Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dealing with Anger

Have you ever been in a situation that caused your blood to boil?  Your heart pounding so hard that it felt like it was going to burst?  Did your anger inspire you to make the situation better or did it make things worse?

Anger is a powerful motivator.  It can push you to walk away from an unhealthy relationship or to seek help when you are feeling trapped.  It can also lead you into trouble if people around you get hurt from your explosions.

You can use anger to your advantage.  Learn to control it so it does not control you.  Channel the fire inside you from a bad situation and rally others to help you improve it.  Don't forget the power of prayer.  It may not change the people in your life causing you headaches, however, it can bring you the peace you need to overcome any difficult problem.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Celebrating a Special Memorial Day Birthday

Today is my wife's birthday.  She was born on Memorial Day which means she has to wait seven years to officially celebrate the two big events on the same day while I get fireworks every year on my 4th of July special day.  Helen may not get fireworks today, however, she does get special pampering and has full charge of the day's itinerary.

Her birthday reminds me just how lucky I am to be married to someone so loving and unselfish.  She mentioned she is interested in visiting Ft. Rosecrans where my father, Patrick, rests.  This place has one of the best views of the ocean, most likely another destination on this warm, sunny day which marks the beginning of summer.

May your Memorial Day include a moment of remembrance for all those who fought to defend our freedom.  To my wife, the one who has stood my me in good times and in bad, I wish you peace, love, and happiness.  May your special day be filled abundant joy.  Happy birthday and Happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wanted: Your Story

This is my official "help wanted ad."  Please share your story with my readers.  Get all those negative thoughts out of your head and stop listening to those voices telling you your story is insignificant or you are unqualified to write.

You are the only one in the world qualified to publish your heartsong, your unique story that can inspire others to face difficult situations.

I shared my vision for my third book, "Free Lemonade," with a friend and customer the other day and his face lit up.  He especially liked the idea of getting regular people with extraordinary stories to participate.  This blog is reaching people all over the world.  It's a place for people to interact and help one another to carry on.

Please help me to turn this dream into a reality.  I need your help.  Don't worry about the editing or the language barriers.  I will get my friends from the critique group to polish your story if you request help.  If you submit your story in a foreign language, the Google Translate tool will allow me to publish in English.

Click here to submit your story and I will publish it on my blog.  The top stories will be eligible to be published in "Free Lemonade."  This is your opportunity to become a published writer.  Go for it.

Visit "Free Lemonade" to read stories of hope and inspiration.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Heartsong Offered

A "Heartsong" is a person's special gift to be shared with others... or a person's reason for being. ~ Mattie Stepanek

President Jimmy Carter told the crowd at Mattie Stepanik's funeral this young man was the most extraordinary person whom he had ever known.  Mattie's achievements included five books that made the New York Times bestseller list.

Delving into this young man's life, I discovered the wind beneath Mattie's wings, his mother, Jeni Stepanek, an extraordinary woman who spreads Mattie's messages of hope and peace to audiences all over the country.

Check out this proud mother as she shares her son's message of hope and peace...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Free Lemonade

It struck me at 3:00am this morning and I couldn't wait to wake up and put the idea in motion.  It started with a dream.  My dad was in the vision, along with my uncle Tom and some cousins.  There was a girl in the dream I knew twenty-five years ago and I was introducing her to my family.  We agreed I would present her as Amy to protect her identity.  I forgot this and ended up using her real name.

Once I awoke, I started thinking about why this person wanted anonymity and it hit me.  She had lemons in her life she preferred to keep a secret.

When my dad was behind the bar at Mulligans, he met patrons who opened up about their lives.  This interaction was my dad's specialty and he knew how to comfort those bringing in sacks of lemons.  He helped them turn their lemons into lemonade.

For those of you in the blog world who have a story to share, you've found the right place.  "Free Lemonade" is the title of my third book.  It will start as a featured section of this blog...a place where you can share your lemons with the world.  Your identity will remain a secret unless you choose to publish your real name.  Once enough stories are accumulated, I will select the top one hundred and self publish through Createspace.  Should a publisher with values and vision similar to mine happen to find me, I may go the traditional publishing route for this little gem.  The focus is sharing how you turned your lemons into lemonade.  Your story will give the world hope.

