Bonding Moments

Father showing his son
how to find the right one.


Thanks for taking the time to read my 2-line poem. This image reminds me of how it can be and should be between a father and his child. Does it have to be a physical task? Does it have to be a traditionally masculine activity? Is this form of mentoring exclusive to sons? No, not necessarily, but I believe fathers should make it their highest priority to invest their time into their children.

I remember the first time that I took my son fishing. He was about 6 and excited to catch fish as many 6-year old boys would be. We drove for about an hour to a lake that I was told was consistently stocked with fish. We were both eager, but I was totally unprepared on a hot Summer afternoon. When I mean totally unprepared I mean totally unprepared! I acted on a spontaneous urge to try fishing. I think I had been buried in work and school for weeks and knew that my son and I had to do something.

Why I chose to fish instead of another activity is a head-scratcher because we could have skated at the local skate park because that was something we were already doing together. We could have gone to the movies because I knew how to watch movies. I must have thought that being on a lake would have been refreshing. Plus, I wanted to teach my son something. Whatever my dad and uncles taught me about fishing when I was a kid was somewhere lost in my memory banks. Fishing skills were zero.

A friend was kind enough to let us borrow a couple of fishing poles. We went to the tackle shop next to the lake but bought the wrong bait on this muggy day. I you can imagine after baking on a lake for 3 hours, the only thing we caught were sunburns. We were fried, hungry, tired, and majorly disappointed.

Are you old enough to remember the Looney Tunes character, Sylvester the Cat? Sylvester was me, and Sylvester’s son was my son saying in major disappointment, “Ohhh Father….” Yet, I n that massive failure of a fishing day, bonding occurred between my son that day. I didn’t have a smartphone then to distract me. My attention was on my son and the potential catch. There were times of silently staring into the water together. In between the silent and mostly frustrating moments, we sat and talked about stuff. We sat and talked about stuff. A lot of layers get peeled off revealing the soul when you have time to just talk. It’s worthwhile for the parents. It’s rewarding for the children.

Your children may witness you failing at a lot of things, but they will win when you invest your time with them.

Do you have a major fail moment? Feel free to share. Your comments are appreciated.

Using Boundaries

Could you imagine driving the day our government lifted all traffic laws? It would be a great start to get on the open road and put the pedal to the metal without the worry of getting pulled over by the police. Most likely, you wouldn’t make it to the open road. The chaos of multitudes of drivers driving every which way would make your journey treacherous to say the least.

Traffic laws were put in place to save us from ourselves. Do you know where I am going with this? We pay attention to the lines in the street. Just like the painted white lines in this highway keep the drivers and their passengers safe while enroute to a destination, so do the universal boundaries that govern the areas of our life: our health, money, career, and our family. I believe that God put them in our lives to bring benefits to our lives not hamper them. People have tested boundaries from the beginning of time. I can tell you that gravity does not exist, but the moment jump off the roof it doesn’t matter what I believe. I will be going down in a hurry and injury and pain will be the result. These boundaries exist.

Take this perspective and apply it to your parenting. Use the boundaries to guide your children to keep them on the road to well being.

Make the boundaries clear and consistent. I recently drove through the local mountains in a thick fog. Visibility was very poor. In some stretches of the mountain road I had to rely solely on the reflective center line to navigate through the fog. Make the boundaries clear for your children. Write them down. Put them on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror. Tell your children. Have your children repeat it back to you what the boundaries are. Don’t be wishy-washy. Don’t change the boundaries based on your feelings or your convenience. By doing these things you are making boundaries clear and keeping them clear.

Follow though. I have been in of countries that had traffic laws but didn’t have the traffic officers to enforce the laws. I remember in one city street, the drivers made 8 lanes out of 4 marked lanes. It was nuts. Men got out of there cars to handle their disputes that turned into fist fights, meanwhile bringing traffic to a halt. The chaos and violence were a direct result of a lack of follow through. Whatever you decide as the correction part keep it consistent. It isn’t based on your temperment. It should be based on your children’s development. The purpose is to get your children to think about their actions and attitudes.

