Filling Up Flashback Fridays

Here’s my picture for Flashback Friday.

My son and I walked through Venice Beach some years back with a Canon Rebel armed with a 2GB card for pics and $25 for lunch.

We had a fun time that day people watching and taking pics. Now that he’s an adult, the question is, “Did I provide a lot of memories for future Flashback Fridays?” Am I creating new memorable experiences for my wife and kids for future Flashback Fridays?

I think most of us agree that the things we attain and our accomplishments mean very little when we have no one to share them with. Our greatest investments will be time spent with those who are closest to us.

What are you doing to deposit memories in the bank for future Flashback Fridays?

Respect the Lord. His blessing includes your family.

A verse and a short commentary before I do my churchy duties.
I found this verse to share at a baby dedication yesterday,
“How joyful are those who fear the LORD-
all who follow his ways!
You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
How joyful and prosperous you will be!
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine,
flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees
as they sit around your table.
That is the LORD’s blessing
for those who fear him.” ~Psalm 128:1-4

God is worthy of respect and reverence. He is after all God. However, he is a God who always looks to bless. Think of the blessings in this short passage you just read: joyful, prosperous, fruitful, vigorous. I love that part of the family. Wife and grapes? That’s a win. Children around my table like healthy trees? That’s another win. I encourage you to look to engage with God like this and be ready for Him to bless you and your family.

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.

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? 

 
 

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?

Parenting and the game of marbles

I used to play marbles on the playground in 5th grade. I wasn’t very good at the game. I showed up at school with a pocketful marbles, and by the end of the day my pockets would be almost empty. In a basic game of marbles when you lose you actually lose the marbles you played. I did get better the more that I played. 

The point of a basic game of marbles is to shoot your marble at another players’ marble with the intent to hit his marble. If you hit your opponent’s marble, then you get to keep the opponent’s marble. 

I believe that parenting is the same way. The marble player is the parent, and the parent has to aim the marble (the child) at a target. We have to intentionally point our children towards a target. We have to aim our children towards a target. The difference is that children have their own free will and ultimately can choose to go their own way, but the point is to intentionally aim your children at your target.

Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady of the United State was quoted as saying, “Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.” You may parent the same way I played marbles; I missed the mark a whole lot. As long as you are raising your children with purpose, you are winning.

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.

The power of playing games

I’m lame when it comes to playing most board games, especially I Spy. Forget about even winning a round with my wife at this game. My daughter has been kicking my butt at this games since she turned 7. Monopoly? Thank God it’s not real money. I do have better fortunes with card games, but Uno is no beuno for me. My poor performance at games is not the point. Playing games is the point. I believe that there are tremendous benefits to playing games together as a family. 

I’ll state the obvious first. Playing games gives you a great opportunity to bond with your family. In some cases, like mine, it puts you on the same level playing field with your children. Children love it! They eat it up! I remember the day my son realized that he could beat me on a certain video game. He lit up and smiled the whole time. At the same time there’s a connection happening between you and your family. If it gets you to put the phone down or pulls you away from the tv show then that’s a good thing.

Playing games usually results in a lot of laughter. If there isn’t laughing I am going to guess that you are being too competitive, and many times that’s not fun at all. What is fun is your family seeing you at play. You are probably more approachable and easier to be with when you are in play mode. Laughter breaks down the walls between us. There is a Jewish Proverb that says that laughter is like medicine for your bones. I heard that laughter releases those endorphins in your body. You get natural pain killers working in your body from playing a game? That’s a great reason to play a game! You feel better afterwards!

So go and put that phone down and break out the board game. If you don’t have one, then buy one. Buy board games to invest into your family. For you gaming pros, which ones do you recommend? Which games are great for little ones? Which games are great for older kids? Game on!