This special book will feature people from all over the world.  When you email your story, please include your country and the name you would like published.  It's okay to change the names of your characters to protect privacy and you can select a pen-name should you choose to remain anonymous, like my friend, Amy, who appeared in my dream to plant the seed for this book.  You will be recognized in the book if you make the top one hundred.  Thank you, Amy, for trusting me enough to share your deepest secrets. May others follow you and share so our world can benefit from their important life's lessons.

Click here if you would like to share your lemonade story with the world.  This is going to be a fun project.  I can't wait to hear from you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

False Prophets

 For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:2

In the Old Testament times, if anyone claimed to be God's prophet, he was expected to be 100% accurate with his predictions.  A single false prophecy meant death by stoning.

Jesus is the real deal.  Every prediction He made came to pass.  He predicted one of His closest followers would turn Him in and another would deny Him three times before the cock crowed.  He promised He would rise on the third day.

When it came to predicting the end of the world, Jesus told us not even He knew the exact day and time.  He says, "only the Father knows."

Jesus also tells us, "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night."

If you are looking for real prophets, open your Bible.  Here is a list of prophets from the Old and New Testament...


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Farewell to an Angel

My community is losing a special angel today.  Noreen came to Ramona six months ago in search of a new life.  During her time here, she worked at Treasures Christian store.  She helped me with my first book signing and opened the door for me to do another event with her new employer at the Temecula Berean Christian Bookstore in June.

I will never forget the day I met this bubbly young lady while I was setting up posters around town for my first author talk.

"I'm clearing a space for you with the local Ramona authors and I will promote you to people looking for inspiring christian stories," she said with a big smile.

Noreen came to Ramona in search of something.  She told me she found what she was looking for.  His name is Jesus.  A new life awaits her in Temecula.  Farewell, Noreen.  Thanks for being an Angel in my life.  You will be missed in Ramona.  God Bless you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Out of the Ashes

"Choose to inhale. Do not breathe simply to exist." ~ Mattie Stepanek, 13 year old poet, in his final words to his mother before he died.

I'll never forget the close call we had with the California wildfire that destroyed our next door neighbor's home.  I could barely see the warped steel beams the following morning as I peered through the black smoke covering our mountain.

There is no way our home can still be standing, I thought as I climbed back into my brother-in-law's SUV and headed back to church to thank God for sparing my family.  Once our church service was over, I checked my voice mail and rejoiced when I learned from my neighbor our home had been spared.  God wanted me to stay in Ramona.

The journey out of the ashes was a long one.  The wildfire burned everything around our home except for the pine trees and it took months to finally get rid of the smell of smoke.  We remodeled our home and added 40% to it in order to accommodate our children.

Next month, our daughter will be graduating and heading to college.  We have decided to put our home on the market and downsize.  Just as God was with us when we made it through the firestorm, we are asking Him to guide us as we prepare for all He is planning.  A new adventure awaits us.  Please keep us in your prayers as we discern the next step.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Creative Marriage Proposal

I love this young man's creativity.  Check out one of the most amazing marriage proposals of all times...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Talk is Cheap

We've all seen them, the campaign speeches filled with empty promises.  We've observed the deadlock in Congress as each side makes speeches designed to win the public over to their opinion.  The world is overloaded with people who talk the talk.  How many really walk the walk?

I've made a decision to spend less time talking and more time walking.  The walking begins today.  It's all about action.  Time to go, there is a long journey ahead.  I hope to meet you on the road of life.  Let's walk together.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Paint Your Picture

There it is in front of you...that blank canvas, staring at you.  It waits patiently for you to pick up your paintbrush and begin your creation.  Will you be bold with your color selection?  What will your masterpiece say about you, that part of yourself always covered up and hidden from others?  Will it inspire others to share their unique gifts with the world?

The other day I talked with someone who threw away her paintbrushes.  "Haven't you looked at the news?" she asked. "The world is falling apart," she told me.

"Sorry," I replied.  "I don't have time in my life for TV.  I'm too busy painting."

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Little Bit of Wisdom

It all started with a teenage prayer...."Please Lord, give me a little bit of wisdom.  This world is so complicated and I know how busy you are.  I need to figure out how to get my act together and I lack so much in the intelligence department.  Can you send me some?"

