The Seed of Hope

A gift for tomorrow

Viewing by month: April 2009

You Get What You Give

I’m sitting here reflecting on one of the team members in our hair salon. This individual has so much God-given talent, but won’t put forth the effort to use it. So I’m aggravated and I need to vent! I try to refrain from speaking in anger (I’m afraid I’ll say something that I can’t take back.), but I’m going to make an exception this time. I’m gonna start typing and we’ll see what happens…..

 

I’m aware of the fact that the majority of the posts made on this site are about faith. I don’t apologize for that fact. I’ve told you before, everything that I do in life points back to God. I AM a Christian. But I’m also a business man. There is a side of me that wants to be successful, that wants MORE, of whatever it is….money, material things, good food, and good times. I want these things, but they aren’t the driving forces in my life; serving God is first, wife Jackie is second, and my personal needs are next.

 

So if I’ve ever presented myself to you as being more than just a regular guy, I want to apologize to you and set the record straight. I’m just like you…..trying to make it in life the best way I can; as long as it’s the right way. 

 

It’s never easy.

 

Okay, you’ve probably heard it a thousand times, in one version or the other, that “nothing good in life comes easy”. You can apply this adage to most every facet of your life….relationships, money, and of course, faith. Though I’m certainly no expert in any area, I want to briefly talk about all three.

 

Relationships

 

This past Wednesday, April 22nd, Jackie and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard through the years that we are the “perfect couple”. I don’t believe in perfection, but I have to tell you, our marriage is rock solid.

 

We work together, side by side, five days a week, and have done so since before we were married. When we’re away from the salon, we’re together 90% of the time. You get the idea, right? We’re “joined at the hip!” And we’re still best friends….this neither a coincidence nor an accident.

 

Funny thing is, when it comes to hobbies, interests, time management, and use of free time, Jackie and I are polar opposites! That’s not to say that we don’t have anything in common. We obviously have a lot in common, the most important thing being that we’re committed to one another, and to our marriage.

 

Thing is, Jackie and I don’t work on our marriage; we work on our relationship. We value each others opinion. We’re grateful for each others strengths, and rely on those strengths in areas that we have weaknesses. We help each other to grow, in terms of being a better person. In fact, we push one another to be better. Lastly, we take neither our relationship nor our marriage for granted. We know that we’re never promised tomorrow.

 

Money

 

I guess I could have titled this section CAREER, but the reason that the majority of us choose a career is to make money, right? Thus the title….and speaking of money, let me say this: I agree that money isn’t everything, but it sure beats the heck out of not having it!

 

Jackie and I will have been in the salon business together for 20 years in October. During that time I have seen quite a few talented people come and go. I’ve been filled with regret to see a few of them leave, and conversely, I’ve been relieved to see others walk out the door. Want to know why? Before I answer that one, here’s another question for you:

 

Which is a greater tragedy? The individual born with no talent at all or the individual that chooses not use a natural gift, or ability?

 

I know that I’m answering a question with a question, but why is it that some people feel that they’re “entitled” to something? A college degree…a title…a cute face…a handsome face…being the son-daughter-friend-acquaintance of someone, are not entitlements. Granted, any of the above may open doors, but they will only take you so far. At some point, you have to be accountable for who you are, what you do, and how you do it.

 

I’ve seen people with average talent become extremely successful. On the other hand, I’ve seen extremely gifted people fall woefully short of their potential. Why? They wanted to be successful, but weren’t willing to make a commitment for that success.

 

Faith

 

I’d like to tell you that practicing my faith has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I’d like to tell you that practicing my faith has been one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. What I am going to tell you is that practicing my faith has been both.

 

Some may define “practicing faith” as going to church on Sunday, offering a blessing before meals, or reading the Bible. All of these are good, because each example brings an awareness of God into one’s life.

 

I used to do all those things (and still do), but what I’m talking about is more than that…..

 

Here’s the challenging aspect: I’m talking about going after God with all that is in you. I’m talking about putting everything else in your consciousness on the back burner and putting God in the forefront of your life, trying to live your life in a manner that would please Him….not merely knowing His commandments, but living them (ALL of them), praying when you don’t feel like it, letting go of the wheel and letting Him lead you….asking Christ to have a relationship with you (knowing that He’s with each day brings a new level of accountability in life).

 

I wasn’t accustomed to doing all of these things, so integrating them into my daily life was a tall order for me; like I said, it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. Perhaps the most difficult of all was in believing that changing my walk in life would truly change my life.

