Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Day of Rest

I'm enjoying a day off today with my wife and family.  It felt good to sleep in past sunrise.  Where did the first six months of this year go?  I marvel at the steady stream of miracles bestowed on my family and me.  There is no other way to describe the events transpiring without acknowledging Divine intervention.  Today's blog is dedicated to Jesus, the One who hears our prayers and answers them.

Just as actors memorize their lines and follow their scripts, I'm following my Divine Director.  The Holy Spirit supplies the lines, one segment at a time.  My life is a screen play for His glory.  Stay tuned for the details.  I'm off on an adventure with my family and plan to savor every minute of today.

Friday, June 29, 2012

When Are You Going To Leave The Dock?

One of my amazing cousins sent me this email.  He said there are some similarities in our lives.  Check this out  (thanks, cuz)...

"To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer?

In choice…!

Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life…?"

- Sterling Hayden

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Keeping In Touch With Friends and Family

Today's blog is dedicated to my precious friends and family.  I wish I could talk with each of you one-on-one.  I'm taking on more responsibilities in my new job and find myself without enough minutes to do everything I would like to.  Please forgive me for not being more personal.  I do appreciate all the emails and well wishes for my family as we settle in Iowa.  I don't think my wife has ever been so happy as she is now.

The next three months will be filled with chaos.  I do thrive on this.  I find myself surrounded with amazing people.  They live next door to me.  They attend my house of worship.  They work alongside me in my new job.  And they send well wishes from every continent.  Today's story is dedicated to all the aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, siblings, coworkers, and blog followers who have supported me throughout my life.  I give honorable mention to my parents, living and deceased, who brought me into this world.  I thank those close to my mother who share my stories with her since her life is dedicated to living 100% off-line.  There is merit in personal contact.  Unfortunately, I live so far away that this blog is the best I can do for now for my west coast friends and family.

I look forward to the day when I can meet with each of you in person.  For those of you just joining me for the first time, including "Funny Boots," I would like to point you to my blog archive on the right margin.  There are over 1,000 stories in this collection.  If you would like to read my first memoir, "God's Black Sheep Squadron," click here to order it on Amazon.  Thanks for the prayers.  We are enjoying life in Iowa.  The roller coaster is running at full speed.  Oh, what a joy it is, this thing called life.  Thanks for sharing the ride with me, even if it is a long distance relationship. 

For those of you who are missing "Mulligan's Island" in the Midwest, I just found out my world-famous cousin, Mark Mulligan, is planning to bring the island to Iowa for his first-ever appearance in this great state.  I hope to see you there on Wednesday, August 22.  Aloha!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Grand Opening Time

This is the moment my team has been waiting for.  At 8:00 AM the doors open for the first time at our new warehouse.  I can't wait to eat my favorite foods again.  Members from over one hundred miles away will be appearing soon.  My boss says we are breaking all kinds of records.  I've never seen so many happy people.  I feel blessed to be working with so many passionate team-mates.

Time to get to work.  Would you like to comment about the first time you visited your favorite store or restaurant?  What is it that makes it so special?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Who Do You Imitate?

We all have our heroes.  I always looked up to Jack LaLanne, a fitness guru who inspired others right up to his death at the age of 96.  Before he passed away, he mailed me an autographed 8x10 photo with a kind note.  I have several close cousins who motivate me to be a better husband and father.  The best role model I have is Jesus.  Here's a list of reasons why I believe you should follow Him.

  1. He trusts His Father and knows His Father's plans are the best plans.
  2. He loves you unconditionally and always wants the best for you.
  3. He forgives.
  4. He has power over death.
  5. He heals.
  6. He knows what you need.
  7. He is the best teacher to ever walk the planet and leads by example.
  8. He keeps His promises.
  9. He will stand by you even when the world won't.
  10. He is always there when you need Him.
There are times when I fall short.  There are times when I don't understand God's plan for my life.  I do my best to imitate Jesus.  He knows how to make all things new.  Want to be a part of all things new?  Follow Him.  Your life will never be the same.

