Community + care = shock

A man holds the door open and we’re pleasantly surprised. A young woman offers her seat to someone older and were perplexed. A toddler, not yet waist high, wants to help … I’m shocked.

In a community that’s become increasingly closed, these acts of kindness have become so rare, they’re labelled ‘random’.

Random: odd, unusual, or unexpected

Let that sit in for a second. Those kind words, offer of support or gesture of generosity was so odd. When’s the last time you wanted to get up and do something that was odd?

Before you answer, I want to come back to the man holding the door. I’ve been that man and seen that man, I’ve also been turned down being that man. I want to make it clear – holding the door doesn’t insinuate either party is better, bigger, stronger or worthwhile in any way. It shows you care.

In this tiny moment, you no longer have to exert yourself to hold that door. Stride on, smile and enjoy your day!

To the woman giving up her seat: well played sister. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to show love when we’ve each been gifted with the same ability to love one another.

And to the people who want to cast judgement on the males of similar age who happen to be sitting around this young woman: stop wasting your time. Put your feelings into action (like a blog for example).

Finally to that waist high, three-and-a-half year old community warrior: I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I reacted the way I did wen you wanted nothing more than to hit the street and pick up rubbish, I’m sorry I responded with naawww when you prayed for people who don’t have homes and I’m sorry I cannot turn back the clock and do it again.

Recent research from IPSOS confirms that we are getting older and that we’re worried about ourselves and our own. It also indicates the next generation cares!

Whether because they haven’t been burnt by the world or they’re desperately want glorification through community impact, let’s celebrate their desire and be inspired.

Next time the door is held open, a seat is offered or, in my case, your child wants to do voluntary work, say thanks and be inspired.

If it takes a village to raise a child what will it take to save the world?

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She painted over the blessings

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The sun was hot, not unbearably though, just enough to feel uncomfortable. The concrete I was kneeling on was hard against my knees and the end of her weapon dragged slowly across my face.

If was four year old daughter wasn’t smiling while painting my face, I would have said I had it pretty tough.

I often tell my children to look around and to be thankful for what they have (this advice usually follows biscuit rejection tears or the like) but how often so I do this myself? Yes, there are moments like seeing my daughter smile while covering my face in glittered purple paint but that thought pattern was dominated by grumblings.

We’re blind to all that’s been given to us. By human nature we recall a negative experience seven times more than a positive one but surely we can do better. I’m nothing short of impressed when I kind blind myself to such blessing.

If you’re breathing while you read this, you have cause to be thankful. If you’re not breathing, get yourself to a hospital as soon as you can.

Thanks for baggage Dad

In a world filled with wounds, Fathers are blamed for many … and rightly so. The abusive father, the distant, negative, harsh, strict, adopted and possibly worst, absent. They all have a case to answer and as fathers we’ll all do.

Men, we all have baggage passed on to us; it’s like some unwanted ritualistic ceremony that occurs over many years without actually seeing a physical bag. No matter your experience though, Dad gave you baggage.

What you take or learn from it is up to you.

You don’t have to be the father your old man was, or make the mistakes he made. What man and father you are is up to you.

The baggage is a lesson; a warning in some cases but an amazingly detailed how to guide in authentic manhood in some other blessed cases.

I realise, sitting in the latter camp that these words are much easier to write but they are true regardless. Embrace your fatherhood wound, treat it and take seriously the lessons left. For you have already started giving your lessons or are preparing to do so soon. Make sire they’re good ones.

I have no wounds but a lesson I feel like a fail daily. My Dad was and is awesome, I still look at him in boyish amazement … can i earn that same respect from my children.

I will if I follow his lessons. Thanks for the baggage Dad.

Doubt fueled parenting

Do you think all men are capable of being great Fathers?

Like any job, there’s a required skill set  The question is, does it come naturally or do we require development?

In terms of experience, I am well and truly a rookie. But with only two children and two and half years experience, I feel better place than many. I’ve been blessed with two great role models. The first is own father, a man seemingly without fault. The second, God. One, truly without fault.

Despite this, I’ve had moments, some as recently as this morning  where I doubt my ability to be a father. I know doubt is natural, but it still makes my stomach turn.

Fatherhood is hard enough, let alone with added stress.

dadMy Dad’s strength came from his marriage. Sure, my mother and him had fights, but they were always calm and rarely in front of us kids. When we squabbled  they were always on the same side, the same can be said of when discipline was dished out. They were a team.

Above all, we always felt loved. It wasn’t always physically shown or verbally expressed for that matter. It was however, always felt. I guess that’s the best illustration I can give of both, their parenting, and the power of love.