You might be familiar these words that start off Psalm 27, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” King David, the writer likened himself to a sheep and God as his shepherd. David stated that the shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me.” Isn’t it interesting that the “sheep” said that it was the instrument of correction that brought him comfort. That is because the rod isn’t just for correcting. It is more than that. The rod is used to protect. David himself was a shepherd and killed a lion who preyed on the sheep. The staff he used to prod and correct the sheep was also used to eliminate danger as well.

The point of discipline is to help your children create those boundaries in their hearts to guide them when you aren’t around. Your discipline of your children should go beyond telling them, “No,” and correcting them just because you are at your wit’s end. Help your children establish the boundaries for themselves. Who’s old enough to have taught your teenager how to drive a car? I am sure that you didn’t decide to permanently stay in the passenger seat to teach your child how to drive. It was a much shorter process than that. You intended for your teenager to know the rules of the road for him/her to operate the car without you. Shouldn’t we have the same intentional process with our children?

What are your thoughts? Your input is appreciated.

Lead Your Family Above the Noise

We get bombarded all day and night with messages. We are pounded with billboards, website banners, pop ups, commercials on tv, and jingles to name a few. I don’t have a long commute but do listen to sports radio while running errands. My kids and I sing 1-877 Cars 4 Kids. Why? Because it’s stuck in my head! And yes, I sing it with a heavy twang like the singer in the commercial.

I don’t know the exact formula of marketing, but I do know it’s powerful. Kids programming is about 10 minutes or less of the actual show before the kids are hammered with a commercial. Of course they are going to ask you for to buy stuff all day. Did you know by the way, Sea Monkeys are still around? Yeah, the same Sea Monkeys that we read in the comic backs back in the day?

So much of the tv shows and radio programming out there is just noise, and we have to rise above the noise ourselves as individuals and bring our families with us.

Get clarity for yourself first. You are in control of the screen door to your mind. What are you allowing to influence your mind? What are you screening out? My email inbox is at least in the hundreds daily. Twice a day, I do a mass delete of emails and save the bill reminders and the handful of emails I will actually read. One of those is a Bible-verse-a-day. Here’s what was in this morning’s inbox, “There is a way that seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.” Proverbs 16:25. My purpose for getting that daily verse emailed to me is to entice me to read the entire proverb to get the full context. I will meditate on that like chewing on some beef jerky and set the course of for the day. It will show up in my speech and what and how I talk with my family.

Next thing, is just to turn it off. Turn off the news. Turn off the reruns. Put the tablet running YouTube videos down. Get outside. If you stay inside do something else. The main thing is to turn off the noise when you have the ability to do so.

What do you instead of watching tv all day or having a device in your face? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and we will continue on in a couple of days. Make it a great Monday above the noise!

Your Children And Social Media

girls playing on street

Would you let your child freely interact with strangers? That question is the basis for my thoughts and opinions on children using social media. It is hard to have a simplistic grasp of the explosion of social media. We can share our lives via photo, video, sentences, and a song in an instant. We are interacting in ways that we couldn’t imagine years ago. My 80-year old low-tech dad just followed me on Instagram. Times have changed. Social media has opened avenues of communication that allows the participant to access dozens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. Where do our children fit in the social media picture that is increasingly becoming an integral part of our daily lives?
That brings me back to the first question. Would you let your children freely interact with strangers? The answer for my children is no. In public situations, when strangers approach my children, I make sure I redirect the interaction between me and the stranger. When I’m shopping, I don’t let my children leave my side to interact with people I don’t know. Why would I allow my children to do that on the internet?

