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Archive for December, 2008

On December 27th I had to attend the funeral of my 23 year old nephew Aaron Esposito.  Aaron was killed in a car crash on December 21, on his way home from a meeting in Indiana.  It was an extremely hard week for me and my family, and to tell the truth, I am not sure how my brother or sister-in-law held up so well.  Parents are not supposed to bury their children, it’s just too hard to imagine.

But in a very spiritual way the process was a healing one, and a deeply moving one. Aaron lived a life that most of us would only dream about, and I did not find that out until his death. How sad.

But Aaron’s death is also a lesson, a lesson on life and how to live it. Aaron’s life was not a charmed one; he had a hard life for his short time here on earth. His parents were not, as we would say, always there for him. But Aaron chose to live a life that was productive and healthy; he chose to allow God in to his life and to use his passions to make this world a better place, one person at a time.

At his funeral the minister read from his journal, and one line stands out to me, Aaron wrote a simple line, only a few words, four to be exact, but to me the four words covers it all.

“Ping-Pong of fear”…..

WOW, what a powerful statement, and what a true testimony to how life is. We all deal with fear; its part of the human condition, the difference is how we deal with it, what we make of it. Aaron chose to use his fear for the betterment of himself and others.  Others choose to allow their fears to control them, and still others deny their fears, choose to not see them at all.

Fear is part of life; it gives us clues to how to live. We use fear as a way to help us choose the path in life we wish to take. Some of us face them head on; others of us choose to walk around them. We see this is our everyday life, in almost all we do. Who hasn’t been fearful of a new job, or a new home? How about a new school or a new life, Fear is the glue that keeps us grounded and it is also the glue that keeps us standing still. Fear can be a motivator or it can be destabilizing aspect that sets your life in to a downward spin. Fear is a controlling emotion; fear is a fact of life.

Aaron stated that fear was like a ping-pong game, a battle between the two sides of fear, to embrace it or to ignore it. Aaron chose to embrace it, to face it head on. Now I am sure Aaron did not always do this, in fact I am sure that at times Aaron ran from choosing to ignore it. But the simple fact that he saw it as part of his life, that he wrote it down in his journal and named it as he saw it states a lot. Aaron knew that he had fear, that fear was part of who he was, and Aaron named it called it out and gave his fears an identity.

Aaron was a sportsman; he loved sports, so to call fear a “Ping-Pong Match” placed fear in its proper place, making it a game, a competition, one that Aaron could win. Like any sport you have to practice, study and learn.  Aaron did that, he read the bible, self help books and motivation materials, and he looked deep within to find the strength to help him in the match and he looked to God to fortify him and to send His grace upon him.

Aaron’s journal contained notes of all sorts, notes on his Amway business, notes on his personal life and quotes and passages from the bible. Aaron’s journal showed how he knew his life was not a patchwork of separate Aarons, but rather how the pieces of patchwork created the one Aaron. Aaron understood that everything he did affected every aspect of his life, and affected everyone in his life. The fear may have held him back some, but from what I know of him, and from what I learned of him, Aaron used the fear not to hold him back, but to catapult him forward.

Aaron will be missed by many, over 600 people attended his service on Saturday, on Friday there had to have been over 300 people throughout the day. The words of kindness and gratitude towards Aaron was overwhelming, and the tears shed for him could have filled a river, But Aaron’s life was not one of regrets but rather opportunities. His passing will leave a hole in many souls but his legacy will fill many more.

Aaron I miss you and I love you, may you rest in the peace of God the Father and may you be forever in His glory.

May we, Aaron’s family and friends find comfort in Aaron’s everlasting love; May God bless us and keep us all.

Love

Uncle Paul

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Please Pray for my Family

Christmas is a time of healing; it is when God sent us His son to free us all from our sins. It is a time of great joy, when we as Christians are to celebrate the birth our savior, whom we hope to see one day.

But Christmas can also be a time of great sadness, a time to mourn the death of a loved one or of a friend. The emotions of great joy and great lost can seem over powering. Today is such a day for me. Christmas is only a few days away, yet today I must deal with the loss of my nephew.

