one we have with our annual Thanksgiving dinner that was started sixty years ago.  The theme for our Valentine's Day dinner, dance and auction is Heart 2 Heart.  It's a time for our community, not just our individual denomination, to come together to celebrate our love for one another.  During our meeting, we made plans for Heart 2 Heart, 2012.  We will be inviting the entire community to come share a fun evening with us as we celebrate love.

While we were attending our big event, sixty of our youth were at a three day retreat.  They have so many fun activities to look forward to and they get the opportunity to share their God-given gifts with others.

During our meeting, we spoke of ways of becoming a more welcoming community.  Our pastor has a vision of lighting a fire in the congregation that will allow each individual to become engaged.  The fire already started.  Our choir is adding new people every month and the pews are filling up with people who are attracted to the light.

It is such a joy to be a part of all that is happening in my community.  Thanks to the folks at the Treasure Box, those in our community who are having trouble putting food on their table can now pick up food boxes from our church and stretch their food dollars.

If you feel you are on the outside looking in, maybe today is a good day to join a faith community.  If you already belong to a church but feel disconnected, try volunteering.  Giving of yourself to others brings a joy that will make your heart sing.

You have the power to change the world.  Begin today by sharing your gifts in the community where you reside.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Are You a Black Sheep?

If you are one of those people who does not attend church because you are afraid lighting may strike, today's blog message is for you. You may also find my memoir interesting since the main character was lost most of his life. This family memoir is written with the black sheep in mind.

The idea of a squadron of black sheep comes from one of my brothers. He told me that since we are descendants of the one who called himself a black sheep, we too are a family made up of black sheep. The more I look around me, the more I see people like myself and my siblings who feel unworthy to be included in God's kingdom.

The only one truly worthy of the kingdom is Jesus. We do not become white until we invite Him into our hearts. Remember this, no matter what you've done in the past or how far away you have strayed, God is calling you. All of us who are a part of this squadron of black sheep will be made white. Jesus paid the price when He gave his life for you. Please join my siblings and me and insert yourself into the final chapter of my memoir. My dad may be the main character of the book, however, YOU are the most important character and you will see how you fit in when you read the last chapter. This book was written long before I was born. It has taken me a lifetime to discover how God wanted me to publish it. Everything in the book is for God's glory and for his sheep, especially the ones who are lost.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Emergency Prayer Request

 My daughter pleaded with me this morning to please post a blog message about the grim situation in Libya.

“No one is reporting the atrocities that are taking place,” she said as I drove her to school this morning. “You must do something immediately.”

‘You've got it, Nicole. I will post an emergency prayer request this morning. You are right. The world needs to wake up. Can you fill me in on the latest details?’

“Dad, they are raping the woman, they are going into the hospitals and killing doctors so that the sick have nowhere to go for help. The whole country is in chaos.”

‘Nicole, this is what happens when a dictator closes off his country from the world.  Libya and many other countries around the world are going through tremendous pain and I will do my part. Our country has always stood for the weak and the powerless. Reporters are afraid to go to places like Libya. The only thing I know to do today is to answer your request and blog about Libya. I am so proud of you for standing up to the evil that is present in this world today.’

Please take a few moments today and pray for those who are suffering at the hands of ruthless leaders. Pray that the sick and the wounded will be cared for. Pray that civility will return to a country that has oppressed the innocent. Pray for peace.

Thank you for doing your part. To my daughter, Nicole, I am so proud of you. You represent the good that is to come in the next generation of leaders. May you always keep your passion for helping those who need it most.

May God bless the people of Libya and the people all over the world that feel separated from His love.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Science Behind Love

Love is complicated.  When we fall in love, something happens in our brains causing certain chemicals to be produced.  What happens after a number of years pass?  Some couples say their love becomes deeper while others fall out of love.

