What An Opportunity

Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page


In Life on July 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm



He could never concede. Not in anything.

It was always this, that, and the other. He always forgave. But could never forget.

As the storm clouds brewed, he couldn’t let the grey skies pass.

He struck that chord. He said those words. And the rain fell. Light on the roof as they sat in silence.


He wanted to take it back but knew he didn’t mean it. As the rain grew heavy, she walked away and he barely moved toward her.

Thunder screamed across the sky as they both sat in their separate peace.

And as he tried those familiar words to get past it at his own pace, the rain fell heavier.

They spoke. But with a marked vulnerability. They spoke of the past and their present.

Of the future and where they could be. Of what forgiveness had to look like.


And in that, maybe, that’s what love looked like.

Maybe love looked like forgiving what was unforgivable.

Maybe love was finding a way to care that he hadn’t thought of before.


And maybe, when Love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, and always hopes, Love always perseveres because then, Love cannot fail.


So maybe, it was about finding what love looked like for them. And fighting to never let that go.

So as the rains fell heavy on the roof, he held her and whispered,

“No matter what, I want to be by your side. Because without you, things go hazy.”





So…that happened.

In Sports on July 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm


Heroes. We all have them. Or at least one. They may not have been the biggest or the fastest or the smartest but they are our heroes. They gave us a standard to strive for and helped us become the person that we are. They’re not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it was their imperfections that made their lasting impact even more incredible. We cannot place enough sincerity in the gratitude we hold for them. They left a legacy. A way that we will always have them because they are a part of us.

As sports fans, we know a little about this idea of heroes. We watch men and women, who are better at these physical activities than most of us ever will be, and we idolize them. We acknowledge their focus, brilliance, gravitas, and movements. We admire their statistics, recount that one moment we will never forget, and draw incomprehensible importance from every action they make. We see the best in our sports heroes. Maybe deep down, we all want something unattainable to look upon with awe. Maybe, we all want something that we can’t quite figure out, but at the same time, seems somehow within reach. They left a legacy.

As a Lakers and Yankees fan, most people don’t like talking about sports with me. Being a fan of big-market juggernauts with championship pedigrees doesn’t bode well for a conversation with fans of small-market teams that are striving for just a shot at the playoffs. So imagine the emotions swirling when two stalwarts of separate small-market teams, in two different sports, were traded away to my teams. Um…sorry?

The Phoenix Suns traded away the face of their franchise, 38-year-old future Hall-of-Fame point guard Steve Nash, to the Los Angeles Lakers. A few weeks later, the Seattle Mariners traded away the face of their franchise, 38-year-old future Hall-of-Fame outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, to the New York Yankees. You see a pattern here? Small-market to big-market? Future Hall-of-Famer? Filling a need of the championship team? 38-year-olds?

Steve Nash’s career numbers are, for a lack of a better word, amazing. As of right now, Nash has the 2nd-best free throw percentage in NBA history, 8th-best three-point shooting percentage, and is top ten in league history in total assists and assists per game. Nash was a consummate professional, stuck by the floundering franchise that drafted him and even took less money so the franchise could go after better talent. At Nash’s request,  he was traded to a contender in his conference so he could have a better chance at a NBA ring. Any way you look at it, Nash left a legacy with his team.

Ichiro Suzuki’s career numbers are just as incredible. He holds the single-season hits record in MLB history with 262 hits, had 10 consecutive seasons 200 hits, 10 consecutive Gold Gloves, 10 consecutive All-Star appearances, and got to 1,000 hits the fastest of anyone in MLB history. Suzuki was a consummate professional, stuck by the floundering franchise that drafted him and even took less money so the franchise could go after better talent. At Suzuki’s request,  he was traded to a contender in his league so he could have a better chance at a World Series championship. Any way you look at it, Suzuki left a legacy with his team.

So almost identical player profiles, sports withstanding. Class acts all around. Legacies. Heroes. So…what happened? In both cases, reports surfaced that the franchises granted the players’  their wish because of services rendered. Is that idea so far-fetched? As sports fans, we come across “ring-chasers”: a category of players that seem to be at the end of their careers and are jumping on a bandwagon to the “promised land”. We belittle them for not being able to do it by themselves in some kind of playground bravado manner (See: James, Lebron). So…what happened? What if, like previously cited athlete, these two wanted to make a legacy for themselves that goes past Hall-of-Fame nice guy with a heart of gold? What happens when your heroes need to take the cape and cowl off?

