Category Archives: Teaching

There’s Smoking and There’s Mm…Mm…Smokin’!

“When I figured out to work my grill, it was quite a moment. I discovered that summer is a completely different experience when you know how to grill”
Taylor Swift

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Well…of course every man is born knowing how to grill. Telling him that he should take a lesson to learn more about it is somehow akin to plucking out his chest hairs one by one.

I have grilled most of my adult life at countless backyard get-togethers. I love it. Recently, I became reacquainted with a high school friend, Jeff Johnston, whom I had not seen in over thirty years. He told me that he had started a business that he has dreamed about and has become a professional grill master including manufacturing his own rub and BBQ sauce (9C Brand). I was so excited for him.

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A few weeks went by and my oldest son and family came to visit us in Florida. For some reason, I decided that it was time for me to actually learn how to smoke something on my new smoker/grill combo. I called up Jeff and he was more than anxious to share some insights with me. We met one afternoon and I could not take notes fast enough. He brought items with him that would help me including a couple of bottles of his special sauce. I learned the difference between types of coal. I learned about fruit woods and what a chip and a chunk are. I learned when to spritz the meat with apple juice and when to apply the rubs. I was overwhelmed with all of the information and so glad I was not cooking for a paying customer!

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I got prepared and did my shopping and a few days later began the process. I prepared the chicken the night before. Once I lit the coals, I must have referred to my notes thirty times. I had to work to get the temperature correct. It finally started coming together and I was able to put the chicken thighs on the grill.

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The result was that I actually smoked some pretty dang good chicken that everyone loved. It was amazing. Next on the agenda is to learn how to smoke ribs and then pork butts and brisket.

It takes a little longer to actually do it correctly but I found that when I took the time to actually learn how to do it, I did not lose a single chest hair in the process. In fact, the 9C sauce may have put a few hairs on my chest! I highly recommend that every guy out there take some time this spring to really learn how to use their grill.

It’s nice to have a smokin’ wife and it’s nice to have a smokin’ truck but when your grill is smokin’, you could wax every chest hair off and still stand tall as a man’s man. Get grilled on how to use your grill and take your weekend BBQs to the next level. Mm…Mm…Smokin’!

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Just say Know!

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”
William Shakespeare

There has been a great debate among parents regarding the use of the word “No”. Some have said that it has such a negative connotation that the word should be avoided at all costs when dealing with small children. Others simply say that it is absurd that you shouldn’t use that word when your child is getting ready to touch a hot stove or shove another child to the ground.

As our children grow into their teenage years, their questions and actions become more significant (though granted, touching a hot stove is pretty significant). May I stay out late? May I have the car? May I go out with that guy that looks like a loser and is ten years older than me but really has a sweet personality?

Our first and often times correct response is “No” or the more thoughtful response, “When pigs grow wings”. We have learned through extensive media campaigns that when it comes to drugs, we should just say no. However, as they grow older, what worked when they were children, no longer seems to suffice. A much better choice is to just say “Know”.

Explaining the “why” of things gives you as a parent not only more credibility but also helps you (forces you) to ponder more deeply the “why” yourself. Why is it bad to do drugs or advisable to not have premarital sex? Why is it a bad idea to ask the thirty year old bar tender who tends bar at a local hotel to your senior prom? Why is a good idea to be home by midnight. Why does pornography take you down a lonely and desolate path? Why should you get good grades. Why should you learn how to work and earn your own money. Why should you be respectful? Why should you develop good grooming standards?

Our teenagers have so many good questions and are arriving at so many crossroads where a crucial decision must be made, that just saying no is a weak and debilitating answer. We certainly do not empower them to make the right decisions and may even push them towards the wrong choices.

Our choice is simple. Learn of the issues and prepare your answers. Live in the “Know” zone and not the “No” zone. I have always been amazed that my wife knew everything there was to know about my kid’s lives and even the lives of their friends. It was not uncommon for me to reintroduce myself to one of the their friends whom I had already met several times before but had forgotten. In contrast, my wife knew who was taking which subject in school and the name of that teacher and who was dating whom. She knew this not just for my kids but for their friends as well. She would cut up fruit and veggies and get them to hang out in the kitchen and chat with them like she was a coed.

