Choosing Counselors


I have begun to think of all the counselors that I have had over the years.  When you think of counselors, your mind is probably drawn to people you pay to get their advice like myself.  When you think from that perspective, many of you have never paid for counseling so your answer would be zero.  Others have had one or maybe a handful over your lifetime so you would answer differently.

But there is another kind of counselor or advisor that I am thinking about.  These individuals come into our lives and give us advice whether we are asking for it or not.  They are friends who have opinions on our relationship issues and give advice as to what we should do.  “Tell him to go to h_ _ _!!”  “Don’t take that from her!!”  “You should go to that party!”  “He’s dropped you so go out and date and don’t waste your time on him!!”  “Don’t wear that outfit!”  “If I were you this is what I would do!”  “You’d be foolish to take that job!”  Drop her!!”  “Drop him!!”  We have heard these opinions from our friends and family over the years.  Thousands of opinions about what we should say or what we should do.

There are advisors that are speaking out on various kinds of issues in the schools and in churches.  Those speaking to us are advising us as to what we should do and what we should be.  It can be good advice and it can be bad advice.  Everyone has an opinion and many are free to give their opinion even if they don’t have the best advice or have all the answers.  Opinions on what we should do or be comes freely in every direction throughout our life whether we want it or not.

Heres the big question.  How do we evaluate the best advice from the bad advice?  Stop and think about this question.  Who are your counselors and advisors you are listening to?  What experience and expertise do they bring to the table in helping us make the right decisions for our life?  Do they know both sides to make wise and beneficial input to our circumstances?

The reason for my thinking about this subject came when I was reading in the Old Testament of the bible and came across a couple of kings who had advisors advising them in leading the nation of Judah.  The first King was Ahaziah.  “He (Ahaziah) walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother gave him evil advice.  So he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight like the house of Ahab, for they were his advisers after the death of his father, to his destruction. II Chron. 22:3-4  It sounds like he had a father who had been giving him good advice, but when his father died, he listened to his mother who was evil and gave him evil advice.  Yes, bad advice can come from some of the closest people in our lives, even our mother.  (Now I’m not referencing all mothers as my mother is one of the wisest woman I know).

Another king I was reading about was Joash who was 7 when he became king.  He led Judah for 40 years and had a wise counselor by the name of Jehoiada, his priest.  “Throughout the time of the priest Jehoiada, Joash did what was right in the Lord’s sight.” . . .  “However, after Jehoiada died, the rulers of Judah came and paid homage to the king.  Then the king listened to them, and they abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and served the Asherah poles and the idols’  II Chron. 24:2, 17-18.  Joash had a wise counselor for many years, but when Jehoiada died, he turned and began to listen to others who were bad advisors to his detriment.

On this journey we are always choosing who we are going to listen to.  There will good advisors as well as bad advisors that come into our lives.  Keeping our focus on the Lord will help us in discerning which is which.

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Travel Mercies


When you take a month-long journey in your car or truck, there are bound to be experiences that happen when driving where you see the hand of God guiding and protecting you.  I wrote about the first experience we had with the spring snow in Colorado when we were driving from Denver to Grand Junction.

The last experience we had was when we were on the I-880 from San Francisco to Monterey, CA.  We were going about 65 mph and talking about our soon to be experience in Monterey Bay.  I was in the HOV lane with the median wall on my left side.  For whatever reason, I happened to look to my right and noticed a blue VW bug beginning to encroach in my lane.  I became aware of this disturbance and began to move to my left closer to the wall.  My thought was to honk at the woman in the VW, but before I could do that, she became aware of her encroachment and readjusted her position.  Unfortunately she over-corrected by turning her steering wheel to the right and went into the lane to her right and hit a SUV.  At 65 mph, she hit it several times with a clunk, clunk, clunk sound.

My immediate thought was that she would over-correct again and come back into my lane.  My foot went to the floor on the accelerator and took off.  As I was accelerating, I could hear the effects of other cars hitting one another as I drove out of sight.  I don’t know what happened after that, but I do know that God got me out of a potentially bad situation on the I-880 freeway.

I have often prayed for travel mercies for myself or for others, but don’t know what God does in answering that prayer request on so many occasions.  This is one where Nadine and I began to thank the Lord for His sparing us a lot of grief and potential physical pain from a lapse of concentration on the part of the lady driving the bug.

I wonder how many of these potential mishaps are avoided when we take off a little later or earlier than we anticipated.  We have no idea what lies before us, but God does.  He knows what we will encounter before we encounter the experience.  He is always aware of our circumstances and in the case of my experience, made the woman aware of what she was about to do in going into my lane.  I feel for her as well as for all who were affected in the accident, and am thankful for His mercy in saving me from the accident that very easily could have impacted Nadine and myself.

In Psalms 139, the writer talks about God’s awareness of who I am and what I am doing.  “You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away.  You observe my travels and my rest; you are ware of all my ways.” Psalms 139:1-3 CSB.  If we truly believed this statement, we might think differently about our actions and rest more fully upon Him to guide and direct our lives.

