Christmas Letter 2019

Hey, y’all!  We decided to something different and unique and way out of our comfort zone this year, as our clan has grown and blossomed and there’s too much to put in a card. So for those of you who like the detailed version of this chapter in the Parsons’ saga, settle back, grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and enjoy the ride!

We are finally empty nesters!  All our children are happily married as Joanna and Jascha Baugbog tied the knot in March.  They were married at the Garey House in Georgetown, a beautiful outdoor wedding, catered by the Sweet Lemon Inn. Yummy food, a beautiful bride and jubilant groom and lots of fun meeting our new Filipino relatives!

We also welcomed a new grandson into the clan with the birth of Douglas and Jennifer’s second son, Gerald Kempen Parsons last March.  We missed Jennifer at Joanna and Jascha’s wedding, but were delighted to gain a new grandson!  Gerald is already scooting around and is a delight.

We thoroughly enjoyed having all three grandkids at Thanksgiving, watching the three boys interact with each other and keep us all laughing and giggling all week. Clark (Richard and Kayla’s son) started a game pretending to cough and asking everyone in the room to cough. We all complied, even Gerald, who when Clark pointed at him and said “Gerald, cough,” did!

Jackson spent a lot of time in Grammie’s lap playing Space Invaders on her phone; Clark spent lots of time with Granddad and we shared Gerald.  Such fun! And the house is now too quiet without our rambunctious boys. (Of course, we loved having the parents around, but the main attraction was the grandchildren. LOL)

Currently, Douglas and Jennifer are still in Tyler, teaching physics at Tyler Junior College and Douglas does star parties and is occasionally featured on the local news shows. They tag team to be home for the boys. Good thing Doug is an astronomer and doesn’t mind late hours as the boys like staying up late! Richard is middle management at Time Clock Plus in San Angelo and responsible for debugging new software and Kayla is pursuing her massage therapy certification, while teaching Spanish at a middle school, and chasing after Clark. She’s one busy mom! Joanna just started a new job in Austin and Jascha is working in environmental planning. They love their big city life in Austin and are always on the go. Sarah and William are both working in Plano, staying busy with their art and writing and hosting board game events. William is doing something his parents are envious of: actually getting paid for writing!

This has been a busy year with no major illnesses for Bruce. Yay! He’s got a clean bill of health and no return of any cancers. He stayed busy going back and forth to Lamesa every week to care for his parents and continuing pastoring Champion Baptist Church. It’s been time well spent with his parents; an opportunity for quality time in the guise of elder care.  He still loves being with Champion the past 19 years. With the four years from the 80s, he’s put in 23 years as pastor with people we consider our second “family.” We have been through many of life’s ups and downs with our beloved congregation, from births to deaths and all the joys and sorrows in between. What a blessing Champion has been in our lives and we infinitely richer and wiser for knowing these wonderful people who are the salt of the earth.   And for a little rural church, we’re doing well. The men’s meeting on Wednesday nights has grown, as has the youth group meetings.  There are many opportunities for ministry, we still love. We’re also getting ready to finish the building project by adding a multipurpose building for youth and fellowships and room for the annual community Feast of the First Turkey, Senior Day and Easter Cookout.

Carol has also been busy with her eighth year as AVID teacher at Roscoe Collegiate High School, yet managed to find time to publish another book in her Mars Red Sands series.  She also wrote another novel, but Home to Blue Ridge is still at the proofreading stage and won’t be released until next year.  You can find the link to Serenity here:

If you are interested in her other books, here’s the link to her author page:

Meanwhile, she’s struggling with some joint inflammation which has definitely made life interesting for now. It’s been a lot of fun having a “live in maid”. Bruce does all the laundry, cooking, cleaning and dishes.  In addition to her teaching duties, Carol is also in charge of yearbook, which has had its challenges, although she has a great little staff this year.

Carol also got to visit her sister Maggie and husband Frank in Alabama over the summer.  The girls had a great time visiting and shopping and hanging out, while Bruce and Frank stayed home and visited. Alabama is definitely greener than West Texas!  Tyler made a nice halfway point on the trip and gave Bruce and Carol an opportunity to visit with Jackson, Gerald and their parents!

