“You are the hero of your own journey.”

Joesph Campbell, author

The year was 1961, I was ten years old. And Jerry Lucas was my hero. He played center on The Ohio State University Basketball Team. I practiced basketball sunup till sundown. I wanted to be a super sports star like Mr. Lucas. He was 6 feet 8 inches tall. I wanted to be that tall too, so I ask my mother to pull on my legs as I held on to the staircase banister in the hope that it would stretch my legs and make me taller.

Many years later I had the honor of meeting Jerry Lucas and telling him about my quest to be a sports legend like him. When I explained what I had ask my Mother to do, I looked up at his 6 foot eight inch height as he looked down at my 5 foot ten inch height.

“I see it It didn’t work,” he said.

We both laughed. I shook his hand and thanked him for his inspiration and a head full of happy memories.

Author and speaker Steve Chandler has this advice, “Don’t look at your heroes, look inside your heroes.”

Even more important than talent is the quality of passion. As gifted as he was at the game, if Jerry Lucas didn’t like playing basketball no one would have ever heard of him. And if you don’t have that same kind of passion for what you’re doing then it’s time for some soul searching. What you want to be doing is what you ought to be doing. And you should be doing it with all your heart and soul fueling that passion with determination.

That brings me to another hero from my childhood. Before there was Jerry Lucas in the 60s, there was Chief Don Eagle in the 50s. He a wrestler, an Indian with a genuine Mohawk Haircut. One of his arch rivals was the infamous Gorgeous George. The chief was very clever and fun to watch. But sometimes the villain he was wrestling would appear to be getting the best of him. Now came the part of the match I had been waiting for since the start.

Chief Don Eagle would get mad. And I do mean mad. With the fans cheering him on, including me with a ringside seat in front of the television, he would perform a war dance. At this time, If his opponent had any sense at all, he would jump out of the ring. When the chief caught up with him, it was game over for the villain.

Whether it’s running a marathon race, baking a prize winning cake, or playing the violin, you have to have what the pundits call, “A Fire In The Belly.” And with that fire you give your chosen endeavor your best and leave nothing in the locker room – you’re still a winner no matter what the scoreboard or the judges say.





“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before us.”

Philippians 3:13

The echo of sirens and the howling of my dog shattered a restful sleep. I fumbled for the light and rubbed my eyes. It was after midnight. The sirens got louder and an instant later flashing lights were dancing through the curtains.

“Quiet, Lady, quiet,” I said to the dog as I reached for my glasses.

I could feel my heart pounding faster now as I looked out the window at a street full of fire engines, their crews moving quickly to position hoses and ready ladders. The house across the street was fully engulfed in flames. Neighbors were charging out of their houses, pulling on jackets and robes as they moved. I quickly dressed, put a leash on the dog, and joined the group in front of my house. Word got around: Everyone was out of the burning house and safe. The firefighters worked on through the night.

The next day, traffic picked up on Warren Avenue. The burned house, which was now half a shell, became a minor tourist attraction. The smell of smoke still lingered around the rubble.

“They ought to bulldoze the rest of it,” my neighbor commented as we studied the remains from the street.

For the next few days, the sightseers kept up their pace. Then things calmed down. The burned-out shell stood lonely and abandoned as people passed on their way to work and school.

One afternoon, as I returned from work, the Summer sounds of kids yelling, dogs barking, and lawn mowers humming were joined by another group of sounds. The buzzing of saws and the pounding of nails rang out loud and clear. The burned out house was now a beehive of activity. Ladders, lumber, shingles, paint – everything needed to rebuild was being unloaded.

Over the next several weeks, an amazing transformation took place. The burned out shell of a house, considered by many a total loss, took on a new life. Before long, the last coat of paint was applied and, as if to affirm a new beginning, flowers bloomed in the yard. The house that had risen from ashes to become one of the best looking in the neighborhood, once again became a tourist attraction. This time to admirers. To me, it became something else.

From then on, whenever I faced disappointment, I stepped out onto my front porch. From there I looked across the street to the house that was once rubble but became new again. It said to me, “You can start over. You can rebuild bigger, better, and stronger. As long as you have a good foundation, you can become new again.

You just have to believe.

And for a strong foundation and blueprints for rebuilding, look to the master carpenter.

Look to Jesus.

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“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I don’t know.”

Groucho Marx, comedian

You never know what you’re going to discover when you start looking through the branches of your family tree. I found some elephants in mine.

Yes, elephants.

You see actor Wallace Berry is my cousin. He won an Academy award for his role in the 1931 movie, The Champ. For a time, he was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. But his show business career didn’t start in front of the cameras. Along with his brother, young Wallace ran away from home and joined Ringling Brothers Circus. He became an elephant tender. In fact, he came up with the idea for the elephants to march in line trunk to tail.

Not long ago, after battling animal rights protesters for years,  Ringling took the elephants out of their show. And soon after that they called it quits all together.

So the elephants may be gone from the circus but they are still part of my DNA and have a very important role in the way I conduct my life.

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“The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

Robert Schuller, minister

I’m a marathon runner. A marathon race is 26.2 miles long. Running since 1986, I’ve completed over forty marathons in cities all over the country. But I’ve never run all 26.2 miles at once. No, I’ve run 1 mile 26 times in a row. And then another 365 yards for a grand total of 26.2 miles.

And so it goes with any goal – break it down into bite size chunks and in time, with determination and grit, you’ve eaten the whole elephant and crossed the finish line.

“When you have an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.”

Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States

There are things you can do something about and some things you can never do anything about. So the sooner you figure out which is which, the better off you and whatever elephant you have by the hind legs will be.

We can’t do anything about our age so rather than complain about wrinkles change their name to twinkles and move on. We can’t do anything about the weather because no matter what you say about it, it does what it wants to do. Put on your snowshoes, grab your umbrella, adapt and keep smiling.

And if someone chooses not to love you, it hurts. But you won’t find someone who will love you if you let that elephant drag you and your heart down the road.

“When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.”

African proverb

There is no guarantee how long my life or yours is going to be. So let’s be friends. I’ll bet we’re more alike than different. Peace is a whole lot more fun than war.

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