My top faves…

My friend and theology professor, Bill McDonough gave me a copy of “How Big is Your God” by Paul Coutinho SJ.  I discovered “The Enoch Factor” by Dr. Steve McSwain, a former pastor, www.stevemcswain.com.  A patient at the hospital told me about “A Course in Miracles” and said it was life-changing, www.pathwaysoflight.org.  I work with quite a few Tibetans and they inspired me to read about the Dalai Lama, so I bought the book, “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living” by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. www.dalailama.com!  And another patient told me about a book called “Never Alone” by a former priest, Joseph Girzone, www.joshuamountain.org.

These are just five amazing books that challenged my faith and defined my purpose, however, there are many other great reads available.  I think a life-changing book is specific to the individual.  This is what is great about the world, we don’t all enjoy the same things.  And this is probably the greatest thing about life and living.  What I enjoy isn’t exactly what you enjoy!  What I read isn’t exactly what you read.  And what I feel isn’t exactly what you feel.

These five reads have helped me understand the Bible and my purpose and find meaning where I had simply seen words.  I’ve been able to feel a much stronger sense of purpose, and feel the power it exhibits.  My favorite verse: 1 Corinthians 13:13.  “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  My interpretation is that love is the most powerful force on this world.  Without love, well, I don’t know what would happen.  I do know that the world wouldn’t be a very nice place to be in without it.  Everybody needs love, and love belongs to every single person, and nobody should be denied love.

I included links for my top five above (these are five of many, though), if you want to learn more about them!  Thanks for believing in 23.

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Paths…

PATHS

The air is icy cool and I can feel the cold wrap around me like a blanket, Walking through a dimly lit path.  I can hear the wind whisper.  Slowly the moon disappears into the sky and the forest grows darker.  I can’t see where I am going but I keep walking.   I feel so lost, but I can’t look back, I have to keep walking.   The light from the pale moon guides my path.  The fog is thick and it smells like burnt wood, I can see a fire in the distance.  I walk closer to the fire and there are two girls sitting next to each other.  
”You seem lost, come sit with us.”  
“I’m sorry, I have to keep walking.”  
“Where are you going?”  One of the girls asks.
“Wherever the path leads me.”  I reply.
“Good luck, and be careful.”  The other girl replies.
I keep walking and the wind brings life to my soul.  
The air is cool and light.    I want to look back but I know I can’t.
Yesterday is lost forever and tomorrow is yet to come.

 

Reflecting on everything that has unfolded over the last fifteen years, I’ve often considered my life in Duluth entirely different.  Choosing a different major.  Being more outgoing.  Making more friends.  Focusing more on education, less on impressing others.  As I wrote in 23, I did well academically, but that was most likely due to my parent’s influence growing up on the importance of school. 

When I first read the “Paths” story, received in an email, I immediately liked it and was inspired.  Thank you to whoever wrote it!  Yes, I have had many regrets, both in high school, but also during my college days.  It has been hard not to look back and feel the sting of how my accident influenced my family and friends.  My heart sinks because this could have been prevented.  My parent’s did not have to endure this, nor did my sister, or my Grandparents, or my Aunts and Uncles, or Cousins, or Friends.  But then again, and as I wrote in the book, had it not happened I would not be ME. 

No purpose (well, the purpose that I have now), no extroverted Nick, no wife, no son, no 23, no enlightenment, no path.  This path would not have been chosen simply because of the pain that accompanied it.  The good can be seen, now, a decade and a half later.  Like the above message says, “I want to look back but I know I can’t.  Yesterday is lost forever and tomorrow is yet to come.” 

There are three things in life than can’t be measured: faith, hope, and love.  And love is of course the greatest!!!  The past is best left in the past, and doesn’t belong in the future.  And the best is yet to come.  Keep moving forward.  Keep discovering your path.       

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My Life began with a heartfelt message… and a prayer!

I read the following message, a repost titled, To the Teenagers, by Ann Landers originally written by a retired US Navy ship captain in Washington named Larry. This was two weeks before I fell 35 feet into Chester Creek, in Duluth, MN, when I was 20 years old.  Nothing like what you are about to read would never happen to me, well, until it did on September 27th, 1998, at 2:30am.  I suppose it is true, nothing good ever happens after midnight! But I was typical 20-year-old, invincible. 

A lengthy fall, a near drowning, a collapsed lung, 3 heroes, a fire truck, paramedics, CPR, ICU, and a phone call at 4:44am Sunday morning with news of a young man walking through faith into the light.  This is the beginning to my story and there is so much more to be revealed, so read the following message, reflect on it, and please return for another post. So much has happened over the last 15 years, more stories, more lessons, while meeting many more heroes, my blog is to share my life for the greater good. Many thanks to Larry for letting me share his message to accompany my story!       

To the Teenagers: A Message and a Prayer

I don’t know what it feels like to hear the words that two sets of parents received this past weekend. Like every other parent, I don’t ever want to know. I’m not sure I am strong enough to handle it. So, this is to the teenagers. It’s a message and a prayer. It’s from us to you.

We were once just like you—just as young and daring. We were once sure our parents hadn’t a clue as to what we wanted or what we were all about. We were once sure we could tackle the world. We were once, down deep, scared to death to face the world. We were once just like you.

The only real difference between us as parents and you as teenagers is a lot of “been theres, done thats.” And, believe me, a lot of our “done thats” were just as dumb and silly and dangerous and exciting as anything you’ve done or will do. That’s why we worry.

We made it through. We got older. We fell in love. We got married. We had you. That means we sat up endless nights while you were a baby. We changed you when you were wet. We fed you when you were hungry. We held you when you cried.

We watched you take your first step. We made stupid faces to see you laugh. We listened to your first words. We bragged about you at work. We sent you off to your first day of school. We kept your drawings and school projects. We put your birthday cards on the refrigerator.

We watched you in your first play. We cheered for you when you made the team. We worried about whether you’d be popular, and then, when you were, we worried about your friends. We were angry when we shouldn’t have been. We asked you questions we shouldn’t have. We made mistakes and hurt your feelings.

We didn’t say, “I’m sorry”or “I love you” often enough. We argued with you. We laughed with you. We stayed awake in bed and worried when you stayed out later than your curfew.

We watched you change before our eyes into strong young men and women who were about to leave us. We were scared and happy and sorry at the same time. We want to see you become firefighters and doctors and lawyers and policemen, merchants, pilots, beauticians, teachers, librarians, and forest rangers. We want to talk with you about how exciting your work is. We want to listen to you tell us how dumb or mean your boss is. 

We want to see you meet the man or woman of your dreams. We want to see you fall in love and do the same crazy things we did. We want you to get married. We want to pass you a few dollars to help you through the rough spots. We want to see you have children and watch you start all of this all over again. 

The thing we’re most afraid of is that, sometimes, those things we worry about happen. Sometimes, for no rhyme or reason, you’re taken from us by things beyond our control. Sometimes, we never get to see or do the things I’ve talked because you’re not here anymore—and that is a hurt that cannot be described. 

So, this is for the teenagers out there. It’s the same thing parents have said to their children forever. It’s the same thing you’ll say to your children. They’ll feel the same way about hearing it from you as you do when you hear it from us. 

Please. Be careful. We love you. You’re all we really have. 

Larry Simoneaux

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Visit the link below to download 23 for free! My purpose is to inspire and share my message of faith, hope, and love, with others. Thank you so much for your support! Website: http://www.dennen23.com

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