Don’t try to be a great man.

Me, Pop, and Chip“Don’t try to be a great man, just be a man. And let history make its own judgments” – Zefram Cochrane in 2073.

I find encouragement and inspiration almost everywhere. I think it’s a misconception that as a Christian, I need to only find those things in the Bible. I believe God is always revealing Himself to us, sometimes it is the Bible, sometimes it’s a song or a quote. As long as the statement jives with the Bible, I could consider it a word. Not THE word of God, but a pointer or a nudge by God to wisdom or understanding. And yes, the quote above is from Star Trek.

The above quote is no different, it first hit me when my Grandfather passed away in the fall of 2010. Pop was a good man. Loved by all, kind, and giving. Greeting everyone with a smile. He was a wealth of knowledge about anything and everything. When we would visit him and Grammie we would drive into the country, for what seemed like days, and Pop would tell us about every field, hill, sign, post, and house along the way. We didn’t appreciate it at the time, but we went along because the ride would end with ice cream.

Pop did ordinary things exceptionally. He served in WWII, helped raise and provide for 6 children, and had more grandchildren and great-grandchildren that I can count. He had has struggles, his pitfalls, but at the end of the day he loved deeply and was loved. My grandfather was never prideful but was proud of the opportunities he had and the life he was given. He left a legacy that I am proud to be a part of, a wonderful beautiful ordinary legacy. It sounds like a slam, but believe me it’s not.

Pop understood something that’s been recently brought to my attention. The value of a life is always determined by how much of it was given away. Pop was a melting pot of good and bad experiences. He passed those experiences down to his sons and daughters, grandkids, and great-grandkids to show them what to do and not do. He shared those things with us so that generations of his descendants would be better than he was. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people who have made better choices than they would have, if it weren’t for Pop.

So my word is this… Are you sharing your life story with others so that they will be better prepared then you were? This is laying down your life daily… You won’t see any benefit from it. In fact you will be more vulnerable, tired, and drained if you do. But your stories, experiences, and perspective will make this crazy merry-go-round thing we call life better for others.

What greater calling is there to lay down your life for another?

Being married, on purpose.

Love“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” – Genesis 2:18

Truer words have never been spoken! Kim and I were married by two pastors, Rev Joye Jones and Pastor Frank Robinson (not THE Frank Robinson). Mr. Rob, as I called him because he was also one of my High School teachers, was to give a little sermon during the ceremony. At one point he addressed us personally… “Kim” he said “I don’t know you that well, but I’m pretty sure you will be better with Chas”. Then turning to me he said, “and Chas… I’ve known you for a while, and I KNOW you will be better because of Kim”.

Kim and I have a good marriage. We have, of course, had our ups and downs. Our disagreements, fights, going to bed slightly angry. (Which is a cardinal sin, right?) We have also had moments of completely being on the same page. With a look she and I can transfer everything we are thinking and know exactly what the other needs. This has been intentional, and it’s because of a couple of things.

1. We OVER communicate.

It took me years to figure this out, but for some reason, Kim and I will tell one another when we are getting in the shower. When we are going downstairs. When we are leaving in the morning. I’ll bore her with some techie thing that is happening in the world. She’ll tell me about some frustrations with the girls that have no real meaning now because they were resolved hours ago. This has the added benefit of us being on the same page in the parenting realm. Because we over communicate, we know how the other will communicate to our girls. Even with that being said we should communicate more. All the time. The funny thing about this, is that I want to hear the struggles of her day. Even more amazing than that she wants to hear mine! This is about trust and love.

2. We are ALWAYS faithful.

Even when Kim and I have not been on the same page with our girls, we ALWAYS support one another. If something is said like “If you can’t finish ALL of your dinner then a treat for the whole family isn’t going to happen.” I did this the other night and that’s what I said. Kim didn’t agree with holding the whole family accountable for one persons actions. I wanted to. She kept quiet and told me afterward. She knew as a sign of respect, not to under cut me in front of the girls. Then later, like after the girls were in bed later, she comes to me, very lovingly, and tells me she didn’t agree with that. I understood, her point made sense. I shared my position, she shared hers. There was no fighting. Even in the middle of the discussion I appreciate her even more because of the respect she had shown me.