Please feel free to add your comments.  I would love to hear who you imitate.  Thanks for adding to the conversation.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Countdown to the Coralville Grand Opening

This is going to be one of my busiest weeks ever.  In 48 hours we are officially opening our brand new Costco, complete with indoor parking.  Our family can't wait to pick up our favorite foods.  I've been shopping at Costco all my life in Arizona and California.  Now I get the opportunity to serve our members as an employee.  I can't wait.  The entire community is electrified about it.

If you happen to be in the Coralville/Iowa City area anytime, please visit our new warehouse and say hello.  Time to get going.  Don't forget to leave a comment about your favorite food at Costco.  My family and I enjoy the rotisserie chicken.  I will be loading up on the Ancient Grains cereal, too.  Hope to see you when you are shopping.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to Handle Life When the Sun Doesn't Come Out

 So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ~ Matthew 10:31

Ever have a day when the world seems to be crumbling all around you?  Even the sun hides from view.  I can relate.  Today's blog is dedicated to those who are looking for some sunshine.  May it help you weather the storms in your life.  Here are some tips on how to handle life when the sun doesn't come out:

  1. Expect storms.  They are part of life.  They produce rain to make things grow.  
  2. Expect the sun to come out after every storm.  There is always a sunrise after every sunset.  High tide follows every low tide.
  3. Expect God to be with you during the storm.  He is in charge of the storms.  He has a purpose for every rainy day.  He has a plan for you.
  4. Use your sunny days to prepare for the rainy days.  Storms are always brewing even when you can't see them on the horizon.
  5. Recognize that we all go through bad weather at different intervals.  Help others during their bad times and seek help when you are facing trouble.
I enjoy reading Bible stories.  Many accounts are about regular people like you and me who appear to be helpless in their storms.  The Bible shows how these people turn to God for assistance.  Trust Jesus to reveal Himself to you even when you are in the eye of the hurricane and trouble is all around you.  I promise -- you are never alone.  Would you like to share how you handle life when the sun doesn't come out?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jesus Wept

Jesus wept. ~ John 11:35

I know exactly how Jesus felt as He wept over the death of His friend, Lazarus.  Yesterday, my boss pulled us aside and shared sad news about the death of Ryan K. Johnson, a fellow employee who was one of the first fifty employees hired at our new warehouse in Coralville.  His girlfriend is in critical condition.  The two were riding a motorcycle and were struck head on when an SUV turned directly into their path on Wednesday night.

Ryan K. Johnson
Ryan was the spark plug on our marketing team.  His youthful energy was contagious.  During an on-site presentation for a local hospital, our team was overwhelmed with new members wanting to sign up.  I called for re-enforcements.  Ryan and his team-mates answered the call.  I watched in awe as he wowed the large crowd with his passion for our new employer.  His presentation was flawless.  We lost one of our best advocates.  It's so rare to get an opportunity to work with someone as passionate as Ryan.  Please join me in prayer for his family, friends and fellow employees who are grieving his loss.   Please pray for his girlfriend to make a full recovery.

Rest in peace, my friend.  I will never forget you.  Thanks for being such a great friend.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Attitude Check

Have you checked your attitude lately?  It doesn't matter how young or old you are, the profession you are in, or your marital status.  Everyone has an attitude.  I believe it's easy to have a good attitude when there are no hiccups.  The challenge is maintaining it when you experience a downturn, like a job loss, a health issue, or breakdown in a relationship.  Here are some ideas to consider when surveying your attitude status:

  1. Do other people like being around you?
  2. Can you put on a smile no matter what difficult circumstance you face?
  3. What can you add to your routine that brings you joy?
  4. Do you make time each day to pursue your passion?
  5. Do you spend time with positive people who have the kind of attitude you desire?
Please don't wait every 3,000 miles to check your attitude.  Measure it daily.  If you catch yourself copping a bad attitude, snap out of it.  Your bad attitude will bring down your entire family, your office, and your circle of friends.  Your good attitude will lift up others who you meet throughout the day.  Care to comment?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What's On Your Refrigerator

My wife started it -- the quote of the week.  She cut out an inspiring verse and placed in on the outside of our refrigerator.  The next day, three more hand-written index cards appeared, compliments of our daughter.  She chose several uplifting Bible verses.  Now the whole family is adding to the collage of quotes.  What a great way to start the day.

