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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Don't Get Burned!

Is it possible that “wanting something too much” can be a bad thing? Thinking about that question reminded me of something that happened when I was just a young boy.

My Mom and Dad had just moved our family to Arizona because my Dad was transferred to a Marine Corps base in Yuma. We lived in a small track house on a treeless street where the backyard of every home blended into never ending sand dunes. It was stark, desolate and barren but yet it had a certain beauty to it as well. As kids we could play safely in the streets because there weren’t very many cars. We could build forts in the sand dunes and shoot basketballs into the driveway hoop until late at night. Night time was the best time because it finally cooled down and you could breathe easier and taste the clean desert air. Sometimes my Dad would let us camp out in the back yard and as we laid there staring up at the night sky, I swear there had to be at least a billion stars.

It took a few months for me to get used to the heat, but as we got farther into summer the temperatures rarely dipped below 100 degrees. As a kid I could handle it but I remember Mom and Dad struggling to find ways to cool down. We didn’t have sprinklers so we played with the hose in the front yard, squirting each other and loving the way it felt, not caring what the neighbors thought. My skin got so dark I looked like I fell into a vat of chocolate. And I never wore shoes, unless of course we were going to church. And the best thing of all, when you’re a kid living in extreme desert heat is…. ice cream!

One day I was playing alone in our back yard when I heard the Ice Cream Truck going down the street. By the time I got out front he was past our house and still going, so without thinking I took off after him. I had change in my pocket and by golly…I was gonna get me some ice cream! I ran down the middle of the street and caught up to him quickly yelling, “I want a Drum Stick please!” As I reached into my pocket I realized my bare feet were absolutely on fire. I started to scream as the driver handed me the ice cream and took off at full speed for the nearest grass yard. My feet hurt so bad I tripped and fell, tumbling into the yard, sending the ice cream flying. I was only 8 years old so with major burns and blisters on both feet, and my beloved ice cream ruined, believe me I cried out loud and long. A neighbor lady took pity on me and carried me safely home.

There was definitely a good lesson to be learned from that incident but I’m not sure as a kid I really figured it out. Looking back I can see that sometimes wanting something so much that it causes us to act without thinking, can definitely be a bad thing. I hope from now on I always remember that if I don’t think before I act…I may get burned!

One can only see more clearly when one is going more slowly.
~ Terri Guillemets

Monday, March 24, 2014


Yesterday morning while I was reading my Max Lucado Study Bible, I came upon the passage,
“With God there are no accidents. Only incidents designed to draw us closer to Him.”
It was nearly 2 years ago that I first read that passage. And it was no coincidence that it was also the same day that I ran over and nearly killed an elderly Chinese woman. Coming across that page brought back some very traumatic memories but it also got me thinking…What did it really mean?
I will never forget that day. For the first time in years I forgot to read my Bible in the morning and then I went out and had an accident in my truck. When I came home and opened my Bible to the page I was on, I found that message and truly believed it was a sign from God to “draw nearer to Him”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think God had anything to do with the accident. The accident was totally and entirely my fault. What God did was all good. First, He made sure neither one of Mrs. Chen’s legs were broken even though my truck came to rest on top of them. Second, He healed her and helped her to find new joy in life and start painting again. Third, He got my attention and a renewed dedication on my part to draw nearer to Him.
But there is more to the story that I have never shared with anyone. For three days after the accident I was completely and utterly distraught. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and was sure Mrs. Chen was going to die. I felt so bad I can’t even describe it. On the evening of the third day I couldn’t take it anymore. I went into a back bedroom and knelt down by my daughter’s bed with my head in my hands. The tears started flowing and I couldn’t stop them. My body was shaking and I felt like dying. It was then that I told God the truth, that I couldn’t handle this problem…that the pain was too great…and I begged Him to help me. Then I put it all in His hands.
Almost immediately I felt better. I know this sounds crazy, but I had this image in my mind of Jesus kneeling next to me, with His arm around me, telling me everything was going to be okay because I chose to trust Him. My feeling of hopelessness was instantly gone and I realized for the first time in my life that I have never been alone, that God has always been right there next to me, simply waiting for me to reach out to Him in faith and trust.

