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Monday, December 29, 2014

Have Your Eyes Really Seen?

Every day we go out into the world with our eyes open and gaze upon the world around us. But what do we really see if we only use our eyes and not our hearts?

Over the Christmas Holiday season I was blessed to spend a lot of time with my family and close friends. Normally, if I watch people with just my eyes, I see them going through their normal everyday lives driving to work, shopping for groceries, picking up kids, cleaning their homes, just normal stuff. But over the holidays I made it a point to really look at people more closely, with my heart as well as my eyes, and it helped me to see things much differently.

I saw people constantly going out of their way to show their love for others. Sometimes it was just in small ways that could easily be missed if you weren’t watching carefully. Other times I saw people shower their love on others in big ways, hugging, kissing, exchanging gifts, sharing a meal and giving thanks to God for family and friends. There is something about the Holiday Season that brings out the best in people and I think it’s that we are allowed, in fact encouraged, to express our love more openly and more freely than usual….and that certainly makes life better for everyone. It also makes sense to show our love for each other during the Christmas season because that’s the time when God most openly demonstrated His love for us.

But why not express our love for each other more openly all year long? I know there are a lot of people who are lonely and hurting and looking for love, so maybe this would be a great New Year’s resolution….Instead of spending our time looking for love, we could spend our time looking to share our love!

“The words I have to say may well be simple but they’re true…until you give your love there’s nothing more that we can do.”
Love is the opening door
Love is what we came here for
No one could offer you more
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen?
~ from Elton John’s “Love Song"

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Real Meaning of Christmas

We had two of our young grandchildren stay overnight with us this past week, which means lots of non-stop giggling and laughing, so we really enjoy spending time with them. They play well together and are as inseparable as a brother and sister can be. But one of them, little 8 year old Jackie, suffers from severe asthma and has to use a breathing machine every single day. His younger sister, Andie Rose, cares deeply for him and constantly tries her best to make sure he is okay. Whenever Jack is struggling she will come running to get us. Her love is so clearly obvious that you can’t see it and not be affected by it.          
Obviously being a child isn’t easy even under the best of circumstances. Young children have to depend 100% on their parents to provide their every need, including food, shelter and most importantly, love. If they have kind and loving parents they will typically grow up to be good, kind, loving people. If they have selfish, self-centered parents they may well adopt those traits as they grow up. We have to remember that children are always looking to adults for examples of how to act and more importantly how to react when facing tough situations. Children want and need to learn from the adults in their lives, so we had better remember that.
However, after watching Andie Rose care so deeply for her brother, something occurred to me. If we slow down our own lives a little, and pay attention to the children around us, we just might learn something back.
      Quick Story - Jimmy was 9 when his mom told him his little sister was sick and would die if she didn’t get a blood transfusion – and Jimmy was one of the only people in the world who had the rare blood type needed. Jimmy loved his sister and though he didn’t know what was involved, agreed to give his blood.
      On the appointed day, Jimmy was solemn, but brave, when the nurse put the needle into his vein and began to drain his blood. After a few minutes of watching the bag fill, he began to get scared. Finally he asked the nurse, “How much longer will it be before I die?”
      The nurse was shocked. “You’re not going to die!” she said, and then she wept when she realized he thought he had to give all his blood to save his sister.
Courage and the willingness to sacrifice our own wants and needs to help others are two of the finest traits we can ever teach our children. Speaking of teaching, I am reminded of someone else who came to earth a very long time ago for that very same purpose. May His example live forever in our hearts!
"And that's the real meaning of Christmas - Charlie Brown!"