Well, I hope that we still give them the respect they have earned and deserve. I hope that we can put aside the so-called rivalries we think exist outside of fans’ circles and appreciate a person’s ability to do what is best for themselves sometimes. In the world of sports, you have no greater gift than to give your years. So sometimes, Superman just wants to be Clark Kent for awhile and let other people save the day. Sometimes, I hope, as sports fans, we can respect that. And if some of you are like me, you looked at the news of these player movements and thought with a mix of sheer perplexity and absolute astonishment: so…that happened.

The Buffalo Bills and talking with an ex-girlfriend.

In Sports on July 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm

In the National Football League, the turnover of playoff teams from year to year is astounding. Since the 2002-03 season, 64 of 132 teams who made the playoffs missed them the next season; for those of you counting at home, that’s over 48%, meaning that even if you made the playoffs the year before, you are just as likely to miss them the next year as make them. On the flip side, that means that in a typical year, fully one-third of last season’s playoff non-qualifiers will make the postseason this time around. As a fan of the Buffalo Bills, this fact is dangerously encouraging.

With the NFL still mired in its excruciatingly long offseason, fans and media alike have little substance to go on; therefore, the bulk of our collective opinion is based on nothing more than projection, prediction, and prognostication. As a Buffalonian, the offseason has become a comfortable tradition for me… I go through stages in the same order every time. Stage 1: Disgust, usually during and soon after the Bills-less playoffs occur. “The Bills are a pathetic excuse for an organization, and I’m sick of watching them get trampled week in and week out. I’m not even gonna care this year.” Stage 2: Anger, usually occurring during free agency and the Draft. “I could lead the Bills better than the collection of buffoons assembling this team. Ralph Wilson is a stingy, senile, old miser, and no one could put a winner on the field with his budget control. Why don’t any competent players want to come play in Buffalo? Oh yeah… I wouldn’t either.” Stage 3: Grasping for straws, occurring around July annually, when I miss football so badly it hurts. “Well, actually, the Bills could possibly get to 10 wins if this, this, this, this, and that happen…” Stage 4: Accepting my optimism as reasonable. “I think the Bills are gonna surprise people. Why doesn’t NFL Live even mention them? You heard it here first… we’ll see you in January!” Then September and October happen, and I’m already rounding the corner and heading into Stage 1 all over again.

The thing is, I don’t know why stages 3 and 4 even happen in the first place! All Buffalo fans have experienced the lion’s share of heartache and bitter disappointment when it comes to sports. You’d think this would lead towards unanimous cynicism, by which we could protect ourselves from the crushing fall from high expectations to abject failure. Only last season, the Buffalo Sabres gave us a fresh reminder of this anguish. After a vigorously aggressive offseason, the Sabres were getting some media attention as a leader in the Eastern Conference, and even a dark horse Stanley Cup contender. When April rolled around, however, they found themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. There is a certain heartsickness that applies specifically to this kind of shortcoming… it’s like they teased you, raising your expectations, then personally let you down.

I am so afraid of the same thing happening with the Buffalo Bills this season. Kickoff is rapidly approaching, and the Bills are a hot topic of conversation. Many are saying that the Bills had the best offseason in the NFL. The Godfather of NFL writers, John Clayton, projects the Bills to make the playoffs as an AFC wild card. The team is nearly unanimously seen as a “sleeper pick” to make great strides this year. But even at my young age, I have seen too many promising seasons become November and December slumps, as my beloved Bills simply play out the string, and the only drama pertains to the next year’s draft position. Alas, I cannot help myself; this is shaping up to be the best Bills team we have seen in at least 10 years. Mario Williams, the prize of the free agent pool, somehow was convinced to sign on in Buffalo. Then GM Buddy Nix put together his second consecutive stellar draft, and re-signed several key pieces, and all of a sudden, the Bills look competitive again. Oh no… here we go… it must be July.

