Saturday, January 31, 2009

Good News Today

You know, after a week like this week, and a day like yesterday, today was a bit of an oasis. The cardiothoracic surgeon who yesterday, was pretty convinced my mom would have a significant amount of fluid back around her heart, today said that it really wasn't that bad. In fact, instead of having another surgical procedure tomorrow, Mom is being released to go home.

There are still lots of tests to come, all of which are outpatient, and she still has cancer, but we're very excited that she can go home Sunday. She's already told Dad what she wants for dinner. The food at the hospital has been predictably bad, so the fact that she's talking about food is a good thing. She's lost so much weight, just holding food in her hand makes a difference on the scale.

So, today was a good day. We're not out of the woods, but we'll enjoy the victory of at least being out of the hospital for now.

Thanks again for your prayers and words of comfort and support!

Nope, It Wasn't A Bad Dream

I fell asleep rather late last night. The events and movies in my head played over and over as I tried to will myself to sleep. When I did finally nod off, I slept pretty hard. However, at some point early this morning, I became just awake enough for my brain to remind me that yesterday was real.

Stupid brain!

So, today is here. I guess the thing to do is just try to do things as normally as possible. My mom is a lot like me in that she hates being the center of attention. Obviously, her situation puts her smack dab in the middle of Attentionville. So without making her uncomfortable, I'll stop by today and visit her for a little bit and try to keep things light. She's remarkably strong for the tiny thing she is. I think you know I'm not talking about physical strength. She continues to be more concerned with how her situation messes with me than what she's going through.

Thank you again for your prayers. As you can tell, I'll be living and re-living things right here.

OK Saturday, here I come.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Prayer For Mom

Father in Heaven,

I'm so grateful for the blessings you have given me. I'm so unworthy of the riches you've blessed me with. Honestly, no one is truly deserving of your gifts.

Tonight, your child, my mom, lies in a hospital room alone. Alone with her thoughts. Separated from the men she loved so selflessly and unconditionally. Though she is isolated from those she loves here, I know you are with her, so she isn't truly alone. I thank you for the peace you've given her. Clearly, of the three of us, she is the strongest. My dad and I are staring off into the distance, while seeing nothing. We have been blessed with such an amazing woman.

Tonight, we are alone.

When I picture this tiny, frail woman lying in her hospital bed tonight, I can't fight the tears any longer. She has never abandoned me. Yet I feel so helpless and so far away right now. I pray that even now, as I write this, you would fill her heart with the love we have for her.

Please watch over her tonight. Please minimize her suffering. I know only you love her more than we do. I know that your heavenly hosts are busy preparing her place at your feet as I write this. I know there is nowhere she'd rather be right now. Give her peace that when you call her home, she will not be abandoning us. She's just so deserving of being with you so much more than anyone I know.

Know that my broken heart is crying out only because I have no idea what my life is like without my biggest fan. She has cheered me on when I played sports, when I sang for you, when I faced circumstances I never thought I could get through. She always believed in me.

Be with my mom tonight. Comfort her. Overwhelm her with your love tonight.

Finally, please be with my dad. He is a strong man, but she has been his strength. As his voice broke when he looked into my eyes to tell me the news, I saw a man who adores my mother and will be empty without her. Tonight, he sleeps alone. Without his better half. I pray that you would comfort him, and in this, he would experience your strength and faithfulness as never before.

Thank you for my mom. Through her life, I have seen you.


Sleep well tonight Mom.

The Big C

It's official. The mass on my mom's lung is cancer. After talking to the surgeon, he seems convinced that the cancer is in other places as well, but they've only found it in one place so far. The fluid around my mom's heart is either from the cancer or the Scleroderma. They don't know which, as of yet.

Today, they did (yet another) echocardiogram. This time, to see if more fluid has built up since she had it drained last Sunday. If it's back, as they suspect it is, they would like to do a more advanced and permanent procedure to enable the fluid to drain without the need for more invasive procedures. It turns out that the way she was last weekend was enough to kill her. We're very blessed that she survived.

They will also analyze the fluid to determine what is causing it. She is too frail to endure a surgery to remove the cancer. So basically, she's going to have to live with it until, well, she can't anymore.

The day was filled with conscious effort in taking mental notes of small details. The way my dad would sit on the bed next to her and just talk to her as he gently touched her skin. The way she looked back at him so adoringly.

After all these years. After all the difficulties. Despite the toll Scleroderma has taken on my mom's body and physical appearance, they're very much in love.

There were moments I was blessed to witness. The strength for today that God has given us to hear the news we were given. Despite the presence of a "mass" on her lung, we were surprised to hear that it was cancerous.

That is, Dad and I.

Mom said she wasn't surprised. She feels the Lord has been preparing her for this for "some time."

The phone rang a few times from concerned family members who hadn't yet heard the news. Her first words were always inquiries in how they were doing. That is so typical of my mom. She's lying in a bed, slowly being killed by more than one disease, and she's genuinely concerned with the welfare of everyone else.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm processing the news and mental movies and snapshots from today. I'll think about tomorrow when I wake up in the morning.

First Birthday Greeting of 2009!

My birthday is just under five weeks from now, and I received my first birthday greeting of the year in the mail Thursday. No, it wasn't from someone I know who simply jumped the gun. I don't know quite how to describe it, so I'll just share the content with you here:


Hello...and Pack your Bags! IN CELEBRATION OF YOUR BIRTHDAY, you were verified as of
01/27/09 and as a result of this offer your name and Ticketing Number have been Identified and Issued! You will receive at your request Two Roundtrip Airfares to Anywhere in the Continental U.S.! Call within 48 hours and also receive a 7 Day Car Rental! We are excited for you!


You must respond within 72 hours!

OK, a few things worth pointing out after reading this. Where to begin? First, ya gotta love how my name is so obviously pasted in. Different font, all caps, bold letters. Then, the use of randomly capitalized words. You also have to appreciate the fact that they think "round trip" is one word. Am I the only to also appreciate the missing punctuation? (don't answer that.) Isn't it wonderful how excited they are for me? They don't even know me, and they're that invested in my happiness! Heck, they've even been, "going crazy" trying to reach me! (I'm so elusive!)

It's kind of a shame, but oddly fitting that this is my first birthday greeting of the year. It's actually really funny to me. But then, I'm just embracing the fact that it's not from AARP.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Overwhelming Kindness

I'm writing this at about 10 PM Wednesday night. I just got home moments ago from the Man Cave. It has been a long day, as my Wednesdays routinely are, as of late. It's a little weird to leave the porch light on when you leave the house in broad daylight at 8:30 AM knowing you're going to need it when you get home some 12-13 hours later.

