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Monday, February 29, 2016


I have four children that I love very much and I thank God every day for blessing me with the privilege of being their father. Three of my children were born with a high degree of intelligence, so at this point they all three have college degrees, good jobs, a strong work ethic and a strong faith. They bring me such great joy and happiness. But I also have one child who struggled in school and continues to struggle in life and it makes me extremely sad. We can try hard to be good parents and give it our best effort, but sometimes it’s just not going to be enough.

A little more than two weeks ago my son’s troubles were weighing extremely heavy on my heart. I had just found out that he had been hospitalized overnight for alcohol issues and although he was out of the hospital, his prognosis didn’t sound good. So on Tuesday February 9th, as I was driving down Alicia Parkway in Mission Viejo taking my wife to her Pilate’s class, I noticed a small church with people out front holding up signs. One sign said, “Had a tough day?” Another sign read, “Got 60 seconds?” And another sign offered, “Drive through prayer today, 3-5:00pm.” My wife looked over at me in the car and said, “After you drop me off, why don’t you go back to that church for a few minutes. You need it, it can’t hurt and it might help!”

I thought about what she said and told her I wasn’t going to do it…But I did it anyway. I pulled up into the driveway of the church next to a small white tent and a couple (Pat and Steve) approached my driver’s side window. I told them about my son and how he was trying so hard to change his life. I told them I feared he wasn't going to make it and then I lost it and broke down in front of them. Together they reached out and took my hands and they both said a short heartfelt prayer for my son... and for me. Although my tears never did stop I somehow managed to thank them both for their help and support before I drove away. It was really hard to share my family life and personal concerns about my son with complete strangers, but at the same time it felt so good to give it to God. And like my wife said, it can’t hurt and it might help!

On Friday, February 26th, I received a message from my Son. It was short and sweet but oh so great to read. “Hi Dad, Sorry I haven’t texted in a few days, but good news. 16 days sober!! One day at a time.”

Maybe it was simply a coincidence that 16 days earlier I was at the “Drive Through Prayer” Church. Or maybe it wasn’t! 
Mission Hills "Drive Through Prayer" Program

Joe and David

God hears our prayers even when we can’t find the words to say them.
~ Anonymous

Monday, February 22, 2016

Obstacles and Failure

I have a great group of salespeople working for me at our company who never cease to impress me. They take their jobs very seriously, put in a lot of extra effort and bring a great attitude to work every day. But being a salesperson isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult and demoralizing at times.

Recently one of my salespeople came to me very discouraged. He had put in a ton of effort on a project to improve the lighting at local apartment community. He surveyed the entire complex, photographed the existing light fixtures, took foot-candle readings at night, and then prepared a detailed written plan for upgrading to a new LED lighting system. His recommendations were excellent and would greatly improve the light levels while saving thousands of dollars per month in electricity. The customer was so impressed they decided to move forward with his recommendations. However, they also decided to send his written specifications to several other lighting companies to bid on and unfortunately a competitor came back with a lower price using cheaper Chinese import fixtures. Despite my salesman’s advice to stick with major brand fixtures with a strong warranty, the customer chose to save a few dollars.

I could see the disappointment in his eyes and hear the discouragement in his voice but I wasn’t about to validate his negative feelings. So my first question was, “Did you thank the customer?” He looked at me funny. “That customer gave you such great gifts”, I said. “He gave you experience, helped you develop your product knowledge and moved you one step closer to long term major success in your career.” I could see by his bewildered look that he wasn’t getting it, so I offered to explain.

For ten years I played baseball but really sucked at hitting. I would either strike out or ground out and it was extremely discouraging. Finally, I got tired of failing and got serious about practicing. For nearly two years I took hitting lessons every week and hit thousands of BP pitches until my hands were permanently calloused. My confidence grew along with my skills and not long ago I found myself in the biggest game of my life. It was the final game of the MSBL World Series in Phoenix, bottom of the 10th inning, with two men on, two out and the scored tied. I should have been nervous but because I had practiced so hard, I felt relaxed. The first pitch was a slider and I opened up too early in my swing and missed it badly. I realized my mistake and stepped back in. The second pitch was an inside breaking ball that just caught the corner of the plate for strike two. I realized my mistake, thought about it, and then stepped back in. I had made two mistakes and the count was 0-2, but I knew from my mistakes exactly what I needed to do. When the next pitch came, I was ready for it and drove it to left centerfield for a base hit and a walk off win! In a way, failing is what gave me the experience I needed to finally succeed.

I could see my salesman smiling as I finished my story. And although he may have been being a bit sarcastic, he said, “You’re right, I’m going to send that customer a thank you card right now!” I just laughed and told him you may not always get what you want but remember this… Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted!

Dear Lord,
Help me to remain humble through obstacles and failure…
But hide not from my eyes the prize that comes with victory!
~ from “The Salesman’s Prayer" by Og Mandino 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Last week somebody mentioned to me the expression, “Timing is everything”, and I agreed. Actually, timing is important and wouldn’t it be great if every good thing we ever wanted to have happen, happened exactly when we wanted it to. However, that’s rarely the case. But maybe the proper timing is happening… and we just don’t know it!

