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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Veterans Memorial Park
Veterans' Memorial Park near Lake Winona.  I have noticed that people in Winona feel a deep gratitude for those who have served in the Military.  I am touched every time that I drive past these monuments commemorating the sacrifices these men and women have made in the service of their country.  I am also reminded of what their families have given up.

Mothers, fathers, grandfathers and/or grandmothers are absent today.  They have died in the many wars defending our country, as well as the rights of others we will never come to know.  Many children will not have the arms of those loved ones to hold them or comfort them as they grow up.  These families' sacrifices are not noticed because their tears are shed in the silence of darkness.  They too have given so much for us today.  If you meet such a family or know of one, it would be good to thank them for what they too have sacrificed for each of us.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Pocket Watch

Abby, Anne and Will
In the past when I was single I spent the little extra time I had, hunting with my brother Ken.  It was a wonderful pastime and I enjoyed being with my brother.  We had many years together with this hobby and it was fun.  But with all things, “time” changes circumstances.  Ken moved out west to Wyoming and he started a new life out there.  I on the hand had found that my world was changing as well.  I was about to meet the love I had thought would never be.  Her name was Anne Gustafson.

My thoughts go back to my first Christmas with Anne, 15 years ago.  I had left my job as a principal in St. James and took a new position teaching once again.  I was working, as before, with At-Risk children as I had in New Ulm and Sioux Falls.  Now I was at two small alternative schools about 12 miles apart.  During that time, I was going to grad school on weeknights and/or weekends while Anne was finishing her degree at Winona State University.  We were pretty much broke with little money for anything. 

During the day I was teaching, and at night I was busy writing curriculum for both of the small alternative schools, that is, when I was not studying myself.  Between changing jobs and being newly married, I found it very demanding to say the least.  

Anne on the other hand was busy with her college studies, and that of being a new wife and homemaker.  We had a small apartment, one that I resided at when going to college years before.  During this time, I would watch Anne struggle with making her different dishes, and with the limited hand tools at her disposal.  She never complained, she always had a smile and loved cooking for me.  Watching her in the kitchen, I knew then what to buy her for Christmas, but the problem was, “Where was I going to get the money to purchase this present?”  Then it came to me, I saw the chance to give up something of value.  Christmas soon came and Anne excitedly tore open her present, and as she looked down, Anne saw before her a new mixer that she had wanted so badly, but never spoke openly about it to me.  I would see her look at the photo of the mixer when flyers came to our door, she would then quietly put the advertisement down and go back to our small kitchen and begin supper.  Now she was looking at this mixer and wondering how it was possible that I could have got it.  I told her that I taken some of my guns and sold them. 
She then cried because she knew how much I loved them. 

I then opened my gift that she gave to me.  It was a pocket watch.  Somehow she knew, and like Anne did with me, I asked how she did it.  I found out that she saved every little penny and went without for a very long time to get this beautiful pocket watch.  I recall telling Anne when on one of our first dates, about how my grandfather and grandma met at a barn dance.  There was a break in the music, so,  grandma Anna went to sit with friends on the barn steps, and when there was lull in conversation, Anna asked what that ticking sound was.  It was my grandpa August’s pocket watch.  It was the beginning of their life together that brought with it many wonderful children and years of happiness for them, and it all started with a pocket watch much like the one Anne just gave to me.  After recalling all these things, I lovingly looked over at my new bride and I too choked back tears when eyeing this wonderful gift that she gave me.  It was the beginning of our life together, one that I am so blessed by God to have. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wrapping Paper


The other day I was shopping with Abby and Will at Target.  Abby wanted to pick out some Christmas wrapping paper on this particular day since it was getting close to Christmas.  There were several aisles of wrapping paper and it was a little confusing when looking at all the patterns and designs.  I thought it best at that point to let Abby make the choice as to which one to get.  Will and I were not as interested at the time when choosing as Abby seemed to be.  For her, it was an adventure.

When it came time to choose, Abby brought me a beautiful tube of glittering gold wrapping paper.  I was impressed with her choice, that is, until I looked at the price.  There was little paper on the roll at a rather high cost.  At that point my interest was sparked and we discussed the options, and then we started to see if there were any others that were cheaper and had more paper for about the same price.  After looking for several more minutes, Abby brought to me a roll of paper that held three times the amount as the previous roll that she showed me, all for about the same price.  We settled on this roll, which gave me a chance to speak with them about people and wrapping paper.

