Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What If?

Do you ever play the "what if" game? What if my childhood had been different?

When I was a pre-teen I used to get in the somersault position and look at the ceiling. I would imagine it was the floor. In order to walk from room to room you would have to step over the doorway. It gives you a whole different perspective. As I was thinking about this weird view of the house I remembered from childhood (no I am not in the somersault position looking at the ceiling!!!) It made me think "what if?"

What if my childhood had been different? My dad is a PHD chemist. He is very smart with some astronomical IQ. He does not have as much common sense though. He is and always has been obsessed with being a farmer. After graduating from college with his PHD in Missouri, he got a job in east Texas. I was in 1st grade. We moved to a house in a town of 60,000 people. It was not long (2nd grade) before we moved again. This time we lived in the country, so my dad could have a few acres of land. Then in 4th grade we moved again. This time my dad and mom bought 62 acres. We lived in a 2 bedroom house on the property. Then my dad leased some more land, so he could bale hay. My sister and I spent many gratis hours in the hay field during high school. We were helping him make his dream come true. 

When I finished at the local junior college, I moved to Texas A&M. My dad and mom paid my expenses and provided a car. College was so hard. I studied all the time. In April of my third semester at A&M, my dad quit his job. He had been with the company for 15 years. He was now going to bale hay and farm on a full-time basis. He called me at A&M and said I would have to move home after the semester was over. I was devastated.

I came home and decided I would attend UT-Tyler. I visited the campus. It was so small. It was so not A&M. I decided I would go back to A&M and get a job. I moved back to A&M at the end of summer and got a job at a motel. I worked as a desk clerk on the weekends and also worked one day during the week. However, the engineering program was so difficult that I got on scholastic probation. I changed majors and entered the business school. I continued the computer programming classes offered in the business school. I took 12 hours a semester. I worked and I went to school.

Eventually after 5 and a half years in college I finished my BBA at Texas A&M. I graduated in December of 1986. I had done it. I had put myself through school and I only took one loan of $1800.

Reflecting back on all of this, it may seem that I am disappointed in my dad and mom. I am not. When my dad quit his job, I began to see him as he really is. He wants his life to be about farming and will do anything to get there. It took time for me to understand that.  If my dad had not quit work to pursue his dream, I would never have been given the opportunity to put myself through school.

What if? For me, the opportunity to put myself through college was a great advantage. It allowed me take classes at my own pace. It allowed me to succeed in something that was really important. It allowed me to grow as a young woman and realize that even when things are difficult, they are still achievable. It changed me for the better.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Good Friends

This picture is two of my cats. Nacho is the black one. He is about a year old. Malley is the gray one. She is about 6 months old. They are friends. He is reserved. She is rambunctious. 

This picture reminds me of my two good friends, Valerie and Michelle. You may be laughing and wondering which one is Valerie and which one is Michelle. The truth is the picture reminds me of the symbolism of our friendships.

Valerie is tall and beautiful. Michelle is short and pretty. I am, medium height and have a lot of gray hair. We do not look alike, but we have bonds that bind us together.

First of all, we are moms. We have 7 kids between us. They love my kids and I love their kids. They are part of my family even though we do not live under the same roof. I feed them. I take them where they need to be. I encourage them. I scold them. But, most importantly, I love them. My life would not be the same if I did not have all of these kids in it. 

Second, we support each other. We chop lettuce for each other when a party is taking place last minute. We run to the store and get sour cream when one of us forgot it. We provide back-up for each other. We give and receive small gifts of encouragement. We listen to each other's concerns. We talk about challenges, problems, and things that annoy us. We talk about the good stuff, like the sports our kids are doing, the activities that keep us busy, and chance to sit and eat chips and salsa. We talk about God. We share our lives. 

Third, we accept each other as we are. Whether short, or tall, or somewhere in between, we respect each other. Whether reserved or rambunctious, we love each other. 

It reminds me of a verse from the Bible.
Romans 15:7 - Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

We accept each other, just as God has accepted us. We accept and even celebrate our differences, our flaws, our achievements, our friendship. I am so thankful that God provided these two women that I call friends. They make my life better.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mercy triumphs over judgment

James 2:13 says, "Mercy triumphs over judgment."

I love this saying but find it so hard to follow. In my head I know that it is the right thing to do, but my emotions get in the way and cloud my judgment. Did you notice that - judgment. The mercy slips away that quickly and judgment fills its place.

I was talking to a young man a few days ago. He is struggling with all of those things that young people struggle with - fitting in, being liked, making good grades, arguing with his parents. I mentioned this Bible verse to him.

I told him a story about myself. One morning, my husband and I were out walking on Main St. We had eaten breakfast and were strolling with our cups of coffee. We went in a shop and got reprimanded for having cups of coffee. We were told to take them outside. Now this was especially offensive to me since I had spent $100's of dollars in this particular shop. I rebeled and kept my coffee with me, but left the store in a few minutes. I ranted at Quentin about being reprimanded (it is one of my MAIN pet peeves).

He said, "Oh Beth, he just doesn't want anything spilled on his inventory."

Well I could understand that, but still. Then I remembered, "Mercy triumphs over judgment."

I walked down the sidwalk reciting it to myself. It took quite a while for the mercy to replace the judgment. Even though I know this verse by heart and know the effect it can have on my life, my words, my actions, it still does not take center stage. I am so human.

We used to have a preacher who always said, "Lord have mercy" in his sermons. The Lord does have mercy. We on the other hand are always struggling to be merciful.

Well, my young friend posted the scripture on his FB wall. A reminder to me to be merciful. Isn't that what God would want? 

Monday, January 10, 2011

January Blues

Art: James Dupree, Evolving Elements

Well Christmas is over. School is back in session. The weather is dreary. So goes January.

I struggle with winter. The days are cold or wet. It does not allow me enough time outside. One good thing though, my daughter is into running and needs a partner. I cannot run, but I can walk. So, we bundle up and hit the streets. It is good for her because she gets her exercise and I get get mine too. I told her yesterday, "This is really good. I have a checkup in February. Now I will not weigh so much!!!" She said, "Well if you diet and exercise, you can lose more!" Always the optimist!

Something struck me over the holidays. There are a lot of kids out there who are lost. They do not have reliable friends. They have lost loved ones. They have teachers and coaches who are condescending and belittling. They have frustrations. They have issues.

I keep in touch with several kids through FB or texting. There are so many of them who do not know how to act or where to get help. They search for a kind word or gesture and do not get it at home. So they look further. The kids who party are always willing to accept them as part of their group. "We party. You can party too. Be like us. See how well we are doing? See how popular we are." 

Confusion ensues. "We are accepted by the party group, maybe we should hang with them."

Who is there to tell them that there is a better way? 
Who will help guide them to Jesus?
Who will help keep them connected to Jesus after they accept Him as their Savior?

Why do we parents find it so hard to talk to our kids? 
Why do we parents avoid the hard subjects like: alcohol (illegal for under 21), drugs (illegal), pre-marital sex (illegal under 17, immoral), smoking (illegal under 18). 

I do not have any answers. I want my kids to be aware. Aware of the laws. Aware of the pitfalls of bad decisions. Aware of the cost of "fitting in". Aware of their abilities. Aware of the choices they have.

I only have two biological children, but I have many kids. I want all of my kids to know that they are loved. I will listen to them talk. I will listen to them complain. I will try to guide them during good times and hard times. I will encourage them to be what God wants them to be. I will pray for them.

Do you know a young person who could use a kind word? Learn to text and get their number. It could change their life and yours.