Things to think about…
  • Predators are rampant on the internet. They are all over the internet in every social media platform: FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Personal profiles can be easily be created to misrepresent the user. A predator wouldn’t typically identify himself as one on his profile. People are not who they say they are. I just checked into my Instagram account and someone started following me. The profile pic was stock photo of a model. Who knows who the real person is behind the account? I don’t. Neither does your child.
  • Peer pressure to post things for shock value. We are a “like-hungry” society. We crave more likes and reposts on the photos, videos, and words we post on social media. People pay money to buy followers on social media platforms. “Likes,” “Favorites,” “Repins,” and “Reposts,” are the fuel that make social media go. That pressure is on our children to fit in their digital world as well as their physical world. We all know that the easy way to get attention to internet activity is to promote sex and vulgarity. The pressure is on our children to promote the same things!
So when can my kid join in?
I’m going back to my theme. The permissions I allow my children to be in the physical world is similar to the interaction I would allow my children to have on the internet. If I allow my son to work at the local movie theater, where the bulk of his interaction is with people he doesn’t know, then yes, I would allow that in his digital world as well. With boundaries? Yes, and I will set them. Freedom without responsibilities and accountability is not freedom. The process is all about trust, and trust is earned, not given.

What is your involvement?
Parenting is active. Anytime, you don’t interact with your children or you do not actively supervise your children’s activities, it is very likely that your children will go beyond the boundaries. Street signs remind me about the rules while I drive to keep me and others around me safe. Those road signs are not consistent on the internet. The parent must be guiding his/her children, and that includes setting limits on time, content, and interaction. I can and will tell my child, who can and cannot be his internet friends.

The key rule in my house is that all devices stay in the living room. All interaction on all devices happens here. My pre-teens in the house and friends that wanted to video chat today. It had to happen in the living room. I did not have to be in the chat with them, but at least I was within view and earshot of their conversation.

Our children need boundaries the same way a river needs banks. When there are banks, the river is a source of life. When the banks are gone the river becomes a flood. I believe in saying no with purpose. I believe that setting boundaries for your children will help them create boundaries for their own lives.

What are the boundaries in your house for your children? Is it clear? Are you actively involved? Do you have any ideas and tips to share? Comment below.

Zoltar Awaits


Zoltar was waiting
The man had no clue
With 50 cents debating
His fortune was due
He dropped the 2 quarters
And Zoltar began to talk
And gave the man orders
Of where he should walk
Life directions for a half a buck
Zoltar likes how it rolls
He gives the man some luck
And keeps his unknowing soul.

Thanks for reading my poem. I saw Zoltar while my friend Stephen Davis photographed unsuspecting tourists on the pier. I know it’s a silly poem, but don’t we get just as silly when we base our futures based on strips of paper inside fortune cookies and throwing coins into a fountain? Let me know what you think. I appreciate your feedback!

A Surfer’s Conversation


The godfather at the local break sat his listeners down as he preached from the back of his van to share one more key to his version of life. 

“It’s all in the conversation,” he pointed out. “Take this one guy. He wanted to be with this girl so badly, that he woke up at 5am just to join her morning session. He tried to convince her that he was as experienced as she was in the water, but she saw through his stories. She told him later that she just wanted to be friends.”


“Some guys chat from the moment they get their toes wet. They talk while they paddle out. They talk while sitting in the lineup. They talk while you’re trying to paddle into a wave,” the godfather added. “If they’d talk less, they’d catch more.”


“There’s nothing you can do when high tide turns the break into a swamp,” the godfather continued, “I can’t tell you how many guys end up watching and talking before walking to the closest coffee house to talk some more.”
“All I can say is…” the godfather paused as if he had changed his last point in mid-breath, “make your words count and paddle more.” He ended his surf-sermon, hugged his listeners, knowing that he would get to preach again the next day.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story. Some people are just more artful at conversation than others. Mike, the surf teacher is a real person and a real storyteller. People like him produce a lot more smiles in this world. Isn’t storytelling and conversations make life more exciting? I appreciate your feedback, and if you like my content please share it.

Check out the Steller version here.