Here are our favorite snaps from 2019.  Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Day. Photo by Jennifer Parsons

Joanna goes blonde

Uncle Will and Aunt Sarah with Gerald and Jack

Uncle Will and Gerald

Aunt Sarah and Jackson

An Unexpected Kindness on a Hot Day

Not everyone is out to make a fast buck.  In fact, some folks can be downright considerate—especially on a hot Texas summer day.

A twenty minute drive may not seem like a big deal, but factor in 100 degree plus dry Texas heat and no air conditioning in the car and suddenly that twenty minute drive is an eternity on the planet Vulcan. Finding myself without a water bottle, I scrounged my change purse to see if I had enough to buy one. I did, but rather than pull into a convenience store and spend fifteen minutes going through the checkout line with perishable  groceries in a hot car, I opted for the drive through at McDonald’s.

Imagine my surprise when the girl at the window said, “We don’t charge for water.”

It may not seem like much, but when you factor in the cost of cups, ice, lids, straws and employee time, times customers that adds up to a nice piece of change.

I don’t know if every McDonald’s offers water for free or if it’s just our local one, but it certainly was a nice and unexpected delight on a hot summer’s day.

Proverbs 11:25 says, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” I don’t know if a corporation can be considered a soul, but someone at the top decided not to charge for water. Just a little extra kindness not usually seen in corporate America, but greatly appreciated by this customer. It’s one more reason why I like McDonald’s.

Time Travel

Time travel does exist, however, we don’t always realize we are experiencing it.  This week we are spending time with the grandboys and loving every exhausting minute of it. At ages almost 2 and three months, it is remarkable how many déjà vu memories these precious kids bring back, and so I end up time traveling to moments when my son was small.

Last night, for example, I was singing a song to Jackson before bedtime and experienced a trip back in time to when I did the same for his daddy. Same song, same type of rocking chair, same dark room, except his had cool glow in the dark stars on the ceiling in the precise constellations (his daddy is an astronomer).  Or how about yesterday when we were in the restaurant and Jackson is making the exact same faces his daddy did while eating?

There are several more instances, but you’d have to be there to appreciate the wonder of it all. Needless to say, time travel exists whenever grandchildren are around. I am instantly transported back to those moments with my own children by a touch, a scent, a similar experience and once again I am back in the 80s (ah, the absolutely BEST decade).

But wait! If time travel is possible, how about the future? Well the grandboys allow me to do that as well, since I look at their daddy and I see them all grown up with all the different possibilities and experiences he’s had.

This strong connection to the past and future through giggles, smiles, sweet hugs, reading books together, playing with Legos, cars or my personal favorite—standing outside on a pleasant summer evening and showing Jackson Jupiter in the sky (It was Venus, for his daddy)—strengthens my growing conviction that recognizing time travel in our daily lives will make us better people.


It’s a Myth

Let me start off by stating this is not a rant post. It is, however, a realistic look at a certain viewpoint based on a lifetime of experiences, some good, some not so good.  First let’s talk about the “myth” for this post.  There is a long standing axiom passed down through the generations that has a dual component: One person can make a difference and the next generation has the power to change the world.

Based on this myth involving change, countless wide-eyed and enthusiastic young people have boldly gone forth believing that their generation can be movers and shakers.  Yes, we have seen pivotal moments in history where that is true, such as the generation that broke from Britain and made this country possible.  But it is more of an exception than the rule.

Case in point: If each generation can make a difference, why are we still stuck in the 70s?  I grew up during the turbulent 70s and hated every moment.  I hated the music, the clothes, the values, yet in my own way I guess I was a product of the 70s since I “rebelled” against the hippie mindset instead of the establishment.  I kept waiting for the time when “my generation” would be in charge, but that hasn’t happened, except for brief few years during the 80s when everyone had a chance to obtain the “good life” and values seemed to make the whole country better.  Then it was back to the 70s in everything.

