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, June 30, 2011

Conclusion: The story of Apostle Peter's mother-in-law (A work of fiction).


God gives us hope in every storm.

Muriel’s condition grew much worse over the next several days.  She was coughing up blood again and she started to spike a fever as well.  Sarah did not know what to do, Peter was always good at making the right decisions when it came to getting things done quickly, but he was no where to be found.  Sarah grew more fearful as time went by and she started to grow desperate with Muriel’s illness. 

She became increasingly worried and concerned for her mother.  Trying to contain her state of urgency was almost beyond her at this point.  She was almost at the state of a nervous breakdown.  Peter was her strength and now that he was gone, she was reaching the end of her endurance.

“Sarah dear, are you close by?”

“Coming mother!”

“My dear, you are all smiles today, but your eyes are red and your cheeks are flushed.  I am your mother and I know that you are troubled.  Please forgive me Sarah, I am so sorry that I am such trouble for you now.”

“No mother, you are not a bother, I am glad to be able to attend to you.  How can I help?”

“My dear, I love you so much.  I am afraid it is my worrying for you and your family that has made me ill.  For this I am so sorry that I have caused you added stress and concern.  I will do my best to get well soon and then you will not have to work so hard.”

“Mother, you cause me no great burden, it is my honor to be able to take care of you now.  You have always been there for me and now it is my turn to love you as you have loved me all these years.  Please do not consider yourself a bother, you are my mother and I would not have it any other way.  I love you very much, please rest now and get well, the more you relax, the quicker you will heal.”

“Have you heard from Peter my dear?”

Sarah’s continence at this point almost crumbles; she takes a deep breath, forces a smile and responds.

“No mother, I have not, but I am sure he will be coming home any day.  Now I must get you some fresh water and towels.”

Sarah leaves the room and narrowly reaches the hallway when a flood of tears are released.  She speaks very softly and yet she desperately wants even the walls to hear her supplications.

In our darkest hour, God hears our call to him.
“Please, please Peter come home to me, I need you so much that I cannot bear it any longer.  Please my love, come to my side where you belong.”

Muriel is gravely ill, but her hearing is still very acute.  She hears Sarah’s pleads in the hallway and as a mother, she cannot stop herself, she rises from her bed and walks towards the hallway with the intent on holding her hurting child.  Taking just one step Muriel loses her balance and starts to fall, all the while she slowly begins to lose consciousness as she crumbles to the floor. 
Sarah between sobs hears a noise of something hitting the floor in her mother’s room.  She rushes into the bedroom only to find Muriel unconscious with blood flowing from her mouth. 

“Mother, what has happened?”

Muriel cannot hear her daughter for she is completely unconscious at this point.  Sarah slowly pulls Muriel to the bed and gently sets her head on the pillow and covers her up.  She notices that Muriel’s body is feeling cold, and yet puzzled, she observes that her mother’s forehead is perspiring.  Sarah softly wipes the blood from her mother’s cheek, all the while wiping with her other hand, the tears falling from her own eyes.  In desperation, Sarah once again implores the walls and ceiling to answer her.

He gave light to a darkened world.
“What can I do, where can I go?  I love my mother so very much and I have no where to turn.”

Then in recesses of her mind a thought emerges.  Andrew spoke of this Nazarene curing many different peoples’ illnesses; perhaps he can heal my mother.  Maybe if he is that powerful, he might even hear me now.   In desperation Sarah kneels by her mother’s bed and buries her face in Muriel’s hand, and begins to pray softly.  

“Peter said to me that you are named Jesus, he told me that you have healed others who have come to you for help.  I must confess that I do not know you or for that matter, I am not sure whether I have Peter’s faith.  I do know that I love my mother very much and do not want her to die.  Please help my mother?  Please heal her?  I believe that you can heal her, but if it is left up to my faith for her to be healed, I am not sure whether it is enough.  I do believe in you, please help my unbelief Jesus?”

Sarah felt a strange peace come all over her, something that she had never felt before.  Her heartache seemed to disappear and she was left with an unknown feeling deep within her.  At that moment, the darkened room seemed to light up and a strange presence shown behind her in the doorway.  It was hard for her eyes to adjust to the brightness that emanated from this person’s outline.  Sarah shielded her eyes and began to speak.

“Who, who are you, can I help you?”

God's presence is everywhere.
“I am here for you Sarah.  I am Jesus, I heard your prayer and I do want to help you and your mother Muriel.”

Without hesitation Jesus quietly went over to the bedside and gently grasped Muriel’s hand and spoke to her, almost inaudibly.

“Be healed my child.”

Muriel’s eyes slowly began to open and she found herself smiling inexplicably towards this man before her. 

“Muriel, you have so many doubts, you must let them go and believe in me for I have known you before you were in your mother’s arms.  I know what you need and what will make your life full beyond measure.  Muriel my child, trust not in the world and what it has to offer, but trust only in me.  No amount of riches will make you content or happy.  Needs will always be there facing you each day, trust rather in the Son and he will give you fullness of life.  Peace, love, wisdom and joy will be yours if you only seek me first.  I am the truth, the light and way, through me you will have eternal life and joy my child.”

Muriel gently shook her head in acceptance; she knew within her heart that the man before her was truly the Son of God.  She had felt a strange warmth come over her as she awoke from her dreams.  Within her, she could feel herself being healed and knew that this Nazarene was the one who was healing her.  Jesus then gently grasped Muriel’s hand, smiled and began to stand up. 

Peter had arrived with Jesus and to Sarah’s delight; he stood before her with outstretched arms.  They embraced and Sarah knew she would be ok now that Peter was there to hold her.  Jesus looked over at Sarah who was now burying her head in Peter’s chest. Jesus then smiled and stopped to speak with her. 