On this journey, it is important to rest upon God’s power to guide and direct our steps and be in a thankful posture for each step God gives us.

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Baby Elephant Seal


I have come to appreciate God’s creation especially when it comes to the animals that He created and the ways in which babies grow up to become adults and then reproduce themselves.  One such case happened to be when we were visiting our friends in Freeland, Washington.  Freeland is on an island just off the coast next to Seattle and is about 50 miles long from one tip to the other.  On the north side of the island you can get over by bridge, but on the south you have to travel by ferry.

We rode on a 3+ hour ferry from Victoria, BC to the US mainland and had to go through customs which seemed to take forever.  Once on the mainland, we then drove 2 hours to Freeland where we stayed for a couple of days.  Don and Aggie are our age and are past the age of having more children, so we thought is strange that they were saying they had a new addition to their family.  Their children weren’t with them at the time so we didn’t think they were talking about a new grandchild.  Higgins is their dog and is 17 years old, so we knew they weren’t talking about a new puppy.

They took us to the back yard and up on a board walk next to the ocean and behold we found out what they were talking about.

 

It was a baby elephant seal.  He was born on the island with his mother and was about 75 pounds at birth.  She was there for 27-28 days to wean this pup and then took off.  She took off.  He was by himself (or herself I couldn’t tell nor would I have any knowledge of knowing).  She left him/her.  All alone.  To fend for himself.  Eating and sleeping alone.

I learned later as I read about elephant seals is that the mother leaves after weaning them because if they don’t leave, the babies become dependent upon the mother’s milk and will not hunt for themselves.  When the mother leaves, it forces the baby to begin hunting on her own and fending for herself.  After about 2-3 months the mother comes back and takes up connection with her baby after the baby has grown to 600-1000 pounds.

God has instilled within His creation innate skills for growing into adulthood.  Babies are designed to grow into adulthood and become independent of their parents.  It takes longer for humans to grow into adulthood than for baby elephant seals, but the process of becoming independent is essential no matter what the species.  Sometimes it would be helpful if human parents cut off the ties of dependency sooner so that children would be forced to grow up like the elephant seal.

As parents on this journey, we are called upon to cut the dependent ties and let our children become adults.  It’s never too late, but the later we try to cut, the more difficult it will be to create mature, independent, decision-making adults.  If we have strong willed children and we don’t cut the ties, they will through rebellion which becomes much more painful.  Good luck parents. Continue reading

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Pain to Euphoria


Life is sometimes like climbing a mountain.  Tyler is an avid hiker and wanted to take the family on a hike to Heather Lake in the Cascades of Washington.  I was up for the hike but had some fear and in trepidation due to the fact that he regularly goes on hikes that take him to the top of the mountains in a day and back, needing crampons and other skilled hiker gear to get to his destination.

A little back drop.  I knew what kind of hiker he is and that he is 22.  I’m a senior citizen and am in pretty good shape, but shape is relative.  I was concerned that what he thought was easy was not easy for me nor for Nadine.  We had a few discussions before the hike as to how difficult the hike was and he assured us that we could do this hike.  The final count of those going was 4 total, Tyler, his sister Ashley 33, and Nadine and I.  Two young adults and a seasoned couple.  It took about an hour to drive to the parking spot and we began to assault the 2.8 mile trail one step at a time.

Right from the beginning the percent of incline was 10% reaching greater inclines of difficulty as we went.  I kept saying to myself slow and steady and was bringing up the rear the whole way up.  Slow and steady.  Slow and steady.  S l o w and s t e a d y.  A below picture gives you some idea of what we were climbing.

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It took all I could muster to take one step and then another.  It seemed like forever climbing over rocks and roots before we got to the top.  It seems my journey through life in many cases.  It’s a day in day out grind, doing the same thing over and over with imperceptible growth taking place, having to take difficult steps to reach a goal that seems very far away.

But then in the clearing we begin to see glimpses of coming out of the routine into the brilliance of a mountain top experience that takes your breath away.  We reached Heather Lake and saw the snow melting off the mountain tops cascading into water falls that tickled our ears.

 

We got to experience the beauty of a mountain lake half-frozen with the sound of waterfalls all around us draining into the lake.  We only experienced the beauty of the lake and waterfalls because we took the time to climb the trail that led to the beauty above.

Too many times on this journey, we want to experience the end result without dealing with the struggle of getting there.  We want instant.  We want end result.  We want results.  But what we want oftentimes comes by the struggle.  On this journey in order to reach the beauty of life, we are required to climb up and tackle the obstacles that come our way to reach the lakes and waterfalls of life.  Enjoy the process.

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Texas Fritter


This last Sunday was Mother’s Day and we happened to be in Seattle, Washington celebrating Tyler’s college graduation the previous day.  On Sunday we went down to Pike Market in downtown Seattle to get a taste of Northwest Pacific flair before going to dinner to celebrate Nadine’s day.

