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.

Trying > Not trying

“If you try, you risk failure. If you don’t, you ensure it.” ~Anonymous

I like this kind of math for life. “Trying > Not Trying.” If it helps you remember to step up, step out, and risk failure, then meditate on this, “Trying > Not Trying.”

A new morning means new mercy


The Book of Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “… His mercies never stop. They are new every morning…” (NCV)

A few times during the week, I’ll get up before dawn to surf with a few friends. When I get a moment I take a picture of the sunrise.  I’ll keep doing this to remind myself to keep thanking and trusting in God even as this world keeps getting darker. One more morning means more mercy-filled day to live out. Ray, Rich, and Dave, thanks for being my surf homies. Have a great weekend everyone.

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.

When a picture hints at the future

palos verdes joe cap

This shot taken by my son about 8 years ago, while a teenager, was a the snapshot that foretold (is that a word?) his future. Today, he makes a living doing graphic design and photography.

Interests turn into passions that turn into hobbies that have the potential to create opportunities for new relationships and endeavors. Most if not all talents do not have an expiration date. Don’t worry about what the window of opportunity looks like. That should not be your motivator. Take the time and focus to work on the skill or talent that enjoy doing. Do that first.

Check out the visual story of this trip to Palos Verdes on Steller.

Advice for Hearts

A word to the young,

Yours can be fooled

Usually when you’re foolish

Wreckless and never ruled.

A word to those who are gray,

Before you lay to rest

Stop pining for yesterdays

And make today your best.

A word for the lonely,

Don’t be offended by my tone

Sharing your journey is a choice

So is staying alone.

A word to the lost,

Open your eyes

And commit to find your way

Instead of living on lies.

A word to those who are filled,

Help us sift the truth from the tales

Warn us about chasing after empty dreams

And remind us that love never fails.