Reading a new book is always an adventure.  Going back and rereading a book is like visiting an old friend.  The book’s plot is like your friends’s personality, familiar but with more depth every single time you get together.  And an inspirational book is just like an inspirational friend, you just keep learning more and more.  

I just reread “Messenger:  The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs” by Jeni Stepanek.  This book is the story of a little boy, Mattie Stepanek, who was unlike any other child you have ever known.  Born with a disability so rare that only his mother and three siblings were known to have it, being told he would die during childhood like his brothers and sister, watching his mom become ill and go into a wheelchair right along with him, born in obscurity and living in dire poverty — his mom was even told when he was born that it would be better to institutionalize him immediately to avoid bonding with him.  This same boy published five New York Times bestsellers by the time he was thirteen, had given keynote speeches to thousands of people all over the country, and counted among his close personal friends Jerry Lewis, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, and hundreds of others.  This child called himself a messenger, a poet and a peacemaker.  He urged everyone to remember that peace is a choice, and reminded us to remember to play after every storm.  Mattie also had a great sense of humor and never took himself too seriously.  He planned all the details of his funeral in advance, including the things he wanted in his casket with him.  One of those items was half of his remote controlled fart machine.  His mom couldn’t do it, but handed the remote control to one of Mattie’s dear friends, who set it off as Mattie’s casket was being lifted from the fire truck (no hearse for him, he was honored like fallen firefighters).  Those that heard the sound coming from the coffin were startled, then burst into laughter, recognizing Mattie’s quirky sense of humor.

Only once in awhile are people born who make a huge difference in the world, people whose influence lasts long after they have gone. I urge everyone to read Mattie’s books and to check out the website for The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation at

You’ll be glad you did!




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