This morning I was woken up at 5:25 with a phone call from my older brother, his eldest son, Aaron was killed in an auto accident yesterday evening. Aaron was in his mid-twenties, newly married and starting a new life with his wife. This would have been their first Christmas together and man and wife, yet God allowed Aaron to be taken home.

My brother called me with great pain in his heart and voice, with sadness that was etched in to his soul, and I, as his brother could offer no words to heal him, I could offer no comfort.

Christmas is a time to heal our souls, to make ready for the Lord, but it seems hard to do so when you have just lost a soul so young. But I dare not question God, his wisdom is far greater than mine, but I do not understand his wisdom. And sometimes, just sometimes, I would like God to explain Himself to me, to let me in on Him plans. The frustration, hurt and anger I feel is deep within, and only God knows why.

Over the weekend I also received an email from a friend of mine, her 28 year old son just passed away from cancer, he leaves behind an 8 month year old son and a wife. I was saddened to hear the news, and I thanked God that my family was safe and sound. As it turns out, I now will have 2 young men to pray for, and families to offer my love and understanding to. When I told my sister about my friend’s son, my last statement was “For the grace of God go I” and I truly believe that, for each day I live here on this earth, it is only because of the grace of God. And I am truly thankful! But once again, I only wish God would let me in on his plan, help to heal the pain of loss.

If any of you have read my blog before, you will know that I lost both of my parents around Christmas time, now I add to this list my young nephew Aaron, Please pray for him, and his family.

Father in heaven,

I know you have a plan

I know your love and mercy are greater than I could ever understand

I ask this day that you look over my family,

And bless them.

Send the Holy Spirit to comfort us,

And Holy Mother Mary,

Teach us to except Gods will in all we do,

As you have accepted Gods will in all you do.

Amen

 

God Bless and Merry Christmas

Paul

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As I drove in to work this morning the roads where a little messy, you see last night we had a snow fall, about 3 inches here in south east Michigan. As a result the drive took a little longer than normal. I’m good with that, no rush, take your time and everyone will make it to their destinations. A little precaution in life is a good thing.

My drive was safe, no one was rushing to get anywhere, but that too can be aggravating. As I neared my work, I got stuck behind a car doing 5 miles per hour, no kidding, they were going 5mph. No a little precaution is a good thing, but too much is no better than none at all.

Many people treat life the same way, they move at 5mph through life, thinking they are being safe, that at this speed nothing can happen to them, they are safe.

Take the driver from this morning, yes they were going about it the “safe way”, so they thought. But in reality, the slowness of their driving caused more danger.

Example:

If you are behind them and do not notice they are only going 5mph, you will be on them before you know it. Now you may say “Then you are going to fast” Not so, if you are going with the “flow” of traffic and the road conditions allow it. Today was maybe a 20mph day on a 30mph road, so 5mps is way too slow.

The same happens in life, if you are taking life at 5mph and life conditions are at 20mph, you will cause backups, and collisions, life will pass you by.

So yes, use caution in life, but make sure its appropriate for the situation.

Paul

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Center stage, the light is on you, and you are the most important person in the whole world.

That is what we would like to think, that often times is what we are taught. Teachers, parents, family and friends and even psychologist will tell you that. It’s the whole pop-psychology of “If it makes you happy”. What it really should be called is “It’s all about me”

It’s funny that I used the above life “It’s all about me” because that is a running joke with some friends and family of mine. They tell me that is how I act. I hope and pray it is not, because in my heart, I know that is not what I believe. I truly believe “What I do should always be about others”. Now sometimes it may not seem like it. I am a youth minister, and often times that means I have to be front and center. Truth be told I don’t mind that, I love being around the kids, I am also an instructor by trade, so I stand before adults all day also. So I am use to being up front. But what I do, at my job and my ministry, is not about me, but to whom I am teaching.

I use the gifts I have to complete the task at hand, but if my gift is not what is needed, I am more than willing to pass it on. I will let others shine, if the end result is the betterment of the whom I am serving.

