Do You Worry About Missing Your Calling?

So here’s a question that I posted on Facebook:

Do you worry about missing your calling?

I hear from many people that they’d “just love to do x or y but it’s too late. I guess I missed my calling.”

College students and other young adults often find themselves anxious about “choosing wrong” or as one young adult and Catholic volunteer, Valerie, astutely writes:

I worry that I’ll be too selfish or closed to live it out. I guess I’m also sort of worried that I’ll be too wrapped up in myself and my own desires that I’ll miss His calling. Or that I won’t recognize it, or know how to do it properly. Or something.

Vocational discernment is a long too overlooked ministry in the Catholic church. People often report feeling disconnected to the church in general or that the church is “out of touch” or that priests and lay ministers who work for the church don’t understand the lives of “real people.”

I think they often have a point.

As a spiritual director and campus minister, I think this is my main job–to push the envelope and ask the question “Well, why the hell do you want to be a pharmacist anyway? What’s the motivation? How did you discover that you wanted to do that–and most importantly, how does it express who you are called to be more than what you are called to do?” We even do this a lot when we take students to community service projects and alternative breaks or even just a fun trip somewhere. Why does any of this matter? Where is God speaking to us in this experience?

All important questions and I’m at a think tank in Collegeville Minnesota this week at the Collegeville Institute discussing how we might more intentionally build communities of discernment in religious places.

What are your thoughts though? Do you worry about this and what do you think the church could help provide?

I’ll be awaiting your thoughts.

Video: Hearts Broken in Vanceburg

Here’s our video from our alternative break at Glenmary in Vanceburg, KY. I thought it would be appropriate since it talks of broken hearts—in a good way.

The trip renewed my energy for ministry (many of my colleagues can’t understand how I wasn’t exhausted by week’s end). And I now have a special bond with those who shared the experience.

Throughout the week our students have crosses that we ask them to wear, but more importantly, we ask them to give away those crosses to “someone that they see Jesus in.” Sometimes that’s a client at one of the places we serve. Sometimes it’s a random stranger or a service worker at a food bank (who received mine last year).

I love the part of the video at the end where our student leader, Megan, gives her cross to Abby, one of the farm managers who really ran the show for us throughout the week. Their embrace was one of the many images of the trip that I really was able to sit and reflect about and which has brought me much peace.

I didn’t get a cross to give away on this trip. Truth be told, we forgot to order a few extra for the leaders. However, Vineet, who has been one of the students who has been active at St. Joe’s this semester stopped me after prayer one night and gave me his cross. I never imagined that this would happen and was incredibly touched by it. I haven’t taken it off. I might even call my lawyer and tell him that in case of an accident I should be buried with it.

Experiences like this mean much to me as a minister. It gives me an opportunity to introduce people to prayer and reflection in a new context–one that they’re a bit more open to and that they engage with. It’s a short term commitment with hopefully long-term implications.

The experience of praying with other Christians also meant much to me this time. And I’m hoping to continue that this semester and take students to visit other churches and learn how much there is that unites us.

A big thanks to Walter Plummer and Abby Carty of Glenmary Farm for taking such good care of us throughout the week.

Rebirths on Birthdays

My friend Chris turned 30 and got depressed. We both worked in radio and while it’s a fine occupation, one can begin to wonder what difference that last show really made in people’s lives. Ask anyone who works with the public and they’ll tell you that people don’t call when you’re doing well and tell you how great things are. They instead call when they are annoyed and often Chris would be the fielder of those calls with me picking up his slack.

He was at a crossroads and for Chris, an upcoming promotion would indeed change his career, something us men define ourselves by all too often. Turning thirty was his re-birth into a greater way of life. I trailed him by a mere year or so, if memory serves. But at 30, I left my radio career behind for ministry and I never looked back. Besides a wonderful marriage and the love of a loyal dog my career has hinged on two web-ministry ventures, a semi-rebuilt Campus Ministry and a book with one on the way.

