Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

All Creatures Great and Small

 Anne's Daffodills

This morning I found that I could not sleep.  I went upstairs and was followed by our cat Toby.  She told me in her own way (by meowing continuously) that she wanted to be fed early.  I as her master was very firm, I listened closely to her pleas for food, and then I fed her.
In defense of my obvious weakness, I did not want a kitty rubbing my legs meowing and waking up the rest of the household.  When taking a break from the activities of the day, I chose my easy chair and I usually have company, our cat Toby jumps up on my lap and she enjoys the warmth of my legs and soon falls asleep.  She has been getting into the habit of eating, sleeping, and then eating and sleeping again.  Since going outside has not been fun for her; that is with the colder weather, she finds enjoyment in her favorite pastime, sleeping.  I usually have to carry her outside and let her discover for herself that it isn’t so bad.  This routine has become a daily ritual.  Usually in the month of April when it warms up considerably, she waits by the door to go outside.  She is into the catch and release program with her mice and chipmunks.  One chipmunk last year was caught so many times that I saw it sitting one day where Toby normally sits when outside.  I wondered if they developed some kind of strange relationship.

Toby watching her TV
In the beginning, Toby found “us” when hunting in our meadow late one fall.  She was obviously wild at that point and would not let anyone get near her.  When the first snow fell though, she was nudging my legs in wanting to get inside the house.  We had been giving her scraps early on since we felt sorry for her.  This was a prelude we found in inheriting a cat.  We soon discovered that she had been a house cat by her determined desire to get in our house.  Later we also found out that she had been spaded and that confirmed our suspicions. 

Toby is a funny cat at times.  During the winter she has her routines such as sitting by the window, intently watching the birds at the feeder.  Sometimes Toby forgets that there is glass between her and her prey.  At times we are startled when we look up to hear and see a cat banging into the window, claws and open gaped mouth desperately trying to catch a feathered morsel.  The birds on the other hand seem to be playing a game with her, they seem to be saying, “ha ha you can’t get me.”  This only makes Toby that much more determined to get beyond the glass. 

Made it this time!
Then there is our friend “Chippy” the squirrel who jumps from the air conditioner to the electrical box on the side of the house to the bird feeder.  Chippy used to leap from a small tree near our home on to the feeder, but one day the tree was snapped off near the ground.  We wondered what could have destroyed the tree since it was about 8” in diameter at the base.  Upon closer inspection, we could see tiny tracks around the tree.  We figured that those footprints belonged to our regular nighttime friends, the bandits of the neighborhood, our visitors the raccoons.  Several of them must have climbed up the small tree at the same time trying to get the bird feed and they snapped the tree in two.   Because of what just transpired we thought that Chippy would have to find other food sources nearer the ground, we were wrong.  As I said previously, he jumped from the air conditioner to the electrical box to the feeder.  In looking at the feat from the outside, it appeared to be impossible, but he made it to the feeder in about 3 out of 4 attempts.  We now figure that if this little squirrel had gone to such lengths at gaining some sunflower seeds, we would let him have his way. 

When Toby watches Chippy on the feeder, she seems to relax and enjoy watching the squirrel eat away.   At some point into Chippy’s feast, one of my family determines that Chippy has had enough food, and then they open the window and he jumps awkwardly to the earth ten feet below.  After our furry friend makes contact with the ground, he quickly runs up to the edge of the woods and then makes a circular trek back to the feeder.  We go through this several times until Chippy decides eating the dropped seeds is far less work.  Our little squirrel has been going through this routine ever since he was a little nutcracker.  Sometimes Chippy will sit on a sumac branch near the woods and watch us to see if anyone is by the window, if it feels that the coast is clear, it will quickly head towards the feeder. 
As I said earlier, Chippy isn’t always successful in catching the tube feeder when leaping through the air.  He sometimes goes through this comical routine of trying to retrieve his dignity.  During these times when his jump falls short, he just catches the bottom rung and holds on swinging back and forth until he finally loses his grip and takes an embarrassing tumble to mother earth once again. 
Chippy making his trek back to the feeder
At first Chippy was annoying, taking the feed away from the birds, but now we have accepted him as another animal around the house, (outside) the house that is.  Lately we noticed that Chippy has a mate and she is not as brave as her husband when it comes to swinging on the tube feeder.  She is satisfied to eat the seeds that have fallen from the feeders.  I have found that in every relationship, there is one who likes to explore and take chances and then there is the other who is stable and well grounded.