Check out the article below which centers on happy couples who have been in the same relationship for an extended period of time.  Since this year's blog theme is love, feel free to email me if you would like to share your love story.  If you give me permission, you may be part of an upcoming blog story on long-term love.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Atheist Professor Has Out of Body Experience

I often wonder why there are so many agnostics and atheists around me.  Some of them are so far to the other side of the spectrum that they consider themselves "world class" atheists.  These people aren't just casual acquaintances, they include a best friend of thirty plus years, a managing partner in my business, and members of my "inner circle" of tennis buddies.

I don't believe that the high numbers of non-believers in my life are some kind of statistical anomaly, but rather, a part of a divine plan to draw the lost sheep to Jesus.  Those who are close to me know that I am in the middle of some kind of spiritual battle.  I don't like talking about it much because it makes me look like someone who has just lost it, however, the closer I get to publishing my book, the more I see the presence of the Evil One.  In order to keep my own sanity, I find myself in prayer almost the entire waking hours of my life and even in my sleep.

What is it that the Evil One is so afraid of?  I think it is that He and His followers are so far away from the love of God that all they know is torment.  Any time they see an attempt by anyone in this world to turn on the light and bring people to Jesus, they go into full attack mode.  They are relentless.  They don't want anyone to go to the light.

The YouTube video below is for those people in the world who are searching for the truth.  This professor is much more intelligent than me.  He spent most of his life criticizing believers.  If you are searching for the truth or know someone who is lost, please check out this video.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Visitor From Your Future

Imagine yourself at home alone on a quiet morning. Your doorbell rings and you take a look through the  peephole to see who it is. At first glance, you don't recognize the stranger, however, this person looks like one of your family members. The smile on the stranger's face gives you a warm feeling as you decide to open the door.

“May I come in?” The stranger asks.

“Do I know you?” You ask.

“We are related.”


“More than that. It's better if we sit down.”

You study this stranger that claims to be a family member while walking to the sitting area and wonder just how you two are related.

“Anything to drink?” You ask.

“I'll have what you are having.” The stranger replies.

What happens next is stunning. The stranger tells you of this amazing journey that has taken place in the last ten years. Today is the day that this journey comes full circle. Somehow, the stranger was able to travel backwards in time ten years in order to have this conversation with you. This stranger is you!

You don't even recognize the you from the future because you look so different from the way you are today. You marvel at what you have become. Your muscles are well toned and the ten pounds you've lost reminds you of the way you looked in younger days.  The future you exudes confidence and a smile that lights up the room.  You admire the haircut, the clothes and the positive attitude.  What a joyful day this is.

The you from the future describes the many storms that are ahead and the choices you will be confronted with. “Each time you come to a fork in the road, you will need to make a choice,” the older you says. “The temptation will always be to take the easy way, however, it is the tough road that will shape you into the you that you are to become.”

Hours pass like minutes as you pepper the future you with questions.

“There are some things that I am not allowed to share with you about your future. There are people around you that will be exiting soon. They don't have the opportunity that you have to get a visitor from the future. The one who sent me is relying on you to reach them before it is too late. They will never believe that this conversation took place today. There is only one way you can help them to make the right choice… You must lead by example. Live your life to the fullest, one moment at a time. Don't get ahead of yourself and stop worrying about the future.”

Your heart races as the future you brings the conversation to a close. You hug. Tears fill both of your eyes as the future you walks out the front door. Looking up, the future you says, “you will want to get your raincoat out. There are several storms headed your way. The storms will shape you into the person you are to become.  Remember this, after every storm you will see a rainbow. No matter how bad things get, God wins.  God bless you.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Four-way stop

Our Creator has given us laws for our benefit and for the good of others. Imagine that violating a law is like running a stop sign. When we do this, we risk having an accident. The consequences of our actions can be far-reaching.

Are you a danger to others? Perhaps running stop signs makes your heart beat faster and gives you a thrill. You may think you will never get caught. All it takes is one collision and multiple lives will be damaged.  Any joy you receive from running a stop sign is only temporary and the more you do it the greater the your risk of hurting innocent people.

It's not too late to become a law abiding citizen. Make a decision today to follow God's laws.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Moment by Moment

Do you find yourself struggling to come up with a game plan for your life? Is it difficult to get through your to do list? Is your workload so overwhelming that you have trouble sleeping at night?

