What do you wish for?

If you were granted three wishes
you could wish for your child
Would you keep it thrifty
or would you dream wild
Would his journey be easy
or would the path have hills and valleys
Would she always be winning
or will she have to rally
Would he be just like you
or totally the opposite
How about only the good traits
remain after the filtered deposit
After all, it’s really up to you
They’re like arrows ready to be fired
Aim high.
Aim higher.

Wanna get away?

What’s a stressful day look like in your world? In a 24-hour slice of time, you can find out that you missed an important deadline at work because you failed to thoroughly read an email, you get a bill from the toll roads people that shows a penalty of $300 because the initial bill of $3 went to the wrong address, you get an email from your child’s teacher for a conversation about her (lack of) progress, your spouse has an allergic reaction sending both of you to the ER, and your other child breaks her tooth, so you leave your wife at the ER to take your child to the dentist. Also, while you were away from home rescuing your family, your pet dog ripped one of your pillows to shreds because he wasn’t getting the attention he believed (and still does) he deserves, and of course the other regular stuff like 4 small mountains of laundry backed up while a load in the washer is now starting to smell after sitting in it for 2 days, a dishwasher that isn’t working, your car is making a noise that you’ve never heard before, and you just saw that bill of $300 again.

After having a day just like that, I wanted a break. Instead of me peacefully wandering around tide pools and looking out over the expanse of the ocean like in the picture, my getaway was the garage. I just stood there just staring at the reflection of myself in the car window. I reminded myself few things.

  • Stress is a part of life. It will always exist, and the key is how I handle every challenge. Unfortunately, I found out that eating half a box of Oreos just makes things worse for me in the long run.
  • Crisis is a part of life. Even in moments that need an immediate response, I still can make a thoughtful response instead of a rash reaction that 9 times out of 10 end up not-so good.
  • God is there. He’s not panicking. He sees this whole crazy world and is not panicking. Don’t panic. Pray instead. I know I don’t know it all and put my trust in the One who does. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.

Most folks don’t live in a place where they can walk out from their place onto the rocks and stare at the ocean. Your getaway maybe as simple as encouraging yourself in the reflection of your car window. Hope you cope in life is a pattern your children can and most likely will follow. How are you coping?

 

The journey is not alone

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”~Ernest Hemingway

Many of you will agree that the journey is what counts the most. This is a consistent theme, yet I can still get so consumed with the destination that I forget that it is what happens in the process that makes me who I am.

When I took this picture of a young man walking his mother to a wedding ceremony, I was reminded that we don’t do this journey alone. People’s journeys and destinies are tied to mine. The ones most affected by my journey are the ones I lead, that is, my family.  I set the direction. I set the pace. I define the boundaries. I speak the dreams. I share the victories and the disappointments.

Many parents have dreams for their children to become a wildly successful lives as adults. Let’s not forget that it’s the process that happens on the way to the destination that makes the child become who he is.

Remind everyone on the journey with you that it really is the journey that matters, in the end.

Are your expectations of your child realistic?

As many of you may agree, Michael Jordan is considered by many peers, fans, analysts, basketball historians, and even critics as the greatest basketball player of all time. Yet, Jordan’s career field goal percentage over most of his career was .497. That means that Jordan missed more than half-of this shots. That statistic may not seem to match the word “greatest” but the greatest player of all-time missed half of his shots.

Remember about Jordan’s 50% career field goal percentage when your child still doesn’t get an “A” on the math test even after you spent extra money for him to go to tutoring. Remember that when your child doesn’t protect the goal and the opposing team scores a goal. 

As I’m typing this I recall the time I was verbally beating my son for not running a fast time in track. Yeah, he was 5 years old! Yeah, at least at the moment, I was “that” dad. One of the team mom’s confronted me and put me in my place with these simple words, “Chill. Remember, he’s just a kid.”  It wasn’t one of my finest moments. It was definitely a miss for me. Remember yourself as a child, and even as an adult, of the times you missed the mark.

You can be the parent who focuses only on the 50% of the shots that your child missed or you can be the parent who celebrates the 50% of the shots your child made and encourage him/her to go for more. I think most people, regardless of age, respond better to encouragement and support. Don’t you agree?

Allow me to include some Bible here because I believe we can get big-picture perspective to challenge and encourage us to adust our attitudes and approach to parenting. Psalms 127 records this about God, parents, and children, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.” Kids are a gift from God. They are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. Hey warrior, which direction are you pointing your children?

I believe in success, but I also believe that the journey to success includes all the misses too. When you parent your child, it is a must that you account for the misses as well as the makes. I always remind myself, “It’s about the process.” The primary focus of your parenting should not be about your children meeting your expectations but about them being taught, trained, and coached into growing up as young people who can be confident about their place in this world and taking on the dream that God has put in their hearts. 

So what are your expectations for your children? Is it expectations of them or is it expectations for them? In other words, is it about you or is about them? 

 
 

When your family is driving you crazy!