In speaking of animals, the other day when our local family of crows were roosting in the trees overhead, William started to mimic their sounds as they sat and watched us from the nearby trees.  Will stopped and waited for a response and what happened next was quite unexpected.  A crow started to make a chuckling like sound.  It was as if they were quite amused over Will trying to talk to them.  This family of crows lives on the 500 foot wooded ridge behind our house.  They frequently roost on our roof and spend time walking back and forth on the nearby meadow looking for mice and insects.  We toss them some hard bread once in awhile and they take it away to their families to feast in safety. 

Lately we have been having visitors in our woods at night.  Anne and I will be in one of our rooms talking or watching something on netflicks and hear the sounds of yipping and howling coming from the forest nearby.  We have a pack of coyotes that make their rounds through out the neighboring hills and woods on a regular basis looking for carrion or hunting down small game.  Rarely do we see them during the daylight hours.  One time last summer I did notice a rather large coyote hunting mice in a nearby meadow during the daylight hours.  He looked almost as big as a wolf and seemed to be having fun jumping around on the grass catching the field mice.  In an instant though, when he noticed that he was being watched, he took off in a flash. 
Pecking out a living

In the spring, usually during April and May, we will start to hear the sounds of wild turkeys.  It is soon to be their mating season and we will hear the toms calling for their prospective mates.  They are a different bird that is very interesting to watch.  Benjamin Franklin I understand wanted at one time to name them our national bird instead of the eagle.  He said that they were relatively smart and could fly very fast when eluding predators.  Being a wild bird, they tend to group in flocks of about 10 to 20 most of the time.  At night they roost in trees and forage on the ground during the day.  We get a visit from them usually once or twice in the spring.  It is not unusual to hear a tom clucking away for a potential mate.  He will drop his wings on the ground and make an unusual scraping sound that can be heard long distances away.  When they fan their tale feathers to impress perspective mates, it is an awesome sight to see.  My cousin Dudley once invited many of his relatives together one Thanksgiving to have turkey with his family.  He served smoked wild turkey that he had hunted while in our area, and one domesticated turkey from a commercial producer.  Both turkeys were very good, but the wild turkey was perhaps the best meat that I have ever tasted.   

I recall when we first were building our home; Anne one day came into the house and yelled for me to come to the back yard.  She said, “look at these birds, they are the biggest pheasants that I ever seen!”  Since Anne was from North Dakota, she had never had the opportunity to see a wild turkey.  After being silently amused, I told her that “they do look a lot like pheasants, but they are wild turkeys.”  Every once in awhile I tell her that I just saw a huge pheasant outside in the meadow.  She is a good sport about it and just nudges me and smiles. 

Well, this is our home in the spring with all God's creatures that visit us or just decide that living near us is better then eating what Mother Nature provides at the time.  Hopefully our lives have brought a smile to your face this day.  Have a great week and God bless!  Augie

Monday, March 28, 2011

Living For Eternity

Which of Will & Abby's toys should I play with?
Today brought with it sunshine and cool temperatures to our region.  Forecasters said that with the cooler weather arriving, the chance of severe flooding has been diminished.  It was probably an answer to many people’s prayers that the cooler weather settled into the area.  If the warmer weather had been on track, temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degrees higher might have brought record floods. 

This brought to light how God’s hand was working in the cooler weather, something that I along with many, I assume, hadn’t thought of.  Several days before, I initially complained about the colder than normal temperatures.  I wanted to see the flowers coming up with the remnant of the snow at last disappearing.  I was thinking about myself instead of the plight of those in the lower flood plain.  In retrospect, I feel a little foolish and ashamed that my eyes were not looking at the needs of so many others, with the potential loss of homes and the dangers that floods can create.  Just 4 years ago when we as a family were back at my hometown of Jackson, Minnesota, Winona had a flash flood that took several lives, and many homes were destroyed and washed away as well.  Our house was not touched while our neighbors home had a river of water running through it.  A short distance from our home, the local road was washed out taking several lives with it.  Farms were destroyed and people lost their cars, machinery and homes as well. 