If you've been following my recent posts, you know my mom's health is poor. Wednesday was a very strange day. My boss, Gary, is out of town at a speaking engagement in Boston. It was up to me to put all the pieces together for the Man Cave. It is something I put great time, effort and joy into. I really do love it. It's exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. The church office blocks Facebook, but not Twitter or my blog. I was able to update my Twitter, which updates my Facebook status, and I was able to post brief blog updates about my mom's condition. What I wasn't able to do, was view all of the support which has been flowing in from people I know from all over the country, from various stops on my journey through life. I got home and found many, many comments from friends far and wide who are praying for my mom and supporting me emotionally. I received notes from people I absolutely didn't expect, and many from those who I know are there for me.

It was a good way.

It means so much to my family when I can genuinely say that there are so many people, most of whom they don't even know, who are praying for my mom. My parents have touched so many lives with their love and generosity for so many years, it comes as quite a blessing that people they've never met are lifting them up to the Lord. It's truly inspiring to me.

I know people who scoff at Facebook and other social networking tools and sites. I understand that. But I have to tell you, being able to update people I love in real time after just a few keystrokes on my computer is awesome. And to return home after a day of rollercoaster emotions and distractions to find such an outpouring...well, don't tell me God can't use modern technology to bless His people.

Thursday is a new day. I have no idea what it holds. I have no idea if joy or sorrow awaits as I write this on Wednesday night. But no matter what awaits, it's comforting to know two things. My God is in the center of it all and is there for me when I rejoice and when I mourn, and there are people like you who care enough to read these words and offer your friendship to me, and quite likely, a dear woman you've never met.

My heart is full, and I thank God, and I thank you, with all my heart.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Update

OK, so the latest news is that the mass isn't on her heart (good news). There is still a growth, but it's actually on her lungs. They're still doing a biopsy, which may happen at any time. They noticed the growth about a month ago, and it has grown since then, so this is of concern to the doctors.

Mom is in good spirits and sleeping right now, but she's got a tough afternoon ahead of her.

Rest well, Mom.

New Update on Mom

I just talked to my dad, and the doctors are now saying that they have found a mass on Mom's heart. They will do a biopsy today, as well as drain fluid from her lungs. I'm sure we won't hear anything about the biopsy until next week, so we just kind of wait from here, I guess.

Thanks for your continued prayer support, and for your friendship.

Latest Update on Mom

As of Tuesday, my mom was spending yet another night in the hospital. She is still struggling with the low blood pressure, but now she's added an elevated heart rate. I guess I always assumed that those two wouldn't exactly go together, but leave it to my mom. She has always been an over achiever.

I'm not exactly sure where I am with all of this. I'm either handling it extremely well, or I'm in some sort of detached sense of suspended reality. As I've said many times, my two worst days are still ahead of me since I'm blessed that each of my parents are still alive. But it's inevitable that their days are coming. Despite my denial about myself getting older, it's clear that we're all aging. It's so natural to see things like cars and computers become worn out after time and extensive use, but it's hard to see human lives and bodies deteriorate. Especially when those lives have been the single human constant in your life since even before you took your first breath.

My mom has always had the gift of hospitality. It is so foreign to her to have people wait on her. As she is almost completely dependent upon my dad, I have to remind her that this doesn't mean she is a burden to him. I remind her that if the tables were turned, and it was he who needed the constant care, she would do everything he does for her without complaint. She knows this, but even as she has reached the dusk of her life, she is so sensitive to the lives she's affecting.

Death will come to us all. It's a sad, but inescapable truth. My mom is spiritually and mentally ready to be with Jesus for eternity, but she's concerned about leaving her husband, her rock, behind and alone. I guess I've just never been this close to "til death do us part" before.

Anyway, I hope this isn't the beginning of the end for her, but I guess I need to face reality and accept that whether it is or isn't, we're one day closer to that day. When it comes, she won't be suffering anymore. It's just that the lives she touched throughout her life will have lost one of the great allies they'll ever have. But she's still here, and every day is another reason to celebrate what God has given us all these years.

The best is yet to come!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What To Eat the Day After a Fast

Each Monday, we have our weekly staff meetings at church. After the meeting, we all break to get our lunches, and return to dine together. This week's lunch was a bit unusual.

This week's lunch was the day after we completed a 21 day fast.

I went to lunch with 2 pastors and our administrator. Here were four grown men over the age of 40, unable to zero in on where to go for lunch because everything sounded good! One even suggested McDonald's. You know you've been deprived of food when you're thinking McDonald's when you have a million choices available to you.

Tony informed us he had only one stipulation. This is another sign of the goofiness which ensues in the wake of a lengthy fast. He said the only place he couldn't go was In-N-Out. The reason:

Their family was going there for dinner.

Back to our journey and uncharacteristic indecision. Here I am in the back seat of an SUV with three other guys who are all leaders. These guys deal with many big decisions and are responsible for many people. But here we were, frozen by indecision. Over lunch. We started down one of the main streets in Rocklin and hoped something would leap to our minds as we passed numerous strip malls.

Finally, someone mentioned Burger Hut. YES! Four grown men in unison, excited over a lunch consisting of burgers and fries. Tony, however, had a brief moment of hesitation since he was going to get a hamburger with his family at dinner. So he did the honorable and sensible thing.

He got a chicken sandwich.

We parked the car and ran across the parking lot like little boys running toward the ice cream truck as it turned onto our block. As we entered, the words on the menu board above the cashiers were enough to make our mouths water.

To say the least, lunch was especially good. And I have to say, there was a bit more energy in the room when we returned to see what culinary deliciousness the others brought back. It was like the first day of school after Christmas to hear about what the other kids got from Santa.

It's been a long three weeks. While I joke about the aftermath of our fast, it was a very special time personally, for our staff, and for our church.

The fast is now over.

That crying you hear is the owners of Jamba Juice.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Update on My Mom

No, Crossing Paths hasn't gotten a corporate sponsor (yet). This picture represents a 20 ounce bottle of soda. This is how much fluid they drained from around my mom's heart Sunday afternoon. This buildup of fluid was a direct result of her illness, Scleroderma. My mom has the progressive systemic variety, meaning it also affects her internal organs.

My mom has been an avid prayer warrior since becoming a Christian in 1982. I am certain that I am a direct product and a favor from God to my mom's fervent prayer throughout my adult life. I used to joke that my mom had the spiritual equivalent to the Bat phone, made famous on the television show Batman. That's the special red phone, under glass, which directly connected Commissioner Gordon to Batman, and vice versa. I was convinced my mom had a similar pipeline to God.

Heck, who am I kidding? She still does! To this day, when she calls me in the morning to tell me the Lord woke her up to pray for me, there's no sense telling her everything is fine. There hasn't been a circumstance yet in which things were fine when I've gotten that kind of call from her. Anyway, I'll never forget when the disease affected her body to the point that she could no longer kneel to pray. This was a special posture for her. She told me that being unable to kneel to pray made her feel like a bird with its wings clipped, and could no longer soar. But, the glass-is-half-full person that she is, she completed the thought by reminding herself, "but I can still sing." (and she still prays, only it's while flat on her back, now.)