"And there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks,
and lo the angel of the lord came upon them and the glory of the lord
shone round about them, and they were sore afraid, and the angel said unto them,
fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord.
And suddenly there was with the angels a multitude of the heavenly hosts,
praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth -
peace, good will toward men."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Consider Consideration

The world can seem like a really crowded place, especially during the holiday season. Everyone is so busy with tons to do, and so little time to get it done. But as bad as crowds are, they can also serve a purpose… to remind us that we do not live in this world alone.  
Last week I drove to our mini-storage to try to find our Christmas ornaments. Having given away most of our possessions since we moved to a tiny beach house two years ago, I knew we didn’t have much left. All I found was one small box with a couple of red and green balls and a few “special ornaments” that my wife had saved. I put the box in my truck and started to leave when I noticed a mother and her little girl both pushing large rolling carts stacked with heavy items. The mother headed down the sidewalk but the little girl lost control of her cart and two of the wheels went off the curb. I could see her struggling but I could also see a man standing no more than 10 feet away, oblivious to the little girl. The girl struggled and struggled and the man just stood there pretending not to notice as he talked on his cell phone. Just as I put my truck in reverse to go back, the mother came running over to help her daughter and yet the man still never lifted a finger to help either one. I couldn’t believe the lack of consideration.
From there I drove to the Mission Viejo Mall to pick up my wife who was fighting the crowds to buy Christmas presents for our grandchildren. As I pulled up to the curb to wait for her, I noticed an elderly couple walking ever so slowly to their car. The man was using a walker but his lovely wife didn’t seem to mind as she walked patiently by his side. Just as they were getting into their car a white Mercedes pulled into their row and waited for their spot. After only about 30 seconds, the lady in the Mercedes started honking her horn. I don’t mean honk, honk, honk. She laid on that blaring horn non-stop for over two solid minutes, not only annoying the elderly couple, but everybody else in the parking lot as well. The funny thing is the lady in the Mercedes then took her time getting out of her car and strolled to the mall, apparently not even in a hurry. Talk about being inconsiderate.
When I got home with my sorry little box of ornaments, I was depressed about the sorry things I had seen. Taking a minute to be considerate and help a little girl, or taking a minute to be considerate and wait for a parking spot, are tiny little acts of consideration that only take a minute of time. Maybe we need to be reminded that the word consider means “to think about” and the word considerate means “to think about someone else”!

Our Beachfront Charlie Brown Christmas Tree!

God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through.
~ Anonymous

Monday, December 8, 2014

Captivating and Contagious

This week is typically the beginning of a very busy and stressful time of year. On top of all of our normal burdens, chores and responsibilities we have the added stress of the holiday season, which means heavy traffic, long lines and paychecks that can’t always fill the bottom of the Christmas tree, let alone the more important needs of our families.

So I have a suggestion that might help and it comes from playing golf. I have noticed that there are certain people that I enjoy golfing with a lot more than others. The people I enjoy are the ones that always appear to be having fun no matter how poorly their own game might be going. They are constantly smiling and cracking jokes. They notice and comment on the inherent beauty of the golf course with its lush green grass, ancient tall trees and abundant wildlife, and they are also quick with praise for others when somebody hits a good shot. That type of person brings a certain joy with them that is both captivating and contagious. They’re fun to be around and they make life a lot more fun for everyone else. Plus they lower the stress of the people they touch, which is truly a blessing!

Obviously we all have different personalities, so we can’t always be “that fun and happy person” all the time, but we can take small steps in that direction. What if we kept in mind that today (and each and every day) is a unique 24 hour precious moment in time that will never happen again because once it’s gone… we can never get it back! And what if within that 24 hour period every time we came in contact with someone else we immediately made it a point to think something positive about them! We would probably smile a lot more than normal and we would probably make those around us smile a lot more as well.

It really isn’t that hard to come with up a positive thought about somebody. You might not know them, or for that matter you might not even like them, but you can still find a positive thought if you try. Maybe the thought is…They have great hair, or their clothes fit nice, or they look healthy, or at least they still have all their teeth and can walk upright. I don’t know what the thought might be, but it’s not that hard to formulate a positive thought and guess what, a positive thought always bring a smile… and a smile is both captivating and contagious!

Christmas Ornament

Smiling is infectious,
You can catch it like the flu.
Someone smiled at me today,
And I started smiling too!

~ Anonymous

Monday, December 1, 2014

When I Hurt

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our family this year and it’s partly because our family keeps growing. In the past few years we have added five more grandchildren to the mix so there’s a lot to be thankful for. And speaking of thankful…one of the little kids asked if we could go around the room and have each person say what they are thankful for. Every person spoke up and every person spoke from the heart, giving thanks for a wide variety of blessings including love and friendship.

