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Monday, August 26, 2013

Hunger Games

Recently I went to the hospital to get an upper endoscopy performed on my throat and stomach. The procedure itself isn’t so bad because they put you to sleep while they do it; the bad part is you have to fast beforehand. By the time I got home and was finally able to eat, I had gone nearly 24 hours without food or juice of any kind. It was an uncomfortable feeling to go without food, but not a strange one. I have been hungry before.
When I was 17 and still in High School, I was living on my own. My Dad had retired from the Marine Corps and he and my Mom moved to San Francisco where he landed a new job. I stayed behind to finish High School and lived in a small plywood shack on a neighbor’s ranch. I worked part time for the Rancher earning just enough to get by, but at one point the rancher went on a long vacation so there was no work for me and therefore no money. I got by for a few days eating english muffins and peanut butter, but that quickly ran out. I wrangled myself dinner with a friend’s family one night but I was embarrassed about my situation and too proud to ask for any additional help.
What little money I had I used to fill up my car, so I had a full tank of gas but an empty stomach. It felt really bad to be hungry and I became desperate so I drove into town one evening remembering that a kid in one of my classes worked at the local KFC restaurant. I waited until closing time and then asked if I could help him clean up in return for some food. He asked me why I didn’t just go home to eat and I explained about the shack and running out of muffins and I think he took pity on me because he allowed me to come by every evening for the next few weeks and help him close in exchange for a couple pieces of chicken.
I believe that short period of hunger really helped to shape my life. It forced me to become a stronger more resourceful person at a very young age. I also learned about the kindness of strangers and how good it feels to help others. I guess all of us have times in our lives when we are on God’s anvil because he is busy shaping us….and if we let Him shape us properly we will not only become stronger people, we will also become more compassionate for others in the same situation. Not only do I never want to go hungry again, I don’t want others to go hungry either.

Before looking for something to eat and drink,
we should look for someone to eat and drink with.
              ~ Epicurus
This poor guy has been waiting way too long
for someone to eat and drink with!
Note: If you are interested in helping feed the hungry and homeless...go to  which is home page for The South County Outreach and check out their upcoming event called "Hungry Bowls".

Monday, August 19, 2013

People and Patience

As a business owner and a salesperson I have always had to do a lot of driving. Over the years I have learned to be patient and stay calm, but a couple of weeks ago I really blew it. I was in a bad mood and ended up being very rude to another driver, taking their parking spot. I don’t know what got into me but I immediately felt bad and regretted it. I instantly knew I made a mistake but there was no way to correct it because the other driver was gone. (What in the heck is wrong with me!)

On Friday morning this week, I was headed to work and the traffic was really heavy on Bake Parkway as I neared my office. There was a black pickup truck up ahead and I noticed that a small car changed lanes suddenly right in front of him and then changed lanes again to get into the left turn lane. The guy in the black truck was obviously angry because he laid on his horn and stuck his middle finger out the window. It seemed like a ridiculous response for two reasons, a) the car that cut in front of him didn’t slow him down because it didn’t stay in front of him and b) since he kept his “gesture” going as he passed by a dozen cars in the left lane, it seemed like he was giving every single person turning left the same single finger salute. I laughed about it… but only for a second…because it reminded me of my own rude behavior.

On that same Friday evening, I was headed home from work and the traffic was really heavy on Coast Highway in Dana Point. Again there was a pickup truck (a white one this time) directly in front of me and we were both stopped behind about 30 other cars at a stop light. Way up ahead I could see that somebody was trying to pull out from a shopping center onto Coast Highway but none of the cars in our lane would let him in. The light turned red again and as I sat there I noticed the white truck had a bumper sticker that read, “Pacific Coast Church – San Clemente”. I had planned to let the guy from the shopping center pull out in front of me (now that’s my normal behavior!) but the guy in the white truck beat me to it. That made me smile and restored my faith in my fellow man…and myself.

I know in my heart that I always want to do the right thing. But I also know that I am human and therefore I will make mistakes. However, if I can learn from my mistakes then hopefully I can cut down on them in the future. What I learned last week is that whether you do the right thing or the wrong thing you’re going to have to live with it forever...and living with regret is no way to live!  

Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you
but scorn in the one ahead. 
                                                                   ~ Mac McCleary                                                             

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Rose

When I was just a young boy, around 10 or 12, I started having a recurring dream. The dream was about a dark haired girl who was standing in front of our house near a planter filled with roses. She was really cute and really fun and always smiling. In my dream her name was Debbie. I am not sure what the rosebushes had to do with it, but they were beautiful and so was she. I must have had that dream a dozen times and I couldn’t stop thinking about her even during the daytime. I can still remember that dream today like it just happened.

Fast forward 46 years later. I dated a lot of girls over the years, got married way too young and divorced way too late, but finally met and married a dark haired girl named Debby. (Okay so I didn’t get the spelling quite right in my dream, but I was close!) I have been in love with her for over 20 years and count my blessings every single day. It took me a long time to find her but it was worth the wait. I am amazed that I actually ended up marrying the “girl of my dreams” but even more amazed that she loves me back. I am not saying our marriage is perfect but our love for each other is… and we show it to each other every day.

On Tuesday Debby attended a lunch at Nick’s Restaurant in downtown San Clemente. She went with a small group of friends and asked me to pick her up afterwards. I arrived a little early and decided to find a florist and buy her a rose. I am not sure why I did that because as I am leaving the florist and walking down the street with one long-stemmed rose in my hand…I am getting all kinds of funny looks from people. I know what they’re thinking, either I screwed up and need to make amends or else I am on a first date trying to make a good impression. Either way I got some funny looks and started thinking maybe the rose wasn’t such a good idea.

I was still early, so I sat down on a bench in front of the restaurant and waited. Finally Debby came out, walked right by me without noticing me, and started down the street. Here I am embarrassed about people seeing me with a rose and yet the one person I bought the rose for, couldn’t see me even though I was only two feet away. (I probably should have bought a whole bouquet of roses…then she would have noticed me!) Anyway, when I caught up to her and handed her the rose, she smiled at me in the most wonderful way, her eyes glowing, her dimples showing and I swear I fell in love with her all over again. At that moment I felt like I was back in that dream admiring the cute little girl with the dark hair standing in front of the rosebushes. I wrapped my arms around her, kissed her deeply and couldn’t care less about what anyone who saw us was thinking. If you are lucky enough to be with the woman (or man) of your dreams, let them know… and it will grow… just like a rose!

Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower, and you it’s only seed.
                                                   ~ Bette Midler, “The Rose”                                                         

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tears of the Heart

Sometimes going to the Dentist can bring a person to tears, but last week just the opposite happened. When I went to see my Dentist, I actually made him cry. It surprised me because I didn’t mean to do that, I just wanted to share a story with him. I guess it was a story that touched his heart.
If you have been reading my Monday Messages for a while then you know the story of Mrs. Pao Chi Chen. She is the elderly Chinese woman that I ran over with my truck in a parking lot last year. She was hospitalized for months and nearly died, so it was one the worst things that ever happened to me in my life (and to her in her life). And yet God showed me how it was also one of the best things that ever happened….for both of us. I still see Mrs. Chen every week. We go for walks, or out to lunch or to local museums and have a deep friendship that will never end. She was lonely and needed a friend…and I needed to be reminded not to take life for granted.  
There was a singularly defining moment for me in the Mrs. Chen story and it had to do with the Bible. I had been reading the Bible faithfully every morning for years, but failed to read it that fateful Friday. I don’t know why I didn’t read it, but as soon as I got home from the hospital I opened it to the page where I left off the day before and read, “With God there are no accidents. There are only incidents designed to draw us closer to Him”. Reading those words brought a flood of tears from my heart that night as I prayed for God’s help to heal Mrs. Chen and to heal my broken heart as well.
Obviously God answered my prayers so that is why I sometimes share my “Mrs. Chen Story” with people that I meet. I don’t share it with everyone because it’s deeply personal and still hard to talk about, but when the moment feels right I will sometimes speak out in the hope that I can touch another person’s heart in a good way and possibly bring them closer to God as well. I don’t mean to make them cry but sometimes tears are the best words a heart can speak!

The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.
                                                         ~ John Vance Cheney