There was a time in my life when I thought I had everything figured out… The retirement, the travel plans, etc. etc. I never really lived in the moment because I was so busy preparing for the future. I am sure there are many times when God laughed as He watched me running around in circles, trying to do things my way.

The most important lesson that I've learned about the future is that it is not as important as today. Today is the most important day of our lives. You are spending time reading this blog because you are searching for something. Maybe you don't really know what it is that you are looking for. When you are done with your blog reading, you will have some choices. Here are some ideas:

1.     Stop worrying about tomorrow.
2.     Recognize that the moment you're living in is a gift.
3.     Let go of yesterday. It's over.
4.     Stop comparing yourself to others and be happy with what you have.
5.     Use this moment to tell those you are close to that you love them.
6.     Forgive an enemy… TODAY.
7.     Exercise for one hour… TODAY.
8.     Throw away all the junk food in your house… TODAY.
9.     Buy some fruits and vegetables… TODAY.
10.   Do something nice for somebody that is in no position to repay you… TODAY.

My friends, if you promise yourself to do these 10 things and learn to live moment by moment, your life will become fulfilling. Please, do me a favor and get out your calendar. Put a note on 3/17/11 to e-mail me at   I want you to send me an e-mail updating me on how living in the moment helped you. If you can do this for the next 30 days, you can do it for the rest of your life.

Make a commitment today to live one moment at a time. I hope to hear from you on March 17th, the day that "God's Black Sheep Squadron" launches.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

100 Fold Faith

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:2

In an earlier post, I shared my thoughts on the 100 fold blessing.  Take another look at it if you missed it.  100 fold is a big number.  Most of us sow without much expectation for reaping.  The missing ingredient is our faith.

Jesus can help us here.  If we simply ask Him to give us the 100 fold faith needed to grant a bountiful harvest, He will give it to us. If our faith is 100 fold and we are sowing for God's Kingdom, we will reap an abundant harvest.  EXPECT to reap 100 fold when you sow for God's purposes.

Remember to give God all the glory and sow with faith. Your crop is in good hands.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Honorary Team Captain Celebrates 85th Birthday

Honorary team captain, Elliott Fox,  celebrates his 85th birthday today. He was one of the first people that I met on the tennis courts when I first moved to Ramona 21 years ago. He is the most senior member amongst active tennis players in our community that includes his friend, Anne,  who is ranked number one in the country in her age group for doubles.  

The team decided to make Elliott honorary team captain when it learned that the doctor ordered Elliott to the sidelines until some more tests could be done.  He is an inspiration to us all and his tennis buddies miss him on the court. While he is on the sidelines, we will tap into his wisdom and enthusiasm. There is no better friend than Elliott. His gentle spirit and kind demeanor give us strength as we face tough opponents. This team is headed for the playoffs and we will be relying on our honorary captain to lead us into uncharted waters. Happy birthday, my friend.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8

May the love you give today come back to you 100 fold.  No matter where you are in your life, may you feel LOVE.  There is no greater love than God's love for you.  He has big plans for you.  Even if your love life may be shaky right now or you may be missing a love who has left this world, know this...brighter days are ahead.

And to the love of my love, the one who has stood by me in good times and in tough times... I offer this video.  I thank God for you every day.  Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dinner/Dance/Auction Update

The team of volunteers that made this amazing event a success

Our church held it's Heart 2 Heart Dinner, Dance, Auction on Friday, 2/11/11.  I served as master of ceremonies and auctioneer for the evening, put on by thirteen members of the Heart 2 Heart committee (pictured above).

I had never been on auctioneer before this evening and volunteered my services for free in order to save money on expenses. The morning of the auction, one of my business partners recommended that I watch a YouTube video for pointers. I found a two-minute clip from the international finals for auctioneers and got a pretty good idea of what to do.