Recently, I’ve felt called to do more with spiritual direction, and specifically with those folks who are in transition at a young age–those looking for rebirth in their lives. I’ve been blessed to do this with university students, recent graduates, Catholic volunteers and a random older parishioner or two. Some days I’m challenged by them, wondering if their darkness will ever lift and why God doesn’t seem to lift their dread. Most days, grace abounds and we’re able to God working in our lives clearly and abundantly. And all days, regardless of desolation or consolation, I am simply blessed by the lives of these people. It is a privileged position that I have to sit and listen–and listen carefully. Some are asked to repeat an important line to bring it more into their consciousness, so as to witness to God’s love and life exhaling from their lips. It is there that we find grace in noticing, noticing our life and God’s love for us embedded somewhere in it–perhaps so deep within that it went unnoticed until that very moment where the lightning of grace strikes.

It seems to me that this is what a birthday should really focus on. We are not merely a year older, nor a step closer to death–two inevitabilities, we realize right off, of course. Rather, we are also entering a rebirth. An opportunity to find grace, notice it and move into life–more abundant life and to have it to the full. Where will this year take us? Where are we feeling reborn in our careers, our relationships, our life in conversation with Christ? Where will God call us and will we be willing to answer “yes” or “not now”? Who brings us into this abundant life and do we show them overflowing gratitude?

St. Ignatius would call this the search for the Magis, the greater, and a birthday for me, is an opportunity to look for just what that is in my life. The truth is that I really am becoming more generative as I age, I give back a bit more to others as a mentor now, than ever before. To do this, I also need to stay current and invest in new ventures for myself–being gutsy to try new things and open to God’s grace to witness to something new. Often it’s not for the feint of heart, finding myself amongst donated human cadavers, in the heat of Nicaragua’s summer, playing with refugee children, or simply living amidst the sacred and the secular on a state University’s campus and finding where religion is both neglected and openly welcomed.

Turns out most days, my life is quite exciting. And yet, the prospect of sitting and listening to others and noticing where they are and where they’ve been is where I find myself most joyful. Whether that’s as a ministry mentor for others like myself or a spiritual director with the young or as a writer, hoping to bring some inspiration where times are gloomy–it is all grace and peace and stillness and a great time to rejoice in what life God has given to us all.

So today, I ask for prayers for me on my 42nd birthday. That I may always be open to what God has in store for me. The number 42 is the number worn by Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in major league baseball. Robinson, may not have been the best player in the Negro Leagues, but he was called to take on the hatred of early racism, even from his own teammates. He flew around basepads and was able to bring an entire race of people into a new and wonderful life, filled with a bit more freedom than they had before. Nobody in baseball can wear that number now (unless it was issued to them before it was retired. I believe Yankee reliever Mariano Rivera is the lone wearer of #42 now in MLB).

May we all have the grace to stand up for justice despite what may befall us for our stance or where it might lead us. May we be willing to hear God’s voice in our lives and not harden our hearts in bitterness. Rather, may we take time for quiet to hear the gentle whisper of Christ calling us to listen to our hearts, to the plight of the poor and to be fed with the gift of grace.

Homeless or Hungry?

I was asking around for someone to speak to our students about the issues surrounding homelessness last year and so I thought I’d ask one of my favorite volunteers, Anna, to talk about this because she worked at a local food pantry.

Her response, reminded me of a simple fact:

“Mike, I don’t work with people who are homeless. I work with people who are hungry.”

And there I was…making a huge assumption. Not everyone who uses a food pantry is homeless. A colleague in campus ministry even reminded me that they had set up a campus food pantry for any students who were in need. She recalled, “You’d be surprised at how often people would come—and they weren’t Joe College trying to save a buck on shopping. These were students who were desperately in need of a meal.”

So what other assumptions do we make about the poor? Some think they are lazy, or ignorant. Some think that they don’t have homes or families. Some think that it’s all there fault that they have ended up this way.

I remember working at a homeless banquet at St Paul the Apostle in Manhattan many years ago. The number of elderly people who came through that place was astounding. Clearly just people who ran out of money at the end of the month. They reminded me of family members and were good conversationalists around the table. They are often the hidden statistics that we never see–or just don’t want to admit that we do see them.

Today let us pray for those who go hungry–and for those who serve them. as I work in the food pantry in Vanceberg this week, I’ll be sure to remind myself of the people who will get this food and remember that they are filled with human dignity and that I can’t assume a thing about them.

One Young Adult’s Experience of Finding a Church…Can you Relate?

Mary Donovan summed up what I’ve come to know as “the Church Search” trying to find a community that’s a good fit for one’s self. If find older people at times wondering why no young people are in their pews. Oftentimes, it’s because for younger people church has a different context.

