Much like your parents attic, treasured memories lay within. So, wipe the dust off my ruminations and remembrances, sit back and enjoy!

Culture Shock!

If you’ve ever traveled to a different country, one of the things you can’t help but noticing is how the people of that land do things differently. When I traveled to Austria, one of the things I noticed was that people only drove on the main thoroughfares and walked the side streets. I also found out that a lot of the towns only have one or two church buildings, so the different denominations share the same building and schedule their services at differing days/times. How a person is brought up…their manners, the way they dress and even the way they treat others…is determined by the person’s familial, peer and cultural influences. When I went to Italy and experienced my first truly open market, I noticed an older Italian woman having a heated discussion with one of the vendors. I could tell by the tone of her voice and what she was pointing at, that she was trying to negotiate a cheaper price for the Italian leather shoes she was interested in. After what seemed like a long 3 or 4 minutes, she nodded her head, paid the merchant and went on her way, happy with the price that was determined. This really caused me to think about being back in the states and how this would play out in the checkout lane at Wal-Mart. The cashier tells me my total is $120 and I counter with, ‘Really? I don’t think these items are worth $120…maybe $70, but not $120.’ Can’t you just picture the look on her face?

We don’t even need to go outside of the United States to experience cultural differences; just go East or West, North or South and you will find a wide range of differences in attitude and culture…sometimes traveling just across the street can jar our cultural senses…or maybe just to our teenager’s bedrooms!

Today I read 1 Peter 2 where verses 11 & 12 stood out to me…‘Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.’

As Christians, we need to remember that our citizenship…our culture (and that of our children), are not of this world. As Christians, our customs and values should be remarkably different from the world. Christ calls us to act in a way that reflects our heavenly citizenship.. They should be reflected in our words and actions and displayed in our parenting. Sometimes we may feel like we’re not the ‘cool’ parents…or not the ‘in touch’ parents and eyebrows may be raised when we say “no” to inappropriate movies or provocative clothes…but maybe, just maybe, someone will be intrigued by our family’s ‘unusual’ values and culture.

My prayer for me and my family is that as we continue to BLEND our families…we don’t blend in with the ‘culture’ of this world to the point where no one can tell if we’re tourists or locals…

~ V

The Wheels on the Bus...

For as long as I have been part of the American work-force, I have been fortunate enough to have worked for employers that had their own parking lots and actually had enough parking for everyone. I have also been fortunate enough to have always lived within 10 minutes of where I worked…that is until now. Employee parking at the Mayo Clinic is extremely limited and from what I’m told, if I signed up for the waiting lists for Mayo parking and for Packer season tickets…I’d get the season tickets before getting the parking!

So, I drive about 35 miles to the edge of Rochester, where I park my car and ride the free Mayo shuttle into the heart of downtown. Riding the bus is a new experience for me and to be honest, the thought of not being able to leave work, hop into my car and drive straight home does bother me a little and I guess being able to drive to and from work provided a little bit of freedom that I took for granted. The bus ride in and of itself is quite the experience. For an observer of people like myself, it’s a veritable moving laboratory with a wide variety of subjects; Muslim women in their Hijab’s, Nurses, Business people and Med Students are there. Men, women, young, old, Asian, Russian and Latino all ride the route 17 bus. The bus makes 4 stops along its route and at our stop about 10 people regularly stand in the early morning light, silently waiting for the sound and smell of the buss’s diesel fuel. After the last stop, the bus is usually full with about 40 people; 5 to 10 of them standing. Some people greet each other like they’ve known each other for years and they set next to or near each other and chat the time away. Others come in, sit down and stare forward…never saying a word or looking at their fellow commuters.

