Overcome the Darkness

February 27, 2014

Whatever you do, just don’t look back.
Oh somebody needs the light you have.
Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.
Keep on pushing back the dark

The above lyric is from a Josh Wilson song I heard the other day. I find it very inspirational that if we decide to do so, we can allow our light to overcome any darkness around us.

He further adds these inspirational lyrics…

don’t underestimate the God you follow.
He is the light that burns inside your soul,
So keep on shining ’til the whole world knows.

I work in a place with much negativity and darkness. It has been my desire in the 6 years I’ve been there to make a difference, but it’s very difficult to do. It’s empowering to know that all I have to do is put my switch in the “On” position and let God’s light shine. It is His light that shines through me that will ultimately remove the darkness.

The same is true for you today. Simply be aware that God’s light is there, put your switch on, and let His beautiful light shine through you to eliminate the darkness. There’s somebody who desperately needs that light you have. Enjoy the blessings 🙂

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Inspiration For Those Stuck in the Snow

February 26, 2014

It’s been a brutal winter for those of us in the eastern two thirds of the United States. In my area, Buffalo NY, we’ve already received over 100 inches (250 cm) 0f snow, and they say more is on the way.

If you too are tired of the snow and cold, or facing a different type of relentless negativity in your life, I will share a message I heard this morning on a Christian radio station. It said, “this Footprints thing works great in the snow too”. In case you’re not familiar, it refers to the famous story of a person looking back on their life from Heaven. They see footprints in the sand…their own and those of Jesus. However, the person becomes bothered by the fact that during the most difficult times in their life, there is only one set of footprints. The person asks Jesus why this is, since they were always told Jesus would be with them during the toughest times. It is them that Jesus reassures that the footprints were not the individual’s, but His because it was during those most trying times that “I carried you”.

Indeed, the same is true for the snow. If you are tired of the snow and cold, or you are just facing difficult circumstances overall, leave only one set of footprints in the snow…those of Jesus as He carries you. Enjoy the blessings 🙂


How Refreshing Can Vacation Be?

February 25, 2014

The above question is an interesting one. The answer depends on the perspective of the individual. However, sometimes a vacation is so good and so refreshing that it automatically answers the question.

I recently enjoyed a wonderful vacation to Florida. I always enjoy the opportunity to visit, but after the brutal winter we’ve had (which is still in progress by the way), it was an especially golden opportunity to get away to someplace warm.

The vacation was one of those that, if anything could go right, it did. We were blessed with extraordinary weather. The day we drove down was one day after a major snow and ice storm hit the Carolinas and Virginias. We were not slowed down at all as we travelled through. The weather in Florida was sunny every day with temperatures ranging from the low 70s early in the week, to the mid 80s by the end. We had smooth sailing with a reliable minivan, and no major traffic to get in our way. The people we encountered, such as my parents, my wife’s father and step-mother, brother and sister-in-law, treated us like royalty. The service we received from the hotels and parks we stayed at was top-notch.

If you are stuck in this winter’s persistently cold weather pattern, I wish I could have taken you with me. However, I offer you an escape I often use. When I get sick of winter, I find warm, tropical pictures and videos and immerse myself there to provide warm, comforting thoughts. It’s not as good as the real thing, but it makes me feel better and warmer. I offer you the same with some pictures from this wonderful Florida vacation.

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One of the highlights of our trip was an ocean-front hotel stay in Cocoa Beach. Here are some sunset views from our hotel balcony..

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This moonrise picture’s reflection seems like it’s leading to the heavens. That’s where I felt like I was 🙂

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How would you like to wake up to this? Sunrise on Cocoa Beach…

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Here’s a place I’ve been to several times, and it never gets old…

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I hope the sunny skies and beautiful scenery can take you out of the gloomy, icy doldrums for now. I am now back in the Buffalo cold and snow. There will be further challenges with weather, my job, and other things. However, after a trip like this I am refreshed and more than ready to handle any challenges that come my way. I cannot be more thankful 🙂


A Much Needed Get-Away

February 13, 2014

This winter here in Buffalo is probably the worst I’ve ever experienced. However, God has blessed my family and I with an opportunity to get away for 10 days to visit family and enjoy some beaches and attractions of Florida.

These trips are always dreams come true. Since I was 6 years old, I have known where all the states are in the U.S., and have had the desire to visit them. My grandparents lived in Florida, so during my childhood we would take a road trip there every two years. Each trip was looked forward to for months, and each contained memories that are still with me today.

As an adult, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to continue the tradition. My parents are now the grandparents that we visit (along with my wife’s father) in Florida, and we’ve been able to go every 3 years. Also in 2004, my family and I fulfilled one of my life-long dreams…a cross-country road trip to California.

As we leave for another Florida trip today, my gratitude for it is stronger than ever. I ask for your prayers for safe travel, and I look forward to communicating with you again upon my return. Have a wonderful week 🙂


Turning Failure Into Success

February 10, 2014

I will begin today with the story of a man who tried, but failed. This poor basketball player says… “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot…and missed. I have failed over and over again in my life”.

Don’t you feel sorry for this individual? I wouldn’t often embarrass someone by telling all of my readers about his failure. I have nothing against this person, but I’m going to put him on the spot and share his name with everyone. His name is Michael Jordan.

Yes I am talking about that Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time. Even if you don’t follow basketball, you are probably aware that this player has won multiple championships, broken countless records, and is regarded by most as the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. The above statistics are completely true. This great player has failed many times. Yet it’s obvious that he didn’t let it stop him.