Where do we put our security?   Is our faith sometimes tried to the breaking point?  For some in a crisis, their whole life’s work is gone in an instant.  For others, it may be the loss of a family member or perhaps their home.  It makes me think, where do I place my trust?  Is it in my surroundings or in something that cannot be destroyed by earthly calamities?   For many in life, that time will occur in some unknown situation or circumstance.  During these events, we sometimes ask, “Does God really care, is he listening to my prayers?  Why is this happening, doesn’t he want me to be happy like my friends?  If that is the case, why did this happen to me?” 

Abby and Anne enjoying the day at the carousel
My pastor yesterday in his sermon said that a missionary overseas was reaching out to a native tribe and during the course of sharing Christ with them; he made an enemy of the local witch doctor.  The witch doctor’s anger had increased to the point of such a degree that he could not take it any more.  The witch doctor grabbed his machete and ran across the village with the intent of killing the missionary.  He arrived at the service the missionary was having, and at that same moment up in front, a women handed her baby to the missionary.  The missionary looked at the child, it had no color left in its skin and was not moving.  It was obviously dead and the woman wanted him to bring her baby back to life.  Puzzled by the event, the missionary did not have time to respond to the mother.  For at that moment, the witch doctor was charging at the missionary with his up raised machete.   The missionary was filled with terror and did the only thing he could do, he yelled at the top of his lungs, “God save me!”

Unusual rock setting in our woods.
The situation was bizarre to say the least.  The missionary holding the dead baby with an expectant mother standing by, an anger crazed man charging at the missionary, seeking only death for his enemy and a stunned audience looking on at the whole scenario.   At that moment, it would go from bizarre to unbelievable.  The baby started to move!  The missionary quickly glanced down at the child, its color had returned and it was looking at him cooing with delight.  At that moment the missionary quickly remembered his beleaguered state and eyed the crazed man approaching him.  During this time the witch doctor witnessed the child coming back to life while running up to missionary, he at once dropped his machete and was dumb struck at what happened to the once dead baby.  Later, he told the missionary, "because I have seen your God bring this baby back to life, I now too will worship this same God."  

Several things transpired throughout this unusual incident.  A baby was reborn back to its mother.  A witch doctor came to accept Christ, as did many onlookers, and not to say the least, the missionary had his life spared in the process.  God had answered the missionary’s earlier prayers that those before him would come to accept Christ.  It made me think when hearing this, if the missionary would have realized before hand how God would have chose to save these people, perhaps then he might have had second thoughts about his calling.  Or to say the least, I could imagine he probably would have made his will up before venturing out to do this task our Lord had set before him. 

God does not always give us the luxury of knowing what might happen to us each day as we go about our lives.  The chain of events leading up to what just happened with the missionary was delicate to say the least, in that everything had to transpire exactly as it did.  Any change in the course of events could have had disastrous outcomes.   God knew before hand all the needs of those present.  He chose to help each person in the face of those adverse circumstances in such a way that would bring each person to his saving grace.   

Here we see one man’s faith being tested to the point of absolute death.  If this missionary would have wavered in his belief in God, the outcome for so many souls might have been different.  This man’s faith did not start with that one defining moment, it began years before when he made a choice to follow Jesus and serve him.