I find myself somewhere in between…there is a maintenance guy by the name of Darryl that I’ve said hi to and I always say hi and thank you to the bus drivers, but I’ve pretty much kept to myself and my self-appointed role of sociologist. In the morning, there is the nurse who is always talking on her cell phone and talking loud enough that people sitting near the front can hear her quite plainly…people tend to avoid her…There’s the group of three women and 1 old gentleman who always sit near each other and talk about the books they’re reading, or they’re children…at first I was convinced that they worked with each other or knew each other from outside of the bus, but now I believe it’s because they’ve been riding the same bus with each other for years and during that 10 min ride, each day, every year, have developed a bond…maybe not a real friendship, but 10 min a day over a 10 year period comes to 26,000 min spent together. That’s 433 hours or 18 full 24 hr days. The ride to work in the morning is much more subdued than the ride to our cars in the afternoon and Friday’s are markedly more lively with discussion about who’s going on vacation and what people are planning for the weekend. Some of the people are the same both in and out of work, but quite often, they are different. In the afternoon, there’s the student who always looks like she’s not amused and in a horrible mood. Then there’s the lady who told half the bus that she had a staff infection and just about lost her leg. There’s the VERY pregnant Asian woman who causes a lot of discussion among the other women when she misses a day… OH and the older lady who past out copies of her recipe for Hawaiian Flatulence Bars….yeah. And the one (there’s always one) I haven’t figured out yet is the young woman, who I can tell by her badge works for Mayo, who every morning pulls out her bus punch card and has the driver punch it…why? She can ride for free and yet pays for a pass…

Like adults going on a field-trip, we carry our lunches, our IPods, books and umbrellas. We file on and off the bus and scurry to our offices or cars…for 10 minutes a day; some 40 strangers come together and become a community…the community of route 17.

So here’s the dealio, people move about us everyday of our lives; the man who held the office door for you, the woman you rode in the elevator with…the family in front of you in the grocery line. What do you know about them? Their lives? Their struggles? And you say…’But Vince! They’re strangers and going up to them…well, it would be really weird!’ Ok, fair enough…but what will it cost you to offer up a quick prayer for that man, woman or family?

The funny thing about praying for and blessing others that you don’t know is, that quite often you’ll find that you yourself are blessed!

Now if I can only figure out which one of them prayed for me?!

~ V


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace...

5:45 AM…my alarm goes off this morning and clear as if someone was singing in my ear, that song came to my mind…

The weight of everyday life; we all experience it from day to day in differing situations and in differing intensities. Whether it’s financial, kids, work, household environment, spouse or just simply feeling like you’re being pulled in 20 different directions at once. Over time the weight, the pressure, the expectations (either self-imposed or external)…bogs you down, distracts you from the things that are truly important and steals your joy. And as you continue to focus on these distractions, you can pull those closest to you down as well and before you know it, you’ve created an environment of defeat and depression.

Lately I’ve been guilty of this very thing, allowing the ‘road bumps’ of life to accumulate and distract me. I focus on the minute and lose focus of the big picture. Daily, I walk through my life, putting the cares and burdens I come across on my back. Each day that I don’t go to the cross of grace, they stay piled on my back and the next day, I pile more on…they get heavier and they slow me down. I worry over the insignificant, momentary troubles and forget the blessings that God has so richly showered on me…can you say, ‘Loss of Perspective?’ This DEFINITELY isn’t the way God wants us to live life! In John 10:10b Jesus says, ‘…I have come that you may have life and have it to the full!’

Once we grasp the fact that God's power literally resides in us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can see the weight, the distraction and sin that would otherwise ensnare us, and say "Wow! Why is that such a struggle; it’s such a ridiculous little thing keeping me from getting close to God and the joyous life He intends for me." Colossians 3:2 tells us to ‘Set your mind on things above, and not on Earthly things.’ So, daily I need to remind myself and pray for God to change my mindset. Basically it has to do with setting my mind on things above, and not thinking about all the struggles around me, which is what I found myself doing. Reading the Word and prayer are essential in accomplishing this. 2 Corinthians 10: 4-5 says ‘The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’ But what is the practicality of this? How do we do this? Philippians 4:8 tells us, ‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.’
The pattern of this world is to say that we need to take care of our own issues…that we need to help ourselves because no one else will. Christ says in Matthew 11:28 ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.’ We need to break our concern with horizontal Earthly issues and re-establish our vertical Heavenly relationship. Once we turn our eyes and focus back to Jesus, the weight of this world and the cares of our present time will fade like smoke in a breeze.

