Balance? What Balance?

Do you know how many articles, blogs, books, videos, sermons exist on the internet just by searching the words, “balancing life?” I don’t know the number, but the list seems endless. I’m sure it seems that way because a lot of people feel like their lives are not in balance. I won’t claim to have mastered any kind of balance in my life. I believe it is one of the constant tensions in life that will always exist. (By the way, I believe tension is necessary in life, and it’s not always a bad thing.) We can pour massive amounts of time and energy into organizing our lives in a disciplined manner, and there comes along an event that can upend that balance.

Instead of getting hung up on the concept of what “balance” looks like, simplify it by prioritizing the people that are most important to you. I say “people” because people should be at the top of your list. It should be the people that you LOVE who should be at the top of your list. If I LOVE God, then He should be the top priority of my time and attention. If I LOVE my wife, then she should get a whole lot of my time and attention. If I LOVE my kids, then they should get a whole lot of my time and attention. If I LOVE my relatives…. If I LOVE my friends…. This list can extend far, but that’s where priorities help.

You should also make time to do the things that you LOVE. Those are the interests that you enjoy doing. That could be a simple as reading books. It can be extensive like collecting rare objects. Pursuing these interests take the edge off the roughness of life and fills the soul tank. However, the things that you love shouldn’t take away the time and attention that belongs to the people you LOVE.

There’s a 4-letter word that gets in the way of the endeavors we love, and that’s W-O-R-K. If you have a job or career that you don’t love, then shift your perspective to encourage yourself. Your work gives you the opportunities to do the things that you love.

One more thought. Be generous with your time and resources to help others. Volunteer at your church or the hospital. Be a coach on your child’s soccer team. You get the idea. Investing your time and resources to help others is not just a noble thing. It makes your soul rich.

Balance can’t be all the aspects of your life weighing the same amount to keep the scales level. Some aspects are more important than others. Some aspects weigh more than others. Some aspects should.

What are those priorities in your life? Chime in! Your comments are welcomed and hope you are enjoying a productive week!

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.

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.

Learning Life While Taking Pictures

Yes, I became one of the millions who all of a sudden became a photo snapping fool after discovering that I could actually use the camera on my iPhone that was within an arm’s reach 24 hours of the day. After learning some basic rules from my pro photographer buddy (Thanks Rene!), YouTube videos, and learning from some fine artists on Instagram and Flickr- I think I am actually gaining some skills on the art of capturing life. But that’s not what this post is entirely about. The bigger “picture” (Yes, pun intended) is about what I do with my life, how I can lead my family, and be a blessing to my friends, community, this world.

For the past 7 years of taking at least 1 photograph everyday, I realize that no matter how much technology is crammed in this pocketable and delightful device, the camera is still very limited when compared to dedicated cameras. I discovered from the limitations of a phone camera that it is more about what I do with what I have instead of focusing on what I lack. Isn’t that life? Ok, here are 3 of some of the lessons:


Photography Lesson #1
: Composition is crucial. I learned that the decisions about where the subject is positioned inside the rectangular frame and what stays in the frame and what does not need to makes a difference.

Life Lesson #1: How I compose my life is crucial. I need to be intentional and thoughtful of my priorities, relationships, and endeavors. I know it is easier said than done, but I need to live every day with vision. How do you compose your life each day? What are the subjects that you are focusing on? Are there things and people that do not have to be in the picture?

Photography Lesson #2: Lighting is everything. Great lighting usually results in great results. Poor lighting brings a lot of challenges.

Life Lesson #2: Lighting is everything with the decisions I make. Of course, most choices made in my waking moments are not a matter of life and death, but informed, thoughtful decisions usually have positive results. Doing some homework, getting insight from the sages in my life, and applying God’s Word are the best ways to bring light into my situations. Jesus made this claim, and I believe it, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Do you believe Jesus can do that to the point of trust?  I think we can all agree that life’s best learnings are the ones when we say “Ah!” because the light bulb turned on a situation. So, what is the source of your light?

Photography Lesson #3: Edit with a purpose. Most photographs aren’t complete without an editing process. Enhancing or desaturating color, adjusting lighting, and even cropping something out are done to develop an aesthetically pleasing and engaging image. The great thing about digital editing a photo is that you can “undo” an edit you are not pleased with. Even after the photograph has been taken

Life Lesson #3: The things that we focus on are not going to be complete at first. There is always a process. Adjustments have to be made. Things may need to be cropped out. What and how I change the things in my life determine my results. I have been learning that less is more. How about you? Are you adjusting your attitude to get the right perspective? Are you ok with everything being a process? You may not be able to “undo” some decisions, but you can always change you.

Just recently another photographer friend gave me his dedicated camera with a lot more features and capabilities. Thanks Gilbert! However, the bigger picture (there I go again with the pun) is to do the best with what I have in my hands right now. Don’t wait for whatever upgrade or next big thing you are waiting for. Do the best with what you currently have. Remember, lighting is crucial, so get light. Be thoughtful with how you compose your life. Make changes with purpose even if it is just changing you. You may not get it right the first time. It’s a process. You will be glad you did. Your family will be glad you did. The world will be a better place.

Yes, I took the picture of that surfer on the beach with an iPhone.

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.

Make the Time

Do you make the time for yourself? Do you make time to spend time with the ones you love?

I took this shot a couple of years ago while watching families play on the beach this gloomy day, and happy I got this moment between a man teaching his son how to bodyboard. This was not a spontaneous outing. The father spent time and money to fit his son into a wetsuit and the right board. He may have spent time studying beach breaks that would be the best place for learning. It was apparent that this man was investing into his child and got some water therapy for himself at the same time.

