Thursday, June 30, 2011

Leave the Dock

Soon, my daughter will be leaving home to attend college.  Last night, she showed me a video clip from an overseas adventure sponsored by her university.  The students interviewed talked about life-changing experiences they had in places far off.  My daughter lit up as she shared her desire to study abroad for a semester.

It takes great courage to leave the dock and visit lands on distant continents.  There is so much to learn from other cultures.  My daughter caught the travel bug.  Her fever silences the voice inside her attempting to keep her from leaving her home port.

How about you?  Are you ready to venture outside your comfort zone?  Put those sails up and leave the dock.  Your journey begins with a decision. The world is waiting for you to discover it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Call on Jesus

Someone close to me was faced with a difficult decision and asked me for advice.

"Call on Jesus," I suggested.  "He will lead you to the best solution for your question."

One week later, I heard back.  "I prayed to Jesus and got my answer.  Thanks for your help."

Perhaps you are looking for answers.  Try calling on Jesus.  He is ready to help.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Knee High by 4th of July

The crops were planted in the Spring.  The rains came.  Farmers wait patiently for the harvest to come.  If the corn stalks are knee high by 4th of July, expectations will be lofty for an abundant yield.

Your dreams can be measured by mile markers just as farmers predict how much they will sow.  The days are numbered.  What kind of harvest can you expect when it's time to meet your Maker?  Are you sowing enough seeds today to reap a bountiful crop? 

My corn fields are my future books.  Each stalk is a person I'm meant to connect with.  It's one thing to plant the seed, that is, to make contact.  It's another to water the fields and be careful to keep the weeds away.  I am the farmer nurturing each plant and helping it to grow.  You are a part of the harvest, either as a contributor or reader.  Perhaps God is calling you to farm the land?  My prayer today is that you will respond to His request and join with me.  Will you be the seed that feeds the world?

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's Holding You Back?

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Matthew 19:14

My featured story the other day about six-year-old blog writer, Jacob, made me think about all the adults I know who refuse to tap into their gifts.  I told Jacob's dad I wanted the world to know there is a young man out there who is already using his unique gifts of writing and promoting to touch others.

His dad told me Jacob asked him how you get money to buy buildings. 

"You go to the bank," his dad replied.

"Dad, can you take me?  I need money for a building."

"Why do you want a building?"

"I need a place for people to go to play games, the people that follow my blog."

Jesus recognizes young children don't see walls.  They have visions and dreams.  The kingdom of heaven does belong to them.  It's when they grow up and start listening to the dream killers that obstacles form. 

A teacher says, "you can't do that." 

A parent says, "there is no way a bank will let you have money for your dream, your only six years old."

The dream dies and the passion disappears.

Is that what's holding you back?  Did you stop looking at the world from a child's point of view? It's not too late to inherit the kingdom of heaven, to dream again.  Invite Jesus into your heart and re-ignite the passion you once had.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Seeking Stories From Around The World

Would you like to contribute a short story about your life?  The challenges you faced and the way you dealt with them are unique.  Sharing your story may give hope to someone who feels lost.

The internet allows us to be connected world-wide no matter where we live.  Please help me to inspire others.  Email your story in your own native language if it's more convenient for you and I will use Google Translate to interpret your message.  Your story will be published on my new blog, "Free Lemonade Stories."  Thanks for giving hope to the world.

If you need help, please email me at  I look forward to reading and sharing your story.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Young Writer Starts Blog

When Jacob's dad told him he didn't know how to make a blog, the preschool graduate asked him to call me for assistance.  This young man was determined to start his own blog and share his creativity with the world.  The main character is a squirrel who thinks she has super powers.

Even more impressive than Jacob's new blog is his non-stop efforts to tell everyone he meets about it.  Jacob took the time to set up a professional photograph for his "about me" page and works diligently to find the correct spelling for words not typically used by first graders.

Do you remember when you were in first grade and you had a dream?  Did you act on it or listen to all the people around you who thought your dream was silly?  It's not too late to live your dreams.  Tap into that grade-school desire you've buried and let it out.

Go, Jacob, go.  You are developing your God-given talent.  I'm posting a link to your blog so the world can see a young boy living his dreams.  I hope you keep up the good work and that other people encourage you.  Maybe some of my readers will follow you...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beat the Odds

We've all been in situations where we think the sky is falling.  Despite our best efforts, we find the odds are against us and we can't find a way to win.  Even our own prayers seem to go unanswered. It's like playing black jack.  No matter how good our hand is, the house keeps beating us.