Hebrews 12:1-2Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’

It's about time that I cast off these weights and run my Christian race with endurance...
It’s time for me to stop allowing Satan to entangle me in his lies and hampering my effectiveness for Christ...
It’s time that I turn and fix my eyes on Jesus...

He is waiting - won't you join me?

~ V

In the hands of the Gardener

I’ve taken on a new project/hobby. Awhile back, through one of the kid’s Schoolastic book orders, I ordered a Bonsai kit. Now, I’ve had this kit since last winter, but hadn’t opened it until last week. For those who aren’t really sure exactly what a Bonsai is OR what’s involved with growing one, here’s a short explanation: Bonsai is the art of growing and miniaturization of trees through the use of cultivation techniques such as: shaping, pruning, watering, and repotting in various styles of containers. Bonsai growing originated in China during the Han Dynasty (200 BC), but quickly spread throughout Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The tree is kept to a desired size by the size of the container it is planted in. As the plant grows and new tender branches emerge, they can be pruned back to maintain the look of a completed work, can be allowed to grow naturally or with the use of copper wire, can be tied, holding the new branch at specific angles to create a specific look (after one growing season, the wire is then removed). Changes to the Bonsai are slow and takes many years and careful attention to grow into a mature, living work of art.

Jesus tells us in John 15: 1-6 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.’
Through discipline, God does the same thing with us. Hebrews 12:5-13 tells us; ‘And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.’

He prunes us back when needed and shapes our lives to fit the pattern of His plan so that we will be ready for the work He sets before us. No, it’s not always fun, this shaping and pruning, but I have found that resisting His discipline and direction is usually more painful and He promises that He will never abandon us, nor forsake us. And what better hands to do this delicate work, whose hands more loving, more skilled, then those of our creator?

Whose hands are shaping your life or the lives of your children?

~ V

A weekend at home

If you’ve been keeping up with my BLOG, you’d know that the weekend before last ended the baseball season around here, leaving this as the first weekend in awhile that we didn’t have to run somewhere for an all-day tournament. So, Saturday, Lisa and I slept in then got up and decided to run into town to go to the farmers market, the meat market and the fruit market. We never did make it to the farmers market, but found some good deals on fruits and veggies at the fruit market. We came home and I ran back to town with Trevor as he wanted to go to the bookstore and get a few books and spend some time with me...yeah, this is the same teenager, who not that long ago was angry at the world! After going to the bookstore, we went to a favorite restaurant of Lisa’s downtown…Trev and I ate and joked and laughed and it felt good to see the ‘old’ Trevor back…I hope he stays for a good long while.

When we got home, Lisa and I worked on the house; she got the basement living room cleaned up, Trev and I brought the last piece of furniture down from the garage…the recliner! And as Lisa finished up, I went out and started to breakdown the 100 lbs of cardboard boxes flat and then bound them together like two small bales. We also hung up more pictures and just generally continued with settling in. I grilled steaks along with some veggies and grilled some fruit too! I’d never grilled fruit before…it was yummy!

Lisa and I were sitting on the deck the other night while Kyle and Hope played in the backyard. Listening to them play make-believe (Kyle was the Ninja master and Hope was his student), I heard Hope say, ‘Master, I want to learn more…teach me some more moves!’ Lisa and I laughed and I thought to myself…’The kids are happier than I’ve seen them in some time.’ I voiced this thought to Lisa and it came to me that for the past year, we were ALWAYS gone on weekends. Either Lisa and the boys would come to our place or we’d go to hers. It's nice...no, it's been GREAT being together on the weekends and not having to run to see each other. In spite of the petty bickering or picking...pretty normal sibling issues...we see happiness, we see silliness and more importantly, we see everyone bonding together as a family! Trevor, Nick, Vinny and I went over to the back ball field and spent about an hour just hitting golf balls. We had a great time laughing, teasing and just having simple fun.