“Sarah, I heard your prayer from afar and I came in answer to your call.  Do not worry about Peter’s absence my child; many will come to me because of his faithfulness.   Peter, you are Sarah’s husband, God has created her for you.  You two are one and I believe that Sarah is to be with you now.  Please consider asking Sarah to travel with us.”

With that Jesus gently smiled and passed by them.  He saw the needs of those outside and wanted to attend to those who were sick and hurting.  At that point, Peter looked at Sarah and beamed with joy as he held his sweetheart in his arms once again. 

“Sarah, would you like to travel with me?”

“Yes my husband, nothing would bring more joy to my heart.”

Peter and Sarah again embraced while Muriel watched on with joy.

Muriel began to walk toward Peter; she hesitates, looks up at the ceiling for an instant as if to gain strength and resolve, and then proceeds towards Peter once again.

“Peter, I said some things that were not kind and very thoughtless to you, please forgive me?”

“Muriel, I do forgive you, please do not think of this again.  You are my wife’s mother and I love you very much.  Please, would you like to come along with us?”

Muriel thought for a moment and then smiled with a resounding “yes.”

She then began to smile with such joy that she radiated happiness from her whole being.  Muriel then began to walk with such force to the kitchen that a breeze followed her and was felt on Sarah’s face as her mother passed by.

“Mother, where are you going?”

Sweetheart, I am about to prepare a feast for you, Peter and Jesus.  Please stay with your wonderful husband; ' I ' will take care of you now!  I love you sweetheart!

With that, Muriel smiled, turned and headed for the kitchen humming all the way.




Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Part II The story of Apostle Peter's mother-in-law (A work of fiction).

Early morning sunrise over Winona and the Mississippi River Valley

This is part II in the story of Peter’s mother-in-law based on Matthew 14:8, and today, Mark Chapter 5.

“Today I see that it is going to be hot and humid outside my dear.”

“Yes mother, I believe you are right.  We must get down to the well early and get our water before it is so hot, otherwise we will have to wait until evening.”

“I suppose you are right my dear.  I just need a few minutes to eat my food and drink some cool water before going with you.  Have you heard from Peter today, Sarah?”

“Yes, late last night Andrew came by and he said that Peter was doing fine.  They had been near the Sea of Galilee and are now on the other side.  I am a little concerned though, there are so many gentiles that live in that area, and I hope he will be ok?”

“Do not worry my dear, as long as he does not interfere with the gentile's trading, he will be fine.”

“What do you mean mother?”

What an awesome God we have!
“Well, you know how we don’t deal with the Gentiles around here, they pretty much stay to themselves and we do the same.  I am only saying that as long as Peter doesn’t need to trade with them, he should be ok.  I remember when your uncle Laban once traded with a Gentile; they got into such a terrible argument with each other.  I was afraid that after awhile they would start fighting.  Fortunately for your uncle, the other man was a cripple and was using a cane to support himself; otherwise I am afraid it would have gone very badly for Laban. “



“Was the Gentile a mean man mother?”

“No, but you know uncle Laban, he can get even the gentlest man angry by his trying ways.  This Gentile left shaking his fists and saying he would never trade with a Jew again.  I felt badly for the Gentile actually, Laban can be very difficult to deal with when it comes to business.”

(A worried look came over Sarah’s face.)

“Sarah, what is troubling you?”

“Mother, Andrew said that this man from Nazareth caused many pigs to rush into the sea and drown.  The gentiles there were very upset by this; they lost most of their income by this single event.  Andrew said that the Nazarene directed the demons to come out of a man, and then they had gone into the pigs.  After that,  all the swine rushed into the sea shortly there after.  It didn’t matter to the gentiles that a man was delivered of these many demons, the gentiles suffered great financial loss, they were afraid that the Nazarene was a trouble maker.”

(Concerned, Muriel puts a hand on Sarah’s shoulder.)

“My dear, I am sure that it will be ok.  Peter is a cautious man; he will be fine.  Tell me Sarah, did you hear if Peter is coming home soon?”

 Aunt Anne and Grandpa John talking to the newest
Gustafson (Noah)
“No, Andrew said that he must remain with that person he refers to as ‘his master.’” 

(Muriel continues to see the worried look on Sarah’s face.)

“Sarah, I am wondering if someone should go and get Peter and tell him that he is needed at home.  I believe his place is here next to his wife, that being you Sarah!”

“I am sure that he will be ok mother.  I just get so lonely for him at times though, and to be honest with you, I am a little afraid for him right now.  What if those gentiles decide to hurt Peter for something he had nothing to do with.”

“I too am concerned Sarah.  I still feel that he should be home with you and not traveling in places where he can be hurt.  Oh, my word I don’t feel so good right now, do you mind if I lay down for a while Sarah.  My stomach is beginning to cause me great pain right now.”

“Why of course mother, you go and rest.  I am so very sorry for upsetting you so.  I should not have shared with you my worries, please forgive me?”

“You are my daughter, I love you and I want to know what is on your heart, please do not let my illness stop you from sharing all that is on your mind.  Mothers cannot stop being mothers even when their child is grown.  We worry for our children even when they have become adults my child.”

“I realize this mother, but it is the last thing for me in wanting you to be ill over my concerns.  I will go and get the water; you rest and think of pleasant things while I am gone.  All will be ok, I am sure of that.”

“ I sure wish Peter will be coming home?”

“Andrew said that perhaps Peter would be stopping by in about a week, though he is not sure.  He sends his love to us though and wants to let us know that he misses each of us.”

(Muriel watches Sarah smile, turn and walk away out the door.  She can see the worried look on her daughter’s face and would do anything to replace it with happiness.)  To be continued . . .

