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.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Today

Steam paddle boat on the Mississippi near Winona.
The last couple of months I have been reading to our children the “Little House” series, “Little House On the Prairie,” and now the “Little House in the Woods.”  The author is Laura Ingalls Wilder who lived and wrote about her life as a little girl in several states while growing up in the 1800s.  The book “Little House in the Woods” takes place not to far from here in Pepin, Wisconsin.  It is about a 40-minute drive from Winona.  Yesterday we ate at Nelson, Wisconsin just south of Pepin.  As we sat outside the Nelson Creamery (restaurant), which is about 8 miles from Pepin, my thoughts went back to the time that Laura grew up in this area.  What beautiful scenery she must have enjoyed while living here.  The outdoors was wilder than it is today, and now it has few bears and no panthers as she called them, but the woods are still teaming with snakes, deer, wild turkey and smaller game.  As I read about her everyday life back in the late 1800s, I see how far technology has taken us since then. Yet, our ways of life have changed us in so many different respects, which makes it difficult at times, to understand Laura’s life and all the challenges that she went through.  Now we have the modern conveniences of electricity (not candles,) and roads made of pavement rather than dirt paths that Laura’s father’s wagon went through.  Cash was almost unheard then, whereas barter was common during those days.  Laura’s dad would bring in a winter’s cache of furs to trade for food and clothing supplies for his family, not to speak of the seed for next year’s crop of wheat for his horses and cattle.
Buck in our meadow in the autumn.
Today we rush to the grocery store for our sustenance, as well as the hardware stores for the needed things for home and garden, or farm.  During Laura’s time period, her father and brothers would get together to butcher their livestock once a year and salt it away, and/or smoke the meat for later winter food.  During those days, many would store their meat in the granary to keep it cool, and away from predators that might consume it before the family could eat it.  Today we have refrigerators and freezers to store our perishables and we don’t have to smoke or salt for our meat to keep it fresh. I must admit though that one of my neighbors has a meat smoker.  I would love to see him at work and learn his skills.
Pickwick Mill, ground flour during Laura's day
and still makes flour today.
During Laura’s day they had to store garden produce in the attic where it was dry.  They would spread the squash, pumpkins, peppers out, or hang them from the rafters for later use.  Sugar was held at a premium during her day as well.  White sugar was very expensive and used only for company when they could afford it.  In many cases, they would make sugar from the maple syrup that they gathered from the maple trees nearby.  In each situation, Laura would describe the process when they made something from scratch; to me it was very intriguing.  We have lost much in our modern day lifestyles, Laura’s way of life was simple, but it brought the families together in the chores that they did during their regular day.  It makes me think, have we progressed with all our conveniences today, or have we perhaps taken a step backwards?  Families were close in Laura’s time, are they today?  It makes me think, “Do we have the quality of life that they had then?”  Their daily lives were very hard and they did not have the medicines that we have today, but even though they might have lived shorter lives, did their existence hold more meaning than ours today?  Did they love deeper then? If so, could it have been due to the closeness of there lives one to another? What was it about that lifestyle which compels so many today to want to return to those times?  It certainly was not simpler, life was hard, but was it full of more life than what we experience today?  Questions to think about, pray about.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What God has taught me while being in church and Target.

Abby and cousin Nathaniel
Perhaps the last snow of the season.
Today I watched my children, on their own, ask adults to serve others at a church dinner.  Abby was then given a tray of ice cream to handout to the people at the tables.  I nudged Anne and pointed at Abby.  I was very proud of my little 6 year old, but then I began to be concerned that she would not be able to hold the tray upright for very long.  Just then Will came and they seemed to speak to one another without saying a word.  Will started to hand the bowls of ice cream to each individual while Abby smiled and held tight to the tray.  I started to relax when the tray began to empty out quickly.  Soon the ice cream was served to everyone, and Will and Abby went back to their places at the table and began to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  All this took place in a matter of minutes, but it taught me how natural it is for children to want to embrace responsibility in their desire to grow up.  As a parent, I took a deep breath and gave Abby and Will the chance to succeed or fail with this small step in their growing process.  I wanted with all my might to jump in and take over so that they would not have to go through the embarrassment of failure with many looking on.  I knew though that they must do this on their own, because it was important for them to take this step away from daddy and mommy in their ever growing process of becoming independent.  I realize though at the same time, when these steps take place, it is hard to see into the distant future, when one day they will walk out of our home and start a life for themselves.  The process is so gradual and natural that when the day comes for them to leave, we will wonder where the time had gone. 

Family vacations are made for this.
Yesterday, I looked at a little guy being held by his father at Target, and I think of when Will was that age, and next seeing a small girl pushing a shopping cart with all her might, that was Abby a short time ago.  There is a little sadness in my heart when I realize that my children are growing up so quickly.  Will now talks about black holes and quasars, and not to long ago, it was Thomas the Tank Engine.  Abby now speaks about planning a party with friends coming over to stay, and just yesterday it seems that she was getting her diaper changed. 