Being thankful is what Thanksgiving is all about, taking the time to express our gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us. But what about the non-blessings bestowed upon us? What about the anxiety of upcoming surgery, the fear of financial problems or the pain caused by inconsiderate people? Should we be thankful for the bad things in our lives? Should we be grateful for evil?

For example….Last Monday we discovered that thieves broke into the commercial mailbox at our business complex over the weekend and stole all the mail. That creates a huge problem for all the business owners because we will never know what documents, letters or checks were stolen and it will take months to straighten it out. Unfortunately we will never recover all of the lost information and the thieves will probably profit greatly from their evil doings. (Coincidentally, the personal mailboxes on our street were vandalized on Friday as well, creating the same bad situation at home.)

It’s going to take a few weeks to get a new commercial mailbox installed, so we now have to go to the Post Office every day to pick up our mail. When I picked up the mail on Tuesday there was a large mailing tube addressed to me personally and inside was a poster. It was an awesome poster made from photographs that were taken when I played at the MSBL Baseball World Series last month. It was a gift I didn’t know was coming and had it arrived over the weekend, it would have been lost forever. Ironically, the thieves would have found no value in it at all… but to me it is absolutely priceless!
I am convinced it is extremely important to be thankful for our blessings and express our thanks to God on a regular basis. As far as evil goes, I’m never going to be grateful for it, nor do I believe God causes it. But I can use it as motivation to be even more appreciative of the many blessings that I regularly receive. Although I’ve felt great pain in my life and although I’ve been hurt deeply many times, one thing I’m sure of…when I hurt…God hurts with me! (Why else would there be holes in His hands.)

Every happening, good or bad, is a parable whereby God speaks to us…
And the art of life is to get the message.  
~ Malcolm Muggeridge

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Perquisite Pumpkin

Per-qui-site (noun, formal)
“Another term for perk, as in extra or unexpected gift or benefit”

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! So about this time every year my wife starts baking dozens of loaves of Pumpkin Nut Bread to give to friends and family. Her Pumpkin Nut Bread isn’t just a “good eat” it’s absolutely 100% insanely delicious. I’ve told her many times she should start a business selling it and even though it’s only one product, she would probably get very rich with it.

However, my wife isn’t interested in getting rich. She just wants to put smiles on people’s faces…and boy does that pumpkin bread work!

On Saturday she gave me some pumpkin bread to give to each of my golfing buddies. We teed off super early in the cold and frosty morning air but finished in warm sunlight before noon. In between we had a great time golfing and sharing guy type stories and before I left, I gave each one of them a small loaf of my wife’s pumpkin nut bread. About an hour later I got a phone call from “JB” and he started the conversation saying, “I am not a considerate person. I mean I never call anyone to say thanks. But as I was driving home I couldn’t resist trying the pumpkin bread your wife made and it is really awesome. I don’t know…I just felt compelled and had to call you to say thank you!”

I laughed when I got that phone call from “JB”. He is such a great guy and I always have fun golfing with him, but his description of himself as not being a considerate person cracked me up. Maybe he doesn’t take the time to call and say thank you sometimes, but he is far from inconsiderate. He’s a single father who adores his son, an employer who is highly respected by his employees and a person who does a ton of charity work all year long. “JB” is a class act all the way and I actually feel guilty now that I gave him such a small loaf. (I’ll have to give him a double loaf at Christmas time!)

That phone call got me thinking about how the smallest acts of kindness can often have a profound impact on people. It might be a small loaf of pumpkin bread, or a quick phone call to say thanks, or even just a bright smile from a stranger. But no small act of kindness is ever a singular event. One person touched…touches another…who touches another… who touches another…and so on. Any act of kindness, even a perquisite pumpkin, is a gift that can keep on giving exponentially!  

