Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Letter for Larry

Larry McElroy
Dear Uncle Larry,

I trust this letter will reach you faster than snail mail.  Since time is of the essence, I'm enlisting the support of your precious children to ensure this note of encouragement reaches you in time.  Before we begin, please ask your nurse for some Kleenex.  No, it's not for you.  I know how strong you are and I remember you doing those stomach crunches on a 45º angle bench when I was a kid visiting you in San Diego.  You are one tough cigar-smoking geezer who has more love inside your belly than Santa Claus.  The Kleenex is not for you – it's for your children who will be reading this to you.  I heard there may not be time for snail mail, so I'm relying on the fastest mode of news delivery known to modern man.  It's "Tell-a-Mulligan."  God bless them all.

Speaking of Mulligans, I recall the day twinsie read a snippet from one of my dad's final letters when he was in a similar situation.  He wrote, it's not over till the fat lady sings but I think I hear her humming a few bars.  Damn the fat lady.  Why does she need to interrupt us when we're having so much fun together?

You will live forever in my memories.  No one barbecued more creatively than you with your grill made out of newspapers.

I want to thank you for all you've taught me, my siblings and everyone else as far away as Asia during your lifetime of public service.  You are the senior member of the "I'm married to a Mulligan club."  Some may argue, "Mulligans – You can't live with them, you can't live without 'em."  When we said good-bye to your precious wife, you proved that life can and must go on, even if God asks us to fly solo.  Your faith is strong.  You're tough as nails.  And you're surrounded by three loving children who aren't ready to let go of you.  Maybe you're a bit worried about what's going on right now.  Who wouldn't be?  When I'm struggling, I like to make lists.  Here are some ideas for you...
  1. Scotch.  No, it's not for you.  It's for the fat lady.  Bribe her.  Tell her you're not ready to leave yet.  Every moment you spend with your children will help them to cope when you get called up.
  2. Ear muffs.  They will be needed when you reach your final destination.  Put them on as soon as you see your mother-in-law, Alice, running to greet you.  You know what's coming.  It's the world famous scream..."AAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHH!!!"
  3. Your camera.  Ask my dad to get a picture of you and your precious wife, Mary.  He's a great photographer and he's pretty good with technology.  Ask him to smuggle the picture out of Heaven so the rest of us can get a glimpse of you and your bride.
One last thing, Uncle Larry.  Thanks for being a powerful mentor.  Your legacy will live on in your children and grandchildren as well as all the lives you touched in this world.  God bless you.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Staying Out of the Taboo Zone

King Kodo was one homesick Gorilla.  His keepers were worried about his depression.  He was missing his old zoo.  They installed a tightrope to cheer him up.  Surprise!  He climbed up on top and walked the tightrope rather than hang from it.  That's what I do every morning when I wake up.  I balance myself on the tightrope above the taboo zone and put one foot in front of the other.  Visitors from far and near visit the zoo and observe my playful antics, wondering, will he ever fall off the tightrope?

It was easy to walk the tightrope five years ago when no one was around.  I woke up, picked a topic, and wrote a story.  I did my best to keep it simple.  No one at my day job knew I was a writer.  I published in order to honor a promise I made to God – to share all the good he is doing in my life.  Family members pleaded with me to keep them off the grid.  So, I made a list of taboo subjects.  No family stories without permission, no politics, no specific religious denominations, and no stories about my day job.  There is a strict "no media" rule at my day job.  I developed a Clark Kent/Superman persona.  Then, one day a co-worker walked up to me and said, "I heard you're a writer."  News travels fast in small towns.  Every day it gets harder and harder to stay out of the taboo zone.  King Kodo sure makes it look easy.  As for me, I'll keep practicing until I get it right.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Caveman Celebrates 5 Year Blogiversary Today

Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? ~ Psalm 139:7

On this day, five years ago, I emerged from the cave and began my writing journey.  I was called out.  No longer could I hide.  That's me in the top photograph from a Halloween party.  I blocked out the right side of the picture to hide the Mrs. and protect her identity.  That keeps me out of the "dog house" pictured in the second photo.  Maybe you're wondering, why does this guy call himself a caveman?  Or, why does he write every day?  Here's my story...

