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Monday, April 29, 2013

Heart and Soul

Recently I celebrated my 58th birthday and by all accounts I guess that makes me pretty old. Okay, I admit it, I need glasses to read, I’ve got aches and pains on a regular basis, there are wrinkles in my face and my hair has turned gray around the temples. So yeah, I’m definitely old on the outside, but I don’t feel old on the inside...I feel extremely blessed! I recognize that even though my outer body may be breaking down over time, my inner heart and soul have been building up!
Let me explain….
On the morning of my 58th birthday I took extra time to say my prayers.  I reflected on all that has happened in my life. (And since I’m plenty old I had plenty to reflect on it… so it took a while!) I thanked God for all the good times and the good things in my life; my wife, children, family and friends, plus my job, my home and my health. But I also thanked God for the tough times, the troubles and the problems because it was during those times in my life that I learned the most important lessons; how to cope, how to survive and how to have faith. It’s true that the bad times in our lives are the ones that shape us the most and define our character.
For example, when I was 19 years old, I was sure I was with the “love of my life”. I planned to marry my high school sweetheart and live happily ever after. We dated all through school and I thought we were both madly in love. So shortly after graduation I took all my savings from my part time jobs and bought her an engagement ring. I proposed, she said yes, and we made a plan to move to San Francisco where we could rent two rooms at my parent’s house and I could attend college. My parents were far from wealthy so I had to go to school during the day and then work two jobs at night just to make ends meet. It was a really hard schedule for me, but I thought I was in love and I was determined to make a life for us and eventually be able to get married and have our own home.
I had big dreams and lots of ambition, but I had no time to spend with my girlfriend. She quickly got bored, went back home to her wealthy parents and was married within six months to some rich guy. Needless to say I was heartbroken and devastated. The pain and loneliness I felt were more than I could bear at times, often making me cry and feel like a fool. It hurt so much I soon ended up dropping out of college and moving away. At the time I didn’t realize it, but that was the best thing that could have happened to me. She was not the right person for me because although she was attractive on the outside, she was definitely ugly on the inside. Over time I realized that I had learned two lessons from that painful experience 1) judge people by their inner heart not their outer beauty and 2) if you want to be loved, you must have a loving heart yourself.
Over the past 58 years I have experienced plenty of hard lessons in my life but the truth is....I’m grateful for every single one. I realize now that every difficult situation we encounter is really just God’s way to help us learn and grow on the inside. And while every tough lesson might give me another gray hair, it will also continue to make my heart and soul ever stronger!
Epilogue 1:    
My girlfriend from high school thought she was marrying a rich guy, but two years after they got married he was sent to prison for stealing from his company.
                        That’s karma baby!
Epilogue 2:    
I may have been dumped, but I ended up marrying a woman who is supremely beautiful on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside!
                          That’s double karma baby!
The real “love of my life” joins me for lunch!

As water reflects a face,
a man’s heart reflects the man.
                                ~ Proverbs 27:19

Monday, April 22, 2013

Divine Design

It is hard to separate our hearts from our minds. The heart is simple, driven by emotions such as passion, hope, desire and dreams. But the mind is much more complicated, always searching for answers to questions big and small. Still they have to communicate with each other on every issue, so the heart fuels the brain while the brain drives the body and together they allow us to move forward each day, hopefully moving in the right direction.

That seems like a good combination because I know from experience that when I go with only what my heart wants I often get hurt and when I go with only what my brain wants, I sometimes end up hurting someone else and I don’t want that either. I guess it’s best to use both.

For example, yesterday morning I was helping my son fix up his new home. But I also had a golf tee time at 11:30. So I was at Home Depot picking up all the things we forgot the first trip (you know how that goes) and I am really rushing to get to the check-out line so I can finish the work and not miss my tee time, when I spot a small elderly Asian man struggling to lift heavy boxes onto a cart. My mind is telling me to walk on by and keep going, but my heart is telling me to stop and lend a hand. So I did stop and when I put both my heart and my mind together, what I came up with was to…..Stop and do the right thing because golf courses are always running late anyway and chances are it will all work out. And of course it did and even better, you should have seen the big smile and gracious bow that the Asian man gave me. He made me feel really special!

And that got me thinking… Perhaps we were given both a heart and a mind as part of a “Divine Design” by our Creator. He designed us to be both loving and compassionate, and yet also strong and intelligent. All we have to do is recognize the tools we have been blessed with and make sure to use all of them!

