Posts Tagged ‘family’


Family

There is still immeasurable value in a photo album and framed family portrait.  Not the photo albums of old, with the sticky back and the plastic film flap that protects the photos…photo albums are graphically designed and laid out to perfection.

Imagine this…what if we lost all power or internet connectivity and we no longer had access to the photos on our phones, computers, or clouds? An ever more common occurrence, what if we lost our phone or the hard drive on our computer crashes?  (Rent the movie Book of Eil…it will help you imagine and it is a good movie)

I recall when my son was just 2 years old, he would sit in from of my laptop for 20-30mins at a time, enjoying all of the pictures that rotated, flipped, faded, or dissolved onto the screen.  My screensaver was set to display all of the pictures stored on my laptop.  Initially, I thought he was simply fascinated with the variation by which the images popped up on the screen.  It was not until a year or so later that I realized, he was taking in the memories of the moments, recalling the emotions he felt in those photos.

As a new dad…I tried to capture every single moment I could of my son.  I was a proud papa!  I would capture all of the special moments, like our first trip to Disney World.  I did not take my first trip to Disney World until I was almost 30.  He had been 2 times before his 6th birthday.

Years later, he would talk about moments in those pictures, outside of the moments captured by the camera.  It was as if he was able to relive the snapshot of time over and over again by watching the pictures on my screensaver. Recently, I walked into his bedroom, he is 10 now, and he was looking through his 2nd grade yearbook, recalling memories of his classmates. He really values the memories that are captured through photos.

For families, pictures are very important and are worth so much more than 1000 words.  What I realized early on is that I was always the picture taker, but very seldom in the picture. Many people and families fail to take pictures, because of their own self image. Then I realized, pictures are really not for or about me.  Pictures help my son recount all of the loving memories of his childhood, times with his family, more specifically, quality time with his mom and memorable moments with his dad.  Memories happen without warning.

Again…Imagine if we, somehow, lost all of the data on our devices.  I know you’re thinking, “That will never happen, ’cause the thingy is backed up to the jigga-ma-bob, and the virtual cloud will kick in…I said imagine! …or watch Book of Eli!  

What if “later” never comes and your family does not have any photos of you or the entire family “together” to recount the lasting memories of YOU? Capturing, or better yet creating special moments, because ‘you don’t like to take pictures!’

Pictures are not about You!  I realized, I sometimes masked my uneasiness of taking pictures with always being the one behind the camera.  In the same way my son was able to spend so much time looking at images of himself, he should be able to reminisce about our family time together. #legacy

My wife loves a great family photo and she encourages us to take advantage of the opportunity every chance we get. Ugh! 🙂   We recently had a photoshoot with ImagesByMarcAnthouny.com  At Images By Marc Anthony, their slogan is “Capturing the Essence of You!” The images they took, truly embodies who we are as a family.  This is the first time I have experienced an emotion when looking at images of my family.  Images By Marc Anthony captured candids and staged poses that were natural as we simply enjoyed time together as a family.  It was like we were out enjoying a walk in the park.

My 10 year old son actually exclaimed, “Aawwwwww!” the first time he saw the images because Images by Marc Anthony “captured our essence” as a family.  We can now display images that represent who we are, not on social media, but on the walls of our home.  For generations, on walls of my son’s home and even his children will be able to see the love and joy their father and grandparents experienced as a family.

There is still immeasurable value in a photo album and framed family portrait.  I know we are in a digital age, but I can tell you first hand, this experience and quality time with family was a priceless investment whose returns will last beyond my lifetime.

Invest in your family.  It will live Beyond the Selfie Stick.

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The Picture Perfect F.A.M.I.L.Y.

Many of us grew up watching one of the above T.V. shows and imagined what our families would look like.  In our minds we saw the Picture Perfect F.A.M.I.L.Y., but no one explained that it would take lots of hard work to build it.  It is unfortunate (and quite scary actually) that the image of family that is currently portrayed looks quite different from when the above shows were airing on television.