I shunned writing.  Reading was a close second.  My high school English teacher asked us to bring in something we liked to read.  This is going to be fun, I thought.  I popped in the next day with a cereal box.  My classmates laughed.  Then, Mr. Nelson instructed the class to write a paper about why we enjoyed our particular genre.  I went home and got busy.  A writer was born.  It didn't matter that my subject matter was scant.  I had all the ingredients I needed to crank out my assignment.  And yes, Mikey liked it.  My teacher liked it, too.  He gave me an A.  It was a good day.  Then a dark cloud appeared on the horizon.  Only one of my classmates knew about it.  I hid the truth from everyone else.  My parents were divorcing.  Our family was falling apart.  On the inside I was seething.  On the outside I was the happy kid, Mikey, who liked his Life cereal.

I hid my demons well.  When I fell in love, I hit another roadblock.  I thought, How am I going to make it through my marriage classes with all my anger issues? 

"Don't worry," my sister said.  "I know someone who will help."  I passed.  The real test came years later when a visitor came to our church.  "Your Bible is like a mirror," he said.  "All you have to do is open it up and see yourself in all the characters.  God put them there to help you see yourself."

I took the bait.  Yep.  I went home and said a prayer to the Holy Spirit to show me who I am in God's eyes.  Wham! he showed me.  The pathetic character I found couldn't have been any worse.  I was the naked caveman possessed by multiple demons in Luke's story, chapter 8, verses 26-40.  No mask is strong enough, no cave large enough, to hide who you are from God.  The jig is up, I thought.  I'm a caveman!  I walked around with slumped shoulders for weeks.  Then I found the solution one day when I returned for a closer look at my alter ego.  Jesus was the solution.  He was the one who exorcised the demons in Luke's story.  He called the man out of his cave and granted him freedom.  Jesus is responsible for all that I am today.  When he called me out of my cave five years ago, he nudged me to write – not about cereal boxes, but about all the good he is doing.  Here is what verse 39 said in my Bible... Return to thy house, and tell how great things God hath done to thee. And he went through the whole city, publishing how great things Jesus had done to him.

What's next?  My first novel, "The Caveman in the Mirror,"  will be birthed in 2015.  Mikey likes it.  I hope you do, too.  Thank you for visiting today on my 5 year Blogiversary.  You're invited to leave your comments below.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Called Out of the Cave

My best friend shot this picture during one of our spelunking adventures many years ago before I descended into the darkness.  We used flashlights and candles to navigate the underground caverns.  The experience took my breath away.  I loved the journey.  Without any outside light, we lost track of time.  Hours passed before we returned to civilization.

Tomorrow marks five years since I was called out of my spiritual cave to begin a new life as a writer and blogger.  I will celebrate my liberation tomorrow on my five year blogiversary.  That's 1,829 consecutive days of writing.  It was preceded by five years of daily love letters to my wife.  Each day I see a little more light.  I learn how to better use my writing talents.  I become more comfortable using the modern writing tools available to this generation of story tellers.  Please join me tomorrow for the celebration.  The best part of the journey is knowing I'm not alone and that you are with me.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my life with you. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

You Can Find Peace Anywhere

I shot this photo yesterday beside the Cedar River on my lunch break in Cedar Rapids.  The town is in the process of rebuilding after massive floods over a year ago.  Streets are torn apart, buildings condemned and families dislocated.  One of my assignments at my day job is to introduce people to our company and there's no better way to do that than some face-to-face contact.  This quiet spot was an amazing find in the middle of a city filled will so much loud noise from all the construction going on.

I took off my shoes, ate my favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and basked in the sunshine while enjoying a cool 70º breeze.  My time in Cedar Rapids these last two days reminded me about my own life.  I know what it's like to experience disaster.  Sometimes, it may appear that peace is impossible.  I disagree.  Real peace is what you experience when slow down and smell the roses.  It's what you feel on the inside when you allow your mind to be quiet, even if it may only be in thirty minute increments.

Have a great day.  Peace be with your spirit.  Don't allow any disasters to get in your way.  Sometimes, Mother Nature is just trying to get your attention.  Give her time.  Eventually, she will show you her good side.  For me, it's in the middle of the corn fields in a small town off the beaten path.  Yes, you can find peace anywhere.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Greatest Ally You Will Ever Have

It was a simple prayer.  The woman who laid hands on me later told me she could feel heat coming from my head.  My eyes were closed.  I silently called out to the Holy Spirit.  The experience was soothing, like being immersed in a warm bath, floating.  My life was forever changed.