You may remember my recent post about my mom's singing. Read it (again?) to really see the depth of this comment.

At any rate, she is still in the hospital, but scheduled to be released Monday afternoon, if all goes well. We're hoping the fluid does not return, but if it does, there is another procedure they can do to permanently solve the problem. It's more involved, so they took the less invasive route this time to see if it does the trick. We're praying it does.

Thank you to those who have been praying for her. My dad and I appreciate you so much, and we ask that you continue to lift her up. She's a special woman, and if you've had the privilege to meet her, you know what I mean. If you haven't,'ll have the chance to meet her in Heaven.

She'll be the one with the red phone, singing the most beautiful song you've ever heard.

UPDATE as of 4:48 PM: Mom hasn't yet been released from the hospital. Her blood pressure is very low, so the doctors are wanting to monitor her a bit longer. Her spirits are good, she's not dizzy or anything, but things still aren't right.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lessons From John Wooden

I absolutely love great quotes. There is something about the simplicity, the brevity, and the profundity of a great quote.

One of my Facebook friends put a simple quote on his status Thursday which, in very few words, hits the nail on a philosophy I've preached for years. The quote was by the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden. Coach Wooden is a man of great wisdom, insight, integrity and faith. Let me share with you this quote which, despite it's few words, spoke volumes to me:

When an opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare.

As a basketball coach, Wooden would spend countless hours preparing his players in practices and in the classroom studying film and diagrams on chalk boards. It's impossible to prepare for every specific scenario that could ever come up in a basketball game. No two basketball games are the same. The key is teaching and learning fundamentals which can be applied in any scenario which arises during the flow of a game.

Life happens whether we think we're ready or not. The thing is, God has been preparing us all along for the things which eventually happen in our lives. The question is, have we learned from life's lessons? Have we learned the fundamentals? So many people go through life, banging their heads into the very same walls and doors they've encountered repeatedly throughout their lives. There is only one way to get on the other side of those obstacles, and that's through them. We can't circumvent them. Even when you think you have, you're going to face it again at some point in your journey.

Preparation for life is not just for difficult times. I have seen many people miss out on wonderful opportunities because they hesitated. Heck, I've done it myself. I have seen people turn down jobs, relationships, ministry opportunities, and other wonderful blessings because they felt they weren't ready for them. Or at least, they weren't ready to make a decision. In those moments of hesitation, we are ignoring the lifetime of preparation which has brought us to the doorstep of personal progress.

I remember in my classroom training when I was wanting to get my first driver's license. We were taught that you can legally make a U turn at any intersection, unless there was a sign that said you cannot. I am a firm believer that God will often times be silent when we're at the gateway of opportunity. This is not because He is playing games with us. It's because He has been preparing us for this moment, and He's allowing us to draw on that preparation in faith. My personal rule is that when I'm presented with an opportunity that I need to decide on right now, I'm going to trust my instincts. Unless I see the "No U Turn" sign, that is, a direct word from the Lord, I'm going to trust in my preparation and fundamentals.

There comes a time in our lives when we have to act, one way or the other. More often than not, we do not have the luxury of saying, "let me take some time to pray about it." It's now "too late." Most often, we have to make a decision right now. This is the time in which we must draw upon our preparation for this moment.

This is the time to trust that our life's experiences have led to this moment. This is the time to trust that what God has been doing in you and through you has prepared you for this moment.

What are you going to do about it?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lessons From Golf

I took up the game of golf at a relatively advanced age. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I started playing while in my 20s, but then took a 12 year sabbatical from it. I then re-picked up the game at the age of 40 or so.

If you've ever played the game, and done so at a, for lack of a better word, skill level like mine, you know you're not doing it for the ego boost. It's a very humbling game. When you're a hack like I am, you may have 100-110 strokes in an 18 hole round. Out of those shots, maybe 5 of them were ones which either went where you actually intended them to go, or better yet...were even better than you had intended.

There have been times I was tempted to chuck the clubs, the bag and even my shoes into a water hazard and drive my silent golf cart back to the clubhouse, never to be seen on a golf course again. But the thing is...I really love the game. I stink at it, but I love it.

Golf courses, by their
nature, are beautiful. The well-manicured grass, the trees, the lakes (plop goes my ball), and even the ocean next to some golf courses. On many courses, you even encounter wildlife. Unfortunately for me, I often hit my ball in areas with signs warning of rattlesnakes. Not exactly the wildlife with which I'm wanting to mingle.

The life lesson for me is that while golf is humbling and even very frustrating at times, there are many rewards along the way. It might be a beautiful cloudless sky, birds chirping, great conversation and quality time with friends, making new friends, and even the occasional golf-related success.

Life can get ugly
at times. It can be very frustrating, and even overwhelming. But even in the worst of days, there are redeeming qualities. A man I am coming to know through our association with the Man Cave has an adult son who is dying from cancer. Every time we talk, I ask him how he and his family are doing. He usually responds with, "we're hanging in there." His son may literally slip into eternity at any minute. But rather than focus on the life being lost, they're focusing on the life lived. They are anguishing over the pending devastation of losing a child, but they continue to live life. These people have every legitimate reason to take a time out from relationships and obligations, but instead...they drive on. Rather than pack it in and head for the parking lot, they pick their stuff up and move on to the next hole.

I love this picture. I took it as I was about to tee off. I was enjoying a beautiful day with a dear friend and mentor in my life. I don't remember a single detail of how I played. That usually means I was terrible. What I remember is moments like the one captured in this picture. The rolling grass, the tree lined fairways, the snow-capped mountains in the background. Even the water hazards. (plop, there goes another one.) It's simply majestic.

Sometimes we need to stop focusing on the difficulties, and focus on the beauty and miracle of life. And of course, focusing on the Giver of life. Putting life in perspective gives us a realistic and manageable view of our circumstances. If we focus on how terrible we're "playing", we may miss out on so many other subtleties which make our time special and worth our attention.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Must They Think?

For over a year now, I've had a Facebook page. I signed up thinking that it would be a fun way to connect with people in my present day life. What has happened, however, is that I've connected with people from various stages of my past. I have reconnected with guys I've known since I was maybe 8 years old!

I sometimes wonder what they must think if they spent any time reading my Facebook page or what I share here on Crossing Paths. I wasn't a terribly wild child growing up, but I also wasn't interested in church. That was not part of my life at all, really. In fact, there is very little in my life now that was very important to me then. I guess you could say sports and music were part of my life then, but it's funny how those elements have played significant parts in my adult life, but in ways I never would have imagined then.

There was one particular girl I went to school with from 7th grade through high school in whom I had a crush from the moment I met her. We became very good friends, but nothing romantic ever resulted. In the waning weeks of our senior year of high school, she was asked to sing a song at our Baccalaureate service the week before graduation. She asked me to sing a duet with her. Remember the song Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes? Yeah, the song from Officer and a Gentleman. Well, that was the song. Fun song to sing, still had a crush on the girl...but at that stage of my life, I was deathly afraid of singing in front of people. So I did what any respectful person would do. I accepted.