Some would argue that times have changed and that my views are a bit old fashion.  They would argue that the values from the family in the black and white picture are no longer realistic.  I believe that it is not a reality only because we do not do what is required to build ourselves, thus not being the examples that are necessary to build what we saw on TV.

This weekend my family and I went to St. Pauls, North Carolina.  It is a small town outside of Fayetteville, NC.  The area was so remote that cell phone towers could not provide signal.  I observed 3-4 generations talking, laughing, loving, playing, and braking bread with one another. I listened to stories of family traditions being passed down and lessons being taught by simply spending time together.

This experience made me reflect on what is needed to build a healthy and whole F.A.M.I.L.Y. with traditions that last beyond 4-5 generations.  The love, values, and positive energy that permeated the weekend was refreshing, peaceful, and yet stimulating to my heart and imagination.

What would it take for more families to live in the unity that I experienced this 4th of July weekend?  I have used F.A.M.I.L.Y. as an acronym to describe what I think it takes to build the “picture perfect” F.A.M.I.L.Y..  The dynamics of your family does not matter.  You can be married, single, parents, or empty nesters…building a family that will last generations transcends whatever we view a typical household to look like. 

FUNCTION

  • To have a picture perfect family you must start with setting clear expectations.  What do you value?  What are the rules of the house (nice to haves…clean room daily, etc.)?  What are the laws of the house (must haves…no lying, etc.)? Write them down. Everyone in the family / household has a role and should have duties assigned accordingly. If a person is a member of the household and does not know and understand their role, thus not performing their assigned duties, they become dysfunctional. Roles may be outside of the home (i.e. If you don’t WORK, you don’t eat). A family must ensure that all parts or members of the household are in good working condition and understand how each part / member work together to make up the whole. This must begin early!  When members of the household understand their function early on and how it impacts the whole, I believe, they are less likely deviate to far from their role.  This is not to say that they will never stray. Standard “maintenance” is always required to make sure that all parts are in good working condition. 
  • Action: This is a proactive step that must be taken.  Assess your household to ensure that every member is functional.  Post the laws and rules.  Assign numbers to them so that they are easily referenced. Ensure that every member understands their role and that they know how to perform the duties associated with their role.  Once expectations are set, each member must take ownership and proactively carry out the duties assigned to them.  When any new members are added to the household, initiate this step, so that expectations are clear.  All members of the household should be present.

AFFINITY

  • To have affinity, is to have a natural liking for someone.  It is very difficult to be on the same team with someone and not like them.  Your household is a team!  Affinity should magnetically draw you closer to one another.  Affinity comes through building a relationship. Good communication is vital. Actively listen and follow through on what you heard to prove that you heard them and understand. Getting an understanding of likes and dislikes and catering to one anothers needs is a great way to build an affinity for one another. Everyone may not be the same and that is ok, but having mutual respect for one anothers differences allows each person to be an individual.  When this happens, a friendship is created and you genuinely “like” each other.
  • Action: Make a list of your likes vs. dislikes.  It could be items that you currently do or things that you would like to do in the future (or stop doing).  Compare the list to see what you have in common.  Do those things regularly!  However, each of you must make it a habit of picking an item on each others list that you dislike and DO IT REGULARLY!  Have Fun Doing It!  Enjoy the fact that they are happy and that you are spending time with them. Stop focusing on you and focus on them.  They will appreciate you more and your affinity for one another will grow.

MATURE

  • “Anything that does not grow is either dead, dying, or artificial.” Pastor E.N. Jennings.  We should want all members of our household to not only be alive, but to be lively and well.  To be well is to thrive.  We must influence and challenge the people in our households to realize their dreams by discovering the gifts and passions that are locked inside of them. Imagine living in a household where everyone understands their purpose and is living it! The thought alone is EXCITING!!!  If we want our F.A.M.I.L.Y. to function at its highest capacity, we must be intentional about helping each member mature into who they were born to become.  Never mistake getting older as maturity.  There is a big difference.
  • Action: Observe!  What are they naturally good at?  What are they passionate about? What irritates you or members of your household to the point where they must go help fix it? Harness that  energy and perfect the gifts required for that area.  Exposure!  Try new things!  Read books together!  Grow together!