I didn't notice the answer right away, however, as I look back, I see God planted some amazing people in my life.  In my future wife, I clearly saw her beauty which probably masked the wisdom within her.  As I grow older, I see this hidden side of her.  Maybe she covered this part of herself up to keep me from feeling inadequate?  She saw life's potholes before I did, yet kept her mouth shut as we hit each one at full speed.

What do I see now with this wisdom God blessed me with?  The answer is simple...Like my wife, who gradually revealed her inner gifts to me, God has opened my eyes to see who He is.  He is all knowing, all powerful, and all loving.  He is the beginning and the end.  He is the Father of the universe.  He is our Dad.  We are His children.

I always understood the all knowing and all powerful part of God.  It was the all loving part that was difficult to comprehend.  After all, all you need to do is look around at how messed up the world is.  You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see the evil.  I failed to understand how an all-loving God could allow so many troubles to exist.  One day the light bulb went off.  It is our separation from God that leads to all the problems.  We seek false solutions like drugs, sex, gambling, and power to make us feel better.  Until we see God as the Supreme Being who is calling out to us to be with Him forever, we will be missing that little bit of wisdom needed to bring us completeness.

Go ahead, call out to Him.  "Dad, I want you to live in my heart forever.  I'm sorry I ignored you and pursued other interests instead of looking for you.  From now on, I want to be with you forever.  I also promise to forgive my brothers and sisters and I will work on all my relationships.  I will do my best to love them the way you do."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Recipe for Success

My Italian brother-in-law comes from a long line of caterers.  Each relative has a favorite dish they serve at family gatherings.  They are protective of their recipes, often modifying the ingredients before sharing so their dish always tastes the best.

Are you the missing ingredient in God's recipe?  Maybe you are in the recipe but not in the correct amount.  When God calls you, He wants all of you.  His masterpiece won't be a success until every ingredient is present in the appropriate amounts.

You may be tempted to jump out of the oven too soon.  Trust God and learn to get along with all the ingredients in His recipe.  God's meal is perfect as long as all of us do our part.  Wait for the timer to go off before judging any of God's dishes.  If all the ingredients are present, His recipe will be a success.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Look for the Open Door

Today's post may make your head spin.  I was thinking about motion... how we travel from one place to another, sometimes seeing new doors and other times missing them because we fail to observe what's going on all around us.  We are zipping through the universe at astounding speeds, even when we appear to be standing still.

Our earth is spinning at about 1,000 miles per hour while orbiting the sun at a velocity exceeding 66,000 miles per hour.  Our entire solar system is traveling around the center of our galaxy at 560,000 miles per hour.  Our Milky Way Galaxy is zooming through the universe at 1.3 million miles per hour.  Are you buckled in?

So, what's my point? Don't let your perceptions of the world blind you from the possibilities ahead.  There are invisible forces all around you in motion nudging you to lunge forward to unlocked doors.  Put your two feet in motion towards the open doors and walk through.  The universe is already moving.  Now it's time for you to make your move.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Left or Right?

I stopped to talk with a stranger during my hike.  He was standing in front of a fork in the path.  The overgrown vegetation made the trail veering to the right almost unnoticeable.  The left trail was wide and the the weeds had been trimmed.

"Which way should I go?" I asked the man.

"You are the first traveler to ask," he replied. "What are you looking for?"

"My destiny," I answered.

"The answer you seek is already in your heart.  Look within yourself for one question and ask me," the man said.

I stood quietly for a few minutes, pondering my question.  Three other hikers walked by without noticing the hidden trail to the right.

"Which path will take me closer to Jesus?"  I asked.

The man smiled and stepped aside, pointing to the unmarked path diverging to the right.

"Take this," the man said, handing me a large machete. "Trim the path as you move forward so the others following you can find their way.  The other trail looks like the easy road, however, it's a dead end.  If the other hikers ask me which way to go, I will tell them they will not be disappointed if they follow your lead."

After gazing at the narrow trail, I turned back to look at the stranger one last time.  He was gone.  I picked up my machete and hacked away at the overgrowth, hoping others might choose this trail.  A strong wind caused the leaves to bristle.  It was time to move forward on the road less traveled.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Letting Go

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, ~ Hebrews 12:1

In my younger years, I always associated letting go with losing.  Holding on for me meant winning was possible.  Yes, there are times when holding on leads to victory, like playing an important tennis match when you are tired.  When is it better to let go?