This gift I received many years ago is available to anyone who genuinely asks for it.  It doesn't matter what you've done, where you've been or what you believe or don't believe.  What matters is that you open your heart to the Holy Spirit and invoke his name.  This is the same gift Jesus gave to his followers before leaving. 

My prayer for you today is that you ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Unwrap it.  Open it up.  Use it.  The Holy Spirit will help you understand who Jesus is, how much he loves you and why you are here.  The Holy Spirit is the greatest ally you will ever have.  Ask and you shall receive.

Monday, August 25, 2014

You are in Charge of the Outcomes

Successful outcomes don't happen all by themselves.  They are the result of proper planning, solid execution and the drive to get things done.  There is no one else to blame when things don't work out.  You are in charge of the outcomes.  If you don't like the way things are going, go back to the drawing board and make positive changes.  It's worth the investment.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How I Found Contentment

It sounds a little bit morbid, but my wife mentioned something to me while I was in my writing zone this morning about what will happen if she leaves this world before me.  She told me, "I'll do little things to make my presence known, like move objects to get your attention."  We laughed together about her ideas.  Then she said, "I know what your response will be... 'go to the light.'"

The truth is, both of us are already in the light.  We have our Heaven on earth.  We have everything we need to live an abundant life.  For me, being in the light is living in a state of gratitude.  I found contentment when I stopped chasing things that were outside of God's plans for my life.  I'm surrounded by a loving family and I live in a community of caring people who knock on my door to share vegetables from their garden.  Yesterday, an elderly woman walked up to me and started chatting.  She asked me, "Are you a singer?"  I told her about my famous cousins.  Then she prodded me for more about my life.  "What do you do?"  she asked.

"I write," I responded. 

"The Caveman in the Mirror.  The main character sees someone in the mirror goes on a search to find him."

"Is it Jesus?"  the woman asked.

"No.  It's one of the man's ancestors."

"I want to read your book.  The title is intriguing.  When will it be out?"

"There is still a lot of polishing needed and more chapters to write.  It will be within the year."

Then the woman told me something that gave me goose bumps.  "I was born on St. Patrick's Day," she said, flashing her Irish smile.  I wondered, was she reading my mind?  My first memoir was published on St. Patrick's Day but I didn't tell her that.  And my goal is to release my novel on March 17, 2015.

The woman shook my hand and walked away.  She made my day.  That's what contentment is – being thankful for moments like my chance meeting with Patricia or quiet conversations with my wife.  Both of them know how to move my spirit.  And if my wife leaves this place ahead of me, I'll remind her she doesn't need to move objects to get my attention.  She already moved something I once considered immovable – my heart.  I couldn't be any happier than I am today.  I found contentment.  I'm thankful for all the people, past and present, who will always be a part of me.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mulligan's Island Returns to Iowa on 9/13

My reservations are confirmed.  My time off request granted.  It's time to return to Mulligan's Island.  My cousin, Mark Mulligan, is the only member of my extended family who jumped the fence and moved south to Mexico when the rest of the country was headed north in search of green cards.  Did he get red carded?  I'll have to ask him when he visits three weeks from today in Burlington, Iowa at the Tiki Barn. 

If you like trop-rock, that's music, Jimmy Buffet style, and you want to hang out on Mulligan's Island, make your reservations now.  I hear the place may be sold out soon.  Click here to get your reservations.  I'll see you at the Tiki Hut.

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Unfreeze Your Next Chapter

Today's story is inspired by an anonymous family member.  He wrote on his Facebook wall yesterday, I'm ready to start the next chapter of my life and I'm not afraid anymore.  His words are powerful and inspiring.  I believe he discovered the secret to unfreezing yourself when you feel stuck.  The number one stumbling block is fear.  There are approximately 365 Bible verses containing the words fear not.  When you overcome fear you are ready to move forward into the next chapter of your life.  How is this done? Here are my thoughts...
  1. Assess your gifts.
  2. Ask yourself why you have these gifts.
  3. Imagine what the world will look like if you choose not to develop and use your gifts.
  4. Decide that your fears are too small compared to what your life will look like if you become unfrozen.
  5. Take action.  Today.
  6. Don't ever look back.
  7. Keep writing new chapters of your life without fear.
  8. When fear creeps in, pray.
  9. Read the Bible.
  10. Cut and paste these words in a place you can read them every morning when you wake up:      
              I'm ready to start the next chapter of my life and I'm not afraid anymore.