The excitement of the crowd filled me up with high energy as I opened the auction. I felt as though I had been an auctioneer all my life. Even my wife was surprised at what she witnessed. The final item of the evening was the package of books from my writers critique group.  I placed a certificate for the first collector's copy of my book in this package. As I spoke about these items, three men from our congregation stood up and joined me up front. Each one took the microphone and gave a testimony to my work in the church. I really thought that I was going to lose it up there as I listened to these revered men speak from their heart. Once they were finished, all three men hugged me and wished me luck.

I was stunned to see so many people bidding for this package. When it was all over, I collected checks totaling $425 for this final item of the evening. This represents the first fruit of my writing work and all proceeds have been donated to my Creator.

Once the auction was over, the committee went to work on collecting all the funds while the DJ opened up the dance floor. My wife and I danced the night away. I didn't want this night to end. Thanks to all who contributed. It was a true pleasure to serve my church community.

Preparing the 41 silent auction gift baskets for display.

The basket ladies work their magic.

The transformation process is underway.

Donated by our church's latest addition to Heaven.  Many thanks to the children and grandchildren mourning the loss of a special man.

Members of the Ramona Christian Writers Critique Group donate their books to the live auction.

The firefighters go on the auction block to help raise funds for our church.

Volunteers tabulate silent auction updates.

The Ramona Community Center is transformed .
Members of the Heart 2 Heart committee collect money for the live auction

These are our beloved firefighters, the people responsible for saving our community from two devastating wildfires.  They are donating an evening at their firehouse where they will cook.  The place roared with applause when I introduced them to the crowd of appreciative fans.  God Bless our firefighters!

Auction check-out.  Over $7,000 was collected from the silent and live action.

Going once, Going twice....SOLD!
The love of my life. Check out the last song we danced to below (I can't get it out of my head).

Saturday, February 12, 2011

About the Cover

I would like to thank two members of the team today for delivering on their promise to give me an incredible front cover for my book, "God's Black Sheep Squadron." They only needed one weekend to refine and polish my idea for the cover.

When the original vision for the cover popped into my head, I visualized the Cross as the centerpiece. The sheep in the picture are looking away from the Cross. Even though they cannot see the Cross, it's visible for all who seek it.

The sheep on the front cover represent the family I grew up in. My father always regarded himself as the black sheep of the family. He didn't share much about his own faith with me, however,  in his final thirty five days I learned my most important spiritual lessons.

My hope for all who read this book is that they find what they are truly searching for and they discover what a true treasure the Cross is. There have been many times in my life when I felt far away from Jesus, just as the main character in the book, my father, felt during his life.

Sometimes, the simplest solution is to turn around and change directions. If you feel lost and you don't know what is missing in your life, please read this book.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Check out the Auction Today

There are two auctions today. The first is a silent auction and the general public is invited to bid on some fabulous gift baskets that have been donated by members of my community in Ramona. This evening I will be the master of ceremonies and auctioneer for the live auction which is also open for online bids. The silent auction is now open for bids.  The live auction will begin about 8:00 pm this evening.

If you would like to bid, you will need to register first. The auction rules are listed on the front page of the auction website. I would like to thank all the donors who generously supported our church. We have over forty silent auction items listed on the website and nine live auction items.  Collector copy number one of my memoir, which is part of the Ramona Christian Writer's Critique package, will be auctioned last.  It is listed as item LA-9 in the live auction category.

When the auction closes I will hand a certificate to the winning bidder for my book.  When the book is released on March 17th, 2011, the auction winner will receive the very first copy to come off the press at  Their favorite Bible verse or inspirational quote will be listed next to their name on the last page of the book.  I can't wait to see how this evening unfolds.  My wife and I are looking forward to our date.  What a great way to celebrate Valentine's month.

Please share this with your friends and happy bidding. Here is the link:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The 100-fold Blessing

“Then Isaac sowed seed in that land and received in the same year a hundredfold as much as he had planted, and the Lord favored him with blessings, and the man became great, gained more and more until he became very wealthy and distinguished.”~ Genesis 26:12-13

In the Bible verse above, Isaac receives a hundredfold increase in his crop.  I never really grasped the magnitude of a hundred-fold until one of my spiritual mentors spelled it out for me.  He was nudging me to dream bigger dreams and sow more seeds in God's name.

