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Monday, May 27, 2013

True Love

Today is Memorial Day, a day to honor those who serve to protect our lives and our freedom. But as I think about honoring those who serve, I realize there are three different groups of people we should remember to honor and respect.
There are those who served us in the past by joining the military and fighting in previous wars like the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Somalia. Many were wounded, many were killed, and many suffered traumatic experiences they will never forget. They are older now, but that doesn’t diminish their service or their sacrifices. They deserve our love and respect.
Then there are those who are serving in the military right now. There are thousands of young men and women who are fighting to protect us by serving overseas in foreign countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. These brave men and women are also being wounded and killed and traumatized far beyond what we can even begin to imagine back here in the U.S. They need our love and support and they need to know that we appreciate their outstanding service and deeply personal sacrifice.
But there are also those who serve by being the parents of the young men and women who are currently fighting for our freedom overseas. They too are serving by first raising honorable, brave children who valiantly join the military and secondly by supporting them and their courageous decision to put the lives of others before their own. It takes tremendous courage and love of country to support your child when you know they are placing themselves in harm’s way. When you truly love someone, it has to be incredibly hard to know they might soon be suffering.

And that got me thinking….What if you knew for sure your child was going to suffer and die. What if you knew for certain when you sent them off.…that they were going to be captured by the enemy, tortured beyond imagination and then killed in front of an angry mob. Would you still send them? Would you still send them off with your love and support? I don’t think I could do it….but I know someone who did. He did it because He truly loves all of us!

For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten son….
                                                                                                ~ John 3:16

May God Bless all of those who put their own lives on the line for the rest of us!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Open Doors

Last week the world lost a very good man and I lost a very good friend. I saw the email early Friday morning sadly informing me that a close friend of mine, Jack Templeton, had passed away. Jack was in his eighties and fighting cancer but it was still a shock to find out that he was gone and it hit me hard.
Jack was a retired Air Force Pilot who served our country with courage and devotion. In later years he served his community the same exact way. One example was the way he spearheaded the drive to install a new Cross on top of Battle Mountain in San Diego in 1988. That was when I met Jack for the first time and it was his faith in God and his passion for tackling extremely difficult projects that inspired me to get involved. I was at a very low point in my life but getting involved with Jack and the Battle Mountain Cross project changed my life, or should I say, gave me my life back. I will forever be grateful to Jack Templeton for his encouragement, his leadership and his passion for the Lord at a time when I needed it most.
Friday was also the day I was scheduled to play in a charity golf tournament. It was a tournament hosted by the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and I was invited by a new friend named Paul Huante. Paul and I got drafted onto the same Halo Baseball Club Team this season. He plays shortstop and I play second base so we see a lot of action together on the field. I figured playing in the golf tournament would be a good way for me to get to know Paul better and support a very worthy cause at the same time. I didn’t know much about Paul but I found out he owns his own business like I do so we have a lot in common. I also found out that Paul is a devoted husband, father of four and a christian who speaks openly about his faith and how it changed his life. As a business owner he takes his faith to work as well and believes in treating his employees and customers with love and respect as well.

Listening to Paul’s passion for people and love of life took away some of the sadness I felt for the loss of my friend Jack. It also reminded me that people come into our lives for a reason. Sometimes they become lifelong friends, sometimes they are only with us for a short time, but no matter what…there is a purpose to each and every relationship. And sometimes the timing itself….is part of the purpose!
When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so
regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.
                                                              ~ Helen Keller

Dear Jack,
If you are reading this Monday Message, please accept my gratitude for all that you have done, not just for me but for the thousands of others you have helped and inspired in your lifetime. You inspired me to be a better man by encouraging me to face my own personal challenges as well as encouraging me to face the physical challenge of placing a two ton cross on top of a mountain with no roads. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten.
With Love and Respect,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Love, Sacrifice & Tents