Being in the “Know” zone makes all the difference in the world if we as parents want to help our teenagers maneuver their way through the hot stoves of adulthood. We empower ourselves to empower our children when we are current with a good working knowledge of the ills of society and the environment in which our kids live. Ignorance is not bliss…it is just a lazy way to say “yes…its okay… I don’t care”.

I am the only one that my wife says “no” to without any explanation required and I am old enough to “know” what that means…no pizza, no french toast, no nap…but I digress…our children need us to be in the “Know” zone so get there and get there before they have to learn all of the reasons why not to touch the hot stove by trial and error.

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Stay Still Squirrel…I Can Help! (Four Ways Fathers Can Convince Our Kids We Are Here to Help)

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.“
Stephen Covey

It was a little after 3:00 A.M. and I needed to get out of bed. I decided to see if I could get comfortable in my recliner. Three pillows and a nice comforter later, I was nestled in pretty well.

No sooner was I settled, when I started hearing a scratching noise on the window screen not far from my head. I lay there with my eyes closed trying to make sense of how, whatever was doing the scratching, could get to the screen since the window was closed. It didn’t take long before I got my answer!

“It” suddenly lept from the screen and landed on my legs on top of the comforter. It was inside the house! I responded with some sort of “keep moving” kick and it ended up on the floor. I grabbed my phone to get some light and there on the floor was what looked to me to be a big mouse.

I’m not proud of it but my first reaction was to call out to my wife who was sleeping in the bed. I shouted to her that there was a mouse in the house and she turned on the light and got out of bed. I hope part of the reason I called her was that I am still nursing my new replacement hips a little and can’t really move that fast…I hope that is at least part of the reason I called out to her.

We both pursued the little intruder and it took off. It ran out of our bedroom and luckily found the stairs where it paused to catch its breath. That’s when we saw that it was a baby squirrel. That just seemed so much better than a big mouse and our mood lightened just a little. Still, I did not want that little furry thing crawling across my nose when I went back to sleep.

We pursued it downstairs and opened the doors to try and herd it out. No luck. We finally gave up after it found refuge in our fireplace. We went back upstairs careful to put a towel at the bottom of our kid’s door and ours.

There was no sign of it the next morning. In the afternoon we had a big group of people come over for lunch and we told them to be on the lookout for the squirrel. Sure enough, a little while later it appeared and it created a pretty funny scene. There were little kids and old people all trying to corner the poor creature. It ran frantically to get away from us going around us and underneath us to find a new hiding place. We had a mop and towels and tried to trap it as it scurried around our home.

It would disappear for a few minutes and then show up again and we would create the whole scene again with all of us shouting out locations and ideas for capturing it. If it only knew we were trying to help.

Finally we threw a towel over it and one of the ladies gathered it up and took it outside to the oak tree. We were all relieved. I am sure the squirrel was relieved also to be once again up in a tree. It would have been so much easier if somehow that squirrel understood our intentions.

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There are some lessons we can learn here on how we can help those that need our help but do not want it or understand our intentions. It happens all of the time, especially with our children. Here are a few ideas that may help fathers in this regard:

They need to know we love them.

This is the place where it must all start. If our children do not feel our love they will never have the confidence to trust us and know that we are looking out for their best interest. This seems like such a “no brainer” but sometimes we need to be more attentive to it. Our love becomes the cornerstone for trust and is something that is earned by our day to day interaction with our children. It is taking care of scraped knees and broken hearts. It is repairing and rebuilding confidence after disappointing trials. For most of us this comes natural but also for most of us, we can do a better job. Our busy personal and sometimes selfish lives are the greatest threat to this foundation of love and trust.

They need to know we will listen.

Love means time and concern and listening. When you get the urge to talk…stop yourself and just listen. Sometimes our natural desire to share our wisdom cuts short the listening process. Instead of asking questions and listening to and pondering their answers, we are too quick to add our direction to the mix which mutes and strangles the conversation. Instead of listening in return, our children turn us off. Perhaps it would be wise if you are lucky enough to have the chance to listen to one of your children’s troubles, to tell them that you would like to think about it and get back to them later. In other words, be slow to judge and extend the communication.

They need to know we have high expectations, but that we do not demand perfection.

We teach our children the difference between right and wrong and we are correct in doing so. Ultimately, our goal should be that our children learn the tools to be prepared to adequately make those decisions when we are not around. That skill set is not learned in a vacuum. It is learned by our children in the rough and tumble world we call life. They will make some mistakes just as we did. It’s okay for them to know we are human too.