Then flaked.

Yeah, not one of my prouder moments.

I have often wondered to myself what she would think now if she knew that not only did I end up singing, but I've done it in front of huge crowds, and across our great country and in many other countries as well.

I think she'd kill me.

I wonder how my life since high school would cause my friends from back then to react. I mean, it's not like I shaved my head and took a vow of eating grass and crickets. Anyway, there was a time when I was genuinely nervous about how my faith might "play" to people from my way back days. But really, why? I'm still me. I still love sports and music. I love movies, have great relationships with wonderful people throughout my life. I'm not ashamed of anything or anyone in my life, so why should I be nervous?

It's funny the things we allow to creep into our minds and lock us up. I've led a pretty extraordinary life so far, and it has nothing to do with me being an extraordinary guy. I'm very ordinary. I just serve an extraordinary God. It's pretty amazing what He can do with a big lump of clay.

I'm living proof.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Today, the 44th President of the United States will be sworn into office. In 232 and a half years, only 44 people have held this office. That's a pretty prestigious and exclusive fraternity.

The United States of America, for all its faults, can boast of smoothly processing the peaceful transfer of power from one man to the next. The reason for that is the Office of the President doesn't change, only the occupant. The Office is the constant. This isn't about the physical office, the Oval Office in this case. The Office of which I speak is the authority, the power contained within the position itself. It may seem odd to consider an intangible subject with such reverence. In actuality, that is what our Constitution and the founding fathers protect and designed. When the President of the United States walks into a room, everyone in that room will stand to their feet in respect not of the man, but of the Office he represents. He is the embodiment of this country's history and tradition, and the sacrifice of the tens of millions who have laid down their lives for our freedom. His life is no longer his own. His own identity is veiled behind the Office he holds.

I have to admit, I am burned out with Obama this and Obama that. This isn't just because I didn't vote for him. It's because it seems that people have inverted the order of importance. I believe we, as a society, are guilty of elevating the man over the Office. It's as if he is being treated as deity.

This is such a great illustration of the humanistic, relative morality of the postmodern mentality. Christians and Christianity have been villified for many reasons. My intellect has been ridiculed because I believe in, surrender my life to, and serve God. Meanwhile, many in this group of stone-throwers look to a 47 year old man as being a sort of savior of our country. Despite our human proclivity to make mistakes and fail, we are much more comfortable following another one of us than to serve and try and emulate a perfect God. Then, when that person inevitably falls short of our expectations, we nuke them with our criticism and disdain.

I am mindful of the fact that the Office, the position of President of the United States of America is bigger than any one person. No matter how long Barack Obama holds this position, the job will continue outlive him and his 43 predecessors.

I am also mindful that my God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, from everlasting to everlasting, is bigger than me, you, everyone who lives now, and everyone who has ever, or will ever live. I put my faith in Him, not any man or any political office. I will pray for our new President because he and our country will need it, and because my country is bigger than my political affiliation.

I did not vote for Barack Obama. Barack Obama doesn't even know I exist. However, he will be my President nonetheless.

While you may not believe God exists, He loves you and sent His son to die for you. You may not love Him or serve Him, or even believe in Him. But He loves you nonetheless.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Your Path Determines Your Destination

My church is in the process of a 21 day corporate fast. Now don't envision some cult-like sheep mentality of following someone into unnatural physical torment. That's not what this is. It's purely voluntary. The thing is, most people are on board...which is pretty exciting.

Fasting is not some spiritual formula for getting what you want. Some people do treat it as such.

If I sacrifice something, God has to bless me with my heart's desires.

The purpose of our fast is to practice the discipline of hungering for God. God is not impressed with our so-called sacrifice. Skipping meals without seeking God is like driving to church and sitting in the parking lot all morning expecting God will do something special. When we want to see the Lord's mercy and power in our lives, we do well by sacrificing our comfort for the purpose of developing a deeper level of intimacy with God. In the eloquent and insightful words of King David, "I will not offer to God that which costs me nothing." These words came in the wake of one of David's great blunders which cost the lives of 70,000 people.

Sometimes we put ourselves in predicaments for which we must endure serious consequences. In those times, we have a choice to continue on the path to destruction, or choose as David did, to get back on God's trajectory and fulfill our destiny. Even when
we blow it, even by biblical proportions, God can make our way straight. Until we're dead, it's not too late. But it is illogical to expect to end up where God wants us to be when the path we're on doesn't lead to Him.

As a church, we are eager to fulfill our destiny in God's kingdom, our community and our own individual lives. In order to reach a particular destination, we must first be on the right path. This fast that we're on is the divine cooperation between man and God for the purpose o
f calibrating our lives so we are on the correct path in order to reach the destiny the Lord has called us. By sacrificing our eating habits, and instead replacing it with a fervent pursuit of God, He will be faithful to put us on the course He has for us.

But here's the thing. Many people believe that
giving up meals or certain conveniences will somehow earn us favor with God. It's not that simple. When we genuinely pursue God, He will reveal to us things in our lives which are not healthy. Are we involved in unhealthy relationships? Are we allowing things in our lives which cause conflict between our spirit and our flesh? Are we justifying things in our lives which we know shouldn't be there? If we are, then doing the right things while on the wrong path avails nothing. In order for us to have a breakthrough in our circumstances, we must first have a breakthrough in our hearts.

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. As Merriam-Webster defines diligent, this means by "steady, earnest, and energetic effort." You can't fool God. He will not be mocked. Don't even try.

Are you satisfied with the road you're on? Did you think that you may have been in a better place by now in following the route you're on? Maybe now is the time to stop before you get further off course and waste even more time, and seek the Lord. He will be faithful to guide you...if you're willing to seek Him...diligently.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stupid College Days

Last week I had lunch with Gary and his wife, Cherisse. What is really interesting is that I went to college with Cherisse. I actually knew here before Gary did. Cherisse was roommates with another Lisa I'm friends with. This Lisa is really the one person from my college days who has been a fairly regular participant in my life ever since. Others have come and gone, drifted in and drifted back out.

When we were at lunch last week, Cherisse and I shared an interesting story from our history. It was not a particularly fun experience at the time, but now with time and perspective, it's something we were able to laugh at. In fact, we laughed a lot.

The Reader's Digest version of the story is that this was the year after I left the school, but Lisa and I had kept in touch. I lived about 2 hours away, but was coming down to the school to pick up Lisa and bring her back to my house to spend a weekend with my parents and me. When I drove down, I ended up bumping into my ex girlfriend. Long story short, that unexpected encounter led to a long-awaited conversation. You know...the stuff exes talk about after the emotional dust has settled. That conversation lasted hours, and beyond midnight. Meanwhile, Lisa sat patiently in her dorm room waiting for my arrival. This was LONG before the days of cell phones or even pagers. So there was no way to know if I was on my way, if I was off in a ditch, or having an emotional pow wow with an ex girlfriend.

Yeah, it was a pretty jerky move on my part. I admit it.

I ended up bunking that night in the dorm room of a former roommate on campus. From there, I called Lisa and gave her a pretty lame explanation of the evening. At that point, she handed over the phone to Cherisse. Let me summarize the conversation by saying this. I didn't talk, and she didn't breathe for probably 5 minutes as she tore me up. It felt like an hour, but I think it was about 5 minutes. She ripped me. She never said anything she would or should regret. She just blasted me. I deserved it, and I knew it. Sometimes you just have to take it.

Time went by, and fences were mended. I even attended their wedding a few years later. I had only seen Cherrise a few times in the past 20 years or so. I was definitely holding on to the shame of that foolish night, but Cherisse, to her credit, was long over it. When we recounted that event, it was like talking about a scene from a movie. It's funny how time has a way of adding perspective to things. It really is like looking at different people, though it was really our own lives.

Now I'm a regular part of Cherisse's life, her family's life, and their business. I am in their home fairly regularly. We talked about how the Lord often times circles our lives back to those we may have had difficult times with in the past. I'm thankful that when it happens, people are able to let go of those old things. I am definitely not the same guy I was when I was 21. Yeah, I weigh more, have thinner and grayer hair, but I'm also a man with a lot more life experience who has learned many life lessons along the way. I've shared some with you here on Crossing Paths, and I'm sure more will come in time.

Man, if I knew then what I know now. Ahhhh, it's OK. I'm just happy to be who and where I am today. Can't wait for tomorrow!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Lengths Some People Go

I'm very tired as I write this, (Wednesday night), so this WILL be brief. Mark my words.

We had another great night in the Man Cave on Wednesday. Before we even started, I spoke with a guy I know who is the father-in-law of our youth pastor. This gentleman lives in Concord, but was in the Man Cave on Wednesday. I asked him if he came all the way from Concord. He said no, he actually spent the day in San Francisco, then drove all the way to Rocklin after work. I asked him if there was some family thing going on, and maybe that's why he was in town.

Nope. He came to be part of what's happening in the men's group on Wednesday night.

I can't even begin to tell you what that meant to me. Not because we're doing anything extraordinary. It's because GOD is. God moved me here from San Jose, and He chose this time to do it. Coincidence?

Yeah, no.

I needed this. These men need it. Are you someone, or do you know someone who needs this? What lengths are you willing to go to experience God in a new and exciting way?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Me? Men's Ministries?

It's really interesting to look back over your life and see the long and winding road which you've taken to get where you are today. I can honestly link together the circuitous route to Rocklin, CA clear back to about 1984 rather easily. It's just wild to think how such seemingly insignificant events from that long ago have a ripple effect which is evident today.

I have been asked numerous times throughout my life what my plans were for my future. When you're a kid in high school, you may have an idea about where you want to go to college, what you want to study and such. I really didn't have a plan then. And now, all these years later...I still don't have a plan, but for different reasons.

Back then, I was just a dumb kid with no real ambition. Now, I'm a guy whose life has consisted of numerous twists and turns which have found me involved with exciting people and things I never would have imagined I'd ever do, or even want to do. Let me give you a few examples.

I grew up thinking singing was THE most embarrassing thing a person could do in front of a group of people. As you probably know, singing is probably what I'm known for the most. I remember confessing to people that I would never work with children because I really didn't feel I could connect with them on any level. Finding me working with kids would have been like finding Boy George at a tractor pull. But then God put me in a position of leading a youth basketball league and coaching kids for several years. I also remember telling people I was very uncomfortable working with the elderly. It would break my heart to see aging people struggling to walk or breathe. But yet again, God put me in a position where a job I loved put me in the lives and homes of seniors on a daily basis.

And I loved all those things. I even had a passion for them.

Now I'm in a new season. I've typically steered clear of men's ministry programs. I've never felt drawn to them. I've been to the standard men's breakfast with a special speaker. They were good, but nothing that really inspired me to make it a regular part of my life. And now here we are, 2009. I'm now eyeball deep in a men's ministry program, and I'm loving it. I have gotten to know some incredibly wonderful men. Men whose hearts have the unimaginable blend of masculinity and tenderness. Men whose lives have been, and even are being impacted by human suffering and tragedy. But men who recognize from where, and from Whom their help comes.

I haven't found the spirit of volunteerism as I have discovered with these men. I have had more guys come to me saying that they are willing to help in any way they can. I ask them if they have any specific interests, and most of them say they don't. They just want to be involved.

It is exciting to be part of this ministry. I'm excited and humbled by God choosing me, at such a time as this, to have anything to do with what He has in his heart for the men at my church, and those we connect with beyond the walls of the church. I don't know what God has planned for my future, but I know that I'm sure enjoying the ride!

Now, one final thing before I end this post. My GBFF, (girl-best-friend-forever), Lisa, and I had a little challenge for one another last night. I thought it would be fun if she would pick a word, a person...something random for each of us to include in our blogs. She chose the subject of Boy that is why you see him ever-so-cleverly inserted into my post today. When Lisa is feeling a bit more whimsical, I'm sure she'll weave him, (somehow), into a future post. Stay tuned. You never know what may come next.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lessons From My Mom's Singing

I could easily write a book based on lessons I've learned from my mother, but for this particular post, I'm going to focus on this one particular aspect. I'll get to my mom's influence later on.

Back when Saturday Night Live was pretty funny, you may have seen this particular sketch featuring some...ehhhh, singing?

Now with this in your head, (sorry about that), I want to tell you about a man who sat near me last night in my Monday night bible study. Much like the Frankenstein character in this clip, this gentleman pretty much sang one note no matter which song was being sung, and no matter which key it was in. What was particularly stunning about this, aside from the obvious, is that the note he chose was the one note not to be found in any of the songs which were sung. It was amazing!

But before you click away, shaking your head at my music snobbery, let me now tell you about the lesson I learned from my mother.

My mom was not blessed with a talent for singing. This is no joke. When she would sing around the house, the dog would bark at her. One morning, my mom called me at work. She had just gotten done with her personal quiet time with the Lord. During this privat
e time, she felt compelled to sing a song. Not just any song. She was making it up as she went. She was simply expressing her thoughts from her heart. After doing so, she wanted to share it with me. So, in that moment while I was sitting at my desk at work, I listened to my mom squeak out some notes. I heard a sweet melody in her song, and the most tender words ever.

I was very blessed by her sweet spirit. I didn't hear her feeble voice this time, but her angelic heart. In that moment, I felt a certain degree of enlightenment in my heart. It was in that moment that I realized that God doesn't hear what we hear. Singers are a dime a dozen. Watch American Idol. For good television, they like to show you the really horrible singers, but they weed out thousands and thousands of singers who really can sing. What God hears is the condition of our heart. My mom wouldn't last 2 seconds in a talent contest. But what God hears is something He can't get enough of. He would rather listen to my mom warble out her words of love and tenderness with an almost incoherent melody line, than a singer who can decorate their entire mansion in gold records, but has a heart of stone.