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.
~ Cicero

Monday, November 17, 2014

Looking For Love

This is just my opinion, but I believe that most everyone born on this earth is born with an innate desire for love. It’s built into us from birth and since God is love and He created us out of love, then having love in our lives is truly a miracle, a miraculous gift from God! Maybe that is what is meant by “We were made in His image”.
However, we obviously have other desires as well, a better home, a bigger car, nicer clothes, or perhaps a real 40 hour work week, etc. But all of those things pale in comparison to our desire to love and to be loved back. Speaking of a 40 hour work week, one of my friends told me he was recently offered the option at his company of only having to work half days. The problem was he couldn’t figure out which 12 hours he wanted to choose. (LOL) Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is that human beings are wired for love and if we take the time to look around at the world and the people sharing it with us, it is absolutely on display 24 hours a day.

Yesterday I dropped my wife off at Rogers Gardens in Newport Beach so she could shop for some of their really beautiful Christmas ornaments. Her Charity is participating in the “Festival of Trees” this year where people donate their time and money to decorate Christmas Trees that are then auctioned off to raise money for needy people. People spending their time and their money to help others in need are obviously performing an act of love.
As I backed out of the parking lot, I saw an elderly couple getting out of their car. The woman unloaded a wheelchair and then very slowly and very carefully helped her husband into it so they could “stroll” through Rogers Gardens together. Obvious act of love.
I stopped at a gas station on my way home and noticed a woman on the corner with a small child and an even smaller cardboard sign asking for help. While I filled up with gas I saw at least three cars stop and give the woman money. I shouldn’t have been surprised that so many people were willing to help. Obvious act of love each time.

When I got close to home and drove down our narrow one lane street there a young father out front with his daughter. He was teaching her how to ride a bicycle but because the street is so narrow he put out cones to slow down the cars. He looked stressed but the young girl had a huge smile. Another obvious act of love.
And that got me thinking… If I ever feel sad or lonely all I have to do is look for love and I will find it….and then I will be reminded that inside each of us is a miracle!

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.
~ Anonymous

Monday, November 10, 2014

Carbon Copy Imprint

I have always thought that children were God's best invention. It's truly amazing how they grow so fast and learn so quickly. They get excited about everything and they take in everything around them like a sponge and that's where we as adults come in. Whether we have children of our own or just come into contact with children in our daily lives, we have to realize we leave an imprint. Children look up to us and picture us as supreme beings. So if we do leave an imprint on their lives, what should it look like? And would it be okay if it was a carbon copy of our own lives?

On Saturday I played in a baseball game with my Halo Baseball Club at Angel Stadium. It's our big end of the year charity event to raise money for Cerebral Palsy. Actually, Dennis Kuhl, Chairman of the LA Angels, started this event in memory of his father Bud Kuhl, and it's always a huge success. I mean who wouldn't want to wear a real Angel uniform and play baseball at the Big A in front of a couple hundred family and friends!

Everyone brings their children to this event and in between games kids are allowed to go onto the field and take pictures.  It's really fun because the kids get so excited and it doesn't hurt that former Angel Ballplayers like Clyde Wright and Rod Carew are usually there signing autographs and giving tours of Angel Stadium. Before the game even started I had a young boy, Tony, approach me and ask me for my autograph. He was only about 7 years old and even though I explained that I was not a real LA Angel, he wasn't buying it. He saw my uniform and was convinced I must be somebody special. I signed his baseball and off he went gathering dozens of autographs from everyone else in a uniform. One of the players even gave him a bat so that he could get autographs on a real wood baseball bat. That young boy never stopped smiling the whole game.

Our team played really hard and we gave it our best effort, but it didn't exactly go the way we hoped. We lost the game 8-4 but in all honesty, we had so much fun that it felt more like a win! After shaking hands with the other team the kids poured onto the field one more time. That same young boy, Tony, and his Dad approached me all excited and asked for a picture with me. Tony didn't care if I won or lost. He was just happy to be at a ball game and get to meet ballplayers. I admit that I was having so much fun, I didn't really care if I won or lost either and made sure that I was all smiles for Tony. I suppose I could have been dejected and felt like a loser, but then what kind of an imprint would that have left on Tony? Children need to learn that real "winning" is in the journey and the friendships you make along the way, not in the individual games played.

I have to admit that I am a very competitive person and I love to win as much as anyone. But I also realize there are always going to be little eyes upon me and they're going to be influenced more by my attitude than by my results!

