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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Fear 

Though our world changes, God is with us.
It seems that all we see now in the news is the devastation that is happening throughout the globe.  Many people perhaps think, “Will it happen to me?”  Earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, draughts, title waves and heavy rains are affecting so many people today.  Many are losing family and friends and one wonder’s, “Is the world indeed coming to an end?”  Some live in fear each day and perhaps they think, what else can happen?  Earthquakes in strange places, (including Minnesota) are occurring on a regular basis now and some are devastating many people and causing untold injuries and deaths.  Now we see the beginning of the tornado season here in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest, and realize that more tornadoes have hit than ever before and the season has only begun.  The weatherman at WCCO has recently stated that over 500 people have perished from tornadoes in the U.S. alone, another record.  We watch in the news people trying to pick up after such devastation and wonder again, “Will it happen to me?”

Our hope is not in that which is around us, but in the son.
These thoughts lead us to think, “How do I protect my family from such disasters?”  Do I construct a tornado shelter, and should I secure my home from the shock of a large earthquake.  Finally we might be think, “Am I justified in becoming afraid and yet still being cautious, where is the balance?”

In Psalms 48:10 we are told to be still and know that he is God.  What does that mean?  When we are still before God we are listening for our Lord to speak to us.  In carrying on a conversation with a friend we find that it is important to listen to them as they listen to us.  If we choose to not listen to them, one day we will not have them anymore as a friend because we were to interested only in ourselves and our concerns.  God waits patiently for us to be still and listen to him each day.  It is sometimes not easy to do this since we live busy lives and sometimes feel that we have so much to do in so little time.  Can we make time?  As I have previously shared, I have one friend who goes to bed at 9 p.m. and gets up at 3 a.m. to pray and listen to God speak to him.   He says it is the only time he has to do this without any interruptions.   Perhaps it means getting up at 5:30 a.m. and praying in the darkness of your kitchen or porch, it does not matter where, only that you pray. 

Even the smallest creature does not escape his gaze.
So how does this praying relate to the above calamities that I previously spoke of?  We cannot hope to prevent or prepare for every possible circumstance in life.  But I do know who can help you to see what to do in a timely manner.  God speaks to us in Psalms 42:5 saying that our hope lies in him.  We cannot depend on governments, weather, homes, income, or our surroundings to provide a secure future for our families and ourselves.  Those that have done so have been sadly disappointed at times when disaster has arrived at their doorstep.  God promises to be with us and guide us through these challenging times.  He does not say that we will not go through them, but that he will not leave us nor forsake us.  (Dt. 31:6)  This means that we will be victorious even though we might go through great trials because God is by our side. 

Abby being a hero.
Sometimes we will not understand why something has happened to us.  We must be patient and ask our father for strength, wisdom and insight.  Sometimes God will reveal in time that there was a purpose for what happened in your life. 

Jesus was a man of peace that knew who his father was and he also knew that God loved him and would always look out for him.  We too can say the same for our ourselves and our children, can we not?  God loves each of us even more than we love our children and he will not allow us to be left alone to fend for ourselves, only that is if we desire to be left alone.  One man once told me that God is a perfect gentleman, he never goes where he is not invited.  He waits for us though to invite him into hearts, to be a part of our lives 'and' concerns, all we have to do is take time to read his word, to share our heart’s concerns and to wait upon him by listening to what he has to say to you through his Holy Spirit.  We have no reason to fear tomorrow, for he does care for each of us.  To know his plan for our lives, we must take the time to be apart of his life.  He quietly waits for you; invite him into your life today. 

Will enjoying nature.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When life gives you lemons . . .

When life gives you lemons . . .

Taken from the Pier near South Padre Island where grandpa John, Will and myself watched the sunset.
A short time ago Abby came upstairs and she could see that her mommy was feeling a bit low.  She walked up to Anne and said, “Mommy, when life gives you lemons, you make ice tea!”  Abby’s attempt to cheer her mommy up worked so well that Anne broke out with laughter and gave Abby a big hug.  Abby knew that her mommy was sad and with Abby’s effervescent personality, it was all that Anne needed in seeing the joy in her little girl to cause a change of heart.

