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Monday, October 28, 2013

Heart on Fire

Halloween is coming up Thursday and everywhere you look there are stores selling costumes. It’s fun because for one day each year we get to put on a costume and be somebody or some “thing” that we are not.

It’s amazing how hiding behind a mask can sometimes help us break out of our shell. It gives us the courage to act differently than normal, perhaps with a bit more personality, more spirit, more flair. And although it’s fun to be different, the truth is….each and every one of us is already different because each and every one of us is already unique. We are not unique because we are flesh and blood with hair and hearts; animals have those features. What makes us unique is the stamp that God put’s on our lives when he plants us in this world to grow. We are formed one at a time, each person a separate and very special work of art.

In fact, I believe that part of what makes us unique is that every single person receives certain gifts when they are born. Some can sing, some can dance, some can change light bulbs (that’s me!) and some can cook. There are people with a passion for paperwork (accountants), those who love to make us laugh (comedians) and those who ignite our imaginations (writers). People being different is what makes life so interesting because imagine how boring the world would be if everyone looked, acted and thought the same.

However, sometimes it takes a while to discover our spiritual gifts. I remember when I was young I didn’t think I had a talent for anything special, so I just took the first job that came along. I was really grateful that somebody took a chance on me and after working in the business for a while, I began to admire my boss for his hard work and the loving way he treated his employees. Eventually I began to dream of starting my own business and maybe doing the same thing for my employees. Thirty-three years later I still love running a business and consider it just one of the many wonderful gifts I have received from God.

Last week my daughter Nikki sent me a photo of her two youngest children. Andie Rose is 5 and Jack is 6 and they were both dressed up in really great Halloween costumes. But a few days later I received a second picture of Andie Rose, this time just dressed for a regular day and it hit me...this girl has a flair for fashion. Maybe it’s one of her spiritual gifts and if it is….it looks like she is realizing it at an early age!
Andie Rose - Future Fashion Designer

Once you find what ignites your heart…
then you can let the fire in your heart light your path.
~ Anonymous

Monday, October 21, 2013

Is Anyone Listening?

Do you ever wonder if you have any real friends, people who truly care about you? You know how you can tell who your real friends are? They’re the ones that listen to you.
Yesterday was the final game of the year for our Halo Baseball Club and it was awesome. We always play our final game in Angel Stadium against local MSBL teams for charity and even though I’ve played there many times before, I still get goose-bumps when I walk onto that field wearing an Angel’s uniform. The Scoreboard was lit up, the President and the Chairman of the Angels were playing on our team, there were “Former Angel Players” in the stands and there were even free hot dogs. What could be better than that!
I’ll tell you what’s better than that… all the solid friendships that we have formed in our club. It took me over twenty minutes to get from the Diamond Club down to the dugout just because I had to stop and shake so many hands and give bro-hugs to so many good friends. I had people ask me about my work, my family, my recent injuries, etc. and then stand there and actually listen and care about what I had to say. I saw it all over the field, ballplayers smiling, talking and most importantly, listening to each other. On the other hand, we have all met that one guy, you know the one who goes on about himself incessantly, trying to impress you with everything he has done and everyone he has met, talking the whole time about himself and never really listening in return. That is so sad because guys like that have no friends and the reason is simple, they don’t know how to be a friend. All you have to do to be a friend is care enough to listen.
In the third inning of the game I hit a ground ball and as I was crossing first base, I got hit in the face by an errant throw. It bloodied my mouth, gave me a fat lip and rattled my teeth, making it hard for me to talk for the rest of the game. Plus it didn’t help my looks any either, but it did help me in one way. Without being able to talk very well, I became an even better listener. Let’s face it we have two ears but only one mouth for a reason… we need to listen more than we need to talk.
If you’re a good listener then chances are you have a lot of friends. But if you don’t because you’re new to the area, recently divorced, suddenly laid off from your job or just feeling lonely or lost for any reason….remember that there is always one person who is willing to listen. He cares about everything we do and everything we say…and treasures every single word we utter like a precious jewel. God listens because He is our ultimate friend.