The author of this quote prefers anonymity.  Keep him in your daily prayers, please.  He enlisted in the infantry the same day he posted this quote.  May God bless him and all the brave men and women who fight to protect us.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Candid Conniptions Contrive Fictional Characters

What does a writer do when he or she encounters unique specimens of the human race who breathe fire from their nostrils and use fear to make their victims succumb?  While the rest of the world may run and hide, I get out my notepad and document the event for future reference.  When the situation is particularly ugly, I think to myself, there's chapter twelve.  It helps me stay calm under pressure.

I learned an important lesson from my first memoir – it's better to write fiction.  I promised my loved ones I would never share stories about them unless permission is granted first.  Even my adversaries are safe.  Their likenesses, however, are irresistible.  I have a whole stack of candid conniptions to develop in the dark room of my own mind.  Fictional characters will be sprawling the pages of my future projects.  I'm altering shoe and glove sizes to keep my antagonists from pursuing me in the courtroom.  Should they attack, I already have a strong closing statement..."if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit.  And if the shoe fits, wear it.  But sorry, any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental."  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why Daily Writing is a Healthy Habit

It's nine days away.  My writer's summit.  The elevation is 1,825 days high.  Although the air is thin, the view is out of this world.  In order to reach this peak there were some things I needed to shed during my five year ascent.  Like all the voices in my head telling me my efforts were meaningless.  Remember Yoda from Star Wars?  His quiet whispers overshadow the dark side of my mind with simple instructions...

That's why daily writing is a healthy habit.  It's not about trying.  It's about making a daily choice to do or do not.  And every do is a prelude to the next do.  It's one step.  Then another.  Then, one day you wake up and say to yourself, I'm a writer.  Gone are the voices in your head who shrugged their shoulders and departed in search of less timid souls who dare not commit themselves to healthy habits.  You silenced them with your steadfast pursuit of your dreams.  Your habits become your character.  And your dreams become your reality.  There is no acting.  There is no try.  There is only excellence and it comes from healthy habits.  Try not.  Do.  Start with one day of elevation.  And keep climbing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Preparing for the Empty Nest

Parenting is one of my greatest joys.  Like many others in our age group,  my wife and I are preparing to enter the empty nest stage.  Our youngest is finalizing his plans for take-off.  I plan on savoring the view from my nest because I will get the opportunity to look up and see how high they can soar.  Yes, my goal as a parent has always been to encourage our children to test their wings to their limits. 

Life is filled with transitions.  I remember how excited I was when I moved out and ventured into the unknown.  Now it's time for our children to live their dreams.  It's also time to dream new dreams with the love of my life.  There are new chapters to write and empty pages to fill.  Carpe diem, my children. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gratitude Reduces Stress

Want more happiness and less stress in your life?  Make a list of all the people in your life you are grateful for.  Let them know how special they are in your life.  Read the list often.  When you think about the people on your list, your stress will decrease and your happiness will increase.  If you're reading this message today, thank you.  You're on my list.  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Is Failure in Your Equation?

Failure is something I always tried to avoid.  I never understood there was a formula for success that contained failure in the equation.  Failure is a necessary ingredient in a master chef's kitchen.  I use it in many of my recipes.  It adds flavor to my life.

The next time you face a major challenge in your life, challenge yourself to allow failure in your equation.  You are a work in progress.  Experiment.  Learn from your mistakes.  Today's mistakes are tomorrow's triumphs.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Reduce Your Fears to the Ridiculous

Fear of the unknown can get in the way of your goals.  Let's put a label on fear to isolate it and reduce it.  How about the letter x?  Think back to your algebra days.  Your instructor taught you that if you can get the get all by itself, you have the answer.  Here goes:

Let X = Your fears

A sample day in your life looks like this...

xʰ + 10x -3 = a typical day.

