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.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Finding Joy

As adults we sometimes think of making grandiose adventures or completing some great project believing that they will make us happy.  Children continually teach us that it is in the simple things that we find true joy.
Truth is, daddy could not stand it any longer.  They shared their joy of sliding with me.  I found that joy is never in short supply, it multiplies when there are more to share it with.

Philippians 4:11-13,
“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

God Has a Plan

I look over towards the wall and see that the clock is saying that it is 5:59 a.m.  I am on vacation here in Disney World escaping the cold of Minnesota for a couple of weeks while making memories with my family.    

The sober truth of the fragility of life has been made so apparent to me these last few days.  When driving to Disney I witnessed a horrible accident that took the life of the driver and perhaps other family members as well.  The driver was not wearing a seat belt and I could see that as the vehicle had spun around he was not able to stay in the vehicle, and so perished.  The day that it happened was on Thanksgiving and this family was heading somewhere to have a special meal with loved ones, but instead, met an untimely end. 

Not meaning to make this message sound gloomy and disheartening; my hope though is to relay the fragility of life and how precious our time here on earth is.  We think many times that we will live forever, especially when we are young.  But as in all things in life, it too will end. 

Thinking back to my past, I was in a job as a school administrator many years ago.  I was trying to make a difference in children’s lives, but was finding it very challenging due to the difficulty in doing my job because of the people in power.  Deception, untruths and self seeking caused a string of administrators ahead of me to quit the job I now had.  I found that after one year of working there, life was just too impossible to continue in that environment.  I too was to become a casualty of the job, it made my life very hard to find peace in such a difficult place to work. You see, I had left God out of the decision making when taking the job.  Through much prayer after one very hard year there, I was determined to go in search of a better work environment.  It was not long that I found the job of my dreams in southwestern Minnesota as a middle school principal. 

Working there I was determined set it up as an environment of openness where each of us could work together for the sake of the children.  Each day I wanted to go home and feel that I made a difference in the lives of the children, and those whom I worked with.  I had a good boss as well who supported my ideas, some (ideas) were a little unconventional, but overall we made them work.  After two years there I thought I found the perfect place to live and work for the rest of my life.  The staff worked hard and I found that with many of them I could call them my friend.  I did not want to leave this place, but in all things God has a plan for us. 

One day while in Winona when going to church with my cousin and her husband I met the woman that was to be my wife.  When dating Anne, I found out that she had a bad heart, and probably would not live a full life as most of us do.   I loved her more than I could say and I wanted to spend the rest of our lives together for however long God had for us.  

When leaving my ideal job in which I had worked so hard for by going to school for so many years,  a previous superintendent who retired in town decided to stop by and speak to me.  He wanted to know why I was leaving and wondered if he could talk me into staying.  We spoke for some time and I told him that my wife to be was finishing a degree and I wanted to give her a chance to complete it uninterrupted.  He then asked me how I would live; I told him that I would bag groceries if needed.  I knew in my heart that if God could change my heart in what was important to me, he would also provide a way for us to live.  I did get a job teaching “At-Risk” children again as I had done years before.  The job just opened up in a town near my fiancĂ©.  God had a plan!

Anne and Abby
In a short few years of marriage, we lost our first child after 4 months of pregnancy. God helped us through this loss by strengthening our faith, and we came to realize once again that God still had a plan.  A couple of years later my son William came into the world.  God blessed us with a beautiful boy, but in his first moments of life he struggled to breath, he had a collapsed lung.  I
held on to his hand for 5 days as he struggled to breath under an oxygen tent, and he in turn held on to my finger.  At the end of this time, with many prayers given up to heaven, God was gracious with us and he healed our son’s lung.  Not only was this a miracle, we found out during this time some more good news.  A heart specialist told us that my wife Anne’s heart was now normal. 

Anne had extensive tests done in Chicago and they confirmed that she had a heart that would deteriorate in time.  Now the doctors were saying that her heart looked very normal.  Two miracles took place during this time.  God has a plan! I now have a wonderful boy who is sleeping a few feet away, as well as a beautiful little 8-year-old girl, Abby. 

God is teaching me that with each day he gives us, it is a gift.  Who he gives to us is also a gift that we should not take for granted.  Is life short and precious, yes it is.  I have found that as I look back and see God’s hand in my life I come to realize that he has a perfect plan for each of us.  Is it always easy, by no means!  Is it always without pain and loss, again no.  God promises us that he will never leave or forsake us and that he has a perfect plan for each of us.  Each day is a step of faith in walking with God.  Each day we need to pursue his will for our lives and desire to come before his presence in his loving grace.  We are human and we have many weaknesses and we make many mistakes, but God loves us and will forgive us for whatever we have done wrong, if we ask this of him.  He is a wonderful father who wants the very best for our lives.  He has a plan for each of us.

Jer 29:11  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Friday, December 6, 2013

Eye on a Sparrow: Making Funeral Arrangements Ahead of Time

Eye on a Sparrow: Making Funeral Arrangements Ahead of Time: In reading Mark 16 the scene lays out with Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James and Salome bringing spices to Jesus’ tomb.   Filled w...

Making Funeral Arrangements Ahead of Time

In reading Mark 16 the scene lays out with Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James and Salome bringing spices to Jesus’ tomb.  Filled with grief they hadn’t thought of the fact that it would be impossible to roll the stone away from Jesus’ tomb by themselves.  It is ordinary for people to go through these emotions during a time of great loss.  We find it difficult to think straight because we are filled with this flood of emotions that are hard to control.  Basic decisions are even hard to make during these times. 

Planning for burial can be a most traumatic thing for family when a loved one is near death or has died.  That is why it is important if possible, to make plans ahead of time.  In our society we have a tendency to want to avoid such topics.  We too many times are concerned about the challenges of life to think that it will one day end for ourselves, but it will eventually.  One though can make arrangements ahead of time with your local funeral home of your choice.  It will save your family the trauma of having to make these decisions after you have died. 

Many times families want for their loved one the very best funeral possible.  Emotions are riding high and feelings of loss and possibly regret compel one to do what is not prudent.  Elaborate coffins and vaults are bought that are a great financial drain later to the family.  By making preparations ahead of time for yourself, these issues can be resolved already for your loved ones.  

Some funeral homes have programs that you can put monthly installments into a fund that pays for your funeral.  If that is not possible, you can set up a savings program that will specifically cover such a cost at your bank.  In this direction, it is prudent to check with your funeral director to find out what the costs might be, and then it will be easier to put the right amount of savings aside. 

Another person that you should talk to is your pastor.  He/she coordinates the details of the service that will be given for you.  Music arrangements, food choices and costs for the meal and who will speak at the funeral can be covered at that time.  Again, this is a topic that we do not like to think about, but it is a loving act of kindness toward your family to prepare these items ahead of time if possible. 

Finally, if money is an issue for you or your family, some funeral homes have economy packages that can save you and your family from having to spend beyond your means.  These details can be covered with your funeral director when meeting with them.  Though it might seem a little hard to say, “Funerals are for the living, not the dead!”  A funeral director told this statement to me one day.  I puzzled over it for a while and then came to the conclusion that he was right.  It is a time to say goodbye, meet family and friends during this time of grief, and to share our hearts with loved ones.  We talk about the person that has died and share about our life with them.  It helps us to go on knowing that we are all carrying the loss together.