The Seed of Hope

A gift for tomorrow

Viewing by month: March 2009

Chasing a Dream

Today I want to talk to you about dreams. I’m not talking about the dreams that we have in our sleep; I’m talking about dreams that we have in life. We dream about so many different things….as children we dream about growing up. As adults we dream of being young again! We dream of relationships, homes, cars, careers, and being wealthy. The list goes on and on, and all are valid dreams.

 

Among Merriam-Webster’s definitions of dream is….a visionary creation of the imagination and a strongly desired goal or purpose. Do you have a dream in your life to which you can assign either, or both, of these definitions? Most of us do.

 

I have dreams for my future with my wife Jackie, dreams for my family, and certainly dreams for our business, Salon M². I have made a commitment to make all of those dreams come true.

 

Not just any dream…

 

As important as all of those dreams are to me, they still aren’t the kind of dream that I’m talking about. I want to offer you a quote that was penned by Walt Whitman many years ago:

 

“Well, every man has a religion; has something in heaven or earth which he will give up everything else for—something which absorbs him---which may be regarded by others as being useless---yet it is his dream, his lodestar, his master. That, whatever it is, seized upon me, made me its servant, slave---induced me to set aside the other ambitions---a trail of glory in the heavens which I followed, followed with a full heart. I had to pay much for what I got, but what I got made what I paid for it, much as it was, seem cheap. When once I am convinced, I never let go….”

 

That’s the kind of dream I’m talking about….the dream that you walk with every day…the dream that never leaves you alone…the dream that becomes, well becomes your obsession. Do you have one of those dreams? I do.

 

Let me make an attempt at explaining something to you….In my mind, as a child, and even as an adult, God was religion and religion was God. Don’t know exactly why I thought that way….no need in trying to figure it out at this point. I’ve come to realize that a lot of misconceptions followed me from childhood.

 

Today, God is my life. Spreading His Word has become my religion, and my religion has become my dream. This “shift” in perspective, this change in mindset, this dream has come with a price. At some point, in some ways, my love for God surpassed my love for Jackie, which was very unsettling for both of us (she is once again my biggest supporter). My relationship with our kids has taken a bit of a hit, and like I’ve told you before, my openness about my faith has cost me a few acquaintances. And Sunday afternoons, like this one, that were once devoted to R&R are now devoted to this site.

 

My dream is to take The Seed of Hope around the world. I want it to be read in every city, in every state, in every region, in every country. You see, if people are reading The Seed of Hope, they’re reading about God and His goodness, and what can be attained by walking with Him every day. They’re receiving this message not from a member of the clergy, but from a regular guy….perhaps that will draw the attention of some that would normally turn away.

 

The message I have to offer through my words is not THE message, nor is it THE Word, because in no way would I ever lay claim to being THE authority, on God, faith, life, or anything, for that matter. If you’ve visited this site before, you know that the spiritual journey I’m on, this “walk” with God, began just a couple of years ago. I’m still learning, and as I learn, I share what I have learned with you. I share with you because I believe it to be God’s wish that I do so. I didn’t ask Him to put this in my heart, but He did. I didn’t ask for this dream, but He gave it to me. I didn’t ask for the ability or the desire to share my deepest thoughts with people I’ve never met, but apparently He wanted me to have both. I didn’t ask for something that, according to Mr. Whitman, would lead me to “set aside the other ambitions”, but it seems that it is part of His plan for me to have it.  All this being said, who am I to say “No” to God? Better yet, why would I want to say “No” to God? He has blessed me in so many ways.

 

This past Friday, I was invited by Steve McGee, a good friend, family man, and Christian, to attend a seminar on leadership in business. The keynote speaker was Dr. John Maxwell, a noted leadership expert, speaker, and author. I’ll be honest with you; I had no idea who Dr. Maxwell was, but because of my friendship with Steve, and his enthusiasm in attending this program, I agreed to accompany him.

 

There are no coincidences in life….I was meant to be there.

 

Dr. Maxwell’s presentation was divided into three segments:

 

·        10 Commandments to Establish Credibility

·        Put Your Dream to The Test (the title of his latest book)

·        Leadership in Tough Times

 

While all three segments were very interesting, informative, and enlightening, it was the dream segment that impacted me the most. Within the dream segment Dr. Maxwell posed 10 questions that in answering would assist an individual in making his dream come true. I’m only going to give you one of the questions; if you want to know the rest of them, you need to purchase the book! (Believe me, it’s worth the investment.)

 

The question I want to focus on is the sixth one:

 

Have I Included the People I Need to Realize My Dream?

 

Of all the questions asked, this was the only one for which my answer was “No”.

I haven’t recruited anyone to help me spread the news of The Seed of Hope. But that’s not to say that I’m doing this by myself; along with giving me the dream, God gives me the words, and Jackie is my “sounding board” just before it’s time to do each Monday’s post. That’s my “team”.

 

I need YOU.

 

I believe that I need to expand my team in order to make my dream for The Seed of Hope to become a reality, and I’m going to start by asking you to be a part of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a regular visitor or if this is your first look.

 

If you know of someone that may need to receive the message contained on these pages, please pass the web address to them. If you are subscriber, forward this post to a friend, or post the link on your FaceBook or MySpace page, if you have one. Or just tell ‘em about it.

 

This is what I believe: If you are a regular visitor, you already know God, but like myself, believe that there is more to know about Him….otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.

