Saturday, November 9, 2013

Funerals and Expressing Condolences

I work with international students who learning English to prepare to study at universities in the United States. In my class yesterday, the topic of my family came up, and a student ask me to invite my children to come, specifically with regards to my oldest son. (I had shared a story about him as I sometimes do about others in the family.). When I told the students that he had passed away last year, I could tell they didn't know what to say, and I reassured them that talking or asking about him was completely okay. For many, we often don't know what to say when someone dies, and for this reason, I created a listening conversation on this topic. I thought it might help in such situations: Funerals: Expressing Condolences

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Be Persistent

Persistence is one attribute this is needed in life to make things happen. It is all too easy to give up when small roadblocks get in your way. Of course, there are times when major events in our lives (financial crisis, illness or death, loss of a job) can affect the course of our lives, but taking small steps can bring us back to the path we want to go. This past weekend, my wife and I ran the Huntsville Marathon in Utah, and it was a great experience. At times, we can question whether you will make it to the end, but even if you have to take slow, persistent steps in the right direction, you will eventually reach your goal.

The same can be said of raising a family: keep going, don't give up, keep loving your children in spite of what happens in their lives.

You will succeed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tending the Garden

Raising a family is very much like tending a garden. You simply can't throw seeds on top of some dirt and hope that beautiful flowers will spring forth on their own. It takes preparing the soil, constantly care in watering and pulling out weeds, and giving the right food to nourish the tender plants.

Earlier this year, we planted some mammoth sunflower seeds that our son had saved from a previous year. They started small, but with lots of sun and some constant care, they grew and grew. The same could be said of raising children. Spending time with them, laughing together, and teaching good moral values of honesty and charity towards others can be some of the keys. As you can see in the pictures below, our sunflowers grew this year, from small seedlings to full-grown plants.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bloom Where You're Planted

All too often, we allow our jobs and other activities to define who we are. In other words, we are sometimes concerned about what other people think of us, and thus, we spend a great deal of time polishing our image by seeking the prestige of people around us. However, in life, we often don't have the choice of what happens to us: we might be in an unfortunate accident, we might be laid off from our jobs, we might suffer from an unexpected illness, we might not have the resources to pursue the best educational opportunities. However, whatever might come our way, we can at least "bloom where we are planted." In other words, we can make the best of any situation and thrive under those conditions. We can keep our integrity in tact and have a positive influence on others in spite of the circumstances. Don't worry about the world says around us; just do your best and bloom.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wisdom Comes with Time

If you have been a parent of teenagers than you realize that your advice will only be heeded in hindsight, well after the crisis has passed. If you can't accept this fact, then you will always feel and remain frustrated.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Independence Day

On July 4th, we celebrate and remember the many freedoms we enjoy in our nation, and we try to instill in our children the importance of maintaining such freedoms.

However, the freedom to choose does not mean that there aren't consequences for our bad choices. At times, teenagers may say that they have to freedom to do this or that, and making good choices when everyone around you seems to be following a different path can make the choice even more difficult.

There are many things we can do to guide our children to make good choices, but much of this comes from our making good choices as well. Children tend to watch what we do, and our lives are often under the microscope. If our children see that our actions match our words, we gain greater stature and relevancy in their lives.

At times, we make mistakes, but how we respond to these as well will help our kids steer a course towards the right things.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day - What it means to me.

Memorial Day in the US is a day of reflection and remembrance for those who have served in our military to preserve our freedoms. Both my father and my grandfather served in the military, and I am grateful for their sacrifice.

Memorial Day for our family also means to remember the life of family members who have passed on, including our son. It is a time be reminded of his good life, his desire to make others happy, and for the many lessons he taught us during his earthly existence. To me, his life continues on as long as he remains in my mind and as I try to emulate his good example.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Remembering our son, Joshua

Last year, our dear son and friend, Joshua, passed away, and we have found that although we grieve and feel of loss of his earthly presence, we believe that families are eternal and we will see him again.

In the meantime, we feel it an honor to remember and celebrate his life and love for others. In particular, friends and family organized a service project to help families in need at a local food bank in our city. We felt it would be great to do this project on his birthday as a way to think about the needs of others who are poor and hungry. Josh had great compassion for others, and he felt strongly about showing charity to all those around him.

You can read more about this event here:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring: A Time of New Beginnings

Spring has arrived here in Utah, and my wife and I worked in the garden getting things ready for planting. We have a number of fruit trees, and one important step is to prune them so they will produce better fruit and remain healthy throughout the year.

Perhaps, the concepts of spring and pruning could also be applied to our own lives. From time to time, we sometimes allow bad habits to grow out of control, leading to an unwieldy character that languishes over time. One might say that rules (or carefully pruning) can deny one the ability to grow, but simple growth does not lead to better results. Such pruning of bad habits can allow us to strengthen the parts of our character can lead to better, long-term outcomes. We weed out any weak branches, giving more room and light to other development.

Furthermore, when the fruit starts to appear, you have to thin out the tree or remove a lot of the fruit so that more of the tree's energy is focused on that which remains. This might sound counter-intuitive in the beginning, but with our own trees, we have been able to huge apples because we have taken the time to care for the tree in the early spring.

So, now that spring has arrived, what part of your own life might need a little pruning? 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Love: Keeping the Fire Burning

Many people celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday, and my wife and I spent the evening doing indoor rock climbing and having a meal at a restaurant. Over the years, I have found that spending time together doing things you both enjoy is so important. Building the relationship every day cements your friendship more than giving flowers and candy once in a while. 
 Furthermore, if you view relations only as a contract (you give 50% and I give 50%), then problems and unhappiness are bound to happen. Instead, try giving 100% of your effort to the other person. Now, there will be times in a life when unexpected situations arise that put pressure on a relationship (illness, death, financial strain), but when you accept first that life isn't always fair and that you really have to keep putting wood on the fire of love, then you are devoting all of your energies to make things work.
Here is one of my listening activities from my Web site,, on what NOT to do to maintain love in a relationshop.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Remembering Our Son and His Life - Joshua Davis

It has been about nine months since our son, Josh, passed away (, and there are many things we have learned about him and ourselves over that time. We have always been grateful for the wonderful life he shared with us and others, but if there is one thing I have learned (and continue to learn) is how small acts of kindness can really provide a healing balm days, months, and years after a difficult event occurs.

In other words, I have appreciated most have been the small cards, letters, and even heartfelt words from friends, family, and even complete strangers that have expressed how Joshua had an impact on their lives. Even something months and years later can provide great comfort.

I have also discovered that you often don't see the collateral or rippling effect of a person's life in real time. Rather, you sometimes discover that small acts of kindness and generosity of a person may have been the small rudder to have lifted somewhat up in their own difficult times of grief, sadness, and loneliness.

This perhaps is a selfish desire or yearning to know what Josh meant to others, but I hope that knowing such feelings, events, and his example can help me become a better father and friend to others. And for that, I thank him for being my son.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

As parents, we sometimes beat ourselves up for perhaps what we could have done better in raising our kids. We sometimes blame ourselves for all of their challenges and problems. Of course, we need to take ownership over what we can control, but children tend to make many independent decisions on their own. As we enter this new year, perhaps we can be more forgiving of ourselves, and at the same time, try to make small meaningful goals that can help us become better people. I've created a video on this topic here: