Today’s Chapter In The Story That Is YOU!

open book of family storyEach day as we awaken and put our feet on the ground, we are at the same time turning the page of our life to a new chapter.  The paper is crisp, white, unblemished, no marks, clean.  You and I are writing today’s chapter in our personal story.  As you figuratively put pen to paper, what are you writing?  Choose your words carefully.  The twists, the turns, the decisions you make, the moments you hesitate;  they become part of the greater story that is YOU.  There are some aspects of this day you will have little to no control over.

But be encouraged.  You have more control than you may think about so much of where this day leads and how your chapter will end when your head hits your pillow tonight.  Happy writing.

Finding Your Voice

Forest road. Landscape.If you know anything about well known speakers, you also know that they each have their own specialty.  I’ll throw out some names past and present.  Say the name Zig Ziglar, you think of motivation.  Brian Tracy, sales. Anthony Robbins, personal development.  John Maxwell, leadership.  Billy Graham, evangelism.

You get the idea.  They each are known for what they are passionate about.  What are you passionate about?  What lights you up, makes you tick, stirs your insides?  Chances are very good that what you are passionate about is what you would be great at speaking about.  At the very least its a place to start.  I think of it this way.  Whenever I’ve met even the most shy individual, if I can learn where their passion lies, chances are I can get them to engage in conversation.  And not just small talk, but deep meaningful dialogue.
So, when you’re trying to come up with a topic to speak on, go first to what you know best.  If you are knowledgable, can draw on personal experience on the topic and feel as if you can speak with some authority, you’ve mastered more than half the battle.  Now the challenge to is to find a way to share your knowledge on your passion in an interesting, engaging and thought provoking way.
Does this resinate with anyone?  Does it get your motor moving?  Great!!  We have taken the first step toward you taking the platform to share your story.

How I Was Reminded Of The Importance Of Priorities

  trophy photo   How often do you question what really matters in life?  I was hit square in the face this past week as I drove by this pile of discarded trophies near my home.  I had to drive back and take a picture.  I’m certain there are scores of stories behind each one of these symbols of accomplishment.  There are no doubt years of practice, dedication, hard work and time that went into what it took to earn these trophies.  But for some reason (and I can only speculate) someone saw fit to toss them all by the curb for the garbage truck.

     Maybe, the person who earned these trophies died.  Perhaps, the family is moving and just doesn’t have the space to display them or it could be that what it took to achieve these trophies is a painful reminder of time lost with loved ones or too high a price that was paid.  At any rate, they ended up piled at the curb, discarded.

     It reminded me of the words of Jesus.  He said not to lay up treasures here on earth where moth and rust will corrupt but lay up treasures in Heaven (or prioritize the things in life that have lasting value).  He said where your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be as well.
      Whatever joy, sense of accomplishment or pride represented by these trophies in the end amounted to nothing that has lasting value.  What impact are you and I making today that has lasting value and investment in the things that really matter?  Whatever story your life is telling, make sure its making a positive, lasting impact in the people you encounter every day.

We Must Never Forget 9/11

images     Our ability to remember is a duel-edged sword.  Recalling a particular event or moment in our lives can bring a smile or just as easily a tear.  On this day, we remember.  We’ve all stood around the “water cooler” and shared where we were, what we were doing, who we were with and what we were thinking when the news of 9/11 reached us.  Many of us remember it unfolding before our eyes.  Some lived the horror, not through the safety of a television screen, but up close, in the raw and real.  None the less, we close our eyes and can immediately return to the events of that day.

     In the Old Testament we read often of God instructing His people to create a monument at the place of a significant event.  We do that today and with good reason.  Time has a way of diminishing the magnitude of our memory.  A monument is a tangible symbol that in an instant has the ability to take us back in time.  A monument can memorialize but it can also spark or in some cases rekindle a resolve; a resolve that in the case of 9/11, it must never happen again.
     Those of us who lived through the horrific events of that crisp, clear September morning in 2001 remember the flood of emotions:  anger, fear, uncertainty, sadness, incredible appreciation and love for family.  That night we were reminded over and over, don’t take today for granted, hug your children extra tight tonight, remember none of us is promised tomorrow.
     As we pause to memorialize the events of that day, we would all do well to recalibrate our lives, take inventory and live this day with a keen appreciation for the preciousness that is LIFE.  Those who lost their lives that day would wish nothing less for us.
     I would appreciate hearing your thoughts and reflections as well.  Feel free to leave them in the comments section of this blog post.

A Celebration Of Life – “A Time To Dance”

Colorful funny balloonsA friend of mine, Kathy Buxton sent a note earlier this week to some of her close friends.  She reflected on a weekend event she attended.   I love her thoughts.  She graciously agreed to allow me to share them with  you on this blog.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 states the following:
There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

I find it interesting that the Bible shows us that there is a time to mourn and mourning those we lost is not only OK it is good.  It also shows us that after mourning there is a time to dance.  To dance with joy as we remember those we love and their impact on our lives.