Tony and Joe at Angel Stadium

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
~ Frederick Douglass

Monday, November 3, 2014

Don't Walk Away

Why do we sometimes let “fear of failure” keep us from experiencing the more awesome moments in life? I admit making that mistake several times and then regretting it afterwards, so recently I said yes to a very difficult challenge and discovered something “good” about “fear”.
I’ve been playing baseball on the Halo Baseball Club for over 10 years. I never played little league as a kid, so in the beginning when I started out with HBC, I wasn’t very good…and trust me…that’s an understatement! But I fell in love with the sport and made so many great friends that I decided to stick with it and see if could learn to be a decent player.
Slowly, over time, I became a solid defensive player but really struggled with hitting. Rarely did I bat over .200 for a season and it became a source of embarrassment and frustration for me. It got so bad that 18 months ago I was on the verge of walking away from the sport for good. But I remember sitting on the end of the bench after striking out…and praying about it…and shortly afterwards a teammate told me about a new hitting coach. His friendship and support touched me so I decided to give it one more try. I signed up for weekly lessons and started going to additional practices and really putting the work in. I read books on hitting, watched videos, and studied the good hitters on my team. I truly gave it my best effort and slowly things began to turn around. This past season was my best ever (.325 BA) and I found myself going to the plate with a new found confidence. My hard work was paying off and I discovered that the reward for hard work was that I was having a lot more fun!
Then in July…I got the news. I had been picked to play on an elite team that would be going to the 2014 MSBL World Series in Phoenix in October and competing in the 55+ division. I was in shock because I had never come close to being picked for a World Series Team before. After the news sank in, the fear started up. Playing in a team sport is scary because if you make a mistake, or drop the ball, you let down the entire team. Plus I would be playing with guys that are probably much better than I am and that scared the heck out of me.
The more I thought about it, the more I worried about it. After a few weeks the “fear of failing” was beginning to give me serious stomachaches. I decided it was going to be too hard and too stressful so I typed out a text message to the Manager, thanking him for choosing me, but declining his offer. However, I never pressed “send”. It’s funny, every time I thought about playing in the MSBL World Series my stomach got butterflies and I thought about sending the text message. I was basically making myself sick worrying about it but I still never sent out that message. And then it was time to go….
Upon arriving in Phoenix and attending the initial team practice, I realized my fears were fully warranted. These guys are good! I barely slept that night knowing our first game was the next day and I was literally so nervous the next morning I could hardly put on my uniform (#29). I knelt down and said a long prayer before leaving the Hotel room and it calmed me down because I pictured Jesus kneeling down right next to me, in the same uniform (#1 of course), telling me that he was on my team…and that no matter what happened I couldn’t let Him down. How cool is that!
We fell behind early in our first game but came back to win it in the end. Although I only came off the bench for one at bat late in the game, I did get a solid hit and felt great that I got off to a good start. The next two games were eerily similar. We fell behind in the first inning but came back to win both games. I now had a total of three at bats, with two hits, but also played some defense and surprisingly…didn’t drop the ball! My confidence was growing.
Game four was played at Tempe Diablo Stadium, at night under the lights. It was going to be videotaped so that was added pressure. I think our Manager was getting more confident in us as a team (and in me as well) because I got to play more than half the game and got two really nice hits to help us win. 
We exploded during games five and six, scoring double digit runs. I was getting a lot more playing time and surprising myself by getting multiple hits in each game. We were all feeling good but we also realized that playing 6 games in 4 days had taken a toll on us physically. Our pitchers were tired and we lost one of our catchers to a torn hamstring. We only had one catcher now and we had to play a double header the next day, and win both games, in order to make it into the Championship Game.
We won the quarter-final game! But in the semi-final game we fell behind early (as usual) and it looked like we were going to be stopped short of our goal. When I came up to bat in the 7th inning, we were down by two runs. As I approached the plate our third base coach took me aside. He reminded me I had been swinging a hot bat but he also reminded me to loosen my grip and, “Don’t swing for the fences, just try to make solid contact.” His advice worked and I drove in a run. We got another run in the 8th inning to tie the game and a close friend of mine on the team got a walk off hit in the 9th to win the game! I was so excited for him and so excited for our team…we all rushed onto the field to celebrate. Now it was time to play the Championship Game!
As the Championship Game started I thought about how I almost quit before I started. I laughed at myself because I realized now that no matter what happened in the Championship Game, I was having the best time in my life and I was so glad I didn’t send that text message. The game began and of course we fell behind in the first inning 2-0, but we fought back and tied it up. Over the next 8 innings we went back and forth. I was one for two at the plate so far and felt good about that, but when we got to the bottom of the 9th inning, tied up again, I was glad I wasn’t coming up with the game on the line. However, we stayed tied and went into extra innings and wouldn’t you know it…with two outs and two men on in the bottom of the 10th, it was my turn to bat. I fell behind early (that’s the story of our team for sure) and with two strikes I was trying to guess what the pitcher would throw next and yet somehow stay relaxed. The pitch was a fastball, slightly up in the zone, and somehow I connected to drive it into left centerfield. The runner on second was our shortstop, who was a great base runner, so he took off for home and never hesitated. There was a close play at the plate…but the umpire called safe him safe… and then all hell broke loose! Our team exploded off the bench and tackled me on the infield. At the bottom of the pile I’m thinking I almost “walked away” from this challenge but instead got a “walk off” hit.  I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life!
On the way home from Phoenix I thought about everything that had happened. It seemed like a dream, a dream that would never have happened if I had given in to my fears. And yet, the fear of failure is what drove me to practice so hard and prepare so well. So maybe fear isn’t such a bad thing after all. If we use fear as motivation to work might just help us achieve dreams we never thought possible!