So, if singing isn't something you would even dream of doing in public, and if the dog barks at you...lift up your voice to God. He's your biggest fan, and He longs to hear you belt it out!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lessons From A Gym

This past Saturday, Gary spoke at a Men's Breakfast at a church in Elk Grove. It was a nice group of guys, but I'm telling you...there wasn't a lot of fire in the belly, if you know what I mean.

No, I'm not complaining that there weren't jalapenos in the eggs.

These men have gotten rather comfortable and content with over all mediocrity. It was a tough room. But of course, we were still buzzing from the wonderful night we had last Wednesday in the Man Cave. Saturday served as a great reminder of a couple things. One, we've got a special group of guys who are not ashamed to lay it all out before the Lord. Second, once you step foot out of the Cave, there is a world full of men, in and out of the church, who need to return to their first love.

It's not an easy or natural thing to recapture. It's easy to slide into some kind of malaise where your spirit gets lazy and out of shape. When that happens, it's easy to go through the motions where it looks like we're spiritually active, but in reality, we're dying from the insid
e out. It's like going to the gym, getting a locker, sitting down at some weights (but not actually using them), adjusting your iPod, drinking your water and even toweling off. After an hour or so of looking the part, you return to your locker, get back into your street clothes, and go home. Sure, you went to the place where it all happens, but you didn't do a single thing. You look good going in and out of the gym. You even hope someone you know will see you there so they think you're doing something about your health.

But really, you're doing nothing of value.

The thing about being in church or a gym, you are in a place where you're being equipped and strengthened. The purpose for that is for your life outside of those buildings. It does no good to lift all the weights and do all that cardio if you're just going to leave and eat pizza and ice cream all the time. You have to live it. What you do in those buildings must be maintained when you leave.

I'm sure there are men in the Cave who are going through the motions. There are men who are hurting. I truly believe that if they keep coming, they won't be able to help but participate in what's happening. Maybe they'll have a conversation with someone, a "trainer", who will personally spend time with them and help them develop a regimen to a healthier spiritual life.

On the flip side, I'm sure there are men all over the place who have never heard of the Man Cave who are living spiritually vibrant and effective lives.

I wanted to be sure to share with you a little glimpse into our first Man Cave night last Wednesday. You can click here to view the slide show from that great night.

Can't wait until Wednesday!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bob the Builder

One of the cool things I've enjoyed over the past few weeks in getting things ready to roll with the Man Cave has been getting to know some of the guys. One character I've gotten to know is a guy affectionately known as Bob the Builder. We've all become familiar with Joe the Plumber, but c'mon, ya gotta love the alliterative nature of "Bob the Builder". It just rolls off the tongue, like Dave the Dentist, Tom the Teacher, Phil the Phlebotomist.

Bob is a man's man. Scraggly beard, leathery skin which shows the amount of time he's spent in the great outdoors, rides a Harley (and has no interest if you ride anything but a Harley), and has been in construction since he could hold his Fisher Price plastic hammer as a toddler.

The thing about Bob the Builder (BtB) is that he has a servant's heart. Last Friday, Gary and I went out to the warehouse where the church stores EVERYTHING which isn't kept on site. Our purpose in going out there was to get some ideas, and possibly some material to set the stage for the Man Cave. It was like shopping at The Home Depot, only the stuff had already been bought or made. In talking with BtB, Gary described the stage he had in mind for Wednesday nights. BtB then took the idea, took us over to a pile of wood at the warehouse, and began to load it in the back of his truck.

"I'll have it built for you by the end of the weekend."

True to his word, he informed us Sunday morning that the thing was done. In his spare time, BtB put together a stage that previously only existed in Gary's mind. Wednesday night, it was on display, and was perfect for the occasion.

We're discovering a lot of guys with hearts like BtB. Guys with many different talents and abilities. But guys who are eager to lend their gifts, donate their time, and do something tangible for the Lord. I'll be sure to introduce you to some of the guys along the way. They're really special, and Gary and I know we're very blessed to have a team of guys who want to serve in any way they can.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Launch of the Man Cave

I'm writing this late Wednesday night, after a marathon of a day, so my intention is to keep this brief. We'll see if I'm able to accomplish that.

For those who read this who don't yet know, I am working with and for Gary Zelesky, the new Men's Ministry pastor at my church. This is not the entirety of our work, but that's another story for another blog post at another time. For the past few weeks, Gary and I have been meeting together, as well as with many other people, brainstorming and brain-picking for the purpose of January 7, 2009. This was the date of the launch of a new era of men's ministry at my church, and what we believe, in our nation.

Gone are the days of the sanitized, cliche-laden, boring, androgynous church activity. As the men arrived, we had a live basketball game on ESPN playing on the screens, music playing, not one, but TWO Harleys flanking the stage which, by the way, had a catwalk that jutted out so men could literally surround the stage as they sat at their tables. We had a brick facade as a backdrop, very much like you might see in a comedy club.

The senior pastor, Greg Fairrington, approached us 20 minutes before we were scheduled to start, and said he had never seen this many men, this early, at anything the church has ever done! There were over 100 men there 20 minutes before we were scheduled to begin. By the time we started, we were bringing in extra chairs to accomodate the over-capacity crowd. I haven't gotten a total headcount yet, but we had 200 chairs set up before the extras were brought in. By all reliable accounts, this was the best attendance the church has ever seen for a men's ministry gathering on a Wednesday night.

While Gary and I, and the rest of the staff, are encouraged and exicted by these numbers, that's not what this is about. What literally gave me chills and caused my eyes to well up was when Gary stood before the men and reminded them of our purpose as men. He reminded us of the relatively meaningless things we get excited about, such as sporting events and concerts, yet we are passive when we enter into the presence of the one true God. So with that in mind, Gary shouted, "HE IS HERE!", and all the men vaulted from their seats to their feet, and lifted up a shout...a roar of praise to the Lord.

I'm telling you, it gave me chills. There is nothing quite like the roar of a room full of men who are lifting their voices to God. But this wasn't about emotionalism or manipulation. These men are hungry. These men are filled with anticipation.These men are poised and eager for God's marching orders as we move in to battle to take back what belongs to us as men of God.

Most of the men, naturally, are married. I have personally heard from so many of the wives who have shared with me that they have cried to God in prayer that their husbands would be hungry in their pursuit of God. That they would live lives of passion for the Lord. Following the night's activity, I bumped into the Women's Ministry director who told me that one of the ladies in her group, who met at the same time in another room, said her husband had long ago given up on the men's ministry night at the church. But he came tonight, and couldn't wait until next Wednesday when we meet again. This wife emotionally shared that this was an answer to her diligent prayer.