Here's the thing...in amongst our simple family fun, I learned something important; in this age of PSP's, Ipods, IMs, Face Book and 200 + cable channels, kids still value simple play and personal connection with their mom and dad. The games systems, music players and TV shows can only offer them momentary escapism. We as parents can offer them SO much more...a reality without the need to 'escape'! And parents? The payback on this investment is immediate...in the smile on your son's face or glint in your daughter's eye. Now THAT, my friend, is priceless...

~ V

…You’ve got some ‘splaining to do!

Ok…I know yesterday’s BLOG falls into the ‘Where’d THAT come from’ category and most assuredly raised some questions. It was the external expression of an internal issue that I’d been wrestling with which concerns Brittany and I. Without going into detail, she’s been receiving a great deal of pressure from external forces over an issue that is extremely important to her. Being under this type of pressure at 18 is tough, but when that pressure comes from someone you should be able to count on for support and understanding, it becomes almost unbearable. So, Brittany turns to me and my first inclination is that Papa Bear’s fur bristles and the furnace of anger starts to stoke. But I know that allowing that anger to build won’t help me, wont help Brittany and honestly wont change the situation. Psalm 46:10 says, ‘Be still and KNOW that I am God…’ So, I quieted myself, cleared my mind as best as I could and waited on Him and His leading. One simple word came to me…’Forgive’. I sat and thought about that for awhile and thought about this, what can I change about this situation…what is within MY control? Neither Brittany nor I can control the people that are putting this pressure on her. We can’t control what they think, what they say or how they feel. We, however, can control how WE feel, how WE react and how WE approach the situation. Does that mean we have to ‘roll over’ and be a door mat? Not at all! But we can, by the grace of God, be compassionate and understanding. We can disagree, stand our ground and still treat the situation with respect and love. And so my BLOG ended up being the sounding board for my thoughts and my need to guide Brittany to a correct mindset and heart. So, I offer up the following for Brittany, for myself and for anyone else that may need to hear...

There can be no forgiveness without love and no love without forgiveness.

Peace is finally forgiving a person and setting the prisoner free, only to discover that the very prisoner you set free was yourself.

If We Are The Body ~ Casting Crowns:

It's crowded in worship today

As she slips in Trying to fade into the faces
The girls' teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know

But if we are the Body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way

A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat
And quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgmental glances tells him that his chances
Are better out on the road

But if we are the Body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ

If we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
Jesus is the way

If we don’t show that there’s a different, better way, then we’re not showing Christ’s love. And if not us…who? And if not now…when?

~ V

A Legacy...

Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die…it is self-indulgent and self-destructive. ~ Anon

We make choices each and everyday. We choose what we’re going to wear and what we’re going to eat, what bills to pay and even who to forgive. Just as forgiveness is a choice, being bitter or not is a choice we also make. By choosing not to forgive, you hyper-focus on the action and fail or at times even refuse to take a person’s intentions into account or demonstrate simple compassion and understanding.

Researchers at the Mayo clinic studied the negative heath effects bitterness and resentment has on the human body. In an article on their findings, Dr. Katherine Piderman said this: When we hold on to pain, old grudges, bitterness and even hatred, many areas of our lives suffer. When we're unforgiving, it's we who pay the price over and over. We bring our anger and bitterness into every relationship and aspect of our lives. Our lives may be so wrapped up in the wrong (actual or perceived) that we can't enjoy the present. This study concludes that holding on to grudges and bitterness results in long-term health problems such as:
§ High blood pressure
§ Increase in stress and stress related ailments
§ Increased risk of heart disease
§ Increased reports of chronic pain (headaches, joint pain)
§ Increased psychological incidents such as anxiety and depression