3. We want the BEST for each other.

Kim and I have, in the past maybe 2 years, started using the phrase “Setting you up for success”. We use it in a bunch of scenario’s. I set her up with success by getting the dishes done, emptying the trash, taking care of finances, etc. She sets me up with success by respecting me, keeping our home stocked, and (praise the Lord!) keeping all our details straight. That is truly one of my greatest weaknesses and one of her greatest strengths. So at the beginning of every week, we will talk about the week. What’s going on every evening and about how much money will be needed. We set one another up for success by setting our expectations of each other every single week. It also makes for a great, “What can I do for you” question. When I don’t know what to say, I can always ask “How can I set you up for success?” It elicits compassionate, I have an action to perform for the benefit of you.

These are things that work for us. They aren’t the cornerstone of our relationship. But they mirror what our relationship with Christ does for us. He wants to be in constant communication, being always faithful for his good will for our lives. This is a cycle of building up and strengthening a relationship. Never underestimate the power of a small purposeful change with your spouse. It’s better than the greatest intention.

Because, I’m the Man…

1008181_10201325057186862_1244632180_oSo in Baltimore we’ve been hit with a fairly large snow storm which dumped over 12 inches on us. It’s cool, not like I’m some Nordic behemoth but I ain’t scared. So I went outside and did my thing to shovel and get the cars cleaned off. I even shoveled the road so that the melting snow can get to the storm drain. When one is out shoveling, there is a lot of time to think. Your body is on cruise control. Shovel this, put it here. Shovel that, put it over there. But my mind is wandering, thinking about the swagger wagon (Pics and post coming soon!) I’m about to purchase, maybe a work thought thrown in there. But eventually I swing back to some philosophical “Why am I doing this?” question.

My mind goes something like this.. Why am I out here shoveling snow? It’s just going to melt… Do I have to shovel ALL the snow? How much of my neighbors snow should I shovel so that get credit for it, but don’t have to do all of it? Where should I shovel first? Where is the kid who wants to make 20 bucks? I could make money! I could go around shoveling snow! But… then I would be shoveling, snow. I can’t wait until Kaelyn and Leah are old enough to shovel snow. Then Kim, the girls and I could come out here and shovel. Wait. Why aren’t they doing that? Why am I shoveling the snow??? Why is it MY job???

Because… I’m the Man…

Ok and before you go off and assume some things, let me tell you, this isn’t about gender. It’s not about sexism. It’s not even about being a Man. (Wait Wut?) It’s about… and my third grade teacher, Mrs. Blankenship, is gonna love this… Responsibility. What a terrible word! When I was a kid I HATED that word. It was all work and no play. It was hard not easy. It meant consequences. It meant owning up. ew.

Kim and I have what some would consider “Traditional” roles. I work outside the house and I’m the sole provider of income, aka “Money”. Kim works inside the house, cares for our children and runs our daily doings. She is the preparer of meals and the doer of laundry. I manage the finances and do maintenance around the house and cars. I am the taker outer of trash, she is the decorator of seasons. Shes provides a clearing of time every night that we can be together as a family with no chores or to-do’s and I provide a financial way for her to keep her primary focus on our family.

Why do we do this?

Because we agreed to. We promised each other we would, on our wedding day. Our world views were compatible from the beginning, we talked about this kinda stuff. The expectation was there and we both were on the same page. I do those things because I assumed and she assumed they were my role, my responsibility. I do them because my role is the “Man” and her role is the “Woman”. These positions can look a thousand different ways. But when two people agree on what one another roles look like. It’s magic. It’s wonderful. You are on the same page going in the same direction. You are equally yoked. It’s not about I can and she can’t. It’s about putting my back against hers and saying “I’m gonna watch and protect this side, you watch and protect the other side”. It’s a call to responsibility. If the words trip you up, call it whatever you’d like. Man, Woman, sub-adjunct of uni-matrix one, Role 232, whatever…

But for me and my household, I’m the Man. Kim expects me to be the Man. I expect her to be the Woman. And those terms are only for Kim and I to define.