Our job is to keep them reaching for the highest quality of decision making and standards while still allowing for the bumps and bruises that come along the way. Mothers are especially good at this. They tend to be more sensitive to the trials our children go through and more empathetic to the results. We would do well to mix a cocktail of motivation with forgiveness whenever we get in situations where are children have made bad choices…with a heavy dose of forgiveness.

They need to know that we are on the same team.

Knowing someone has your back and is on the same team or in the same foxhole as you is a great feeling. We need to provide that for our children. They need to understand that we are going to do whatever it takes to be there for them. We can study with them or exercise with them. We can cry with them and strategize with them. We can feel pain together. We can realize accomplishment together.

We need to be there with them as a wingman. Ultimately the challenges of life will be our children’s to beat. However, I for one want them to know that I am on their team and I am committed to their lives, on whichever road that takes us.

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If I could have just convinced that squirrel that I was going to set it free, it would have been so much easier…but it would have taken so much more time. We did not have the time so we chased it from here to there scaring the poor thing to death. Our children are worth the time. We can accomplish the mission of preparing them and then “setting them free” by loving and listening, and by teaching, forgiving and working with them…and if that doesn’t work we can wake up our wives from their resting slumber and ask them to handle it. They will know what to do.

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How Many Hands Will Go into This Glove?

“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on”
Carl Sandburg

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Our oldest son Robbie loved baseball growing up. He still loves it. When Robbie and Erica sent me a picture of their baby resting in his glove, it brought many things to mind. First, his wife Erica is the best catch he ever made!..and now their first child Bennett…what a catch he is!

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We generally think of a glove being used to protect the hand that is inside it and, in fact, a baseball glove does indeed do that. But a baseball glove does so much more. It is built to be bigger than the hand to enable it to do more than just the hand alone could do. It is designed to provide more reach and broader coverage. Once it has made its catch it is designed to allow the hand to squeeze it closed to protect and hold what it has caught.

I remember the experience of the birth of our children and how, without any prompting from anywhere but within, the thoughts, prayers and actions of me and my wife began to center around protecting each child. We extended ourselves beyond what we could and would normally do. They are all grown and have left the nest but our thoughts, actions and prayers for their protection have not changed.

It made me ponder how many hands will go into that glove during this child’s lifetime to offer protection, teaching, love and support? The hands of Erica and Robbie will spend the most time in this glove nurturing Bennett. But as the baby grows, Robbie and Erica will depend on other hands to also do their duty inside the glove.

IMG_1263There will be multiple other family members; grandmas and grandpas and great grandmas and great grandpas and uncles and aunts and siblings and cousins. And then add the hands of the teachers and coaches and preachers and friends, nurses and doctors and policemen and firemen and classmates and teammates and soldiers and honest politicians and neighbors and even strangers.

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When I think that God holds the whole world in his hand I do not think he has to use a glove but the image is the same to me.

So many hands will attend to the protection of this and other babies. Shouldn’t we all make a special effort to do our part…to recognize the opportunity for what it is…that it is not about protecting our hands but instead about protecting those around us. Shouldn’t we be ready when the call comes for us to put our hand in that glove?

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“The Power of “I Don’t Know”

“It is what we learn after we know it all that really counts”

John Wooden

 

I attended a meeting with a high ranking leader in my church when he opened the floor for questions. Somebody raised their hand and asked a tough doctrinal question and the rest of us waited for his response. He said with confidence “I don’t know” and went on to the next question.

Some thirty plus years later I am still impressed with his answer. Wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air if our politicians decided to employ with confidence the important truth of “I don’t know”?  Instead, we are taken on a journey of distortions and half-truths that leave us just as confused if not more than before the question was asked. That is because it is generally taken as a sign of weakness when you do not know how to answer a question.

Don’t get me wrong…there is a place where knowing the right answer should be expected. When we go through school or drivers education or balancing our check book, we need to know the right answers. But life is full of many situations where lines are fuzzy and instead of black  and white we see grey. Often there are no answers that seem to be good or easy.

Spoken from an honest heart, “I don’t know” is powerful. It portrays a sense of humility and humanity. It places the person in a position where their mind is open to learning. It allows a person to accept that not all things are understandable. It allows a person to cherish the ability to ponder and think deep and know that some answers are slow to arrive and may never be as clear as one plus one equals two.