It's interesting how one small action like decorating your refrigerator can light up your day.  I do believe my family is raising the bar on positivity.  I ponder these quotes during my twenty mile drive to work while listening to a local Christian radio station.  By the time I arrive, I'm ready to face any challenge.

Would you like to share your favorite motivational quote?  I'm the last one in the family to participate and I could sure use your help finding something special to add to our refrigerator.  Thanks for joining the fun.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Behind Door #1

Ever wonder what's behind door #1 -- the door you're afraid to open?  Why are you so afraid to open it and look around?  Is it because you have a feeling your life will never be the same?  When I was a kid I enjoyed watching "Let's Make a Deal."  Audience members dressed up in crazy outfits hoping to get a shot at some great prizes.  Monty Hall always let the contestants choose between several doors.  Some got stuck with a goat while others drove home in a new car.  Life is about making choices.  Here's some lessons I learned about choices:

  1. There is no reward for those afraid of risk.
  2. It's better to choose a door than to sit in the audience.
  3. The more you stand out in the crowd, the more opportunities you will get to advance.
  4. It's better to pick the wrong door than to pick nothing.
  5. Even if you pick the wrong door, you will learn from your choice and make better choices the next time.
What will your choice be today?  Are you ready for what's behind door #1?  Jesus says do not be afraid.  He knew what was behind door #1 and He still decided to open it anyway.  His Crucifixion and death on the Cross was ugly.  The Good News is that He picked door #1 so you could follow Him and have new life.  I chose door #1 a long time ago.  It was the best choice I ever made.  I hope you give it a try.  Today is a great day to see what's waiting for you.  Go ahead.  Open it.  Let me know what you discover.  Your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Meeting 1,000 People Today

My new employer is keeping me busy.  Today I get the opportunity to meet one thousand people in the town of Amana.  I'm super excited to share information about our warehouse grand opening next week.  It's fun to be a part of a group of people committed to helping others.

Have you ever had a chance to meet a large group of people?  Please share your experience.  Time to hit the showers.  I want to get to work early today to prepare for a big day.  I look forward to reading your comments later tonight.  Have a great day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

My First Midwest Kleenex Moment

It finally happened -- my first Midwest Kleenex moment.  Marnie volunteered a story her son, Nathan, shared at his grandmother's funeral.  Marnie was choked up and her tears were contagious.  I noticed my friend Megan was keeping her head down as she helped Marnie with her membership application.  She was the only one in the group who wasn't bawling.

"Every Saturday my son went shopping at Costco with his grandmother," Marnie told us.  At her funeral Nathan spoke about how much he loved his grandma.  His favorite memory was spending time with her while the two shopped together.

"I can't tell you how special it is for us to have our own Costco in our neighborhood here in Coralville," Marnie said.  All of us were touched by Marnie's story and it took me an hour to regain my composure.  Then it happened again.  Marnie returned with Nathan and introduced him to our group.  I sensed some kind of supernatural presence while Nathan talked with us.  Perhaps his grandmother's spirit was in the room.

"What grade are you in?" I asked.

"I will be in 7th grade."

"Some day you will have your own family and you will be able to take them shopping just like your grandmother did with you, Nathan."

Marnie added, "And I will spend Saturdays with your kids at Costco just like grandma."

"Would you like to come to our V.I.P. party and meet the people in charge?" I asked Nathan and his mother.

Nathan's eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas day.  I made a mental note to bring my Kleenex to the party.  It will take a miracle to keep my from shedding tears the moment I introduce Nathan to our CEO.  And one special grandmother will be smiling from Heaven.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Day Prayer

I'd like to give a big shout out to all the dad's today on Father's Day.  My three children will treat me like a king today and my wife will pamper me.  I have been blessed beyond measure.  Fatherhood is amazing.  Yes, I'm missing my dad today.  I know where he is and some day when my work here is done I will be joining him for eternity.  In honor of my dad and all who are fathers, I would like to dedicate a personal prayer:

Gracious and loving Father,

Thank you for sending Helen to me.  Each time I look into my children's eyes, I see a reflection of her.  I cherish each day you give me to be with my precious wife and children.  What a gift you have given me -- to be the temporary custodian of Ryan, Nicole and Shane.  Thanks also for the parents you delivered me to over a half-century ago.  My time with my dad was limited, however, he always did his best to teach me about you and your Son, Jesus.  My siblings and I miss him so much.