This Bible lesson is too important to keep to myself and I am compelled to share it with anyone willing to listen, especially when most of us don't want to sow in hard times.  It is tempting to eat all the seeds rather than plant a crop for the future.

The way my friend described 100-fold made me awestruck.  He said, "imagine that you have one dollar and you increase it by 100%.  That dollar now becomes one hundred dollars.  Most people think that is one hundredfold.  You are just getting started with God's math.  The NEXT STEP is to square the one hundred dollars.  When God intervenes, the dollar that you sowed is now TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!"

The reason most of us never see these blessings in our lives is because we are afraid to sow.  We really don't BELIEVE that our crop can be bountiful, especially when the world seems to be falling apart economically.

In my own life, I have chosen to look beyond economics and beyond human limitations.  This blog and the book that is to follow is the best example I can offer of the 100-fold blessing.  Many times, it has been a huge sacrifice for me to plant seeds in times of scarcity.  On St. Patrick's Day, it will be time for the harvest.

How about you?  Are you ready to sow?  When you make God first in your life, you will never be hungry again and your crops will be fruitful.  Plant some seeds today.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's Show Time

One of the only people in America who missed the Super Bowl
My wife snapped this picture during the Super Bowl.  She came in to my cave to check up on me in the middle of a marathon day of writing.  I only come out for food and water and to handle any duties on my calendar.

There is no TV in my cave, only my sandbox filled with writer's toys.  My email is my only form of communication with the outside world.  My focus for these next couple of days is to oversee the dinner/dance/auction at my church.  I am surrounded by about a dozen amazing volunteers that are making huge sacrifices in order to make this event a success.

Once the party is over at midnight on Friday night, it will be time to return to the cave and complete my book.  The Holy Spirit is working wonders in my life.  I feel like one of the kids from "Hansel and Gretel" who is lost in the forest.  The Holy Spirit has given me a trail of bread crumbs to follow so that I can find my destination.

The work that I am doing is not humanly possible.  Most people would have stopped following the bread crumbs long ago.  Even my wife became nervous when she saw how many hours I was working alone in the cave.  She begged me to get my blood pressure checked after church on Sunday.  Although it was on the high side, it was still in the normal range.  I assured her that as long as I remained in prayer throughout the day, I would be able to handle all that God is asking of me.

I will be back out of the cave soon.  It's almost show time.  Remember to follow the crumbs.  Even Hansel and Gretel beat the odds and lived happily ever after.  Stay on the trail.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Let the Waters Rise

The YouTube video you see below is part of a message I received from a member of my inner circle, a group of tennis buddies seeking a tennis team national title.  We have been through so much together as a team and these people have become my closest friends.

Tennis has been my escape during this busy time in my life.  I have asked for prayers so often from these good friends and they continue to reach out to me even though they don't my deepest troubles.  I have been seeking direction from God and don't really know which path He wants me to take.

Be sure to play the video.  The message is profound, especially if you find yourself in a storm.  It pays to have friends you can turn to.  In my case, as my boat is taking on water, I know there are people in my life that I can count on.  Their faith is strong.  May you be blessed with friends like the ones I have found on my tennis team.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just Believe

Today's blog is dedicated to those in my life who believe in me and who have stood by me on my journey to completing my first memoir. The last six years of my life, I have teamed up with highly motivated individuals who believe that the sky is the limit. My time with my business partners and the experiences we have shared together have been a building block upon which I am now using to write  and self–publish.

The YouTube video below showcases a writer who believed his novel was significant. The publishing world today is going through dramatic changes. Once my book is published, I plan to share what I have learned with other aspiring writers. If you feel the urge to write a book, take a look at the video below. Feel free to e-mail me and share your dreams with me. The first step is to just Believe.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. ~ Ephesians 6:10-18 

 The armor of God described in Ephesians above is not the typical protective gear that one would expect to find on a battlefield. This is because God's ways are not our ways.  Is a belt of truth buckled around our waist really going to protect us? A breastplate of righteousness? Are you serious? Why are we talking about the gospel of peace when we are battling evil? Will a shield composed of faith really extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one? Wouldn't a motorcycle helmet be a little stronger than a “helmet of salvation”? And just how powerful is this spirit if it's only made out of paper?