I am excited to be part of this ministry. I am sure I don't understand 1% of the reasons God brought me to this church at this time. I am sure I don't understand 1% of why me, of all people. Frankly, I'm not going to lose sleep over the reasons. What I know is, He brought me here, He has ordered my steps, and I'm just following His marching orders. What I experienced Wednesday night wasn't emotionalism. That fades when the lights go down, or that next bill comes in the mail when you're already tapped out for the pay period. What I experienced was the power of God flowing through men who are eager to become mighty men of valor. Men who are hungry for more of God. Men who aren't afraid to humble themselves in a posture of prayer. Men who aren't afraid to raise their hands and their voices in a room full of other men, or a sanctuary filled with men, women and children. Or even at home, when no one but God is there with them.

This is a new era. A new day.

Bring it on!

(OK, so much for "brief")

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lessons From Man's Best Friend

I went and saw the movie Marley & Me over the weekend. Maybe you haven't seen it yet, so I'll warn you now that there is a bit of a plot spoiler coming, so if you don't know yet that the dog dies, you may want to not read the next couple sentences. Of course, if you read the previous sentence, you now know the dog dies, so nevermind.

I knew going in that the dog dies. I KNEW IT! I knew it would be sad. I KNEW IT! I knew it was only a movie, and that the real dog is actually alive and well. I KNEW IT! I knew I would cry, and I did.


I love dogs. I couldn't help but think of the dog my family had as I was growing up. She was every bit a part of our family as I was. She had personality, she showed emotions, she was sensitive, she was truly a best friend. Dogs are wonderful, however, they're not necessarily the smartest creatures. For example, do you know what would happen if you were to leave home for a few days and you decided you'd leave food out for the dog to ration over the time you're gone?

You'd come home to an empty dog bowl and a fat dead dog.

Dogs will eat everything you put in front of them in one sitting. If not one sitting, definitely in one day. So you can't put out 3 or 4 days of food out and expect them to budget the food to last.

I really believe God has to sometimes treat us the way a good dog owner should treat their dog on such an occasion. God can't, and won't give us all that He has for us at one time. Imagine what damage we would surely do if we knew everything about our future when we were, say, 15. Think of where you are right now, and where you've been in the past 5-10-15 years. If you knew as a teenager the route you would eventually take, would you have been as motivated to finish school? Would you have married the person you married? Would you have taken the job(s) you took? Would you have lived where you lived? Would you have dated that person? Would you have bought that car? Would you have __________? (fill in the blank)

If you're anything like me, you answered a couple with "yes", but most with "no". However, God wants us to learn from everything in our lives, including (and especially) the things to which we answered "no". Sometimes God actually wants us to experience circumstances we would have avoided had we known what lay ahead.
If you answered "no" to any of the "would you have..." questions, the answer would also be no to the question, "would you have learned that lesson?"

God gives us wisdom for today. He gives us what we need to get through today and the situation we're in. He is not limited by the perimeter of time. He is every bit in the moment as He is in the future. However, we can only live in the now. Tuesday, my boss's wife got a print to hang on our office wall at the church. It says, "The future is just a collection of successive nows". Is that dead on, or what?

If God gave us more than we needed to get through today, we would devour it until we were sick or dead. We cannot eat tomorrow's food today. We must be in the moment, deal with today. When tomorrow comes, He will provide us with what we need to get through it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Girl's Basketball and Good Friends

Saturday was a really great day for me. There is a family back in San Jose with whom I have been very close for many years. For the past several years, this part of the year has been largely occupied with girls' basketball games. We started out by coaching Troy's daughters when they were in elementary and middle school, and took secondary roles when they entered high school. There was no way we could simply be spectators...we'd go insane.

Troy and Marlo's eldest daughter, Brittany, is now in college, but the younger, Alyssa, is a junior in high school. Alyssa's games are typically on Tuesday and Thursday nights, so it's virtually impossible for me to make any of her games. I have missed only a handful of her games since she was little, so this year has been quite an adjustment for me. But I knew she had a Saturday game in early January, so I circled that bad boy on my calendar a couple months ago.

That day was untouchable.

The game was at 3 pm, so I got there a little early to see the coach and spend some quality time with Troy. It was just like old times. Like we just saw each other earlier in the week. It was just nice. Right before the varsity game started, the head coach told the guy who took my place at the scorer's table to instead take video of the game, and let me take my normal place at the table running the shot clock for the game. It was very sweet of her to let me do that. She told me after the game that anytime I happened to be in town, the job was mine. I have to admit, it's a silly thing, but it meant a lot. It made me feel like I've contributed just a little something in the past several years.

After the game, Troy, Marlo, Brittany and I all went to dinner. Alyssa had a team function that evening and couldn't join us. She was genuinely disappointed that she couldn't hang out with us, which was rewarding to me in its own way.

These girls are very special to me. They never treated me like "dad's friend", but like family. Even as they got older and too-cool-for-grown-ups, they always showed appreciation that I participated in their lives and cared about them.

Brittany and Alyssa have had it pretty good, compared to many of their peers. In just about every game either of them have ever played, going back about 10 years, they've had a minimum of 4 or 5 family members in the stands rooting them on. About 4 years ago, when Brittany was in high school and Alyssa was still in middle school, we had to plan some strategy. Many of their games were on the same nights, even at the same times. But we couldn't be at both places at the same time. So Troy and I would make sure each of the girls had some family representation at their games. Then, in between periods of the games, Troy and I would text each other with scoring updates from our respective games.

I don't have the words to tell you how special it is to get together with great friends who have been such a huge part of my life. Even after over 5 months of separation, we picked up right where we left off. I miss my family, but no amount of miles can deteriorate the bond we've built over the years. I'm very blessed. And while I miss these very special friends, God has been good in placing good people in my life here in my new home. No one and nothing can replace the relationships I built in San Jose, but I'm thankful that God has surrounded me with such great people wherever I go. In fact, there is no need to replace anything because, in reality, I haven't lost anything.

I'm a very blessed man. I believe you can tell a lot about someone by the people who love them. When I consider the quality of people who willingly call me a friend, I'm humbled. I have an embarrassment of riches when I look at the special people in my life. The man I am today, and the man I am still becoming, is a composite of the wonderful people who have blessed my life with their friendship. It's a pretty special thing when you can look in life's mirror and see the people you love in the reflection.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My New Year's Eve First

OK, first, put your left hand on a bible and raise your right hand. Now repeat after me:

I promise that what I am about to read is not to be held over Corey's head, nor to be used for evil, but for good. I realize that out of the goodness of Corey's heart, he sometimes does things and goes places strictly for the benefit, education and entertainment of his Crossing Paths readers, of which I am, faithfully.

Alright, you can lower your right hand. However, I think you should keep your left hand on the bible as a reminder of your oath.

