“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”

Thomas Paine, political activist and philosopher


Once upon a time a man walked into a restaurant and sat down. He said to the waitress, “Let me have a cup of coffee before the trouble starts.”

The waitress brought the man a cup of coffee.

“Will there be anything else?” the waitress asked.

“Yes,” said the man. “Please bring me a cheeseburger before the trouble starts.”

The waitress brought the man a cheeseburger and like before asked, “Will there be anything else?”

The man answered, “Yes, I’d like you to bring me a piece of pumpkin pie before the trouble starts.”

The waitress brought the man a piece of pumpkin pie. Once again she asked, “Will there be anything else?”

The man answered, “No.”

The waitress said to the man, “Do you mind if I ask you something?”

The man said, “No, go right ahead.”

The waitress said, “Every time you order something you say, ‘Before the trouble starts.’ Now what trouble are you talking about? What trouble is going to start?”

The man finished eating his cheeseburger and pie, then slurped down his coffee and wiped his chin.

“The trouble starts,” he said, “when you find out I don’t have any money to pay for this.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines trouble as “…a state or condition of distress, annoyance, or difficulty.”

Here are a few facts about trouble.

First, trouble is a part of life. As long as you are alive on this earth you are going to experience trouble.

Second, trouble does not play fair. It does not care how much money you have in the bank, who you know or where you work. When trouble decides to come looking for you, it will find you.

Third, what you think and do about your trouble will always be more important than the trouble itself.

Mark Twain said, “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it. It’s the healthiest thing a body can do.”

I heard a story about a snail who knocked on a man’s door. The man opened the door, saw the snail, picked it up and threw it across the yard. Two years later that same snail knocked on the door again.

When the man opened the door, the snail said, “Now what was that all about?”

When people hurt you or trouble kicks you in the pants, “What was that about?” may not be the right question.

Some other questions you may want to consider are:

“What can I learn from this?’

“What is funny about this?”

The Boy Scouts taught me to, “Be Prepared.”

So before the trouble starts, fill your heart and soul with plenty of faith, hope, and courage.

“In this world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

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“Angels come to visit us and we only know them when they are gone.”

George Elliot, novelist and poet


It was the happiest – saddest day I had ever experienced.  A menagerie of stuffed animals stood among countless photographs and neatly arranged flowers.  We were there to mourn the loss of a little girl and to celebrate the gift of her friendship.

Sharleen Zader, age 11, was wearing a new dress with lots of lace and ribbons The first time I saw that dress was a month earlier. She had announced to everyone she was going to wear it to church the first Sunday after she got out of the hospital. Taking it out of the box that day, I found a clear plastic bag to hang it in so she could keep an eye on it from her bed.

My friendship with Sharleen and her family began at The Ronald McDonald House where I did volunteer work.  Sharleen was losing a three-year battle with cancer. Swollen cheeks and the loss of her hair did not take away her smile or conquer her spirit. She was always glad to see me and would often say she was praying for me. Everyone who knew Sharleen had their own special story about her.

One Sunday afternoon I took Sharleen and her mother on a picnic at a park near the hospital. There we met an actress who was rehearsing some lines for a play to be presented in the park theater. After we all said hello, I asked if she would perform something for Sharleen.

In response to my request, she sang a song from the play, West Side Story.

“There’s a place for us…somewhere a place for us…

There’s a time for us…hold my hand and we’re half way there…

Hold my hand and I’ll take you there…”

Until the day of Sharleen’s funeral, I never knew her middle name was Grace.

I had heard about the word  “Grace” many times. It means “Help given man by God.”

I am thankful for the “Grace” of hearing the sweet angelic voice of the actress who helped me understand Sharleen would soon find comfort in the arms of Jesus.

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“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for extraordinary destiny.”

C. S. Lewis, author

I’m on my way to Hollywood.

Not to get my star in a ceremony on The Walk of Fame. This is a much bigger and exciting event. I have a new grandson born at The Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. Mother and baby are doing fine.

We are blessed.

The little fella will be five weeks old when I meet him. I am thrilled beyond words. He is healthy and has a great Mom and Dad. A pretty good way to start life, I’d say.

I love you, Noah.


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My wife and I will take in all the sights and sounds that make Hollywood famous. And I will have the honor of meeting Ken E. Nwadike Jr.

Because of an absent father, at the age of eight, Ken became the man of the house.

The trouble was there was no house.

Ken, his mother and four other children were homeless.

Fast forward twenty years, Ken is now director of The Hollywood Half Marathon and his mission is raising money for The Los Angeles Youth Network and Covenant House California.

On any given night there are 8,000 kids homeless on the streets of Los Angeles.

They need food, clothes, shelter, health care and counseling. Ken and his organization, Super Hero Events is part of the solution.

Ken is more than happy to tell you about the most important super hero in his life – his mother. “She did her best to find work and take care of us,” he said. “Not everyone is homeless because of drugs and alcohol. My mother raised five kids and none of us had a drug problem or went to jail.”

In high school, Ken discovered a gift for running and won a college scholarship. It was his ticket out of poverty and an opportunity to create a new life. Knowing there are plenty of kids struggling on the same road he traveled, Ken made the decision to do something about it.


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April 6, 2013

It’s 6:00 AM

Along with 7,499 other runners, I’m standing on Hollywood Boulevard in front of The Dolby Theatre – home of The Academy Awards. The second annual Hollywood Half Marathon is about to start.  You can see the famous HOLLYWOOD sign on the mountains above us. In 2 hours 54 minutes and 31 seconds I will cross the finish line  –  number 25 of 29 runners in my age group (60 to 64)

My prize is a medal in the shape of a star.


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April 15, 2013

A terrorist attack at The Boston Marathon kills 3 people and injures 264 others.


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April 21, 2014

At the Boston Marathon Ken Nwadike holds up a sign, FREE HUGS. Hundreds of runners stop to hug Ken and his message will soon be seen around the world.

No matter what the question, love is the answer.


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