My point being, I’ve always believed my Dad was purposefully created to be a father. Myself, on the other hand … I’m not so sure.

Parenting will, no if’s or maybe’s, be stressful. You will worry and if you’re anything like me, you’ll doubt your own ability.

Take hold of this doubt and use it as your fuel, driving yourself to be the best parent possible.

You are not paid financially for it, but being a parent is a job. One you cannot quit, avoid or run away from. The question is, would you retain your role if you had to re apply?

Think about it. Your children could be on the selection panel. They’d scrutinise your every move  you character traits, the way you teach and, you guessed it, your discipline techniques. Are you the best role model for your children?

I love to say I’d be a shoe in to retain my role, but I’d be lying if I didn’t share my doubt.

If you too, are nervous about re applying for your role as a parent, take your doubt as a sign that you care. You understand the importance of your role and care deeply for how you do it. We all have faults and we will all make mistakes, but life, like parenting, is about how we use our strengths to recover and learn from our failures.

The re application process will take place at the end of the month. Treat every day until then like an interview, only the best will keep their jobs.

If you’re not a little nervous or have 100% confidence in your ability … please, share your secrets!

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Three words for 2013

Chris Brogan, editor of “WORK BETTER, BE BRAVE,and Tell Bigger Stories” and CEO of Human Business Works thinks of three words to concentrate his efforts every year. He refers to the process as, turbo charged goal planning. 

“The concept of the three words is like the path. Think of a word that gives you the HUGE picture, not the small picture.”

Seeing the impact the concept has had for Chris, and now, many more. I thought I’d be crazy not to give it a go.

Despite the fact January as almost entirely passed, and I haven’t chosen any of my ‘directional words for 2013″, my first isn’t tardiness. Being punctual, is something one can not hold on to too tightly when you have newborn at home.

Enough, here’s my three…

Grateful Grateful. For my life, that’s every breathe. Not just the ones that come post workout, but my waking moments, those short breaths while stressed and the long deep snores while sleeping. Living in such a blessed surrounds, life is too often, taken for granted.

Prayer

Prayer. It is something I commit to daily with my daughter, it’s part of her bed time routine. But, before you commend me for being such a good Christian father, I must share … I often do not pray. I have been given the amazing ability to talk to my creator and lord, still I am silent. This silence leaves me without direction, as a result, I am lost.

Words

Words. An unusual choice for someone actively writing a blog posting, I agree. But something that will motivate, inspire and hopefully create a lot of joy in 2013. I find peace while I write. It doesn’t have to be much a handful of words on a note to a friend is all it takes. I don’t want to downplay the significance of successfully articulating a thought. Heavens knows I have far more off paper than on.

So there’s my three words. In prayer I will be grateful, and of fruits will be written her. Finding sense amongst a senseless world.

This year, Chris has chosen Walt, Ender and Monchu (I’ll let him explain). Find your three words, and direction for 2013. Share your words in the comments below, discuss them with a friend or yell them out a bus window … whatever you do, commit to them, make them work in your life.

SENSE

Failure and success, it’s a matter of focus.

A Toy Story DVD, a toddler bike seat, aioli and a loaf of sourdough. Simple right? 

What started with a seemingly simple shopping list nearly ended in tears. Ok, so it wasn’t just your average shopping trip. For starters shopping with a two year old is never as easy than shopping alone, but the tears weren’t hers.

With the boxing day sales still in full swing, we spent five minutes circling for a space then another five minutes making our way from that space to the shops, ten minutes taking two year old sized paces from one end of the centre to the other only to told the major DVD stockists had no Toy Story DVD’s in stock.

Toy Story is my daughters favourite movie, she’s only seen it once, yet she’s obsessed. She speaks of Woody and Buzz like lifelong friends and both are amongst the most requested images to be drawn on the blackboard.

Fail.

Ten minutes back to the other end of the centre, this time carrying, my now leg weary two year old daughter. With no DVD, we were in search of the toddler seat. A toddler seat, I had been talking to my daughter about for weeks. Admittedly, I was more excited about going riding together than she was but you can still imagine her reaction when told, “their’s no seats  here”.

Being a large chain department store, I was sure this store was not going to fail me, they had a DVD section.

We searched for what felt like hours through mounds and mounds of DVD’s. In reality it was about fifteen minutes and a couple of display boxes but lets not ruin the story. Regardless, our search bared no fruit.

No toddler seat or Toy Story DVD.

Fail.

