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.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Innocense - Through the Eyes of a Child

Several weeks ago I was out of town on a trip.  While I was gone Anne had her family over for supper one evening.  While they were eating the evening meal, my 5 year old daughter Abby spilled some food on the floor, which in turn created a little mess in her area.  One family member looked over at Abby and said, "Now Abby, what have we learned here?"  Abby quickly responded, "I haven't learned anything, my daddy is my teacher and he is gone right now."  Anne told me of this funny incident when I got home.  We laughed together over how a little child's mind operates at times in such a different way than ours.  In Abby's thoughts, she knew that I was her homeschool instructor and she did not learn anything without her daddy teaching her.

Children see life in much simpler terms than we as adults do, we look at the complexities of life and many times are overwhelmed by what is taking place, and as well, afraid of what might happen in the future.  Children on the other hand look directly at what is before them and work out the difficulty by seeing the problem for what it is.  In their innocence, they face each situation with honesty and a gentleness that we adults can learn from.  Two children seeing each other for the first time on the playground somehow know whether they like each other or not, and they say what is on their minds with no pretense, "I like you Billy!"  We as adults on the other hand view others with scrutiny long before we commit to any friendship, we have a history, that is as adults we put up barriers of protection around ourselves that don't allow us to be hurt by others.  We must be absolutely sure how much we can reveal to a new acquaintance, because we have been hurt in the past by revealing too much too fast.  What has happened to us through out the years that we have lost that innocence and trust with each other?

Last night Anne made an observation about our son Will.  We had been talking about how each night Will comes to our room before he goes to bed.  He builds us some lego toy or elaborate game for each of us to play with while he is asleep.  After Will has gone to bed, we sometimes smile to ourselves over the efforts that he puts into these games that he constructs for us.  Last night after building one of these games, Will gently smiled while handing it over to us and then, when leaving, he turned to us and his face shown with such an expression of satisfaction and happiness.  When almost out of sight, Will then turned around at the last second and came back to us.  He wanted to share more information on how to play his new game and at the end of this new set of instructions, he slowly turned away walking into the shadows with a big smile on his face.  

Anne said that it was wonderful how Will sees that providing us with games to play brought him so much joy.  She then said something that made me think.  "Will feels safe in doing this for us, knowing that we will not reject him or laugh 'at' him for his efforts of love."  That got me thinking in how we as parents and guardians of children have such an awesome responsibility to protect our children and to make them feel safe and secure in who they are and what they do.  This affirmation that we give them each day only reinforces their own identity and allows them the chance to become a trusting adult, that looks at each individual with open eyes that first sees the best in that person, rather than the worst.  Fear is not a part of their world as children, when they as little ones know that a father and mother first accept them unbarred and love them, without any conditions placed on them for this acceptance.  Our children then can grow into our world looking at their futures with hope and confidence.  

I was blessed to marry such an adult, Anne is trusting of others and cares for them.  Although she is not naive in how life can be painful and hurtful, she knows that caring and love can overcome these things.  I watch how Anne interacts with our children and how she elicits their trust and affection, and I have learned from her things that were alien to me.  She is ever supportive of our children and uses each challenge not as a road block, but as a reason to trust and believe in an outcome that is good.  I see that her faith as an adult was given to her as a child by her parents who love her unconditionally and would do anything for her.  The strength and hope that Anne possesses was first instilled in her by her loving parents.  They patiently taught her the intricacies of life and how to trust and accept others, by first seeing what is inside them and the potential each individual has.  I have been married now 11 years and look at this time with Anne as an honor and privilege to be her husband.  I have learned so much from her in being able to see life again through the eyes of child.  I have also learned trust, compassion, openness, and caring from Anne.  'I am' seeing life more like a child than I ever have before.  

I am reminded what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 18:3, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  
My journey in becoming an adult was ever present in my mind when I was a child growing up, that was what I strived for.  Now I see that my goal is to become like a child once again.  Through Christ's Holy Spirit, he teaches us these things that we must know and do, to become that what we cannot on our own.  By sitting before Jesus and asking him to teach us how to be a child again, our wonderful journey begins.  
Pickwick Mill Falls

Uncertain Futures

Today heralds the first days of fall with the trees showing signs of change.  I can now look out on the deck and see the multiple shades of colors beginning to reveal themselves in the beautiful tapestry of fall.   What a wonderful world we live in, and we are given the command by God to care for this world, much the same way as we do for our families.  In today's world, we find that many of us are struggling to do both, the cares and worries of work and paying for the lives that we have made for ourselves, we now find are overwhelming to say the least.  Job uncertainties along with the devalued dollar create for us stress that is sometimes incomprehensible.  What is the answer to these complexities of life, are we to continue worrying about all these things, or is there a better way?  

