2 Questions to ask God

Earlier this week, I was writing a lesson for elementary-aged children for chapel time at a local school and thought of Paul’s 2 questions he asked Jesus after Jesus intercepted him on his way to Damscus to oppress the followers of Christ. Paul asked, “Who are you?” and “What do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:5-6)

Aren’t those the two questions we all have to ask?

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.

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.”

That “Let-me-show-you-how-it’s-done-son” moment


Any of you old enough to remember the cartoon episodes when Sylvester the Cat would attempt to teach his son the art of bird-catching, yet he would fail every time he tried to catch Tweety Bird? That was me at this skate park 20 years ago trying to teach my son how to skate inside of a bowl. I powered about 6 feet up the side of the bowl on a skateboard when I realized I had no clue what to do next. I tried to bail out and keep my dignity, but my foot planted in the cement on my fall downward and I landed at the bottom of the pool in the splits position. I felt my hip pop and remember limping for a good month.

I think every dad has one of those failed let-me-show-you-how-it’s-done-son moments. At least my son and the kids that were there had a good laugh. If there were cel phone cameras back then, I would’ve been a viral sensation and invited to be on Ellen’s show. Do you remember your “Sylvester” moment?

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 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!

Knowledge is good. Wisdom is better.


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. There is a Jewish proverb that says that wisdom is better than gold.

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 may not seem 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.

 

Children Matter (a lot!)

This photo of my daughter reminded me of what matters most.  I worked in the public school system as a teacher for over 10 years in inner-city schools. One of my most memorable school years was bookmarked by one 9-year old girl. Yuri was brought into my classroom in the last quarter the of the school year.

Actually, she was literally carried like an infant into my 4th Grade classroom by the administrator. This girl balled up into a fetal position for the entire day. For at least a week, she spent her days with her head face down on the desk buried inside her folded arms.

She responded my attempts to talk to her with complete silence. I was frustrated but was not going to give up. I had just heard a series at church about valuing people.

If I was going to make a connection with Yuri, I knew I had to do something different. After the first bell, I yelled Yuri’s name with all the enthusiasm I could muster, as if I were the announcer of a championship boxing match, as all the students lined up in front of their classroom for school. I forgot to inform the rest of my class of my strategy, so they were enjoyably caught off-guard by my antics.

After I ceremoniously announced Yuri’s name at the start of every school day consistently for two weeks, Yuri began to speak to me through a translator-classmate. She made eye contact, but instead of talking to me, she whispered in her friend’s ear what she wanted me to know.

I played along with this to keep the communication open. Yuri didn’t do any of the classwork but would sneak a smile every once in a while to let me know that she was listening.

The extent of this communication lasted for another couple of weeks. Though this was not uncommon for this part of the city, Yuri’s parents were suspiciously unavailable for any school meetings, as our community worker worked tirelessly to get Yuri the help that she needed. Obviously, something was wrong.

One afternoon, about a month after we first met, Yuri approached me as I graded papers on my desk after school. Most of the students had left for the playground except for a couple of helpers cleaning up in the hallway. Without any prompting from me, Yuri began talking to me about herself and what she thought of school for the next 15 minutes. I think I may have squeezed in maybe a few words in this conversation.

However, I was quiet for most of our discussion because I had been in shock listening to my student gab with me as if we were best friends. At the end of our conversation, Yuri gave me a hug and said that this was her last day of school, and I was the best teacher she ever had.

At the end of the day, one of our administrators called me in her office to passionately explain what had happened. Social Services had been tracking Yuri’s parents for suspected neglect and child abuse. To elude Social Services, Yuri’s parents withdrew her from the school and left the area.

I never saw Yuri again, but the memory of her reminds me to care about what matters most. I am reminded of why I wanted to be a father and why I wanted to work (and still do) with children.

I believe as a society, the welfare of our children should be one of our highest priorities. I may not have solutions at a large scale for governments to consider but I do know it starts in the home. Comments? Please add some. Your input is appreciated!