The pressure of life can be overwhelming. Leading your family? How about surviving your family? There’s endless hours of homework, practices, games, recitals, projects. The house has to look somewhat orderly. If you don’t have perfect kids, then you know that they fight and they break things. They have their own issues too. That’s just the normal stuff.

When a crisis hits, and they always do, that takes the stress to a whole new level. Plumbing gets clogged up. The car breaks down. You get a call from the school principal, and it’s not because you are being nominated for parent of the year. How do you maintain your sanity? Sorry, there aren’t any quick fixes. You knew that. However, there are things you can intentionally change in your life to make some sense out of things and make the journey more enjoyable.

Pick your battles. You cannot solve the world. Unless God told you to, your job isn’t to solve all the world’s problems, so take that load off. Furthermore, your job isn’t to figure it all out for your child. You do not have to address every single issue about your child. (If you have a young infant, that is a different situation, but take heart. It is a temporary season of being on duty every minute of every day.) Micromanaging your children can be maddening for both you and your children. Choose to help your child grow in the most important of areas. Work on the things that will help them grow.

Run your family with vision. You have to have a vision for your family. When you make your life all with purpose then it makes sense. There’s motivation to do things well. What is the vision for your family?

Be good to yourself. Eat well, get some sleep, and exercise. I know that is easier said than done. It’s a no-brainier for most, but it requires discipline for all. Being tired, yet over-caffeinated and unfit is like running a triathlon without training. It’s like being a mechanic without the tools. One of your greatest resources is your health.

Treat yo’ self. If you are a fan of Parks and Recreation, you automatically know what this means. Do something nice for yourself. Get a massage. Get to a theme park with your BFF. Watch a movie. Some activities do require finances and time, and if you are lacking in those things then you will have to be creative. That “me time” is important.

Even if you are doing just fine, then ask yourself if you are driving your family crazy! Do you have anything to add to this list? Share your insight in the comments below.

Back to School

It’s time to go back to school. Some of your kids already started the new school year. By the way, whatever happened to starting school after Labor Day? You would think that being a former school teacher would mean I that I knew all the Jedi tricks to help your children succeed in school. Not really. I need help to help my own kids. Here’s my short list:

  • Your children need a lot of sleep. I’m an adult and I don’t function at my best when I lack sleep. My children are no exception. Neither are yours. I remember in junior high telling everyone that sleep was overrated, yet I was the one with my head on my desk by the afternoon.
  • Your children need to eat breakfast. You might have convinced yourself that breakfast is optional for you. Don’t let your children to live the same. They spend 1/3 of their day not eating as they sleep throughout the night. To continue going on another 4 hours until lunch is a bad idea. I put gas in my car if I want to get somewhere. You child needs fuel for the day. Plus, going without breakfast makes your children’s bodies crave everything that’s unhealthy. Make it a healthy habit to eat breakfast.
  • Your children need space to be kids. Maybe your child is that type that needs to be in 3 sports at the same time, along with the Scouts, and on top of a couple hours of homework. My point is that to not fall into the trap of thinking that being overwhelmed and proudly living over-busy lives is a good thing.

The main thing is that your children need your support. School is their “work week.” What do you do to help your kids succeed in school? Comment below.

It’s time to add wisdom to your knowledge

I think I know more now at almost a half-century of life than I did a couple of decades ago. I foolishly thought that I knew it all when I was out of college at 24, but the more I know now, the more I realize I don’t know much. Growing in wisdom is the key to our journey. There is a Jewish proverb that says that wisdom is better than gold, and that is definitely proving itself out in my life, and I bet it is in yours as well.

I think that’s how most good movies play out. Our main character has an enemy he has to defeat or a mountain he has to overcome. Somewhere in the story he gets wisdom that helps him win.

Wisdom is not the amount of knowledge you have but applying the knowledge you have. You can know how to make money, but the wisdom is in how you use that money. You can be an expert at driving, but if you are constantly getting traffic tickets then that knowledge is not being maximized to your own benefit; let alone any good for anyone else.

Wisdom is a heart thing; not a head thing. Many times, wisdom is making the tough decisions 90% of people are not willing to make. Wisdom is selectively choosing relationships and endeavors that are usually not popular. Wisdom is the voice that keeps you from repeating that same mistake over and over. Many times, wisdom requires courage to see it in action. Wisdom requires courage because the decisions you make influence others linked to you.

The sign in the picture says, “You know more than you think you do,” and let me add that the greater challenge is to apply what you already know to benefit yourself and those connected to you.

Your children are living in a world that is moving a whole lot faster than we were kids. They are being bombarded with so much information that parents have to “compete” with. It is crucial to be an active and intentional voice in their lives. And by the way,”Do what I say and not what I do,” is about the laziest and most ineffective way of parenting.

Parenting requires wisdom. Show your children over their lifetime how wisdom works. Teach them that wisdom is a heart thing; not a head thing. You will have to repeat yourself countless times over many years, but keep reminding them that wisdom is making the tough decisions 90% of people are not willing to make. Keep modeling for them how you are using wisdom to choose relationships and endeavors that may not seem popular nor easy.