The So Cal Zephyrs win the 55+ World Series!

You block your dream when you allow
your fear to grow bigger than your faith. 
~ Mary Morrissey

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Goof Off Opportunity

Life is constantly throwing challenges and tough situations at us. So I admit that many times I have asked myself in anger and frustration, “Why is this happening to me?” Well, yesterday I had to tackle some small challenges, but in doing so I just might have figured out the reason why.

I bought a new picture frame at the store and when I got home I couldn’t get the price sticker to come off cleanly. (I never will figure out why they put those stickers in the worst possible place.) Then I remembered that I have some stuff called “Goof Off” which cleans the goo off of any type of material. Using Goof Off I was able to clean the sticker goo off that picture frame in less than a minute. That was good!

Then I remembered that my wife had bought a new purse the day before and had trouble with stickers stuck to the black leather strap. Using the Goof Off spray and working delicately so as not to damage the leather, within about 10 minutes I was able to clean it perfectly. She was really happy that I solved a problem for her and of course, having a happy wife makes me feel really good!

Later that same day as I walked out to the carport area, I thought about our neighbor. She had recently pulled into her carport too close to the white steel support post and it looked like she scratched her car all the way from the front wheel well to the back passenger door. Her black SUV looked awful with white paint marks from the post all down the side. I couldn’t tell if it was dented, but I wondered if that Goof Off stuff might help. So I grabbed the bottle and a couple of rags and went to work scrubbing the side of her car. It took me nearly an hour of hard rubbing and I was sweating profusely, but I managed to get all the white paint off. Since there were no dents, the car looked good as new. When my neighbor came out to the carport and saw that all the damage was gone from her car she couldn’t believe her eyes. She thanked me over and over and I left there feeling great!

And that got me thinking… Challenges are really more like opportunities because the size of the challenge is directly proportional to the joy you feel when you overcome it. Maybe when God gives us bigger and bigger challenges…He’s doing it so that we can experience ever increasing joy!

When written in Chinese the word "crisis" is composed of two characters -
one represents danger and the other represents opportunity. 
 ~ John F. Kennedy

Monday, October 6, 2014

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of being brilliant or a genius. But some people probably think I’m pretty smart because over the years I’ve been able to build several successful companies. Well, appearances can be deceiving. Anyone who watched me last week would definitely not think I’m brilliant…In fact, they might think I’m pretty stupid.

