In Hindsight

Now that 2020 is nearly over, I realize my impression of the year is a bit different from the majority of Americans.  One doesn’t think a horrible year could be remembered “fondly”, but the Depression Era is a case in point when you listen to old timers talk about the “good ole days.”  Not to diminish or minimize the hardships and tragedies of the year, but my overall impression of 2020 isn’t bad. In fact, there was a silver lining.

2020 reset priorities.  With all the downtime at home, 2020 gave us the opportunity to spend more time with family, reconnect with each other and understand that self worth and value isn’t necessarily tied to the number of hours we work. It gave us the opportunity to make Kodak memories with our children and grandchildren and spouses which we normally would have been “too busy” with urgent but unimportant things to schedule. Somehow the spur of the moment “stop and smell the roses” became a lifestyle this past year as we learned to fill the extra time with the meaningful instead of the trivial.

2020 forced us to be creative. Whether it was online school or zoom business meetings, we discovered new ways of doing, streamlining work for more effective, yet relaxing productivity. We had to adapt to new methods, use new technology, reschedule, shift our perspectives and become comfortable with “out of the box” as the new normal. And while a lot of folks crave a return to the old way of doing, I think many more like the new way and will have problems returning to the same old humdrum 9 to 5 existence.

2020 slowed us down. As a journalist, I apprecite the concept of “white space” the blank places on a news paper page that allows the brain to process information in a coherent and logical way instead of being overwhelmed all at one with a page of black ink. Psychologists tout the fact the humans need “white space” in their lives to stay mentally and emotionally healthy, yet in the 21st century, we’ve become accustomed to going full bore, 24/7 with no time to rest or play.  In fact the motto of 21st Americans could well be Jefferson’s famous adage “Determine never to be idle. It is wonderful how much may be done if you are always doing.”  I use this as a persuasive prompt in my classes, challenging students to look at both sides and see if being idle does have benefits.  Being busy all the time has created a nation of cumpulsive neurotics and 2020 gave us back our lives as it forced us to slow down, sit and think, be still and “know that I am God.”  We had time to reconnect to our spiritual roots, to reconnect to who we are internally instead of hiding from ourselves with too much activity.

Yes, there were challenges, hardships and heartaches. But I think when people look back 20 years from now, what will be remembered will be the popcorn and Netflix nights with the family cuddled on the couch, the family dinners because Dad was home, the strengthened relationships as husband and wives worked together to keep the family afloat, the time spent with both parents, the creative juices that had both time and access to flow instead of being stopped up with useless busyness.  Life will go on and what we choose to remember from this year will be the good moments, the bits of joys that floated to the surface and shone in the darkness. We will come out stronger as individuals because we were forced to listen to our hearts, to learn anew who and what we are, to see ourselves as more than just mindless workers fighting for a paycheck. We come out of 2020 with a renewed set of values—not new ones, but old values that regained their validity and worth as the dross was washed away.

Watch your mouth, kid

“I thought you said this ship was fast.”

“Watch your mouth, kid, or you’ll find yourself floating home.”

 

The situation was tense and Luke was scared and not in control. He did what we all do in the same circumstance—lash out at the one person who could do something.

While Han’s retort makes for a good movie, I don’t recommend it in the real world. Such reactionary statements tend to escalate rather than diminish trouble. Unfortunately, the majority of us fall into either Luke or Han’s camp instead of Obi-wan’s—knowing when to say something and when to be quiet.  Our problem stems from the same thing Luke suffered from: fear and the sense of not being in control.  We are most likely to say something we regret or something we really don’t mean in those circumstances. Fear makes us emotional and prevents logic or reason from getting through or enabling us to thing rationally. Fear makes us lash out, get even, take revenge or think that our brand of vengeance is somehow justified. Fear also sets us on a course of “no turning back” out of the mistaken idea that to turn back would be worse or that turning back is the “coward’s way out.”  Neither are true, but that’s what fear does to us—remove any possibility of seeing or understanding truth.