Check out some of Mary’s thoughts:

I’ve been church shopping for more than three years now. I’m not much of a shopper so it’s getting tiring, but I’m not about to give up. I’m choosey: I want good music, a diverse and accepting community, a priest who consistently gives relevant and challenging homilies, and a church culture that embraces social justice. I’ve found churches that have some of the things on my list, but finding all of them in one place has proven to be a challenge.

Now full disclosure, I know Mary. She was one of the volunteers in our diocese’s Catholic Charities Volunteer Service Corps last year. I encouraged her to start writing for Busted Halo® and she attended a retreat I ran last year as well. She’s even come to my parish on occasion. And you can bet your last buck that I’ll be taking her to lunch to talk further about her search and what we’re not doing right in our parish (if anything).

But I love the things she points out as being elements of a church she really wants and I really appreciated the fact that she pointed out what keeps her from church:

– not having a ride
– not seeing young families
– student masses that only connect with campus life and leave us unchallenged

And when she hasn’t been able to go to a church–how does she stay engaged spiritually?

Volunteering, having meaningful conversations about spirituality, learning about different spiritual traditions, going on retreats, and sticking with my already established spiritual practices kept me connected to God even without a church to call home and on the weeks I didn’t attend church.

Sounds like she does much more than the average person who punches their mass clock each week and lumbers out unreflectively. And that should tell us all something.

Younger people want more out of their experience on Sunday. They want to be engaged, they want to understand, they want to be challenged to take that next step. They want time to think and consider in quiet contemplation and be moved and they want the rousing engaged community to go forth from that place renewed by the spirit together to create change in a sometimes and all too often broken world.

And that’s my job to try to create that. Most days I think we do a good job. But I know I get too easily disappointed by the lack of younger people in pews everywhere–here included—and we’re not doing all that bad from what we hear from the young people who are engaged here. I shudder to think what goes on elsewhere.

So thanks, Mary. Lunch or dinner is on me. Let’s keep the conversation going.

And anyone else…let’s chat.

Refugees in a 9-11 World

BustedHalo has a great story up on a Catholic Volunteer’s experience working with refugees last year. Full disclosure: I was one of her support people. Her experience can teach us all a thing or two about what they face when they come here and how we are called to welcome the stranger.

Early on in my work with refugees, a woman from Burma came to get assistance applying for her two daughters and husband to join her in the United States. She told me she was very sad without her family. It made her sick to her stomach, and she thought she made a mistake leaving without them. The woman was about the age of my mother, and her older daughter was only a year younger than me. She could apply for her husband and younger daughter, but not the older daughter since, without permanent residency, you cannot apply for a child who is 21 or older.

I thought of my own mother and how it is to be away from her. I live a 13-hour car drive away from home and I know what it’s like to be alone in a new city, but not in the way a refugee is alone in a new city. Though I could relate to this woman, my desire to be closer to my family must be small compared to hers. And unlike her, it was my choice to move away from my family.

Ariana, playing with student volunteers from UB
Read the entire article and learn. Here in Buffalo we are taking on the President’s interfaith service challenge and our focus is on Refugees in a Post 9/11 world. We met a number of children who are housed at Vive la Casa which is the largest refugee shelter in the United States. Their stories, a fraction of what their families have faced are indeed harrowing. Arianna, a 5 year old who befriended me and made me answer a lot of questions (How old do you think I am? What do you think my sister’s name is?) told me that she misses her dad who is in Uganda. “But I’m Canadian! I was born there. But my two sisters were born here and my Mom and Dad were born in Uganda!” I can’t imagine the immigration nightmare that her family must go through and the fact that they now live at Vive makes me wonder how soon it will ever get figured out so that they might all be together again.

Today, let us pray for refugees, who flee their land in haste to find safety on our shores. May we care for them as our own and lovingly bring them peace.

21 Questions to Ponder

So Dan Horan honored my new publisher, Mike Leach, by answering 21 questions that he had answered on his own blog. So I decided to follow suit with my own answers to the aforementioned 21 Questions.

1) Mike, how are you an average Catholic?
I think I have my own frustrations and things I like and dislike about the church and liturgy. Mostly, I think I try to live a faithful life the best I most people do.

2) What is your favorite word?
Chihuahua. Mostly because I have an unhealthy obsession with my dog. But I’ve always thought it was a fun word.

