Category Archives: Journey

Time Management

Time management can be amazingly difficult sometimes.  From what I see in others on a day-to-day basis, most people don’t manage their time well. In fact, it probably gets away from most of us on a regular basis.

But that’s life, isn’t it? Time management is challenging, yes, but as most of us know, it is well worth learning how to do well.  Now, I realize that there are quite a few resources out there about time management and how to do it effectively. I’m not here to go over that kind of information. But just to address the issue….well, that’s important.

I am finding this to be a huge challenge right now. Between lots of overtime at work, home-schooling the kids, house projects still beckoning and jewelry to make for a local business, managing my time is crucial right now. And I’m still trying to figure that out. But it is happening!

I’ll tell you one thing: I am so thankful that God doesn’t expect me to figure this out on my own. I really don’t know what I would do without His presence or His help in my life. People can say what they want to and believe what they want to about that. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with a theory. I know from personal experience what He has done for me and how faithful He is to what He said He would do in His Word (the Bible).

So we keep pushing forward, living the life He has given us to live and making the most of every moment. And learning how to best use and manage that precious time we have so that we can make the most of it.

Happy Time Management!!

One On One Time

I didn’t grow up having one-on-one time with my Dad.  I really wish I had been able to.  But that’s one of those things you don’t necessarily have control over.  Not so with my boys!

The power of generational influence is huge.  God’s original design for this was to have a father teach and influence his children so that they know more and can do more than he ever did.  Then, when his children have children of their own, they are doing the same thing.  The result is that each generation is further ahead and knows even more than the one before it.  And each generation is passing on its legacy to the next.

What do you think the answer is to the question, “Is this happening today?”  I know it’s happening, but not near to the degree that it should be.  I want to do my part to change that.  And that starts with how I raise my own children and how I influence them for the next generation.

It’s important for you to know that this cannot be done properly without God’s help.  That’s intentional, too, by the way.  And I’m glad it is!  Why try to do something like that without His help?  He’s the One who knows all about us anyway.  After all, we’re made in His image.

My one-on-one time with my children is vital.  It makes them more comfortable talking about uncomfortable things.  And it helps them get to know their Dad better.  It’s uncomfortable for me, too, but so worth it when I look at the Big Picture:  I’m very thankful that my boys know that as they grow up through the roller coaster ride of adolescence, they can come to their Dad with any question or problem that they may run across.  (They can come to their Mom, too, but who knows better what they’re going through or experiencing better than their Dad?  And by the way, a mother’s influence with her daughters should be the same way as well.)

This can get in to other areas like mentorship, counseling, teaching and other related things.  Those all have their equal importance and they can all effect the influencing of the next generation.  In looking to keep this as simple as possible, however, I would recommend reading a book to start you in the right direction (if you’re needing that input).  It’s entitled, “Preparing Your Son For Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker.  The first half of the book is my focus for recommending it.

Whether you are a Mom or a Dad, single or married, with boys or girls or any combination thereof, the first half of the book will help you see the importance of one-on-one time and how to effectively implement it.  From there, you can go to whatever source you’d want to for your children’s needs (if you have boys, the second half is right there for you to use to get you started).

I hope you are able to positively influence your children for the next generation.  I pray God’s blessing on your efforts!

Autumn In The Air

Autumn has definitely been in the air this week.  Cooler temps and shorter days certainly add to the feeling that the Holidays are just around the corner.  The sky itself–the position of the sun and even how the clouds look–lends to that Autumn feel in the air.

Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan

Our family loves this time of year.  The coziness that comes with the weather getting colder and the Autumn decorations coming out (excluding anything to do with Halloween) continues on into the Christmas season.  Even more so with all of the Christmas decorations that come out.  Some people and families don’t make this much of a big deal.  And that’s certainly ok for them.  But for us, it takes on a wonderful life of its own.

This time of year also means getting ready for home school.  And this year brings for us a new curriculum that we’re using.  That usually brings a little more stress to the situation since we aren’t familiar with the curriculum.  But compared to the stress teachers deal with in public school on a daily basis, what we endure is hardly worth mentioning.

My wife does Daycare out of the home and has watched kids for a number of school teachers over the years.  One of them was homeschooling her kids, even though she was a teacher!  If that doesn’t go to show how bad things have gotten in our school systems, I don’t think much else will.  That arena certainly is not what it used to be when I was a kid.  I wouldn’t want anything to do with it now, which is another reason we took the home school plunge years ago.

We certainly recognize that homeschooling isn’t for everyone,  but for those willing to do it, it’s very much worth the effort!  We have found it makes things far more flexible for us, allowing for trips to see family in Michigan certain times throughout the school year.

So, as we begin that process once again, it just goes to remind me that Autumn–my favorite time of the year–is here again!

Autumn at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan

Happy Autumn, my friend!

Coming of Age

Growing up brings many “coming of age” moments.  For our oldest son, he’s experiencing a pretty big one today:  Shaving for the first time.

I remember my first shave.  I was pretty nervous about it.  Of course, that may be also due to the fact that I was in fifth grade when that happened.  Yes, I shaved my mustache every two weeks at that point.  By middle school, I was dressing like a back woodsman with a beard down to my belly button and a deep, gravelly voice that drove the girls crazy.  (Ok, maybe I didn’t have the beard.  Or the backwoods clothing.  I had the deep voice, but no girls.  Fine…forget it.  Moving on.)

William will be shaving his rather thick mustache today.  My wife pointed out that he even has an inch-long hair or two on his throat under his chin.  Yup…it’s time to shave.  He’s pretty excited about it.  Monumental moments in the coming of age process and this is one of them.

Do you see them with your kids?  Unfortunately, my Dad wasn’t too keen on taking advantage of moments like this.  That’s not going to happen with my boys.  I just pray that God helps me see them when they come along (I’m certainly looking for them).  What kind of influence can a Dad have on a child during this coming of age process?  I totally believe it’s more than us Dads can possibly fathom.  What about our Heavenly Father?  He’s the Dad of all Dads, right?  You can bet He doesn’t miss a single one of these kind of moments in our walk with Him.  We are told very clearly in His Word that He has never failed us and He never will.

So when a coming of age moment like shaving for the first time comes up, look out!  Someone’s going to get cut.  And deal with ingrown hairs.  And sensitive skin.  But he’ll get used to it.  He’s got a good example to follow in his Dad.

Enjoying The Journey

Enjoying the journey sounds so simple.  Isn’t it amazing how difficult that can be to do sometimes?  Yet it is so crucial to do.  For our own well-being.  If we’re not taking steps to do that, life has a lot more stress to it, doesn’t it?  And it’s far less enjoyable.

I am reminded that Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11 that through his life experiences he learned how to be content wherever he was at.  The word “content” in that verse means “satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted”.  That’s a pretty good place to be!  It’s no wonder that this is what God wants for us on our journey and that’s what trust in Him brings.

This is something I am needing to remember right now.  I have a lot going on with renovations to a house we just bought.  And most of it needs to be done by next weekend.  That doesn’t need to be stressing me out though.  “I am anointed and appointed for such a time as this.”

Isn’t it amazing how God takes care of things if we do what he tells us and expects us to do?  He told me to cast my cares on Him; He told me to trust Him–completely; He told me He has His very best in store for me;  He has told me how faith works and what to do to live it out.  As great as these things are, if I’m choosing not to do any one of them, I’m choosing to disobey and cause myself unneeded stress and complication.  Why do that to myself (and those around me)?

That’s easy to let happen, but so worth the effort and practice to overcome and change.  The incredible thing is, even that isn’t something I have to do (or can do) by myself.  God has given me (and you) the Holy Spirit to be a constant help as we walk out this journey.

We are so taken care of in His Kingdom!  It truly is a great place to be.  It’s there–He’s there–for anyone who wants this to be true in their life.

I would encourage you to cross that line, my friend!

The Immigrant

Have you ever heard the story of the immigrant who came to the New World?  Way back in the horse-and-buggy days, an immigrant decided enough was enough.  No more of this oppressive life he had been experiencing.  He was going to the New World!  There was just enough money in his possession to buy a boat ticket for a passenger liner with a little left over to begin his new life.  He didn’t have a cabin, so he just slept on the open deck every night.  For food, all he had available to bring was crackers, which he rationed out to two per meal.

The immigrant was thankful he was journeying away from oppression and on to freedom.  Even so, he couldn’t help but notice something as each day passed.  As he sat eating his crackers, he watched the other passengers walk into the dining hall and help themselves to all kinds of delicious food.  He longed for the opportunity to do that himself.  All he could do, though, was look down at the crackers he was eating and try not to think about how hungry he felt.

Day after day passed and finally the big boat arrived in the New World.  As he sat on the deck waiting for the boat to dock, a young girl approached him and asked him a question.  “I’ve been watching you every day since we got on the boat.  Why do you sit out here and eat crackers?”  He looked up at her and said, “Well, I couldn’t afford to buy any food inside the dining hall.  All I was able to bring with me to eat were these crackers.”  Her response shocked and angered him.  “Mister,” she said, “every ticket for this boat includes a free meal from the dining hall every day–morning, noon and night.  You could have had anything you wanted to eat in there.”  And she turned around and walked away.

This immigrant was entitled to all the food he wanted for the whole boat ride.  Because he didn’t know any better, however, he missed out on all of it.