I feel like I’ve begun to text an ex-girlfriend that I haven’t gotten over yet. Imagine… things have failed between us numerous times, and she’s screwed me over more times than I care to remember, but I just stalked her profile the other day, and dayumm she’s looking good lately. So I just text to say “hey, what’s up?” Before I know it, all the old feelings are back and I’m believing that somehow, some way, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, things are going to turn out differently this time. And as it so happens, she’s single right now and starts saying all the right things – how sorry she is for her past actions, and how she’s a different person now and wants to give it another try – and before I know it, with friends and family shaking their heads at me, I’m at her mercy again, holding out hope that my irrational, one-way affection will somehow turn into a committed, fulfilling relationship. And if it fails and I get hurt yet again, there’s no one to blame but myself.

Don’t you wish you were a Bills fan?

The sound.

In Life on July 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm


She swung on the red swing next to you as her hair flowed behind her.

The golden sunlight overflowed while you were lost in her laugh

She turned her auburn eyes to you as the swings stopped squeaking

The sun glowed behind her when she smiled at you

And it was there, that you first heard the sound…

She breathed slow as your fingers traced an imaginary line

There was a tightness in your chest during this most daring of expeditions

She looked up at you

And there was that sound again…

She stood in the kitchen with noise in the background

Staring out at the neighbor cat on the fence as millions of thoughts drew worry lines on her face

It was then that you held her in your very human arms

And there was that sound again…

That sound seemed to permeate the weakest moments of you

The appropriations of time that fear gave way to chance

The sound of comfortable silence in which you dared to move.

Thoughts came and went, but in that instance, you acted.

In that great sound: genuine, authentic, and complete quiet,

you chose.

And all stood still.

Something something something…dark side.

In Sports on July 9, 2012 at 2:59 am

Once upon a time, in an Association somewhere near you, a boy was anointed. He was the Chosen One. He would right the force in the league. A young man from Akron, Ohio would be drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team, and bring them to prominence. He was the One. But not all is as it seems…

Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

Young Lebron James is discovered on the distant planet of Akron, Ohio. From humble beginnings, he is chosen as the next Jordan. He would be greater than those who had come before. A physical specimen with a true love for the game. Unbelievably athletic, he is virtually unstoppable going to the basket with vision beyond his years. His first years in the pros are something to behold as he makes the Cavaliers relevant and guides them to the Promised Land. With a Finals appearance in his fourth season, all was right with the Force. Then…

Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

The Cavaliers surrounded him with less-than-stellar talent. The Chosen One was repeatedly putting up quality statistics while the rest of the team floundered. The ownership consistently placed players around him that were interchangeable and without much distinction. Secretly, the Chosen One ponders his future at the Olympics, as Sith Lord Riley and his apprentice, Darth Wade look on.

Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith

Adding to the young Jedi’s frustration, he had done everything necessary to be considered with the great ones  but was being denied the distinction that designates a true champion: the Ring. Still a Jedi apprentice and not a Master, the Chosen One begins to question the commitment of the team ownership to building a champion. As he confides in his close friend, Champion Wade, Wade tells him that the dark side of sunny Miami can prevent career death. The dark side can provide him with the one thing he wants above all else: immortality. With another season lost, and his heart seemingly elsewhere, the Chosen One makes The Decision. In front of children, the Chosen One joins the Miami Heat shifting the balance of power. With Darth Bosh in tow, the world becomes darker as Darth James take his place as the new apprentice of Sith Lord Riley.

Episode 4: A New Hope

In the darkness, a light beckons from Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant, a young man from humble beginnings, is chosen as the next Great One. The world looks on as he becomes the youngest scoring champion and wins three consecutive such titles. He is seen as the counterpoint to the fallen Darth James. Maybe it is him who will represent the NBA’s rise to newer heights of popularity and viewership. Maybe he is the one that they all will believe in. A physical specimen with a true love for the game. Unbelievably athletic, he is virtually unstoppable going to the basket with humility beyond his years. His first years in the pros are something to behold as he makes the Sonics Thunder relevant and guides them to the playoffs. With Jedis Westbrook and Harden, a threat rises in the West.

Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back

The Dark Side is repelled in its first attempt to capture the Ring. A group of experienced marksmen held together by a legendary figure hold the Miami Heat back. However, the Empire returns again. Seeming stronger, the Empire faces the Jedis of the West. At first, it seems the Force will be righted. But, the Empire has other plans. Darth Wade is able to relinquish leadership of the Heat as Darth James takes over the Sith and captures the elusive Ring. With a triple-double in the clinching game, his play devilishly totes a sinister tone, “I am your father.” Lebron captures that elusive Ring as the world contemplates the possible reign of darkness that could fall over the land.

Episode 6: Return of the Jedi?

Will a comparable threat rise? The people of the Windy Planet, Chicago, seem to think so. In addition, the decision of Trade Hunter Howard could make the urbanites of Brooklynooine considerable adversaries. In a bout of irony, Cleveland could help swing the deal that would land Dwight Howard with the Brooklyn Nets.

As for the Jedis of the West, there is dissension among their ranks. Is Jedi Westbrook too headstrong for victory to be at hand? Furthermore, there are other Jedi through out the region that wish to challenge the Darth Triumvirate. The planet of Angeles with its Lake People and fishermen on their Clippers could also challenge them. Not to mention the Grizzly people of Memphiseraan. Darth James has already lured another Jedi to the dark side to chase the Ring as Ray Allen has signed with the Heat. With a starting five that boasts 4 potential Hall-of-Famers, the Sith are well-stocked to defend the Ring at all costs.


In all seriousness, congratulations to Lebron James on his first NBA Championship. It was a great season, and if this offseason is any indication, next season is going to be ridiculous. The Bulls look like they will be contenders and the Brooklyn Nets look very serious even as they are currently constructed. I still like the Heat from the East though. That team is absolutely enter positive superlative here  (I said “positive” for that last one so no bad words).

From the West, I am completely biased for saying the Lakers so I have to say the Thunder. They are getting everybody back and that team can only get better. Scary thought. I do like the Lakers offense with Nash, Bryant, Whoever-plays-the-three-when-Peace-gets-the-amnesty-clause, Gasol and Bynum. The Clippers, Grizzlies, and Spurs offer nice competition but the Lakers offense should be unstoppable if utilized correctly. Couple competent offensive production with a defensive coach who has two towers to guard the paint and the Lakers could represent the West.

All prognostications aside, I know one thing for sure: I cannot wait.


In Sports on July 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm

What makes great? What defines greatness to you?

For me, there are differing scales of greatness. These scales are a lot like the differing scales of attractiveness in people that you know (Don’t leave the article yet. Please. I swear I get to a point somewhere). For example, someone who is a 7 on your “hometown” scale might be a 3 or 4 if you want to start lumping in professional good-looking people i.e. models, actors/actresses, singers and such (unless of course, you grew up in a hometown where a professional good-looking person hails from in which case your scales will be forever off and I sincerely apologize) . Also, you have to factor in people you actually know. So hypothetically, there’s a scale for people you know, people that you don’t know but are close to where you live, and the world. Three scales. Differing amounts of awesome (another slight caveat: if you’ve been blessed enough to be in a committed relationship where all this nonsense is out the window, let’s high-five and go do something. I’ve heard “Ted” was good.)

So anyway, you have your three scales. These scales allow you to “compare” people according to whatever you like. Hair color, eye color, smile, physique, etc. Now, there are such things as “x-factors”. X-factors, mostly applied to the 1st scale of people you know, are those minor details that make a person more or less attractive. His/her sports affiliation, level of “niceness”, chillability, and other random things. This can affect someone’s rating on your scale. So what does this have to do with greatness? Well, how do you define greatness?

We all know people that were really good at a specific sport when we were growing up in our town; maybe they were a 7 on the “hometown” scale. You also know people who might have been really good on your college team at school. You probably did not know them but they were good. Then, you know those who made it big. Maybe they went professional and they really made a name for themselves. Those ideas are all well and good. But how do you define greatness? Those people are great, right? But, to a certain extent, we may all disagree on how great they are. So, how can we assign greatness…generally?

