Drunk On Thanksgiving (Updated)

8/27/18

I’m so thankful for it all — ESPECIALLY the ignorant and unfortunate. In reflection, I've made many unwise decisions in my life, producing undesired outcomes that have been difficult to deal with. I mean, that’s life, right?

However, some of those decisions actually had a genius storyline that only God could have written.

How about the time I decided to move to Alabama from my amazing family in New York, accepting a baseball scholarship at the University of Montevallo (UM). I made this decision thinking it would increase my chances of playing pro baseball… As I look back on it 14 years later, it was the ULTIMATE, blind “DREAMER” decision.

Injury-prone and discouraged, I barely had a full season of at-bats in my two years on the field at UM. However, I am so thankful for my time at UM, where I truly honed my skills as an entrepreneur. This is where I built my first real business in the Falcon Broadcasting Network, a sports broadcasting network for the university, that focused on internet streaming and traditional broadcasting.

Mark Twain said it best — “To succeed in life you need two things; IGNORANCE and CONFIDENCE.”

I thank my parents for teaching me to be fearless with ignorance and confidence. Mom NEVER said, “James, I know that’s your dream, but I am worried you might get hurt. The world is a tough place.” Her and the rest of my family told me, “GO GET IT.”

I’m thankful for this. It gave me permission to be ignorant with confidence. It also showed me how to parent my three children and most importantly, how to passionately love my wife.

One word that Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) left out of his success ingredients, however, is PERSEVERANCE. I know you know this quote— “that which does not kill you, makes you stronger.” Guess what? It's true.

On a day like Thanksgiving, where you are told to count all your blessings, I want to encourage you to also think about your failures and tough times, and how you’ve been able to work your muscle of perseverance.

If you’re going through a tough time today, be confident in the ignorance that may have gotten you here or even the uncontrollable force(s) that made this situation come about, and work your muscle of perseverance to get stronger.

Uncontrollable force? How about the almighty God? We always hear celebrities, athletes and people in general, thanking God when something amazing has happened to them. I know that many people resent the fact that you only hear these folks praising “their God” from “The Winner’s locker room,” so let me share another story of perseverance with you from “The Loser’s locker room.”

The ball was hit so high into the sky, just beyond my range at shortstop, so I started to run toward left-centerfield to make a play, but I ran into a teammate trying to do the same thing. We hit heads quite hard. The people I know who were there, compared the sound to two football helmets colliding.

Laying unconscious in shallow centerfield, as a mere twelve-year-old boy, with blood coming out of my eyes, nose, ears, and mouth, with my forehead skin sunken into my diminished skull… The chance for me to persevere began.

I woke up in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and told my grieving mother, “this is gonna have a perfect ending. It’s gonna be a great story to tell.” Reconstructive surgery mended the dozens of skull pieces throughout my head, into a pretty decently organized forehead. The extreme theories of deformity, epilepsy and death that was so potent going into surgery, remained a theory versus the reality of the miracle that was my merciful survival, a sparing that only God could provide.

Today, my mother is gone, as she passed from ovarian cancer in 2012, after a 27 year bout with kidney disease. She could have died in 1985, but God spared her for those 27 years, so that the world and I could enjoy her impactful presence for another quarter-century. Once again, while I miss her tons, I'm so thankful for the fact I had her for my first 30 years of life. She now lives on through me, as a parent, husband, friend, etc.

My heart is full. I'm thankful.

Today, my challenge to everyone, is to embrace and thank God for the tough, unfortunate happenings in our life. They are the pieces necessary to complete the puzzle that is our lives. These pieces all work together to bless us with the things that are much easier to be thankful for.

To persevere, you need hurdles. Embrace these hurdles with a tenacity that outlasts them on your way to victory.