Don’t let that be you!

Whether you believe it or not, God has an amazing life in store for you that He wants to give you.  But that life is only available through His Son and what you choose to do with His sacrifice for you.  You’ve been with me long enough to know what I’m talking about here.  There is such an amazing life awaiting you!  It’s got its challenges, sure, but it’s so worth it–especially when you consider eternity and where you’ll be living it.

You don’t have to be eating crackers!  If you do nothing about this, you will reach the end of your life and find out that a huge buffet was yours for the taking and you chose to ignore it.  The biggest difference between you and the immigrant is this:  When you see that reality, it will be too late for you to do anything about it.  Your choice has been made.  And it’s forever.

So once again….choose wisely!

A Crutch

“It’s a crutch.  Your faith is a crutch you use because you’re emotionally weak.”  There are some who believe this about anyone who has faith in any belief system that’s not “rooted in science”.  But why do they say that?

There is so much emphasis right now on equality.  When it comes to a belief system, many say they approach this the same way:  “Believe whatever you want to believe, man.  It’s alright with me.”  But it really isn’t.  Not when they find out what the Bible says.

Sure, we all have the right to believe whatever we want to believe–about anything–but that doesn’t mean that we’re right about it.  Many years ago, most people believed that the earth was flat.  Were they right about that?  Was that considered a crutch?

So what am I getting at?

My uncle on my Mom’s side of the family isn’t expected to live out the next 24 hours.  What happens to him when he dies?  It’s a question we all must face.  And many run from that question because they’re scared of what the answer might be.  But force yourself to face that question for just a moment…..

Let me mention a foundational point that Jesus Christ taught.  Anyone who genuinely accepts Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior and lives out the rest of their life with that realization has an eternal home with God in Heaven.  That person is known as a Christian.  When that Christian dies,  his spirit enters into Heaven, just as Jesus said it would.  A promise.  From the God of Heaven to every human being on Earth. So why not believe that?  It’s too good to be true?  We don’t want to be accountable for our sin?  The list of excuses is many.

My Dad died in a highway accident four years ago.  He loved Jesus with all of his heart.  I know I’ll see him again (and my uncle).  Jesus promised me that in the Bible.  That is living hope!  Why not believe that?  Is that a crutch?

Bottom line, a person is going to believe what a person wants to believe.  If someone believes that faith in God and His Word is a crutch, so be it.  No one can change what someone else believes.  But what will change a belief?  A willingness to see what a person has been previously unwilling to see.  Personal revelation of something  (like the Earth isn’t flat after all).

I would leave you with this example.  Let’s assume for a moment that I am a Christian and you are not.  If you are right and I am wrong–there is no God; the Bible isn’t true; there is no life after death–than you’ve gained nothing and I’ve gained nothing.  When we die, we die.  End of story.  But if I am right and you are wrong, I’ve gained everything and you’ve lost everything.

You couldn’t be gambling with any higher stakes than that.  Is it worth it?  As we are told in Deuteronomy 30:19, we have the ability to choose life and death, blessings and curses.

Choose wisely, my friend!

This Man’s World

I’m sure you would agree that a man’s world and a woman’s world are two fundamentally different places.  Strange lands.  Alien territory.  Different languages.  You get the idea.

I wrote a story for my wife for Valentine’s Day this year.  If you have had some challenges in bringing these two worlds together, I offer you the reading of this story.  You may just find a nugget or two of truth that may help bring into clarity something that is currently blurred for you.  I hope you enjoy it:

As a man, I sit upon the throne of my male world. It is a unique position that gives me a view like no other, one that extends to the furthest reaches of my domain. This domain consists of vast and varied landscapes that grow more beautiful with each passing day. Places like the Land of The Dream, the Land of Marriage, the Land of Family, the Land of Friends, the Land of Church and the Land of The Workplace are easily viewed from this regal throne.

These lands are separated by rivers, like spokes on a wagon wheel. At the center of the “wheel” are the headwaters. Known as The Godhead, it is the source of the rivers that flow out between each Land, providing all the Life needed to sustain each one.

At one time, however, the scenic beauty of some of these Lands was absent. They were dry and arid with little if any life to be found at all.

Then God gave me you.

Without even trying, you brought life to the Lifeless Places. You completed everything that was incomplete. You did something that had never been done before: You made me whole. And, just as importantly, you helped me discover what had up to that time been an uncharted territory: the Land of Here And Now. Since that time, I have come to realize that you hold the Sacred Treasure Map to that Land, given to you by God Himself.