Father, I ask you to comfort all the dads today who are missing their earthly fathers.  I also ask you help those who have broken relationships with their dads.  Help them to learn the value of letting go of a troubled past.  Inspire them to extend the olive branch and forgive their fathers if they are holding grudges.

Father, there are so many who are without fathers or who never knew their dads.  Please help these people to see you in other father figures.  Help them to be a reflection of you even if their own dads did not live up to their expectations.

Father, I ask you to hear the prayers of every dad today and every day.  Thanks again for trusting me with the three children you sent me.  If you could somehow let them see a little glimpse of you every time they look at me, then I know they will always be okay.  They know I'm not perfect and I know it, too.  Please use my imperfections to help them seek you. 

Thank you, Father, for hearing these prayers.  Please bless all the fathers today and help them to know you.  I ask this in the name of your most precious Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen

Would you like to add a comment today about your father?  You are invited to add your thoughts below.  Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Father's Final Act of Faith

My dad was a giant.  He exuded an aura that could light up the darkest room.  My memoir, "God's Black Sheep Squadron," is about how he spent his last thirty-five days with us.  Many times during his life, he felt he didn't measure up.  He called himself the black sheep of his family.  Funny how God uses those black sheep for His purposes.  I learned so much about faith in those last precious days I had with him.

When a person's days are numbered, pay close attention to everything they say and do.  They are focused.  They have bucket lists they must complete.  I'm happy our family was part of my dad's bucket list.  He came home to mend fences.  Then he went home to be with Jesus. 

Non-believers have trouble understanding faith.  They want facts.  They want proof that Jesus is not only human but Divine.  They search for the truth.  My dad found the truth.  His faith journey was mostly kept private.  In his final days he could no longer keep his faith to himself.  I will never forget the day he asked me to return the bible left behind during his last conversation with our pastor.  "Please return this Bible right away, son.  The keys to the gates of Heaven are in here.  It's a very important book."

I will be celebrating Father's Day tomorrow with all three of my children.  And during the day I will spend time reading my Bible.  I will remember my dad's final act of faith.  He knew where he was going once his bucket list was complete.  So do I.  Thanks, dad, for sharing your faith.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Remember The Why

Need help staying motivated?  Remember the why -- the reason you get out of bed in the morning.  It's all about your value system.  If you have a why, you will be able to keep going no matter how tough each step may be.

I remind myself every day why I remain dedicated to daily blog writing.  It's more than a job, it's an opportunity to develop my God-given talents.  No matter how busy each day is, I set aside time to write.

How about you?  What is your why?  Please share your thoughts.  Happy Friday.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Continuous Improvement

There are no shortcuts to success.  All it takes is a commitment to improve the little things you do every day.  It helps to ask for feedback.  Others may spot areas you can improve to turn your "A" game into an "A+" game.  Here are some ideas to help you improve in any area of your life:

  1. Recognize the significance of the details.  Ask yourself, "is this the best way to get the job done or should I try something new?"
  2. Find ways to save time.  The easiest way to do this is to experiment.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  If you can find a way to do something more efficiently, you will have more free time for other areas of your life.
  3. Keep track of how you spend your time.  The best way to improve is to eliminate activities that distract you from your priorities.  Cut out the time wasters.
  4. Small changes make big changes possible.  Start small and stay disciplined.  Be patient.  Continuous improvement takes time.
  5. Promise yourself to make continuous improvement a lifestyle rather than something you try for two or three weeks.
It's a good idea to write down all the areas of your life that need improvement.  Break down your goals into bite-sized morsals.  This will make it easier to stick to a schedule of continuous improvement.  Written goals are like road maps.  You know where to go and how long it will take you to get there.

Would you like to share how you practice continuous improvement in your life?  Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Right Fit

Why is it so difficult to find the right fit?  It may be the right relationship.  Perhaps it's the right job.  Maybe it's the right friends.  Keep your standards high.  Never settle.  Compromising leads to disappointment.