The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.
                                                  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh                                                             


Halo Baseball Club 50+ Team at the "Bud Kuhl Invitational 2013"
Back Row - John Carpino, Bill Phelps, Chris Dunn, Jerry Hirsch, Carlos and Rick Pianelli, Bill Torres
Front Row - Dennis Kuhl, Greg Lund, Bob Houska, Scott Halperin, Joe Thrailkill, Tony Mauer, Danny Taylor

Monday, October 14, 2013

Spirit of Fear - Part II

My Monday Message last week talked about how important it is to lose our “spirit of fear”. My point was that we need to climb out of our comfort zone once in a while and try something new, something different, something challenging. Well, I guess at least one person took my message to heart and really challenged himself. That would be my Father-in-Law....and he did it at age 72!
It was Friday morning last week when the three of us took time off work to drive out to Fontana. Now Fontana isn’t exactly a “garden spot” but there is one venue out there that is extremely impressive, the Auto Club Speedway. It’s a huge two-mile oval race track that hosts a wide variety of NASCAR racing events. My Father-In-Law, Tom, and my nephew, Shane, joined me for an amazing adventure. We arrived at 7:45am and were immediately issued professional NASCAR jump suits and ushered into a large training room where we spent several hours watching video and listening to an instructor explain the dangers of driving a full blown race car at speeds approaching 150 mph. The instructor explained that we would be on our own and in complete control of the car, with no instructor on board, so we had better pay attention to the training.
Auto Club Speedway in Fontana
After suiting up we headed over to Pit Road with about 50 other men. We were then fitted with helmets and ear buds so that an instructor would be able communicate with us while we were driving. We received more instructions about when to pass slower drivers and other crucial items, but the last instruction really got our attention. “If you want to go fast, really fast, then don’t slow down entering the turns. The turns are banked, so just keep it floored and hang on!” At that moment one of the professional drivers fired up his car and the roar of that 600 horsepower engine rattled every bone in my body. My adrenalin was really flowing and as the professional driver roared around the track at over 150 mph all of us on Pit Road wondered, How on earth are we going to be able to duplicate that feat?”
My Nephew is 25, and I’m twice his age, but Tom is 72. However, Tom doesn’t look it or act it and when he folded his 6’- 4” body in through the window of that #99 race car; I really had to admire his courage. There was no one else even close to his age attempting to tackle this challenge and when the day was over all three of us had overcome our fear and conquered something extremely dangerous. But Tom, more than anyone else, proved that fear wasn’t going to stop him or even slow him down...his top speed was over 147 mph!

Race Car Drivers - Shane (in blue) and Tom (in red)
Tom driving the #99 Carl Edwards Race Car

He has not learned the lesson of life
who does not every day surmount a fear.    
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson             

Monday, October 7, 2013

Spirit of Fear

Do you know what a “spirit of fear” is? It’s when you’re afraid to get off your butt and out of your comfort zone and try something different, something that scares you or challenges you. I hate to say it but I’ve been there more times than I care to admit.
I guess it’s okay to hang out in your comfort zone some of the time. In fact my favorite comfort zone is when I get to sit on the couch with my feet propped up, watch a baseball game and eat a great lunch that my wife made for me…. that’s like a little piece of heaven here on earth.
But we also need to challenge ourselves both mentally and physically for several reasons. For starters it’s one of the best ways to grow and become a better human being. Secondly, it’s rewarding and can lift your self-esteem and boost your confidence. If we never challenge ourselves we will never find out who we really are. For example, The first time I was asked to give a speech in front of a crowd was back in 1992. The banquet room was filled to capacity and I was filled with fear and wanted to bolt out the back door. Somehow I got through it and when the audience applauded after I finished, I felt like a million bucks. I have given quite a few speeches since that time and I still get scared, but because I got through the first one and realized I could do it. I now have a lot more confidence and can overcome that particular fear much easier.
Physical challenges are really important as well. When you challenge yourself physically you overcome your fear, which feels good, but there’s a second benefit. You also reap the reward of becoming stronger and more physically fit. It doesn’t matter whether you hike or bike, run or swim, play softball or baseball, or just workout. When you challenge yourself physically you feel better and look better. How cool is that! Recently I took up a new sport…Stand Up Paddle Boarding. One of the reasons I chose to try it is because I have always had a slight fear of the ocean because I’ve never been a good swimmer. But several weeks ago I took off from the shore on a paddleboard with my heart was beating through my chest and once I got out there and started paddling around it was awesome. You’re out there communing with nature, surrounded by seagulls and pelicans, controlling your own destiny, and yet at the same time getting a great workout for your body. What a great way to break out of my own personal “spirit of fear”.
A lot of people will only stick with what they know because they’re insecure about trying something new and failing or getting embarrassed. In my opinion, the only time you fail or should be embarrassed is when you don’t try!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear;
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
   ~ 2 Timothy 1:7