Oftentimes, we learn a lot about ourselves through the life stories of other people. In listening to someone's journey, we begin to peal away at our own life experiences, ultimately uncovering life's treasures along the way. Such was the case for me when reading Madness, Miracles, Millions by Joseph Semprevivo and his father Larry Semprevivo.
For me, 2014 has been a year of deep self-discovery in so many ways. During that time, I found myself going from employed, to unemployed to being an entrepreneur, all while raising a toddler and giving birth to another angel. Whew! Just repeating it makes my heart race!
It was during my trials and tribulations, however, that I began on a journey to ultimately living life to its fullest in every way imaginable. Reading about the Semprevivo's own journey of trials, tribulations and triumph served as a blessed reminder of how it is in our darkest hour that God shines the brightest. We just have to be open to receiving the blessings that tend to come in "strange packages."
Here are 10 things that Joseph Semprevivo and his father, Larry Semprevivo taught me about life in their heart-warming memoir:
- "We are not put through obstacles to suffer; we are brought through obstacles to see something better on the other side." I had an amazing job as an elementary school teacher. I was enjoying great success whenever I prayerfully made the decision to walk away and help open a day care center. After pouring my heart and soul into this project, I found myself deeply hurt, unemployed and pregnant with my second child. This sent me into a deep depression. For the first time in my life, I felt like a failure. I applied for hundreds of teaching jobs with no success. I began to question myself, and even worse, question God. Why would He have me walk away from my teaching career? But I was not raised to be a quitter and I was not raised to put a question mark where God has put a period. I quickly began to see, through prayer and meditation that God had something bigger and better for me on the other side of the obstacle. I began using my gift of writing to start a mommy blog and here I am today as the founder and CEO of my own business! The Semprevivo family also endured many obstacles along their path to owning a hugely successful business. In fact, it was through perhaps Joseph's biggest obstacle that he created Joseph's Lite Cookies.
- "We have a lot more control over our lives than we realize; not in the things that happen though, but in how we handle them." Life is all about choices. Yes, circumstances happen to us that are beyond our control, but what we can control is our attitude! The Semprevivo family seemed to have one tragedy after another - from numerous health scares, to business failures, but in reading Madness, Miracles and Millions, I was so impressed with their "attitude of hopefulness during times of adversity." I too, noticed a shift in my situation whenever I decided to not lose myself in the midst of adversity. I am a very positive person. I refuse to let people or my circumstances steal my joy no matter how big or small the situation is.
- "My success lies in my past." So many times, people are trying to find themselves and their purpose whenever the answer to what their calling is lies in their past. A friend of mine by the name of Tiffany Huffonce said, "You will find your purpose in your pain." That couldn't me more true than for the Semprevivo family, and for me as well. Who would think that a diabetes diagnosis would lead to the invention of a sugar free cookie that would sell in the millions? Who would think that being forced out of a job would lead to owning your own successful business? Look into your past. Look at all of it - the good, bad and even ugly, because there you will find your path to success.
- "...Some people make excuses and some people make a new life." We can all make excuses. We've all had our share of hard knocks in life, but where does sitting around and making excuses get you? Nowhere! Instead, spend that time paving a new path as opposed to staring at your dead end road. The Semprevivo family had one trial after another staring them dead in the face, but I absolutely love how they didn't waste their time whining and complaining about their circumstances, rather they spent their time mapping out a new game plan and never looked back.
- People are in your life for a reason. I love that saying about how some people are in your life for a reason, some a season and others a lifetime. I have learned something from every single person that has crossed my path, no matter how long I knew them, and no matter how they treated me. In fact, I often find myself thanking God for the people who have hurt me because they always add fuel to my burning drive to succeed in this life. The Semprevivo family believe that there are no coincidneces, just answered prayers, and I couldn't agree with them more!
- When you think you are working hard, work harder! Whenever you do the work, miracles will come. You just have to get your boxing gloves on and fight the good fight. Focus on the work, whether that be in parenting or on the job, whatever it is, put your all into it and you will reap the reward in due time. The Semprevivo family say that "dreams are the product of hard work, sacrifice and commitment; they are not fairy tales that just come to people." This is so true! Trust me. I wasn't living a fairytale for the past year, but I am living the dream today by working hard, trusting God and believing that good things happen to good people who are dedicated to giving back to others!
- What does it take to overcome? "It takes strength that defies all circumstances and the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try harder." If you want the "recipe" for how to overcome obstacles in life, just read Madness, Miracles and Millions! This quote is so true, and I would add prayer as the first step. Just keep it moving folks!
- "As a parent, you can achieve no success greater than having your children grow to become great people." Children learn more through our actions than our words. I have watched and continue to watch my parents' actions and those actions have taught me so much about how to live a life of empathy, compassion and drive! If you want to leave a lasting legacy that will impact generations to come, don't think it's your booming business, or your money or your house...it's your children and what values you instill in them! Just the mere fact that a father and son could write such a beautiful book about family and success attests to the fact that Larry Semprevivo and his wife, Josephine are awesome parents!
- "You have the choice when things go wrong to be the victim or the victor." Like I said earlier, life is all about choices. Are you going to be the victim in life or the victor? The choice is not your boss's or your ex-husband's or even your mother's. The choice is yours!
- Always ask yourself, "Did I give 100%?" What do you do whenever your child brings a C home from school? Do you ask, "Why didn't you get an A?" or do you ask, "Did you give a 100%?" Larry Semprevivo asked his son the latter, and that question became the driving force that fuels Joseph's success. All you can do is give 100% of yourself to everything you do. That 100% may get you far one day, or not so far the next, but as long as you know in your heart that you gave it your all, then you can be at peace with yourself and your result.
Madness, Miracles and Millions was the perfect read for the end of this year. As I reflect on everything I've been through in 2014, this book has inspired me to look at every one of my circumstances and be grateful for them. This father and son duo sum it up best by giving this advice: "Fight harder. Stay positive. Stick together."
What madness and miracles have you experienced in 2014? Please comment below. :)