My friends, all we have to do is look at the history of God's people in the Bible to see just how effective the armor of God is. The enemy cowers when He sees you approaching wearing your protective gear. As long as you are wearing the complete package, evil cannot defeat you.

It is not enough to simply dress up. Your super secret weapon is prayer. Pray in all circumstances and you will never be caught off guard. In good times, focus on prayers of gratitude, and in bad times, pray that your suit of armor will hold up in battle. Pray for the warrior standing at your side on the battlefield and remember that when two or more are gathered in His name, the Lord is with you  and you will be  victorious.



Saturday, February 5, 2011

Online Silent and Live Auction for Friday, 2/11

Many of you have been asking how you can participate in the live auction for my first book, "God's Black Sheep Squadron."  Thanks to my friend, Mark Garrow, a computer consultant, we now have an online auction site for friends and family members.

Besides my book, there are some amazing items to be auctioned on Friday evening, 2/11/11.  By the time the auction opens for bidding, there will be 9 live auction items and approximately 40 gift baskets for the silent auction.  Please register for the auction by clicking on the link below and join us for a great evening from the comforts of your own home.

As of this writing, there are five live auction items listed on the site for your review.  Bookmark the site and join me Friday night to win some fabulous items.  By the way, my book will be listed on the site soon as LA-9.  All proceeds will be donated to our church to benefit the needy in our community and in our world.

Here is the link:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stormin' Norman

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt

One of the reasons why Taylor Swift is so popular with her fans is because she writes songs about her personal experiences.  If someone in her life treats her poorly, most likely they will end up in one of her songs and she will end up with the last laugh.

I may not be a songwriter and I am certainly not a singer, however, I do want to steal a page out of Taylor's playbook and write about "stormin' Norman", a recent opponent I faced  in my mixed doubles tennis league.

The match started out friendly. My partner and I breezed through the first set. The other team would mumble a few words once in a while. When the second set started, these grumblings became more vocal.  Our opponents wanted us to know that they did not like our line calls and the man began to smolder.  As we were about to win a point, our opponent suddenly stopped playing and claimed the point was there's.  One of the players accused my partner of yelling “out” during play. This was not true and I defended my partner.

The other team battled from behind to tie up the match at one set each. My other teammates won their matches and came over to our court to support us. Everyone from the other team went home. The show of support from my teammates gave us additional strength and we won the third set decisively. When the match was over, we walked up to the net to shake hands with our opponents. Our lady opponent was gracious, however, stormin' Norman gathered his belongings and disappeared without even a handshake.  I was stunned by his poor sportsmanship.

When the match was over, my teammates confirmed that our line calls were indeed accurate. They even pointed out to me that we played several balls that were actually out. Perhaps the distraction techniques used by our opponents were causing me to be far too generous in my line calls. A teammate commented to me that our opponents decided out loud to make intentional bad line calls as retaliation.

Someday, Norman may read one of my books or discover this blog. He will know that this story is all about him since I have only faced one opponent in all of my life that has ever declined to shake my hand after a match. Even John McEnroe shook hands with most of his opponents and umpires, no matter how infuriated he was at them.

Norman will not ever be able to change the poor sportsmanship that he displayed on that beautiful Saturday afternoon on his home court. In the future, maybe he will grow up. As for me and my teammates, we will move on and win the championship. We will continue to kill our opponents with kindness and we will finish the season UNDEFEATED. That's how we roll!

Before I sign off today, here is a shout out to my partner who endured a lot of agony from Stormin' Norman...I support you 100% on and off the court.  You are a great sport and example for us all.  This video below is dedicated to you.  I too believe in good sportsmanship, no matter how our opponents behave.  I may not have retaliated the way McEnroe did when his partner was abused, however, I was certainly thinking it.  Perhaps it's better to just kill 'em with kindness...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hell No

One of my good friends greeted me on his way in to church on Sunday morning. I was selling tickets for our dinner/dance/auction to be held on Friday night, February 11, 2011. My friend shook his head no when I asked him if he would like to buy a couple of tickets. I asked him to kneel down in prayer and ask God if he and his wife should go and then come out at the end of the service and give me feedback. He smiled and walked inside the church. His wife was just a couple of minutes behind him and stopped by to say hello. I asked her if she would be interested in our special evening we had planned.