Spring flowers
So where does that take us?  When we chose to follow Jesus it is not a guarantee that we will have a life of ease and with no difficulties.  In Hebrews 13:5-6 God says that he would never leave or forsake us and he would always be our helper and we are not to be afraid.   Trust during these difficult times causes our faith to grow knowing that our Lord does in fact care for us and wants each of us to grow with his wisdom and strength. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stealing Time


Today I look out my windows and see that winter is not through with us yet.  The ground is blanketed with several inches of new snow while just three days ago, only a remnant of the white stuff was seen on the ground.  In spite of the snow, the kids and I had a wonderful time hiking in the woods yesterday as well as sliding down the hills.  Like all things in life, there is the unexpected though.  When we got to one of the furthest parts of the forest, Abby announced that she had to use the bathroom.  Up until that point we were looking for snow fairies and leprechauns.  It is surprising how our surroundings changed in that one point of time.  Relaxing in the beauty of the moment, observing the snow on the trees that made them look so beautiful, I forgot about the cares of life.  In one instance, the needs of the moment were again present and we had to leave our wonderland behind and take care of the present challenges set before us. 

Crow enjoying the sumac seeds.
In looking back at that short event; that is traveling into the woods, I found myself reinvigerated and renewed with vitality.  Only moments before I was wrapped up in the concerns of the day and felt overwhelmed with them.  So many times it is Anne who is more in tune with my moods than I am.  I believe that it is a male thing for the man to not be in touch with his feelings on occasions.  In retrospect, I  remember reading about the cave analogy where a man must retreat into his cave for a time to get in touch with his feelings.  On the other hand, for Anne, talking out issues is foremost in sorting out the challenges that she faces.  When we have mutual obstacles that confront us both, Anne and I find that we have to discover a balance in sorting out how to work through these challenges together.
For me, I first have to find my cave as I did yesterday, and that was done by going into the woods and taking time to enjoy God’s beautiful forest, as well as watching all the birds singing and animals running about.  Not only was getting away from my challenge important, but also seeing my children having so much fun climbing trees and knocking fresh snow off of the branches, and then watching it fall on to our shoulders, it was so much fun. 

In looking back, I gave my concerns a vacation for a short time and enjoyed the moment.  Initially I did not want to trek into the woods, I wanted to sort out my concerns by staying in the house and lining up possible attack approaches to my problems facing me that day.  I had to go against my nature and walk away from what was bothering me, and then, I later found that my answers would come when my mind was ready meet them again.  Later when Anne got home from teaching, she and I discussed what was on my mind and I found that I was ready at that time to work out a course of action together.  Her insight was very helpful as always and we had fun in the process of growing closer by sharing our hearts with one another. 

Give yourself permission today to take time away from your cares, enjoy this moment when God presents it to you and your day will be seen through new eyes.   Augie  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hope in Today's Tumultuous World

Raging waters

Upon awaking this morning I noticed that the temperatures were already up to 56 degrees.  The birds were singing and the rest of the wildlife was scampering to and fro in the meadow by the woods.  They seemed to be saying that they were excited with the warmer weather and happy that spring is finally arriving after a long cold winter.  In looking at the skies overhead, they now look like rain and as my daughter Abby just said to me “it will wash all the dirt away from the grass and everything will be clean again.” 

Spring flowers
Yesterday when getting out of the car, Will and Abby noticed flowers pushing their way through the ground.  It was exciting to see new life wanting to return all the while snow surrounded the area they were growing in.  The contrast was puzzling to me.  Only inches away, flowers remained in the soil waiting under the weight of the snow to come to surface again, under the sun’s life giving force.  These little flowers wait for the right time patiently and without anxiety.  They know that in God’s time, it will be their turn to reveal their beauty. 

Contrastingly, we as humans many times are fearful, anxious, and doubtful.  We look at what surrounds us in our world and become overwhelmed by the events that we cannot control.  We let anxiety rule our days and become afraid of the unknown.  “Will we lose our jobs the way things are going?”  “Is our world coming apart at the seams with all the earthquakes that are devastating other countries?”  “Are we destroying our world around us so that our children will not enjoy what was given to us by our parents?” 

Counselors tell us  “we can control only ourselves and we cannot control what others do or say, and we cannot worry excessively about that which is out of our sphere of control.”  But how and when does this apply to us when we are confronted with the responsibility for our surroundings and that of the world.  We are faced with the morality of helping others in need whose lives have fallen apart, whether by their own mistakes or that of others.  We feel that somehow we as a people, nation and world have to help those less fortunate than ourselves or we will all sooner or later reap our collective neglect.  