INTEGRITY

  • Accountability is required within the household.  You have to build an environment of trust and honesty where members feel comfortable to tell you anything. Parents…this means that you must consider your response to every situation that your kids share.  If you “go off” and not handle a situation well, it can potentially close the door for them to ever confide in you again.  I am not saying that there should not be consequences, but they should understand that it is better to come to you and talk it though than to hide it and potentially making it worse.  Same goes for husband / wives and even roommates.  Who we are when no one else is looking, if bad, has the potential to negatively impact everyone in the household.  Therefore, this gives them the right to know and hold you accountable for what you struggle with. 
  • Action: Discuss the importance of confidentiality in your household.  Explain the consequences of breaking trust within this inner circle.  Next, confide in one another.  Share what your struggles are.  This could be difficult, especially if what you share is new to them. I encourage none of you to focus on the fact that this may be your first time hearing about it. They trusted you enough to share.  Now devise a plan for holding one another accountable. Perhaps, each of you can share on a piece of paper and exchange them at the same time (I pray that your list is not too long).  🙂 When we share with others, we become vulnerable, this begins the healing process.  Perhaps professional assistance may be required to help you get through this, but whatever it takes.  Deal with it!

LOVE

  • Love is patient.  Love is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. Love is not proud. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking. Love is not easily-angered.  Love keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil.  Love rejoices with the truth.  Love ALWAYS protects. Love ALWAYS trust. Love ALWAYS hopes. Love ALWAYS perseveres. Love Rules!  The love that you share for the people within your household should be unconditional.  When YOU follow what is listed above it significantly increases the likelihood of you building a healthy and whole family.  This does not mean that there will not be natural consequences for members who break the family covenant that is established (or being created).  Love causes individuals to heal and become whole.
  • Action: There is no question that you love the people within your household.  We may not always like them, but loving them is usually natural.  However, love is an action. Review and reflect on all of the elements of love that are listed above. Be honest with yourself about the areas that you struggle to adhere to on a regular basis.  Ask yourself, why is it so hard to follow?  Have a family meeting and discuss each element of love and agree to follow EVERY one of them.  This may take more than one meeting.  Be open and honest about why it will be difficult to follow.  Hold one another accountable for areas that they may not be able to for themselves.  

YOU 

  • By the way…there is no such thing as a “picture perfect” F.A..M.I.L.Y..  A F.A.M.I.L.Y. is made up of flawed individuals.  Therefore, the only way to improve a F.A.M.I.LY. is to improve the individuals that make up the F.A.M.I.L.Y..  Once you have healthy and whole individuals, within a household, you can then and only then, have a healthy and whole F.A.M.I.L.Y.
  • Action: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.  I’m asking him to change his ways….If YOU want to make the world (or your household) a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change!”  Michael Jackson’s words are so powerful.  We often point the finger in every other diffection.  It is funny that pride can never see itself in the mirror.  It is most difficult to see the role that YOU play in the dysfunction of your family. It starts with YOU.  You have to want to improve your family and be willing to accept what you will discover while doing introspection as well as what others will bring to your attention.  Until you are willing to face your currently situation, you will never be able to fix it.  Hold yourself accountable to following what is outlined.  Make sure that you review the F.A.M.I.L.Y. covenant that is establish and devise a self improvement plan.  

Let’s Create a New Normal…SHARE THIS BLOG!

The current mainstream image of family is flawed and is not an accurate depiction of what many of us experience everyday.  Media simply possess the cameras and distribution power to influence us by bringing their version of “family” into our households and call it Reality TV.  THAT IS NOT MY REALITY!  

YOU have to power to make a RULE, better yet, a LAW against anything that will negatively influence the type of household that you have established.  

I know I am not the only one that enjoyed the peace, joy, and love from our family.  Let’s share what we experience so that others will know that this can become their NEW NORMAL.  It is possible to have a family affair without drama, fussing, and fighting.  

I may have missed some key components, or perhaps you would like to add to what I have written Either way, share this blog and post your comments.  Someone elses life and peace may depend on it. 


Are you a “real” man? or are you a women trying to identify one?  Who really knows the true definition of a real man?  I have Googled it, asked friends (men and women), looked at social media post (bad idea) and I have gotten so man different answers.  “Real men cook!” “Real men take care of their kids!” “Real Men have a job!” “Real Men don’t hit ladies!”  All good points, but what if I’m not hungry or don’t have kids (yet) or looking for a job (in school), or she ran toward me with a knife (cause some are crazy…ok, still no excuse), am I not a Real Man?  I’m being funny, but most answers were a reflection of the voids of men in their past or present, but in my opinion too specific to disqualify him from who he was created to be.  

There is a difference between being a male and a man.  A “man” is a state of being that has a very broad classification and difficult to be disqualified by not having just one.  I believe that there are foundational traits of a “real” man that causes him to act and respond in a certain way no matter the environment or circumstance.  Real men have the responsibility to be the priest, providers, and protectors of their household and of all who are in it (even if it is only him).

Priest:  Not a priest in the literal since, but understanding that all things are not tangible.  Whether you are a spiritual person or not…or believer or not, know that it is real.  I do not mean to get too deep, but men must understanding that we wrestle with spiritual things and darkness in this world.  Real Men must pray against this, because it does not matter how many push-ups you do, that will never make you strong enough to protect your family against the ways of this threat.

Provider: Some men stop at providing the tangible, basic things for survival (shelter, food, clothing, money, etc), but men have a responsibility to ensure everyone in their household is provided with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, support, comfort, (you add more), including to himself.  Many of the developmental side effects that kids have as adults is because fathers (and mothers) did not adequately provide the intangibles needed for growth.

Protector: Many men pride themselves on being prepared to protect their families (or themselves) from an ever present threat of danger lurking in nights and dark alleys.  However, they fail to be watchmen and gatekeepers of the other ones sneaking in through the friends that their kids (and wife’s) hang around, the T.V. shows they watch and the sites they search on the web.  Being a protector is about guarding against dangers seen and unseen.  Again, this includes guarding what enters his own body through his eyes and ears. 

Real men know who they were created to be, otherwise, life is only a guess.

This is only my opinion, but I read a blog from a friend that talked about the same topic.  Often times we redefine or mistreat a thing because we do not take the time to understand what the creator of that thing designed it to do or be.

FINALLY AN ANSWER…WHAT IS A REAL MAN?!?!?  Please take the time to read the below post. It provides great perspective on  

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What God Expects of Men (http://ellword.com)

The other night, my wife was watching The Wendy Williams Show and I overheard something that really caught my attention.  (Please note: I wasn’t watching the show, MY WIFE was watching!)   Iyanla Vanzant was a guest on the show and she was commenting on her show on the Oprah Network (which my wife watches sometimes while I’m in the room) called Fix My Life (or something like that).  Anyway, former NFL star Terrell Owens had been on Iyanla’s show and apparently she was trying to fix his life.  When Wendy asked what she thought was T.O.’s problem, Iyanla offered that, though T.O. had mastered the game of football, he had not mastered the art of “being a man.”  That last part reminded me that often women have opinions about the definition of a man or the question, what constitutes a real man?

This is a popular subject on social media and blogs and other platforms where people espouse their views on current issues. I’ve participated in a few of these verbal/written forums myself.  And more often than not, people speak from their own experiences and needs.  So I thought about it, and reasoned that the only way to come close to settling the question is to hear from an expert.  Of course it’s convenient to eliminate all women from this category – how can a woman be an expert on something she’s never been.  But finding a man who can really be considered an expert is tricky.  What exactly would make him an expert that can’t be said about many other men?  And how did he become an expert?  Well there’s only one way to settle this question – refer to the creator.  Because man was created by God, it only makes sense to consider God the expert on man.  He made us for a purpose – a purpose He expects us to fulfill.  So what are His expectations? 