Imagine yourself in a swimming pool.  You are in the deep end near the bottom and you are holding on to something heavy.  No matter how hard you try, you can't reach the surface.  If you keep holding on, surely you will suffocate.  Let go and you live.

What is it in your life causing you to drown because you refuse to let go?  Are you afraid of what others will say when you reach the surface without your prized possession?  Have you ever imagined what your life could be like if you ever climbed out of the swimming pool?  You will never know until you let go...give it a try.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Encouraging Words

Are you looking for encouraging words to get you through challenging days?  Click on the link below and sign up for daily Bible verses filled with hope and inspiration.  Thirty seconds meditating on these words can do wonders.  Thank you, Klove, for sending these out daily.  Enjoy...


Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Tribute to Teachers and School Administrators

We all have at least one teacher who found a way to peer inside our hearts and draw out something special.  For me, it's "Snora" Ehlers from my high school Spanish class.  I got the opportunity to thank her this week when I mailed her a copy of my first book.  She was quick to respond and share her memories from long ago.

When a teacher or school administrator takes an interest in a student, he or she can change the world.  There is an individual like this at the high school in my hometown.  When faced with some difficult circumstances, Mr. Lohman, the assistant principal at Ramona High School, rallied teachers and came up with a creative plan to maximize my youngest son's performance and propel him to the finish line of his freshman year.

Today's post is to recognize those who play a role in inspiring our youth to reach their full potential.  It's people like "snora" and Mr. Lohman who make the difference between success and failure.  Thank you for your commitment.  Your reward will be great in Heaven and your efforts will change lives.  God bless all the teachers in our world and the administrators who support them.  They are true heroes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Damage Control

These last two days have been strange in the blog world.  This is the first time I've been able to log in for my daily blogging due to site maintenance.  For those of you looking for the stories at 8:08, this mishap was beyond my control.

In life, we run into situations that don't fit in to our expectations.  We need to adjust and get back on track.  Damage control is my middle name.  I've learned to make a pretty good lemonade from life's lemons.  Keep your attitude up when things aren't going your way.

See you tomorrow at 8:08.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Your Story

Are you ready to share your story with the world?  Imagine how others can be impacted by your life lessons.  Your unique qualities and experiences may be the inspiration someone out there needs to get back on track.

I get a warm feeling inside when a reader shares how they feel about my memoir.  It's natural to have anxiety about how people will react to your story.  You become vulnerable.  Do it anyway.  Face your fears.  Open your heart.

Do you need a little help?  Email me and let me know a little bit about your book ideas.  I will be posting more about this in future blog messages to help you on your journey.  The world is waiting for your masterpiece.  Why not start today?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Can You Hear the Voice?

Rare are the quiet moments in my life.  My days are filled with tasks and lists.  When I turn off the sounds of the outside world and listen closely, I hear the voice inside my head.  Can you hear it?  Do you trust it?  Will you follow it?

Commit time out of your busy life to slow down and listen to the voice inside you.  Make this a habit.  You will find peace, especially if you learn to trust the voice and follow it. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Welcome the Storms

Brothers and sisters: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:1-5

My tennis team is filled with passionate people who have a burning desire to play regularly and improve.  When shingles are blowing off rooftops, this team is on the courts learning how to deal with the wind.  This gave us a tremendous advantage when the winds gusted during our Vegas tournament.  Our opponents from the East and Midwest were sheltered in temperature controlled indoor stadiums while we battled Mother Nature outdoors.  Their pale skin burned and turned pink while we donned the colors you see in Coppertone commercials.

Are you willing to go outside in stormy weather?  The truth is we can only produce endurance, character, and hope through facing the storms in our lives.  Welcome the storms and you will soar high like an eagle, with wings that never tire.  New life will be given to you.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dance With Me

The first time I met my wife was on the dance floor in Arizona at a place called Malarkey's.  It was a sad day when I learned my favorite hangout closed down forever.  It seems like yesterday when "Living on Video" by Trans-X blared out and we entered the dance floor for the first time.  The lyrics were a preview of our life ahead...

I see your glittering blue eyes
you look at me with a smile.
It's a computer fantasy
it is waiting for you and me.

In July, we will celebrate twenty two years of marriage.  We both talk about those early years when we danced until the wee hours of the morning.  Priorities change when children enter the picture and we put dancing on the back burner.