See how dangerous it is to shovel snow?

An open letter to my 5 year old on her birthday…

Hey, this is Daddy. You’re probably not going to read this for a while but I wanted to write a few things on your 5th birthday.

So first, I love you with all my heart. Both Mommy and I do. You are a very special little girl (I mean big girl, as you always correct me) to us. It’s hard to put into words how we have enjoying raising you so far. We’ve had bad times and really good times. More good than bad. You were a pretty difficult baby… But when it started to get better, it did so really quick.

20130220-IMG_0365Your personality has been clear to us since you were born. You are not a very strong-willed child. You are shy at first but once you know someone your vibrant, enthusiastic personality shines through. You like being thoughtful, often thinking about the needs of others. You do however let your fears and emotions overcome you. Something both daddy and mommy have struggled with. You often do what you’re told with a smile on your face and a skip in your step. You love to help. You also love to snuggle up to us. It’s very frequent that we find you at the foot of our bed in the morning climbing in, or sitting on the arm of daddy’s recliner with me watching TV.

It has been a wonderful challenge figuring out how to be a Christian, married, have friends, go to work, be with family, and all the other stuff that life brings AND being your daddy. Being your daddy has revealed so much about me and my relationship with all the people and groups above. You’re little 5-year-old self draws me to be a better man then I was yesterday but not as good as I will be tomorrow. Parenting you and your sister has been awesome… Your mommy has so much insight to your brain and personality. She is masterful at self-aware parenting. She knows what is going on in that beautiful little head and how she can recognize the faults and encourage the strengths, which is really what we are trying to do as untitled-4168parents.

You’ve changed my relationship with my heavenly daddy, because I’m your earthly daddy. When I look at you and get teary eyed because you are just so gosh-darn beautiful or I think about trying to keep you from harm or making sure that your needs are met. I can’t help but think of how much more our heavenly daddy wants those things for me. I’m an imperfect Dad, I get angry, I get depressed, I am sinful. But our heavenly father loves us with a perfect love. A love that knows the balance between protective guard or swift kick in the back to get out of the nest. I would love to think I raise the bar on God, in loving my daughters, but I have to come to the conclusion that he loves us more… But it’s still something I can strive for, everyday.

So my dear, I love you and I always, ALWAYS will. You are so special to me. I thank God that he chose me to be your daddy. I still cherish every time you call my name and hold my hand.

1921_1096043079725_7176_nPlease never stop.

Love, Daddy

Daddy, did you know???

20131216-IMG_1158So inevitably, you have either seen or heard about Carrie Underwood’s  performance of the Sound of  Music Live! My oldest, Kaelyn, has watched it at least 5 times since it aired on the 5th of December. She absolutely loves it, which does my wife’s heart good seeing that she played Maria in her High School’s performance. At every quiet time (Kaelyn’s equivalent of nap time), Kaelyn asks to watch The Sound of Music.

Then 2 or 3 days ago she drops this question on me… “Daddy, did you know… that there is ANOTHER Sound of Music??? That other one is older” she says. “Yeah, I did know that” I say “The other one is the original, made a long time ago.”

Now there are several things that struck me about this conversation. First, I’m 32 years old. I’m fairly well-educated. I graduated from High School. I have a bachelor’s degree. I was even in my fair share of musical performances back in the day. I may have not been around every block or read every book (that’s an inside joke, I’m not a “reader”) But it’s reasonable to think that everything my daughter knows, I know. Either myself, Kim, Kaelyn’s family, friends, or teachers, have taught her what she knows. She hasn’t read any books or watched any TV that I haven’t. Yet in her mind, that was a perfectly valid question. She might have even thought she was teaching her old man a thing or two. I love the innocence and the love behind that question. Daddy, did you know…

How many times have we done that with our heavenly daddy? Hey God, did you know… That it’s better to love everybody as we love ourselves? That people respond really well to what you have to say, if you show love to them first? That the satisfaction of giving lasts longer and is better than the satisfaction of getting something? God must smile and shake his head and say “Yeah, I know… I told a bunch of people that a long time ago.”

