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10-24-16-be-on-fire-with-love-image“True love does not only encompass the things that make you feel good, it also holds you to a standard of accountability.” – Monica Johnson

Have you ever noticed the most profoundly important teachers in life are seldom the ones who take it easy on you?

They are the ones that stretch you to learn, challenge you to grow, demand that you do more than you thought possible. For me, my most influential teacher didn’t teach in a classroom but lived in my home.

My mom showed uncommon boldness the day I was burned. Rather than providing false hope, she challenged me to own my next step, fight on and choose to live.

Upon leaving the hospital five months later, she challenged me to relearn how to feed myself (though my hands were wrapped in bandages), again play the piano (though I had lost my fingers to amputation), reach out my hand and shake others’ hands firmly (even though I was scared how people might react).

This teacher continues to share lessons today; her best are shown through her example.

A second house fire destroyed my parents’ home a decade ago. Mom revealed what resilience, grace, and determination look like. My dad endures his 25th year with Parkinson’s disease. She shows today as she always has, what unconditional love and stout faithfulness look like.

As life continues to unfold in ways she never planned, she remains a beautiful example of surrender, acceptance, and joy.

This Thursday, October 27, I will officially launch my Live Inspired Podcast. I’m so excited to be interviewing amazing guests such as Dave Ramsey, Rachel Macy Stafford, Joe Buck, Brian Buffini and others on their life stories, the lessons they learned, and what it means for each of us.

I could think of no finer person, to begin with, no greater teacher to learn from and to share with you than my mom, Susan O’Leary, for the preview episode.

I encourage you to download this episode, subscribe to the podcast, and be moved by my favorite teacher.

She’ll remind you that each day we have an invitation to choose to be on fire with love. [Tweet this] | [Share on Facebook]

This is your day. Tune in. And Live Inspired.

2 replies on “Be ON FIRE with Love”

Thanks John. Add yourself to that list of mentors and inspirational influencers. I am wearing one of your bracelets at this moment.

We met in Holland, MI 2 years ago when you spoke and then lead a workshop for the Lakeshore Non Profit Alliance. More on how you inspired me at that event.

My most influential actual high school teacher was (I say was because he passed away) Saturniño Diaz, “Sach”. He was young for a teacher, being only about 7 years older than me, with long wavy hair, dressed outrageous and could dance like crazy. A hippy, challenge the establishment radical. Just my kind of mentor.

One of the things that drove me crazy at the time I was in school with him and socializing with him was that he never answered my questions. Instead he always responded with a question and more challenges. Although it bugged me that young age, it served me for all my life, as I challenge others, question authority (and provide solutions) and help people use their creative abilities to improve or build on whatever they are doing.

I miss Sach but am reminded of him daily; Our crisis in Flint reminds me of him because he grew up there, as a Cuban refuge family and he brought me to his community to show the differences between “white privilege” and how many others live. When I hear the Pointer Sisters I am transported to dancing , seeing them in concert and to Sach’s love for music. And politics…Oh Boy could we go on about this. He taught me to question everything but to also be a part of the solution and not just an arm-chair quarterback or backseat driver. I also wonder what he would say now that the borders have been lessened with Cuba, his home country.

So many great memories and influences that I use every day. There are of course numerous other great mentors (including my Mom, R.I.P.) but for now I will fondly remember Saturniño Diaz. Thanks for the challenges!!


Ken Freestone
Holland, MI

Ken, thanks so much for sharing about Sach, honoring his legacy and for ALL You do. I appreciate you being here, brother. Stay in touch and STAY ON FIRE! J

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