The single greatest choice I ever made in my life is my choice of spouse.  My love is willing to stay by my side no matter how rough the ride may be at times.  Here are some questions to consider when looking for the right fit in a relationship:

  1. Can you be yourself when you are with your significant other?
  2. What does your gut tell you about your relationship?
  3. How high are you willing to raise the bar to find the right person?
  4. Is settling an option or a cop-out?
  5. Do you believe there is someone out there who is the right fit for you?  If so, how will you find this person?
  6. What can you do to be a better fit for your loved one?
  7. If your relationship no longer fits like a glove, what can you do to restore it?
  8. Is there a correct ratio of giving and taking to make a relationship work?
  9. What steps can you take to make your relationships fit better?
  10. How can you restore a broken relationship?
Please share your ideas about what steps you take to make your relationships a better fit.  Thanks for stopping by today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Every Day Every Time

One of my favorite customers from California often said to me, "every day, every time, without fail, no exception."  This was his mantra.  It was his standard.  Bob taught me a valuable life lesson and I repeat this to myself when facing a difficult situation.  It's the way I live my life when nobody is looking.  Here's how it works:

  1. Dot every i.
  2. Cross every t.
  3. Pay attention to every detail.
  4. Complete the to do list.
  5. Follow up.
  6. Keep your promises.
  7. Show up on time.
  8. Give your best.
  9. Don't criticize others.
  10. Be a team player.
How do you strive to be your best every day every time?  Please add your thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Listen to God

Can you hear God speaking to you?  Odds are that if you have a busy life, you may have trouble hearing Him.  You don't have to be a saint to hear His voice.  Here are some ideas to help you Listen to God:

  1. Find a quiet place.  Go to this place every day, even if it's only for five minutes.
  2. Be quiet.  You can't hear God if you're brain is talking non-stop.
  3. Ask God to speak to you.
  4. Expect God to contact you.
  5. Recognize all the ways God speaks.  His methods of communication are limitless.  He inspires creative ideas.  He communicates through others.  He uses Mother Nature to speak.  He also uses silence.  Be still and let Him talk to you.
Listening is a lost art.  Be quiet.  Be still.  Practice listening.  God may send you a messenger today.  That messenger may be a spouse, a parent, a child, a co-worker, even a stranger.  Pay attention.  Listen.  Ask questions to clarify something you don't understand.  The more you listen, the more you will hear God.  Please add your comments below.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quality of Life

How do you measure the quality of your life?  Is it by the size of your investment portfolio?  What is important to you?  I once thought is was measured by the number of days I could visit the beach in the middle of winter.  Quality of life is more than where you live -- it's how you live.  It's also about the lives you touch around you.

If you asked me to rate the quality of my life on a one to ten scale, I would answer without hesitation.  The quality of my life is a resounding 10.  Here are some points to support my statement:

  1. Every morning when I wake up I make a decision to use my God-given gifts to the fullest of my ability.  This blog is intentional.  It's meant to help you increase the quality of your life.
  2. My own life is connected to you and people I haven't even met yet.  By sharing my life with you daily, we get the opportunity to discover how we are connected.  The more connections I make, the better the quality of my life.  Every person I meet is an extension of our Creator.  Each person is uniquely created.  When I spend time with you and other readers, I get the opportunity to discover how special God is.  He reveals Himself through you.
  3. Family!  I can't say enough about this.  I come from a special family.  My wife comes from a special family.  There is no way to go back in time and give my wife more time with her family we were apart from for so many years.  What I can do is appreciate the time we have now--today.  Yes, there is an exclamation point next to my family.  They definitely increase the quality of my life. 
  4. Friends!  Yes, it's true.  I do miss my community in California.  My time with these special people in future visits will be like going to the Super Bowl.  Absence does make the heart grow fonder.
  5. Faith!  I'm still grasping this one.  I admit to you that there have been many times in my life when I clung to the rope even when the voice inside my head told me to let go and trust Jesus.  Maybe it's a guy thing.  Perhaps it has something to do with being raised in a country where there is so much.  When tough times hit, I believe many Americans become fearful.  Allowing Jesus to guide me into the unknown is similar to the time Moses gave up his old life and entered the desert.  Yes, my faith is alive more than ever.
Please add your ideas about how you measure the quality of your life.  I'm looking forward to reading your comments.  Please allow me extra time to respond.  I'm placing strict limits on my Internet time to make sure I spend time with my family.  There is nothing better than to be with them.  Have a great day.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Everywhere I Go

My buddy, Wilson, has his own street named after him in my new hometown.