I tried to get my kids to do the same, but they did not have the same love for the ocean as I did. What we do have the same passion for is cookies. That kind of backfired because after a few sessions and a couple of baking books, my daughters kicked me out of the kitchen to show that they could bake without my help. However, they make really delicious cookies. We might have the potential for a tasty family business.

The point is that you have to carve out time from your busy schedule. The time will not come to you. Believe me. As I tap out these words, I realize that I have not been on a date with any of my daughters in months. I was on a nice schedule of taking each one out for an ice cream cone night or trip to the bookstore where we just browsed and talked about books. These daddy-daughter dates did not happen because I didn’t set aside the time for it. It is time for me to get back on track.

Set appointments to enjoy time with loved ones. You have to do that with yourself too. Me time is important. Do not make excuses. A tight budget just means you need to be more creative with the activity. Besides, if it is important to you, then you will invest money into it as well as time. Put the dates on your phone. Add multiple reminders. Write a note and post it on your refrigerator. Make sure that you follow through.

What are you doing to carve out time for yourself and your loved ones? 

  • Do you make appointments on the calendar?
  • Is it consistent?
  • Are you giving your loved one your undivided attention during your time together?
  • Is there something like a hobby or television time that you can give up to invest that time back into yourself or a loved one?

If you have tips or insight, then comment below. I’d love to hear them.

Memory Go Round

His memories of this place were as vague as he chose them to be, but this day, this man relived this one a little longer. 

He sat on a wooden horse 35 years ago and watched his mother bury her face in her hands as his father walked away. He never saw the man again. 

His thoughts were interrupted by the laughter of his 2 children going around on their wooden horses. 

He clutched his wife’s hand a little harder and waved at his children,  determined to give them different memories. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this 1-minute fictional piece I wrote a couple of years ago. You may have had more than your share of painful memories as a child. You do not have to repeat them. Even if you did repeat them you can commit to break out of the cycle. The greatest security blanket you can give your children is you.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children?

A Voice From the World 5 Foot and Under

girls playing on street

First of all, thanks for visiting my website. I have been writing on my blog here for the past couple of years, and at least 3 times a week for that past year. For the most part, I have been sharing about my interests in mobile photography and sharing micro-fiction stories and poems. As I have been posting over the past few weeks, my heart has moved towards writing about what I have done for the past 3 decades; and that is working with children. I realize more than anything else that I am a voice from the world 5 foot and under.

I have decided that the majority of content on this blog will shift to benefit anyone who works with or raises young children: parents, grandparents, step-parents, foster parents, teachers, coaches, social workers, pediatricians, dentists, therapists, Sunday School teachers, etc. If you are any of those listed and want to hear another voice from the world 5-foot and under, then keep following and give me the opportunity to share my experiences and perspective.

Although I do not consider myself the highest authority on the subject of children, I have worked with children for 30 years and been a parent for over 20, so at least I can share with you some mistakes and learnings. Yes, I am still learning. And yes, I am a preacher, and preachers preach. Be forewarned, I might start singing, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” because He does!

About 3 times during the week on the blog, I will be sharing thoughts that I believe will make you smile, nod your head, chuckle and even shed a few tears. Since I still love writing what I call 1-minute fiction, I might squeeze in one every now and then. I am working on publishing some works, and you will get to see the process. I hope you join in and enjoy the journey with me by tapping the “Subscribe” button at the top of this page. Cheers!

Swish!


I get to work with kids as a children’s pastor at the church I have attended for over 20 years. I have accumulated a few stories about little people doing things that make me crack up and shake my head at same time.

While I was doing my churchy duties supervising the children’s department on a Sunday night not too long ago, Little Joel had been happily playing basketball for a while in the Kindergarten classroom until he had the sudden revelation that he had to use the restroom badly.

He did the pee-pee dance in front of his teacher to prove his sincerity and urgency. The teacher was so convinced that she personally escorted him to the restroom with his basketball in hand. However, Joel had nowhere to place his orange sphere that made him so happy just minutes ago.

But inside this tiled, dimly lit, and cold place there happened to be the perfect place to hold his prized object.

Swish! Score!

Read the Steller version here: https://steller.co/s/4dWAXH7wfvG

Lighten Up

If you  squint your eyes hard enough just might  see that there are 3 tiny people standing on the edge of the cliff enjoying the view from up high. I am sure they were taking a nice break from work and all the to-do’s that must be done in their lives.

The  heaviness of those things in life can be overwhelming. It is important to keep things light. I have a few thoughts about attitudes towards work stuff, projects, and in general, all the stuff we have to do.

Lighten your load. Prioritize the stuff that’s most important. Those may not be the things are a screaming for attention. Identify the most important things, and break them down into smaller pieces. Make your mountain into smaller hills.

Lighten your grip. There may be stuff you need to let go. There may be tasks or projects in your workplace and home that someone else can do for you or with you. Most likely, they are better and more efficient at it anyways. There are actual tasks and projects that are waiting for someone, who likes that kind of stuff, to do them. You do not have to do it all. If you think you then ask yourself, “Why?” Give yourself the honest answer.

Lighten your mood. Make the most out of your situations. Not everything is enjoyable to do, but find ways to make tasks and projects a pleasant experience. My personal tip: play music… all the time.

The demands of life: home, family, work, business, public and private can rush you like a flood. Lighten it up. It will make a difference.

Oh, and it helps to get out there and play. Go somewhere where you see the massive sky and the people, if there are any, are enjoying the view… just like you.

Check out my visual story of this place you see in the picture, Palos Verdes, California.