So maybe the real message was not just to “draw nearer to God”. But in doing so to put my total trust and faith in Him and realize that no matter what happens… He will always be there for me!

Broken things can become blessed things if you let God do the mending.
~ Anonymous

Monday, March 17, 2014

Everything Good

Almost every week I go for a walk around Woodbridge Lake in Irvine with my elderly lady friend, Pao Chi Chen. She is a Buddhist and I am a Christian so we have some pretty amazing and interesting conversations. This week we saw something unusual and in talking it through, I was once again reminded of how very wise she is.

As we approached the west section of the lake we noticed an elderly man in a wheelchair. Normally this wouldn’t be an unusual site, but for some reason this man and his wheelchair were all alone and parked just inches away from a steep set of steps leading directly down into the water. If his wheelchair were to move forward at all, he would immediately go tumbling into the lake…wheelchair and all….and he didn’t look like he was paying any attention to his circumstances.

It kind of scared me, so I started to approach the man to ask if he needed help. Pao Chi stopped me and said, “No need, he okay.” I was surprised by what she said, but she continued, “If you look at trees, 50 meters away, there is young Asian man. He is son watching over father.” I protested and said, “Well, shouldn’t he be right next to him to make sure he is safe?” Pao Chi answered with a smile, “Old man knows son loves him and would not let bad thing happen to him. Father loves freedom to be on his own…son loves father…everything good!”

I thought about what Pao Chi said and decided that she was right. Sometimes we have to give our loved ones the freedom to experience life on their own terms and trust that God is watching over all of us, always near, allowing us to test our freedom because He loves us. It might be scary, but in the end, “Everything Good!”

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul.
~ Mosha Dayan

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bumps In The Road

When I drive home from work on the I-5 Freeway there is a section near San Juan Capistrano that is really rough and bumpy. I thought it was partly because my truck was old and the shocks were worn out and if I bought a new truck the problem would be solved. Well, I recently bought a new truck and guess what; the road is still just as bumpy. It reminded me of something really important.

So far, 2014 hasn’t started off very well for our family. In fact, we’ve had more than our share of bumps in the road. So far this year….

  • Our oldest daughter had a severe reaction to medication and was hospitalized for three days.
  • My Father-in-law was also hospitalized with a serious gall bladder issue.
  • A winter storm trashed our beach, wiped out our brick fire ring and flooded our patio.
  • Our home was broken into and robbed.
  • And last week we found out one of our employees has a serious medical condition that may cause him to miss work for a long time.
These are all bad things for sure, some even life threatening, and I would be totally justified to focus on these problems and make myself miserable. But then, on top of all the problems, I would just be miserable as well. So… what if I remember that God is always with me, molding me, testing me, and helping me to grow and I take a different perspective…

  • I am so thankful we have local hospitals so our children can get the care they need.
  • I am so glad my Father-in-law was hospitalized because the doctors discovered he had a heart condition and were able to implant a pace maker, greatly improving his long term health.
  • I am happy we had a winter storm because we desperately need the rain.
  • I’m glad we were robbed because we didn’t lose anything truly important and it motivated me to install new locks and a proper security system so we can be much safer from now on.
  • And finding out one of our employees has a serious medical condition reminded me that each and every person at our company is important, unique and special and that I should never take any of them for granted. Remembering that will help me to be a better boss.
There are always going to be bumps in the road of life but we don’t necessarily need to try to fix them. We just need to realize that they are there for a reason, to serve as a reminder that we shouldn’t ask God for a lighter burden, we should simply ask for broader shoulders!

We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking,
only to learn that it is God who is shaking them.
~ Charles C. West