Reading the newspaper and looking at the news on the television, one sees the devastation that seems to be happening all over the world right now and we feel anxious, helpless and afraid.  Not only for ourselves do we feel this way, but also for our children and grandchildren as well.  So, where do the answers lie in what we face today?  Do we act like the ostrich and bury our heads in the ground and pretend all of this is not happening?
Do we say, “I can only do so much, and that is to take care of my family and myself.”
Where do the boundaries lie in having hope and yet realizing that action is also required as well?

Finding peace in the storm
When Jesus was meeting with his disciples for the last time before being arrested, he looked upon their worried faces.  He told them not to let their hearts be troubled.  In John 14 & 15, Jesus told his disciples that they needed to look beyond themselves and see what good was going to happen because he was going to the father.  It was hard for the disciples to finally realize that there lord and savior was going to be beaten and be put to death.  In their minds and hearts, I imagine they wanted to do everything to stop Jesus from going through this tragedy.  The fervor to protect him was so great that later Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of one of the people that wanted to arrest Jesus.  Panic and anxiety were ruling the hearts of the disciples at this time.  They had a hard time seeing beyond what their minds and hearts were telling them.  All they could envision was that their worlds were falling apart and what they had hoped and believed would happen was now dissolving before their eyes.  Fear, hopelessness, and anxiety ruled their minds and now they could not see what Jesus was trying to tell them.   

Jesus said that we are the branches and he is the vine.  He also said in John 15 that he prunes the branches that bear no fruit so that we might bear more fruit.  I believe that to mean that he allows for us times of trials and crisis to show us our ways, and what needs to be changed and left behind for us to grow.  With the disciples in their struggle to prevent the upcoming events, that is the hardships that they faced with Jesus being arrested and executed, Jesus knew before hand what would happen to each of them and he knew that by dying, the Holy Spirit (counselor) would come to help them and teach them God’s ways.  Jesus knew that the Holy Spirit would be there for his disciples and for us and he would teach, guide, encourage and lead us throughout our lives if we choose to seek him out.

In John 16:33 Jesus says that in this world we will have troubles, but take heart he says, “I have overcome the world, . . . in me you will have peace.”  So, where do we find answers to the difficult questions that we seek in today’s tumultuous world, it is in Jesus.  He will guide us and lead us through these challenging times that we face.  What we need to do is to take time to read his word, talk to Jesus, and when doing so, listen to him as well.  Jesus will speak to our troubled hearts through his Holy Spirit.  He will teach us and guide us if we take time to seek him out.   “Jesus, here am I, teach me and help me for I have chosen to follow you now.”

p.s.  Feel free to share this message to anyone that you feel God is leading you to send it to.  Augie

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Taking Time to be Children

 Stream in the Smoky Mountains (To enlarge click on photo).
Today I find myself in the mountains of Tennessee looking out the window and seeing a mountain stream flowing past our deck.  It is heading towards someplace unknown to me, but not to itself.  As I watch the churning currents, I look at only the surface, but what is not seen is the life underneath the teaming waters.  I can only imagine that trout are laying their eggs in preparation for another generation to be born, who will look at life for the first time with excitement and joy.   Meanwhile, the frogs and tadpoles are waiting for the insects to fly by and provide a ready meal to satisfy their appetites.  

Abby playing with other children 
We are told that today will bring the beginnings of spring rains to the area.  As I look out past our deck, I notice that the robins are using this time to prepare their nests, and they are seeking out worms that will nourish their bodies after traveling so far in seeking out their homes here once again.  Life here is teaming all around me.  Too many times though we get so busy with accomplishing our tasks before us that we do not take time to enjoy what surrounds us.  It makes me think, not to long ago I had not taken the time to notice ants crawling to and fro, until my little daughter taught me this once again.  Those of you that have little children and grandchildren know what I am talking about.  These little ones teach us to not to take the simple and obvious for granted, they notice what we pass up.  These little people also put more value on the simple things that we have perhaps forgotten about. 