“Not really”, she said. “I asked my husband, and he said ‘Hell No!' I'm just not that interested this year.”

‘I asked your husband to pray about this event and give me an answer after church.’

The wife smiled and gave me a hug before joining her husband. When the service was over, I stood up before the congregation and made a brief announcement about the evening that our committee had been planning. ‘I will be outside selling tickets for this very special evening. Let's share quality time together and invite our friends and neighbors of all faiths or no faith to share our lives.’

My friend who told his wife “Hell no”, was the first one to greet me. “My wife will write you the check”, he said with a big smile, “and I would like to donate two San Diego Charger tickets  for a preseason game. The seats are amazing, right on the 50 yard line.”

Never underestimate the power of prayer. Maybe you felt the same way as my friend when I asked you to come to our little party in February. Don't worry, I am not offended by your no. Most of my customers that advertise with me said no multiple times before agreeing to give me an opportunity to serve them. It's not too late for you to say yes to our party and I am hoping that people of many denominations will join us for a fun evening.

If you are free on the evening of February 11th and would like to join me at our party in Ramona, send me an e-mail and I will give you more details. Maybe you will consider becoming a “table captain”. This allows groups of six or eight people to reserve their own table and this comes with a complementary bottle of wine. The live auction and silent auction items are out of this world. Perhaps you and your significant other will win the 50 yard line Charger seats. If so, I will make sure to thank my friend who said, “Hell No”, the first time I asked him. Sometimes, it pays to keep asking. I hope to see you at  the party.  Will you come?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Free Hugs

Are you in need of a smile today? Watch the video below and remember, it's Valentine's Month. Give someone a hug today and put a smile on their face.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Valentine's Month is Here

There are three things that amaze me—
no, four things that I don’t understand:
how an eagle glides through the sky,
how a snake slithers on a rock,
how a ship navigates the ocean,
how a man loves a woman.
Proverbs 30:18-19

Love is in the air.  If you are one of those people who crams all your romance into one day on Valentine's Day, this blog is for you.  It's time to change it up a little.  Surprise the love of your life with twenty eight days of celebration.

The original idea for stretching a single day of celebration into an entire month comes from my father. When he owned Mulligan's bar, he made sure that all of his patrons began celebrating St. Patrick's Day on the first of the month and that the celebration lasted until the last day in March.

This idea works exceptionally well for “Valentine's Month”. You can develop your own variations and customize them to fit your individual situation. Here are a few thoughts:

Make a bunch of red hearts and write one or two romantic words on each of them. Cut them out and hide them all over the house in places where your lover will find them. Put some more hearts in their pockets or the insides of their shoes. Scatter a few more in the car.

You don't have to be high-tech to impress your lover with an electronic love video message. Simply visit and in five minutes you can learn how to upload your favorite pictures and turn them into an amazing video message. There is also a nice assortment of cards that you can personalize using your own photographs.

There is nothing like a good old-fashioned love letter. Since my wife already receives one of these daily for me, in the month of February I like to change it up and raise the bar. You can write your love letters using different colors of ink. Cut out romantic pictures and put them in your love letters. Write your own poetry focusing on your love for your significant other. Put your heart into it. Be bold.

Take turns planning your love activities throughout the month. Keep the days that you are in charge of a secret from your lover as you plan romantic activities. Set up treasure hunts. Hide the clues all over the house. Each clue can lead your lover to another one. For example, you may write “see page 49 of your favorite romance novel for the next clue.” If your lover is an avid reader, you can leave teaser notes on page 49 of all the books. Throw a few riddles in there to spice up the treasure hunt.

Above all, have fun together. Happy Valentine's Month.