Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Special Day of Thanks

     Today was a special day for us.  We spent it together, alone as a family for the first time in years, but it turned out to be a very nice day.  We simply bought a chicken instead of a turkey since the boys do not eat much meat and then added several sides to accompany it.  For us, it was a veritable feast, and we enjoyed it greatly.  In the afternoon, I enjoyed watching some football and observing the boys.  More than all this, however, today was a day of reflection upon everything for which I have to be thankful.  I thank God for a godly wife who is kind, loving and industrious.  I am truly blessed once again with a wonderful wife who is a great complement to me and a wonderful mother to our boys.  I thank the Lord for our two fun-loving boys who keep life interesting.  Never a dull moment with them around!  I am so grateful for two little boys who love the Lord.  Then I think of the material provisions from the Lord and realize how greatly he has blessed us.  Finally, I am reminded of the fact that once again we have come through a year with almost no illness or injury whatsoever.  But I also have much to be grateful for in addition to God's protection and care for my immediate family.  My wife's family still lives in the Philippines, and God provided safety for them during the recent typhoon of unprecedented strength.  When my father-in-law's life was threatened by rebels, God protected him.  Finally, I have a daughter who is happily married with three young children and a son and daughter in law who are successfully employed by the University of Texas El Paso and are climbing the ladder of success there.  Most of all though, I thank God for my salvation by faith in his son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Little of This and a Little of That

     An old cardboard box, a few markers, an unused belt, a cloth strip and an old set of keys placed in the right hands and what do you have?  Why, a car, of course!  My eldest son has shown the distinct ability to turn almost anything into a plaything that can occupy many fun hours of the boys' free time.  In the photo above, he took an old box that I was going to burn and within a couple of hours had turned it into a car that he was driving in his imagination, replete with dashboard gauges, steering wheel, seatbelts, headlights, and ignition.  Of course, my younger could not be left out, so he found his own box and mimicked his older brother as closely as possible.  Now if only I can get that kind of creativity out of my older boy when he writes in school.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Giving Heart

     Sometimes our children surprise us by taking initiative to do something we would not consider.  A week ago in our home school sessions, we finished an online series of videos entitled Lost in India.  My sons donated some money to assist in spreading the gospel to India and received a cardboard backpack bank and a poster with a large map of India.  This week after bringing my boys home from a field trip to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., I was inside resting before going outside to split wood.   While I was inside the house, the boys had carried an old card table out front, taped the poster to it and placed their cardboard bank on the table with a handwritten sign saying "for the poor people in India." Suddenly, my elder son rushed into the house, exclaiming, "Daddy, I earned a lot of money to send to the poor people in India.!"  Curious, I queried how he had come up with this money.  Proudly, he told me he had put up a table out front with a sign for the poor people in India and that people came and put money in their bank. Had they asked my permission, I am sure I would have denied  it; however, there was not much I could do at that point except to assist them in their plan to add more to their total to give to the effort in India. I realized later that this is exactly what the Lord would have them do.  Their heart for the less fortunate was an excellent example.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

United We Stand!

     I fear what the future will hold for my boys.  Pondering over the events of the past few weeks, I struggled last evening with the incontrovertible fact that we are rapidly approaching a disaster of cataclysmic proportions for our country if a major course correction does not take place.  Using words from scripture, Abraham Lincoln astutely observed "A house divided against itself cannot stand."  With a President who cannot tell the truth and who is growing increasingly ineffective, congressional leaders who are more interested in political gain than the interests of our country, and a citizenry increasingly disillusioned, angry and polarized; what the communists during the Cold War and the terrorists of Cold War could not accomplish has suddenly become a very real and frightening possibility.  Events orchestrated during those years failed to split and weaken the American people; rather, they drew us together and made us even stronger.  While not entirely wise in all their decisions all the time, our leaders during those events helped draw us together to meet the challenges of the enemy without.  Today we are threatened by a more insidious danger which could destroy this great nation by splitting us asunder.  Already there are signs of this.
     As I read a large number of comments about news items on the internet concerning Obamacare, I was struck by the way our country has become polarized and frightened by some of the nastiness of many of the comments.  What really bothered me the most, however, was some of the racist comments.  I am as upset as anyone by what has transpired at the highest levels of government.  I think most Americans including the press, perhaps especially the press, feel betrayed by those to whom we entrusted the leadership of our nation; however, now more than ever we need unity. The political games must stop. Now is the time we need our leadership to step up and lead by example, bringing our people together rather than dividing us further for political gain.  The blame game must end.  Hearing one side blame another for the mess we are in does nothing to solve our problems.  Blaming the previous administration for the failure of Obamacare makes no sense nor does blaming the more conservative press.  I have heard both of those proposals advanced, and they are not conducive either to bringing us together or to solving the problems.  While Obamacare has been an unmitigated disaster, perhaps the most dangerous issue is the byproduct of it that everyone seems to ignore, the atmosphere of hostility and divisiveness it has created.  Now more than ever we need our government officials to step up along with the insurance companies to find a solution that will ease tensions and bring our people together.  All of us Americans must link arms and stand together lest our nation be brought to its knees by the enemy within.  What kind of future do we want for the generations t come?  "United we stand; divided we fall!"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Giving Thanks 2013