We begin by assigning groups of people to decide upon an award that symbolizes greatness. From there, we give those awards to those we deem great. After all that, the person, or people, with the most awards are great. So there’s an equation: consensus of people we think are qualified + award for greatness + presentation of award = great person. So for example, the Heisman Trust (consensus) bestows the Heisman Memorial Trophy (award) for “the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity” to Robert Griffin III and therefore,  he is a great person. Right?

Well, all this talk of scales and awards has a point. Watching Roger Federer win major #17 made me wonder, just how great is he? In addition, my mind ventured to Tiger Woods and his 14 major titles as well as his 74 career PGA Tour wins. Just how great are they? There is something to be said for individual sports. The mental focus and physical ability is truly of the highest difficulty. For Federer and tennis, you are playing the weather (somewhat), the surface, and your opponent. For those who don’t know, tennis can be played on clay (French Open), grass (Wimbledon), and synthetic (Australian Open)/acryllic (U.S. Open) hard courts. Those four tournaments mentioned are considered “majors” or “Grand Slams” in tennis because of the history of the tournaments and the significance given to each competition. For Woods and golf, the “majors” are the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA championship. With golf, you face the weather, the course, and over 100 opponents all at once.

Let’s start with Federer.

Roger Federer has won 17 Major championships. That is the most championship wins of any tennis player ever. Ever. History of mankind. Ever. Not only has he won that many, he has been so incredibly consistent having reached the final of every Grand Slam tournament at least five times and spent the most consecutive weeks at number one of the world rankings with 237 weeks. That’s just over 4 and a half years as number 1 on the planet. Right now, Roger Federer is considered the greatest tennis player of all-time.

Tiger Woods is second all-time in Major wins with 14. He is also second all-time in PGA (Professional Golf Association) Tour wins with 74. Woods also has the record for lowest actual scoring average of 68.17 and the best 72-hole score in relation to par at 18-under as well as numerous other achievements. Right now, Tiger Woods is easily one of the greatest golfers to ever play and when all is said and done, he could go down as the greatest golfer to ever swing a club.

So the question becomes, what makes great? Are these guys great because they have the awards and records to back it up? Are there x-factors that stop you from thinking they’re great? Whatever it may be, it would seem that they are doing something right. When you see greatn…er…really good players like this, it makes me think that: you should shoot for the moon. Because even if you fail, you will land upon the stars. And even if you fall from that perch, you’re still out of this world. And in the case of these two men, maybe you’ll create your own planet where history, a lot like gravity holding you down, is nowhere to be found and you can soar to new heights.

Don’t talk about it – be about it.

In Life on July 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Put your work boots on.

As a group, we Gentlemen have many things in common – faith, educational backgrounds, interests, incredibly good looks – but one shared trait stands out above the others; our continuous quest to accomplish self-improvement. In fact, we sometimes grow frustrated when our friends’ lives seem to be going nowhere and not caring. You see, all three of us have grand aspirations for every area of our lives. We envision great success in our career fields, being excellent husbands to gorgeous wives, devoted and involved fathers to several well-behaved and talented children, faithful, selfless men of impact in our church communities, and so on. This is all well and good… but unless these dreams translate to reality, they lack substance and are meaningless.

I’ve spent many, many hours talking with Aaron and Akanimo about life. We discuss people, relationships, God, school, careers, you name it… and I’ve learned some incredible things from these discussions. I think we all have. And I think that each time, we all walk away with a renewed desire to do something, to be something. But as I’ve pondered the direction of my life, I’ve begun to recognize how much I think and say regarding my own personal growth without much coming of it. I know we all need to hear this, because we all have aspirations. We all want to be better in a month, or a year, than we are today. But it’s so easy to look at the roads to these areas of improvement, deem them too difficult, and sink into a resigned, complacent contentedness with our personal status quo. So I’m here to say, stop that! You’re better than that! You have what it takes! Just stop talking and start doing. The first step is the hardest… but once you build habits, I think you’ll find it gets easier to get down to business and make good choices every day. And if you don’t believe me, just listen to these guys.