My patience was wearing thin, yet surprisingly, my daughters was in good spirits. Playfully throwing her hands in the air, “no toy, no chair … ha ha ha”.

Aioli and sourdough,  … you will not defeat me.

We climbed the stairs to the supermarket. My tired child in my arms, beads of sweat now forming on my forehead (I swear the major retailers are cutting back on costs and switching the A/C off), but confident of achieving the least of my objectives for the day.

Aioli, check. Unfortunatley, with it came a request.

“Me carry basket Daddy”

“Sure, no worries sweetie” I replied. A natural answer of a Dad who’s both, feeling as if he’s failing his daughter and who thinks he’ll simply take one handle of the basket.

She had other ideas. “No help me … Daddy”

So, we continued. Snails passed us, we moved so slow. The basket cam up past her waist, she was dragging it more than carrying it, yet her reply remained the same to each attempt. “No help me!”

Headed down aisle seven to the bakery, we passed the rice crackers. A smile appeared on my face, she loves rice crackers. This will make the trip a success, I thought as I let her choose the flavour.

“I want bickies”. This is all I heard as she painstakingly dragged the basket at sub-snail pace to the bakery.

We arrived at the bakery section five minutes, that felt like forty, later.

“Sorry, no sourdough, no vienna, no pana di casa…”

Fail.

Entirely frustrated and what may has well been, entirely empty handed, we made our way to the car. With a short stop for tears on level three after a dropped cracker and another because of spilt water, we made it.

I could have broken down and sobbed, hunched over the steering wheel, but … a car was honking it’s horn. Obviously in a hurry for my spot. And how can I blame them, it’s only a five minute walk up and down stairs!

The exit to the carpark is a rather ordinary ramp, no big deal to most, but to my daughter, amazing.

“Weeeeee…” she shouted, he smile lighting up the revision mirror.

On the verge of tears, context couldn’t have come soon enough.

Success.

I was focussed on what I wanted to achieve. Yes, two of my three objectives were focussed on the happiness of my child but they were still that, objectives.

We spend to much time trying to control our lives, I fear we forget to enjoy them. Relish the time you spend riding up and down the escalators, cherish the amazing reflections you see in post Christmas baubles still hanging in the shops and never ever, ever, fail to admire the smile of a child.

“Did you have fun sweetie” I asked looking back in the mirror.

“Yes Daddy” she replied, adding claps for extra effect.

While I was focussed on my failure, she was content being with Dad. I think we can all learn something from the kids in our life.

SENSE

CHILDREN: designed to be loved

I carry her to the cot and lay her down gently. The covers fall softly on her as she holds tightly to her blankie. A kiss on the forehead proceeds three whispered words…”I love you”.

My heart is filled with loving warmth leaving her room. She is not yet two years old, her name is Marley and I could never hurt her.

I believe as parents we are designed to have some unexplainable feeling of tenderness to our children, so I won’t try to explain it. What I will say is that I loved my child the moment I saw her.

I don’t think I’m a unique father, man or parent but it does shock me that children are unloved is this world.

Statistics of child abuse simply shouldn’t exist.

The senseless abuse of the innocent its yet another sign of our world’s brokenness. Lust and depravity lead to perverted thoughts involving children and anger and hate lead to violence. We must all confront the brokenness that surround us, living in avoidance will not solve anything.

My memories at six years of age are filled with cartoons, birthday parties and my pet dog cuddles (yes, we named our dog cuddles). Can you imagine being six years old and being subjected to perverted images or worse, being forced to create them?

A child was designed to be loved as a parent was designed to love. The problem begins if parents were not loved as children, chances are this terrible crime will be repeated. We need to make a stand. Only together can we rid this world of abuse.

So parents love you’re children, aunties and uncles, the same applies for you too.

Don’t have kids, love others or donate to a charity that’ll do the work for you.

Above all, we are all role models, signs of what’s to come.

Children will copy what they see, make sure is not dumb.

The calls of Daddy wake me from my slumber, Marley is obviously awake. That generally, late nights excluded, fills me with joy.

Then the though hits me…Marley wakes and calls for “Dadda”, others wake and scream in fear. The contrast couldn’t be greater. I don’t blame the children…their lives are being destroyed.

I enter Marley’s room quietly and find her standing in her cot. No matter how tired I am I love seeing her arms reach out instantly, as if without thought. The word “Dadda” fills the room as love fills my heart. The connection so real, our smiles cannot be helped.

Picking her up I tell her “you’re loved, we’re blessed but many others are not”.

Make a stand against child abuse today.