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Monday, February 23, 2015

Evan and Heaven

Not long ago my wife needed a ride to the South County Outreach for a Board meeting. Since her meeting was going to run several hours, I decided that I would drop her off and go play a few holes of golf at Casta Del Sol, which is a small executive course in Mission Viejo. The guy in pro shop said they were pretty busy, but as I approached the 1st tee, the only people there were a young boy and his mother.

The boy really stood out. He was dressed in neatly pressed golf pants with a bright green golf shirt and cool Nike shoes but his Mom was dressed in street clothes with only a simple umbrella to block the sun. Apparently, she was just there to keep him company. I introduced myself and found out his name was Evan and that he was 12 years old. As he took a few practice swings I could tell he had potential. He said he’d been playing for three years, had a really good coach, and absolutely loved the game.

I teed off and hit a three-wood down the middle of the fairway about 90 yards from the green. Evan teed off next and crushed his driver, landing the ball only 3 feet short of the green. He then chipped close and made his putt for a birdie on the first hole. He landed the green on the second hole and made par. He landed the green on the third hole and made par again. After watching this 12 year old boy kick my butt for six straight holes, I noticed I was running out of time and needed to leave. I was super impressed with the young man, not just because of his beautiful swing but because he was so nice, and so polite, and seemed so much older than he was.

I should mention that back at the second hole he asked me what church I attend. I responded with, “Church?” and he said, “Yeah, I noticed your bracelet that says I am Second, so I was just wondering what church you go to?” So I smiled and told him about several churches in the area and gave him a tip for a good church in his town. Then we immediately went back to discussing golf the rest of the time. As I shook his hand and said goodbye to his mother, I offered him encouragement on his golf game and told him to keep practicing, practicing and then practice some more.

When I got home that evening something dawned on me… and I felt ashamed of myself! When that young boy asked about my bracelet it was a perfect opportunity for me to share my faith or at the very least share a story of one of the many ways God has touched my life. If I could go back in time…here is what I wish I would have said to Evan. “Golf is a lot like life. If you practice hard and play the game right with honesty and integrity… you will do well. It’s the same in life. If you practice hard every day doing what is right and treat people with honesty and integrity… you will be rewarded here on earth as well as later on in heaven.

I felt like I was put there at that moment to tell Evan about heaven and I blew it. Or maybe not……. Maybe Evan was put there to remind me of heaven!

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
~ Henry David Thoreau


Monday, February 16, 2015

Uninhibited Happiness

On Sunday I decided to go to a baseball practice at Fullerton College, so just before noon I left my house and headed up Camino Capistrano towards the freeway. As I passed by the street corner near Costco and the Verizon Store, I spotted a monkey jumping up and down. It wasn't a real monkey; it wasn't even a very good fake monkey. W hat it was...was an enthusiastic young man dressed in a monkey suit waving a Verizon sign. He's at that street corner a lot and never seems to get tired of jumping up and down and waving at motorists. He looks ridiculous and I guess that's kind of the point. It's hard not to notice someone who looks so ridiculous yet seems so happy.

After a grueling three hour baseball practice, I climbed into my truck and headed home. As I passed the corner of Chapman and State College I noticed a young woman wearing a crazy looking long green dress and a tiara, dancing, singing, smiling and waving a sign. I don't know what her sign said because she was so busy jumping, dancing and singing that I couldn't get a fix on the actual sign. I had to stop at the red light at her corner so I watched her dance and sing for over a minute and she seemed utterly and deliriously happy. At one point she spotted me watching her and she got the biggest smile on her face. Then she waved directly at me and although I tried not to...I had to smile and wave back. Smiling and laughing are contagious and I definitely caught her bug!
There is something about a person who smiles easily and laughs a lot that makes the world a better place. I know it's not easy to be happy all the time. Obviously the world can be a tough place and new problems seem to crop up all the time. But I thank God for the people in this world that have the gift of "uninhibited happiness" and make the effort to spread it generously.
I am not a particularly funny guy, but overall I am really happy person because I realize how blessed I am. So...I think I will make a concentrated effort from now on to smile a little more often and laugh a little louder. In fact, instead of just sharing my money and possessions with others, I think I'll start sharing my happiness. It costs less....but it’s worth more! 
Future Street Corner Advertising Executive!
Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower. 
 ~ Anonymous           


Monday, February 9, 2015

Mixed Emotions

I always have mixed emotions around this time of year. I love that Valentines Day is coming up February 14th, because it gives me the opportunity to do something romantic for my wife. But February 12th is the day my father passed away and although it has been nearly 14 years I still remember that day like it was yesterday.

