For one year, Andy Andrews was homeless, sleeping under a bridge or occasionally in someone’s empty garage. The downhill slope began when he lost his mother to cancer and his father died in an automobile accident. Following these tragedies, the nineteen-year-old made a series of bad choices which led him to take shelter many nights under the Gulf State Park Pier on the Alabama Coast.

Sitting under the bridge, he pondered this question: Is life just a lottery ticket or are there choices one can make to direct his future? In search of wisdom, he haunted the public library, eventually reading more than 200 biographies of great men and women.

From the lives of such people as Harry Truman, Christopher Columbus, Anne Frank, Abraham Lincoln, and biblical characters like King Solomon, he found a common thread: Each made a handful of decisions that determined their ultimate success.

Today, Andy Andrews is a best-selling author and an in-demand speaker for some of the world’s largest organizations. He has spoken at the requests of four different U.S. Presidents. A New York Times reporter said of Andrews: “He is someone who has become one of the most influential people in America.

In some of Andrew’s novels, there is an angel-like character called Jones, who, throughout the stories, appears briefly and then disappears, always leaving a trail of wisdom for those who listened. In Andrew’s novel, “The Noticer,” Jones goes under a bridge to meet a homeless young man.

As the two enter into conversation, Jones can sense that the young man is filled with resentment and anger. Jones remarks, “No matter your past, you can change your future.” The young man argues, “Look, I’m kind of hopeless, okay? It’s obvious that my life is getting worse and worse.” Then Jones asks, “What would other people change about you if they could? In this exchange, the homeless young man begins to take a new look at this own life.

Jones’ wisdom, which is sprinkled throughout Andrews’ books is packed with common sense and inspiration. About second chances he says, “Most of us do not deserve a second chance.

A second chance is an expression of God’s Grace. It is unmerited favor. I do believe a person receiving a second chance has the responsibility to make the most of that opportunity.” If received and applied, Jones's wisdom is able to bring a homeless man out from under the bridge and into the world to live a productive life.

Concerning hopes and dreams, Jones says we should consider the things we’d like to accomplish in the future and how tragic it would be to end up an inch shy on all of them and that victories are often gained by sheer perseverance.

On the subject of faith Jones says, “In your life, what’s possible is often determined by what you believe. On the other hand, what is impossible can always be determined by what you believe. Belief is a currency of sorts. If you spend it foolishly by believing a thing is impossible, then to you it will be. If belief is your currency, and you refuse to spend it in the direction of what’s possible, that means you spent your belief in the other direction and wasted it.”

Andy Andrew’s books encourage people to live their best lives, even when the going gets tough. He says, “One can choose to swim downstream. That’s an easier trip—there’s always lots of company, but sooner or later it’s also where the garbage collects. Upstream, on the other hand, is where the water is pure. When a person chooses to stop swimming midstream, there is no such thing as holding in place. Water--like a life without purpose—always flows downstream.”

Virginia Dawkins is the author of “Stepping Stones” and “Please, God, Help!” Both are available at Amazon.

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