That glitter is still in her blue eyes and she still smiles when she looks at me.  It's not some kind of computer fantasy, it's just two people who love each other, willing to keep love alive even when life's challenges sometimes take the wind out of our sails.

The song below popped into my head as I was waking up this morning.  It's an oldie, however, it seems to me like the music is just starting.  May you find joy on the dance floor of your life and may you seize every opportunity to dance. 

Like the song lyrics, I call out to my wife...

Dance with me, I want to be your partner
Can't you see the music is just starting?
Night is falling, and I am calling
Dance with me

Let it lift you off the ground
Starry eyes, and love is all around
I can take you where you want to go

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To All the Mothers

God bless all the moms in the world.  Like my mother, Gloria, and the mother of our children, Helen, they make the world better by their presence.  They are our anchors when we drift, our comforters when we fall, and our pillows when we need a soft shoulder to lean on.

Thank you, mom, for always believing in your children.  Thank you, Helen, for teaching our children about love.  It's your example, not your words that offer hope to a world desperate for someone to look up to.  Both of you are the perfect role models.  Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Mother's Prayer

The final scenes from "God's Black Sheep Squadron" leave readers with a message of hope. My mother's prayers are responsible for how the events unfolded.  She is the unsung hero.  There is something special about the connection between a mother and our Creator, it's the way God hears her pleas for help with her children.

Jesus teaches us to pray unceasingly, with tireless effort.  My siblings and I can thank our mother for teaching us the value of non-stop prayer.  Angels intervene in our lives at low points and keep us safe.  The events occurring in my life today cannot be explained in human terms.  I know in my heart that mom is on her knees asking God to watch out for her children and grandchildren.  Thanks, mom, for ending every conversation with, "God bless you."  Thanks for never giving up on us, even when we wanted to give up on ourselves.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.  Honor your mother.  The person you are today exists because of the person she is. 

Friday, May 6, 2011


My own family doesn't see it yet.  Most of my friends only see the tip of the iceberg. I tried to hide from it for decades.  I even set up my own obstacles to keep it from happening.  What do I see staring me in the face while I look in the mirror?  Why am I so afraid to share what is about to unfold?

Pardon my ramblings.  My new life outside the cave is so different and I'm having difficulty adjusting to the bright light.  I'm awestruck by God's presence.  His thoughts and His desires are all about the lost.  He wants me to build a fire in the hearts of the people around me, a supernatural fire not of this world.  It's already happening, the wildfire is spreading, jumping continents and reaching places I've never even heard of.

This fire started with some kindling given to me by Angels.  The Holy Spirit blew His breath into the flames, causing the fire to ignite and burn with intensity.  A few people close to me who were living in darkness came to the fire.  Their hearts warmed and their lives transformed.

I don't know why I'm in charge of the fire.  There are so many people much more qualified.  At times, I'd rather go back in the cave and hide.  His voice is too strong to ignore.  His plans so bold.  His lost so important.

As I write to you this morning, I sit at the table with my poker chips.  Jesus is on the other side.  He knows the cards in my hand, however, I can't see what He holds.  He peers into my eyes and asks, "are you ready to go all in?"

My heart races and the audience crowds the table.  The Evil One tempts me to fold and walk away, telling me I'm not worthy.  I look Jesus in the eyes as I contemplate my choice.  I see the the holes in His hands from the nails that once pinned Him to the Cross and I remember what He did for me.  There He is, the Son of God, sitting at the table in front of me, asking for my chips, all of them.

I place my cards face down on the table and look at Him one more time.  The crowd hushes.  At last, I get the courage to answer Him. "Yes, Jesus, I'm all in....everything belongs to you."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. ~ Matthew 18:20

Just before departing for our national qualifier tournament in Las Vegas, I emailed Hal about a possible conflict with his presentation dates.  I wrote...there is a slight chance we will win the tournament.  If we do, my team will qualify to play in a national tournament, November 4-6, the same weekend you are planning your event.  If we do win, will you consider changing the date so I can be one of your presenters?

Hal re-arranged the schedule to accommodate our shot at nationals and modified the dates for the opportunity of a lifetime... Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, November 11-13.  You won't want to miss this chance to experience this weekend, to feed your soul and satisfy the hunger within you.  Your life will never be the same.

