The Seed of Hope

A gift for tomorrow

Viewing by month: December 2009

Not Good Enough

Last week I spent a couple of days with two good friends and business associates in sunny Tampa, Florida. Oh, they also happen to be married to one another!

Dennis O’Connor is the founder and President of Salon Business Partners, a company that represents REDKEN, the hair care manufacturer, along with many smaller, but strategically important salon industry companies that REDKEN endorses.

Carolyn O’Connor, Dennis’ wife, is the Senior Director of Training for REDKEN here in the U.S. Carolyn played a huge part in my growth as a salon owner and was instrumental in bringing some new programs into our new salon, Salon M², in September of 2006. Carolyn was also responsible for my very first speaking engagement for REDKEN in January of 2007.

Our Story

Dennis had invited me to fly down from Birmingham to shoot a video for Solutions for Salons, an internet-based company, which is a spinoff of Salon Business Partners. Solutions for Salons serves as an on-line “one stop shopping” resource and information guide for salon owners, stylists, salon consultants, and others involved in our industry .

Dennis had been in attendance when I was make presentations on quite a few occasions during the past few years, and felt that, with the economy being in such a state of turmoil, it was time for me to reach even more people. I couldn’t have agreed with him more!

The plan was for me to spend a day in the studio and do three different segments, or messages. The first of the three would focus on our salon “story”, which begins on October 9, 1989 and runs through the present. (If you’d like to read it, click on the link titled A Seed Was Planted  at the top of the home page) The second segment would be more specific to those companies represented by Dennis that we have used in our salon and their role in our success. The third and final topic would be the one that I am most passionate about: God. Each of the three segments would have its own link on the site.

In the studio

We met at the studio on Monday morning at ten-thirty. I was so pumped up that I could hardly contain myself! It’s funny; I’ve shared our story with others more times that I can count in the past few years, but I’m as thrilled today about it as I was the very first time. You see, it’s not about our accomplishments, or material possessions, or “look at what we’ve done”, or anything that has to do with self.

It is about delivering a message of hope…that it’s never too late…that we all have gifts…that with God, anything is possible! It’s the reason behind The Seed of Hope…not to share with you what I have done, but to tell you the good news of what GOD has done…for me…to me…in me. It’s all about HIM.

I’m sorry, but sometimes I just can’t find the words to convey exactly what it is that I’m trying to say to you…perhaps it’s because there are no words…

So anyway, I was more than ready to do the videos; well, almost.

I was a bit apprehensive because I’d never spoken into a camera prior to that day. If you’ve ever been engaged in a conversation with me, you know that I’m very animated. I use my hands a lot when I’m talking (perhaps it’s an Italian thing), and if I’m standing I have this tendency to rise up and down on my toes. When I’m talking to a group of people I tend to walk around, trying to make eye contact with as many as I can. When I’m searching for the right words to express a particular thought, I have this habit of looking away for just a moment. And then there are those times, when talking about certain things, that I’ll begin to cry.

Well, I knew that while standing in front of the camera there were some of those habits that I couldn’t do, and one or two that I didn’t want to do! So the night before I practiced focusing on and talking to the thermostat on the wall in my hotel room, all the while pretending that it was the camera lens. 

“Five, four, three, two, one…”

We began filming. And I began talking…trying to remember not to walk around, or to look away, or rise up on my toes. Oh, and I had to remember what I wanted to say. And my mouth was as dry as the Sahara Desert. This was not going well.

I think that I lasted for about 5 minutes. Things were falling apart, and I was gettin’ frustrated. At some point I just stopped talking, and asked the videographer to give me a minute. I turned my back to everyone, closed my eyes, and quietly offered the prayer that I always do whenever I make a presentation, or for that matter, write one of these posts…

May God use and overrule my mouth. May His Word only be spoken, and His Word only be heard. Amen.

I took a deep breath, thanked God for giving me what I needed, and turned back to the camera, this time seeing its lens as my amazing wife Jackie.

“I’m ready.”

Twenty minutes later it was done. One take. No stopping…no starting over. I didn’t even want to review it. It was what it was; our story. It’s not that I thought that it was perfect. In fact, it was probably far from it. But hey, I’m not perfect. I’m no actor, and I don’t do this for a living. I’m just a regular guy tryin’ to get God’s message out there. It would be good enough.

The second segment, featuring Dennis and myself in a Q & A format, went much the same as the first. It was two good friends, having a good conversation, which just happened to be in front of a camera. I was havin’ a ball!

About God

It was time to shoot the final segment, the one about God and my faith. The one that I was the most passionate about. The one that was the most important to me. This was gonna be awesome!

I began speaking. The next several minutes were a blur. I remember taking my coat off and showing my tattoo, telling the story of how I was born again. And I remember thinking that it wasn’t good enough. I remember talking about miracles, and the one that God performed in me. And it wasn’t good enough. I remember talking about having a relationship with God, and knowing Him, instead of knowing about Him. And it wasn’t good enough. I remember saying that with God all things are possible. And it wasn’t good enough. I remember saying all those things…saying so much more… “witnessing” to God’s goodness. All good stuff, yet in my mind, none of it was good enough. “Why not? What’s wrong? What else do I need to say?”, I remember thinking even as I was talking. And then it was over. Everyone in the room thought that it was great; I thought that it wasn’t good enough.

One week later.

Today, one week removed from my trip to Tampa, I have some insight as to why “it wasn’t good enough.”