Peter's Mother-in-law ( A work of fiction.) Is this a possible real life scenario for us today?


  A work of fiction inspired by Christ's healing of Peter's mother-in-law in Matthew 8:14

“Peter, I don’t understand why you are hanging out with that man.  You should be staying home and providing for your wife.  How do you expect her to have food on the table and live without you working?  The fish that you catch is what provides for us as a household.  Your home cannot live without that income, I don’t understand you at all.” 

(Peter bends his head and walks away.)

“Muriel, mother, how can you say that about your son-in-law?  Peter has worked so hard in the past, he will also do so in the future as well.”

“Then why is he not doing so now Sarah?  He takes off with that individual from Nazareth and doesn’t show up for days and weeks on end.  This is not like Peter; in the past he has always been so good at being responsible.  I don’t understand why he would hang around with someone from Nazareth of all places, no good can come of it I tell you!”

“Mother, when has Peter made any bad choices since you have known him?  In the past he has always worked so hard and stayed out to sea until he has caught enough for us to live on, and more!  Peter will continue to do this and I know that he will return to us when the time is right.”

Family and friends celebrating together.
“I hope you are right my dear, we have not eaten as well since he has started following this man, and we are living on our savings right now.  What will we do when that is gone?  I have money put away; perhaps we can live on that for a while.  Your father and I worked all our lives for this and now I am afraid we must see it go out the window so Peter can run all over the country chasing after this man of Nazareth.  Did you know that Andrew is also following after this same man?  What is their father going to do now that he has lost both his sons to this upstart?  I don’t know what this world is coming to.  Pretty soon before you know it, this Nazarene will have more men leaving their families, and where will their households be?  I tell you, I don’t know what is going to happen to our world?  I heard people say that this Nazarene is preaching that we should be free of the Romans and start to prepare for a new kingdom, and some are saying that he should rule over it.  What nonsense could one ever hear?  Pretty soon the Romans will stop him and within that time, Peter and Andrew will be in trouble as well.  Then what will happen to our families, what then?"

"Mother, please do not get so upset, you are going to make yourself sick worrying about the future.  I am sure that God knows our needs and he will take care of us."

"I wish I could believe as you do Sarah, or does it take someone like myself whose head is not in the clouds to see us through this trouble we are heading into, I just don’t know." 

"Mother, please sit down, you are getting so worked up that I am afraid you will have a relapse with your sickness again.  You are just beginning to get well and I am afraid that if you don’t relax and stop worrying, you will end up in bed once more, and perhaps you will be worse off than before.  Your stomach cannot handle this stress that you put yourself in.  Don’t you remember how you coughed up blood, and eating for you seemed almost impossible?  You could not handle it when papa died, all that stress of his funeral and burial and then the loss of missing him so.  God has brought you through that time, and look; now you are living with us.  I love you so and Peter loves you as well." 

Making a home.
"I know that you and Peter care for me very much Sarah, but I cannot accept Peter doing this, leaving us at this crucial time when he is so needed here at home.  It is not right that Peter’s father is left taking care of so many, while Peter traipses off all over the country.  I cannot understand that what he is doing is just and responsible!"

"Mother, please let us go and prepare supper; our family must be getting hungry."

(Sarah stops and looks into her mother’s worried face.)

"Mother, let us spend some time praying about this, I know that if God is in this, that is, in what Peter is doing, then our Lord will provide for all our needs." 

"All right my dear, it is good to pray."  To be continued . . .

Monday, June 27, 2011

End Times, are they here?


Are we heading for the end times?  Most certainly we are, but when that will take place is uncertain even for Jesus or God’s angels (Mark 13:32), only God knows the time.  Jesus states in Matthew 24:14 When the word is preached to “all nations” and then the end will come.  Jesus does tell us in Matthew, chapter 24 that there will be signs that the end is coming.  Matt. 24:4  also states”Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.  Jesus goes on to say in verse 6 that “you will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” 
Swallowtail visiting our pear tree.

Jesus again says in Matthew 24 when he goes on to tell his disciples  “nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  There will famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains.”  In isolating just one of these events, one must ask, is there an increase in earthquakes today?  It appears so by all the devastation caused in Japan, China, New Zealand and Haiti over these past two years.  But, are these the birth pains that Jesus is speaking of? 

Jesus goes on to tell his disciples in Matthew 24 about all the horrible events that will take place during the times of the end, and how many will fall away due to the difficulties of these horrific times.  He encourages those listening to him to be faithful though until the end.  One resounding theme stated here is that he wants us to be aware of the signs of the times as is also quoted by Jesus in Luke, chapter 21.  I would encourage you to read the Bible and glean out what our Lord is saying to you and not to be ignorant of the times we are in.  Is God speaking to you about this subject?  Read his word, pray and seek his will concerning yourself in this area.  Talk to your pastor about the end times and what this might entail for you and your family.  Perhaps this would be a good topic for a Bible Study as well. 