Losing my dad was devastating because he had always been my rock and my best friend and I loved him very much. Fortunately I did not have to face that situation alone. I had a loving wife who was at my side at the hospital, every day for six months. And when my Dad took his final breath, I was holding his hand…and she was holding mine. I will never forget her support when I needed it most and I hope she knows that she will always have mine.

Going through a difficult situation is typically when you find out whether or not your love is real. Tough times can threaten a lot of relationships, but if your love is cemented with respect and admiration, and if you understand that love means giving more than taking, your relationship can be strengthened instead of destroyed.

Recently I came across a note I wrote to my wife right after I learned my Dad was terminally ill. It wasn’t a Valentines Letter, but it was a letter celebrating our love. I hesitate to share it, because it is so personal, yet it does seem appropriate for a Valentine’s Message.

A copy of the letter is below……

One word frees us from all of the weight and pain of life;
That word is love.

February 1st, 2001
Dear Debby,
I Now Know
There is a very difficult situation that lies ahead. That it will be particularly hard on me and that I will need your help, your love, and your utmost patience. I will be strong for I am a warrior. Whether or not I make it through this situation is not even a question, because with you, I know I can make it through anything. Although I do not know what lies ahead or what the future holds, I do know that you have always been there for me, to listen, to talk, to share, and to love with all of your heart… I love you with all of mine. We will get through this….together!
My Wish For Us
That we will continue to share new interests and adventures
And allow each other the freedom to develop as individuals.
That our faith won’t be shaken by occasional feelings of hurt or anger.
That we will continue to acknowledge our differences openly,
And see them as opportunities to learn and grow closer.
That we will find in each disagreement the patience to listen,
The courage to trust, and the strength to forgive.
That we will find in each difficult situation that plaques our lives,
The wisdom to work together, to find the right answers.
May We Never Forget
The qualities that first attracted us to each other
And how much we still appreciate them.
To always inspire each other, applauding successes,
Nurturing strengths, believing in each other’s dreams,
And working as one to make them come true.
May We Always
 Look into each other’s heart and see the love that binds us.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Something's Missing

Yesterday, instead of going to a Super Bowl Party or a friend’s house, I decided to stay home and watch the game on TV. As I munched on great appetizers and watched a really hard fought football game my mind drifted back 40 years ago, to another time where I watched the game at home...alone.

It was 1975 and I was 19 years old and loved watching football. The Super Bowl that year had two future hall of fame quarterbacks with Terry Bradshaw and the Steelers beating Fran Tarkenton and the Vikings, 16-6. It was a great game but a horrible time in my life. I had just recently broken up with my girlfriend, dropped out of college and moved from Northern California to Orange County to try to start over. I was nearly broke and living at a tiny motel on Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa. I was truly alone for the first time in my life, my job prospects were bleak, and to make matters worse I had an infection and needed antibiotics but couldn’t afford to see a doctor. I hate to admit it but I remember sitting in that tiny motel room, staring at that tiny TV and crying my eyes out. I was sick and in pain, but it was the utter and absolute loneliness that finally broke my spirit. I felt lost and didn’t think anything good, or anyone good, would ever come my way.

Fast forward to 2015 and again two future hall of fame quarterbacks are battling it out in the Super Bowl. Again I’m watching the game at home and it’s a tiny little place, but things couldn’t be more different. This time I’m watching the game in the living room of a beautiful little beach house, with a gorgeous view of the ocean on one side of me and a gorgeous wife on the other side. We ate crab legs for appetizers and dined on home made carnitas burritos for dinner. Our relationship is awesome and our love for each other is stronger than ever. Our company is doing well; our children and grandchildren are healthy and are friends are many and amazing. I’m not sick, I’m not alone and I’m not lost...I’m right where I am supposed to be! Funny thing is…back in 1975 I was right where I was supposed to be as well.

I hated my life in 1975 but in looking back I realize that it was an important lesson for me. I wasn’t miserable that year because I was sick a lot, or because I had to live in a tiny motel room, or because I often went hungry. I was miserable because I was…alone! That period in my life taught me something really important. It taught me to never take my blessings for granted and that one of the greatest blessings we can have in life is a loving relationship with another person.

When something is missing in your life, it usually turns out to be someone.
~Robert Brault