In my ministry my interactions with the youth gives me great joy, and I know I shine, inside and out, when I am working with them. I love to be with them; often times more than the adults I am working with. And often times I do get lost in the moment. I think it is the movements when I am lost that people may get the feeling that I am grand standing, or taking all the glory. But in truth it is just that I am lost. I allow the flow to over take me, and consume me. It is the spirit of connecting with whom I am serving that shines from me.

I am not the center of the world, the light is not shining on me, but rather on whom I am serving. I allow the sprit to lead me in whatever direction it chooses.  So if that makes it look as if I am the center of it all, so be it.

The bible teaches that we should serve others, as Jesus did. And in doing so, Jesus looked like he was always center stage. But I am sure if you asked him, he would tell you that he was not the important one, that those he was serving where truly the center, that the light was shinned on them, through him.

Remember that you are here to serve others, that you are never the center stage. Others are always your focus. You do this, and you too will be shining, shining the light of Christ on others.

Paul

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Rest

Life needs to slow down, we all need to learn to walk a little bit slower, stop and take the time to see what is truly there, stop to smell the world, and to take in all we can.

This life of ours is short, time here on earth is limited, yet we seem to feel that we must rush and do all we can before we pass on. How silly of us all. Sure we may “experience” more things but truly did we? By packing in 10 things in one day, did we truly enjoy anything?  

To slow down and do only 3 or 4 of the 10 things, we will have time to enjoy, to process and take it all in. What’s the rush? Does it really matter if you fail to do one thing on your to do list, will your life be any less? I think not, I thing we trick ourselves in to thinking we need to remain in motion, but what is wrong with a little rest?

Use this holiday season to slow down, to rest, to regroup. Take time to enjoy the good cheer of other and learn to relax in a world that is going full tilt.

Paul

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Common Courtesy Top 10 list:

1.       Go out of your way to speak to people… Pleasant words are healing

2.       Try to remember their names…It shows you value them

3.       Smile…It  increases your “face value”

4.       Be friendly and helpful… If you do, people will return it

5.       Show genuine interest…You can find something good in almost everyone, if you try

6.       Be generous with your praise and cautious with your criticism

7.       Be slow to judge… There are 3 sides to every story- yours, theirs and the right side

8.       Instead of “using” others, serve them…By love serve one another

9.       Start trusting people – It builds lasting relationships

10.   Be humble. Oswald Chambers said; “When a saint becomes conscious of being a saint, something has gone wrong.”

Jesus said “Live so that [people] will…praise your father” (Mt 5:16)

I wish I could say I wrote the above, but I did not, I got it from am daily devotional a friend gave me.

(The Word for you Today Devotional)

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Life can come at you fast, especially during the Holiday session. With all the demands place you it seems that everyone wants a piece of you. It can feel that your time is not yours. During this time of year it is a good idea to take a moment and stop to refresh yourself, to take stock of your life.

The Catholic Faith has a session called Advent, it’s the 4 weeks before Christmas, and it’s a time to prepare for the birth of our Lord. We are to take stock of our lives, clear out all the dead spots and refresh them with the light of Christ.

Now I know not everyone believes in God, and some do but not in the Catholic faith, but the Advent session can but done anytime of the year, by anyone, just set aside one month, and use that month to take stock in your life. Use it to purge out the junk and fill it with goodness.

I would also recommend that you truly look in to the Catholic Faith, discover her history and beauty. Look in to her teachings, and find a home in the Church Christ built. But if you choose not to, that’s ok; Advent can still be a time of preparation for you, a time to prepare for the new you.

Christmas time offers us so much; it’s a time to see the goodwill of human kind, a time to feel the spirit of kindness and a time to show your love to all you meet. Use the remaining weeks to open your soul to the magic of the session, and to look deep into yourself, create a new you, one that is filled with kindness, understanding and love for all of creation.

Paul

 

Advent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Advent (from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”) is a season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus; in other words, the period immediately before Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday. The Eastern churches begin the liturgical year on 1 September.[1] The Eastern Christian equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast but it differs both in length and observances.

The progression of the season may be marked with an Advent calendar, a practice introduced by German Lutherans. At least in the Roman Catholic calendar, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25; in other words, the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive.

Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming. Christians believe that the season of Advent serves a dual reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting that Christians today endure as they await the second coming of Christ.

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