Enjoying the field of wild daisies.
I know that there are individuals who generate fear by telling us all that will happen in the end times, in order for us to believe the words they are telling us.  Jesus wants us to be aware of the End Times events, but he also desires for us to not be afraid.   Hebrews 13:6 states, “The Lord is my helper: I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”  I believe that God wants us to seek him out and know “the signs of the times” but he also wants us to be connected to him by his Word, his Holy Spirit, and our church leaders.  Be concerned, but do not panic when you read and possibly see the signs of the times around you.  God is with us and he will not leave us, ever.  We need to seek him out and he will be there, to comfort us and teach us all that we need to know.  Be at peace~ 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Trust and Contentment






The Storm

Today I awoke to the rain hammering down on the house for the second day in a row at around 3 a.m.  Of course I was thankful that it was not hail or a tornado that other places have experienced lately.  Some of you reading this I imagine are thinking, “I wish we would have gotten that rain instead.”  Our weather here in Minnesota has been early spring like for most of the month of June with high temperatures at times in the 50s and 60s.  Our crops are delayed due to the cooler weather and for some farmers; they have lost their crops due to the flooding that have come to their area.  For others in Europe I understand that you are experiencing extreme heat and drought.  It seems this year that the weather patterns are reversed in the U.S. and Europe, or at least we are having excesses in the wrong direction.  Amidst all that has happened, for those of you in China and Japan reading this entry, you have suffered much by the earthquakes that have caused so much devastation and loss of life.  Our prayers go out for you that God will bring you comfort and help in your loss and recovery. 

There is hope in the storm.
Today after eating breakfast, Will and Abby were looking at some cards and wanting me to play the memory game, (that is matching pairs of cards that were similar,) one to another.  During the game I was concentrating on making sure that all was fair.  Towards the end of the card game Abby noticed that Will and I had the most pairs, and Abby consequently felt bad that she had won so little, (or so I perceived.)  It was Will’s turn next and he won a pair of matching cards.  What happened after that surprised me; he reached over to his newly won cards and gave them to Abby.  Abby thanked Will for his kindness and she in turn gave Will two of her cards that she had just won.  I then realized that Abby was not looking at winning so much as the feeling that she had been left out of the fun.  Will in his kindness did not want his little sister to feel bad, so he gave of his pile of cards to her in response to Abby's sadness.  Abby in turn wanted her brother to be as happy as she now was, and so she gave her two cards to Will in turn.  Both children did not see winning or being fair as important so much as enjoying each other’s company and wanting the other to be happy.  God was teaching me through the eyes and hearts of little children that love and caring was more important than rules and equality.  I was overjoyed by their kindness towards each other, and humbled at the same time.  God chose to use this simple game to teach daddy an important lesson on generosity and selfless acts of love.

Abby in the rain.
 It is easy to look at non-christians and see inequalities by all the wealth, fame and riches that they sometimes possess, and feel perhaps that God has forgotten about us. Sometimes in disillushionment we then turn and go the route that will bring those things we feel are lacking in our lives, and later find that they do not bring the happiness that we thought they would.  We are then saddened by our actions and wonder, “what was I thinking?”  These then are the some of the temptations that Christians go through, that is, wanting what others have.  I see that with children today, wanting things that they think will make them happy.  When they get it, they find the emptiness inside and say to them selves, “if I get that other toy, I will then be satisfied.”  The cycle goes on and on until they find that they have multitude of toys and are still feeling empty inside.  We as adults many times do that; we have to have that new house, car, boat, etc.  When we get it, we regretfully realize that we have one more thing to take care of and less time for the things that matter, God, family and self. 

With all things we should pray when feeling empty, seek God, read his word and ask him to reveal to us the source of our need.  He will never leave us without an answer to our desires.  Isaiah 58:11 Says, that he will satisfy your needs, and Philippians 4:19 relates, that God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 
One must keep in mind when seeking God that he will give to you those things that will make you happy, not necessarily the things that “you” think will make you contented.  Be open to what God wants for your life; then you will know the peace and happiness that goes beyond those things in this world that are so alluring, and sometimes damaging.

Fall scene at Pickwick Pond south of Winona
One event that comes to mind is that of the children of Israel in the desert.  After  leaving Egypt with Moses, they soon  began to complain for more.   They had a continual discontent, which culminated when getting near to the Promised Land. There the Israelites encountered obstacles that they felt were insurmountable.  Instead of trusting in God, they complained and wanted to go back to Egypt.  They had forgotten how they were treated in that country and even though they were abused and beaten, they figured they had 3 meals a day and thought they were better off than being dead under the feet of the giants they might encounter by going over the Jordan river.  The Israelites looked back to their past rather than trusting God for their deliverance, and so were never allowed to go into the Promised Land that God had waiting for them.  We too sometimes look back at our sinful past and think, “I really had it good then” and at times long for those days.  Satan wants us to believe that our sinful past was indeed better than what we have today.  Some of you might be going through trials and tribulations at present, and see your past as being better than what it is at present.  Seek God, and he will give to you all your needs and grant you the peace that passes all understanding.  Just like the little child who jumps into her father’s arms, she knows that her daddy's strong hands will catch her and not let her fall.  So our father will do this as well, he will never let us fall out of his loving arms if we take this leap of faith and trust him.
Isaiah 8:17  “I will put my trust in him.”


Abby and Will having fun in the rain.
I have to remind myself at times that faith is something that is exercised by will and not by the circumstances I find myself in.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Goals


New life among the field of wild daisies.
Today has been so wonderful and the sunlight is very nice to see again.  We enjoyed driving up to the Twin Cities, going to Cabela’s Outfitters and visiting a water park with our children.  In speaking of the water park, it was wonderful seeing Will and Abby enjoying themselves playing on the different water slides.  Anne went down with both our children on the tube slides.  She coaxed Abby into going down the big water slide and when they reached the top level which was about 5 stories off the ground, Abby became quiet.  Abby said to Anne as they were starting out that she was afraid of the high heights.  Anne then became apprehensive over Abby’s fears thinking this was perhaps not a good idea as they went speeding down the slide.  When they got to the bottom Abby announced, “ that made my tummy upset.”  Abby felt afterwards though that going down the slide was a “big girl” accomplishment.   

