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Monday, June 24, 2013

A Thing of Beauty

For Father’s Day my youngest daughter gave me a book called “Daily Joy”. It was a thoughtful gift because it contains 365 inspirational quotes, one for each day of the year, which I can use for my Monday Messages. My wife saw me open this gift and told me the quote on the back cover was her favorite of all time. The quote by John Keats is… A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
When she told me it was her favorite quote, I asked her why? She said, “I don’t know. I just like it.” I explained, “No, what I’m asking is….Why is a thing of beauty a joy forever? We thought about it and talked about it and then we came up with an answer together. It’s because once you experience a thing of beauty, once you taste it, touch it, feel it or see it…it becomes emblazoned into your memory forever. You can always recall it and re-experience it in your mind.
My wife’s lost wedding ring is a good example. Back in December of last year, Debby was at a Board Meeting when she noticed the main diamond missing from her ring. All the people stopped what they were doing and helped her search the building. Eventually someone found it on the floor of the restroom. Debby was thrilled and wrapped the diamond and the rest of the ring carefully in a tissue and stuck it in her purse. When we got home she put the tissue into a ziplock baggie intending to take it in for repair. A few days went by and when it was time to go to the jewelry store, she couldn’t find the baggie. The house cleaners had come the day before and with great horror she realized that they must have thought the baggie was trash and thrown it away. That ring contained precious family diamonds as well as a diamond I gave her so it had huge sentimental and emotional value. It was gone, but the memory will never be, and that joy will last forever.
Perhaps that’s the way it is with faith as well. My faith in God is based on life experiences that I have had over many years. I can no longer see, taste or touch them, but I can definitely feel their effect on my life. I have called on God for help many times and He has always been there for me. Sometimes it might be in ways I don’t understand at the time, but when I look back, I see the beauty in what He did for me…and it gives me great joy…which will last forever!
I also like the way God will throw a few surprises into our lives from time to time. A few days ago my wife and I were driving to work and we were running late, so we left in a hurry. My wife had a pair of earrings in her hand when she jumped into my truck, intending to put them in on the way to work. However, she realized she was already wearing earrings. (That’s my Lucy!) Anyway, she opened the glove box to look for something to put the earrings into and lo and behold…what did she find…a baggie with something precious inside!

 Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket,
and then counting your blessings before they hatch. 
~ Ramona C. Carroll

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Real Men of Orange County

While The Real Housewives of Orange County (RHOC) reality TV show is a train wreck and really hard not to watch, it got me thinking about The Real Men of Orange County and how lucky we are to be surrounded by some of the best quality “Real Men” around.

Before the first season of the RHOC TV show, tryouts were held in our Coto de Caza community. The ad posted at the local country club and in the hood suggested coming down to audition for a new TV show that would be similar to “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in nature and be taped locally. Maybe due to boredom or local TV excitement in our area, my daughter and I applied, and ended up being picked to shoot a screen test. Afterwards they presented us with a contract to be part of the cast but the contract was complicated and scary – and we held off, mostly because we weren’t really sure what we would be getting in to. In hindsight, I am so glad we chose not to participate!
With Father’s Day here, I realized how privileged our OC community is to be filled with some really great role models. I am not referring to well known men, but the men I come in contact with in every day life. I am lucky to be married to a man who goes out of his way to put others before himself, encouraging people to be honest, ethical and faithful. Many of our male friends are loving fathers who are engaged in their children’s lives and working hard to be a part of their family, not just a fringe player to Mom. Our newest neighbor is a single Father with two teenage girls who waved to us this morning as he was cruising by the beach on his Seadoo, followed by his two daughters on their own boats. Not your typical Monday morning, but how fun…a Father taking time off work to spend it bonding with his daughters…guy style.
The men in OC work hard and many also strive to be leaders in the community. I have a board meeting tonight with five men who donate their time to our charity, South County Outreach. The men I work with are also great dads, bragging about their kids accomplishments and rushing home to spend quality time with their families. Many of our friends are dedicated to helping each other learn to lead their families in faith and support each other in that journey. I am impressed and grateful that so many of the men in OC are well rounded, striving to be the best they can be.
Fortunately I was raised to be confident (RHOC material - Yes), and to make wise decisions (RHOC material - No). And while I am capable of being independent and rocking it, going it alone wouldn’t be my first choice. Even though I love the ladies in my life, I think "The Real Men of OC” are incredible.
It’s not the men in my life,
it’s the life in my men. 
                  ~ Mae West