There is a way to become a winner.  All that is required is a change of mind-set. Once you change your perspective, you will beat the odds every time.  Non-believers will accuse you of cheating when they see your track record.  Anybody can do it, it's so simple.  Are you ready?

Here is how you beat the odds.....Repeat after me,

Heavenly Father, I understand your silence each time I pray for help.  I've behaved like a spoiled child, asking for things that are not good for me.  From now on, I'm only going to ask you for things that will help me accomplish what you desire for me.  You created me, you know me, you love me.  Father, you know what is best for me.  Please help me discover why I'm here and give me the tools I need to do what you ask of me.  I ask all this in the name of your precious Son, Jesus.  Thank you for sending Him to die for all my sins.  Thank you also for the gift of your Holy Spirit.  Help me to hear His voice every day so I may learn how I can best serve you.  Amen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are You Engaged?

Deep inside you there is some quality or gift you have like no other in this world.  Once you discover it, you have two choices.  You can engage or disengage.  You are a drop of water falling from the heavens.  Your actions determine whether you will evaporate into thin air or if you will become part of a new creation.

A single raindrop may appear insignificant to the world.  There would be no rivers, lakes or oceans if every raindrop failed to reach it's destination and connect with others.  There would be no life on earth without water.  Every drop matters.  You matter.  You are significant.  Once you engage, that is....activate, apply, attach, dovetail, energize, fasten, get going, interact, interlace, interlock, intermesh, interplay, join, lock, mesh, switch on with all the other droplets, then God’s mosaic is revealed, a masterpiece on display for all eternity.  Are you engaged?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Pair of Gifts from a Friend

 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord. ~ Proverbs 18:22

"I have a pair of books, one for you and one for your wife," my friend said. "I feel called to give them to you and I had them autographed by the author."

My friend recognized the spiritual attack upon my family and felt I needed a special weapon to survive.  The first thought in my head was, Oh no, another task.  How am I going to find the time to read this book?

I graciously accepted the books, "The Power of a Praying Husband" and "The Power of a Praying Wife." When I returned home, I placed the books on top of our bed, one on each pillow, for my wife to discover.  I started reading my book this morning and found peace in the first pages.

The author, Stormie Omartian, sold over 11 million Power of Praying books.  I have a feeling most of them were to the wives first.  While on the book tour, she met men who asked her to write something for them.  At first, she doubted this book would be opened.  We have all the, chores, ball games to watch, blah, blah, blah.

When I look inside my heart and ask myself, what's really important to me?  The answer wife and children.  Is there any better way to strengthen my family relationships than to learn how to pray more effectively?

If you are a male who is looking for ways to enrich your marriage, order this book today. If you are a wife desiring a prayerful husband or if you know of a couple who could benefit from these books, order them as gifts.  Click here.  To my friend who reached out to me and my wife, I offer a sincere thank you.  May God bless you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Name Pops Into My Head

Today's post is off the wall.  While waking up on Saturday morning, a name popped into my head.  I hadn't thought of this person in over twenty years and I don't know him personally.  I immediately found this person's email address and sent him an email.  His name will remain private for now.

These dreams I get in the middle of the night are a gift.  Only God knows where these visions will lead me.  They are all part of the mosaic He is building, the puzzle pieces He is connecting.  Stay tuned to see who this mystery person is and what message he has for you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Can You Hear Him?

The other day I visited a friend who is dealing with hearing loss.  He strained forward to hear me and asked me to speak louder.  It made me think of all the times God spoke to me in a voice so quiet I often couldn't hear Him.

God's voice is like the vast ocean.  We scoop up a bucket of His words and attempt to fit it into a hole we made in the sand.  Our feeble brains can only comprehend what fits into the tiny space.  Is there a better way to get His messages?

Throw away your sand bucket and immerse yourself in the ocean.  There is an infinite space inside your soul and it's thirsty for every drop of God's living water.  You will never drown and this water is refreshing.  When you are ready to take a dip, you will hear His voice.  Sometimes it will come down like crashing waves on the beach.  Other times, it will resemble a small bubble popping.  Listen for His messages while swimming daily in His waters.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Book Tour

There is great joy in sharing my book with others.  Maybe you belong to a church, book club or organization looking for a guest speaker.  If you live in the San Diego County area and would like me to visit your group, please send me an email. 