By choosing to be bitter, you are sabotaging your emotional, physical and spiritual health and personal relationships by clinging to past anger, hatred & resentment. Bitterness causes you to walk through life with the full weight of the situation pressing you down and the sour taste of unresolved pain and regret lingering in your mouth, while your heart, like a helpless prisoner of war in which no one wins, is being held captive in this iron grip. Continual focus on painful recollections of past disappointments, frustrations, unresolved conflicts, shattered dreams and desires left unfulfilled, slowly spread like a cancer, taking up residence inside the heart and soul, creating dark blots where clean, healthy tissue used to exist and obstructing the natural flow of love, peace and joy that God intends.

Hebrews 12:15 ‘See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.’

1 John 4:20 ‘If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.’

The only path to true forgiveness is through God. When you pass through life chained down by an unforgiving heart, it is impossible to hear God’s calming, leading voice and walk the path He intends for you to walk. Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us, ‘You must put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk. Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.’
It takes a major effort of the will to "forgive each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" because most of the time, we don't feel like forgiving. The first step we have to take in order to do this is to tell the Lord that even though we don't want to do it, even though we aren't willing to do it, we are willing for Him to make us willing. When we choose with our will to obey God, He will give us the power to do what is necessary. God wants us to be honest and come to Him saying that it hurts too much for us, in our own power, to forgive and move on. He wants us to realize that we can’t stay angry and bitter and still be in His will…ultimately He wants us to give the anger and bitterness over to Him so that in His strength, not ours, we can forgive…’

When you chose the path of forgiveness you allow the light back into your heart and soul. The dark blot intruding on your heart and in your soul will be washed clean, the chains of bitterness, anger and pain that weighed you down and held your life hostage, will fall off like sand.

…My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing grace!

Bitterness or mercy…which will be your legacy?

~ V

Happy Birthday Nick!

Today is Nick’s 11th birthday! Lisa made his favorite cake, which is; chocolate with chocolate chips in the cake and cool whip frosting with chocolate chips on top…I think Nick likes chocolate! 11 years ago was 1997. That was the same year that I started at Foremost Farms. Brittany was 7, Trevor was 4 and Vinny was not even 1. The cost of a gallon of gas was $1.22, the average American made $37,000 a year and a movie ticket cost just $4.50. In 1997, Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule, Princess Diana died in a car accident while in Paris, at 21 years of age, Tiger Woods becomes the youngest golfer to win the Masters. The films Titanic, Liar Liar and As Good As It Gets are hits. Walking On the Sun, Crash Into Me and Candle In the Wind were 3 of the most popular songs of the year. Nick, I love your love of life and your kind, sensitive heart. I love how you seek out private time just to talk and I love that you want to do that with me, and I hope this will go down as one of the best birthdays you’ve ever had!

We have what I would call a sizable yard. Not huge mind you, but big enough that it takes a good hour to mow. We have been rotating the job between Trevor and Nick and have been paying them for this service. Well, a few weeks ago Vinny, knowing they get paid, started asking about when HE could start mowing so that he could earn some money as well. I kind of hesitated at first and then after Vinny kept asking about it, I finally said that he needs to shadow Nick and Trevor, observe what they did and how they mowed, before I would allow him to do it on his own. So, after walking around and ‘observing’ Nick mow last week, Vinny asked if he could do the job this week. With a few reservations, I agreed and off he went. About a half hour into the job, I stepped out on the deck to see how he was coming along. Vinny had mowed a diagonal swath from one corner of our property, to the center of our back yard, then looped back around cutting through the diagonal in what looked like an attempt to write something in our lawn. Half smiling to myself, I went down to provide some tips and guidance. When I got down there, Vinny shut the mower off and instantly said, ‘Dad, this is HARD! I don’t want to do this anymore!’ I told him to go get a glass of water and come back out. When he came back out, we walked around the yard and I showed him where he had missed a few strips, pointed out how to use the previously mowed lane as a guide to help keep straight and how to mow around the base of trees. I told him that in spite of this being his first time, I thought he was doing a good job. He wanted to quit. I told him that it’s important to finish the job you start. He was hot and he had no idea that mowing was so hard. I told him that he needed to press on through. He said ‘But dad! I can’t!’ Looking at him, my heart very nearly broke…for some reason, I KNEW this was a defining moment in Vinny’s life and I told him; ‘Vinny, yes you can…I know you can, now finish the job’ and with that, I walked back inside. It took Vinny another hour and when he finished, he threw his fists up in the air and yelled…’I’M DONE!!!’ Was it the best I’ve ever seen? No. Was it the best he can do? Mmm, probably not, but with experience comes improvement…But all of that didn’t matter. I told him, ‘Good job Vinny!...I’m proud of you!’ And the look of success on his face and the smile of pride in his eyes, told me right then and there that making him finish the job was the right decision. It was harder work then he had ever done before, but he pushed through, didn’t give up and finished. He now knows the feeling of completing a difficult task and the sense of accomplishment it gives you. Better yet, he’ll have more confidence to do other tasks that he feels might be too hard.