 

Here’s the thing: I want to reach people that don’t know about God. I want to reach people that are “curious” about Him. I want to reach people that want to know more about Him, and people that need to more about Him (but just don’t know it). I want to reach people that share my dream, but don’t know exactly how to make their’s come true; perhaps we can do this together.

 

I’ve said this before and it bears repeating: Life is not just about the destination. It’s also about the journey. Walking with Christ makes the journey so much easier, so much better, so much more rewarding. If you walk that walk every day, you know what I’m talking about. Wouldn’t you want to share that with someone, to bless their life with God’s presence? I can only imagine how much He will bless you in return. I know how much He has blessed me.

 

God is good.

 

Contact me: sam@theseedofhope.com

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 03/09/2009 at 7:06 AM | Categories: Life -

The Prayer of Jabez

Oh that You would bless me indeed

And enlarge my territory

That Your hand would be with me

          And that You would keep me from evil

That I may not cause pain.

1 Chronicles 4:10

 

In November of 2006, not long after my epiphany (see My Epiphany, Nov. 24th, 2008) I began saying this prayer every morning. I hadn’t quite memorized it, and I didn’t want be distracted from the prayer’s intent while trying to remember the words, so I printed a copy of it and taped it on the mirror in our bathroom (it’s still there).

 

It is said that if you do something for twenty-one straight days it becomes a habit. I wanted my daily recital of this prayer to become as commonplace for me as brushing my teeth. Let me clarify that last statement: I wanted the act of saying the prayer to be commonplace, not the prayer itself. I try my best to make every prayer that I offer to God sincere and heartfelt, but I’ll confess that there are those times when I am a bit distracted by life.

 

I don’t know exactly why I began saying The Prayer of Jabez; I just felt that it was something I needed to do. I don’t know that I had a specific intention in offering the prayer every morning….I just felt that I hadn’t lived up to my expectations, (or God’s) in the first 54 years that I’d spent trying to find my “purpose” in life, and I needed to find out what it was.

 

So I began saying this prayer each day, not really knowing what I was asking God for, and not really caring what He gave me. I believed that He had something more in store for me, and I was asking for it through this prayer….I wanted more out of life….

 

Don’t get me wrong….like I’ve told you before, it’s not that my life was that bad. In fact, my personal life was  blessed. I was married to my best friend, Jackie; she is an amazing lady, and for the past 20 years she has been my rock. I have been, and continue to be, blessed by her presence. We had a great family, home, business, and money in the bank (a lot less after this past year). I guess that in the eyes of many I “had it made”, and in some ways, I did. But in other ways….

 

Unfulfilled, Angry, Lonely, Miserable

 

On any given day you could have used one or more of those words to describe me! It’s true; in the realm of business, and of what I had done in life, I was all of the above. I believe that many people in the world today measure a man’s success by financial wealth, titles, accolades, and accomplishments in the business world. There is nothing really wrong with using one, or all of the above as a yardstick.

 

I’d like to make a few of additions to that list:

 

I believe you can also measure a man’s success by the smile on his face, the peace in his mind, and the joy in his heart.

 

For all that I had in life, what I didn’t have was those three things. Never had. I didn’t know what it would take to make me happy….all I knew was that something was missing. Satisfaction, when it came, was short lived and fleeting. Material things, possessions, didn’t matter. Enough was never enough.

 

My hope was that through the Prayer of Jabez, God would lead me, show me, help me find, allow me to see, whatever it was that had been missing all my life.

 

God answered my prayer….

 

Since I began offering my prayer some 25 months ago God has blessed me with oh so much. Yeah, yeah, our business has soared to amazing heights, and continues to grow, against all odds, amidst our nation’s economic woes….a blessing indeed, but that’s not what I’m talking about…..

 

What had been missing all my life was a true, meaningful, relationship with God. I’m not talking about “religion”, or going to church on Sunday, or reading the Bible from front to back…..all of these are good things, but they don’t really make you truly aware of God’s presence in you. I think that you have to find, feel, and experience that presence on your own.

 

I believe that saying the Prayer of Jabez every morning opened my mind and heart to a new way of walking with God each day….believing in Him, trusting Him, allowing Him to be a part of me, and myself to be a part of Him. From that grew an explosion of spiritual growth that continues to amaze and humble me every day. And from that grew a new way of looking at life, people, and myself. And from that grew an insatiable desire to help others in any way I can, in thought word, or deed. It was from this burning desire that The Seed of Hope was born.

 

Gandhi wrote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I guess I’ve always had this desire to make a difference in the world, a desire to leave it a better place than the way I found it. Perhaps we all have that desire….I don’t know….I can only speak for myself.

 

What I’ve come to realize in the last couple of years is that in life, it’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey. My journey through life has become so unbelievably satisfying, so rewarding, so comfortable…..I believe that God has allowed me to experience this so that I may share it with others. What I have, I humbly share with you….

 

I still say the prayer of Jabez every morning, and still with no particular intention in mind. You see, I don’t want to put limitations on what God has planned for me. What He has allowed me to see and to have is beyond anything I could have dreamed for myself!

 

And that “measure of success” thing?

 

The smile on my face is real, peace soothes my mind, and the joy that fills my heart cannot be conveyed in words.

 

God is good.

 

 

Contact me: sam@theseedofhope.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 03/02/2009 at 7:07 AM | Categories: Faith -

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