I've found the best way to promote "God's Black Sheep Squadron" is through friends.  If you allow me to offer my books in the back of the room after I speak, my talk will be my gift to your group.  You can pick any topic you like from my blog archives or set up a question and answer session.

Thank you for helping me to get the word out.  I also love to help groups in need of a master of ceremonies or auctioneer.  Need help with your fundraiser?  Contact me and let's put a package together to fit your specific needs.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Confessions of a Writer

Today’s message may come as a shock to some of my friends in the writing world.  I’ve tried to hide this part of myself from the world.  Now that I’ve self-published my first book and have two more “under construction,” I’ve decided to come clean about my past.

I recall my dad sharing his dreams of writing. He majored in journalism and had a knack for putting short stories together. I will never forget how his voice sounded on the phone each time he told me of yet one more rejection letter from another publisher.  I kept thinking, what a waste of time this whole writing process is…why won’t dad just knock it off with all those submissions? Can’t he understand nobody sees value in his writing?  Does he really think he can make money writing?

The same voice he heard inside of him calling him to write was also gnawing at me.  I learned to ignore this pesky intruder and pretend it wasn’t there.  I never told my dad about the voice.  Listening to it would mean giving up on my worldly dreams of becoming rich.  There was no way I was going to deviate from my plans.  My goals were in place and there was no room wasting my time on frivolous activities.  Besides, I knew I had no talent or training for writing.

When I saw the gleam in my dad’s eyes, the day he handed over an autographed copy of his book, I realized my attitude towards writing was wrong.  When dad passed away, I finally started listening to the voice in my head prompting me to write.  The only problem was my time.  I was so busy working long hours I didn’t have time to start any new projects.

After my dad passed away, my wife and I attended a retreat together to focus on our marriage.  My time with my dad while he was dealing with terminal cancer was special, however, my family felt disconnected from me.  I needed to let my wife know how special she is and the retreat was a way to spend three days with her uninterrupted. 

I discovered love letter writing during our marriage encounter weekend.  Each letter was designed to share our feelings and we were encouraged to be creative and descriptive.  My deepest passions came to the surface and I promised my love I would never stop writing until I breathe my last breath.  To date, we have now written each other a combined total of over 4,500 letters.

I confess to you today I never thought I would be getting up daily at 5:00am to write.  The love letters were my introduction.  The blog is God’s way of opening a door for me to develop my gifts.  The memoir, “God’s Black Sheep Squadron,” is the result of saying yes to his call to publish all the good He is doing in my life.  Everything I am today is because I finally accept who I am in God’s eyes. 

Bless me Father, for I have sinned, and I have failed to be the person you created me to be.  I put my own plans ahead of yours and tried to silence your voice each time you knocked at the door to my heart.  I accept your plans for my life and promise to go wherever you send me and do whatever you ask of me.  Please forgive me for being so stubborn.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Talking Blog

In response to one of my blog readers who has trouble with the small print on my blog, I've added a text-to-speech widget.  The voice is a little robotic, however, it helps the visually impaired to hear my messages.

Click on the listen button underneath the blog titles to activate the player.  Thanks to the folks at for giving away this awesome tool.

If there are any other enhancements you would like to see on this blog, please email me and let me know.  Send your comments to

Thanks for visiting.  Don't forget to send me your story about overcoming life's challenges for my newest blog, free lemonade stories.  This is a world-wide project and I'm hoping to get writers from every country.  Please help me to spread hope around the world.  Make sure to include the country you are from when you send your story.

I would love it if you wouldn't mind sharing this blog with your friends.  Please add your name to the list of followers and make sure to bookmark this site.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jeni Stepanek Grants Interview, Speaks About Her Son, Mattie Stepanek

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jeni Stepanek, a motivational speaker, author, and mother of four children, all of them now residing in heaven.  Her son, Mattie, published five New York Times bestsellers before his fourteenth birthday.  After his death, two more books were published using a collection of his works.  These also became best sellers.

Jeni, also a best-selling author, wrote "Messenger," a look at Mattie's life from a mother's perspective.  Once Jeni approves of the transcript, I will be publishing her interview on my newest blog, "Free Lemonade Stories."