I am realizing more each day that one of the greatest keys in life is exactly that…don’t let failure stop you. I am also realizing more each day that failure is unavoidable. The only ones who avoid failure are the ones that don’t try to progress in the first place. That’s a great way to avoid failure, but an even better way to avoid living the high quality life you want to live.

The simple fact is this. The people who have earned the greatest success in life failed numerous times along the way. I’ve read that Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before perfecting some of his greatest inventions. Many modern day actors, performers, and athletes were unable to make their high school plays or sports teams and told that they would never amount to anything.

A prominent CEO of a large company said the formula for success is doubling your rate of failure. If you do experience failure you have two choices. One is to give up. Two is to use it as a motivation to keep trying. I deliberately left out the last part of the Michael Jordan quote above. At the end of it, he said, “that’s why I succeed”. It’s because he uses it as a motivator to keep going. It’s obvious that he did not let failure get the best of him or bring him down.

The lesson I’ve learned from this that I share with you is this…if you are not failing, you are not trying. Failure is ok, as long as you use it to learn and move on instead of letting it drag you down and cause you to give up. If we want to take ourselves to the next level in life, we need to take ourselves into unfamiliar territory. We don’t exactly know what to do when we get there. As a result, we are bound to make mistakes. If you do, acknowledge it, learn from it, and use that new knowledge and experience to take the next step.

Do people remember Michael Jordan for all of those shots he missed, or those games he lost? Absolutely not. Instead, he is remembered for his extremely high level of success. Instead of dwelling on the failure, he learned from it and used it as a motivation to take the next steps to success. If you follow that same formula, you will be known for your success as well. Enjoy the blessings 🙂


The Power of Mind Nurturing

February 8, 2014

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go higher than you think” – Benjamin Desraeli

Are you looking to take yourself to a higher level? The above quote is yet another reminder that increasing the quality of your life begins with increasing the quality of your thoughts. It’s unbelievable what a simple concept this is. Yet why do so many fail to do it?

There are two reasons people struggle to maintain positive thoughts. One is that they allow the negatives to take precedence. Two is simply a matter of not taking the time to do it. Knowing that increasing the quality of your thoughts enhances the quality of your life, why would you not take the time to do it? It’s a question I finally got around to asking myself in recent years. I have realized that we need to spend quality time each day deliberately increasing the quality of our thoughts.

I recommend your remain focused on the opening quote. How high and how positive can you allow yourself to think? Realize that whatever level that is, God can not only take you to that level, but He will one up you. Ephesians 3:20 in the Bible says that God will provide immeasurably more than you can ever think or ask. So why not consistently imagine the most beautiful, ideal thoughts that you can possibly think of?

The key to a high quality, joyful life is to spend time nurturing the garden of your mind. Pull out any negative weeds, then plant and water seeds of positivity, love, and success. Eventually they will grow to heights above and beyond what you could have ever imagined. Enjoy the blessings 🙂


The Power of Asking

February 5, 2014

I recently completed another year of carrying on a tradition in my Spanish classroom. My students always look forward to the unit on issuing commands in Spanish. This is because, if they say it correctly, I allow my students to command me to do things. It gets a little crazy as they command me to do all kinds of crazy things. For example, I have had to sing songs by Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, perform the latest dances (I’m one of the worst dancers on this earth), and put a garbage can over my head. I don’t give money, but I have obliged with reaquests for candy, pizza, and ice cream.

This year was nice too because one student simply requested a lunch fiesta outside of the chaos of the cafeteria for her and four of her friends. She was very suprised that I obliged so easily to her request and those of others.

The above lesson is the one I wanted to convey to her, my classes, and now to you. Many were surprised that they received some nice rewards simply by asking. Knowing that they can receive such things, it’s a wonder that every 8th grader didn’t ask for something. However, it’s quite ironic that very few students asked. Part of this was because they didn’t know how to say it, or did not want to speak Spanish. I would think though, that some didn’t feel like they had the right to ask. They figured that they were not worthy of asking for even a large candy bar or cup of ice cream.

The above mentality represents many people in our society today. They don’t ask for or seek great things, simply because they don’t feel worthy. At one time I would put myself in that category. However, I learn more that to receive the blessings I am seeking, all I have to do is ask! That was my life lesson to these students. You can receive great gifts in life simply by politely asking. This was proven as students enjoyed the wonderful goodies they gained simply by asking for them.

Please know the same is true for you. Many times you can receive what you want simply by asking. People have received raises at their job simply by asking their boss. Many others receive blessings by asking God. Speaking of God, how many times does He promise in the Bible that He will bless us if we would only ask? Remember, you have not because you ask not.

Do you always get what you want just by asking? No, but that’s a good thing. I did not comply with all of my students’ commands. This was partially for budget reasons, but one of the guidelines is that the command won’t be harmful or embarrassing to someone else, or interrupt the learning environment in other classes. However, I still encouraged students to ask for anything because the worst I could say was no, but there was a chance they could receive what they wanted.

It’s the same for you. You may ask for something and will be told no. Still, why not ask? You never know the answer until you do. God will even say no to some of your prayers. If He does, please know it’s to avoid you or someone being harmed or embararrased. And please realize…unlike me, God has no budget! Know that He can do and provide anything for you. Many times He is simply waiting for you to ask.

Hopefully you get the message. If you want to receive or accomplish something, it is OK to ask! So please…ask! As my students found out, you can receive some unexpected gifts simply by asking for them. Since I have learned this, the blessings are multiplying in my life. They will for you too if you simply ask God in humble prayer, or if you ask people who can help you. We don’t need to get greedy, but we do need to know that it’s OK to ask for the things we want. And it will be more OK when we receive them. Enjoy the blessings 🙂