"What do you see?"
As much as we as parents want our children to remain small, there is also the desire to see them grow into responsible adults, and eventually have families of their own.  We are caught, it seems, in a paradox of feelings, one to hold on to our children and not want them to grow up, and the other being excited about their newfound maturity.  But with these feelings comes the realization that we must let them grow, and eventually set them free.  The pain is no less real for a parent to come to this realization though.  God has given them to us for a time as their mentors, caretakers and loving parents.  With God’s help and guidance we work to become the best parents that we can be for our children.  Over time we come to realize that what we teach them now will be carried to the next generation as well.  It will then be our heritage, to see the fruits of our labors being carried on to the next generation.   

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Coffee at Starbucks

Grandpa John and Will watching the soft shelled turtles at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Tx.
Yesterday, God reminded me how precious our children are, he chose to teach me through a little two year old boy.

As sit down in front of my computer I notice it is 5:32 a.m. and everyone is asleep, except our two cats, Toby and Kelly.  Kelly is a little over one year old and still acts much like a kitten.  She felt it her duty this morning to jump on our bed and try to wake us up by posting herself on Anne and purring vigorously.  After a couple of attempts to put her down off the bed, I shut the doors in an attempt to go back to sleep.  Just when I was about to doze off, the door started to slam again and again.  I got down on the floor and started to open it with the attempt to quiet Kelly with a hush.  While doing this, I noticed that Toby was by my side and she was wanting out of our room.  The little tuxedo kitty must have been sleeping on Anne’s leather chair without me noticing her.  I let her out and then I realized that it was too late for me to get back to sleep, so I got up.  I prayed for the day and then read some of the headlines for today.  They consisted of the improvements that doctors in Canada are doing in helping Alzheimer patients to retain their memory through electrical implants.  I read about the difficulty that Afghanistan is having in establishing its new system of law, and the eliminating of the harsh Islamic law that pervades mostly in the more remote areas of Afghanistan.  I also read about gardening techniques for planting one’s garden in the spring, as well as that of when to prune one’s trees. 

Will took this.  Anne with her sister Gayle, from Texas.
I now look down at the cloth chairs that my (mostly Scandinavian) sweetheart Anne got from Ikea and notice that Toby is lying next to me on the nearest chair.  She is grooming herself with vigor and I see that she is up, if not for the day, at least for a couple of hours before her next catnap.  I find that in the quiet hours of the morning I can sort out things more clearly compared to that of during the hustle and bustle of the day, when needs and wants are addressed with certain frequency.  As with so many early mornings of kitties being my alarm clock, I find a quiet solitude of having the darkness outside, it being my comforting blanket that shrouds me from the busyness of life.  This time of the day my thoughts go back just a few short years ago, and I discover that my children are growing up very quickly.  And with that, I am trying to visualize what they were like just a handful of years ago. 

Abby and Will at Padre Island (with friend of course.)
Last night after a very busy day, I asked Anne if she would not mind putting the kids to bed while I stepped out to go to Starbucks, to sit down by myself and drink a cup of coffee and read the newspaper.  She smiled and said, “Of course not, I would not mind, enjoy yourself.”
Abby and her cousin, Nathaniel.
Helping the captain out.
As I sat down with the paper in front of me, I looked up and saw a little two-year-old boy sitting in a cart with his daddy who was standing by him.  His father was ordering a coffee while the little boy was saying hi to attendant named “Anne” behind the counter.  I was surprised to see that the small boy was so open with her, as well as his father when talking.  The small boy next asked the attendant if she had a sticker.  She responded with a smile and said, “Yes I do, a coffee sticker.”  The little boy next asked her if he could have some coffee, and with that, his daddy told him that he was too young.  “Mommy is getting you a Icee instead, from the food court.”  He then received his sticker and his daddy said to the little boy, “What do you say?”  The child smiled and then responded by saying, “Thank you!”  Watching this scenario through the corner of my eye while reading the paper, made me miss my not so little boy and girl at home.  My thoughts went back to Will when he was that age.  Where does time go?  Will, now is 9 and he is almost 5 feet tall.  It seems that when we buy him a pair of pants or pajamas, they become to short within a breath of time.  Then I look up at this little happy boy in front of me at Starbucks, and I cannot wait to get home to be with Will and his little 6-year-old sister, Abby.  I come to an understanding by watching this little drama of life taking place, that our children do not stay small as we would sometimes like, they grow up too quickly.  I find myself putting the rest of the newspaper away on the shelf, thanking the attendant for the coffee, and quickly getting my list of groceries and supplies and then rushing home.  My children are just heading downstairs when I arrive, and I notice when looking at my watch that I hadn’t been gone long at all, it just seemed like a lifetime.  Walking over to Anne, I kiss her with tenderness and love.  I then catch my children going down the steps and give them hugs and kisses as well.  I think, reading a newspaper can be a good thing!  God has truly blessed me more than I can say.