Solution:  Trust your instincts.  Don't worry about how complicated the equation appears.  Just focus on getting the x all by itself.  What are you doing in your life that magnifies your fears?  Stop doing those things.  Get rid of anything that causes your answers to be negative.  Sometimes, those things may be people.  You need to stay away from them.

Once you have identified what fear looks like, confront it.  Fear sure does look small and unintimidating when it has nothing to hide behind, doesn't it?      Maybe even a little ridiculous?  Go ahead.  Laugh at it.  Watch it disappear into thin air.  Problem solved.  You didn't know you're a math genius.  Congratulations.  You earned an A+ in fear management.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stay Calm Under Pressure

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to be falling apart?  One of the best lessons I learned about stress and high pressure situations is that the situation is always worse when I react poorly.  The key is to remain calm.  Breathe.  Visualize yourself completing the task.  Use the pressure to your advantage.  You can turn any rough stone into a diamond, including yourself.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Who Will You Inspire Today?

Someone you meet today may need some inspiration from you.  Who will it be?  Is it a family member?  A friend you haven't seen in a while?  Someone at work?  Keep your eyes and ears open.  Watch for that person with the slumped shoulders.  Ask questions about their struggles.  Offer a warm smile and an attentive ear.  Listen to what they have to say about their challenges.  Give them what they need.  Offer them hope.  Lift them up.  Change one life today.  Be the inspiration.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Only Way I Know to Confront Demons

There is a dark side lurking in my family blood lines.  It has many names.  Alcoholism.  Depression.  Anxiety.  One anonymous family member sought help decades ago.  The therapist pointed out something enlightening.  He talked about our ancestry, namely blue-eyed people of Scandinavian descent.  "Low levels of certain brain chemicals make these people more prone to depression," he said.  He didn't talk about another trait found in my blood lines.  It's pride.  Sadly, anyone who could benefit from outside help would much rather cover up the problem than admit it.

Robin William's departure troubles me.  It hurts that my hero, my favorite actor, ended his life by hanging.  Another hero, Junior Seau, one of San Diego's all-time top inspirational players, killed himself.  These are the people I turned to to help me forget my own worries or struggles.  They made me laugh.  They made me feel good.

There are many weapons to fight demons, whatever name they may go by.  Humor is powerful.  Wearing a mask helps when others bully you or criticize you.  I have used these tools in my own life.  But I have found only one way to confront the demons that works without fail.  Jesus Christ is the solution.  He gave his life for you and for me so that we can have eternal life.  He loves you that much.  He can help you overcome any situation.  Call on him.  He will give you whatever you need to confront your demons.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Good-bye, Robin Williams

I will always remember him standing on top of the desks, inspiring his students to do the same so they can see the world from a different perspective.  That's what Robin Williams taught us.  He is my all-time favorite actor.  His passing leaves a void in our world.  Perhaps we can learn one last lesson from a man who gave us so much throughout his stellar career – depression can be deadly when you don't ask for help.  Robin was a giver.  He kept his demons to himself.  It doesn't have to be this way.  Raise your hand.  Don't be afraid to stand up.

Good-bye, Robin Williams.  May you rest in peace and may your family, friends and fans be comforted.

Monday, August 11, 2014

How Many Mulligans Does it Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?

Today's thought provoking question is for entertainment purposes only.  Those who know my family and extended family already know the obvious answer to the question, How many Mulligans does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Zero.  While we Mulligans debate the question, one of the members of the "I'm married to a Mulligan club" would simply complete the task without any flair or mayhem.  There's no story there.  The real scoop is what you might hear if you were privy to a gathering of Mulligans pondering the question.  Without naming any names, here are some sample answers you might expect to hear...

"Screw it.  Who needs a new light bulb? We've got 50 watts of moonlight."


"Acknowledge.  Move on."

Me:  I'm going to write a blog story about this and invite interested family members to give their answers in the comments section.  If you are a Mulligan, are married to a Mulligan, or know a Mulligan, you are invited to add to the story.  Just post your comment below.  Kudos to all the members of the "I'm married to a Mulligan club."  We would all be in the dark without you in our lives.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A God-incidence Moment From the Mound

This morning I was pondering all the ways God speaks to us.  He is the parent of all parents.  The gap between our understanding of His ways is as vast as the universe.  God inspires us through a variety of literary techniques including the use of metaphors, similes, hyperbole, paradox, personification, parable, imagery, allusion and irony.  I especially appreciate God's sense of timing.  Here is a light bulb moment from last week...