For our family, we have gone through these things.  Not to long ago, we were looking at the possibility of losing our home due to the lack of income coming in.  On top of this, Anne is to lose her status as full time instructor at the end of this school year, due to policies set forth many years ago by Winona State University for staff with a Master's degree.  We initially fretted over the possible outcomes and then we gave it the Lord.  I remembered the analogy about the swimmer who struggled with staying afloat.  The rescuer waits until the swimmer's strength is almost gone, he then is free to save him, otherwise both the swimmer and rescuer will drown in the swimmer's panic to stay afloat. 

 God does the same for us, doesn't he.  When we as a couple had quit struggling and asked for help, we noticed that God was free to open up His storehouse of possibilities.  Work started to come in with teaching online and the chance to teach enough classes to meet our needs was given with an online university opened up for Anne.  This will, in the future, allow her next year to be at home, (answer to prayer) and be with the kids and I.  One person once told me that God is never early, but he is never late either.  I recall in Revelation 3:20 the passage that has Jesus standing at the door knocking.  This scripture verse has been used many times in messages to us saying that he is calling the unsaved to be Christians, but in reality, Jesus is knocking at the door not of unbelievers, but of Christians like us, asking them (and us) to hear his voice, to invite Him into our lives.  He knocks gently at our door and we only need to listen for his gentle presence, so we can invite him into our hearts, and help us with our individual needs.  Jesus talks to us about not worrying about such things as the world does.  He says that even when a sparrow falls from the sky, he knows.  Jesus reminds us in Luke 12:27 that even Solomon in all his glory could not compete with the beauty of the lily's of the field that he (God) provided for us.   So, if Jesus provides for nature around us, He will give to us what we need.  We as his children need to remember, if we give to Him our cares and worries, and believe that he will provide for our individual needs.  God "will" open his storehouse to us.   

There have been times in my life I have struggled to believe that there is a way out.  I have had to admit that I lacked the faith to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I saw it only as a train coming at me in retrospect.  During those times of unbelief, how I struggled to find a way out of my circumstance.  When looking at all my options and finding only a wall, I was faced with the fact that I could not find a way.  Oh how much easier it would have been for me to lay my cares before Jesus in the beginning.  It is difficult at times to know the responsibilities that we are given versus that of God's.  Sometimes I see people waiting in the harbor to see God act for them first before going out to sea.  I once read that in a storm, the harbor is sometimes not the best place for a ship, it must get into the storm and face it directly in order to be saved from shipwreck.  But, sometimes like Jesus' disciples in the stormy waters, we struggle with all our might to beat the tumult of waves around us, and find that we are sinking.  Jesus walked on water to save his disciples, and He waits for us to invite him into our boat, to save us as well from our overwhelming problems, he does care for us.  

Are you feeling a lack of faith right now, ask Jesus for it.  There have been times that I felt that I did not possess the right amount of faith to believe. During those times, I remembered the passage in Mark 9:24 where the father said to Jesus, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief."  Jesus doesn't expect us to be complete in our faith, but through these challenges we face, we have the opportunity to grow if we allow Jesus to teach us.  I recall a passage from the book, Brother Andrew Behind the Iron Curtain, he talks about his faith or should I say, lack of it.  He believed that Jesus was leading him to deliver his word to a world of unbelievers and that God would help him.  What Andrew didn't know that God would be teaching him how to walk in a greater faith.  The people that he was reaching answered his questions about how they met each week for Bible study.  They told him that they could not write to each other with the times and places because the mail was monitored, the same was true with phone calls.  This amazed Brother Andrew so he asked them, "How then do you know when and where to meet?"  They told him that they prayed as individuals, waited for Jesus to speak to them and tell them times and places to meet.  Every time the location was right.  They also told Brother Andrew that that is how they were meeting him in this dark alley to collect Andrew's Bibles, Jesus told them the location and time to where to meet meet him .  They told Andrew that he was the answer to their prayers for Bibles.  Andrew realized how much more his faith needed to grow, God was giving the opportunity for Andrew to believe that God cares even in the minuet details.  