A fisherman let Will look at this stingray's barb.
A short time ago we as a family went to visit Anne’s sister (Gayle) and her family in Brownsville, Texas.  The reunion between family members was very joyous since Anne’s family is very close.  I have noticed since being married to Anne now for 12 years that her family does many things together.  I believe much of this has to do with the fact that Anne and her siblings were homeschooled.  The bond that was forged during their time growing up has been solidified due to the constant contact with each other.  Now I find with the homeschooling that we are doing with Abby and Will, has also generated a special closeness between us as parents and that of our children.  I have noticed as well that Abby and Will have no problems communicating with adults due to their constant contact with Anne and myself.

Aye me buckoos,  Pirate Will!
When I was growing up, many of us my age had a different life.  My world consisted of going to public school and getting involved in the events that took place there.  My time with family was made up of eating supper at home and then going to bed.  I spent my extra hours helping out at my dad and uncle’s shop and that of working on the farm for my other uncles as well.   For one year I worked also at a gas station filling cars with gas, changing oil, fixing flat tires and cleaning.  When I was younger I had three paper routes and that took much of my time, as well as working for local farmers walking beans, tasseling corn and picking rocks.  Many children like me spent much of their time with the male adults when we worked together and with our moms while at home during the day.  I remember even as a young child when going two blocks to the park, we had an elderly lady hired by the city to watch over us neighborhood kids while we played.  We could go anywhere in the neighborhood and have a mother looking out for us by watching us through the windows of their home, or by coming out to talk or play with us.  When we as neighborhood kids were doing something wrong or dangerous, they would let us know and also our mothers as well.  We were “safe” in our neighborhoods because there were adults to watch over us.

Today I read that many parents and professionals are concerned about the time that children are spending on computers playing games.  Does the answer lie in cutting their computer time and limiting what sites they go on?  Perhaps the concern should be focused on why children are spending so much time on the computer.  Are we as families spending quality time with each other?   I hear so many parents saying that they are just worn out when getting home.  It takes all their remaining energy just to prepare the meal and take care of household duties.  Parents are feeling guilty that they haven’t the time or the energy to spend quality time with family. 

Lighthouse on East Padre Island
So what has changed over the past 65 years?  During World War II, many women went to work in the factories replacing the men that went to war.  After the war many families saw that with two incomes, they could now buy immediately what was only possible for their parents to buy after many years of saving and hard work with one income.  Obviously coming out of the depression, many saw that finally having this double income brought many advantages in such things as buying two cars, having a new home and traveling to places that were not possible before.  So what has happened up until today?  Such things as the government giving tax credits to the family for having the mom at home has virtually disappeared.  Inflation has eaten much of the income advantage today as well.  Adding to this, there is the issue of having to provide for day care, Pre School and more eating out due to lack of time and energy of the parents.  To add to this, credit cards with a well of money have virtually replaced checks where one only spent what was in our checking accounts before.  Checking allowed families to live within a specified budget and offered a security net when putting savings into other accounts.  Now we spend hundreds and thousands of dollars toward credit card fees and high interest rates. 

Pear blossoms from the tree Will and I planted.
One can see this dismal spiral that has caused so much chaos in the family today.  What are the answers???  Well, many today are looking at living on less.  They are throwing their credit cards out the window, going back to checking or they are using prepaid debit cards that draw from a specified amount that each family puts into it each month.  These cards allow easy access by the use of one's own computer to find your balance in your account.  Companies such as “Mango Banks” are setting up these types of accounts and they pay interest when keeping a specified amount in them as well.  This encourages users to keep a balance in the account and helps to have a nest egg when something out of the budget is needed in the immediate future.  Other companies such as American Express offer similar cards as well.  There are also applications that you can buy online such as Cashculator that keep a record of your expenses and help you to budget your income and expenses better.  These are just a few ideas that families are using in reigning in their expenses. 

Will found this butterfly when playing. 
 Anne said to me this morning as we were going over our budget, “if we make a list of our items that we spend and reduce how much we spend, then we will not have to earn as much.”  This kind of simple reasoning is changing how we as a family are addressing the logic in living on less and not thinking how we can make more in order to not give up what we have.  In doing an inventory over our life styles, many feel that what we have, possess them, not us possessing those items.  I remember reading once about a dad saying that when he bought a swing set for his children, he spent a whole weekend erecting it and later, he spent many days mowing around it, maintaining and oiling it.  He calculated the time it cost him away from his family.  It was not worth it to him, since more valuable time could be spent with his children doing things they both could experience together.  What is taking your time away from your family? Is it things, people, work, or lack of energy?  Sometimes by giving yourself permission to explore other options for your family and lifestyle, will allow you the freedom to have "more" by living with less.