Visitor to our meadow.
It seems that way with us at times, we see the heights of the obstacles that we face and are overwhelmed with fear that paralyzes us into making any decisions that are effective in completing our goals.  We are tired from our climb to the top and now we are faced with the greatest challenge, that of confronting our greatest fear, completing the task at hand.  So what do we do next, walk back down the steps and resign our selves to the fact that being on the ground is good.  That is where it is predictable and safe, and is better than heading into the unknown, or do we plunge into the unfamiliar feet first. 

Celebrating Abby's 6th birthday.
I remember going to college for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the years of study ahead of me.  I looked at all the different classes I had to take in order to complete my degree.  After looking at the mountain of work ahead of me, it paralyzed me from making immediate decisions.  What was I to do, if I could not make it through higher math or some class that was difficult for me, I might have to drop out and quit, then what?  This would be embarrassing to say the least, and then there is another unknown facing me again, that is, another uncertain future.  What would I do then if this long-term challenge were not possible?  I felt overwhelmed into making even the smallest decision at that point.  Someone then gave me some very good advice, he said “Do not look at the whole picture, map out the general direction that you want to go and then let it take care of itself.  Next, look at the decisions that you must make today and this week, these are what are in your power to do.

First field trip!
Goals: When looking at your goals one must ask, “What must I do to accomplish my ultimate goal, to get to where I want to be, in this amount of time with the resources I have at hand?”  Breaking down your goal into workable amounts that are manageable is important.  Having a schedule allows for windows of flexibility within that plan.   Remember; write out a schedule that makes these immediate decisions possible in completing your tasks at hand.  This would include a daily schedule of jobs that need to be accomplished.  Then, after the week is done, write down your next week’s schedule and follow that with the week of tasks to be completed.  Breaking tasks into manageable groups is what makes the bigger undertakings possible. 

In looking back at my first year of college, it taught me several survival techniques.  Making out reasonable work schedules, keeping in mind my ultimate goal and building in my schedule a plan for unknown events.  Remember, due to these unknown factors coming your way, weekly adjustments need to be made, but the overall schedule is what allows for the bigger goals to be accomplished.

Inches from our cat Toby, chippy realizes she has made a life
changing decision.  She narrowly escapes due to Toby's
recent overeating experience at the cat dish.
When I choose to use college as an example, keep in mind for me it was an overwhelming task.  I believe that for many students who go to college, it is not the lack of intelligence that causes them to drop out.  Many very intelligent people smarter than myself have not completed their degrees.  For many, it was not being able to keep up with the amount of work given to them by not having a system of accomplishing daily and weekly requirements.  For others, it was not having any goals at all, or at least realistic objectives.


College is one set of circumstances that can be used in setting goals.  There are many challenges in life that are just as formidable.  Remember; break down your work into manageable amounts each day in working toward your ultimate goal.  If for example you want to be a teacher, farmer, mechanic or nurse, these are worthy careers to aspire to.  If you want to be kinder, happier and more loving, these too are admirable goals.  In whatever job or state of mind that you find yourself in, be the best that you can be.  Just remember, our work does not define who we are, it is our desires to be more than what we are that help us to be more complete as a person.  Keep in mind though; one must first set goals and a plan to take us there.


Household Tip of the Week:  Making a daily schedule of household duties that can be accomplished in 5 days can save one from a lot of stress.  For instance:  Monday~ Clean bathrooms,  Tuesday~Clean bedrooms, Wednesday~Clean Entryways, Thursday~Laundry, etc.
Most of you reading this have very busy weeks, I have found for myself, that by breaking down my household tasks, it eliminates a lot of stress by knowing that all of the house will be clean by the end of the week.



 
You're welcome to copy my photos. If one of my photos has inspired you, I'd love for you to leave me a note so I can enjoy seeing your project. But please don't copy my photos without first asking my permission. Thanks!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Change


Visitor to our meadow this morning.  Swallowtail Butterfly

First of all I want to take a moment and thank each of my readers for taking the time to follow my blog.  If at any time you wish to comment on anything I say, or reply to anything someone has said, please feel free to write in the comments sections on the bottom of the blog post.  I would love to hear from you and I am sure others would like to hear your comments as well.  Once again, thank you for taking the time to follow my writings.

Will's  birdhouse has a new renter.
This morning Anne and I were sitting on the porch enjoying the beauty of the morning, listening to our neighbors, (the birds) they were singing their morning chorus.  As we sat I listened to the crickets chirping away, (my favorite summer sound) as well as listening to the wind swaying the trees back and forth.  As I looked up at the majestic cottonwood tree that loomed over us, I watched a crow talking to another crow not to far away.  My thoughts went back two mornings ago when Abby announced to me that a crow in the same tree that we were looking at, was pregnant and was going to have babies.  I looked over at her and smiled and said, “Is that so!”   I then left my thoughts and presently watched the fluttering of the leaves of the cottonwood as the wind gently caressed it.  Watching the tree sway back and forth reminded me of being a little boy out at my grandma Anna’s farm.  I would walk out into the grove of trees and watch the giant cottonwoods sway back and forth in the wind.  That gentle memory has always been with me. 

New mother staying close to her baby.
Just like the mighty trees that sway with the wind, I am reminded that we too must go the direction that life is taking us.  Even though the mighty oak does not bend as does other trees, it usually is one of the first to suffer in high winds because of its stiffness.  I see that within myself at times, I too am unyielding to change when wanting things to remain as they are, but it is the way of things, to change.  God desires us to be willing to make the necessary transformations when the spirit moves in our lives.  If we do not, like God’s pillar of fire in the wilderness, his children had to make a choice, move with God or be left behind. 

Anne's Clematis by our porch.