Being out of control also makes us reactionary. Most of us need to be in some form of control over our lives, which is why teenagers constantly test authority figures; yet the truth of the matter is we never really have control over anything beyond what we personally say and do. We cannot control those around us or those in authority over us and it puts us at a disadvantage. Being accountable for what we say and do doesn’t seem important or world-changing, so it irritates us into becoming part of the problem or exacerbating the problem. However, the power of one is seen throughout history as one person can make a difference simply by being different and being accountable for what I choose to say and do.

My mom used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything,” and while there are times for speaking out even if it isn’t “very nice” or “politically correct,” if I’m not in a position to affect the outcome, it might be better not to add fuel to the fire. If that sounds like I’m waffling, I’m not. There is a time to speak out and a time to be silent; unfortunately, most of us aren’t mature enough to know the difference. When I was in my early 20s and 30s, I really thought it was my job to convince others to change their opinions and actions. I thought if I just said things in the right way, obviously they’d see the error of their ways and change. I learned over the years, life doesn’t work that way. I can only change my mind, my opinions, my viewpoint.  To be blunt, changing other people’s perspective is the Holy Spirit’s job, not mine. Getting angry because someone doesn’t hold my beliefs doesn’t accomplish anything, any more than Luke yelling at Han made the Falcon go faster. It merely added to an already tense situation.

In our church foyer, there is a large reproduction of our church covenant, the rules and principles we agree to when we join the church through baptism. Part of the covenant says we promise to “to walk circumspectly in the world, be just in our dealings, exemplary in our deportment (behavior), to cultivate Christian courtesy in speech, to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation.”

So why is it that Christians are the first to join the shouting matches? Are we so unsure of our faith and our convictions that we have to go on the attack? Perhaps, we aren’t sure of who we are and what we believe. Perhaps, we doubt what our faith can do. Or perhaps, it boils down to the fact we don’t believe in ourselves and think that if we fail, God fails and our whole belief system comes crashing down.  I’ve found that the stronger my faith in God, the less I have to rant and rave. I can trust Him to whisper quietly in hearts and transform lives without my two cents.  In fact, I have a tendency to make things worse by butting in where I don’t belong or trying to make changes when I don’t have the authority. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord and He turns it wherever He wishes.” God has proven this throughout history and His plan for events and nations usually isn’t what we would like. Life doesn’t have to follow our plan for it to be good and worthwhile; it just has to follow God’s plan and His ways are never our ways.

So what’s the bottom line? Violence breeds more violence, but only forgiveness and mercy can change the world. I think the apostle Paul said it best, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” In other words, don’t get caught up in the vitriol and hatred; respond with mercy, forgiveness and love. It’s much harder to do than writing a blog post or retweeting a bit of vitriol, but in the long run, it’s the most effective course of action.

 

 

Beware the Johnson Grass

Every American is privileged.  If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who lives in another country. They don’t care about your name or your background—they’d just like the same opportunity to live where you don’t have to show papers to travel from one city to the next, have indoor plumbing and running water (not necessarily the same thing), 24/7 electricity,  access to doctors where you don’t have to get a pharmacy list and go across the street to buy the medicines (and cesarean kit) just for surgery or burn treatment, grocery stores full of a variety of food any day of the week,  and the freedom to become anything you choose, not what tradition or your family’s last name dictates you must become.

You see, I grew up in the stupid 70s and bought the whole guilt trip “Be ashamed because you’re an American. You’re privileged. You should feel guilty for having things while the rest of the world doesn’t” ideology.  Then I went overseas as a young adult. And I realized that America is the exception, not the rule for the rest of the world. Not for what we have, but because we actually created a unique nation that allows people freedom to choose.

A lot of countries have the same amount of resources and capabilities that America has, so I began to wonder, “What’s the difference? Why did we turn out so different than the rest of the world?”

I had to ask myself “If America is so bad, why do so many families risk their lives and give up being doctors and lawyers and people of means to come here as be janitors and minimum wage earners so their families can “have a better life?”