Even in the 21st century we seem stuck in the past, but not the good past, and I’ve spent my entire adult life wondering when “my” generation would be in charge.  Whatever generation is in charge now, we seemed to have skipped mine.

No, I don’t long for the “good old days” since those days also had their own unique set of problems and issues, but I do miss a generation that didn’t roll its eyes at older adults, give the least amount of work possible and demand full pay, or think that violence against people and women was actually a good thing to throw money at.

So, no, I don’t think each new generation can make a difference except to take the world to a darker place. The only way a difference will be made is through individuals, which brings me to the second part of the myth.

Movies and books love to spin fantasies of individuals making a pivotal change in history.  Again, those are the exceptions rather than the rule.  However, individuals CAN make significant differences in their family trees and change the lives of individuals around them.  But that presupposes the individual has core values and something worth making a difference.  Perhaps the reason we see such despair and hatred, such darkness around us today, is we lack that core value; we lack the something worth making a difference.

As I’ve watched a steady decline in the entertainment field from light to dark, I’ve realized the further we drift from that “something worthwhile”, the worse things will get and the less likely individuals will make a difference in the lives around them.  When a “squeaky clean”, noble, and virtuous image is seen as boring and worthless, the culture is lost.  And when a culture is lost, so is civilization. We de-evolve to Neanderthals.

But even myths contain a kernel of truth. So what’s the solution if we want to see a generation rise up to challenge the status quo and individuals who can make a genuine difference?


Faith in Someone greater than ourselves. Faith in the One who made the ultimate sacrifice to pay a debt we can never pay, along with the realization that we have no strength in ourselves, no capability in and of ourselves to change or influence anything or anyone.

This isn’t a “it’s hopeless” blog. It’s a call to change directions and realign our moral compasses. To reclaim the dreams and values that make people still desire to immigrate to America because we are different; we offer hope to a hopeless world.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”  Philippians 4:8

Help One Another

My earliest memories are of traveling…junkets to the lake or beach with my family to collect sea shells or go fishing. We never stayed overnight anywhere because we couldn’t afford to do so, yet those short trips within an hour’s drive of home ignited a sense of adventure and broadened my horizons to see there was more to the world than the four blocks around my house.

Fast forward to college and a kid from the wrong side of the tracks scraps together every spare dime to make sure she could travel: Belize, Panama, New York City. $400 may not seem like much, but to a poor kid it was a king’s ransom. Scholarships and grants helped finance those long ago trips as part of my college curriculum and the lessons I learned have helped me develop as an individual and as a successful teacher in a small rural school.  The music and art and cultures I experienced helped me understand myself and others in ways that merely reading a textbook never would.

But not every student gets those rare opportunities. Sometimes it’s a location problem and there are no beaches or lakes within driving distance. Sometimes family finances have to focus more on food and shelter and clothing than expanding a child’s  mind and thirst for knowledge. Sometimes it’s a cultural issue and families fear to let their child make a long trip faraway.   But for a few kids, getting an opportunity to travel to somewhere exotic is a once in a lifetime possibility, and it’s a opportunity that creates a thirst for learning and college.

I’m taking a group of yearbook students to Japan during spring break 2020 and they could use your help. Be a sponsor or make a donation. Give them a chance to see the world.  Most of these students are first generation college students. By that, I mean they are going to be the first in their family to attend college and the obstacles to make that happen are huge. Travel is a good way to help them experience and understand there is more to life than what they see at home.

Why Japan?  It’s a STEM and photography culture and we are striving in Roscoe to encourage young people to train in STEM fields.  As yearbook, I want them to develop a photography mindset—that everywhere you go is a story to photograph. Seeing is believing and helping them see is half the battle to get them to college. They are working hard to raise the funds, but small rural communities are limited in what they can provide and do.  That’s why we need to help one another.