Our youngest son is preparing for one of the biggest exams of his life.  He asked me for help.  I love to teach and I love solving for the unknown.  My tactics are unconventional.  The idea is to find creative ways to inspire others.  In our son's case, he tells me he despises math yet he throws out baseball stats like no other.  The question we were tackling was how to find the volume of a sphere.  The first number in the formula is 4/3.  I asked him, "who do you know that wears 43 on their jersey?"  He fired back, "Darren Sproles."  For you non-football fans, Sproles played for the San Diego Chargers and became a Saint.

"Excellent," I said.  "Every time you need to find the volume of a sphere, you imagine Darren Sproles wearing his number 43 jersey, then throw in a pie (3.14) and a radius cubed.  Just remember to put the 4 over the 3 and you can find the volume of a sphere."

My lesson wasn't over.  At the very moment, Jake Peavy, an ex-Padre now a Giant, was on the mound and my son had the TV game on during our lesson.  My son shouted, "Look at the number on Jake's jersey, dad!  He's wearing number 43!"

Yes, God was using Giants and Saints to help my son move mountains.  His timing, as always, was out of this world and perfect.  I'm expecting my son to return home from his upcoming exam and tell me, "Dad, I walked on water today."  Just remember, any time you want to solve unknown equations, turn to the Master.  You may find your answer staring at you from the pitchers mound wearing a number 43 jersey.  And special thanks to my son who gave me permission to share this story.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Half Way to a Writer's Dream

Half way is not a final destination.  It's that place in the middle where many people get lost, especially creative types, like writers, who are blazing their own trails.  Any morsel of inspiration at this point can make a big difference for the marathoners who feel their legs burning.  At the beginning of my blog writing journey nearly five years ago, I wondered, will anyone outside my family and friends ever read my daily stories?  I set a goal.  At the time it felt more like some kind of a fantasy than a realistic target.  One million readers.  Traffic on my site during the first four years looked like a heart beat on a monitor that flat-lined.  It didn't look like it on the outside, but inside was a heart pounding with a burning desire to share my life with others.  I wanted to make a difference, especially for the wanderers.

It happened last night.  Half a million page views.  I'm glad I listened to the voice inside my head that said, "keep going."  I'm like that kid you hear every night upstairs playing the tuba.  He struggles to put the notes together.  The sounds emanating from the walls have no words to describe what you hear but you marvel at his willingness to keep practicing.  Five years later, that kid shows signs he can put a few chords together.  He tells you, "most people reading my stories are from far, far away."  You keep your mouth shut.  On the inside, you're thinking, yeah, those far away readers never had to listen to you play your tuba at all hours of the day and night before you figured out your instrument.  If you're one of the neighbors, thanks for never giving up on me.  I know I have a long way to go to reach a million page views but I'm happy to be half way to my writer's dream.  My wife suggested I listen to a song from Bon Jovi.  I promise, there's no tuba in the music.  Here you go...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Why I Publish at 8:08

Many readers who find me here ask the same question, "What's the meaning of 808?"  They tell me over and over, "I keep seeing it everywhere."  Could it be the work of the Holy Spirit?  Maybe 808 images are being sent subliminally to attract readers?  Or perhaps there are now so many bottled up messages bobbing up and down in the cyber-sea that my 8:08 time slot is gaining popularity?  I don't know.  But something really special is happening today.  This blog will reach half a million page views on 8/08.  I'm going to add this event in my "God-incidence" category – coincidences I cannot explain and have no control over.  Yep.  It's definitely a mountain-top event.  It has some kind of eerie connection to the mountain featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  People were drawn to it but didn't know why.  Aliens were summoning them.  Here it is:

Are aliens going to appear today at 8:08 AM on 8/08?  I don't think so.  But I'm happy to be sharing all my mountain-top experiences with you.  My specific reason for 8:08 is not as exciting as aliens from space.  I just got the urge to put 808 in my name when I started blogging five years ago.  I considered the 8:08 time slot to be unique.  Why publish on the hour like the rest of the world when I can be distinct and dominate my own special band width?  Besides, I'm drawn to a special area code on a remote island where I asked my wife to marry me.  You guessed it.  808 is the area code for Hawaii.  Is it another God-incidence that the 808 area code is seeing its first hurricane in twenty-two years today on 8/08?  Please join me in prayer for all the people who are in danger as they face two hurricanes in a row.  And thanks for tuning in every morning at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time.  I'll leave you with one more bit of trivia about 808 – it's the police code for disturbing the peace.  Don't ask how I know this.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Where Courage Comes From

Fear never really goes away.  It can be resisted.  It can be overcome.  But it can't be eliminated.  When I'm in a situation where I appear to be the underdog, I use a little trick to stack the deck in my favor.  It works.  My secret weapon is prayer.  It changes the outcome.  Why?  Because courage gives me the strength to open the door and enter the arena no matter how big or scary looking my opponent is. 

What are you afraid of?  Give prayer a try.  I recommend you treat prayer like a muscle.  In order to get stronger, you need to exercise daily.  The more you pray, the more you will shape and tone your prayer muscle.  Others will look at you and say, "Wow, look how much courage that person has."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What You Give Multiplies What You Get

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you ~ Luke 6:38

The math is simple.  Those who give end up with more than they started with.  The happiest people I know are the ones who give unselfishly.  They are like farmers who plant seeds.  The more you plant the greater your harvest.  Plant some seeds today.  Invest in others.  You will become rich.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Is Fun on Your Menu Today?

If you're like me, your to do list is already made and you're all set to attack your goals once you wake up.  There are times when I get so carried away with my goals that I forget to have fun.  Goals don't need to be like chores.  Promise yourself you will put fun on your menu.  Make someone laugh today.  Show your humorous side.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Your Upbeat is Within You

Sometimes it's difficult to hear positive music from the world.  I prefer to listen to what's playing inside my head.  It's upbeat and the tunes are catchy.  You can join me for a jam session any time.  Or, you can find your own upbeat.  You can hear it best when the TV is off.  Find a quiet place and turn up the volume from inside your mind.  Let your positive vibes fill the room.  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Why Consistency Matters

Every day, every time, without fail, no exception ~ Bob Zand, a good friend from another land

One of my best memories of my dad was car shopping shortly before he passed away.  He was looking for a new car.  I introduced him to my good friend, Bob Zand.  Bob is one of those people who sees the world through rose-colored glasses.  He believes you keep your head up, no matter how bad the current situation may be.  Like all Americans, Bob grieved the day we were attacked on 9/11.  Bob's pain was double.  He told me about all the dirty looks he got from co-workers, just because he grew up in the same part of the world as the attackers.

Bob overcame all the prejudice.  He saved enough money to buy his own five-star car dealership.  And he did this by paying attention to the smallest of details.  I memorized his mantra and adopted it.  It helped me get through some dark days.  Repeat after me, "Every day, every time, without fail, no exception."  Thank you, Bob Zand.  Your words inspire me to write every morning when I wake up.   The streak is still going at 1,800 days in a row.  August 29th will be my five year blogiversary.  Yes, consistency matters.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Share the Positive Pledge, Please

I found this little morsel this morning.  It pretty much sums up how I feel about my life.  If you're reading this blog, you're one of the positive people in my life who inspire me to live the dream.  Thank you for visiting today.  If you agree with the positive pledge, please share it with a friend or family member.  Have a great day!

Friday, August 1, 2014

When Creativity and Discipline Intersect

Creativity without discipline is messy.  And discipline without creativity is boring.  They need each other, just like the white piano keys need the black ones to add meaning to our songs.  Can you imagine your life without any sharps or flats?  So, what happens when you intersect your creativity with discipline?  In my personal life, I get organized chaos.  The structure that comes with discipline allows me to complete my work in an orderly fashion.  I know to go when the light turns green, proceed with caution on the yellow lights, and stop on the red lights.

When you find yourself working out of the right side of your brain, make sure you have some kind of blueprint to follow.  Set time limits for each stage of your project so it gets done.  It's like building a house.  You know what the finished product looks like, you know where to start and you have an orderly way of proceeding through each stage.  How does your intersection look?  Don't stress.  Just add the traffic lights and you'll be okay.