It didn't last long.  Anonymity.  Everywhere I go, I meet someone connected to my wife, her family, or her friends.  Just as my hometown is at the root of 40% of the world's corn, each person I meet is also a part of her heritage.  Even the elementary school is named after her relatives.  A street on the town square bears her name.  The only thing missing is the paparazzi.  That's a good thing.  My family really prefers privacy.  When photos are needed, my inanimate buddies, Wilson, Ramona and Umbro are readily available.

Perhaps our paths will cross one day and we will meet in person.  Would you like to share about some of the places you like to visit everywhere you go?  Your comments are much appreciated.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Blanket of Protection

Our congregation in California presented us with a prayer quilt before we moved away.  Each knot was tied by a church member while he or she prayed for my family to have a safe journey to our new hometown in Iowa.  Not only does the quilt keep us warm on cold nights, it's a spiritual security blanket like the one Linus carries around in Peanuts.

Our prayer quilt is our connection to our California friends.  These friends are our pot of gold on the other side of the rainbow.  The prayer quilt is also our connection to Jesus.  God bless these angels in our lives.  Never will I lose my connection to them.  Our prayer quilt will keep us tied together.  And the rainbows too.  They will always keep us united, no matter what side of the rainbow we happen to be living on.

What is your blanket of protection?  Please share in the comments section below.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Happy Wife

Happy is the husband of a good wife, the number of his days will be doubled ~ Sirach 26:1

Taking a stroll in Balboa Park with my wife of twenty-three years.

People in my new hometown ask me, "how do you think you will do in the Iowa winter?"

I already know the answer -- I have a happy wife and when she's happy, I'm happy.  I didn't relocate for the weather, I relocated so my wife and family can spend time with her side of the family.  My wife never complained when we spent our first twenty-three years of marriage close to my relatives on the west coast.  Now it's my turn to spend quality time with the numerous siblings and relatives who are welcoming us with open arms.

My personal happiness is not measured by the degrees on a thermometer.  I will always have a warm heart.  Each day is a gift.  The people in my life, near and far, are a gift.  And the best gift I have is a good wife.  God bless her and all the wives like her who make their husbands feel special.  Please add your comments below.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Two Thumbs Up

Today's post is brought to you by my two thumbs.  All the Wi-fi sites are down so I'm typing on my cell phone.  This is an action-packed day.  My start time has been moved up in order to help my boss.  Just wanted to wish you a happy day.  Check back tomorrow for more updates.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Most Important Lesson I Learned

Some say it's impossible to love your enemies.  Jesus says you must love them.  I didn't learn how to do this until much later in life.  I consider it the most important life lesson I ever learned.  Follow these simple suggestions and you will find an inner peace few people ever discover:

  1. Learn to see Jesus in every person you interact with.  Some make it harder than others to do this, especially the ones you have the most trouble with.  Dig deep and don't stop until you find Jesus.
  2. If you can't find Jesus in your enemies, understand that this individual may be looking for Jesus but doesn't know how to move forward.   Your conflict with this person has to do more with Jesus being absent than who you are.  Be patient and show love rather than a cold shoulder.  You may be the one person in the world who can help this person find Jesus.
  3. Love others no matter what.  If you only love based on how others love you back, you are short-changing yourself.  Holding back your love for others reduces your own happiness.  If you are holding on to a grudge, try letting go of it.  Try loving your enemies.  Just pick one person in your life who torments you and promise yourself you will love him or her no matter how difficult they make it.
  4. Do not leave anyone off the list of people you love.  If this is hard for you, focus on one enemy at a time.  Be careful.  Having one enemy on your list that you don't love will increase the chances your list will grow.  This will infect you like a computer virus.  Install antivirus into your heart and keep it virus free.
  5. Let your actions be stronger than your words.  Your willingness to practice acts of kindness with your enemies are more important than what you say.  Let your actions speak for themselves about your love for others.
Love is an invisible force.  You are Luke Skywalker.  Use the force.  The world around you will never be the same.  Feel free to add to today's story by leaving a comment below.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Sad Loss

Ryan Morgan heading for the end zone.
He ran faster than a speeding bullet.  He qualified for state twice in the California track and field championships.  And he always found a way into the end zone when he played alongside my oldest son on Ramona's football team.  But he couldn't outrun death, an opponent not even the best athletes can beat.  Ryan Morgan lost his life in a motorcycle accident yesterday.  He was a hometown hero for all three of my children and attended preschool with our son.  There is a great void in Ramona today as the community learns of his passing.