3) What is your least favorite word?
Poverty. Too many people are judged by their economic status.

4) What sound or noise do you love?
A tie between a saxophone and a violin.

5) What sound or noise do you hate?
Someone whining for no reason.

6) What is your favorite book?
I can’t pick one. A recent one is Tattoos of the Heart by Greg Boyle. He really captured the inner-city and the gang members he’s served so well. Native Son by Richard Wright was one I loved in High School. Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt is another one that I love since my dad is from Ireland, even though the Irish hate it.

7) Do you have a particular Catholic role model?
My father. He’s always lived his faith through simple works for others. He was a school custodian, now retired, but was always serving the needs of others with a smile on his face. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word “complaint.” On his 80th birthday, he offered the following quip: “God doesn’t owe me a thing!” That’s a truly faith-filled person and I wish I were more like him.

8) What is your favorite movie?
I really liked 500 Days of Summer recently. Another recent movie is “Once” about two musicians who become each other’s muse. I’m a big Pixar fan. Monsters Inc and Up were two of my favorites. Older movies are Hoosiers, Fantasia, A Few Good Men, On the Waterfront and The Sound of Music.

9) What music is in your car disc-player right now?
I usually just listen to NPR honestly. (How boring am I?) But I have a Dave Brubeck Jazz CD in there now.

10) What TV shows do you watch regularly?
How I Met Your Mother is a big favorite. Friday Night Lights was the best show I’ve seen in ages. A shame they couldn’t find a time slot.
The Office, The Big Bang Theory, Rules of Engagement, 30 Rock, Mad Men. I also often watch shows like Seinfeld, Sports Night and the West Wing in reruns.
I also play Mystery Science Bachelorette with my wife and her friends on Mondays and like the occasional game show.

11) What did you want to be when you grew up?
A major league baseball broadcaster. Came close. I covered the World Series for NPR and WOR and WFAN. I was a regular beat guy for the home games of both New York teams but I really wanted to do play by play for the Mets. I miss sitting in the press box but not much else.

12) How old were you when you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up?
28. Ha! That’s when I realized that radio and sports wouldn’t ultimately satisfy me and I examined what I really liked about my life and the retreat I ran were at the top of that list. I got lucky merging my media and ministry skills together at Busted Halo.

13) What do you like most about what you are doing now?
What don’t I like is a shorter answer. I like being the chaplain at the med school and doing spiritual direction with the Catholic Volunteers of Buffalo and doing FACET inventories with engaged couples with my wife, which I consider young adult ministry. Retreats are always a favorite thing for me.

14) Have you ever said something or done something that was outside the boundaries of Church rules because you knew it was the right thing?
When my friend Patrick was dying, I visited him and when I was about to leave he asked me for “my blessing” as one would properly ask a priest or deacon. I originally refused but then saw how disappointed he was going to be and how he really needed to be comforted. So I laid my hands on him and gave him The Irish Blessing. I knew it was the right thing to do, pastorally speaking and I think God is OK with it too. Hey, we say God bless you when someone sneezes.

15) Have you ever not said something or not did something because you were afraid you might get in trouble with the Church?
I’m sure I have. The one that sticks out for me is from my younger days. I suspected that a parish priest was a predator but never saw him do anything to anyone or to me. He nuzzled his head on my shoulder once after he had a one glass of wine too many when I was about 16 and my spidey-sense tingled. Turns out he was in fact a predator. I’m not sure if he abused any of our parishioners but he had done a lot to other boys in another place. I wish I had the guts to have said at least that I thought he was a bit inappropriate back then.

16) Do have any regrets in life?
Hurting friends, not calling and caring for my parents all that well sometimes. I hurt a high school friend pretty badly once and felt terrible about it. We patched it up but it was one of those moments that you just can’t take back.

17) What is the spiritual idea that keeps you going?
Communion. That we are united with the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper and with every person who has ever received communion. God literally unites us in the Eucharist and reminds us that we are all made for unity with God and each other. I’d also say gratitude is one that keeps me going daily.

18) What idea do you think is the most important idea right now for the Church to be talking about?
The power of forgiveness. We tend to harbor resentments which only leads to more violence. Liberals and conservatives need to get past the back-biting and begin to unite in whatever way they can. I’m pretty good at that, listening to both sides and understanding their point of view and then living in the dynamic tension of agreeing and disagreeing with some but remaining in the family.