I know a man who as a young boy saw his uncle shot as the two were fleeing their country trying to come to America. Last time I checked, if I want to leave America all I have to do is get on a plane.

Our police force gets a bad reputation and admittedly there are some bad apples in the bunch who should be disciplined or punished, but as a whole we’ve got a dedicated group of men and women who genuinely care about protecting folks even though they are grossly underpaid and under-appreciated.  Numerous police forces in other countries are so low paid they have to accept bribes just to feed their families. Their judicial systems (not to mention prisons) are so notorious that if the police force gets tired of a gangster, rather than bring him to justice and a trial, they simply (with the country’s blessing), hunt him down and shoot him under a bridge. (True story)

You see hatred is insidious like Johnson grass. It has a tendency to spread underground while everyone is trying to treat the surface symptoms by chopping and cutting. The only way to get rid of Johnson grass is to attack the roots.

Hatred cannot be overcome by laws, or protests, or more violence. Hatred can only be overcome by forgiveness and love.

Unfortunately, it is easier to hate than to love.

Love requires us to change who we are, not just what we do. Love requires us to forgive and not seek revenge. Love doesn’t seek the spotlight, but prefers to work behind the scenes, healing, repairing, restoring, making things (and lives) better.

That kind of unconditional love that looks beyond the surface and treats everyone as equal, granting the same kindness and rights to everyone without regard for past injuries and injustices is frightening.  Humans seem to be hardwired to want revenge. We are hurt so we want to lash out at someone—anyone in order to make ourselves feel better. Love focuses on making others feel better.

Both love and hate transcend the generations because both love and hate are taught. Children don’t instinctively hate someone. They have to be taught to hate. Love is a choice. It is a hard choice and must be consistent in order to effect change. Unfortunately, even good people make mistakes and wrong choices. Evil individuals masquerading as good people give the rest of us a bad name and many times we suffer the consequences of their choices, too.

There is an old saying, ‘reputation is what others think of you; character is what you do when no one is looking.’  Perhaps if we were more concerned with our character and integrity than what others think about us,  we would gain the courage to make permanent changes that would make our world (and nation) a better place for all people.

Bodies at Rest

I don’t recall which law of science says that a body at rest requires a tremendous amount of energy to change position (i.e. get moving), but it certainly applies to our current situation.

I’m an introvert, so being quarantined for eight weeks at home with my husband hasn’t been all that different, even though I miss going to the store to window shop or look for gifts (it’s just not the same browsing on line).  The problem is I’ve gotten comfortable with the more relaxed schedule, the lack of pressure to go and do and achieve, the ability to think long slow thoughts and catch up on my reading without interruption.

I’m afraid that I’ve gotten so accustomed to this delightfully slow lifestyle that I won’t want to go back to the frenetic life I had where every moment was filled with “have-to-dos” and I would drop exhausted into bed every night.

I think we’re going to find it more difficult to return to our “normal” worlds than we think. Once we’ve gotten used to working at home, going back to long office hours with the same amount of production isn’t going to be as appealing as we think. Even returning to clubs or worship will require an act of will and energy to change the direction we’re in, even though we miss those connections and those events give real meaning and purpose to our lives.

Maybe that’s why repentance is such a hard thing to do. It too, requires an act of will and a huge investment of energy to switch directions and become someone different.

For the committed, faithful people, we will eventually return to what’s most important to us, even if it takes a bit to get going again. But I am afraid for the casual or shallow or half-hearted, this temporary departure from reality is going to become permanent.

If You’re New to “Homeschooling”….

 

With schools temporarily on hiatus due to the Covid-19 virus, many parents are pulling their hair out adjusting to the new role of “teacher.” Most of us tremble at the thought of helping our youngsters with homework, but suddenly we are now in charge of helping them learn and master new material and make sense of what the teachers want them to learn online.

It is a daunting task at best and one guaranteed to leave the most stouthearted of us shaking in our boots.

I had the privilege of homeschooling our four children for nine years, so I can understand the concerns going through the minds of many new “homeschoolers” out there.  Here are some suggestions for weathering the storm and coming out on the other side not only safe, but successful.