·    I hired a screen door company last week to install an “Invisi-Screen” door on our side kitchen door to allow the breeze to keep our kitchen cool. It was new and clean and fairly invisible and sure enough the very next day I walked right into it and nearly destroyed it. Stupid!
·    The ocean has had some huge waves lately and it tore out a big chunk of our beach leaving a 4 foot drop off just past our fire ring. So Saturday as I was raking the beach, walking backwards to drag the sand rake and smooth the sand, I forgot about the cliff and fell backwards off the cliff right onto my backside, nearly killing myself. Stupid!

·    Later that day after watching a beautiful sunset, I headed inside with the plates and drink cups off our patio and because I was trying to carry too many things at one time, I spilled a whole glass of ice tea onto our formerly beautiful Persian Rug. Stupid!

Okay, so maybe sometimes I can be smart and sometimes I can be stupid and maybe that’s what we need to remember about our family, friends and neighbors. The world is never black and white and neither are people. We have our good days and we have plenty of things we do well. And then we have our bad days and some things we don’t do so well. All of us would do well however…to not judge each other too quickly.

And that got me thinking…. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to pray for wisdom once in a while too….because wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age, sometimes age just shows up all by itself!
 Life is hard. But it’s a whole lot harder when you’re stupid.
~ John Wayne (Actor and Occasional Philosopher)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bucket Lists

I’ve always been a person who enjoys setting goals and that’s probably because I’m extremely competitive and love to challenge myself. However, I’ve noticed my current “bucket list” varies greatly from the goals and dreams I had as a young man. The more I thought about it, the more intriguing it became. What goals have I truly accomplished in my life? What crazy things have I been lucky enough to experience? And what would I still like to achieve?

So I decided to write out two “bucket lists”. One list would contain the goals and dreams I was lucky enough to make happen so far….and the other list would contain dreams yet to come!

Read The Bible Cover to Cover (Twice so Far)
Fly an Airplane
Adopted an Hispanic Baby
Be on TV Show "Survivor"
Married the Woman of My Dreams
Ski a Black Diamond Ski Run
Drove a Race Car (NASCAR) at over 150mph
Write a Novel
Played Baseball at Angel Stadium 
Run with the Bulls in Pamplona
Installed a 33' Two-Ton Cross on a Mountaintop
Skydive out of An Airplane
Gave a Motivational Speech to over 1000 people
Ride a Motorcycle to Cabo
Built and Sold a Multi-Million Dollar Business
Make a Hole in One in Golf
Built My Own Home (and lived it in for 10 years)
Hit a Home Run in Baseball
Modeled Underwear on a Runway at a Fashion Show
Travel to Australia
Played Guitar in a Garage Rock Band
Learn How To Dance
Maintained a Friendship for over Forty Years
Kite Surf in Kauai
Kissed a Supermodel (Cheryl Tiegs)
Understand The Bible
When I finished making the two lists, I had to laugh about some of the stuff on the “Done List”, like “Kissing a Supermodel”. But you know - when you’re young your goals can be a little shallow.

However, I also noticed that the first goal on my “Done List” was to Read the Bible and the last goal on my “Yet To Do List” is to Understand the Bible. I’m glad I’ve read the Bible but I admit I still don’t understand a lot of it and maybe never will. But isn’t that the point of having a goal. You strive towards it every day, doing your best, and if you don’t get there - you get up the next day and try again - and it’s in the trying that we find out who we really are. I may not understand the Bible but I definitely understand the importance of making it one of my goals!

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead,
 press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
                                                                                ~ Philippians 3:14                                      

Monday, September 22, 2014

Go With The Flow

In my opinion life is really complicated and full of challenges for two separate but similar reasons. One, the world is constantly changing and evolving. And two, we as human beings are constantly changing and evolving as we grow and mature. One of those reasons alone would be enough to create problems but put the two together and life can seem overwhelming at times. So what do we do?

Early yesterday morning I went for a walk on the beach about two miles south of my house. I hadn’t been that far south for over a month and I was shocked at what I saw. The recent storms and huge waves have dramatically changed the shoreline along that stretch of beach. The sand in front of many of the homes is basically gone and the waves come all the way up to the patios. The water has done tremendous damage. In fact I saw where concrete support pylons were knocked down on several homes creating a really dangerous situation. There were tons of sand bags in place but the power of the ocean still won the battle. I have been coming to this area for over twenty years and witnessing the constant changes in the shoreline every year. Yesterday really punctuated the fact that the world is constantly changing and if we’re going to survive, we need to adapt and learn to go with the flow.