If you know anyone who has overcome adversity in their life, or if you have conquered life's challenges   and would like to share, please submit your story to me and I will publish it.

Thank you, Jeni, for giving me one hour of your time. I consider it one of the best hours of my life.  You and your children are an inspiration for the world.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

It happened again this morning.  I couldn't get the "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" song out of my head.  The first time it occurred was a couple of weeks ago.  Some days, I get multiple messages in my heart for blog writing.  On this particular day, the song was so annoying, I decided to go with another story and forget about the yellow brick road.

For those of you who get inspirations in the middle of the night, you can relate to today's post.  Today's message started as a jingle.  This is how the Spirit speaks to me...visions, dreams, songs, and ideas that come to me while I'm half-sleeping.  When I wake up, the birds singing outside help sprout these little seeds planted inside me.  These ideas become something special to be given away to you.

One of the lessons I've learned about the thoughts I get in my heart is they haunt me like a lingering nightmare until I release them.  There are days when I'd rather not be an open book.  Other days, I'd prefer to skip a chapter and fast forward to a less embarrassing message.  If I want to keep hearing the Yellow Brick Road song in my head, all I need to do is not write about it and it will stay with me until my head explodes.  Here goes....

The yellow brick road is not some kind of fantasy like Dorothy's adventure in "the Wizard of Oz."  It's a path to our destiny. Along the way, we will meet our own scarecrows, tin men and lions.  They are the people we are to help.  Together, we find the meaning and purpose for our lives.

Our yellow brick road will not always be bright and sunny.  There will be dark, stormy days and we will be confronted with challenges that make us question why we are staying on such a difficult path.  There will always be naysayers who tempt us to turn around.  Sometimes these are people who love us.  They don't want to see us in pain and they think their advice about abandoning the yellow brick road is for our own good.  They don't realize our journey is not about's about the scarecrows, the tin men and the lions, it's about the lost and the fallen.

The Holy Spirit has already revealed my yellow brick road.  You too have a path to follow.  All roads lead to Jesus.  He is at the end of trail. Are you ready to follow Him?

(Editor's note:  added 1/6/12  - Click here to "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" and add your brick to the road under construction)

7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.  ~ Romans 14:7-8

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Retired Firefighter Becomes Deacon

My close friend, Pat Byrne, could be on the golf course every day, enjoying a quiet retirement.  Just before he retired, the worst fire in California broke out near his home.   He was separated from his federal firefighter buddies during the Cedar Creek fire and checked in with his chief, asking what he should do.

"Do anything you can to help," his chief replied.

Pat recognized his buddies needed food and water and he single-handedly organized a caravan supplying water and food to the front lines.  He purchased a blue flashing light at K-mart and placed in on his truck.  The light and his badge were enough to get him through the barricades to feed hundreds of firefighters scattered throughout the back country who refused to leave the blaze and get food at base camp.  I witnessed Pat's work first-hand while throwing water bottles and food to the firefighters battling the flames.  Pat paid for his own gas and logged over 1,500 miles to take care of his buddies.

Pat Byrne has always been a servant in our community.  Four years ago, he heard a voice calling him to become God's representative in our small town.  He went back to school and learned theology.  After passing all his classes, Pat was ordained as a deacon, which means servant.

I attended our church service and watched Pat deliver his first sermon.  He spoke of the love Jesus has for all of us.

"Even if you were the only person on the planet, Jesus would go to Calvary for your sins so you could be with His Father," Pat said.

When the service was over, our church family headed over to the social center for a potluck.  Pat asked me to serve as his master of ceremonies.  After the building filled to capacity, I walked outside to check on the waiting line which seemed to be without end.  Volunteers rushed in with chairs and tables and set up an overflow area in our pastor's back yard.  A cool breeze made this an ideal setting for the crowd.  A missionary who had flown in from Nicaragua led a prayer of thanks for the outside audience while Deacon Pat prayed inside.

Our pastor played a slide show after dinner showing pictures of Deacon Pat's family and his life as a firefighter.  I ended with a couple of personal stories about my good friend.

Deacon Pat, a retired firefighter at the celebration party.

A packed crowd celebrates Deacon Pat's Ordination.
Deacon Pat will continue the work he started in his first career.  His role as Deacon is "fire prevention."  May he lead many souls to Jesus as he ministers to the sick, the incarcerated, and the needy.  Thank you, my friend, for saying yes to Jesus.  Our community is better because you are a "super servant."