Now, looking over this male world of mine are two thrones. One is, of course, mine. The other, my sweet Beth, belongs to you. You, my soul mate, complete me. You are the cool breeze on a scorching August afternoon. You are the gentle kiss of moonlight as it rests upon the waters. You are the laughter of a thousand children on the darkest of days.

You are my everything.

Now we sit upon the two thrones, hand-in-hand as we look over my domain. You look on in awe and wonder as I point to different Lands and the things we can see coming towards us on the distant horizon. Then, still holding my hand, you walk me down into my world.

Without fail, we always enter my world below through the Land of Here And Now. And then it is my turn to be in awe and wonder! For I find that as we walk the length and breadth of the different Lands of my world, we are at the same time still in your world of the Land of Here And Now. With absolute skill, you continue to use your God-given map to show me amazing treasures to behold as my own every day.

What a beautiful union of two worlds! I could never have asked for a more wonderful, incredible and more amazing woman to be by my side. I am so glad it was you!

Forever Yours,

Matthew

Turning A Corner

Turning a corner.  Ever been waiting for that to happen?  A figure of speech, yes, but a very important one when you’ve been waiting a long time for something to happen.

If you’ve been walking with me a while, you know that our destination has been someplace very definite.  These past couple of weeks have been very interesting ones in that regard.  I can definitely say that I have been turning a corner!

I am closer than ever to being able to finally tell you the story behind our destination.  And you’re not going to want to miss this!  I know I have been dropping hints here and there.  But that still hasn’t really given you anything substantial to know what it is that I am talking about here.  What I can tell you right now is that any frustration you might feel about that will be well worth it in the end!  Very soon, I will be able to tell you this fantastic tale.

God’s plan for our lives is so much better than anything we could ever ask for or imagine (His Word tells us that in Jeremiah 29:11 and Ephesians 3:20).  It is when nothing appears to be happening and life seems like it’s just a monotonous day-to-day existence that it is the hardest to remember that truth.  But don’t forget this important fact:  When you do finally turn that corner, it makes what you’re going through in the waiting process totally worth enduring!

And there’s also something else to keep in mind.  God’s plan is also about strategy.  Don’t forget that we have a very real enemy who is also watching to see what God’s plan is.  His intention is to interfere with that plan as fast as he can.  Thankfully, God knows this and accounts for it.  Thus, His strategy is far more a significant factor than we’ve ever thought it was.

So when God’s plan begins to unfold and take shape in your life, be ready!  Quite often it comes as something that doesn’t make much logical sense to do.  Don’t over-think it.  Act.  Act on it now while everyone around you–including your enemy–is still wondering what you’re doing.  You act that fast, you’ll find that you are in possession of your Dream before anyone else even realizes what’s happened.

I can hardly wait to tell you why I know what I’m talking about here!  Make sure you’ve got your snowshoes with you, my friend.  They are a part of this more than you know.

When The Lion Roars

We’ve all heard it before.  There’s no way anyone or anything can ignore it when a lion roars.  An attention-getter for sure.

But when we hear that lion roar, what are we actually hearing?  Now, you’re probably wondering what it is that I’m really asking here.  Hang on for a minute and I believe you’ll see it.

If you’ve been walking with me in my snowshoes for any length of time, you already know two things about me:  One is that I am an adamant follower of Jesus Christ and the other is that I respect your right to believe what you believe.  So even if your belief system differs from mine, I need to lay that foundation real quick for you to see something really good.

We human beings have a very real enemy.  Satan is his name–an archangel whom God banished from Heaven because of his rebellion.  It’s important that you know that Satan couldn’t care less about us humans.  But because he knows how much God loves and values us, he absolutely despises us as a result.   This means then that he is committed to doing everything possible to ruin our lives.  So the Bible tells us that Satan “goes about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

So how is he seeking to devour in your life?  Quite often, it’s whatever you’re hearing that lion roar in your ear at any given moment.  And it could be about anything.  Fear, anger, resentment….you name it, he’ll use it.  The point is, if he can roar loud enough at you with whatever his tool-of-choice might be (a life-threatening disease would be a perfect example), he will succeed in getting your focus on him instead of where it ought to be.  And where is that?

If a person is being honest with himself/herself, something will be very obvious about the human condition and science.  Enough research and study has been made in these arenas to show that there is far more to life as we know it than these three dimensions we live in.  The human spirit is a place of incubation–meaning that we always have something there that we are growing.  Something “faith-based”.  Whether it’s a promise from God (which the Bible is full of) or fear, something is always incubating there.  We were created to always be focused on what God has promised us.  Satan knows that and that’s what that lion roars against!  If he can get your focus off of what God says and onto what he is screaming at you, he wins.

So get focused!  Thankfully, Jesus has made that pretty easy to do.  And once you are, stay focused.  I guarantee you it will pay off in the end.