Nadine loves flowers and I try to get her flowers on a regular basis, but today was not the  time to get her flowers because we were traveling and the flowers would have no place to drink their water (can’t take a vase in the car).

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I know she loves fish, especially salmon, but putting a salmon in the car uncooked would be a mistake.

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I was having a hard time figuring out what to get her until I happened upon something that she loves.  Just a little backdrop.  She has a sweet tooth or could I say several sweet teeth.  To be exact all of her teeth love sweets, any kind of sweets.  Her father was a baker and pastries are her downfall.  As we were walking down Pike Market, we happened to pass a pastry shop with all kinds of pastries.  The one that caught my eye was her favorite, that being an apple fritter.  But this wasn’t just any old apple fritter.  It was a Texas apple fritter.  You might ask, ‘What is a Texas Apple Fritter?’  Well below is what was staring us in the face.

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We walked on without getting the fritter, but about an hour later the sweet teeth began to call and we had to go back.  When we arrived, they only had one left and its as if the money magically flew from our pocket to the cashier and the fritter was ours.

Below is a very fulfilled mother celebrating her mother’s day gift that did satisfy her sweet teeth.

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One of the members of my family described this fritter as bigger than Nadine’s head.  I believe it was.  On this journey, there are times when you just have to indulge your senses and go with the flow.

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Controlled Chaos


On our journey through the Northwest, we stopped in Spokane, Washington for the night and had the opportunity to walk downtown to see the Spokane River running through the walk-ways.  The Spokane River starts in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and snakes it’s 111 mile way to the Columbia River that eventually pours into the Pacific Ocean.  A close friend of mine told me a fact about the Columbia River that dumps its fresh water into the Pacific Ocean.  There is so much force of the Columbia River when it drains into the ocean that scientists have found fresh water in the ocean 6 miles from where the Columbia River merges with the ocean.

In Spokane there is a spillway in the middle of the city where the water flows over it and produces electricity in the picture below.  On the right, you can see the large amount of water spilling over the spillway in a controlled way as the walls stop the water from spreading over the side walls.  Once on the other side, there seems to be a chaos of water going everywhere with white rapids going in every direction as it rapidly moves down-stream.

It’s like our life at times.  There are times when there seems to be control in our lives and everything is running smoothly as we see on the picture on the right.  All of our life is organized and we manage to get the things we need to do done.  We have enough money in the checking account to pay all of our bills.  Our children are getting all of their homework done and are getting to bed on time.  The projects at work are getting done in the time that we’ve been given to get them done.  Everything seems to be going the way we want things to go.

Then all hell breaks loose.  We experience chaos in our lives when the money runs out and we still have 10 bills to pay.  Deadlines come and we aren’t even half done with the project.  We don’t know which way is up or down.  The relationships that we deemed closest to us are breaking apart.  We seem to be tossed to and fro with no anchor to keep our lives steady.  It’s in these times that we do need a solid foundation on which to rest.

Isaiah, a prophet in the Old Testament speaks to our need for a solid rock when our lives seem to be in chaos.  “Though youths grow weary and tired and young men stumble and fall, those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31.  On this journey there are going to be times of controlled chaos but we have a rock to stand on when the winds and torrents of life tempt us to be blown off course.

 

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Red Dog


You may be wondering why such an odd title for a jlog (my blog).  Am I going to be talking about an Irish Setter that is red?  They are very pretty dogs, but I’m not going to be talking about that kind of dog.  What about a Cavalier King Charles ruby dog?  They are reddish-brown in color and are wonderful dogs, but that’s not my topic.  In fact it’s not a dog at all that I want to talk about but it is an animal and its red.  Give up?

Well, I was in Jackson, Wyoming and came across a small herd of buffalo that had just calved a very tiny buffalo.  A new born buffals is called a red dog because it is red when it is born as in the picture below.

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Little “Red”, as I called him had just been born a few days earlier and we were so close to him that we could hear him grunt a deep grunt as his tail would go between his legs each time he grunted.  His mother was oblivious to his grunts as she continued to eat in the background.  He grunted and grunted, but she wasn’t having any of crying out to her.  He finally just layed down and quit grunting.

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I have no idea what little “Red” wanted by his grunts, but whatever he wanted he didn’t get it from his mother.  It reminds me of times when we ask God for something and He seems not to hear our prayers or answer our requests.  In the case of little “Reds” mother she was not going to give Red what he wanted.  Sometimes God does the same thing in saying no to us because He has a better plan for us than to give us everything that we ask for.

As a parent of children, what would happen if we gave in to every request that our children wanted from us.  Candy.  No bed times.  No vegetables.  Mac and cheese all the time.  Rooms filled with junk toys.  Our kids would be spoiled rotten if we gave them everything that they asked for.

On this journey, like Red, there will be times when we don’t seem to be getting what we want in life.  Maybe its time to realize that God may just be saying no to our request like momma buffalo was saying no to Red.

 

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