We can all be students of the school of hard knocks, but have the heart of someone who wants to graduate. You and your children can apply that wisdom that keeps you from repeating that same mistake over and over. Growing in wisdom requires courage, time, and patience. When we grow wiser those connected to us benefit.

Lastly, if you don’t have wisdom, then ask for it. The writer in the book of James said that if you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. That doesn’t work if you don’t read your Bible because that’s where the wisdom is.

Proverbs 14:1 was written thousands of years ago, yet applies to our families today, ““A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”
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Let’s continue to use wisdom to build our homes.

When was the last time you played with your kids?


When was the last time you played hopscotch?

When was the last time you hopped? On one foot? For fun; not because you stubbed your toe navigating through the house in the middle of the night.

When was the last time you played a game that was actually on a board with other players waiting for their turn and not a mobile device?

When was the last time you ran to beat someone to a finish line?

When was the last time you chased a ball?

When was the last time you rolled on the grass?

When was the last time you made a paper airplane and threw it?

When was the last time you did anything like that?

You may lose every hand at the card game. You may be the last one to cross the finish line. You may not be able to handle the ball like you used to. You may not do anything like you used to, but something good happens when your children see you not having to be so grown-up.

I’m not talking about being childish, but being child-like. I’m talking about being a person who remembers how to play. I’m not talking about being irresponsible but less grown-up filtered. Don’t let your children grow up thinking that the only “playtime” you have is for “adults-only” and requires drinks.

Do you remember the movie “Hook?” The main character Peter Panning (played by the late Robin Williams) was always stuck to his phone on a business call. His children were kidnapped by Captain Hook, and the only way to win his children back was to battle Captain Hook as Peter Pan.

Being playful makes you approachable. It counters the stress that you may unknowingly transfer to your children. Go beyond barking orders and managing behavior. There will be times that the best way to connect with your children is through play.

Thanks for dropping by. Your comments and insight are always appreciated. When was the last time you played with your children?

 

#fail

We love watching train wrecks. That’s why our eyeballs lock in on the haggard celebrity on the cover of the gossip magazine who is about to lose it all. The hashtag #fail is a common thing to look up on social media and the videos we watch people failing in life go viral daily.

But who likes failure in their own lives? I am guessing that no one does, and this is the part when I say, “don’t let your failures define you,” and I do believe that. On the other hand, failure is part of the mix when it comes to parenting. Even when you are trying your best to do right for your family, the disappointments are inevitable. You make judgment errors. You battle distractions constantly. There are those times you throw in the towel or at least feel like it. As parents, we miss the mark all the time. Does that make you a failure? 

Does it make you a failure when your child is failing a class? Does it make you a failure because your child can’t seem to make friends?  Does it make you a failure when your child can’t play a sport to save his life? Does it make you failure when the school counselor tell you that your child has a learning disability? Does it make you feel like a failure when you realize that you don’t have the money to pay for your child to get to specialized education? Maybe you’ve done everything right to raise your child to be successful, but he’s not. Does that make your failure? The answer is no to all of those.  

You are the one who determines whether you are going to be a failure or success. Going through a series of fails does not make you a failure. Quitting is failing. If you are alive and have your children or access to invest yourself into your children, you will always a chance to win.

Walk with your children through their troubles. You are their closest teacher when it comes to coping with life. Many times, they are going to copy your pattern. 

Some of you are saying, “That’s the problem. I fail a lot more than most folks. What if I don’t know how to cope?” I don’t have a quick answer for that, but will start with put your faith in God. I will paraphrase my favorite Jewish Proverb to help you get started, “Trust in God and what He says with all your heart, and don’t base everything on your own understanding of life.” Let God be in the driver’s seat of your life and He will straighten out the twisted avenues of your life. Ask a relative or a trustworthy friend to help you find a reputable church that teaches the Bible without all of the religious mumbo-jumbo. I’ll bet you’ll find a supportive community waiting for you as well.

Educate yourself. Get professional counseling. Find a licensed family therapist. Take a parenting class. If money is an issue, start with looking for resources online. Read a parenting book. Go the public library and borrow one. You don’t have time? Make time? Leading a family is something that takes a lifetime, yet we  spend more time preparing and studying for a career which may last just a small portion of our lives than we do shaping souls who bear our name. 

There are no perfect parents, but spend time with those who want to be great ones. One way or another you’ll pick up some solid parenting skills. Everyone should have a mentor to help them grow; that’s young people and adults.

The greatest thing you can do for your children is to be there for them. Be present physically, emotionally, and mentally. They already know that you are far from perfect, and still love you anyway. If you are still there and haven’t thrown in the towel for good then you are on the road to success. 

Don’t let the failures define you. Instead, use the failures to refine you. Stop making excuses. You have the power to decide and follow through to be a rock for your children to stand on. Just take ten minutes to browse through a news site or tv channel. This world is quickly changing that demands that you prepare your children. The best thing you can do for your children is to give them a clear voice in this noisy world. If you can do that you are already #winning.