(And if we’re still confused, well…..that’s when we turn to our Creator for a little advice!)

There is no exercise better for the heart
than reaching down and lifting people up.
                                                                                                   ~ John Andrew Holmes, Jr.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Proper Perspective

Angels Win! Angels win! On Saturday night the Angels won a game and the players were jumping around hugging each other like crazy. It was just a regular game, but the Angels had lost 8 out of 10 games so far and the season was starting to look really gloomy. So I don’t blame the players for celebrating. (Okay, I was jumping around really happy too and my wife just looked at me like I was a nut!) But I noticed when they focused on the manager, Mike Scoscia, he was very calm. But then he never looks really down when they’re losing either. Scoscia is one of the best managers in baseball and it’s probably because he has the proper perspective. He focuses on the big picture.

Mike Trout Celebrates a Win!

Not only am I an Angel’s fan, I also play baseball for the Halo Baseball Club. For the last six years I was both a manager and a player, but this year I chose to step down and just be a player. We have four teams so I was hoping I would get drafted onto a team with a good manager because the manager can really make a difference, not just with wins and losses, but also with the quality of the experience for everyone on the team.

After the draft I could not have been happier. The manager of our team, Doug Ireland, is a lot like Mike Scoscia in that he too possesses a great perspective on the game. Although he is one of the best players on our team (kind of like our Mike Trout) he doesn’t have an arrogant bone in his body. He’s always smiling, always passing out praise, always focusing on the big picture not the minor mistakes. He leads by example on the field with great hitting and defensive gems and yet he also leads in the dugout with his calm demeanor and constantly positive attitude. Being part of a winning team is always fun, but being part of a team where you are treated like a winner... regardless of the outcome... is rare. I don’t know who taught Doug to have the proper perspective about sports, but by his own example, he is teaching the rest of us the importance of focusing on the big picture.

By the way, we played a game yesterday at Fullerton College. We were down eight runs at one point but with Doug’s encouragement we fought back and took the lead in the 8th inning. Unfortunately we ended up losing by one run but it wasn’t Doug’s fault, he threw a complete game including an insane 154 pitches, plus got multiple hits when he was batting. We didn’t win but after the game, Doug had only praise for the comeback effort our team made. Perhaps that was his most important contribution!

As far as I’m concerned, baseball is a lot like life. There will always be ups and downs and wins and losses. If we focus on everything that goes wrong, it’s easy to get upset and frustrated.

But if we focus on the big picture and realize that…

·         Every mistake is a learning experience and

·         Every loss is one step closer to a win

Then we will…

·         Enjoy every moment and

·         More importantly… make every moment enjoyable for those around us!
Perhaps that is what is meant in the Bible in Colossians 3:2 where Paul says “Set your minds on the things above, not on the things of the earth.”

Doug Ireland, Manager/Player/*MIP - Halo Baseball Club
(*Most Inspirational Player)

A man can do an immense deal of good,
if he does not care who gets the credit for it.      
                           ~Father Strickland, 1863

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Nightstand, My Life?

By Debby Thrailkill

I have noticed that I use the word “Fun” a lot. I like to have fun, to bring fun to others. I try to be in the moment more these days. I am in the stage of life where I am hot pretty much all of the time. People I spend time with spend their time wearing sweaters, in SoCal. Time and Fun, are both precious to me. One of the most interesting pieces on my nightstand is an hourglass. Crystal and tall and filled with blue sand, I bought it so that I would make a better effort to leave for work on time, but soon discovered that it will only measure my hour if I remember to turn it over.  Anyways, Joe told me to be succinct and clear with my message, so back to it. I wondered if my nightstand… and possibly yours…are indicators of who we are and of what is precious to us. I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection, and wondering about the footprint I am leaving. Could my nightstand offer the key to understanding what I am all about? Let’s take a look….

On top of my nightstand is a French memo board, with photos of all the people I love the most pinned to it in a hodgepodge but artsy sort of way. Most prominent are pictures of my family…children and grandchildren (its, OK…I’ve been carded every year to date!), husband, parents, and grandparents. Also fastened to the board is a miniature elf, made of colored felt that used to hang on my beloved Grandmother’s Christmas tree. The elf reminds me of everything that feels so wonderful from my past.
My hope and faith is there, read silently each morning, The Daily Bible in Chronological Order. In Him, I pray for protection and strength, wisdom and grace. I am thankful for those who have led me down this path; my Mom for taking little me to church, Pastors Don Kutz, Lori Souder and Brad Fogal, who have preached His word and represented our faith at the important occasions in our lives, and to my husband for leading our family in our faithful lives.
Of course there are the essentials (my water bottle, lip gloss, a hairclip to pile my hair in a messy bun on top of my head to cool down, eyeglasses…and I hate to admit it …the TV remote). Also, a stack of three VS rewards cards. I am hoarding Victoria Secret reward cards, so I can shop with abandon online for all my favorite and colorful spring things, and rub off the secret code from the back of the cards, revealing all the money I’ve saved just for shopping! And, a card Joseph gave me, one that makes me laugh and feel special, a Hoops and Yoyo Hallmark card.

My SCO nametag sits in the middle…as it is in my life. South County Outreach (SCO) is a local charity that we have been honored to be a part of for 20 years. At SCO, families are fed, taught, supported. Others are given the opportunity to help those in need. Have a gift? Give it at SCO. Need a gift, come find it at SCO. I could go on about the founder being an Angel on earth, starting a nonprofit at 70 years of age, all we have gained from giving, but I digress. See for more information. Back to my nightstand.…

Inside my nightstand is a beautiful box covered with seashells that holds the tiniest trinkets from my life. It is what I would grab as I was running and away from a fire, earthquake, or a tsunami! It wouldn’t mean anything to anyone, but its contents mean everything to me.

Finally, I have a wooden frame with paint printed letters on it. I aspire to achieve its message: Think Deeply, Speak Gently, Love Much, Laugh a lot, Work Hard, Give Freely, and Be Kind. I go to bed and wake up reading this, and hope that I can leave this footprint wherever I go. What does your nightstand reveal about you? Now, go have some fun today.

Good for the body is the work of the body,
and good for the soul is the work of the soul,
and good for either is the work of the other.
                         ~Henry David Thoreau

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Hawk and The Crow

On Sunday I celebrated Easter with my family and watched the little kids hunt for Easter eggs. The innocence of youth is so special and amazing and yet you know they are going to grow up someday and face a harsh world full of evil, pain and hatred. I don’t know why it has to be that way but I do know that if you understand the “reason for the season” you never have to fear the future.
Watching kids play and thinking about Easter reminded me of an Easter children’s story. Once upon a time many, many years ago, there lived a large black crow. He was very kind, very loving and very wise. He flew above the forest every day watching all the other creatures until one day he spotted a hawk’s nest high up in a tree. There was only one baby hawk in the nest and he was all alone. Suddenly the baby hawk tripped and fell from his nest hitting the ground hard. The Crow took pity on the tiny hawk, swooped down, picked him up and carried him back to his own nest where he cared for him and nurtured him back to health.
After several weeks the big black crow began to teach the little hawk to fly. Before long they were soaring through the forest together, having great fun every day. The crow taught the hawk everything he needed to know and they became best friends. After several months the little hawk was no longer little, he was as big as the big black crow but there was definitely something different about them. Everywhere they went, people would say, “Look at that beautiful, magnificent hawk. He is gorgeous and regal and can soar so beautifully.” But they would also say, “Look at that crow. He is nothing but an ugly, squawking creature that can barely fly in a straight line.” People wrongly judged the hawk and the crow by focusing only on how they looked.
One day the hawk and the crow flew over a beautiful green golf course. Down below the crow spotted two young boys with BB-Guns hiding in the bushes. As soon as the crow saw one of the young boys raise his rifle skyward, he squawked as loud as he could and flew in front of the hawk. The bullet hit the brave crow in the chest and dropped him to the ground like a rock falling from the sky. The hawk watched in horror as the boys ran away and his best friend fell to the ground.
The hawk flew to the ground and stood over his mortally wounded friend. “Why did this happen, crow? You are so kind and loving to everyone. Why would they do this to you?” The crow, mortally wounded, answered in a soft voice…
My friend, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And do not mourn for me, for I promise you… we will be together again someday soon, in a place where there is no evil, no pain and no hatred. A place and a future…..where there is only love!”
The hawk, realizing that the crow had never lied to him, believed what he was told, and thanked the crow for his love, his sacrifice and his wisdom. The crow smiled, took his last breath, and then he was gone.
“Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”
                                                                                     ~ Clarence W. Hall