Sometimes choices are difficult to make at times; 
especially when we have been doing something the same way for so many years.  God does give us the strength to make the changes when needed, if we ask him for this strength.  Sometimes the changes are necessary, not only for our benefit, but also for those around us. 

God bless you on the changes in your life today.  Augie


 
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Eye on a Sparrow: The Little Girl Who Gave Away Wild Daisies

Eye on a Sparrow: The Little Girl Who Gave Away Wild Daisies: "Wild Daisies and Queen Anne's Lace Yesterday was the annual picnic that was held out in the Watkins Senior Care Home. Abby and Will’s g..."

The Little Girl Who Gave Away Wild Daisies

Wild Daisies and Queen Anne's Lace

Yesterday was the annual picnic that was held out in the Watkins Senior Care Home.  Abby and Will’s great grandma is a resident there and we attend each year.  They had clowns walking around to entertain the children and live music, which was all quite entertaining.  This year Watkins’s had a family band that played for the visitors and residents, their music was wonderful.  As the afternoon progessed,  the clowns eventually made their way to Abby and Will and they in turn received balloons in the shapes of flowers and swords.  One particular clown spent an extended amount of time with Abby in particular.  They hit it off really well.  He made a flower for her out of some balloons and had shown her a magical coloring book.  Abby was quite entranced by his kindness.  Great grandma Marj and grandpa John and grandma Marji were visibly excited over seeing the relationship develop between and Abby and this kind man.  The clowns were so friendly and giving to the children, and it made Will and Abby and so many more children happy to interact with them. 

Abby finds so much joy around the wildflowers.
Before going to the event yesterday afternoon I was busy gardening and attending to our sad plants.  We had been gone for 4 days and the temperatures reached over 100 degrees at times, quite unusual for this time of year.   In comparison now we have unseasonably cool temperatures in the area with the high in the 50s instead of the oppressive heat that we had previously.  During the time that I was attending to the plants, Will was helping me by pulling weeds.  He is getting to be such a good helper, always wanting to do so much.  At times he desires to do more than his body and mind are capable of accomplishing.  Earlier in the day Will and I picked up mulch for the flowerbed and Will insisted he could carry each bag to the car from the cart.  I saw him strain under the load, but I also observed the pride in his face as he unloaded his heavy burden into the trunk of the car.  I will let him at times try to do what I realize is impossible for him, as long as I know it will not injure him.  I believe it is good for Will to know his capabilities as well as his limitations.  By trying to accomplish more, I want Will to see his confidence grow through these ventures.

Will actually had a finch check his bird house out, it seemed to get dizzy from the house spinning around and so left.  Though the event did not bring joy to the little bird, we laughed until our sides hurt.
When Will and I were attending to the flower garden earlier in the afternoon I looked up and saw Abby picking wild daisies on the hillside.  She informed me that she was taking them to the Watkins’s picnic in her backpack.  For me, knowing that a child’s ways are at times mysterious, I let my thoughts go and then resumed my weeding.  Later at the picnic our family was separated at a long table in which we sat.  Anne and Abby were seated on the other side of the table about 8 feet down from Will and I.  I would occasionally look over to make eye contact with Anne and I could see that she was having fun with Abby by her side.  At one point during the festivities I noticed that Abby was not sitting at the table next to Anne, and so with concern, I began looking around the large open-air tent for her.  I then saw Abby at the other end of pavilion; she was giving away a wild daisy to an elderly lady.  She was surprised when Abby approached her, and was taken a back when Abby gently reached for her hand and gave her the flower.  This gentle elderly lady then beamed a bright smile and Abby shyly smiled in return and then proceeded back to our table.  I looked over at Anne and I could see that she had followed Abby’s progress to the other end of the tent, and being her mother, Anne’s pride was fairly evident.  Thinking this to be a one-time event, I was surprised to see Abby reaching down to her backpack once again and begin handing out daisies to other adults and children who were attending the event.  Both Anne and I quietly watched Abby and noticed how each time that she gave a flower away; people were surprised and then elated that someone had given them this special gift.  One particular gentleman was involved in a standing conversation with some other men.  Abby then proceeded to tap on this man’s leg to get his attention.  He stopped his conversation abruptly and looked around after noticing this little girl below him, he knelt down to hear what this soft-spoken girl had to say.  I couldn’t hear the exchange, but he began to smile when Abby reached toward him with her daisy.  He pointed at the buttonhole in his shirt and he must have asked Abby to attach it to his collar.  She then reached up with some effort and put the flower in his shirt.  He then beamed and said something to Abby and then she quietly turned and proceeded to get another flower.  All in all Abby gave away around 15 flowers that afternoon.  For many she will always be known as the little flower girl who brought so much joy with one small gesture of kindness.  Needless to say her daddy and mommy were as surprised as the rest of her recipients and we were very proud of her as well. 

Early June sunrise greeted by the morning chorus of our feathered friends.
What came to mind when driving home yesterday afternoon was the request that we pray each night, “Father please allow our children to be a blessing to those that you bring into their lives tomorrow.”  I was humbled by how God answered our prayer in such an unusual way, bringing joy through such a simple act as giving away a little flower by this small girl.  I observed that hearts were changed yesterday by this kind gesture of Abby’s.  God not only blessed those present yesterday, He blessed her mother’s and my heart as well. 

Household Helpful Tip:  When adjusting your air conditioning system for the summer, open your register vents upstairs and then you might try closing your downstairs registers, that is, if you have an open stairwell going to the bottom levels.  Cold air drops and by this simple act, it will balance out your house in keeping the temperatures even on all levels and save you money as well.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Being a part of your child's life.

Having a wonderful time sleeping in a hotel foldout bed.