Monday, June 13, 2011


The lyrics below show us how to deal with difficult times in our lives.  I woke up to the song on Klove radio and it put me in a great mood.  Read the lyrics first, then click on the video below to hear the song.  Enjoy...

Laura Story - Blessings

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Pity Party

  “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
   and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
   may the name of the LORD be praised.”~ Job 1:21

We've all had days where we felt the world was caving in.  The car broke down, the boss had a meltdown, we got the pink slip after years of faithful service, or the doctor gave us some bad news about our health.  It's so easy to go into self-pity mode.  We're inclined to send out invitations to everyone we know for our very own pity party.  For some of us, one party isn't enough.  We don't want the party to end.  Every day, it's "woe is me, I'm so miserable.  Look at all the lemons in my life."

When we get so wrapped up in ourselves, we fail to recognize what's going in the lives of others.  I've met some people who resemble the character, Job, in the Old Testament, the one who lost everything.  Job deserved a pity party.  He had a great life, then lost everything.  In his deepest misery, he never stopped praising God.  Job is my hero, a great example for all of us.

Take a good look around at the champion lemonade makers, the ones who notice the people suffering from the same problems.  These people made a decision to stop crying and start doing.  They turned lemons into lemonade, set up a lemonade stand and gave away their lemonade for free.  The pity party people were so self-absorbed they drove right by the lemonade stand and missed out on a refreshing drink and great company.

If you've got a few lemons in your life you'd like to unload, why not set up a lemonade stand?  Stop wallowing and start swallowing.  The world doesn't need an invitation to your pity party, they'd rather visit your lemonade stand.  Click here if you're ready to offer some lemonade.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Who's First

Which is love or be loved?  Who should be first in a relationship, you or your loved one?  Your answers may determine just how long your relationship lasts.  I'm not a relationship expert, however, this year's blog theme, love, has me asking myself lots of questions about it.  The deeper I dig, the more questions I find.

Happy marriages seem to have one common denominator.  Each partner is willing to make sacrifices for the other and put themselves in second position.  In order to be loved, we must be able to love.  There is give and take in every relationship.  Both sides need to give.  A taker will drain a giver until there is nothing left to give.

Think of love as gasoline.  Your tank needs to be refilled or you will run out of gas and end up stranded.  Fill up your loved one's gas tank regularly and don't wait for the warning light to turn on before you refuel.  In marriage, each spouse is responsible for the other one's gas tank.  If you want two cars to be parked in your garage, make sure your loved one always has enough gas to return home.

Love is complicated.  Each of us requires our own special fuel.  Don't make your loved one guess about your octane preferences.  Communicate.  When the going gets tough, don't be afraid to give your loved one some fuel additive.  This may be some counseling or some special date nights.  If you learn to put your loved one first, you both win.  It is a two-way street.  Make sure both of you are watching the other's fuel gauge and keep those tanks topped off.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Meeting Jesus

Ever wonder how people felt when they met Jesus for the first time?  Maybe they watched Him work a miracle or two while Jesus shared a story about His Father.  Perhaps a friend shared an experience and persuaded others to meet Jesus in the flesh.

I'm part of a group of people who are preparing a retreat designed to share Jesus the same way the first followers did over two thousand years ago.  The first time I attended this special weekend, I felt my heart change.  It was like meeting Jesus in the flesh.

Would you like to have a life-changing spiritual experience?  Mark your calendar for November 11-13 and come to Ramona.  This event is open to anyone who would like to meet Jesus.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you will come to know Him.  Maybe He is calling you right now.  If you feel something inside you, nudging you to sign up, email me and I will save a seat for you.

I believe this is one of the best years of my life.  The number one reason is because of this special weekend ahead.  For the first time ever, this retreat is open to everyone, regardless of denomination or religious belief/non-belief.  Come and experience something out of this world.  I promise you, your life will never be the same.

Email me today to reserve a seat.  I look forward to meeting you.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

From the Battlefield

Many on the battlefield are wounded and the casualties high.  The enemy maintains strong supply lines and vast alliances.  Politicians seek to ban God from graduation speeches and public buildings.

I find myself on the front lines.  My comrades are tired from years of fighting a spiritual war that depletes all our assets.  We huddle in prayer inside our foxholes while enemy fire lights up the skies.  Is there hope for us?