         Approaching the Thanksgiving holidays, once again I am reminded of all that I have for which to be grateful.  It is so easy sometimes to become so focused on what I don't have that it is easy to overlook my blessings and take them for granted.  Seeing the devastation in the Philippines, reading news headlines of those who have suffered terribly this year, I can only thank the Lord for my many blessings including safety and health.  God has given me a strong, healthy body and mind, and for that I thank him.  I am so blessed to have a loving wife and two young sons who provide me with many great and unforgettable moments each year.   I am frequently reminded of this blessing when they come over to me and  curl up with me when I am reading or watching a football game. The quote from Dickens' A Christmas Carol where the Spirit of Christmas Present remarks to Scrooge that Bob Cratchit receives five times the amount of love each day of the week. The distinct meaning is conveyed that this is something that money cannot buy.  How true!  When they are playing with each other, I thank God for their closeness and love for one another as well as their fantastic creativity.  Having one of them come out to share a snack while I am splitting wood for the fireplace is always a treat.  My wife provides me with another reason to be grateful, a loving and supportive presence through whatever storms we pass.   Then I am reminded of the plenty on the table each day and the warmth and comfort of our home, and I have more reason to give thanks.  But perhaps the greatest blessing for which I am thankful is the gift of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  That the almighty God of the universe would come down to this earth and live as a man and then give his own life up so I could live is truly mind boggling.  This Thanksgiving will be a special day of gratitude for me and my family.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sitting by the Fire

          Sitting by the fire warming myself on the coldest evening of the fall of 2013, I reminisce on  the enjoyment of what was probably the hottest week this last summer.  Summer of 2013 was a time of growth and fun for my two boys.  During probably the hottest week of the summer, they were fortunate enough to be able to attend a soccer camp, which they thoroughly enjoyed.  I was a little concerned about whether my younger son would have the stamina to get through full day sessions for a week, but he really handled it well.  Every day they awoke looking forward to going to soccer camp.  By the end of the day, they were truly exhausted, but both boys took great satisfaction from their time in camp and learned a lot in addition to forming close friendships.  I observed them making great strides in the development of their skills which I hope to see applied next season when they play in a league.  This was a small beginning of what was to be a fantastic summer adventure for them.  Though the warm days of summer were nice, I am enjoying the cool, brisk days of fall, especially when I can get warm by the fireplace at home while reflecting back upon the warm days of summer.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Halloween Fun

     My boys always look forward to Halloween even though they do not get to go out trick or treating.  They do get their share of candy from our church which holds a special activity for children to keep them off the streets that night.  They also dress up as in this photo which they always enjoy.  They love their cowboy outfits, and this year they had the added appeal of having a toy musket and a toy carbine, souvenirs from Jamestown, to make them a little more authentic.  We try to remove the  emphasis on witches and ghosts and the occult from Halloween without taking away the fun for them.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Field Trip to Jamestown

         This fall we have been studying the settlement of Jamestown in our home-school curriculum.  My son has been entranced by the stories of Pocahontas, Captain John Smith and John Rolfe among others.  We were approaching our tenth wedding anniversary, and not having any real support system or reliable sitters available, we decided to do something that included our boys.  What better way than to incorporate an educational field trip with a time of relaxation and celebration.  Everything worked out to perfection with my wife having a holiday from her schooling and finishing up her Monday class the week previously.  We were able to take a trip down to Jamestown and Williamsburg that we all really enjoyed.
     The boys found the tour of Jamestown instructive as well as entertaining and the trip to Williamsburg was really enjoyable too. Boarding the ships at Jamestown fascinated them immensely.  They also enjoyed the Indian village.  Of course, for the boys the most entertaining part of our time in Williamsburg was the review of the colonial troops featuring the firing of both the muskets and the cannon.  Going to the swimming pool and spa at our motel in the evening was a great climax to an exhausting day.  For Mom and Dad, this was a great time of rest and relaxation away from the everyday cares and routines.
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