During my freshman year of college, my parents moved to a ranch house on the edge of the town. Across the street from their new home was the city cemetery. A place that is an integral part of small town America, a destination of frequent visitation throughout the year. It is wrapped up into life and as essential as the local hospital, grocery store, elementary school and the local café. Destinations that serve us in many ways from the time we enter this world up until the time we depart. It brings to mind a humorous anecdote from many years ago when our children were in their preschool days. When traveling to Nebraska, our daughters would recognize that we had arrived at Grandma and Grandpa’s house when the cemetery was in view. As we passed by the cemetery that particular year, one of our young daughters boldly stated, “there’s the necessary!” While we enjoyed a good laugh, we were reminded of the profound truth that was inadvertently conveyed in her words. Yes, the cemetery is a necessary part of life. One that we prefer to ignore or avoid until we experience the loss of a loved one, friend or coworker. The inevitability of this very necessary part of our life, however, enters in periodically to remind us that we are on the clock. Time marches on and everyone will one day experience that which is necessary in this life; our departure from this world and our journey into the next.
We mark “time” via a variety of milestones in life. Whether the marking of the seasons for those of us who live in the colder climates or the celebration of holidays, graduations or most notably birthdays. This time of year most of the world highlights the change in the calendar year. Looking forward to a new calendar year signals new beginnings with the launch of several “New Year’s Resolutions” for many people. This past Saturday at the gym where I exercise was quite crowded. It has a tendency to be so during the month of January each year as new goals for weight loss, exercise and Superman muscles inspire many. Reality tends to take hold by February, however, as the gym returns to normal with generally only the regular crowd in attendance. Why is that? Well, it can be hard to change course……to break across the grain of the routine and habits we have developed. To do something new, we need to give up something else generally and that can be a challenge. Making resolutions or goals, however, are clearly worthwhile. Organizations would be lost without them and would likely soon fail. Setting new goals each year have been an integral part of my business profession. (My success or lack thereof on these were also an integral part of my performance review!) Yes, establishing goals are a means of setting the “compass” for the organization. Where are we going and how will we know when we get there? The principle here for the organization is also true for the individual. Individually, setting a direction for where I want to grow personally in my walk with God, my marriage, my role as a Dad, my relationships with others, and yes, even in my profession are critical in order to make progress in the things that matter most. Yet, in my discussions with people, it’s rare to find those who have established specific goals for their personal life and even more rare if they are written down. It’s just not a common practice.
Shortly after becoming a Christian in my 20’s, I was encouraged to take into account this element of “time”. How will you “spend” your time? What will you invest in? The verse Luke 2:52 was used as a focal point. The life of Jesus. He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with man. As a Christian, I’m called to walk as Jesus did…..I John 2:6. It begins with my personal walk with God. How can we grow in that area of our life this year? Some steps that can help get us started in moving in that direction. First, reflection – In reflecting back on 2016, identify at least one area of progress in our spiritual life this past year and spend time in prayer thanking God for His work in our life. And after spending time in thanksgiving, ask God for insight on opportunities where we need to grow this year. Secondly, spiritual goals – set at least three goals for how we can pursue a closer walk with God this year. The word of God is central to our efforts here along with the power of the Holy Spirit at directing our steps. From our prayer life to our time in the word, numerous avenues can be followed that will deepen our fellowship with God. He has called us into fellowship with Him and He will be faithful to meet us there. I Corinthians 1:9
Moses knew the importance of time…..he stated that “the length of our days is seventy years —– or eighty, if we have the strength;” Psalm 90:10a. Moses also asked God earlier in this Psalm to teach us to number our days aright that we would gain a heart of wisdom. May that be our prayer this year, a heart of wisdom to know God, His truth, His ways, and to walk in them.
Recently, I asked our daughters if they remembered what “sticker” was identified with the Scripture verse, Genesis 1:1. They all responded with the “snail” sticker. Now you are likely wondering what in the world is he talking about! Well, you have to go back to the “beginning.” The beginning of when our girls were just growing up; even before they were able to read and write. Marian and I wanted our children to know God’s word. So, when they were in the “preschool days”, Marian put together a number of Scripture verses on cards. And to help add some fun, “stickers” were attached to each of the different Scripture verses. Our girls ended up identifying the verse with the different stickers. The Genesis 1:1 verse was remembered as the one with the snail sticker and they can still quote the verse.
