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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Time For a Gift

One of the best things about the Christmas Holiday Season is that you get to create your own special family traditions. And the best thing about family traditions is that they create memories that last a lifetime. My wife and I started two new traditions this season and both were very memorable.

Our first new tradition was to take our grandchildren around town to look at Christmas light displays. Thanks to Google and Siri it’s pretty easy to find the neighborhoods that have gone crazy with Christmas Lights and the entire time we were driving around our youngest granddaughter, Penelope, who is all of 3 years old, led us in singing all the classic Christmas songs like Jingle Bells. Okay, so she didn’t know all the words, but she was really good at making up her own words, which cracked everyone up.

Our second new tradition involved the eight members of our immediate family including my wife, our three kids and their significant others. We started it yesterday by meeting at a restaurant for Sunday Brunch and then the 4 girls left to go shopping while the 4 guys left to go golfing. Our family is so close and we had so much fun that we even met at a Mexican Restaurant afterwards for drinks and tacos.

On the way home I started thinking about how far behind I am on my Christmas shopping and I started to get stressed out. I hate to admit it, but I have always struggled with gift giving for some reason. It’s not that I don’t care or that I don’t put the time into it, I’m just not creative when it comes to gift giving so I really stress out about it. As I started agonizing over who would want what and what color and what size, and “Can they bring it back if they don’t like it”, etc. etc. it dawned on me that I had already given my family one of the best gifts possible…the gift of time spent with people you love…and I didn’t even have to request a gift receipt!

"And lo, there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night, 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 14, 2015

It Takes Two

The number 2 has special meaning to me. For one thing it’s the centerpiece of my lucky number, which happens to be 524, and it keeps popping up over and over again in my life in different ways and in different circumstances. I shouldn’t be surprised when it pops up because it because it happens so often, but what I actually think is happening is that God is using it to remind me of my place in life and my place in His life. For example…

Twenty years ago when I was single, lonely and struggling, God blessed me with a wonderful, loving wife. The theme of our wedding was “If Ever Two Were One, Then Surely We”. That is probably the first time the number two created special meaning in my life.

Twelve years ago, I started playing baseball and I chose second base as my favorite position. (Not first, not third, no it had to be the number two position.) I have played it proudly ever since and even though some people think second base isn’t the most important position on the field, I love it and embrace it as a very challenging position.

Five years ago I attended an important a meeting with the Management staff at The Irvine Company. I noticed one of them (a man named George that I had never met before) wearing a black bracelet that said, “I am second”. I asked him what it meant and he told me that it was a reminder to always put himself second to God. I loved that concept and told him so and we stayed after the meeting talking about our faith. The next morning when I arrived at work, there was a black bracelet on my desk, a surprising gift from a thoughtful new friend.

Four years ago I made myself a vow to start reading my Bible every day, just 10-15 minutes a day, as a way to start out each day right. And I keep coming across the concept of “two” all the times. I noticed that Adam was lonely so God gave him a companion…and then there were two. When Noah built the Ark he took two of every animal with him. And I recently read the passage where Jesus says, “Whenever two or more are gathered in my name, I will be there.” How special is that concept!

So basically I love the number 2 because I don’t believe we were created to focus on just ourselves as number 1, but instead to focus on others first. I also don’t believe we can accomplish much on our own because it’s when we have two or more together that we can begin to create a team…and with good teamwork we can accomplish anything.  So if that concept is true, then it underscores the importance of treating other people right. And let’s face it, the nice thing about teamwork is that you always have someone on your side!

LSI Team Christmas Party - 2015
Alone we can accomplish so little. Together we can accomplish so much.
Helen Keller

Monday, December 7, 2015

Decision Making

As a business owner it helps to be good at doing a lot of things, especially providing strong leadership for my staff. But no one starts out as a strong leader, especially me. I was really shy in High School and lacked confidence, so when I started my own business at age 25, I had a lot to learn along the way…and unfortunately sometimes I had to learn the hard way.

In order to become a good leader, I’ve read a lot of books and attended a lot of seminars.  But the best training has always come from watching and listening to the good leaders around me. How do you know someone is a good leader? There are lots of signs of strong leadership, like having good character, excellent communication skills, confidence and creativity in problem solving. But in my opinion there is one trait that stands out among all the rest – the courage to make the tough decisions. Good decision making is a crucial component of leadership but it’s also vitally important for all of us throughout every aspect of our daily lives, regardless of our job or social position.

Yesterday I was reading my Bible and came across Matthew’s story of the birth of Christ, which is kind of timely since Christmas is right around the corner. I read how Matthew describes Joseph as a “just man” and how that simple description sums up the reason he was picked to be the father of Jesus. Joseph didn’t necessarily hold an important position in Bethlehem, nor was he a rabbi or a priest. But he was obviously well respected and was probably proud of his standing in the community as a local businessman who was seeking to marry the love of his life. Everything was going great and then all of a sudden Mary whispers in his ear that she is pregnant. Joseph has to make the toughest decision of his life, back out of the marriage and protect his reputation, or continue with the wedding despite the potential damaging fallout. Talk about a tough decision! I can picture Joseph on his knees, worrying about God’s plan for his life, and praying for the courage to make the right decision. Notice how I said “praying for courage” instead of “praying for wisdom”. That’s because I’ve learned over the years that most of the time we know what the right decision is…we just need the courage to make it.

Having to make tough decisions is always going to be a big part of life. But maybe if we pray for courage, and are willing to put God’s plan ahead of our own, decision making will be a lot easier!

Decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world.
~ Anso Coetzer