On New Year's Eve, I went to a Christian dance. Yeah, I know...I didn't either. But you know...I had good friends going, I had nothing else going on, blah blah blah. If you're a people watcher, as I am, this was a ground zero.

Let me preface where I'm going with this by saying that by my observation, every person there had a great time. My philosophy is, as long as people have fun and no one loses an eye...what more could you want?

Most of the people there were north of 40 years old. Some of the songs played were ones I hadn't heard since my senior prom. I was disappointed they didn't play Freebird, but you can't have everything. Can you guess the last song played before midnight? Submit your guess by clicking the comment link below. I'll post the answer in an update after a few days, so check back.

I'd like to take this opportunity to share some of my experience with you. Here are four guys who caught my attention on New Year's Eve, and why they did.

Over-Dancer Dude: Let me tell you, there was some BAAAAAD dancing going on. And I don't mean the 80s, Michael Jackson bad-is-good kind of bad. I mean lots of finger-snapping and little foot kicks. Now most modern songs have 4 beats to a measure. In most dance songs, there is an emphasis on the 2nd and 4th beats. So get a little beat going in your head, and count to four. But put an emphasis and two and four. For instance, one-TWO-three-FOUR, one-TWO-three-FOUR. When dancing, people instinctively bounce their heads, their knees...whatever, to these accented beats. However, I saw Over-Dancer Dude dancing to Thriller in which he bounced, jumped, kicked - you name it, to all four beats of the measure. So in his head, he heard this, ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR, ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR. If you can kind of think of Thriller in your head, those fou
r beats come at your pretty quickly. This guy looked like he was having a seizure...standing up! This guy worked up a serious sweat! Which brings me to another guy.

Sweat Towel Dude: This guy spent some time at the same table at which I was seated. He apparently brought a little wash cloth from home that he kept with his stuff at the table. During his rug-cutting breaks, he used this cloth to wipe his dance-induced sweat. However, he would often toss the sweaty towel on the table as he would leave and head back out to the floor to work up some more.

Uhhhh, yeah.

Marcel Marceau meets Milli Vinilli meets Rerun Guy: This guy basically pantomimed the words to each song as he danced. He lip-synced the words he knew, while gesturing to the lyrics. So if a song referred to a heart, he would place both hands over his heart. Yeah, now imagine with me what some of the lyrics to the Billy Ocean song Caribbean Queen actually looked like:

She dashed by me in painted on jeans
And all the heads turned beacuse she was the queen
In the blink of an eye I knew her number and her name yeah
And she said I was the tiger she wanted to tame

Caribbean Queen
Now we're sharing the same dream
And our hearts they beat as one
No more love on the run

So imagine someone acting out those words. And when the lyrics said, “no more love on the run”, yeah, he ran in place. THEN, to top things off, he even dropped a little Rerun action at one point during the night. Remember Rerun from the old TV show What's Happenin'? Maybe this will help:

Pimp Guy: There were some interesting outfits, as well. One gentleman had a black fedora hat with a very long white feather hanging off the brim, very much like the hat pictured here. He also had a cane. I learned later that he suffered an ankle injury, so it's possible the cane was something of a necessity. Perhaps the hat was just an accessory to play out the cane motif. I don’t know. But at a church dance, and with the guy being a bit on the older side, it was a little creepy.

With all this being said, I want to reiterate that it seemed like everyone had a good time. I was happy being with friends, watching people, and remembering the songs from my youth. It was a fun way to say goodbye to 2008, and to welcome the New Year.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Lisa!

Today is birthday number XLI of my very good friend, Lisa. I've decided to conceal her age by using Roman numerals because she is a lady, after all, and I'm going to make you work for it if you want to know how old she is.

I think I've known Lisa for about 4 years. I'm not exactly sure how long it's been because it feels like it's been 20 years, so I get easily confused when using literal time in quantifying our friendship. Those 4 years have been a wild and crazy ride for each of us, and really, the ride has almost nothing to do with one another. I think she would agree that life would have been quite the roller coaster had we never met.

But looking back, it's clear to see that God intended us to meet, and to meet at the time in which we did. We worked together in a very challenging, very competitive, but very rewarding job in reverse mortgage. Lisa had been associated with this particular business for a year or two before we met, so she was a great resource of information for me as I learned the ins and outs of the job. But soon, our friendship leaped over the confines of reverse mortgage. She is a Christian, so we have that very significant commonality which propelled our friendship to something more significant.

We became brother and sister.

We have had many, many "critical mass" conversations where one had to talk the other down off the ledge. I think we both know more about each other than either one of us would be comfortable with if we were to sit down and write down all the "dirt". But our friendship has only deepened as a result.

Today is Lisa's birthday. She is my co-conspirator in mischief. She is the Costello to my Abbott. I'm thankful for her friendship, and it's my prayer that 2009, and her XLII year on this glorious earth would be filled with great blessings. She has raised 3 great children who are the tangible evidence of the selfless life she has lived. She has hundreds of clients throughout her years in reverse mortgage whose lives she has touched in ways which transcend a complicated financial transaction. She has many friends who have nothing but glowing things to say about her because of her wit, her charm, her sensitivity, her trustworthiness, her wackiness, but most of all, her love of God.

I'm believing for good things for Lisa this year. I think she's due for a personal breakthrough.

Happy Birthday, Lisa. And you know...with the economy and all...this is your present from me!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Here We Go!

When I coached the women's softball team from my church in San Jose, one of the ladies used to love to say, "here we go" as the ladies took the field. There was a special way she used to say it that I loved to mimic. She was in the choir with me, so I'd often repeat it to her as she would pass me by as the choir lined up to take the platform before services or productions.

As we flip the calendar over and begin a new year, I find this phrase echoing in my head. It's game time. It's time to take the field and do what we do.

Some people look forward to a new year simply because it's an escape from last year. Of course, there is nothing tangibly significant to a new year. I mean, more than anything, it means you have to get used to writing "'09" on your checks after a year of writing "'08". But other than that, January 1 isn't going to look any differently than December 31. But we have this instinctive optimism about a clean slate. The new year means to many a new beginning. But a new beginning isn't going to mean much if you keep the old habits which caused you problems in previous years.

So with that, I say "here we go!" It's time to take on 2009. But it's also a great time to evaluate the way we've done things in the past. I've never been one to make resolutions. At least, not for a new year. I guess I've made resolutions in my life, but they've usually occurred at random spots in the calendar. For me, the new year doesn't promise me anything. Life is going to confront me with challenges and thrills. My goal is to meet the highs and lows with integrity and determination.

Just like a sports team, we need our teammates. We can't do it alone. Life is a team sport. So as this new "season" begins today, let's work together to make it a winner. Through the wins and losses as a team, through the trials and successes each of us will experience as individuals, let's do it together. Let's be there to pick each other up during the tough times, and celebrate our victories together.

Here we go!


Have a safe and happy New Year's! I'm thankful our paths crossed!