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Archive for October, 2010

The only thing certain was that the future would have to reveal itself in due time, and most likely it would be different from anything we had expected” [The Miracle of Mercy Land].

I recently read the book, The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan. This is not a book I would have typically chosen for myself, but I had agreed to read and review the book for the publisher, Waterbook Press.

After finishing the story (in which I found the pace to be a bit slow and the characters underdeveloped), I realized the amazing message the author shares goes far beyond the story she’s written on the page.

Set in the late 1930’s the book centers around a young woman in a small coastal town in Alabama. The daughter of a poor backwoods itinerant preacher, Mercy Land has moved to the “big town” of  Bay City to discover life, and winds up working at the local newspaper, Banner.

For seven years, under the watchful eye of the newspaper editor, Doc, and his wife, Mercy comes into her own.  Things get interesting when a mysterious book arrives which reveals the pasts, the choices, and the consequences people living in Bay City have experienced.

The information the mysterious book provides is not always comfortable for Doc and Mercy to read. Secrets are revealed. Choices laid bare. Decisions exposed.

Honestly, in some ways this book is not unlike the onslaught of today’s political attacks we see during election season.  Flippant comments made or senseless actions taken years ago come back to haunt candidates in full color on television.

The question the author presents is one we have all struggled with at one time or another. Is it possible to effect the past in some way in order to create a better present or future?   We’ve all done things then that if we had the benefit of our experience now would have been handled much differently.

This is especially painful when we realize our failings have negatively affected another. What then?

How long must we carry around regret for past mistakes?
Can we ever be absolved?
Can we ever make it right?

These are some of the same issues the characters in The Miracle of Mercy Land confront. There are no easy answers.

Many times, we do the best we can with what we have at the time. We cannot be faulted for that. Time does not stand still. Memories fade. Expectations change. We grow into ourselves and see things differently.

Regardless of who we are, everyone carries their past right along with them. It is our past which has helped shaped us into who we have become. Along the way, however, it is our choice to either sharpen the points or smooth off the rough edges.

As children, we are quick to blame others. As we grow into adults we must put this childish behavior away and take responsibility for choosing our own path — regardless of what our past looks like. The blame game is a sorry excuse for taking control of one’s life.

Perhaps Maria Robinson is right. “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Good advice for today, and for the characters in The Miracle of Mercy Land.

Whatever you are, as Doc and Mercy discovered, the choice is yours!

Deanna

This review also appears on BN.com via this link.

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I hold myself to a high standard. You have to.
You have to aim for perfection.”
~ James Laurinaitis

Except for cheering on the Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team, I must admit that I’m not much of a sports fan.  So, I’m not sure what prompted me to flip through the sports section of USA Today recently.  Perhaps it was the headline that included the name “James Laurinaitis.” For those who may not know, Laurinaitis served as a team captain at OSU in 2007-2008, the seventh member of the Buckeyes to be elected captain twice in a career.

After OSU, the linebacker was drafted by the St. Louis Rams where he started all 16 games and set a franchise record for a first year player by making 146 tackles (98 unassisted), two sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and breaking up seven passes. Obviously, this guy is a playmaker.

What is his secret?  It’s simple — be in the right position to make the play.  You thought it would be more than that?  Nope. That’s it.

“Laurinaitis understands the link between preparation and performance. He might not always make the play, but he is intent on being in position to make it [Pedulla].”

Laurinaitis says, ” You are going to make mistakes. That is part of the game. I was crazy out of position sometimes. It happens.”

And I started thinking how many times in my life I missed an opportunity simply because I was out of position. Maybe not in the literal sense of being on a “playing field,” but mentally I was somewhere else. I wasn’t in the moment as they like to say.

Thinking about the future, or the past, or someone or something else, but failing to recognize the great thing that was staring at me — begging me to open the door.

Or, I discounted the opportunity because it wasn’t flashy or exciting or fun or didn’t look profitable.

Or, I suffered through a difficult situation, grumbling and complaining — calling it a waste of time or a set-back, when in actuality it was a time of preparation, something to help me conquer a not-yet-revealed possibility.

I think the idea of “being in position” is about doing the work so you know what position to be in, when to be there, and how to proactively take control of events.

It’s about being prepared to turn the tables on unfortunate or unexpected situations.

Taking advantage of every encounter — whether standing in line at the grocery or standing on stage in front of a large crowd.

Putting your best foot forward and doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Not letting the actions or apathy or accusations of others force you out of where you’re supposed to be.

Want to be a playmaker? Ask yourself where you are in relation to where you need to be and then get moving.  What are you waiting for?

Whatever you are, make sure you’re in the right position to make the play!

Deanna

Stevens Creative Consulting

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Be fabulous and don’t let any one thing ruin your life.”
~ Kylee Halko,

Awesome advice, don’t you think?  Especially when you consider it was offered by a seven-year-old who suffers with Progeria.

 

Kylee with her parents and Barbara Walters.

For those who might not know, Progeria is a rare, fatal genetic condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging in children. Signs include growth failure, loss of body fat and hair, aged-looking skin, stiffness of joints, hip dislocation, generalized atherosclerosis, cardiovascular (heart) disease and stroke. Children with Progeria die of atherosclerosis (heart disease) at an average age of thirteen years.

Kylee’s life is certainly not what most of us would consider the optimal circumstances to be fabulous.  Most of us encounter far fewer obstacles and look forward to a much brighter future. Yet too often we are unable to muster the energy to be fabulous. Why is that?

How many times do we unnecessarily allow one failure, one disappointment, or one unexpected detour ruin our entire life?

Well, maybe not our entire life, but certainly affect things for far too long of a stretch. We moan and complain and exclaim to anyone who will listen how “Life’s Not Fair!”  Okay, I’ll give you that — life isn’t fair. So what?

Why do we let the negativity and stress and ugliness take control? Why do we feel compelled to become just another victim of random circumstances?

If you don’t like what you’ve been handed, why not recycle it into something else? You can if you want to — changing your present starts with changing your attitude.

How about just being fabulous regardless of the madness swirling around you?  Determine to rise above and be your very best self — in spite of what is being thrown your way, or what the future looks like, or what the doctors say. Why not embrace an attitude that is exceptionally good, marvelous, and superb? Laugh at your unfair life.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past . . . we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.

We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

And so it is with you . . . we are in charge of our attitudes.”
[Charles Swindoll].

Whatever life hands you, be fabulous in spite of it!

Deanna

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