For each of us God does not always give us the complete picture of what is to take place, sometimes it is only in bits and pieces.  We struggle at times in wondering why, "Why can't I see the whole picture?"  Why must I trust daily for my needs to be met when so much rides on the
outcome?  Sometimes I have felt, "Well, it might work for some to have that formulaic faith, trust and then you will get what you need, but I am not that way."  During these times I have found that it is so important to take the time and talk to Jesus, share your frustrations and He will listen to you, for He cares.  Talk to him in your car, your walk, your work place, wherever you are at, Jesus will listen to you and help you.  Be honest with your feeling with him, God is the best listener in the world.  He wants you to be honest and to be yourself.  He truly cares about you.  

Have a wonderful weekend!  Augie


Today is raining a light mist as I sit here at the computer in my warm room.  In looking out at the bluffs in the distance, I see the beginnings of fall revealing itself by the turning of the trees.  As I look at the falling leaves, I think also of the last week and ponder over events that have just taken place.  Like the turning of the seasons, we too go through the changes of our lives. 

 In the spring we are born to the newness of life and all the treasures that it holds, and soon summer approaches, challenging us with all the complexities of life.  Our bodies we see too are evolving and we sense a newness of change upon us again.  We are starting to act and think as the adults around us, wanting so desperately to be like them, to leave our childhood behind us.  We want to dress like adults and to seek the avenues of our life's work, just like our parents and the grownups we admire.  Soon we discover that the years have gone by so fast in raising our children and saving for our retirement.  We begin to look back at life rather than ahead, and we sometimes wonder that if we would have done this or that, would our lives be different today?  We think of our old friends and acquaintances and wonder what might have happened to them, did they fulfill all their dreams that they told us about so long ago?  

On these cloudy days we might feel a little sad and think of loved ones and friends that have died so unexpectantly.  Why did this happen to them, they did not get the chances we were given, why?  We feel regret and a little sad for them and for ourselves for the gaps they have left in our lives.  We go back to our home town and realize as we stand at the graveside of our friend or family member and look around us and think, " I have more family and friends lying out here than in town!"  We feel somewhat lost and lonely, sometimes perhaps feeling a little left behind and wonder," why?"  Life brings with it changes that sometimes lift us up to the heavens above and again there are times that we feel so sad, that it may seem impossible to see through tomorrow.  

These are the times that I am choosing to believe that even though I cannot see through the clouds of life, I know that beyond that, is the sun.  An elderly close friend named Gerry who is now 85 has been such an inspiration to me.  He still golfs several times a week and works about one to two days a week at the furnishing store that he once owned.  He cooks for about 30 men every Wednesday at his church's Bible study, and as well, he gets up at 3 a.m. every day to read God's word and pray.  He helps his 88 year old wife in many chores around the house, since she is very incapacitated and he feels that his place is to make her happy and comfortable as much as possible.  He is a man that has lost one of his two sons, several years ago to cancer, and yet, as he tells me, he knows that he will see him one day in heaven.  Gerry has a positive attitude about most things and he has a smile for anyone he meets.  Eating breakfast with him each Saturday at HyVee, I see many people come up to Gerry and they talk about many things that are taking place in their lives with him.  Gerry is a good listener who genuinely cares about the people he meets every day.  His life is spent in God's service either at work or in his private life.  He prays for many people everyday and does so privately.  Once in a while, I find out about Gerry's life by asking questions of him, in wanting to know more about this wonderful man.  God has brought us together as friends, and we are only separated by years.  I feel so honored to be able to call him, my friend.  

 I kidded with Gerry one day on the golf course recently, I told him that I appreciated his friendship and wanted to be just like him when I grew up.  Secretly, I do want to be just like him.  He looks ahead, taking little time to look back, but when he does, it is in only doing so with the desire of wanting to be a better person.  Gerry is humble and hardly ever speaks of himself, and looks at life realistically, seeing his own limitations, but not letting them hold him back.  He chooses to see life as exciting and does not let the bumps in the road keep him from using these to better himself.  He bares his grief, but has learned to give it to God and ask Him to take it, realizing that it is too heavy for him to carry alone.  Gerry has learned to let God take his shortcomings and shape him into a humble, kind and gentle soul that he is.  God has also taught Gerry that, "A bruised reed I will not break."  He has learned from our Savior that all fall short of God's expectations and only Jesus can help him to be the person He wants us all to be.  