The next time you are asked a life question that seems to be too difficult to answer do not be afraid to say “I don’t know”. Be confident in your response and then add “maybe we should ponder it together”. If the people in leadership positions in our world would just do that more often, we would be amazed at the progress and goodwill that we would enjoy.

It works at the grass-roots level too. It works in your families and in your relationships. Whether discussing deep doctrines or why you did not take out the garbage, “I don’t know”, is not a sign of weakness. Okay… in answering why you did not take out the garbage it might not work as well as there is no good answer to that question. However,  the deeper the question the more acceptable it is as an answer.

HighFive Your Life Principle: When dealing with life’s difficult questions do not be afraid to say  “I don’t know”.

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The Power of Observation

There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

Will Rogers

     After the police arrived and questioned my girlfriend and me regarding the suspect it became apparent that I did not have the gift or power of observation. We had given him a ride in our car and were with him for maybe twenty minutes but when the police asked for his description and type of clothes he was wearing I was useless. She however, remembered everything about him. This happened many years ago.

More recently, my son asked permission for a small group to use the front entryway of our home in Utah to film a commercial. We live in Florida presently and did not mind helping them out. Later we found out that it went viral on the internet so we looked it up. It was a commercial for “Poo Pourri” and was a bit raunchy but had over 13 million views! I watched it but could not located our home in the piece.

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Later my wife watched it and she started pointing out all of these shots that were pictures from the inside of my home. A couple of them are shown below. There’s my living room and piano and also the fireplace in the basement. How could I have missed those? My wife has incredible powers of observation and also the inability to forget anything. This combination is a sharp sword and I am a slab of ham waiting to be sliced.

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      Why is it that when I am looking for something in the pantry and can’t find it, my wife can walk in and find it in seconds? Not just every now and then but every time! Why is it that when our kid’s friends come over she knows them by name and also what they have been doing lately?

My wife and maybe women in general just seem to be more observant than me and maybe men in general. Their power of observation is real and when you see it in action, it is actually the observation of power. When you have the ability to observe and to pay attention to details you establish power and give yourself the advantage over your adversary or in this case your husband.

Of course the husband could “observe” that when his wife always comes to his rescue and finds the bag of BBQ chips, it would mean that he has the power. She always comes and takes care of it for me he thinks. However, this is simply a mirage. If he “observed” that too often he would cease to get a rescue response from his wife and then he would no longer be able to find his BBQ chips or socks or keys. Therefore he doesn’t really have the power because he cannot exercise it without losing it which means that her power trumps.

This means that he might as well just retire once again to the TV and observe what goes on there safely away from the other observing and more powerful powers that may be in the home.

Hey hun…have you see the remote?

HighFive Your Life Principle: Observe more closely the details of life around you or love your wife more dearly and appreciate more fully the fact that she already does just that.

Tell a Story

 

The Sump Jump

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it’s the only thing”

Albert Schweitzer

“I have a perfect horror of words that are not backed up by deeds.”

 Theodore Roosevelt

 

     Dad took me and my best friend Joe to work with him one day. It seems like we were in the 10 -12 year old range. We were working in a big field where Dad was laying drainage pipe. The water collected in a huge round vertical pipe where it was then redirected and drained. I do not recall what we were doing by this deep sump but someone dropped a tool and it fell into this huge pipe which was full of water.

Dad asked (told)  us to jump in and get it but there was no way we were going to do it. Pretty soon he stripped down to his underwear and jumped in. It didn’t take long before Joe and I were down to our underwear in the sump swimming with Dad.

There is just no substitute for setting a good example. We may hope that someone will do what we say but it just seems like they always do what we do. What clicked in our childhood minds when Dad went from telling us to go get the tool to jumping in like he was having fun? He changed our whole mind-set from being mad about getting wet and miserable to thinking we were missing all the fun in the water.

It is a simple HighFive Your Life principle that you and I have known since we were young. Lead by example. The next time you are faced with a tough task you want to pass along to someone else, jump in and get wet. If you want to lead people, especially your children, then you have to lead them. That puts you at the front of the line. Go ahead…jump!

HighFive Your Life Principle: Lead by example. Do first what you ask others to do.

Tell a Story