 

Here’s the easy part:

 

When I got a taste of having God in my life every day…. when I felt the presence of Christ in my life….when I felt Him come alive in me….when I realized that having Him in my life made my relationship with Jackie better….when I let Him have my career…..

 

I know that I’m rambling, but I’m having a hard time describing exactly what has happened to me….putting Christ in my life gave me a sense of being complete. It is that completeness that drives me to know Him more and more each day.

 

When all is said and done…..

 

I’ve come full circle to repeat what I said at the beginning of this post: nothing good in life comes easy. If you only put 50% of your talent, energy, and effort into whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, how can you possibly expect to get more than 50% in return?

 

If you want that relationship to last, treasure it, nurture it, and never take it for granted. Like so many things in life, if you lose it, you may never get it back.

 

If you have a special gift or talent in a certain field of endeavor, please don’t waste it. There are so many people in the world that would love to have a fraction of the talent that has been given to you.

 

You want to experience the love, comfort, joy, strength, and enlightenment that comes with having a relationship with Christ? Do you think that I’ve got the market cornered on God? I don’t. All of this is waiting for you.

 

Don’t just look to Him. Don’t just walk towards Him. Drop what you are doing and run to Him with all that is in you! He will welcome you with open arms. And I promise you that you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 04/26/2009 at 11:22 PM | Categories: Life -

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Have you ever agreed to participate in an event, a class, or a dinner party and not known why you did so in the first place? And as the time for this particular function drew closer and closer, did you question your decision to attend more and more? If you’ve done this before, you can rest assured in knowing that you’re not the only one who has!

 

A month ago I signed up to attend a men’s retreat (Catalyst) hosted by The Church of the Highlands, a non-denominational church located here in Birmingham. The day after I registered I began questioning why I had done so. My thinking was that after all the epiphanies I’ve been fortunate enough to have in the past couple of years, there couldn’t be many more left for me to have.

 

But I’ll tell you, I’ve learned not to question when God steers me in a certain direction or down a certain path. I figured that God planted the idea in my head for me to go to this thing, and that’s exactly what I was gonna do!

 

My friend Steve McGee and I rode together, and on the way there, I told him that I was going with no specific expectations for the weekend. That way, if I didn’t have any “aha” moments, I wouldn’t come away disappointed.

 

I wasn’t.

 

I came away from that retreat with several memorable moments, and today I want to share my thoughts about one of them with you.

 

There were four different “sessions” held during the course of the weekend. It’s the third one, on Saturday night, that I want to tell you about today.

 

Saturday night’s speaker was Layne Schranz, the Director of Student Ministries at Highlands. Layne talked about completeness in life, serving God’s church, and the Holy Spirit.

 

I’m not sure in which order I want to proceed from this point on. I think that I’ll   talk about the past to “set the table” for telling you about the present.

 

When I was the fourth grade I received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic Church; that is to say, I received the gift of The Holy Spirit. In preparing to be Confirmed, we studied the Holy Spirit….what He was, who He was, and how His presence would make us stronger Catholics ( if I’m off the mark this one a bit, you’ll have to forgive me….it’s only been 48 years since I was confirmed!).

 

The day came, and it was a huge event at the church, and I was confirmed. I remember thinking “I don’t feel any different. I certainly don’t feel stronger, or braver, and I certainly don’t feel the Holy Spirit in me. Maybe I missed something.” I scanned the faces of my classmates to see if any of them looked any different. They all looked the same as before and of course I was too embarrassed to actually ask if they felt different! And that’s how I received the Holy Spirit 48 years ago.

 

Through my adolescent, teen, and adult years I never forgot about the Holy Spirit. The Sign of the Cross is used frequently in the Catholic Church to open and close prayers. The verbiage used in making The Sign of the Cross is In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. So for me there was always an awareness of the Holy Spirit by name, if nothing else.

 

When I began this spiritual walk a few years ago, I became more aware of the Holy Spirit. Actually, the awareness came from other people. In 2007 I began making presentations for REDKEN (the hair care company), and at some point in each one I would make a reference to my faith, giving God the credit for our success. After each of those presentations at least one person would inform me that the Holy Spirit was definitely working in and through me, giving me the courage and boldness to openly profess my faith. Since I didn’t know what the Holy Spirit felt like, I could only agree with them.

 

As my faith got stronger, as my feelings for God became deeper, as my relationship with Christ began evolving, life became more of a challenge. Let me rephrase that: living my life the way I wanted to, walking the walk of a true Christian, became a challenge. It was a challenge because the devil would do everything he could to thwart my efforts, and I was determined not to let him.