I believe this weekend will be a climax to one of the best years of my  life.  Why?  Because I get to share Jesus with all who are seeking Him.  A small group of believers are developing talks for the weekend and we will be sharing our faith and our lives with you.

I am personally inviting you to come meet Jesus.  He promises when two or three are gathered in His name, He is with them.  If you feel your past is haunting you or your spiritual life isn't what you want it to be, come check us out.  This weekend is open to people of all denominations, even the doubters or the non-believers.  If you have questions, maybe you will find answers.  I can't wait to share my life with you.  If you are coming from afar, email me and we will arrange a place for you to stay.  There will be music and great food to eat.  You will never hunger or thirst again.

Email me if you are interested.....socalmulligan808@gmail.com.  Bookmark this blog and come back again.  I will be writing more about this weekend in future blog stories.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Heart for the Lost

If I told you right now the door in front of you is your gateway to heaven, what would you do?  Would you drop everything and run to it at full speed?  Would you open the door or stand there in fear, not sure if you belong on the other side?

In my teen years, I begged God to show me the door.  I was so lost and my world was so dark, there was no hope of ever finding it.  The Evil One convinced me I was alone and unworthy of entrance into heaven.  My life in the cave was bleak.  God was with me, however, I did not recognize His presence until  the day Jesus turned on the light and revealed Himself to me in all His glory.

My friends, this gateway to heaven really does exist.  Adam and Eve once lived on the other side of it in a beautiful garden.  They were cast out once they decided to do things their own way.  It was disobedience that got them in trouble.

We had to wait thousands of years for a Savior to come and unlock the door.  All who seek Him can find the gate.  The good news is that all who search for Him will find this door unbarred.  I haven't seen this door yet, however, I met the One in charge of the keys.  He came to me in my darkness and turned the light on.  I know exactly what it feels like to be in the shadows.  I also discovered how good it feels to be in the light.

Once you find the door, I encourage you to walk through it.  Jesus asked me to wait on this side of the path.  He has given me a new heart, one made for the lost.  I promised Him I would not enter the door until the His lost sheep have been found, ALL of them, no matter how far away or how cold it is. If you are in darkness, look for my torch and come to the light.  He is sending me into the cold to find you and bring you home.  The Angels in my life are with me, making sure my light doesn't burn out.  Are you ready to find Jesus?  Take my hand, I promise to never let go until you reach the doorway.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Dudley Factor

“Our stories can be inspiring or they can be cautionary tales, but after the will has been read and the loot distributed, your story is all that is left,” ~ Elle Newmark

In my own life, I am blessed with many Angels who help me find my path.  Recent events are opening my eyes to a higher purpose for my life.  I'm called to serve these Angels and help them find their way.  Although I see some pain ahead in the sacrifices similar to Dudley's, the Angel in "the Bishops Wife," I'm ready to carry out God's plans.

The code name for my assignment is "the Dudley Factor."  The Angels in my life who read this will connect the dots and understand how the Holy Spirit is masterminding what lies ahead on the horizon. It's time for me to be their Angel.  Like Dudley, there is a time limit on my job.

While staring at the completed jigsaw puzzle, I'm amazed how different it looks from my earlier life's vision.  There are times when following Jesus is not easy.  I must concentrate on what He did for me as I carry my own cross.  It appears as a twig compared to the Cross He carried.

To my friend, Julia, the one praying for God to send an Angel.  I thank God for this assignment.  I thought you were here to guide me and you've done an amazing job.  Now it's my turn to be your Angel.  I thank God that He will not erase the memories when it's time for Dudley to go.  May God bless you. I will forever cherish the memories from this special assignment and I make one promise...no matter how far away I may be, if you listen closely, you will hear my wings fluttering.  If your legs are weary and you don't feel you can stand any longer, my Spirit will be there, gripping you by your shoulders and holding you up.  It's all part of my role as your Dudley.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Cinderella Story

"Smashin' with Passion," 2011 National Qualifier Champions

Once upon a time, Stacey, our team captain, had a dream.  Over the years, she searched for people who would become a part of her fairy tale.  Her tennis team struggled in the early years and one season failed to win a single match, although they had loads of fun and made friends.  In order for Stacey's dream to become a reality, she needed to add some missing ingredients.  She found Larry and made him her SSCC, "super secret co-captain."

