A Love of Reading

I love to read. My reading journey is a beautiful story of a teacher’s love. A wonderful story of a summer that forever changed my life. Here we go.

I did not always love reading. It did not come naturally for me. Putting words together was very frustrating. But one summer, a neighbor and family friend made it her mission to help a young kid learn how to read. Not just to read, but come to love reading. That person was Mrs. Speir’s. She and her husband were both dedicated teachers. Mr. Speir’s looked like President Abraham Lincoln. This wonderful family lived two houses down from my parents. Their two daughters were great friends. That summer, Mrs.S took it upon herself to help increase my reading skills. So Monday through Friday, I would walk down to her house for tutoring. Mrs. S, knew I loved sports. She used that to her advantage. Upon arriving for tutoring each morning, Mrs. S would hand me the sports page and have me pick out an article. Mrs. S would then sit down with me and together we would read the article together. She was very patient as I struggled through the article. Mrs. S would always encourage me and let me know she believed in me. What a gift she had for shaping young minds. After reading the article, Mrs.S would have me explain what I had just read. Once again, she had a lot of patience. As the summer flew by, something amazing happened. Mrs. S did not have to sit with me as much. I began reading the articles on my own. I started sharing what the articles were about without Mrs. S prompting me. The words began jumping off the page. I found myself getting lost in the words. The stories became so real to me.

That summer literally changed my life. From that summer on, reading became a passion. I could not read enough books. They became a huge part of my childhood. I would escape into the stories as I read the words. That love of reading followed me into adulthood. I love to sit around with a good book and let the words flow. Nothing like a great book that puts you right in the middle of the story. I love a book that challenges me to be a better person. A book that ignites me to action. That is what reading can do for you. Reading can change your life.

I am so thankful Mrs. S took precious time out of her summer break, to help a young boy fall in love with reading. A side note, something that encouraged me to attend tutoring that summer was the chocolate covered frozen bananas that Mrs. S shared with me on many occasions.

I share this beautiful memory, to celebrate the amazing educators who go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of young people. I want each of you to know you matter. I would not be the man I am today without Mrs.S and all the amazing teachers that invested in me over the years. Thank You! ~OC

Need Some Hope?

As we walked into 2020, most of us were filled with Hope. Do you remember that? As we move into the summer of 2020, a lot of people are starting to lose hope. Just watch the news. Just scroll through social media. All we hear about is how hopeless things are in the world. But I am still hopeful. That’s right. I am still full of hope. Here are some friendly tips to start living a hopeful life again.

* Start limiting your intake of the news and social media.

*Watch one of your favorite movies.

*Read a book.

*Have a Zoom call with your friends.

*Go for a walk.

*Call a friend.

*Watch some old cartoons.

*Volunteer and give back.

*Watch videos of puppies.

*Watch some videos of soldiers coming home.

*Pray, Pray & Pray.

*Spend more time reading the Bible.

*Start a relationship with God or rededicate your life to God. By taking this simple step, your life will be filled with a type of Hope you have never experienced.

I hope you enjoyed some of the above tips. Hopefully they will give you some rest from all the negative news. Oh, but my prayer is that you will embrace God and have Him totally change your life. That is the ultimate Hope. ~OC

My Reading List

So many good books out right now. Here are a few I have read or currently reading:

Something Needs To Change by David Platt

Free Cyntoia by Cyntoia Brown-Long

The Final Race by Eric T. Eichinger

Me by Elton John

Wham! George Michael & Me by Andrew Ridgley

The Beautiful Ones by Prince

What Set Me Free by Brian Banks

~OC

Living Beyond My Limitations

Some days, I spend too much time focusing on my limitations. The things I can no longer do. I can no longer work. I have to depend on other people for rides. These days, I need other people to fill out my paperwork. I use a stamp to sign my name. These days, I need a voice amplifier to help me speak. I can no longer try and hit those Steven Tyler notes on Dream On. I realize, I will probably deal with more limitations as my crazy beautiful journey continues.

It would be very easy for me to get caught up in my present limitations. To focus on all that this health journey has taken from me. But what kind of life would that be? No, instead I choose to focus on all this journey has given me. What I can still do. Here are just a few things I can still do.

More Time for Prayer. Since I do not sleep much these days, I have so much time to pray for the needs of loved ones and complete strangers. I love praying.

Embrace Beautiful Interruptions. If you have been around me for a minute, you know I love beautiful interruptions. Those moments God blesses us with unexpected opportunities to encourage others. To listen to others. To help others. In the past, I may have been too busy to stop and notice those beautiful interruptions God was putting right in front of me.

Read. I have more time to read or listen to books these days. Most days, you will find me sitting in my recliner enjoying a good book. I love a good book.

Listening to Your Stories. Oh, how I love listening to other peoples stories. Finding out what amazing and sometimes not so amazing things they are facing. I just listen. Not to respond or fix. Just to listen. What an amazing honor that is for me.

Living A Life of Adventure. Today, I more time for adventure. Taking that last minute cruise. Jumping in the car with my wife and just driving until we find a place to stop. Making beautiful memories.

Encouraging Other. I can no longer go skydiving, but I can encourage someone else to take that adventure. I can no longer run, but I can help coach and encourage someone else to run their race.

I am sure there will be more days of dwelling on my limitations, but those days are becoming less and less. Today, I spend more time focusing on how much I can still do. ~OC

My Hero, The Hope Dealer

Last night, Laura and I had the honor of attending the first Inner City Innovators Gala to celebrate the young men who this amazing organization helps. It was also a time to celebrate one of my heroes Mr. Ricky Aiken. Let me tell you about my hero.

I met Ricky when he was about 14 or 15 years old. I was volunteering with a great organization Urban Youth Impact at the time. Ricky and I just hit it off. I think it was our mutual love for books and sports. You know God is real when he brings a Boston Celtics fan and a LA Lakers fan together. As happens in life, we lost contact for a brief period. When Ricky turned 18 we reconnected around his birthday. My wife had heard about Ricky and wanted to celebrate his birthday. Oh, did we celebrate. My wife had a blast taking Ricky shopping. I think Ricky might have been a little overwhelmed by Laura’s enthusiasm, but he indulged her. That day Ricky became Laura’s son. It is a relationship that has continued to grow throughout the years. Laura still loves celebrating Ricky’s birthday.

Back in 2015, one of Ricky’s friends was shot and killed. For Ricky that was the last straw. He could no longer sit around and watch his community be destroyed by gun violence. That is when Inner City Innovators was born. Ricky has become a leader in his community. A leader in his city. And I believe in time, a national leader. This from a young man labeled emotionally disabled by the educational system. How I wish the person who made that incorrect diagnosis could see Ricky now. To see the Man he has become. The Leader he has become. The Hope Dealer he has become.

I could go on and on about my godson and the man he has become. Laura and I are so proud of him. Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves when we see all that Ricky has accomplished in life. We are thankful God has blessed us with a front row sit. I pray that one day, Ricky will write a book and share his amazing story with the world. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to check out Inner City Innovators at http://www.innercityinnovators.org.

Current Reading List

I love to read. Reading is something I have been passionate about since I was a child. Here is my current reading list. These books are challenging me in so many ways.

The Color of Compromise: The Truth About The American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby.

Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice That Restores by Dominique DuBois Gilliard.

Southern White Ministers and the Civil Rights Movement by Elaine Allen Lechtreck.

Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Eric Mason.

I also just purchased a Bible that really discusses Social Issues called God’s Justice (NIV) by Zondervan. ~OC

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