The Seed of Hope was launched on October 31, 2008. Since that date there has been a new post on this site every Monday. So that’s what, close to sixty posts? And each of those times I have tried to share all that is in my mind and my heart about God…I give you what He gives me. And yet I don’t think that it’s good enough…I haven’t shared enough…there’s so much more to be said, so much more that I have to learn; about God, life, and myself. Why would I ever have thought that I could “sum up” God and all that He is in a fifteen minute video? Impossible.

But there’s more.

I mentioned earlier that sometimes I can’t come up with the right words for you…

I can give you my thoughts, and my words, and my heart, and all that I have come to know about our awesome God. But I can’t give you the feeling that comes from an intimate relationship with Him. You have to find that for yourself, and it comes from welcoming Him into your life, working on that relationship every day, and giving yourself to Him. Completely.

And you’ll find, just as I did, that when nothing else in your life is good enough, He always is!

 

See you next week!

 

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 12/07/2009 at 7:35 AM | Categories: Life -

Be a Blessing

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

Psalm 105:1-2 (NIV)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

With Thanksgiving just behind us and Christmas quickly drawing near, this is the perfect time to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. And it’s a perfect time to share the news of those blessings with others….

A few months ago I was asked to serve as co-chair for the Hospitality Team at the Church of The Highlands Greystone Campus here in Birmingham. I jumped at the opportunity, because it affords me the chance to serve God’s church, because I’m able to welcome people into His “house”, and because it allows me to share His light with others! The experience has proven to be yet another blessing for me and my wife Jackie.

On the fourth Sunday of every month there’s a meeting in which people interested in serving the church in some capacity, are afforded the opportunity to learn more about, and to sign up for, one of the various teams. It’s a great way to get more people involved in the church.

Camille

Last Sunday night I was having a conversation with Camille, one of those recruits. While reviewing her application, Camille told me an amazing story; her story. I won’t try to relate Camille’s story in detail, because I don’t think that I would do it justice. Let me just give you the abbreviated version.

In 2008 Camille walked away from a twenty-eight year career with the same company to take a new position somewhere else. Just eight months later, in February of this year, she was laid off. Not long after that, she was diagnosed with a type of cancer that required surgery. Thankfully, the surgery was completely successful. To the amazement of her doctors, neither chemotherapy nor radiation treatments were necessary. The surgery did, however, call for a lengthy period of recuperation. And Camille was still without a job.

Several months passed. Then one day, out of the blue, Camille received a call from an old acquaintance. In the course of their conversation, her friend informed her that he had formed a new company, and offered her a job on the spot!

Camille’s story in and of itself is amazing, but what really impacted me was the depth of her faith and her love for God that manifested itself while she was talking to me. She told me that she had completely put her life in God’s hands, knowing that He would take care of her.

Tears welling up in her eyes, Camille told me that God had done so much for her, but she didn’t know what to do for Him. “What do I do with this?” was the question that she posed to me.

“Share it!” was my immediate response to Camille’s question. “God has given you an amazing story, Camille. And He gave it to you for a reason. Your testimony can give hope to other cancer victims, and to those who have lost their jobs, and to those who have never known or have forgotten how awesome our God is. Be a light, His light, for all to see. Be a blessing to others.”

Camille and I parted company that night with a promise to sit down over a cup of coffee and share more of our “God stories”!

Driving home.

I couldn’t wait to get home to tell Jackie all about Camille and her story, mainly because it serves as yet another example of how God has this way of making miracles “happen”. Another reason for my excitement was that the next morning’s Seed of Hope post was about miracles! (There are no coincidences when it comes to God!)

As I drove, I kept going back to Psalm 105, the one listed at the beginning of this post. God wants us to speak of His goodness.

I also recalled one of my favorite passages in the Bible:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16

As His followers, as Christians, we are called upon by God to share what He has done for us with others.

Don’t think you have anything worth sharing?

Think again. Do you have a roof over your head? Food to eat? Clothes on your back? Family? Friends? Good health? A job? An automobile? Are you reading this post on your computer?

You may be thinking “Those are just regular things. Everybody has those.” We, guess what? You’re wrong! There are many people who have some, or none of the above, and you don’t have to visit a third-world country to find them. They are here, in our cities and towns…we don’t see them…we don’t want to see them, because if we did, we would hang our heads in shame for feeling that God has somehow “overlooked” us.

Want more proof of God’s blessings in your life? Go visit a local hospital. Better yet, take a walk through a children’s hospital. Or take a look at the obituaries in your local paper. Now multiply what you’ve seen and read by 365 days, and add to that the realization that you’ve only looked in your city or town!

God is good.

God is faithful.

It’s true. God is faithful to those who follow Him, to those who worship Him, to those who seek His face, and to those who follow His commands. For years I lived under the assumption that following the Ten Commandments was a ticket straight to heaven. Well, I’ve learned not to assume anything in life, so I don’t know that following them will guarantee that you’ll get in, but I’ve got to believe that it gives us a key to the door!

I also believe that there’s more to it than that…I believe that God blesses those who strive to be a blessing to others. I believe that God has showered me with many blessings because I follow Him, worship Him, seek His face, and follow His commands…

And because I share the news of what He has done for me, the news of His goodness, the news of how great He is with everyone I meet. I want everyone to seek His face. I want everyone to know Him.

You know…the more I give of myself, the more I receive. The more I try to be a blessing, the more I am blessed. (There are no coincidences when it comes to God!)

Please…

try this for me. Think of one thing that you’re grateful for, one thing that God has blessed you with. If you can’t come up with anything, be grateful for being given another day. Then go out and share that news with someone. Then someone else. Then someone else.

Be a blessing. You will receive blessings. God is faithful.

 

See you next week.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 12/02/2009 at 3:22 PM | Categories: Life -

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