19) What life advice would you give to a young person if she asked you?
God is guiding you to happiness and fulfillment if you just bother to pay attention to what brings you life each day. I’d also suggest that they do the Ignatian examen daily.

20) What brings you joy?
My dog! It’s amazing how much I’ve learned from this animal but he’s taught me to live with boundless joy, to rejoice with every meal, to run to a door to greet those I love and to forgive without question or holding onto resentment.

21) What are you most looking forward to?
My 10th wedding anniversary in April 2012, the upcoming semester and completing my second book. It’s going to be a great year.

Mike Leach’s blog is coming to an end, so check him out before he goes away.

Can You Walk on Water?

Today’s gospel is the incredible story of Peter beginning to walk on water only to become afraid at the first gust of wind and begin to sink until Jesus catches him (and presumably rolls his eyes).

There’s a little bit of Peter in each one of us.

Fr. James Keenan, SJ, a great author and an old friend from Fordham once told me the story of one of his classes where he asked a group of High School boys what would be the “proper” reaction if they had thrown a no-hitter and then a respected adult came up to them and told them how great an accomplishment it was.

One young man provided the answer that Fr. Keenan suspected that they’d say.

“Oh go on! It wasn’t THAT good.”

“The proper response,” said Fr. Keenan, “is ‘Thank you!'”

I never forgot that story and it’s always helped me be gracious and help in building self-esteem. Many of our first reactions to praise is an unnecessary humbleness. For some, it may also be an inflated grandiosity as well.

The truth is that God thinks we all walk on water. We all can be Peter. In fact, it would be shameful if we were not “at least Peter.” Because Peter always fails the test, at least the first time out. At one point Jesus reveals his new name “Rock” to him which doesn’t just mean a firm foundation. Some say that he may have meant it sarcastically, and that he was saying that Peter “had rocks in his head!”

Still he built this church on a guy who was just a bit “rocky.”

Last week I reported that the Catholic volunteers called me a Superhero, for my work with them this year. I was quite honored, but if I’m honest, my first reaction was to humbly state that I was not deserving of such praise. They even hint at my humbleness by saying that a statue of me would be much too much! (If only they asked I would have given the go-ahead!)

The truth is that superheroes are much like our saints. Ordinary people who do extraordinary things. They simple become all that they are, nothing more but more importantly, nothing less.

The wisdom in today’s gospel is that Jesus tells Peter that he has the power to walk on water. And he starts to, but at the first sign of trouble Peter doesn’t think he can handle it all and so, he sinks. When others tell us that we are good, do we believe them? Or do we literally push ourselves down and say “Nah, I’m not so good?”

Jesus always sees us as the best version of who we are. It is what he hopes we can be and what he knows we can be as well. He looks at us as if we were Superheroes. People who can do the impossible….

Like walk on water.

But Jesus also knows that there is a bit of Peter in us as well. We all get it wrong, be it under-confidence (Save me, Lord!) or over-confidence (Get behind me, Satan!). And so, Jesus will always be there to catch us when we fall and to tell us that we have rocks in our head each time we fail to believe in ourselves.

Our students are returning to campus soon. This week I pray for them that they might be confident in their studies and courage to become all that they are. May they find the place that God is calling them and answer that call with vigor and confidence.

And may the rest of us be able to be Christ for them when they are sinking and be gracious to all those who do that for us as well.

10 Things I’m Praying About This Week

So I’ve been particularly introspective this week. There’s much going on and lots of work to be done. And so I pray–because I need to and because I just have to vent sometimes to someone outside of this blog and my friends, families and colleagues. In the stillness of the late night when the dog quietly sleeps on my lap and my wife’s head nods in her living room chair, I begin my litany of calls and responses. I voice a feeling and ask for assistance. May the Lord make haste to help me.

1) I’m missing the Catholic Volunteers already. And they haven’t even left yet.
It’s been a wonderful roller-coaster ride with them this year as one of their support people. Lord, continue to guide them on their journey and bring me the peace that their love gives to me. Help me support next year’s volunteers and make them as hard to let go of as this year’s crop is.

2) The students are returning. And I’m excited. I’ve been going to first year student orientations already. Met a few incredibly nice students and a lot of people who are asking when mass is. I pray that I can help them find the gifts that they already are to the world.