I am reminded of the seed that grows through the soil, it must break the hard crust above before becoming the plant it was born to be.  But, in pushing hard to enter its new life, the roots have formed during this struggle in giving it the strength it needs to push the hard surface soil away.  And with this extensive root system formed, it later provides the nutrients that the plant needs to survive as it enters its new phase of life as a full grown plant.  Likewise, our own struggles are there to help us grow and become the person God wants us to be and become, that is, if we invite our Lord to help us.  I am reminded of the children's song from Sunday school, . . . "I am weak but you are strong". . .    I am weak dear Jesus, be my strength today, for you have said that you will carry our burdens if we ask."  
Gerry has learned this wonderful secret that God has kept from the world who are not seeking Him, that God is our strength and wisdom, when we seek him out.   

Have a wonderful day and week ahead!  Augie

Finding Joy in our Day

Today I awoke and found that I had overslept and while looking out the window, I saw the sun was rising in the East with a beautiful red glow.  A little later, Anne and I went out on to the porch and had our usual ritual of coffee and homemade toast and strawberry jam that Anne had made.  We spoke about how the weather was beginning to change and how fall smells were in the air.  As we talked, we watched our family of hummingbirds at the feeder and on the flowers.  In the meantime, Toby our cat was putting her paws on the screen door asking to come outside, Anne then reached over and opened the door and Tobi walked through the doorway all the while meowing her thanks.  After asking for a few strokes of our hands on her back and jaw, she proceeded to go hunting.  In no time, Tobi caught a field mouse and then returned slowly walking back towards Anne.  I could see what was about to unfold.  Tobi came up to Anne and was ready to jump up on her lap and give the squirming mouse to her.  Seeing about what was to transpire, Anne pulled her legs quickly back off the floor, and after I silently chuckled over the situation, I grabbed Toby and took her and the mouse back out onto the sidewalk.  Toby had it in her mind that Anne would like to eat her new catch, the only individuals that did not see the humor in the situation was Anne, and of course, the mouse.  While carrying the odd couple away from Anne, the mouse fell from Toby's mouth and it quickly scurried away, again towards Anne.  Just before reaching the steps, it dashed under the porch.  Anne then started laughing at what had happened and we all contemplated what could have been.  

Later as we started talking about other things,  all the while Toby was again beginning to stalk other prey.  We later noticed her starting to meow as if she were frightened, and we then observed a small wren was chirping at Toby from our picnic table.  Tobi actually was afraid and starting running to the porch for safety.  Meanwhile, the wren followed Toby back chattering away at this fallen giant.  Toby had gone from being congratulated a minute before for catching a large field mouse, which was oddly the same size as the wren, and now she found herself cowering before this tiny winged predator.  Anne and I both laughed at this scene.  I then shared with Anne what Will and I saw a couple of days before.  There was a small hummingbird circling our pear tree chasing a chickadee.  At the time I pondered over this odd event, a bird chasing another half its size.  The chickadee then landed on a branch and rested, the hummingbird then followed suit.  A little while later we witnessed the same scene, only this time the chickadee began chasing the  hummingbird.  I then realized that they were playing tag.  I was pleasantly amused over the scene unfolding before me.  Later I watched the chickadee drinking from the hummingbird tube feeder and thought that rather odd.  What a surprising relationship they had with each other.  Again, later in the day I was passing by the chickadee feeder and noticed the hummingbird circling the chickadee while the it ate perched on the chickadee feeder.  It looked like it was pleading with the chickadee to come and play.  It is so wonderful to see that God's animals have so much fun in their everyday life.  