Yesterday afternoon I played baseball at Fullerton College. It was one of our regular Sunday baseball games, which I always enjoy, but not a normal one for me. You see age is finally catching up to me and I now have so many different pains in so many different parts of my body I can’t figure out which one to focus on first. However, the pain in my body was nothing compared to the pain in my ego as I made multiple errors at multiple positions. I should have stayed on the bench but we only had 9 guys so they were forced to play me. I was really starting to get depressed, but when our Manager said, “You know, it’s okay to catch a ball out there once in a while if you want to” it was hard not to laugh. He was trying to loosen me up and after the game he reminded me that I have had lots of great games in which I played well and that everyone has a bad day once in a while. I guess the one good thing about being older is that I do have good memories to fall back on…and that helps me to be able to go with the flow when things go wrong personally.

The world is constantly changing just as we are constantly changing from the moment we are born. So how do we handle all this change? We need to realize that in life there will always be problems and there will always be solutions and that in between…that is where life flows… So go with the flow!

Rough waves knock out concrete pylons at Capo Beach

I think I've discovered the secret of life. You just
hang around and go with the flow until you get used to it.
~ Charles Schulz

Monday, September 15, 2014

For No Reason

Life is made up of a lot of little things, like brief interactions with strangers on a daily basis. Is it enough to just be patient and polite and stay out of people’s way? Or can we actually make a difference in somebody’s life in just a few seconds? And maybe…just maybe…start a chain reaction!
On Friday evening my wife sent me to the store to pick up some wine and champagne for a small dinner party we were hosting. Her instructions were brief and she didn’t say what kind or how many so I struggled with my assignment because I guess I’m more of a beer kind of guy. But after standing there a long time I finally grabbed two bottles of each and headed to the check out stand. The cashier stopped me and explained that I would save 30% if I bought 6 instead of 4. That was a great offer but I looked behind me and there was a lady waiting in line so I didn’t want to hold her up. She said, “Sir, I don’t mind waiting if you want to go get some more wine. It will save you a lot of money.” I replied back, “Wow. That’s really nice of you!” She even suggested a better champagne brand. As I proudly headed to my car with my assignment completed, I thought about how cool it was that a complete stranger spoke up and helped me out for no reason.
On Saturday morning I headed out early to play golf with friends at Tijeras Creek. I wanted to hit a bucket of balls first but I was running short on time, so I hustled into the Pro Shop, paid for my round, and walked to the range. When I got to there the man at the counter said their computer wasn’t working so I would have to walk all the way back to the Pro Shop, pay there, and then walk back to the range. I didn’t have time do that so I just turned to leave. Before I took two steps a man behind me said, “Hey, I have an extra coupon for a free bucket and I’d be happy to give it to you.” “Wow. That’s really nice of you!” I replied and when my friends showed up I told all of them how cool it was that a complete stranger spoke up and helped me out for no reason.
On Sunday our entire family got together for a birthday brunch at a restaurant in Dana Point Harbor. There were 16 of us but fortunately we had a reservation because Sunday mornings are really busy at the harbor. The only difficulty was finding a parking spot but eventually everyone made it inside and we had a great time. After we finished eating I was standing outside waiting for my wife (she was still making plans for the rest of the day) and as I stood there an elderly lady pulled up and asked if there was parking around back. She looked distressed because she couldn’t find a parking spot. I told her I would probably be leaving in about 10 minutes and then it hit me. “Wait!” I said. “That’s my gray truck over there in the second row. I will go move right now so you can have my spot.” She looked surprised and very pleased that a stranger would help her out for no reason.
I admit it’s hard enough to be patient and polite to strangers, let alone go out of our way to help them out. But what if every time we did…that stranger then helped another stranger…who helped another…who helped another…who helped another? I guess that would mean it really isn’t “for no reason”!

Expose me to hate so it be not a stranger;
Yet fill my cup with love to turn strangers into friends.
~ Og Mandino