I turn to my Bible and find comfort in the Book of Revelations.  Even the enemy knows the final outcome.  He persists in a war He can't win.

Who will stand up to the enemy?  What sacrifices will be needed?  The Evil One taunts our side to raise the white flag of surrender as He boasts about His recent wins.

A gray-haired man crawls out of the cave.  His arms and legs are wrapped in bandages and he appears weak from lack of food.  His clothes are like rags.  He stands upright on his bare feet and pulls a black book from his backpack.  The pages are torn and the book mired in dust.  While glaring at the Evil One, He begins reading...

 1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
 3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
 4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
 5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. ~ Psalm 23

One by one, the man's friends re-appear to hear the man reading.  Their ammunition is expended and they are cut off from supplies.  When the man is finished reading, they join together in song...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Strange Voices

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 18:3

I always found it odd how the Peanuts kids could understand their teacher's voice.  Children have a way of cutting through garble.  Jesus teaches us we need to become like children to understand God.  The older we get, the more complicated we make even the simplest of ideas.

How are you at interpreting God's messages?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Vulnerable Heart

I learned long ago the value of building forts around my heart.  A couple of times I let my guard down and my heart was broken.  Fearing I would be duped again, I created an elaborate defense system and relocated my heart to a fallout shelter deep inside a remote cave.

The choice to come out of your barricade leaves your heart vulnerable and exposed.  There's also a high price to pay should you choose to keep your heart incarcerated.  Which is better, lock up your heart or risk rejection?

I find my answer in Jesus.  He knew His Father was calling Him to the battlefield filled with dangerous landmines, some of them planted by His own friends.  He knew He would become a casualty.  He faced public humiliation, torture and death.  This was not His choice.  He did it anyway.

Ever wonder how Jesus, the Son of God, could be so unlucky picking His closest followers?  Here He is with twelve men, healing the sick, turning water into wine, and raising people from the dead.  What are his disciples doing while Jesus is busy working miracles?  You wouldn't expect Jesus to end up heartbroken from his closest friends, yet they doubted Him, denied Him and even betrayed Him.

Jesus knew their hearts and He still chose to become vulnerable.  I believe He did this for us, to show us how to behave when those closest to us turn away from us.  My deepest wounds come from those in my inner circle.  I would rather be outside the cave, risking a broken heart, than be in captivity.  This is not easy.  The only way to avoid a broken heart is to hide from people and I believe that is too high a price to pay.  The world needs individuals willing to risk rejection so their open hearts can shine brightly.  The best way to be an example is to forgive those who break your heart.  Become vulnerable and remember to let go of grudges when others hurt you.  In the long run, your relationships will be more meaningful if the people you love realize you are willing to wipe the slate clean and forgive them for the times they hurt you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Dad Shares His First Book

My dad presents his first book.
My dad overcame many obstacles in his life in order to share his stories with the world.  Rejection letters from publishers inundated his mailbox.  Refusing to give up, dad got creative and investigated a little known self publishing option.  Twenty years ago, there were few choices available to writers searching for ways to get their books to the marketplace.

I will never forget the smile on my dad's face as he presented us with his first book, "The Bisbee Doll with the Purple Tongue,"  self published under the pen name, Just Mulligan.  He had t-shirts made up for his grandchildren with the main character on the front, a doll sticking out her purple tongue and saying, "Blaahhh." The shirts were like oversize pajamas for my young children, covering them to their knees.  They enjoyed mimicking the character, often sticking out their tongues and yelling out, "blaahhh."

Dolly shows off her purple tongue.
The biggest lesson I learned about writing from my dad is the value of perseverance.  He found a way to get the whole town of Bisbee behind his book and his t-shirts helped get the word out.  Don't ever give up on your dreams no matter how many people tell you that you will fail.  Ignore the rejection letters and keep moving forward.  Thanks, dad, for inspiring me to live my dreams.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

All the World's a Stage

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. ~ William Shakespeare

Never before in human history has it been so easy for people in far off places to connect world-wide.  The Google Translate feature allows us to communicate with one another no matter our dialect.  This blog has officially entered the world stage and my role is to encourage you to play your part, to share your story.