I’m not a socialist. I don’t believe the wealthy should pay for everything, but I do believe in neighbors helping neighbors. That’s the way the West was settled and that’s the way the West thrived. So if over the next few months you have a few extra dollars, why not make a donation to these eight kids and help them raise the $4,000 each they need to make a dream come true.  (One hundred percent of the funds raised goes to the trip for the student)

Just click on a link. Chase Ashleigh Alfonso Karen Giselle Analicia Cera Max

Good is Not Safe

I’m a huge fan of classic literature with its clear-cut boundaries between good and evil, where heroes are true heroes with an uncompromising moral code, even if they make poor choices. The current brand of literature with its villains as heroes isn’t something I’m going to pick up and read or watch.

But we have to ask the question: why has literature devolved into the idea that good is weak, safe, soft and definitely less powerful than evil?

I think it has its roots in a core belief that God Himself is weak and powerless. Not because He is, but because we desire Him to be.

A namby-pamby God isn’t someone we need to be afraid of or someone we need to obey. A “Santa Claus” kind of God gives us what we want without asking anything in return and thus, we can despise and belittle Him because He’s good and will “turn the other cheek.”

The turning the other cheek applies to humans – not God.

Good isn’t safe.  Good does what’s right and best regardless of circumstances, abilities, beliefs, or what other people think or want. Good is the most powerful force in the universe because it can’t be bought, corrupted or diverted. And that scares us. It’s why we need flawed heroes – the worse the better because then we don’t have to change; we don’t have to be accountable.

People have a problem with God because of their need to defend their individual rights. We don’t want anyone to interfere with our right to do evil. We want to justify our actions, attitudes, and beliefs without having a universal standard of right and wrong simply because we’re the weak, corruptible ones.

I tell my writing students all the time that if a hero isn’t morally good, he isn’t a hero—just another guy who can occasionally do heroic things.  A true hero has self-control. A true hero protects and cherishes everyone, all the time, and puts his needs and wants in a secondary position.

But this post isn’t about heroes.  It’s about God and how He is the source of good and therefore He is not safe. He will do whatever it takes to conform us to the image of His Son and that may not conform to our ideas of what is acceptable. Like little children we want cotton candy all the time and refuse to eat our veggies.

God is good, but He is not safe, nor is He powerless, weak or limited. He will transform you. He will change you. He will conform you to the image of Christ.  Good is not a pushover.

Fake News is All Around

Be advised…this is a rant, but not the kind you think.  The leading headline on Yahoo today is about obesity, but like so many news magazines and networks (whose only goal is how many viewers they can grab rather than reporting truth), they miss the real point.

It begins with a photo deliberately designed to make people angry at a particular restaurant. (This has been going on for a while.) So why Mcdonald’s and not Wendy’s? Or Burger King? Or even Chili’s or Outback?  All of the afore mentioned restaurants serve fried and fatty foods.  And all of them have super-sized, whopper-sized or all-you-can-eat type of servings.

The real issue with obesity isn’t the restaurants—it is and always has been US.

Just recently (within the last six months) I’ve lost 40 lbs dropping from a size 18 to a size 10;  not from any real desire on my part to change my shape or weight, but because my insurance company is charging me $80 a month over my premium as  fat tax. I decided the privilege of drinking all the Dr. Pepper I want wasn’t worth $80 a month, so I’ve lost weight.  Obesity come from overindulgence—getting the super-size, barrel size, upgrades because it’s more of what we want and the cost factor allows us to rationalize our lack of self-control.

Obesity isn’t a poverty issue, either as anyone who’s actually been in a third world country with true poverty can attest.  America is the only nation whose poor people are overweight. True poverty keeps one thin (not that I’m recommending poverty as a weight loss program).  Oh, I know the liberal agenda touts cheap fast food as the reason, but “fast food” isn’t cheap. I know.  My family of six seldom hit the McDonalds (or Wendy’s or Burger Kings) because we couldn’t afford it.  It was always cheaper to make the food at home than buy it. Trust me: I can stretch a can of mixing chicken and a box of Stove Top dressing to feed a family for less than a meal at a fast food restaurant.

So why are the media so set on destroying one particular company?