Abby running in the meadow
I recall a scene in the Bible where the children are being pushed aside by the adults to make way for ‘more important things,’ events and discussions that adults wanted to speak with Jesus about.   He said that it was not good that they put so little worth on the children.  Jesus stopped his conversion with his meaningful followers and taught them to take time to listen to these little ones because heaven was made up with those that were “like” these children.  Too many times we take for granted that the words of children have less value than those of adults, but in Christ’s eyes, they do not.  He said not to hinder these little ones, nor to hurt them for God is watching over them. 

William and Abby in Williamsburg
William Wilberforce a respected member of parliament in England in the late 18th century helped his peers see the value of children.  During this time period, children were not considered to be on equal footings with adults and were not to be in their presence unless called for.  When this moment took place, they were only to portray adult mannerisms that were acceptable to the adults in their presence.   I recall reading that during a very important meeting with his peers, Wilberforce saw his children playing out on the grass by his office window.  He stopped the meeting momentarily and ran out and played with his children.  Much to the aghast of his peers, he became a child once again, running about and having a wonderful time.  He helped England to see children through the eyes of innocence once again. 

Abby and Anne learning to make a mask 
When Adam and Eve were in the garden, they acted in many ways like our children do today, uninhibited and joyful in their ways, and I imagine that this made God very happy to walk with them.  We have lost much of that along the way and forfeited it with what we call more important things of life.  Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat or wear.  He points out that God provides for even the lilies of the field.  Jesus will take care of the worries of the day if we just take time to offer them to Him in prayer.  He will guide us through our difficult decisions that we need to make, and give us time to be children once again.  Have a wonderful day with the children around you!  Augie  

p.s.  Feel free to forward any message to a friend or family member.  Augie

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Family That Changes The World

Abby and Will along with other children in the Marching Militia

Today was a wonderful day for our family.  We just visited Historic Williamsburg, Virginia.   Weeks before we left on our trip, Anne read the American Girl series to Will and Abby.  The story was about a young lady who lived in old Williamsburg during the time of the revolutionary war.  In following the American Girl series a young lady named Felicity from Williamsburg shared with the readers all about the adventures of being a young child during a time of great upheaval.  Even though the outside world was in turmoil and change, she as a young girl found an oasis of peace and protection within her family.  Felicity constantly found trials in her world, but her rock was that of a mother and father who loved her and protected her and were always there for her. 

 Abby and Will became so excited to visit the site where the story had taken place.  Before leaving on the trip, Anne had found a seamstress that made dresses from that time period and she ordered one for Abby, and had a vest and shirt made for William as well.  The cost was affordable so it wasn’t a tax on our savings. 

Flute and Drum Corp.
In our homeschool, we studied about Jamestown and Williamsburg.  Will especially loved reading about this time period.  During this past weekend, Williamsburg had events set up for home schooled children, we really enjoyed seeing other kids like Abby and Will all dressed up in the time period clothes and having so much fun.   When it came time to eat our dinner, we stopped at the “Kings Arms Tavern.”  It was a restaurant that was set in the original design of the period with table wear and rooms from the late 1700s.  We really enjoyed the food and when coming down the stairs to leave, we passed families waiting for table service.  A gentleman spoke to Abby when she was passing him.  He told her, “You sure are pretty in your dress!”  Abby thanked him and I did as well.  When outside I asked Anne if that man was who I thought he was, she said yes, it was Kurt Cameron.  Anne later told me that he has been doing research on the Christian heritage of our nation, starting in England and progressing to the early colonies here in the United States.  With the research completed, he made a movie called “Monumental.”  In reading the information about the movie, I discovered that he believes that our nation is losing its original purpose and goals and is becoming lost in its way.  He believes there is a need to return to our roots, and that real change starts not in Washington, but at the dinner table and at home.  I have to say; I have felt the same way for some time.

Marji (Grandma) Anne, Abby and Palace Greeter
Over the years my heart has been heavy for our nation’s children.  I have been writing extensively recently about the changes that have taken place in our society over the last 40 years.  When reading my thoughts to Anne the other day, her response was one of being kind and polite.  “You are a good writer that encourages others, but in what you have just written, it lacks the love in your words that you have for others.”   I had to say that she was right; I was critiquing society as if I were looking at the problem without hope. 