Too many times we focus on the weekend for our fun, or in the long term, retirement. We then miss out on the adventure before us.  Perhaps you are like me at times,  occasionally I look at the task before me and set my face like flint, and start my work with the endeavor of finishing it with all my drive and will.  All I have to do at these times is to look over and see my children doing their tasks, they are having so much fun in their work because they have found joy in what they doing.  Perhaps we can learn from nature, "and" our children.  Look at the work before you today, try to see the enjoyable side to what you are accomplishing, all the while try to discover the "fun" element in the tasks before you.  Have a day filled with joy in all that you do!  God Bless, Augie


Today has turned out to be a very wonderful day.  I mostly go out golfing early in the morning before everyone has gotten up, usually a little after sunrise.  Today I was on the golf course walking by myself.  I spend this time praising God and spending time also in prayer for people.  Today as I was finishing up on hole 9, I noticed a man treking around the pond walking towards me.  I quick took my tee shot before there was a chance of hitting him.  Once in awhile I see people walking the course just for exercise and this morning I thought that it was one of those situations where another individual was doing just that, getting his workout.  As he approached I saw that his head was down and the bill of his hat was concealing his face.  As he got close to me he lifted his head and I could see that it was my friend Mike.  He worked with me in New Ulm when I was getting the Alternative school started there.  We have kept track of each other over the years and he recently told me that he was working for a school district southwest of Rochester.  I was so happy to hear that he will be within a half day driving distance from me.  Mike and his wife Ilene both have such a gentle spirit and they both love the Lord and are active in serving him.  

Like most of us, we have many people that we know, but few that are close friends.  I remember a study that was done once about the number of people that the average person considers as close. They found in the study on average that we can put about 5 people in that category, that is aside from family.  God at times brings individuals into our lives, either by our work, sports, family or church.  Our circle of friendship revolves around the people that we spend the most time with.  I once heard it said that we can judge our friendships as a reflective quality of our individual self.  In other words, our friends are very much like ourselves, sharing the same beliefs, desires and concerns.  As we grow in our lives we find that our friendships change as well.  Sometimes we leave certain friends behind because we don't share the same beliefs and values anymore, whereas in other cases, others have gone different directions due to changes in their lives.  At times, changes they have taken have caused them to go in difficult directions while on other occasions, they have matured in Christ and are searching for a deeper relationship with Jesus.  By sharing with my friends this morning at breakfast and hearing from them about their lives, I too am reflecting on my walk in life and where God has taken me and where I would like it to go from here.  I believe with all my heart that having these friends are ways that God causes us to grow and reach out beyond our present limitations.  Sometimes they challange us to do more or be better at what we say and do.  At other times they challenge us to go in the direction 
where God wants us to be.

Once when I was young I was having problems with a new friend that I made.  He was doing and saying bad things and that disturbed me greatly.  My dad told me when I was discussing with him my dilemma, he said "Augie, in choosing a friend you have to ask yourself, is he helping you to be better or is he making you worse?  When asking this question you to must look at this also, are you changing into someone you can respect or do you find that you don't like who you are when you are with him?   If you can answer this that he is helping you to be better, then you have a good friendship.  On the other hand, if he changing you into someone that you cannot respect, then it is time to end that relationship."  Dad was of course right in helping me to be introspective.  I have found that it was a bad relationship because I was doing things for the sake of our friendship that I knew was harmful to me and so I ended our relationship at that point.  Sometimes we hold onto friends that are bad for us because we are afraid of being alone and lonely.  While at other times we keep them because we might think that we will never find another friend that is better.  God will provide for you,  in the gospel of John it says "If you ask for anything in my name, I will give it to you."

In seeking God for direction concerning this, I have found that I have never been disappointed in having the friends that God has given me.  Several times I have been very surprised in these friends that He brings my way.  One such friend is a man who is 85 that I golf with, his name is Gerry.  He is a Godly man who wakes up early every morning around 3 a.m.  He reads God's word and prays for individuals and situations during this time. As it turns out, Gerry's best friend had died just before I met Gerry.  His friend had the same occupation as me and as I have been told, he was a lot like me.  Later Gerry's wife, Merrial later revealed to Gerry that she had been praying for a close friend for him.  God had heard her prayers and He brought us together.  Funny thing was that I was praying at the same time for such a friend.  We golf together once a week and have breakfast at HyVee afterwards.  We share concerns and agree to pray for the other's requests.  If you are wanting a close friend, I know that God will honor your request and He will give you that person as He did for me.  Have a great week!  Augie