Control.  The news has always been about control from the days of the Spanish American War and yellow journalism.  Only today, the media uses more polite terms and calls everything it doesn’t authorize “fake news.” If you control the news, you control what people believe and Americans tend to be more gullible than most people because we’ve been free for so long. We take things at face value and don’t bother to check sources, facts, or think things through.

Another example is how my saving two gallons of water when I flush will provide water from someone in a third world country, but that’s a rant for another day. (If you want to provide clean water overseas, donate money to build a well).

We don’t need the news media to tell us how to think or what to eat or even where to eat.  We don’t need the government doing so either. Busy bodies are just that—meddlers who don’t have a real job so spend their time bothering other people.  If the busy bodies really want to cut down on obesity how about teaching self-control instead of teaching people to blame others? How about teaching self-responsibility instead of needing a nanny to wipe our noses? Only when we can take responsibility for our own actions and choices, will we begin to see change in the way Americans eat.

Gender Bias

“Come on, girls. We need more girls in engineering!’

Those words, spoken by a well-meaning person on a college campus to my group of 8th graders, set off warning klaxons in my mind.


Because as a girl-child in the 70s I’ve seen first hand how gender bias and double standards can ruin a culture. At first it was the double standard of ‘boys can, girls can’t’ mentality that caused the pendulum to swing back to the opposite side. Now the bias is ‘girls have to, boys can’t’.

Unfortunately, the feminist revolution of the late 70s and early 80s left women with no where to go. We were considered ‘wasting our talents’ if we stayed home, and yet if we went out into the career field, no one else helped with the staying-at-home chores. We got stuck doing both and made to feel inferior no matter what we did. The revolution took away our pedestals and gave us involuntary servitude as now both parents have to work to put food on the table.

The problem lies not in whether males and females can do a job, but our perception that somehow personality and skills are gender related.


Personality, whether it’s daring adventurers or tender nurturers, is not limited nor shaped by gender. Neither is skill. Anybody can learn; anybody can develop. Who we are and what we do can’t be determined by gender. Frankly, that’s as stupid as saying that a person has to be a carpenter because the parent is a carpenter.

Interestingly enough, this whole gender bias seems to have developed in the 1950s. Prior to that, a gentle man wasn’t seen as a wimp; rather he was a noble, strong individual who also happened be tender and considerate. It wasn’t until the 1950s that men felt compelled to be ‘macho’ and grunt and beat up people to prove their manhood.

As Americans, we have a pretty narrow focus on what should or shouldn’t be “acceptable” behavior for the sexes. But when one takes into account the vastness of historical context and the variety in culture, we see how truly limited that view is. Once I asked one of my classes “do strong men cry?” The overwhelming consensus was “no!” Yet when I pointed out that the hero in most K-dramas is very emotional and cries, it opened their minds to the idea that tenderness isn’t limited to girls.

It’s just as wrong to force girls into a career they have no interest or aptitude for as it is to deny them the opportunity to use their God-given gifts and talents. Neither should boys be denied a career because of their gender. People have vast resources and abilities, but it is not defined by their gender. Most other cultures seem to understand this, even if there is still inequity in the work force. Historically, women did what women needed to do to take care of their families and the cultures adapted. Whether in ancient Viking time where both men and women were warriors and could defend the home, to modern day where both males and females serve in the armed forces, the “job” hasn’t been about gender. Yes, I know that historically women have fought to get to where we are at today. Women were denied work in fields culturally and traditionally dominated by men. After all, I was given a B in college in photography because the male professor blatantly said, “girls shouldn’t be journalists.” It didn’t stop me; I just worked harder. Back in those days, women couldn’t be astronauts in NASA, and women writers had to use pseudonyms or initials. Now we are in a time when the job automatically goes to a woman whether she’s qualified or not. And Hollywood pretends that the world is run by women. But his post isn’t about the inequalities; it is about how peer pressure and pubic perception denies individuals the right to be whom they choose to be.