Last night a group of friends gathered together to “mourn and dance”.  A special friend lost nine loved ones through death this year so he decided to have a CELEBRATION OF LIFE party to honor those we love who passed away and those we love who we share life with today.  It was a great party with lots of great food, fun and fellowship.  The music was loud and fun and towards
the end of the evening a group of us got up to dance.

While dancing I began to notice something really neat.  Every one dancing was dancing wounded….. One person had a brace on their knee, another a brace on their ankle, Bucky was still recovering from his third heart stint, two of us had knee replacements, another had throat surgery, another person was nursing a sore arm and others had pain and wounds that no one could see or even know about.  BUT every wounded person was dancing.  We were dancing and laughing and enjoying every moment of the dance.  I looked in wonder as God showed me that He gives us a wonderful gift in that no matter the pain, wounds and mourning we experience He still provides ” A TIME TO DANCE”.  David in the Psalms reminds us that “weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning”.

The good news is that no matter if we are mourning or dancing, God is with us and is our ultimate partner in both the mourning and the dancing.  He is with us every moment of  our lives He knows our tears and our joys.  He alone provides the ultimate peace during both our tears and our joys.  What a great God we have who loves YOU and wants you to dance even while mourning.

Enjoy the Journey and THE DANCE.

 

Feel free to share some of the ways you find to enjoy the journey and join in the dance.

 

A Brush With Munchkinland

Unknown-1     I gently buckled my infant daughter in her car seat and whispered in her ear.  “Someday, you can say you rode in the backseat of the car with a real life munchkin.”  I was driving Mickey Carroll back to his hotel.  Mickey, (pictured far left in the tux) then an elderly soul in his 80′s was one of several former cast members from the Wizard of Oz in town for a collectors convention.  I was hired by a publicist to help escort the troop on several appearances.

One of the days, we took a “field trip” to Philadelphia for a couple of tv interviews.  While we were in the city, we had some extra time on our hands between appearances so we ate at Denny’s (imagine me walking into a Denny’s with a half dozen little people) and then decided to visit Independence Hall.  There is something surreal about sitting in the cradle of liberty next to a “Munchkin.” As we stood around the Liberty Bell and the Park Ranger began to offer his history lesson, Mickey blurted out, “Do you know who we are?  ‘Follow the yellow brick road’ “, he said in his best Munchkin voice.  Everyone turned their heads to look and the son of another “Munchkin” who accompanied his mom shot back, “No one cares who we are Mickey”.

It struck me how some of the former cast members treated their appearance as a job, while Mickey was still a “Munchkin” in his mind, a teenager on a movie set, living in a Hollywood past and quick to tell you about his longtime friendship with Judy Garland.  Mickey passed away in 2009 at the age of 89.

I was reminded of my brush with Munchkinland this week when I read that one of the 3 remaining cast members, Margaret Pellegrini (who was also with us that week, pictured far right in the dress) reportedly died near her home in Phoenix, AZ after suffering a stroke.  She was 89.  Standing at 3 ft. 4 inches, Pellegrini played multiple “Munchkin” parts in the movie, including a “sleepyhead” and a Munchkin villager.

Pellegrini can be seen dancing near the front of the parade behind Dorothy in the video below, wearing a blue hat.

Time has passed and my infant little girl is now a 14 year old teenager, but every once in a while I tell her the story about the time she sat in our car next to a “Munchkin”.  And I could have never imagined myself as a little boy sitting in my pajamas on the living room floor watching wide-eyed as a black and white television screen magically turned color welcoming me to somewhere over the rainbow that one day I would drive the backroads of South Jersey with a real life “Munchkin” in my backseat.  Unlike Dorothy, it wasn’t a dream, it actually happened and as Dorothy said, they were all there including Mickey and Margaret.

His Name Is Joe – Part 2 (A New Chapter)

     d4e710327365efc6a4a03beea0deefb4 I hope you had a chance to read my post last week about my friend Joe Matera and to look at the trailer to the movie about his life and ministry.  Joe lost his battle to cancer over the weekend.  I hesitate to say lost because the victory that cancer claimed this week is a very temporary one at best.  The story that is uniquely Joe’s, his wife Laura’s and their girls is a story of hope, joy and a victory that is anything but temporary.

The apostle Paul once wrote, “we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.”

When Paul speaks of hope, it’s not in the same way most of us think.  It’s not the same as, “I hope it doesn’t rain or I hope I get that promotion.”  It’s hope in the sense of a firm anticipation; a reliance and certainty of what is to come.

I’m not in the habit of using my blog to push my faith on my readers.  I realize I reach a vast scope of people from various backgrounds and belief systems.  But just as I would hope if someone found a cure for cancer, they’d want to share with as many people as possible, I feel compelled to share with my readers the “hope” and certainty that Joe and I have.  It’s a hope that one day (and for Joe that day is now) we will stand before the God of the universe and give an account of our lives.  The great news is that through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we like Joe can have the hope, the certainty of an eternity with Him.

A celebration of Joe’s life will take place this weekend at the Ocean City Tabernacle.  Here is a link to the information about times and details.

Please share this post with your family and friends on social networks.  Joe would want as many people as possible to know his story and the hope it offers.