Secondly, it made me think about what each generation thinks of as “the original”. Now this performance of The Sound of Music Live! has been around since the 5th of December 2013. So, 13 days before this posting. To Kaelyn it IS the original. It’s the first performance she has ever seen of it. Even the performance I consider “the original” was produced 6 years after it debuted on Broadway. Furthermore that was based on a 1956 film called The Trapp Family and it’s 1958 sequel “Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika“. 

So which is the original? Is it whatever performance a person is exposed to first? To be honest, that’s a little disturbing. I want my original to be “the original”. Just like I want my Grammie’s hand-made biscuits and gravy to be the best or my college’s soccer championships to mean the most. I was there and you don’t even know how good those biscuits were… or how loud we screamed for the falcons… We all want to be a part of “the original”. But here’s the thing.

We already are.

We already are, but all those performances of The Sound of Music and all those biscuits that Grammie made and all those championship’s that Messiah College have won are ALL part of a continuing story. Now in that story there are lots of “first times”. There was a first time the The Sound of Music was performed on broadway, but that is not “the original” story. This is really important for us to understand as parents and people. The next generation is going to produce remixes, redo’s, and sequels of music, movies, and photos. We should celebrate this! Because with each iteration the story gets deeper and richer. Yea, sometimes the next “first time” will suck and you won’t think that it is as good as “the original” but it’s still part of the story. The performance of The Sound of Music on the 5th of December 2013 was just the first time it was performed live on TV. It also just happened to be the first time a certain almost 5-year-old experienced the continuing telling of a classic story called The Trapp Family. It’s also the first of many times ahead, that my daughter will attempt to drop some knowledge on her old man.

My first and last article about Google Glass

photo 1The great experiment is over, before it really began. Let’s start with the positive. As my Mama always said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Google is such an interesting company, they have gobs of money and are completely unabashed to fail at full speed. It’s like they take the failure is the best teacher notion to about ten levels above what we as the consumer can do. I have no doubt that Google Glass will set the stage for something great. Maybe even something revolutionary. It is great at a couple of things. Full disclosure, I was pairing the Google Glass with an iPhone which does limit it’s ability to do some things. Also, because of the way our wi-fi network is at work, I could connect it to the internet at work. Which essentially makes it a video/photo camera strapped to your head. Also, when I was asked if I wanted to buy a pair and evaluate them I wasn’t going to do it from the prospective of “tech loving, gadget fever, Chas”. I was going to evaluate as “I have two daughters, a wife, a mortgage, and a household to provide for, Chas”. While I do LOVE technology, technology is not sustainable if there is not both practicality and intuition involved. Unfortunately, for me, Google Glass failed on both accounts. But first the good stuff.

photo 2

1. Recording video and taking pictures – This is be far it’s best feature… The ability to reach up to, essentially, your eye and take a snapshot or quick video within two seconds of thinking about “Hey I should be recording this.” is great. Documenting a point of view how to would be easy!! I think of ericthecarguy and some of the great videos he does. I’m sure this would streamline his process of getting videos out the door. This is the only real reason I would try to justify keeping them.

2. Receiving notifications – It’s does this very well. You feel a little buzz behind your ear, look up and bam! Information.

3. Making you feel great - It is really, really cool (and awkward) to work around with Google Glass on your head. I mean people notice and they ask questions. They want to try it on. They want to learn what it does. Typically about 30 seconds after they first put it on their heads they look at you and go, “so what else?” Then you look at them and say, “well, that’s about it.”

It this point I want to say again how much I love technology. I feel like Paul (THE Paul) in a way when talking about technology. Paul was training by the best, knew the best, and walking with the best. He was a “Pharisee among Pharisees.” I, too, took an immediate internet in technology. I was weaned on the DOS prompt, I have an IBM 5155, Tandy TRS-80, and Google CR-48 in my computer collection. (I’ll let that sink in…) Yes, I have an old computer collection filled with vintage parts from a 2400 baud modem to an actual Bernoulli box. I read the Windows 3.1 manual cover to cover. I used to go to goodwill just to buy old computers, just to see if I could upgrade them. I even have a collection of Intel, AMD, and Cyrix CPU’s ranging from Intel 8088, 486DX4′s, and AMD K6-400′s… photo 3

I get it. I get technology, but Google Glass (as it is now) is too much bleeding edge, too much “what is that???”, and too much “that’s all it does”?

