Saturday, December 30, 2006

Nothing is impossible with God.

One of the things my father taught me was that this is America, and it is possible to achieve anything you want, no matter what color you are, how much money you have, or where you grew up. What my Father taught me is that, "Nothing is impossible with God."

I started this year by resigning from a firm that was paying me a (livable) salary, but with whom I saw no future. I had no job to go to, or any prospects of employment. I am a person who does not believe working harder or even smarter is what will make me successful, wealthy, or satisfied. I believe that doing work that is personally important and relevant to my purpose in life is what will make me wealthy - spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. So in the first 45 days of 2006, I made some life-changing career decisions that, on the surface, seemed (at the least) crazy, financially impossible, and just a bit insane. But I knew in my heart that in order for my life to be in order, I was going to have to define and understand my purpose, and have all the parts of my life - my goals, habits, and occupations - fall into that order.

The good news is that God has been able to do exactly that. All I did was allow Him to work in me, and change my attitudes. That's a pretty bold statement from someone who isn't "there" yet. I'm not perfect and I haven't "arrived" yet, but I know I have gotten one part of my life transformed. I am in a rare minority of people who can say, "I love my work." I was having a conversation with one of my nephews the other day. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him. I didn't tell him I am a financial planner/consultant/advisor or dazzle him with fancy titles. I told him what I actually do, and that I am so grateful that I can do what I do. You see, I realize my work is important, not only to me and my family who are the beneficiaries of the commissions and fees my clients pay me, but also those people I serve - my clients and the credit union that took a chance on an unknown broker and gave me a platform on which to practice my profession. I realize that by helping people understand what they need to be doing to plan for their financial goals, or to preserve their assets and generate an income in their retirement, I am greatly satisfied, fulfilled, and am becoming wealthy - spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially.

Let me entertain you by capsulizing the past year. In January I was broke, living check-to-check (barely), and I was months behind on 2 house payments, my car, credit cards, etc. I had no savings, no credit, and had spent all my retirement savings. I had nothing tangible to offer anyone or to capitalize a business of my own. I felt like a loser, wondered if I had ever heard anything from God, and had no idea what I was going to do to support my family and keep a roof over our heads. I submitted to my wife's urges to apply for a real job, and I took my "impressive" résumé to several major employers in town. I didn't even get a nibble, save one from a company that indicated they would not be able to meet my income requirements.

Through divine intervention, I met some key people - John, Bobby, Gary, Ronny - who together, formed a network of people that would change my life. So many people have been part of that network - Jay, Bob, Jimmy, Ray, Bob & Ellen, Dr. John - to name just a few. All I can say is thanks for adding so much to my life.

Over the course of a few weeks God was able to do this:
I transferred to a new broker/dealer with no out of pocket cost to me
My occupation and purpose got definition
I had a major emotional breakthrough in understanding that with God I cannot fail
I was offered an office, marketing support, and a business relationship at no apparent cost to me
My professional credentials were upgraded - again, no cost to me

From August to November I was able to generate more in personal income than I had made in all of 2005. I hardly worked in December and took the last 10 days of the year to concentrate on family and get recharged. I can hardly wait to get back to work. I truly love and am grateful for the work I do. I wish I could list all of the good things that happened this year, but I would lose a few people after the first 100 lines.

These things I know - “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
"And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

God will change a life that is willing. I am not a "man of great faith," nor am I anyone more special than anyone else is to God. But God is faithful, and He who has begun a good work in me will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6) Take an inventory of what God has been able to do with your life this past year, and be grateful for where He has taken you, where He has you, and where He is taking you. Realize you have everything you need already to let God take you beyond where you could ever hope or imagine. Believe that with God, nothing is impossible.

I wish you a very prosperous 2007 - spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Christmas Story from the Barrio

Back when I was just a muchacho, they passed a law from El Rey, Cesar Augustino, that all the barrios should be registered. So we all went to our hometowns, every vato to his own barrio.

Jose also went up from L.A. back to his barrio in Bethlehem to be registered with his prometida, Maria, who was embarazada. And while they were there, it came time for her to deliver, and she had the niňo, and wrapped him like a tamale, and laid him in the back of the carro, because there was no room at the motel.

Now in the same country, all us cholos were in our parking lot, showing our lowriders and hanging out in the night. And suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before us, and the glory of God was shining all around us, and we were big time freaked out. Then the angel said to us, “Calmate, vatos, don’t freak. Orale, I bring you buenas noticias of great joy which is for todos. Today, ese, in David’s barrio, was born a Savior, who is Cristo El Senor. And here’s how you know for sure: You will find the bebe wrapped in his ropa like a tamale, lying in the back of a ’57 Chevy.”

And suddenly the whole sky was full of grupos musicales, conjuntos, and Tejano bands with the angel, praising God, throwing gritas and singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward all people.” So when all the angels went back to heaven, the cholos said to each other, “Vamanos! Let’s all cruise to Bethlehem, and let’s check it out, what the Lord told us about.” And we burned rubber down there. We found Maria and Jose, and the bebe in the back of the lowrider.

When we saw Him, we all got on our cell phones and called all the gente and told them everything the angel said about the Bebe. And all the tias and mis compadres were freaked out and said, “Way cool, que suave, ese” about everything us cholos told them. Then we all cruised back to our barrios, throwing gritas, glorifying and praising God for all we had heard and seen, as it was told to us.

From the gospel according to Pauly, paraphrased from Luke 2:1-20

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Holiday Stress is all Relative

Is it just me, or is the holiday season (Thanksgiving through New Year's) extra-stressful because we "have" to be around people we don't really care to be around? I'm not talking about just co-workers or colleagues that make fools of themselves in social situations - I'm talking mainly about relatives, immediate or distant, that we never see or hear from all year, then suddenly they think it's OK to impose their dysfunctional lives, habits, and self-proclaimed genius on everyone else, no matter how obnoxious they may be.

There are certain types of people in the general public I just won't get very close to, trust, or allow to be a part of my life whenever they want to show up:
- drug addicts, alcohol abusers, and the chemically dependent
- thieves, liars, and the chronically obnoxious
- thugs, gangstas, and the generally-criminal in nature
- child abusers, wife beaters, and deadbeat parents

For the most part, I would never deny someone the benefit of the doubt, no matter how grievous their offense may seem to me, if they were seeking advice or help. I understand what a sinful and guilty person I have been, and am grateful for God's forgiveness. When I came to God, He forgave me and accepted me in my sinful state. He didn't wait until I cleaned up to accept me into His grace. I think anyone deserves the same forgiveness, and I try not to think of myself as better than anyone else. Consequently, I have many times reached out or opened my house, and been generous with forgiveness and even help for those who maybe didn't even deserve it.

I'm just trying to sort out my thoughts here...

How am I supposed to act/react/pro-act to someone who is loud, rude, obnoxious, or otherwise unwilling to hear any opinion, thought, or ideas other than from their own self-percieved wisdom? Is it really just my issue or perception? Do I need to adjust something here? Are there those that we should intentionally shun and not allow around us AT ALL? Is "FAMILY" more important than circumstances and uncomfortable situations? Do we entertain someone because "blood is thicker than water?" Maybe - just thinking.....

Any thoughts on this matter? Does anyone else feel this way? After all, it the holidays. Who are YOU entertaining?