Without being overly broad, or overly deep, I’d like you to consider 2 things that can be gleaned from the opening chapters of the Bible that implies what God expects from men.  First, God expects men to spread and cultivate His influence throughout the earth.  In Genesis 2, the Bible explains in detail God’s interaction with Adam.  Although in Genesis 1 it appears that God created plants and trees (Day 3) prior to the creation of man (Day 6), Genesis 2:5 says that the shrubs and trees had not “sprung up” yet because there was no man to cultivate the ground.  Then God makes Adam and places him in a garden “East, in Eden”.  So God placed him in a limited place on the earth and instructs him to make it grow (cultivate it) so that it  covers the earth.  My point is this.  We understand that God has placed man in the role of leaders (Gen 3:16, 1 Cor 11:3, etc.), but I think that often men miss that our position is less about leadership and more about stewardship.  We have been entrusted with the earth and all that is in it (including woman) for the purpose of making it all GROW.   As illustrated by the parable of the talents told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30, we have been entrusted with the responsibility of making everything around us grow and get better.  We are supposed to cultivate. 

The other thing we are supposed to do is communicate God’s will.  In Genesis 2 it is clear that God gave instructions to Adam before Eve was even formed.  So once she is presented to him, He becomes responsible for communicating to her and their expected offspring what God has already told him.  This is also apparent from Paul’s use of the relationship between Christ and the church to explain man’s responsibility to his wife in Ephesians chapter 5. He essentially says that Christ cleanses the church with the word so that he will present her to himself without blemishes.  So men are to use the Word to help his wife grow into a wife without blemish.  Man has the responsibility to communicate the Word from God.  Man has the responsibility of explaining what God expects from all of us, and how this world that God created works.  Remember, Adam named everything before Eve was formed.  So men have the responsibility to point out to those who’ve been entrusted to us what the other things are.  As our children navigate through the world, we must guide them, pointing out the dangers, and giving them insight into whats “out there”.  

Of course, men can only do this well when we stay connected to God, the creator, and hear His Word.  We can only be effective to the degree that we understand what God has said and how His world works.  And we can only do this if we stay connected to those who’ve been entrusted to us, so that we can communicate these truths to them.  This, I firmly believe, is what God expects from men.  And I sincerely believe that when we do this consistently, everything and everyone around us will grow and get better – including us.

The blog can be found at  http://ellword.com


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ReBlog…I read this Blog this morning and it really resonated with me. As parents we compare so much (consciously or subconsciously), but in reality, what works for them may not work on or for your little one(s). As parents, the path that you take provides us with access to the stops and sites required for you to grow and develop your child(ren) into who they are to become.

Of course, there are things we can learn from others, or I would not be writing this blog. Just do not try to replicate through comparison to the point where you loose who you and they are suppose to become. 

Do you look at other families and struggle to believe you measure up as a parent? One problem may be that you’re comparing your blooper reels with other people’s highlights.

A popular segment on many sports channels is the blooper reels. These humorous videos show the silly mistakes of professional athletes as they trip and fall over their own feet, miss an easy catch, or stumble over a teammate while chasing the ball.

Other fans would rather watch highlight reels. Instead of goofy blunders, this footage is a collection of great catches, amazing shots, and incredible displays of skill from sporting events around the country. It’s the best of the athletic world.

So what does all this have to do with parenting? Highlight reels show athletes at their best; bloopers, athletes at their worst. As parents, we’re all too familiar with our own mistakes. We remember the harsh words we’ve spoken, or the times we’ve had poor judgment, or the areas where our children struggle and we don’t have any answers. Many times, it can feel like we’re living a blooper reel, except it’s anything but funny.

But other families? We see them from the outside, and it’s like watching a highlight reel. Their children don’t squabble, the parents never have a disagreement, and life is perfect. But is it really? From what I’ve seen, every family has it’s challenges. So don’t get discouraged by comparing your behind-the-scenes struggles with others’ superficial highlights. Remember that God looks at your heart.

For a daily dose of encouragement and perspective, check out Jim Daly’s blog, Daly Focus, at JimDalyBlog.com