If we could all pick up some trash

I have seen this lady numerous times in this part of the city. She seemed content in her work; a work that may be unrewarding for many. This was my first time up close with this woman. She strolled through this section of downtown Los Angeles where the homeless population gathered and littered the streets. This day, the consumers of the street market were worse; they consumed their food, then left their food wraps, napkins, and empty bottles behind. (It always bothered me how people could intentionally drop trash on the street when a trash can is literally a few feet away.)

Yet, when I observed this woman, she continued to pick up the pieces of trash as a few people oblivious to her presence would drop their unwanted items right in her path. The woman stayed in a consistent flow of moving, stopping, and picking up trash. At least in this moment, she looked focused and satisfied with her progress.

I remember my days as a 4th grade teacher, and I would direct my students to pick up trash before going to recess or at the end of the school day. It was almost every day that a student would refuse to pick up trash with the the excuse, “That’s not my trash.” Wouldn’t our world be that much more amazing if we all just picked up a little bit of trash?

Wouldn’t our world be that much more amazing if we all just cared a little bit more?

Coffee Poem

Coffee anyone?
I just need one and I’m done
Started drinking black
But then I got hacked
By sugar and cream
A sweet-tooth’s dream
I’ll do overpriced and try to look hip
But I’m really just fine with regular drip
I’m dragging and this poem is done.
Coffee anyone?

Thanks for dropping by to read. Check out the original poem in the Steller version below. Make it a great weekend!

A Picture Of Unity

I think this shot illustrates the power of unity. I have heard this long before in a sermon at church or on an article about leadership, but this is my first time capturing it on camera. Unity goes a long way, and not just for the birds. Unity involves working together and then some. It doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. It does mean that we have to agree on the goal and how we are going to get there.

Unity requires looking at the big picture. The big picture is usually, if not always, the greater good. It is usually win-win for everyone involved; whether it is in a marriage, family, business, sports team, community group or church team. And if you want to scale up, then yes, our local community and even a nation of millions of people.

Unity comes at a cost. Selfish-ambition is the #1 enemy of unity. Selfish ambition needs to be put to death for the goal to be achieved.

Unity requires a ton of continuous work. It means going through tense moments of conflict. However, finding a resolution is so much better than not finding one. Here’s the alternative that we all know well. When issues are left unresolved, it usually leads to bad attitudes, backbiting, bitterness and all the other things that are part of the disunity baggage.

If I was one of these birds in this V-formation enroute to a Southern destination, I know I would be tempted to land here on the Southern California Coast prematurely ending my journey and convince myself, “This place has mild weather year-round and plenty of food. Besides, that lead bird hogs up all the time in the front. Wasn’t it my turn like 4 birds ago? Hey, I know that there are at least three other birds that feel the same as I do. Besides most of the other birds aren’t even nice…”

While those statements may be true, the “Big-picture” voice says, “This destination is much more than just a place. I won’t know if I give up now. Sticking with the V-formation will get us there quicker and easier than anyone flying solo. Stay in the V.”

Years ago, I went with a church team and crossed the Mexican border to Baja California to do an outreach at a rehab facility for men. Our SUV got stuck in the mud on a hill during a massive downpour. 4 of us stepped out of the car and rocked, pushed, and prayed that truck for an hour until we were out of the mud. When we got to the rehab place the 4 of us were soaked in rainwater and mud. Still, we were happy to be in a dry place and encouraged to see the results of our teamwork.

Unity costs. Unity requires much effort and perseverance. Yeah, it takes a lot, but again think of the alternative.

And if you are like me, you have experienced the alternative a more than a few times. What’s your story? Your feedback is appreciated. Thanks.

Journey with Me

Journey with me.
Converse with me.
Create with me.
Play with me.
Dream with me.
Doing life with me.

Notes: The story starter was given my Nicky Sanford on Steller a few years ago. Nicky is @thephotomomma on Instagram.

Life was not meant to be lived alone. Share it with others, most of all with the ones you love. However, there are relationships, short-lived to life-long that have yet to be made. Don’t avoid those connections. What would you fill in the blank for yourself? “__________ with me.”