I asked Abby if she liked the wrapping paper that we picked out and she said that she did.  I mentioned to her that her first choice was awesome and that the paper was very beautiful.  Abby responded by saying, “But daddy, it was too expensive and this will do fine.”  This led me into telling them that people are a lot like wrapping paper.  Both looked at me rather quizzically as if to think out loud, “Perhaps daddy spent too much time in the wrapping paper aisle?” 

Clearing my throat, I started to say that people are much the same as the paper we just saw.  There are some individuals that are like the beautiful paper that we first looked at.  They have a lot of surface beauty on the outside, but they don’t have much substance.  About that time both children glanced over at me with questioning looks that told me that I needed to explain things in more depth.

Repeating my earlier statement to them about substance and beauty, I continued to say, “Some people strive for outward beauty while their lives are filled with their own wants, and they have little time for people in their lives, other than to meet their own needs.  People outside their world do not hold value in their estimation.”  I could tell at this point that I had sparked their curiosity so I continued. 

“You see kids, these individuals many times are catered to by the world because of their outward beauty, much like movie stars and the like.  Some of them are handed much and give little in return.  On the other hand, there are some who have rather average appearances on the outside, much like the paper that we decided on, and they surprise us with a lot of substance, and they ask for little in return.”

“What do you mean daddy, are you saying that I shouldn’t try to look pretty?”  I looked over at Abby and said, “No sweetheart, it is good to look pretty, but strive to have a beautiful and caring heart as well.”

“You see kids, just like the plain paper that we bought, it will be thrown away or put into the fireplace after we have opened the presents.  The paper only covered that which was of real value, and that was under the wrapping paper.  The real treasure was not in the paper.  That does not hold any value; it is that which is on the inside that counts.  The same can be said about people that we meet.  When we find a person who is kind and loving, we hold on to that friendship, because that is where real beauty lies, that which is in the heart and mind. 

“Are you saying then that mommy was not pretty when you met her?”  “No, not in the least sweetheart, she was and is very beautiful, and that is what first drew me to her, but it was that which was in her heart that made me fall in love with her.”
Great grandma Marjie, Abby and Anne

“You see children, when we die and go to heaven, that which is in our hearts, along with our souls, will go with us and that is what lasts for eternity.”

We proceeded in silence for a long time and I knew in my heart that my children were thinking hard about our talk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Being Strong Enough to Let Go

Cardinal in a snowstorm.
Sometimes the storms in our lives cloud out those that want to get close to us and help. It is in our nature to want to do it ourselves and have "casual" friends. It is during those times that walls need to come down, and we have to admit that we need help. 
Prayers during these moments allow God to open the doors that bring to us the people and things that we need so desperately.  

Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Not Alone

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Is Jesus at your door?

In John 3:5-8 Jesus is talking to a religious leader, Nicodemus.  Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the night because he longs to hear what Jesus has to say.  His heart wants to know more because inwardly Nicodemus knows to whom he is talking to. 

Jesus tells him that he must be born again of water and spirit.  He tells Nicodemus that, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  This idea puzzles Nicodemus since all he knows and lives by is the flesh.  Jesus on the other hand is trying to tell Nicodemus that the world of the spirit is different than the world of the flesh.  Jesus tells him that the spirit is eternal while the flesh is not.  Jesus also wants Nicodemus to see that he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven without being born of water and spirit. 

Our lives here on earth are temporary at best.  One person once said to me that our life is like the speck of dust on the head of a pin.  The pin sits on the earth and that represents eternity, the dust speck represents our lives spent here on earth.  The question each of us has to ask of ourselves, “Where do we want to spend eternity?”  Nicodemus was given the opportunity to turn from his present life, accept Christ as his savior and receive the Holy Spirit. 

We don’t know what happened to Nicodemus, but God does.  Those of us that are seeing fewer years ahead of us than behind us see how finite life can be.  Especially those of us that have lost many loved ones.  Christ accepted the thief on the cross during this man’s last moments of life.  Can we afford to wait?  Knowing Christ brings life, "Real Life to us, not just living and existing.  All one has to do is to ask Jesus to come into our life today.  We don't know if we will have a "tomorrow."  When we allow someone into our home, we open the door from the inside first.  Ask Jesus into your life today.