I spent some time thinking back to the different things my dad taught me and my need for him to be pleased with the job I did. There was instruction and correction (sometimes patiently, sometimes not!), but if I took an honest interest in the job at hand, dad was always willing to show me. Then I started thinking about my heavenly Father…how many times in life have I gone off at an angle across the yard of my life, mowing letters in the lawn, seemingly wandering aimlessly and not following the straight path laid out before me…and then the Father steps near and tells me there’s an easier way. He gently guides and corrects me, helps me find my way back to the right path. At times I have told Him…’God! This is TOO hard! Why have You asked me to do this?’ ‘I’m tired and I don’t feel like do this anymore!’ and that’s always when He tells me; ‘I never asked you to do more than I knew you were capable of…and I never asked you to do it alone…I know you can and I’ll never leave you!’

~ V

Sowing Seeds

Today and Sunday Nick has a baseball tournament and this will mark the end of the season. I remember going to this tournament last year and after the first game, it basically rained ALL day! We were SO wet, cold and miserable! This year the weather is supposed to be very hot…we’ll see. They’ve had a great season; right now his team is 10 and 2 and we are SO proud of Nick and his team! We’re looking forward both to the tournament and the end of baseball as it really has taken many of our evenings.

The other night while Lisa and I were getting Nick and Vinny into bed, I decided to give them a little Bible challenge. I challenged them to take the time today to find where the parable of the sower was and read it. I’m sure you’re familiar with the story where the farmer goes out to his fields to sow his seed and some fell on the road just to be trampled or eaten. Some fell on some rocks and once it grew, withered away. Some fell among thorns, but the thorns choked it out. Lastly, some fell on good soil where it grew to maturity and produced a great crop. My little challenge is designed to get the kids familiar with how to look things up in the bible, do a little study and make it fun! We’ll see how it goes.

I know this parable is specifically talking about planting the seed of God and the result of what happens or what can happen depending on who hears it, but this got me to thinking. As Christians, aren’t we responsible for the TYPE of seed we sow? And further more, can the type of seed we sow effect the crop that grows from it? I mean, this goes to OUR witness doesn’t it? People are watching us all of the time…our actions, emotions and even the way we handle our everyday lives. If I went to a bar every night after work and had a drink with ‘the regulars’, how effective can my witness be to those very same people? Now, there is something to be said about meeting people where they are, but I think we all know the difference. What I’m trying to say is that WE, as Christians, need to make sure that the seeds we spread are not tainted. That the examples we set and the impressions we leave are God honoring.

Oh, be careful little mouth what you say...
Oh, be careful little feet where you go...
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see...

Hmm...actions, attitudes and our tongues...powerful tools to either build up or break down our witness...

Oh Lord, please examine my actions...my attitude and my tongue so that the seeds I plant daily might be fruitful and pleasing to You.

~ V