I’ll give you an example.  When I was a young boy, around 14 years old, I kept having this recurring dream about a girl. In my dream her name was Debby and she was perfect in every way. Since I kept having the same dream over and over I figured it had deep meaning and that someday I would surely marry a girl named Debby. Well, none of my girlfriends in High School were ever named Debby, but in the back of my mind I knew someday I would surely meet her. By the time I was 21 though, I was anxious to get married and start a family but I still hadn’t met my dream girl named Debby. So being young and dumb and very impatient, I married someone with a different name, and did it on my timing.

Unfortunately, that marriage had problems from the start. But I gave it a great effort and stayed married for 16 years before I finally gave up and asked for a divorce. I am not sure why I got married in the first place and I am not sure why I stayed married for so long to the wrong person, but maybe it was God’s plan for it to happen that way. Because fortunately for me, three years later I found and fell in love with my true dream girl and guess what…her name was Debby!

I have been married to Debby now for over 20 years and I can truly say I have never been happier. She has been the best wife any man could ever want and I think the reason we both feel like we know and understand the meaning of true love…is because we were both in long term marriages before with the wrong person. We learned a lot from that experience and we both grew and matured so that when we finally came together, the timing was right. I realize now that God will bless me when the time is right and most importantly, I need to trust His timing not my own!

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day so I wrote my wife a poem that reflects the story above. I hope she liked it and I hope she never forgets that she was and is and always will be my “Dream Girl” forever.

Joe, Debby & Family - Valentine's Day 2016

Dream Girl

The very first time that I had the dream,
I was really very young, only fourteen.
When my dream girl appeared for the very first time,
I began to feel flush like a vintage rose wine.

My dream girl had dark hair that was silky and long.
Her smile was wide and her laugh was strong.
And I knew right away she was perfect for me,
For my dream foretold who my dream girl would be.

My dream girl would be pretty with a “Girl Next Door” look.
She would be smart and witty and love to cook.
She would love to play softball and climb a few trees,
And she wouldn’t even cry if she skinned her knees.

My dream girl would be kind and loyal to a fault,
even willing sometimes to lock her feelings in a vault.
She would put herself second to others every day,
being designed by God in such a deep loving way.

I kept dreaming that dream and feeling that desire
to finally meet her and passionately light her fire.
But more than twenty years passed without any luck
And so many times over the years, I felt truly stuck.

And then it happened like a crazy surprise.
And all it really took was for me to open my eyes
For my dream girl was close, as close as a friend.
It seems my days of loneliness were about to end.

And now that another twenty years has passed,
You know how they say that love doesn’t last.
Well they’re not only wrong, they couldn’t be wronger
Because our loves grows deeper, every day, ever stronger.

The girl that I dreamed of back when I was very young
(and I know this is going to sound kind of far flung)
But she was part Italian and loved olives and lace,
You see my dream girl’s name is Debby Dollface!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Three Kinds of People

I really enjoyed Super Bowl weekend but I actually had as much fun on Saturday as I did on Sunday… and here’s why.  Two of my young grandkids came over on Saturday and we spent the whole day together on the beach playing catch with a football, playing whiffle ball baseball, skipping rocks in the water and doing cartwheels in the sand. Jack is 9 and Andie Rose is 7 and I have to say they are two very different people.  Jack is all boy, mechanically inclined, really smart and always on the go. Andie Rose on the other hand is more laid back, super sweet and super cute, and basically attaches herself to me when she comes over, which I don’t mind at all. She is very loving and caring and although she is much smaller and younger than Jack, she is the one who ends up taking care of him.

Watching my two grandchildren play and interact reminded me of something. You know how some people are dog people, and other people are cat lovers. Well, in my opinion there are actually three kinds of people in this world - dog lovers, cat lovers and people who have a heart big enough to love all types of animals. Andie Rose falls into that last category and I am not just talking about loving animals, I’m talking about having a heart big enough to love all types of people in the world as well.

While we were sitting on the patio Andie Rose showed me a photograph of her new cat, Gracie, and it reminded me that I had a cat once when I was young. I lived on a ranch when I was 14 and often rode my motorcycle to school or hitch hiked if I was out of gas. One day I hitched a ride home from a truck driver with a huge 18 wheeler freight truck. As we neared my parent’s ranch, my pet cat jumped out across the road and the truck’s tires instantly made several crunching thumping noises. I knew it was bad. I asked the driver to let me out because that was my cat that just got ran over and I wanted to see if he was okay. The truck driver started to laugh at first (obviously that cat was now flat) but then he realized that he had just killed my pet and began to feel bad. He said he was sorry and as I exited the truck I tried to act tough. I told him it was okay because my cat, Old Weird Harold, was always out hunting rabbits and I figured he was "gonna get ate" by coyotes some day anyway. But as I walked down the road and spotted what was left of my cat, I started to cry. I found a piece of cardboard and carried Old Weird Flat Harold all the way up our long winding driveway, crying the whole way home. Fortunately, my Dad was there so we talked about what happened and then we buried my cat down by the stream.

I didn’t tell Andie Rose the story about my flattened cat because it would have made her sad. People like Andie Rose are unique because they have the ability to internalize the pain going on inside others and will typically go out of their way to offer their sympathy, help and love. I’m not saying dog people are bad or cat people are bad. All I’m saying is… I don’t know what path Andie Rose will choose to take as she experiences life in this world, but I do know the world will be a better place with people like her in it. 
Andie Rose and "Gracie"

Lots of people talk to animals… Not very many listen, though… That’s the problem.
~ Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh