Simple gestures can go a long way

She entered her apartment full of doubts. Doubts about herself. Doubts about everything. Her mind replayed the rejection and unkind words from those who roamed in her hostile world. Disappointment wore heavy on her like a straight jacket. Yet this downward spiral would end before it would rule the rest of the day. Her eyes gazed on the single object on the table. A long unloading exhale and a hopeful smile expressed her renewed hope even if it would be for just a few moments. He left her flowers in a cup.

Simple gestures can go a long way. Think about the ones you love in your house. Sometimes we don’t know what they are struggling with. Spouse had that rough day at work, kids have friendship issues at school. A kind gesture like a note or small gift and even flowers in a cup reminds that person that someone cares. It’s not a “random act of kindness” as the bumper sticker says. It is thoughtful, deliberate, and personal.

Anyone with ideas or suggestions on the simple gestures we can do for our family?

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.”
‭‭
Let’s continue to use wisdom to build our homes.

Family Bonding Time

Most of the best memories from childhood we ones that we shared with family and friends. Don’t you agree? It is important to facilitate and share moments with your children.

Here’s some thoughts:

  • Don’t waste the time doing selfies of yourself sharing your moment. Get into the moment instead of telling all your FaceBook friends about the moment. You can post that stuff later.
  • If you are doing something that doesn’t work out, don’t lose heart. That picnic bbq lunch you burned or the gingerbread house that fell apart usually provides great memories and laughs afterwards.
  • Lots of great moments happen throughout the normal daily routine. You still need to plan activities.
  • Don’t let a small budget discourage you. I Google searched “free family activities” and found this article titled, “Free Family Fun” http://www.parents.com/fun/activities/free-family-fun/
  • Quantity leads to quality. Planning and facilitating times your family can do an activity together will lead to good times.
  • Photograph, video, or collect something from the activity. For example, if you’re at a park, pick up a leaf.

Go beyond documenting the event. Create a photo album. If not physically, at least digitally. Make a scrapbook. It has to be accessible for the family to look at. Give your family the opportunities to be able to reflect and connect to your family history. I keep a 12-old video camera under the tv. About once or twice a year we connect the camera to the tv to watch at least an hour of old footage. The kids couldn’t believe all the crazy noises they made as babies. My wife and I couldn’t believe how much younger we looked.

Spending time together takes not only some planning but commitment as well. Family activities have a lot of benefits as you already know. Those times also give your children the space to know you not only as a parent but as a person as well. Those times also give you to the space to know your child as a person too.

Got thoughts? Insight? Tips? Questions? Comment below.

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.

One More Dance

 The guests were long gone

So they returned one more time

And danced until dawn

Thanks for reading my latest haiku. A word to my younger friends getting or wanting to get married. The emotion of love can take you to the wedding, but it is the act of love that will keep you married. You both have to actually do the “I do” part. That involves a determination and commitment to selflessly give every day whether you “feel” in love or not. If the relationship is one-sided now don’t expect it to change… ever.

After the Bliss

I enjoyed watching my wife bring her floral designs to The Big Fake Wedding this past week. I asked the wedding party to pose with the bouquets and boutonnieres, and after I saw this picture I got to thinking about what happens after the bliss. Let’s face it. Marriage bliss is not 24/7 except for the rare few who reside in some fairy tale. (And even in a fairy tale there is an evil queen/mother-in-law messing things up for the couple.) For some, it is not even 24 minutes out of the 7 days of the week.

Those habits and quirks that were once “cute” become irritations.  Gravity mixed with eating over time become bliss killers too. So what is a person to do when the bliss has become more like piss? 

Some of us have issues that go way beyond what a blog post can fix, but at least try this one thing to get on the road to a healthier relationship. Take the “i” out of “bliss” and replace it with “e” to make the word “bless.”

Be good to each other. Do good to each other. When you were dating or engaged, I suspect that you went the extra mile for each other. You probably did more kind gestures. You were probably more generous with your time and money. You were very likely more patient and forgiving than you are now. There was never a reason to stop being that way you once were before. I am not saying anything new. If you want your relationship to change then the first thing to change is you. 

Give it a try. Give it time. Let me know. Ok, time for comments. Chime in and be heard.