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It’s supposed to be the day we celebrate and honor our Moms, a day where we show them our love and take care of them for a change. However, I have a feeling that in most households Mom was still busy working yesterday, helping with the food, making sure everyone was happy and cleaning up afterwards. It’s not our fault that happens…Moms are just built that way. They love to do for others, take care of others and sacrifice their own wants and needs for others. My Mom is no exception.
When I was a little boy around 8 years old my Dad came home one night and told our family he was going to be deployed overseas. He said his Marine Corps Unit might be gone for as long as two years. To a little boy who can’t wait for the 3:00pm bell to ring at school, two years seemed like an eternity. It made me really sad but what I didn’t think about at the time was how hard it was going to be on my Mom being away from the man she loved so much. They were very close my Mom and Dad, inseparable and devoted to each other. Even though I was little, I could feel their love for each other every single day. Now I could feel the pain my Mom was going through without him. Sometimes I would wake up at night and hear her crying in her room and it scared me and gave me nightmares. But somehow my Mom would always put on a brave face, wrap her arms around me and make things better by telling me…..”Everything is going to be okay”.
Since times were tough and money was scarce, my Mom took a job working nights at a restaurant. Not only did she have to serve food to customers, she had to work hard to put food on our table as well. She never complained about it though and always had a positive attitude and a smile. I was too young to fully understand how hard things were for her, but I do remember one incident that gave me a glimpse of her love for her family and her willingness to sacrifice for us.
For Christmas that year I received a tent and I planned to use it to go camping with my Dad. But with my Dad 3,000 miles away there was little chance of that happening. So I asked my Mom (I mean…begged my Mom) to help me set up the tent in our back yard so I could have friends over that weekend to “camp out”. She knew it was important to me and that I couldn’t do it on my own, but she had no time to help me because she was late for work. I went to bed that night really upset, missing my Dad more than ever, and just a little bit mad at Mom for not helping me.
The next morning I woke up and went out into the kitchen. As I poured some milk on my cereal I noticed through the patio window that there was a tent erected in the back yard! I don’t know how my Mom managed to erect that huge tent all by herself…and I don’t even know when she did it. But somehow she did it. I ran outside and checked it out and noticed that she didn’t put it together quite right, a few pieces were in the wrong places, and that’s when it hit me. She didn’t have the time to be putting up a tent and she didn’t even know how to put up a tent…but somehow she did her best in the middle of the night because she loved me that much. I never worried about things again after that….I just knew “everything was going to be okay”! 
A mother is a person who….seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people....
promptly announces she never did care for pie.
                                                                                                       ~ Tenneva Jordan


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Living Proof

Back in March I wrote a Monday Message about a friend of mine named Charlie. I wrote about him because he was such a good and kind man, who was always trying to find ways to help others. He also inspired me with his courage and awesome attitude. Despite having stage four lung cancer and being given only three months to live, he was still working at his job, taking care of his young autistic son and volunteering time hosting a Kids Workshop at Home Depot every Saturday.
When I found out that Charlie had cancer and that it had spread to his lymph nodes, I started praying for him immediately. I prayed hard and I prayed every single day. He was at the top of my prayer list every morning and because of that, whenever I found myself frustrated or upset over something that went wrong in my life, the thought of Charlie’s situation would pop into my mind and I would realize that my problems weren’t really so bad after all. Imagine that…even Charlie’s cancer was a way for him to help others!
On Friday I had to drive to up to an Ayres Hotel in Los Angeles to solve a lighting problem for an important customer.  That is something I really enjoy, however, I also had a ton of work on my plate back at the office still to do. So when I got caught in really heavy traffic on the way back, I became seriously frustrated. One thing about being stuck in traffic, it gives you a chance to do some thinking. My thoughts turned to Charlie and I started thinking about one of the “personal” reasons I was praying so hard for him…regret! You see, a long time ago I did something wrong to Charlie. He doesn’t know about it but I do… and I have always regretted it and wished I could do something to change it, but I can’t.

Ayres Hotel - Hawthorne
Twenty years ago, Charlie’s wife worked for me at my company. She was young and petite yet she had this oversized personality that, when coupled with her New York accent and New York attitude, gave her tongue quite a bite. She would say outrageous things and have people at the office laughing and talking about it for days. But she would also say bad things about Charlie, that he was boring and useless and no fun. She said he didn’t understand her (but then who did). I listened to her on several occasions and yet kept quiet. I didn’t stand up for Charlie and I didn’t encourage her to work on her marriage. I should have advised her to focus on his good qualities, focus on the reasons she fell in love with him and focus on putting more effort into the marriage. Instead I kept quiet. Even worse I laughed at her funny but hurtful comments. Shame on me! Several years later, despite having a loving husband and an autistic son, she left her family behind and moved back east with another man. Charlie was devastated, but because he was a good man who loved his son, he made the best of things. I regret not having done right by Charlie back then but I can’t change things. However, I know in my heart that I can do right by him now…by praying for him to live.
Later in the day on Friday, I was buried in work at my desk. In fact, I was staring so hard at my computer and typing away so furiously that I didn’t notice that someone had walked into my office and was standing in front of my desk. When I looked up, I saw that it was Charlie and I was so excited I literally jumped right out of my chair to go give him a hug. I was so happy to see him and surprised because he actually looked good. He said, “Hi Joe. I just wanted to stop by to see you for a moment and thank you for your prayers. I have to continue chemo treatments for three more months, but guess what….I’m cancer free!”
Hearing those words, I literally got goose-bumps all over my body. My heart was filled with joy and I couldn’t stop smiling all day! I know some people will say that my prayers have nothing to do with Charlie being healed from lung cancer. But that doesn’t change the fact that this time… I did right by Charlie…and I have absolutely no regrets about that!

We all have regrets because we all make mistakes,
but life doesn’t stop when we make a mistake.
We can use our mistakes to learn and grow and become
“living proof” that people can change for the better!
                                                                                  ~ Joseph Allen Thrailkill