“In my experience nothing worthwhile has ever been all that easy, but it certainly has been worthwhile, regardless how difficult it seemed.” Eric Thomas, incredible motivational speaker (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsSC2vx7zFQ)

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The apostle Paul, writing from prison

“He conquers who conquers himself.” Cinefactus

You see, it’s great to want to improve yourself – by all means, talk about getting rid of that bad habit or sinful crutch – but don’t stop at talking about it. Some of the most frustrating people I have ever met are that way because they talk and talk and talk about changing things in their lives, but never do a darn thing about it. I don’t want that to be me; and don’t let that be you.

Now go out there and accomplish great things.


In Life on July 4, 2012 at 12:52 pm

There is something to be said for home.

Your memories, over the years, tend to only paint a particular shade of a moment.

Which is so unfortunate considering that the reasons you remember that time tend to get lost too.


Still remember her face.

She said, “Hold me” but she meant, “I need you”

She said, “That’s what we should do” but you knew she really said, “Please stay…”


She told you this was the first step on a journey

She always said that.

You never figured her tears would stain the dirt as you departed.


They told you, “Be strong” when you were so weak.

They told you, “Learn” when you weren’t really listening.

They told you. And now you heard. Now you understood. Kind of.


Some people wonder if you will ever be seen again.

Some people wonder if you will ever find what it is you are looking for.

You wonder which of those people you should believe.

Reason knows best…Conscience knows you…Heart knows the fleeting…Soul knows all.

No help.

Some people wonder if the guy who set out will be visible in the man who comes home?

But like I said, there is something to be said for home.

Sometimes, you’re not lost; just wandering.

Remembering the years that made you who you are today

In Culture, Life on July 3, 2012 at 1:21 am

This was me, right, with my friend Jay in 2010. At different points of that year, I had black hair, a mohawk and pierced ears. We all go through rough patches.

I did something dangerous today.

I decided to look at my old blog.

If you don’t keep a diary/journal/blog, you’re missing out on some great future laughs. Sometimes you’ll look back on something you did and forgot about, and just think: Really? 

Remember the person you were in 2010? You might laugh. It seems so recent, right? How much could you have changed since then?

My guess is a lot.

The blog I found was one of the bleakest, most depressing things I’ve read in recent memory. Good Lord. I really love life, and it feels like it’s always been that way.

Not exactly. A couple posts made me cringe.

I wrote about how nothing gold can stay, the people I cared about didn’t care about me and how reality will never be good enough. Here was my thought process on Christmas 2010:

“So it’s Christmas. The day everyone gets tons of gifts and pretends to be ‘thankful.’ Fuck all of you.”

Whoa. Who thinks like that? Who says that?

Apparently the 2010 version of me.

I also wrote about how I wasn’t good at anything. I didn’t think I had any talent. I penned to myself: “How can you expect anyone else to like you when you hate yourself?”

Yikes. Another bomb.

I don’t remember ever being such a negative person, but obviously I was. A few bad things had piled up (struggling with not going to school, a serious car accident and getting thrown away by a girl), but I don’t understand how I ever thought like that. My outlook couldn’t be more different as of July 3, 2012.

If I had to pick one thing that changed, it’d be my entry into journalism. I joined the school paper and met someone who is one of my good friends today, Matt Parrino, my Senior Sports Editor. After about a month, he became my big brother and took me under his wing. Any success I’ve had to date in journalism is because of Matt.

It’s my passion. It’s something I really love. My life was headed so quickly and so far downhill before I joined the newspaper.

Here’s a question: If you’re mad at the world, are you doing what you love? If the answer is ‘no,’ why the hell not?

Go do it! It’ll change everything.

God had His hand on my life the entire time. I think about all the times I could have died or been arrested or gotten in serious trouble, and I can do nothing but breathe deep and thank Him for taking care of me. For letting me go through those dark days and bringing me to today.

Tonight, as Andrew and I were driving home from our basketball game, we were groaning about our many injuries. He and I are going on 23 and 21, respectively, but we could barely move our legs. It was a pretty comical sight.

“We’re such old men,” he laughed.

I instantly thought about the blog and smiled.

Older? Undoubtedly.

Wiser? Infinitely.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11