Please become a part of "Free Lemonade Stories."  I would love to have at least one person from every country around the world.  This is your chance to change the world by sharing your unique experiences.  The world is your stage.  Are you ready?  Click here to find out how you can share your story.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Thy Will Be Done

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen. ~ Matthew 6:9-13

Jesus teaches us how to pray to our Father using simple words that often challenge us to behave differently.  He knows this is a struggle for us.  So many times in my life I've asked God to help me with my own plans rather than following His.  

The big question I ask myself about doing things my way instead of God's way is, "why?"  

It all comes down to one thing, trust.  If I don't trust God to lead me to the place I'm supposed to be, of course I'm going to do things my way.  I may as well skip the entire prayer if I'm going to separate myself from God's plans.  Forget about the kingdom coming, the daily bread, forgiving our tormentors, and as far as temptation goes, if I'm on my own, doing my own thing, I may as well forget about asking God to keep me away from temptation.

Let's look at the flip side, doing things God's way.  Isn't it interesting to see how the Lord's prayer is so perfect when we decide to follow God all the way?  He wants to bring His kingdom to us while we are still on earth.  He can't do it unless we let Him be in charge of everything.  Forgiving our enemies leads to peace.  Staying away from evil keeps us in the light and close to God.  Receiving our daily bread means getting everything we need to face life's trials.

Amazing.  It all comes down to "thy will be done."  The world will think you've lost your mind once you decide to go "all in" and let God be in charge of everything.  Who cares about the world?  Wouldn't you rather receive the kingdom?  To do this, you have to let go.  I've decided to live my life this way.  If Jesus can die on the cross for my sins, I can do whatever He asks of me.  It starts with a prayer.  Are you ready to follow Him?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Free Lemonade Stories Blog Launched

Drum roll please.... Free Lemonade Stories is now live.  Stacey is busy writing her story and it will appear on the Free Lemonade Stories Blog soon. Adelaide, a member of my critique group, just sent me a podcast, an excerpt from a book she is writing about autism.  With Google Translate in place, I'm hoping to receive stories from every country across the globe.   Click here to visit the new site and peruse the new community where interaction is encouraged.

I need your story.  This a great opportunity for you to tap into your creative energy and publish.  If you overcame a huge obstacle, I want to hear from you.  The top stories may end up in "Free Lemonade."  Are you the one with an incredible story to share?  Email me today and let's get started.

Thanks, Stacey and Adelaide, for volunteering.  I just got an email from Michael and he is working on his contribution.  We are off to a fast start and I can't wait to publish your stories on my blog.  Want to contribute?  Contact me today and let's move forward.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

First Glimpse of "the Caveman in the Mirror"

My Ramona Christian Writers Critique Group is eagerly awaiting the first chapters of my second book, "the Caveman in the Mirror."  So far, I have a rough outline and a vision for my second book, scheduled for release on March 17th, 2013.  An outside observer may find it confusing to comprehend what's going on inside my head.  Today's post is meant to give you a glimpse of what's ahead.

"The Caveman in the Mirror"  is an introspection.  It begins with a prayer to the Creator asking Him to show me who I am in His eyes.  The Holy Spirit reveals a man from a supernatural point of view.  This perspective is the beginning of a journey shared with readers.  There are no straight paths or shortcuts.  The path is filled with gaping holes, steep cliffs, and treacherous ascents.

Along the way, this Holy Spirit helps me to find the connections to God and to others.  Most of us don't understand how we are linked to our Creator and to one another.  I'm digging really deep in this book and I invite you to join me on the journey.  If you read my first book and had trouble understanding the last chapter, this book will help you discover the connections.  The first book is only the beginning.  The second book will expose who we are in God's eyes and how we fit together.  I can't wait to share it with you.  Stay tuned for the latest updates.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fruits of the Holy Spirit

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity.” ~ Galatians 5:22-23

Jesus promised His followers He would not leave them alone.  They remained locked up in a room, afraid to come out until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This Spirit is available for you, all you have to do is ask for it.  Once you have this Holy Spirit in your life, everything changes.  Your problems don't go away, however, your ability to deal with even the most difficult of circumstances will surprise those around you.

These new gifts you have at your fingertips are fruits.  You are unique and so are your own customized fruits.  We should never judge others because we don't really know when their fruits will blossom.  Even in our own lives, these fruits don't become ripe until God's perfect time.

Don't forget to share your fruits with others.  You received them for that purpose, to make the world around you better.  Working together in community, each of us contributes our own special fruit.  There are no longer any deficiencies as long as we stay connected to one another.