Today, I had the honor of attending a funeral for a special young person.

Marisa had just turned 21 years old.  The old phrase, “it’s not the amount of years in your life, it’s the amount of life in your years” rings painfully true.

Marisa faced obstacles.  She had a physical disability.

These disabilities did not, however, hinder her ability to touch the lives of so many.



The church was PACKED. Standing room only.

This girl, who had just celebrated her 21st birthday, had a major IMPACT on many, many people.

In one sense, the event was sad.

In another, it was a CELEBRATION.

The crowd, the sermon, the eulogy, were filled with JOY.  Tears, yes.  But laughter as well.  And beautiful memories.

This young woman had touched the hearts of SO MANY.

And will continue to live on.



It reminded me of an experience I had years prior.

A few years back, driving through the southeast – Tennessee, Virginia, the Carolinas – my mind wandered. I was lost, not literally, but figuratively. I was dealing with a lot. It was a dark time, a confusing time.

So, Sunday morning, in the fresh autumn air, driving through Raleigh, NC, I found a church.

That morning, I lifted up a prayer. I said, “Lord, I need a sign. I need to hear something. Anything.”

I settled into my pew and just sat.

As people filtered in, families, teenagers, elderly…I looked around.

Then, right before the service began, he rolled up.

Trevor, as we’ll call him, was wheeled in by his parents.

Trevor was confined to a wheelchair; he lacked the use of his arms and legs.

But he certainly didn’t lack the use of his heart…or his voice.

As the service went on, this man sang at the top of his lungs. Off-key and off-beat no doubt.  But it was right on point.

His parents, filled with joy, smiled at each other, smiled at Trevor, and sang along.

At the top of their lungs.

They’d glance at one another, smile, and sing.

With immeasurable happiness.

It was the single greatest display of happiness I’ve seen in three decades.

This man, according to much of our culture, had every reason to be sorrowful. But…this man exuded the very essence of what it means to be joyful.

And that day my friends, I got my sign.

This man, who had every worldly reason to think he had been forsaken, was BLESSED.

And his parents, who had every worldly reason to complain, to dwell on the burdens of disability, SMILED at each other as their son brought down the house.

They hugged each other, smiled at each other, and lifted their hands in gratitude.

I thought about my problems…my issues. Which were substantial.

However, I learned A LOT that day.

I learned that happiness is not dependent upon our external circumstances.

I learned that happiness is internal. It’s about outlook. It’s about attitude. It’s about true happiness. And true happiness is not determined by our external circumstances.

True happiness is determined by our outlook. By our attitude.

If this man, who was confined to a wheelchair, could sing for JOY with his family and be grateful for the beautiful, real things in life, certainly I could be grateful for the beautiful, real things in MY life.



I’ve been to maybe a dozen funerals. Some with just a handful of people, some with hundreds.

Not that numbers tell the whole story.

But…there is something special to say about a person who can impact so many.

I hope that I can have an impact on a fraction of the people that this young woman Marisa had.  Or just a fraction of the impact that Trevor had on me that fall day in Tar Heel country.

That’s what it’s all about.

I hope we can all be inspired by the people in our lives who seem to have nothing, but in reality, have EVERYTHING.

It’s a special thing indeed.



All of us face obstacles.

At times, our obstacles can seem unbearable.

However, if we face them with a positive outlook, a positive attitude, not only will we overcome…we’ll learn, grow, and have an impact on the people around us.

We can soar.

That’s what Mic’d is all about…encouragement. Giving inspiration.

I hope, that this day, we can all give thanks for the gifts we’ve been given.

I hope that, this day, we can sing for JOY. And face our obstacles with a positive outlook.  And in so doing, just maybe inspire people around us facing similar obstacles.

That, my friends, is what it’s all about.

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