 

Each morning during meditation and prayer I began asking to receive the wisdom of the Father, the compassion of the Son, and the strength of the Holy Spirit. And I continued to move forward on my path, always pushing, never letting up. Along the way, God’s presence within me grew stronger and stronger, as did my willingness to share my faith with others..

 

The Call

 

Near the end of the Saturday night session Layne extended an invitation to take part in a Baptism of The Holy Spirit. Still plagued by my childhood inhibitions at 56, I was too embarrassed to ask just what that meant! I assumed that it was something akin to my Confirmation, so at first I was gonna decline the invitation. But then I recalled the fact that when I was confirmed in the fourth grade, I really didn’t understand what it meant. And it wasn’t a voluntary act….I was told that I was going to be confirmed. Period. And I was.

 

This time” I thought, “I’m going to make a conscious decision to receive the Holy Spirit. I’m going to welcome Him into my heart and ask Him to give me strength, comfort, and peace of mind.”

 

Standing among the other men that had opted to participate, I asked to receive the Holy Spirit with such fervor that today I can recall neither Layne’s words nor any of my own during those few minutes. And then it was over. I stood there, with my eyes closed, taking an inventory of my feelings. I didn’t feel any stronger, braver, or wiser. But I did feel more at peace.  

 

As the session came to an end, Layne offered his assurances that every participant in that room would indeed feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. It may not be at that moment, or that week, or even that month, but at some point, each of our lives would be impacted by that night.

 

Since the retreat…..

 

It’s been three weeks since Catalyst, since I received the Holy Spirit. I have to tell you, there have been a lot of changes in my life in those three short weeks. These changes have been internal, not anything visible to the naked eye. I don’t know exactly how to describe these changes…..

 

The fire of spiritual passion that drives me to know more about God and to “walk the walk” burns hotter than ever, yet it doesn’t consume me. Determination is tempered by patience. Wisdom is guided by insight. I believe, without any doubt, that I am following the path that God laid out for me. There is just a knowing….

 

I told you a month or so ago that I considered myself blessed that my life is so “comfortable”. That comfort isn’t a result of my life being that easy; I’m a husband, father, grandfather, son, mentor, and co-owner of a business with 14 employees trusting me with their careers. That comfort is the result of the Trinity…. the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in and around me.

 

We all need Him.

 

I was thinking this morning, that with the world being the way it is, we could all use the comfort of the Holy Spirit. So many of us are troubled by financial burdens, job layoffs, mental stress, doubt, and raising our children, just to name a few. I can’t recall a time when so many things were wrong all at once.

 

The next time that you are in prayer, why don’t you ask to be filled by the Holy Spirit? You don’t have to recite a certain prayer. In your own words, ask Him with all that is in you to be filled with His strength, comfort, and peace. I urge that you ask to receive the gift of His spirit each time you are in prayer. You will be amazed at what He will give you in return!

 

 

Contact me: sam@theseedofhope.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 04/19/2009 at 10:32 PM | Categories: Faith -

Thank You

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

 

Okay, I’m aware that today isn’t Monday. It’s just that sometimes there are thoughts that I want to share with you, and I often forget about them, either because I didn’t think they were very significant, or because I just forgot to do it! Besides, there’s no rule that says I have to wait until Monday!

 

I want to talk to you about sharing; not me sharing what I have with you, but you sharing what you have with me.

 

There are a few of you that have sent verses from the Bible to support some of the topics that I write about. Some of you have posted comments or sent e-mails citing your own experiences regarding some of the posts that I’ve made, and others have taken the time just to say thanks for openly sharing even my deepest thoughts.

 

And I have to tell you….AWESOME catches up with me each time I hear from one of you!

 

Some of you are aware of the fact that I just started reading the Bible just over a year ago. A few of you have steered me to a chapter and verse specific to a particular post, and each time it has served in strengthening my walk and made me hungry to learn even more.

 

Much of what I pass along to you comes from the minds and mouths of others, sometimes through books, but most often through conversations with people I meet in life; people like you.

 

And as far as thanking me for sharing…..look, this site is one of the passions of my life. God is the passion in my life, and talking about Him is what I enjoy most. So I want to thank you for visiting this site and for allowing me to share my spiritual journey with you!

 

I look forward to hearing from you…yes, you.

 

 

“See” you next Monday, if not sooner.

 

 God is good.

 

 

Contact me: sam@theseedofhope.com

 

 

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 04/14/2009 at 8:20 PM | Categories: Life -

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