3) Greg Coogan is leaving Buffalo. Greg’s the coordinator of young adult ministry in this diocese. He’s been one of my favorite colleagues and he held my hand through the early jitters on this job and taught me the ropes of connecting with faculty and students. We had a great collaboration together working on Charis Retreats. I pray that he has similar successes in Camden where he heads to be the director of youth and young adult ministry for the diocese.

4) The new parish website is gaining steam. I’ve completed a good deal of the new parish website project. Soon it will have a very new look and a bunch of off-site blog pages for more frequent updates. It’s been a bear of a project and I pray…Oh Lord, I pray…that it is complete soon.

5) Did I mention that I miss the Catholic Volunteers already? I pray that Anna finds a wonderful new life in North Carolina. That Nick allows himself to shine in whatever role he chooses to fulfill in life. That Ian continues to be the ears for those who are voiceless and that Helen enjoys graduate school and lets someone else do the cooking for at least a month! Leigh and Cameron head to Law School. May their love of justice make them the lawyers that I know they can be. I also hope they fall in love with the South once again but don’t forget us Yankees. Margaret is going to study nearby to be a teacher. Her gift of caring for her students and feeling for others along with her enthusiasm and tenacity for life is to be cherished.
And Mary heads to Catholic Charities in Maine but begins her writing career in earnest (hopefully at BustedHalo). Her love for justice and spirituality are going to be central to that writing career. I pray she can develop that gift and become a true voice of passion for many.

6) Book #2: 4 chapters down (sorta) and 2-3 more to go. I’m enjoying writing this book on career choice. It’s something that I thought I had a lot to say about years ago. I realize that I have a lot more to say about it now. I pray that I can speak God’s words that help people discover all that they are and all that the can be and that they can find their place in the world.

7) I have a wonderful new campus ministry colleague. Julianne Wallace is coming to work with me here at St. Joe’s. I just know she’ll be wonderful. I’m so excited to work alongside her. She might even teach me to carry a tune (something I haven’t been able to do with regularity since the age of 12). I pray that we continue with a wonderful collaboration and friendship for years to come.

8) Economic woes. For the country as we face this debt ceiling crisis. I pray that cooler heads prevail and may people realize that higher taxes for the rich isn’t exactly a dumb idea.

9) UB’s 15th President: Satish Tripathy is the new President of UB. May God grant him wisdom and bring him much peace.

10) My family. My wife is a glorious reminder to me of all that is right with the world. Our dog simply loves us and reminds us how to forgive and simply relish in each other’s presence. Our extended family also reminds us of the dedication we all need to have for one another. Today I pray that I always remember the gifts they have all been to me and I that I can always honor them with my life.

Did You Know That I Am A Superhero?

Apparently, others do.

This week begins the slow wind-down for the Catholic Charities Volunteer Service Corps here in Buffalo. Marion and I have served as the support couple for the Black Rock house and even got close with the 2nd house, Hamlin House. It’s a tough time for us as we are all a mix of sadness in seeing them leave and excitement for their bright futures.

The Black Rock House had Marion and I and Donna over their house for dinner and a discussion on the community’s experiences this year. At the end of the night they gave each of us a small token.

Now I’ve gotten great gifts before: a gold watch, a CD player, a dog! But this one ranks pretty high up there on my list of favorite all time gifts. It may rank just behind that dog of mine and definitely tops the charts on the “home-made gifts.

What is it?

Take a gander…

They gave me this home-made comic book that portrays me as Campus-Minister-by-day-Super-Hero-by-Night. They point out that “Mike” is really a hero during the day when he’s “helping people believe in themselves, grow in their relationships with God and strive to become better people.”

The last page of the book chokes me up every time. The Black Rock house is trying to think of a way to thank their superhero. And so…

“They each gave a piece of themselves to a little story; the piece that Mike affected the most. Everyone forgot that although Mike is a great, helpful person, their own stories were the ones that he was trying to help create.”

On my office door I have a saying that Henri Nouwen once said:

“My greatest vocation is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch.”

My favorite glimpses this year are named Helen, Anna, Nick and Ian.

I may write 20 more books over the course of my lifetime, but I am sure that this one will always be my favorite. Thanks to Anna Waz, Nick Richter, Helen Obineme and Ian Grogan along with Donna Nichols and my lovely wife Marion for being such a great group of people to help guide this year and even better friends.