In our early years of parenting, Marian and I sought the counsel of godly people to help us in the great adventure of raising our children. We knew that we only had one shot at this and we wanted to do our best to get it right. We were encouraged to start early and to look into the Scriptures for guidance. What does God say about this whole parenting thing? So that’s what we did. We had a concordance and looked up verses that pertained to family, parents, father, mother, and children (son, daughter). That was a great start and gave us a beginning foundation. We also sought to ask others whom we respected for advice and they were glad to share about the lessons they had learned through the years. A godly woman who had taught and directed Christian education for many years provided verses that would be appropriate for children during their early years of development. She gave us several verses to consider but the one that stood out to me at the time seemed unusual. Why would she include this one? It was Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Years later I began to truly appreciate the importance of that verse through the experience of a missionary family with New Tribes Mission. As the father explained their method of sharing the gospel with a “new tribe” of people in Papua New Guinea, they did not begin with the New Testament. They started with Genesis and it took many months before they even began to talk about Jesus, the Son of God. They needed to start with God, the Creator and His work on earth before He sent His Son to redeem mankind.
Teaching our children the Christian worldview starts at the beginning of their life and will continue for the remainder of their days. In western civilization, it is not essential that we begin teaching our children with the Old Testament. The Bible is still very much a part of our culture and society contrary to the efforts of many today. But our teaching will need to entail the whole Bible; both Old and New Testaments. Teaching our children is certainly our responsibility, but it is also a great privilege that we have as parents. To be able to share the “good news” with our children. To know God and to make Him known……there is no greater adventure!
Being the Dad for three wonderful daughters has certainly been an experience. When men discover that my children are all girls with no boys, I get a range of responses. On one extreme, are those who wonder how I can manage living in a household of women. That must be really tough with no other men in the house. On the other extreme, are those who are envious. Wow, you must be treated like a “King” in your house….being waited upon constantly with every need and want being met extravagantly! Both perspectives are perhaps more representative of the particular man’s view of the world than reality. In most cases, they have not experienced living only with women in their home, they can only imagine.
My experience with only ladies in my home, of course, was not planned. Our daughters were God’s gifts to my wife and I and we treasure them greatly. (Psalm 127:3) But experience on my part in coming into this inheritance was not something I possessed. You see, I grew up in a family of seven members and only one was female. My Mother! Growing up with four brothers was a world of “snips and snails and puppy dog tails”. That is what little boys are made of…..and we were the regular garden variety type boys. Wrestling, playing “cowboys and Indians”, army, baseball, football; you name it, we played it. Burning energy and consuming potatoes by the gunny sack composed our days. My mother learned how to make boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, American fries, fried potatoes, scalloped potatoes, and French fries. We raised potatoes on the farm and they were an inexpensive means of filling the stomachs of five hungry boys. My mother was extraordinary in not only finding creative ways to keep us all fed, she managed to keep us clothed with patches on our jeans. Jeans that were continually needing repair following the latest backyard football game or jumping off the chicken coop.
So moving from a man’s world into the world of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” was indeed a change from my experience. No history of growing up with sisters on a daily basis. No opportunity to learn about what the priorities might be for one who is made quite different than me. God, however, took all of that in to account. Contrary to the belief of some, God didn’t make a new species when he made girls. He took the rib, remember, out of man (Genesis 2:21) and made a woman. A little different, yes, but not an alien. So, we’re closer than you think! And yet, there is still a gap to be bridged. But it’s not a “bridge too far,” it just takes initiative. A desire to understand, to participate and to love. Those are my intentions with my daughters; to seek to understand, to be with them and to love them. To be there for them. I must admit that I have not mastered these…..I’m still a work in progress. It’s a lifelong journey and an adventure with bumps along the way.
Being a Dad of daughters is a privilege that I would not trade. I learned some things from my mother through the years on how she managed to live in a household of men. She lived where we lived, in the world of trucks & cars and football games. When we watched football games on Sunday afternoons, she watched them with us. Following the football game, we would go out to play a backyard game imagining we were our favorite pro football players. My brothers and I were quite competitive and each of us selected a different pro football team. My team was the Minnesota Vikings. My mother just turned 86 this past week and she still loves to watch football games. The Green Bay Packers happen to be one of her favorite teams. She loved being with her boys and it still carries on. May that lesson never fade for me…..
Kirk Thomsen grew up in a small agricultural community. Farming carried a significant impact on the early days of his life until he finished college and joined a manufacturing company in the field of human resources. An important detour took place in his mid-20’s when he discovered the true “King of Kings.” The adventure that began then still continues today with the world’s greatest wife, Marian and three wonderful daughters. He is a very blessed man!
About the Blog
While the jury is still out on whether Kirk can write or not, (still a work in progress!) he does have a passion for knowing Christ and for making Him known. The focus here will be consistent with the mission of Daughters of Decision, encouraging believers to grow as disciples of Christ. The perspective, however, will be from a man’s point of view. Think of it as being “fair and balanced.”