No woman should be forced to choose between family and career and no woman should be made to feel “inferior” if she chooses to stay home and raise a family over working in a STEM field. Neither should a man be called names or have his manhood doubted because he is gentle, tender, and likes beautiful and artistic things.

Personality and skills are not gender related.

Welcome to the Dark Side…We Have Cookies

I love technology…the more bells and whistles the better. I started out on an old Remington manual typewriter (the great-grandparent of modern day computers for the millennials out there), and I wouldn’t go back to those days for anything. Just trying to correct a simple mistake gives me the shudders, not to mention the problem of making multiple copies of one paper. Yes, today’s word processors beat the typewriter hands down.

But there is a dark side to technology, as well. Recently, I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to connect to the internet for work. Everyone else’s laptops connect just fine, but mine hangs up midway and refuses to cooperate. Having to do email on my phone is frustrating enough, but I do draw the line at trying to grade and correct essays on my phone. (I know, I’m just not tech savvy enough or at least haven’t learned the proper way to do it yet–I’m getting there, tho).

Yet what really bugged me was getting the alerts from Google that some other device had accessed my account twice and was I aware of it? Yes, Google, I was aware. That was me hacking my account on a friend’s computer so I could do my job because my authorized device wouldn’t talk to the internet. Beyond the fact that not only did my technology not do what I asked it to do, it had the audacity to track me and monitor my activities was a bit disconcerting to say the least. I mean, how do those dark net folks in movies get away with covering their tracks so easily? If a simple task like switching computers can raise red flags, how does anyone minimize their digital footprint?

Maybe this only bothers me, but I really don’t like the idea of some group, organization or other person knowing where I am at any given time without my permission. I’m a private individual and not fond of big groups to start with. I mean, I used to hang out in the government documents section of my college library just so I could read a book in peace. But it seems that in today’s techno world, falling off the grid isn’t so easy.

Welcome to the dark side; we have cookies and they aren’t chocolate chip.

The Hand the Rocks the Cradle Rules the World

Yesterday while buying groceries, I overheard a family trying to prep for Mother’s Day and complaining because they couldn’t find the “perfect” gift.  Sometimes the “perfect” gift is so simply we overlook it. Moms don’t  need expensive perfume or jewelry–they just  need to know their work and efforts are appreciated. I wanted to tell that family, “why don’t you make HER favorite meal or take her out to eat at HER favorite restaurant?”  I’m afraid, though, they wouldn’t know the answer, although she would have known their favorites.

Still looking for that perfect way to honor Mom?  How about doing the laundry this week? Or offering to make the grocery list and do the grocery shopping?  How about cooking a meal or two or vacuuming /cleaning the house?  Anything to give her a break from the daily routine of ordinary that we take for granted.

So here’s a thank you to all the mothers out there; thank you for:

*getting up in the middle of the night when we are sick

*thousands of loads of clean clothes

*thousands of meals

*a clean house

*gas in our car when we were running low

*a little something “extra” during those college  years when dorm food just didn’t cut it

*band-aids on our physical and emotional hurts

*giving up your time to come watch our extracurricular events

*saying no and meaning it

*setting standards even when it made us feel “different”

*loving us even when we aren’t very loveable


There are some other “mothers” out there–those mentors who encouraged us, guided us, nurtured us above and beyond our families. Some of these are older ladies in the community, aunts and grandmothers, teachers.  Thank you for “standing in the gap” for us, for being there with a kind word or a hug. Thank you for believing in us when no one else would. Thank you for taking time to see us as a person of value and worth.

Motherhood is something precious and special that is becoming more and more despised as feminism attempts to force a cookie cutter mold on everyone–the one-size-fits-all mentality that only finds respect and worth outside of the home. But the home is the center of society and when the home breaks down, so does society.


No, I don’t want to return to the 50s when women could only be mothers, but I also don’t want a society where woman cannot be mothers.   So thank you, moms, for your courage, fortitude, perseverance and guts to continue day in and day out to make the world a better place, whether you are a stay at home mom or a mom who balances a career and a home. What you do matters!

God bless you!


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