I have worked with “At-Risk” children for almost 20 years and I have seen so many issues in the schools that have pointed to the family as having the real need for change.  We as a society are trying to revolutionize our education process in the hope of making our children more prepared for the future.  We have counselors, social workers, administrators and teachers looking for ways to prepare, evaluate and improve our children, and yet, is this approach leading to the answers we seek?  Children are dropping out of school, running away, and or are being sent to other educational settings like Alternative Schools, Charter Schools, as well as Boys and Girls Ranches in growing numbers.  What is happening to our children?  Should our schools and government be held accountable for the needed changes?

In the years of education that I have spent working with students and families alike, my beliefs are not founded in our evolutionary educational changes.  They are discovered in finding Christ in our homes.  Putting Jesus first in our individual lives, in our marriages, and in leading our children.  Have we lost this as a nation?  I believe that the devil will not destroy our country first by a foreign power; he will not have go to such ends.  The devil will do away with our nation by destroying the family first.  I believe this to be so true.  In working with the growing number of “At-Risk” children, I have found that the origins of their difficulties can be traced, in many cases, to a family in crisis.  If the home is not based in Christ’s love and guidance, then education and all the other aspects of that child’s life will suffer.
Will in the Williamsburg Armory

 A motto expressed at a Boys Ranch that I taught at said this, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”  Is the love in the family rapidly disappearing?  Once a student in crisis defiantly and angrily said to me,” What can you do to me that hasn’t been done already?”  His question echoed in my brain for days to come.  The answer I was looking for found me instead, it was to love him.  Our staff began looking for ways not to punish for misbehavior as much as to seek alternatives in rewarding and uplifting their efforts by helping them see and do well.  We found so much success in our renewed efforts, but that would soon come crashing down upon us.  Our love was not enough.  Christmas was fast approaching and with that, a vacation for our students.  Our pupils went home for long awaited time with family and friends, and with that, we expected our students to return with renewed vigor and a passion for continued progress toward a healthy lifestyle.  What awaited us would turn our worlds upside down.  When they came back, they were confused, angry and generally mixed up.  Their family life had not changed while they were gone and the love we gave them was not enough for them to survive with their own families.  So many times our efforts were nullified by a child’s home life.   What has happened that children in so many ways do not trust or look up to their elders anymore?  We now have children who are not looking to adults for guidance, but their peers instead.  One should ask why? 

It seems that so much of society today is dictating to our families what we need to do as parents to improve our children.  One day I called a father who was on the edge with life.  I had the unfortunate duty in having to tell him that his son was being suspended for inappropriate behavior.  He responded by saying that now the school is telling him that he is a failure as a dad, along with the juvenile court and social services.  He worked the day shift at a factory and his wife worked nights to make ends meet. Though I did not say anything bad about his parenting abilities, I did not offer him hope either.  I was only another person punishing his son and not offering him a way out, a path that he so desperately needed.  Where is this “hope” that we as parents so desperately seek?

Governor's Palace
Perhaps we are looking in the wrong direction.  Are the values we place in life the ones that God wants for us?  Are they in line with what Jesus would have us do? When counseling troubled parents I have found that they were desperate to find answers that might help them to be better fathers and mothers.  They wondered what went wrong and why did this happen to their family, to their child. 

Are we as a nation heading in this direction?  Are we lost and wondering what to do?  Saying Christ is the answer is not just a blanket statement made lightly.  Inviting him into our hearts and asking him to help us, it is the key to getting ourselves back in line with his desires for our lives, and that for our family.   The father is the leader of the family, as the mother is the heart.  Together they are whole, but separated they cannot stand.  God wants fathers to be loving, responsible caring men who are respected by their families.  Mothers are the love, generosity, and kindness that a family needs and cannot survive without.  God has made man and woman different with distinctive roles, but not separate from each other.  We each need the other and together we are complete.  Just as Jesus is the head of the family, men and fathers who are not submissive to God cannot be a good and loving husband and parent.

We as a families need to pray for God’s guidance.  When the family is seeking God and honoring him, the nation will follow.   Augie