For those who don't know Ryan, here is a link.  Please pray for his family and for all who are grieving his loss.  May his soul rest in peace.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Solitude of the Midwest Mornings

The blue jay adds a peculiar squawk to nature's songs, similar to a sharp note in a song using only the white notes.

There is something special about the surroundings in my new home state of Iowa, especially in the morning at sunrise.  Each bird species sings their own melody.  One calls out, others respond.  When all the different birds sing simultaneously, a symphony resonates.  A blue jay regularly visits my back patio and adds an exclamation point to nature's sheet music.  The birds begin every morning on cue at 5:00 AM, announcing my wake-up time.  The wind rustles through the trees in my back yard, providing a soothing backup harmony.  No coffee is needed.  I'm already wide awake and ready to start my day in solitude.

Do you get an opportunity to connect with nature at any point during your day?  Please share how you find solitude in your life.  Is it something you schedule or something you discover each day?  Thank you for sharing.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

God Gave Me An Eight Pound Lemon

What do you do when God gives you an eight pound lemon?  Do you cry?  Do you try to ignore it and pretend it's not there?  Or do you figure out a way to make lemonade?  I know people all over the world who are searching for answers.  This is my eight pound lemonade story...

At the beginning of last month, my daughter sent me a distressful text from the airport.  The ticket agent at the counter scolded her for exceeding the weight limit by eight pounds.  Her debit card only had enough money to pay the sixty dollar fee for two suitcases.  The airline hit her with a one hundred dollar penalty, she was overdrawn and her trip to Iowa was quickly becoming a red-eye flight.  Since this was her first time traveling alone and she was on limited sleep, she didn't know what to do.  The agent rushed her through check-in and didn't offer any alternatives, such as moving the eight pounds of excess weight into her second suitcase, or just removing eight pounds of stuff and discarding it.  Instead, he put her into crisis mode and she was completely helpless.

The following day I reached out to the airlines.  They didn't budge and told me I was stuck with the penalty charge for the eight pound lemon.  My daughter's bank was more understanding.  Unfortunately, their closest branch to make a deposit was one hundred miles away from our new Iowa home.  The next morning I drove to Moline, Illinois and deposited enough money to cover the shortage.  On the way back, I stopped by to inquire about a marketing position at the newest employer moving in to Coralville in the the Iowa City area.  I met Alicia, an enthusiastic employee who shared how excited she was to be part of opening a new store.  She encouraged me to apply immediately.

The next morning, I got a phone call.  Suddenly, the eight pound lemon was becoming the best lemonade  I've ever tasted.  I'm part of the launch team now, thanks to meeting Alicia on my way home from my two hundred mile round trip to my daughter's bank to resolve the lemon in my life.  In the last thirty days, I've met the mayor of Coralville, the fire chief, and a few hundred business owners and employees who are excited about my new employer.  This lemonade is Heavenly.  I will be drinking this lemonade for the rest of my life, thanking God everyday for the eight pound lemon he gave me less than thirty days ago.  That's my lemonade story.  What's yours?  Please share your story below.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Circle of Life

I see my life as a journey that goes through a circle of life.  It started when she said yes in a small church in Parnell, Iowa, population 200.  She was born there and left home at 18 to find someone not related to her.  I'm that lucky man.  My wife to be asked for our wedding to take place in her hometown.  "All you have to do is show up," she said with a smile.  "The whole town will help with the organizing."

Nearly twenty-three years later, I'm back in Iowa.  Her birthplace is just five miles to the south of us.  And the circle of life is complete.  My wife and I are now connected to her hometown and we are here to stay.  Life is good.

Have you ever experienced returning to your roots?  What was it like for you to move away and then return years later?  Please share your story in the comments section below.