Monday, June 10, 2013

Go With The Flow

Last Thursday my wife and I found a real surprise when we came home. Since our lot at the beach is somewhat elevated, the ocean normally never gets closer than about 40 feet to our home. However, on Thursday evening as we sat out on the deck, there were huge ocean swells and the water was coming all the way up to our brick fire ring. Before we knew it, our fire ring was destroyed and powerful waves were pushing the bricks towards the short sea wall in front of our patio. Many of our neighbors were out bracing their homes with plywood and sandbags, but being newbies at the beach, we were caught off guard and didn’t have the proper supplies to fend off the ocean waves.
I started to move all the patio furniture closer to the house, but it was too late. Huge waves roared up the beach and slammed over the top of our sea wall, flooding our patio with water and debris. Four houses to the south, the water was so high it flooded their patio and side yard and flowed all the way out to the street on the other side. There was nothing we could do to stop it, so we decided all we could do was “go with the flow”. Fortunately we were one of lucky ones. The tide receded and the inside of our home escaped damage but it reminded us that the ocean can be unpredictable and uncontrollable.
Life can also be unpredictable and uncontrollable. My next door neighbor at the beach, John, is a wealthy businessman whose last name is associated with one of the largest sporting complexes in Los Angeles. He is close to 70 years old and for the last 10 years he’s been married to a vivacious young woman from Columbia. She reminds me of Sofia Vergara on the TV show “Modern Family” because she is very loud, very passionate and very full of life….except that she isn’t really (full of life) because she has cancer. She’s been fighting it for a year and half but it’s come back again. The doctors want her to keep taking Chemo treatments but they also told her she probably only has 4-6 months to live.  Recently she told my wife she stopped taking the Chemo pills because they make her sick and bed-ridden. She says she doesn’t want her husband and children to remember her as sickly. She wants them to remember her the way she really is, happy, outgoing and passionate about life. I guess she has decided to “go with the flow” even though the outcome may shorten her life.
Death is a scary reality for sure, but it’s a definite reality for all of us. So perhaps that’s why it’s so important we cherish every day we have here on earth and make the most of it. If you knew today was going to be the last day of your life, how would you spend it? Who would you go see and who would you call? And more importantly….how do you know it’s not?

Life is like a coin.  You can spend it any way you wish,
but you only get to spend it once. 
                                                                                             ~ Lillian Dickson

Ocean Waves “go with the flow” onto our patio!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Talking Trash

I hate to admit it but sometimes I can be a real idiot! Two days ago I really let myself down and was feeling like a total piece of trash for it. What happened was… I told my wife one of those little white lies, except there is no such thing as a little white lie. A lie is a lie no matter what, even when it isn’t even about something important. I was supposed to go golfing with a customer and my customer didn’t show up so I went golfing anyway. When my wife asked me how it went, I lied by saying, “We had a good time.” Right after I said it, I wanted to crawl under a rock, which is exactly where I belonged!
Here’s the funny thing about telling a lie. For most people the act itself brings on more grief (the self-imposed kind) than you would have gotten had you told the truth in the first place. Besides that, my wife is the love of my life and she deserves far better from me. So I went to her yesterday morning and confessed my mistake and asked her to forgive me. Fortunately, she knows I do stupid stuff sometimes, but she also knows how much I truly love her, so she forgave me. But I’m not going to let myself off the hook that easy. I know that being honest is an important part of developing good character, and developing good character is something I am committed to. So I will keep working on it every single day.
Speaking of character and working on it, something else happened this weekend. I stopped by a gas station to fill up and I couldn’t get the credit card machine to work right. So I went inside and asked the lady attendant for help. As I walked back to my truck I notice some trash lying on the ground. I passed it up but then my conscience got the better of me, so I turned around, walked back, picked up the trash and threw it in the trash can. It was a small thing and nobody was watching but it felt right to me. Except….somebody was watching. The lady attendant, Maria, came running over to me and said, “Hey, I saw what you did! You picked up that trash and threw it away for me. Thank you for doing that, it says a lot about your character.” I laughed inside as I thought, “Lady, if you only knew how good that comment makes me feel right now!”

Maria makes me smile!
 The true test of a man’s character
is what he does when no one is watching.
                                                                                               ~ John Wooden