First, breathe. 

The teachers are learning how to do this too, and will cut your student some slack as we all adjust. Plus the teachers will provide plenty of websites, tools, worksheets, videos and links to help. And most teachers are just an email away if you have questions.

Keep it simple.

Not everything has to be done all in one day. In fact, most teachers will probably assign a week’s worth of work for the student to complete.  Make a calendar and list daily assignments, then just do that day’s work. If you have a large whiteboard, put the assignments where you and the student can see it. If not, get a paper calendar or daily planner and do the same.  This way you can also check off completed assignments.

Set up a “classroom.”

Sounds ridiculous, but setting aside a set time for “classes” and a specific place helps students take the doing-school-at-home seriously. It can be the dining room table at 10 am every day, but as long as they know that’s when they’re doing “school” it will help with discipline.  (We also had “uniforms” – khaki pants and a button down shirt, but blue jeans and a special t shirt will work as well).

And yes, all your kids can be in class at the same time around the same table. Everyone can work on separate assignments or you can have set times when everyone does English or Math or Science all at the same time together.  The older siblings can also help the younger siblings. (Maybe with the reward of a trip to Sonic or extra time on the tv or video game).

Don’t worry if you finish up the “school day” by lunch time. This happens as working one-on-one with your children means you get through the material faster. It’s okay. If you start at 8 and finish at noon, this leaves the rest of the day free for you all to do chores or fun activities together.

Take a 15 minute break mid-morning and go blow bubbles or take a walk or read a book or have a sock war. Something to break up the day and “sharpen the saw” as we say in Avid (meaning take a break to keep your mind sharp and agile by doing something fun.)

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use your online resources.

Every teacher knows there are tons of free resources on line just a Google search away. Khan Academy is an excellent resource for those of us who are math-challenged and need the extra assistance. Plus, the plethora of online educational games and activities make “learning” fun when you run out of assignments with too much day left over. By the way, pinterest.com also has great ideas for learning activities or teaching a specific subject.

Remember, this is just a bump in the road and while we will probably have some lasting changes to the way we do school in the future, we can do this now and we will be back to normal before long. Hang in there. You have the opportunity to make some lasting memories with your children and you might just find that you enjoy learning together.

 

Living amid the Fearmongers

For two-thirds of my life, I was a fearful person; I allowed fear to dictate my actions, hinder my growth, impede my dreams and cripple the person I was meant to be. I struggled with not allowing that same fear to ruin my children’s lives, so I worked hard at giving them the opportunity to strive and fail and simply try new things.

When I finally understood the source of my fear and confronted it, dealt with it and allowed God to deliver me from it on a mountainside near Quito, Ecuador, the liberation was life-changing and I’ve never looked back.

Fear comes from the deceiver, the father of lies, the accuser of the brethren, but “perfect love casts out fear” because God has not “given us the spirit of fear, but of love, and power, and a sound mind.”

What is the lie the breeds fear? That God will somehow let us down, fail to protect us, doesn’t have our best interests in mind, or that our prayers don’t work.  The reason that particular lie works so well is our underlying assumption that God is obligated to answer our prayers with “yes.” So when something bad happens, we automatically assume prayer didn’t work or that God doesn’t exist.

Take Psalm 91:4-6 for example.

4 He shall cover you with His feathers,

And under His wings you shall take refuge;

His truth shall be your shield and [b]buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,

Nor of the arrow that flies by day,

6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,

Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

With the current situation of the Covid-19 virus sweeping across the globe, it is fatally easily to doubt God’s mercy and goodness in the wake of so many who or sick or who have died.  Yet those verses do not say we won’t suffer the arrow, the pestilence, or the destruction. It says we don’t have to fear them.

I recently told my students that being afraid and being fearful are two different things. I’m afraid of rattle snakes (with good reason), but I’m not fearful of living in the country where I might step out of the house and encounter one.