I was forced to come to the conclusion that $1500 (yes $1,500) dollars was too much for a device to take pictures and videos with, only at home during the hours of 6 to 10pm. I couldn’t use them at work, in the car, at a restaurant, or anywhere interesting because I would not have an internet connection. However my lowly iPhone 5 can do all those things and with maybe a second or two more of a delay.

I’m very interested in what comes next for Glass. Failure is the best teacher, but necessity is the mother of invention. Only good can come from this. Google had wave, remember that? It was an utter failure, in every regard. But from that came a better gmail, google hangouts, and a better youtube.

For me, I will have one more weekend with my pair. Take a couple of parting videos and pictures over the weekend at some wineries. Answer a couple more questions about what it does and why I have it. Then on Monday post it on ebay and maybe make a few bucks. It’s been a short run and there is a lot of potential. It’s just not yet there for me.

 

A New Thanksgiving

Pop-pop get the recliner, the first born gets the rocker. My Uncle and cousins fight for the love seat...

Pop-pop get the recliner, the first born gets the rocker. My Uncle and cousins fight for the love seat…

This was a big year for us in the Wisler household. It marks the first time that I can remember that Mom-mom (my dad’s mom) did not prepare Thanksgiving. That responsibility fell to the next generation, my Aunt, mom, wife, and sister. It was a wonderful thanksgiving filled with all the usual suspects… Food, family, and football. It was still at Mom-mom and Pop-pop’s house which served as a good transition for this year.

I’ve thought about this transition over the years. How does one generation that in many ways been the corner-stone of family events move that weight and responsibility to the next? I really can’t remember a Thanksgiving that didn’t involve Mom-mom and Pop-pop hosting. They have carried the torch for 30+ years and now it’s time for them to enjoy the time as a participant and not as host.

How many times has this happened over the course of human history? Millions? Yet it was still very evident and profound for our family this year. Over the course of a typical life this happens in the nuclear family at least 3 times. This was the first time I experienced it, that I can remember. I was born when all four of my great-grandmothers and one great-grandfather were still alive. Then one month later my great-grandfather passed away. (My great-grandmother always said he hung on just long enough to see me) So by default that generation never hosted. Not that they couldn’t, they just didn’t. So for as long as I can remember you had the grandparents (the hosts), the parents (the side dishes), and the kids (the entertainment).

Kim and I got married in 2003 and had Kaelyn in 2009. Kaelyn, for all intents, has just been an extension of us, the kids. However this year with the transition, a fourth layer was added. It was actually a neat place for my grandparents to be in. They are now the watchers… We still meet at their place, use their dishes, watch their TV, but now they have time to play with my girls, who are now the entertainment. I get a little teary eyed seeing my grandmother (Mom-mom) play with my daughters the way she used to play with me. Mom-mom spent her thanksgiving coloring instead of cooking. Which is exactly what she deserves, she’s done her time as the host.

And so it goes, generation after generation, the times have changed but what happens stays that same. So we (Kim and our generation) are now the side dish, not the entertainment. Our responsibility increases but the joy that we experience from the holiday increases as well. Because I get to watch my grandparents graduate to the best of family experiences. The joy that comes with experiencing the holidays as a child, with no responsibilities, no heavy heart, no Christmas to pay off, and no burden of getting all the food on the table, hot, all at the same time.

What better way is there to spend the Holidays?

OKDOTHIS

OKDOTHIS.

Seriously, OK, Do this…

For anyone that may struggle with creativity, or should I say wants to practice being creative. This is for you. It’s an iPhone app from a great photographer, Jeremy Cowart. It’s simple. Read a Do and then do the do.
Check it out, you’ll get it.