The SSCC persuaded members of his Wednesday night men's tennis group to join the "family."  The team nearly went all the way last year but fell short of a championship and finished in second place.  Stacey refused to let go of her dreams and nudged her players to participate in tournaments and work on physical fitness.

The new USTA computer rankings came out in November and two of Stacey's team-mates, her SSCC, Larry, and his mixed doubles partner, Ninon, were both elevated to higher rankings, forcing Stacey to make crucial adjustments in her line-up.  Larry would find a new partner in Tori, aka, the Blue Shadow.  Tori played injured  the prior year and the computer re-ranked her at a lower level, allowing our SSCC and Tori to team up and remain on the roster.

"Let's enter the Sycuan WTT Tennis tournament," Larry said.  "The winner gets to go to Vegas."

Armed with Larry, the team SSCC, and Mike Moberg, Mike Mulligan, Shelley, Ninon, Corri and Tori, Stacey's team marched onto the courts in November.  Her story almost ended when the team was one point away from elimination.  It overcame a seven point deficit when Moberg and Shelley went into overdrive, winning the super tie-breaker and a berth in the regional tournament in Las Vegas.

The team practiced with fervor and encouraged one another to eat healthy.  Pounds were shed and killer attitudes were refined.  At last, the team headed to Vegas to meet it's destiny, an opportunity to win a national championship.

The gusty winds proved to be daunting for the teams from the Midwest and the East.  They played indoors and rarely faced the elements.  Stacey's team thrived in the outdoors and often played in Santa Ana winds which blew roof tiles off homes.  Mother Nature shaped Stacey's team into tennis warriors.

After five rounds of tennis in Vegas, only one team stood in the way of Stacey's Cinderella story, another group from San Diego.  In the end, with the match tied at twenty nine points each, it was Mike Moberg and Shelley who once again claimed the final point for Stacey's team.  The other team went for the kill with the final game tied at three apiece.  In WTT, it's sudden death.  The umpire remained silent as the ball barely missed the line by less than an inch and Moberg called it out.  At last, Stacey's Cinderella story was a dream come true.  Her team now advances to the national championships the first weekend in November, a full year since it all started, etching out a victory when the dream appeared hopeless.  Not this team, it believes in happy endings and it will be ready for Indian Wells.

The six months of preparation for nationals will be vigorous. Stacey's team is relentless and this writer is proud to play a part in her dreams for a national title.  Fairy tales can come true.  All it takes is to dream big and then work hard every day to turn that dream into reality.  May God bless Stacey and her team and may they be a bright light for others.  Don't ever give up and don't stop believing!

Congratulations to the Ramona team.  Let's bring home the trophy from nationals in November...

Larry, Shelley, Stacey, me, Corri, Ninon, Chris and Mike

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4.0 Division - Flight B

Kick Aces
Line Painters
Riviera Oaks

Indy Kick Aces

Line Painters

Riviera Oaks-Ramona

What the Fuzz

Total Games Won/Lost


Winning %




Line Painters vs. Indy Kick Aces  36-17

What the Fuzz vs. Riviera Oaks-Ramona  33-22


Indy Kick Aces vs. What the Fuzz 32-22

Riviera Oaks-Ramona vs. Line Painters 36-16

Line Painters vs. What the Fuzz 35-19

Riviera Oaks-Ramona vs. Indy Kick Aces 30-23

Quarterfinals - Seeds are flight winners based on win-loss record &

seeded by winning % + 3 wild card teams (best winning % among 2nd place teams)*

Serves You Right (#1 seed) def. Let It Be (#3 wild card) 27-26 ; Indy Kick Aces (#2 wild card) def. Hold My Drink (#2 seed) 27-26

The Leftovers (#3 seed) def. Team Astro (#1 wild card) 30-27 ; Riviera Oaks-Ramona (#4 seed) def. Just Out (#5 seed) 32-18


Semifinals - Quarterfinal winners

Riviera Oaks-Ramona (#4 seed) def. Serves You Right (#1 seed) 34-22

The Leftovers (#3 seed) def. Indy Kick Aces (#2 wild card) 33-21

Finals - Semifinal winners

Riviera Oaks-Ramona (#4 seed) def. The Leftovers (#3 seed) 30-29