Today the temperatures have reached summer like heat indexes that are near oppressive in nature.  We as a family are presently visiting Fargo, North Dakota and it has reached in the 90s, which is quite unusual for this far north at this time of year.  On the other side of the coin though, it is nice to have the warmth needed to jumpstart the crops which for some areas being behind in their growth due to the cool temperatures in May.   The crops are just now being planted in this part of the country while just three weeks ago when in southern Texas; we found that they were about to harvest their wheat already.  It is interesting to see what differences there are from North Dakota to Texas. 

Will, Grandpa and I watching a heron in a santuary.
I have to say that it has been fun taking Will and Abby to Fargo and tomorrow we will be visiting Sioux Falls, South Dakota on the way home.  We have been going swimming everyday, visiting the various sites of interest for children and adults alike and tomorrow in Sioux Falls we will be taking the kids to the Science Discovery Center for children. 

Today we drove through downtown Fargo and we saw how they are remodeling the old buildings and making them look as they did when they were first built.  Businesses are starting to move back to the downtown and people are going back to the old style apartments as well, with all the modern conveniences in them of course.  It appears that we as a people want to revisit the old ways and enjoy what our parents and grandparents had with the traditional settings and surroundings.  I noticed that when staying at Maple Grove on the way to Fargo, that they too have rediscovered the old town concept as well.  Their malls have disappeared and the strip mall is not to be found.  They have built a community of small shops in the structure of the old small town shopping store districts.  Parking is diagonal in front of the stores that line both sides of the street and the store fronts remind me of the town of Jackson, Minnesota that I grew up in.  We as a family felt very comfortable shopping and eating in this environment.  It is such an attraction though that we found that the streets were very crowded and people were lined up in front of stores and restaurants to get in.  So, “what is this craving” for the past?

Uncle Stephen playing with Abby and Will.
I walked through one store today in Fargo that used to be an old hardware store; it has now been converted to a bookstore with nick knacks being sold there as well.  I observed that old toys that were popular 50 to 70 years ago are now making a resurgence once again.  Our children were excited to see these toys.  Abby got a harmonica while Will got a paddle boat toy that was originally designed by Leonardo Divinci.   The boat kit was of the design of the old Erector Set requiring Will to put the pieces together as Leonardo had first done. 

This started me thinking about what I have noticed with a trend that concerns me as of late.  Being in education for many years I observed that boys over time are being caught up in technical games such as Game Boys, Nintendo’s and now, computer games.   I noticed that businesses and farmers in the rural areas were and are having more and more difficult challenges in hiring young kids to work on their farms and in their businesses.  Many are caught up in playing these games at home after school and some have progressively substituted reality for the unreal world created by the games themselves.  I have observed that children are spending less and less time outside, whether in playing or working.  Is this a growing problem, I believe it is.  Some of these same children who are now young adults are caught up in these sophisticated computer games that are now monopolizing their time.  It is eating away their desire to form significant relationships in the outside world.
Family eating on the driveway together.

So one might ask, “What does a parent do to stop this downward spiral that they are seeing in their child?”  The answer unfortunately is not an easy one.  Each family has a different set of circumstances.  First, I believe that parents have to find the areas that are causing the greatest amount of concerns.  I stated in an earlier blog post that cutting back on the time that your child spends on the computer and game boys might be one possible avenue, but it isn’t the only answer that is needed.  One must first ask, “Why does my child spend so much time on the computer playing these games?”  Is it due to an addiction or is it something else?  I believe that with all compulsions it is not so much an obsession as one trying to fill an empty space in their life.  One must first ask, as their parent, “Am I doing all that I can to spend quality time with my child?”  Are they playing these games in an attempt to compensate for loneliness and isolation?   If that is the case, then perhaps we as their parent need to spend more time with them?  I see so many parents today taking kids to different events, but they are engrossed in their phones, talking to other adults and/or occupied with various distractions other than taking time to be with their children.

If we then discover as a parent that our priorities need to change in relationship to our child, then I believe that it has to be an event that is enjoyable to the youngster as well.  Sitting down with them and finding out their likes and dislikes are important in knowing what they would see as quality time with you.  On many occasions I have found with our kids, it is not going places that they like, so much as doing simple things with them.  Hide and seek, playing in the sandbox, riding bicycles, going to the park and playing on the Teeter Totter.  For older children obviously their venues for fun change, perhaps it might mean going for a walk with them and listening to them share with you their day.  Another area would be a popular movie as a start, and then going out for a pizza afterwards.  It doesn’t matter so much that the event is spectacular as meaningful.  Anne and I find that the more time we spend with our children, the more we find out what is important to them.  Our family enjoys, at times, going out for an inexpensive outing to a local coffee shop in our town, such as Blue Heron, Acoustic CafĂ© and or Blooming Grounds.  Our children get pop while we sip on our favorite coffee.  When doing these various outings, we take time to listen to Will and Abby tell us what is important to them in their day and they in turn listen to Anne and I talk about what is going on in our lives.   The important thing here again is not so much location as it is in genuinely taking time to visit and listen to them. 

My friend Gerry taking Will on the golf course.
One day a couple of years ago a friend of mine came to visit us at our home.  He is a child psychologist working for a school district some miles away.  When first arriving he was greeted eagerly by our children out on the driveway.  Instead of taking time to first shake hands with Anne and myself, and exchange pleasantries, he stopped when getting out of his car and knelt down and visited with our children first.  I stood back and watched my friend intently listen to what Abby and Will had to say.  I learned from watching him that day that children were just as important to him as adults.  Mike genuinely listened to what each child had to say to him, he really did listen.  He did not just nod his head with a passive gesture and say what the children wanted to hear.  Mike asked them questions about each thing that they brought up.  He listened for their response and gave them his undivided attention.  The children knew that he really cared about what they had to say, and Will and Abby responded with such joy when they came to realize that he really wanted to know more about them and what they had to share.  I thought to myself, here is a man who hasn’t seen my children in several months, but he is now catching up very quickly on the events in their lives.  Will and Abby also in turn responded to what Mike shared with them about himself.  They really wanted to know in turn more about this kind man who took time to listen to them. 