I lived in a foreign country for 10 years with small children where the air, water and soil were germ-laden and we were constantly at risk of getting cholera, typhoid, malaria and dengue fever. We experienced shortages and panic when El Niño weather destroyed roads. I learned the same God of Psalms 91, who protected, healed, saved and restored then, still protects, heals, saves and restores today. He is the same God who promises to be with us in the midst of chaos, danger, and problems.

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.

As I reminded my students the last pandemic was in 1918 when 500 million people (1/3 of the world’s population) contracted it and 50 million died (670,000 in the US), according to the CDC website. Yes, the world today is vastly different than in 1918 with instant communication and modern travel options that brings faraway places to our doorstep. Just yesterday we heard reports of the virus possibly knocking on doors in our neighborhood.

And yet….I refuse to live in fear. I refuse to doubt the God who has demonstrated himself powerful and loving for my entire life. Belief in God’s grace and protection isn’t a “lucky charm” or “magic incantation.” It is not a guarantee that we won’t experience loss. It is, however, a promise that He will walk through that valley with us and be there to provide grace and mercy for whatever we encounter. His peace is beyond our understanding, but it is real, nonetheless.

I think we have learned some things from the past and that as bad as this pandemic is, it won’t be as bad as the 1918 pandemic. I think the panic is due to social and news media agendas and personal vendettas, as well as a germ-a-phobic mentality among Americans who have had it too soft and easy and have never had to do without or suffer want. I think by this time next year, we will be looking back and wondering why we gave in to fear.

Giving in to fear will not save us from the virus; it will only exacerbate the shortages as we hoard necessities. Giving in to fear will rob us of using this time to draw close to family and find the value in the simple things of life, of connecting with the God who created us, loves us and gave Himself to free us from the burden and guilt of sin. Giving in to fear will do more to destroy our way of life than the virus ever will.

 

 

New Stage

I’ve been teaching life principles to my freshman AVID class this past semester. Mine is “never surrender, never give up,” so when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 60 the shock has left me floundering a bit.

How does one ‘not surrender’ to a chronic disease that has no cure? Although there have been huge gains made in treatment, I still wrestle with the images of a childhood friend suffering from the disease.

What does this new stage of life mean to my teaching career, to my relationship with my family and ultimately to my writing?  This is actually the first time in months I’ve been able to type with minimal pain, and while it’s a relief to be able to write again, there is the underlying sense of unease that it may not last once I’m off the pain meds.

Learning what I can do is almost as vital as learning what I can’t do.  The latter has consumed our lives for the past three months as I’ve struggled to regain lost ground and traded independence for almost complete dependence on my husband for basic necessities, even for simple things like turning on a light switch.

Being able to type again, hold a pen, actually brush my hair (still can’t put it up on my own, though) and walk down a hallway (albeit with a walker) without being exhausted have been major milestones.  It’s a constant battle not to focus on what I still can’t do and try to focus on the things I’m regaining. Learning different ways of doing old habits is coming slowly.  Using the mouse with my left hand has proved challenging at times, but I’m learning.  As is going from excruciating pain to being able to breathe and think clearly again.

And like writing this blog, victories come in small steps and short pieces. Little things taken for granted, like being able to put on my own shoes and socks, now are milestones of accomplishments. The slowness of progress is frustrating, especially for someone who’s used to doing everything herself. Depending on or waiting on others to help accomplish  major tasks reminds me yet again why I hated group activities in high school, although I have learned a little more patience and willingness to make allowances for different personality types and priorities (just not very well. LOL)

Meanwhile, I look forward (and fight toward) a point where the disease doesn’t consume every waking thought, where plans focus on something other than can I get out of the recliner by myself, where I can discuss something more interesting than treatment options and return to the human race without seeing and feeling like just a patient.

When that day comes, maybe I’ll plan a trip to Alaska….or Japan.

 

 

 

 

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:  https://www.amazon.com/Serenity-Carol-J-Parsons-ebook/dp/B07WH7XX3Z/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1575741651&sr=1-1-catcorr

If you are interested in her other books, here’s the link to her author page: https://www.amazon.com/Carol-Parsons/e/B0034Q3GVM?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

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.

 

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