Abby playing in the meadow.
 When it comes to the time for you to leave this earth, do you want to give your family the things that you have accumulated throughout life, or would you rather have given them the memories of time together.  Having lived a rich life full of happiness such as going for walks, looking for ants on a sidewalk with your son, or chasing butterflies with your daughter.  Not to say the least, memories of holding your sweetheart’s hand as you watch your children play.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Walking Away from Prosperity

Grandpa John and Will standing near General Lee

Today I am in the southern most United States, Brownsville, Texas visiting my wife’s sister, Gayle Porter and her family, Stephen and their son Nathaniel.  The transition from going from 30 some degree weather to that of over 80 degrees in the last several days was phenomenal to say the least.  When we started out on our trip only a few flowers had broken the surface in Minnesota and as we traveled further south, the crops began to appear.  Here in extreme southern Texas we see that the wheat is ready to harvest.  It seems that we went through the seasons of spring, summer and late summer in 3 short days of travel.  It was as if we were traveling through time each day that we drove further south.  The corn down here is tasseling and the sorghum is almost ready to harvest.  Watermelons are being sold near the hiways along with fresh fruits and vegetables as well.  Upon arriving we have found the local population to be very friendly and kind to us.  The restaurant food though at times is a little hot with seasoning, but is very good. 

Marji and John Gustafson
Our children today went to a public park and really enjoyed themselves.  Grandma Marji noticed that both parents were with their children as they played.  It made me think that perhaps we live in a society that is sometimes too busy with all the demands that are placed upon adults and parents today.  I see far to often parents talking on the phone while escorting their children in and out of the stores.  Many times I observe children racing to catch up with their parents, these same parents that are preoccupied with the stresses of work, living and being a mother or father.  It concerns me that this all to subtle message is given to our children that they are less important than the demands placed on that of their parents. 

Do we live in a “rat race” today?  Are we so consumed with making a living that we have forgotten “how” to live?  Marji said that she is reading more and more on how busy adults are leaving their high-end jobs behind them and returning to the country.  They are opting for the simple life of hard physical work on the farm to that of a desk.  This same desk that seems to follow them home so much of the time.  If that is the case, why is this happening?  Are these suburban farmers willing to live on less for something that offers them so much more?  If that is the case, what then are the benefits to such a move? 

Waking up slowly in the van.
Living on a farm where animals provide the meat and gardening the vegetables that are eaten is not easy work to say the least.  It is back breaking labor that is unpredictable even in the best of times.  If this then is so, why are these people not returning to their old jobs in the cities in droves?  Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the benefits outweigh the risks.  Family’s work together to provide for their needs, even the children have their chores, while work in the home is very challenging as well.  Canning must be done along with meal preparations that involves no commercial canned goods or prepackaged food.  Every member of the family does all the planning with the food that is placed on the table.  From making preserves to planting the crops to feeding the livestock, each family member pitched in to establish what is used and consumed.  This reminds me of the life my grandmother Anna had.  She had a large family and every child had a job or jobs to do each day.  Each child’s work provided for the security and survivability of the
family as a whole.  Along with the individual jobs for each member of the family there also was specific purposes for each animal and crop produced as well.  Once I asked my grandmother Anna, “what part of the pig did you not use?”  She smiled her gentle smile and said with no uncertainty, “the oink!”  

Busy Busy!
With all the jobs on the farm that I have described above, Marji related as well that the children are homeschooled by their parents.  I myself have noticed that ordering curriculum for homeschooling has grown considerably over the last several years.   Parents are choosing more and more to take their children out of public schools to educate them.  I am seeing that with homeschooling as a option, parents can not only choose the curriculum, but also make the choice of using Christian curriculum as well.  Christian companies such as Sonlight provide for the complete educational curriculum for all ages. 

Well, is this the direction God wants all of us to go?  I would have a hard time in saying yes, I believe that God has different directions for each member of his body, just like my grandma had different jobs for each of her family to do.  We need to seek God’s direction to understand what his will is for each of us.  One is the hand, the other is the foot . . . we all make up the body of Christ.  This I do know though, God has a plan for each of us, and specifically tailored for you and me and the direction he wants each of us to go.  All we need to do is to talk to Jesus and wait upon him, listen to his spirit speak to us along with reading his word for our individual guidance. 

Early Spring Moon
Are you one of those who have a calling to move to the country?  Seek God and the doors will open for you to carry out his will concerning you and your family.  If this is the direction for you and your family, he will make a way.