New visitor to our meadow.
So once again, is it events that children crave, I don’t believe so.  Children want adults in their lives to really listen to them and care for them.  I mentioned this once in an earlier blog post about a boy’s ranch that I worked at concerning caring.  Their motto was, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”   This is so true for parents, teachers and caregivers today.  Listen to your children and grandchildren, really listen to them and then find ways to spend time with them in the future.  In today’s world many parents are struggling to meet all the demands placed on them during the day.   Like Anne and I have discovered, we frequently have to step back and reevaluate the direction we are going and ask ourselves, “Is what we are doing for the benefit of the overall family?”  If it is not, we first pray and ask God for guidance.  We then sit down and talk about the direction we want to go for us as a family. 

Children are with us for so little time, just ask their grandparents. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

John 15:13 No greater love than a man has when he lays down his life for his friend.

 Today I awoke to a beautiful sunrise and a nice crisp feel in the air.  The temperature was in the 50’s and the brisk wind made it seem as if the fall was coming early.  I went out unto the golf course and enjoyed walking the fairways and watching the baby geese next to their proud parents.


After leaving the golf course I decided to stop at Hy Vee and get some donuts and Long Johns for the kids.  When entering the store I looked over into the eating area and found my friend Ray.  He is a WWII veteran who now is retired from the police force.  His wife passed away nine years ago and he lives alone.  One of his enjoyable parts of the day is eating breakfast at Hy Vee and relaxing while talking to his friends.  Much of the time Ray and I find ourselves talking about the military.  He shares a lot with me about his missions that he went on.  He spent much of his time on a PT boat in the Pacific during WWII.  His other training was that of special mission operations that involved rescuing down pilots on various Pacific islands and also that of various military covert operations.  He does not brag about his experiences in WWII, on the contrary, I can see the remorse and sadness in his eyes as he speaks.  It becomes therapeutic for him I believe to share these experiences with me and I enjoy hearing about the heroism of his military friends and of himself.  

Many bad things happened to the soldiers that Ray either rescued or could not save. Although the details of these stories are often disturbing, suffice it to say, in Ray’s time though in the military, he like many of his fellow servicemen saw death everyday.  Ray saw many of his friends and acquaintances die, and that of the enemy as well.  These stories of his war years that Ray shares with me, reveals much of man’s sacrifice in the heat of combat. 

A  birthday celebrated with great grandma Marji
When listening to Ray I can see and feel the pain that he went through in adjusting to civilian life after the war.  When getting back from the service his struggle was to acclimate to a “normal” life.  One of the adjustments Ray had was that of sleeping at night, feeling that if he did fall asleep, it might allow his thoughts to return to the literal hell he was in during the war.  Having his father touch his foot to wake him one morning, and almost hurting his dad before realizing that he was in his own bed at home again, was just one of his many adjustments to civilian life.  The war never leaves these men in what they have seen and were compelled to do in the heat of battle, that is in their self-sacrifice in their duty to our country.  Continually watching their friend’s die and those of other men that they never knew haunts these individuals almost every day.  Time though in its gentle touch, allows these silent unknown heroes to gain some semblance of peace as years go by, but the images of their pasts never completely leaves their thoughts.   Memories such as reaching down to pick up desperate sailors from the burning waters, who Ray knew would not last the night due to their injuries, haunt his memories to this day.  He went on rescue missions only to see that those Ray wanted to so desperately to save, had been tortured to death just before he and his men arrived.  Feeling the helplessness of life, trying so hard to hold on to the humanity that they so desperately wanted to preserve for themselves and their fellow soldiers and sailors.  These memories of so long ago refuse to let such men as Ray forget.  Ray like so many of his compatriots looked into death’s eyes each day, wanting desperately for the war to end.  They hoped that by each battle won, it would take them one step closer to going home and living a life once again that was sane and human. 

Newly built lego lighthouse.
Ray did get married and he became a police officer, he has lived his life the best that he could and now his challenges are of a different nature.  He has a bad hip and he struggles to get around each day.  He feels the pain not only from his past in WWII, but he also is experiencing the agony of his body not wanting it to do what he would ask of it. 

Today after listening to him share more of his military past, I felt an overwhelming thankfulness that there were and are men and women who place themselves in harm’s way in the service of our country to protect our way of life. 
Before leaving Ray today I reached over to him and shook his hand.  I told him that he was one of my heroes.  He along with so many others like him, men and women whose voices are now silent, they saved us so that we could live the lives that we so cherish.  It saddens me though to think of many who are growing up today who do not understand nor care about the freedoms that we enjoy, the sacrifices of the many thousands who gave their lives throughout our country’s history, so that we might possess the rights and freedoms we have today.  Somehow the realization of their supreme sacrifice has been lost along the way and we have relegated them and their heroic deeds to the forgotten resting places of history.  George Santayana once said, “ Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  If we as a country make a conscious choice to learn from men and women like Ray, who gave their all to secure our freedoms from those that strove to take them, then their sacrifices will not have been in vain. 

Please take time to tell those around you that have served in our Armed Forces how much you appreciate what they have done for you.  This will not only give them the honor due to them, it will allow them to heal within knowing that what they have done was not in vane.   It will let them know that you understand their sacrifice and the very precious gift they have given you and to all of us.