Tough Day?

26 03 2008

I’ve spent this week doing an internal audit of my company’s offices here in my city.  They are random audits of returns to ensure accuracy, compliance with company, bank and IRS directives, etc.  They’re not difficult to accomplish, but pretty mundane and boring none the less.  Not to mention that they make my eyes hurt after staring at all those numbers and signatures.  The little excel boxes they want everything neatly written in don’t exactly help either.  They went very well though and I was very happy (but not at all surprised) that everything was “A-OK.”

The last office today was located in a Wal-Mart, so when I finished up, I took a stroll through the aisles.  After all, that place is filled with so many things that I really “need”.  I must preface my next statement by telling you that to “not know something” in complete detail is as close to torture as I ever want to be.  Especially when it comes to my children.  So when I received a phone call from my 18 year old son today, asking me when I was planning to be home, it piqued my interest.  When I asked why he wanted to know, he said “something big happened today.  Really big, and I need to tell you about it.”  After being reassured that he was physically OK,  I asked again if he was OK (moms tend to ask that A LOT) and he said that “his conscience hurt.”

I tried not to break any speed records getting home.  I even managed to remember to pray FIRST as I was driving home and sort of succeeded in not letting my imagination run too far down the road.  I was only 5 minutes from home so how far could it run(accident, smoking, drugs, cult, sex)?  I pulled into the driveway and realized that my husband was already home.  I came in to the both of them sitting in the living room with very serious looks on their faces and my son doing everything in his power to not to burst into tears.

He proceeded to tell about an incident at school today involving him and our 15 year old daughter, Kelly and two of her friends.  He said that he’d already told Kelly that he was going to tell us what happened.  That’s when I really started to let the old imagination go.  I hadn’t considered it might involve her in my earlier romp through “what if….land.”

He said that Kelly’s friend “A” was very upset with her today and they had some “loud, angry, words” after school about Kelly’s borrowing of friend “B’s” car earlier today.  BORROWING A CAR?!  That would not generally be a good thing, but not earth shaking, except for the fact the Kelly does NOT have a driver’s license.  This obvious faux paux  didn’t slip by “A” either, but for reasons known only to teen girls, she decided this particular slip warranted a physical to-do.  She in fact stated such and even named the place and time.  Our front yard, after school.

Sure enough, upon arrival of Alex and Kelly at home, they were greeted by “A” and “B”.  “A” exited previously borrowed “B’s” car, and began a shoving match.  It escalated to a slapping match  and Kelly was slapped hard in the face, causing her glasses to fly off and her to fall down.  This immediately sent my son into “big brother protection mode” and he grabbed  “A’s” neck and shoved her against the car.  This stopped the fight, dead in it’s tracks.  “A” and “B” departed without further altercation.  “A’s” boyfriend called afterward to let Alex know that he wasn’t going to stand by while his girlfriend got shoved around.  They both decided however, to talk rather than fight.  I was proud of them  for being able to see all sides and determine that no one was wearing their “thinking caps” today.  Both boys decided that further fighting wouldn’t solve anything.  No threats, no angry words, no shouting.  Good, constructive, conversation.  Quick learners!

My son’s conscience-hurting-quandary was this; he’d reacted violently to violence.  While he didn’t injure the girl who’d just knocked his sister to the ground, he could have; seriously.  He did not regret coming to his sister’s aide, but he deeply regretted his choice of “aide”.   After coming inside, he began to ponder the possible consequences of his (re)action, and they really scared him.  He was very disappointed in himself; very disappointed.  He wondered why he didn’t just make his sister go inside, stand between them, anything non-violent.  He is seriously considering full time mission work and he loves the Lord deeply.  This was HUGE for him.  He didn’t know he would react that way at all.  He needed us to know that he’d screwed up.  He need us to know that he realized the seriousness of the situation.  Mostly, he needed us.  He needed us to be there, to talk through things, to see all sides.  He needed us to say “we still love you.”

Kelly needed to hear “we still love you” too and she heard it; several times.  She also needed to hear that borrowing her friend’s car to go get a coke at the gas station was undoubtedly NOT the best decision she’s ever made.  It resulted in a physical fight with a friend.  It put her brother, and the friend who’s car she borrowed, in a potentially bad situation.  It was a very expensive coke.  It cost her dearly.  She’s now without a learner’s permit, and will be for the foreseeable future.  She is without the same level of trust in her she enjoyed before today.  She has spent the evening trying to reconcile with “A” and “B” and getting assurance from “A’s” parents that charges would not be pressed against any parties.  (Alex was very scared he’d end up in jail tonight for his actions).  We got the assurance directly from the parents.

They both learned some valuable lessons today though.  Kelly learned that doing the wrong thing hurts more than herself sometimes.  The cost is borne by more than her at times too.  She learned trust is something that once lost, will take time to regain.  She also learned that the brother she picks on a lot is always going to be there for her.  He will sacrifice for her.  She learned, deep in her inmost heart, that he loves her like no one else can.

Alex learned that things can go wrong very quickly.  He learned that being a pacifist is much harder when defending someone you love.  Pacifism involves much more than not picking up a weapon.  He learned how to talk through and settle things in an adult manner.  He learned about a part of himself he didn’t know was there before.

My husband and I both learned something too.  All in all, even with today’s events, our kids are pretty good ones.  Not perfect, but pretty good none the less.  They still need us; and today they could admit that.  For teenagers, that’s a miracle in itself!

I realize that I’m making light of this situation (and failing miserably), but bear with me here.  It’s been a tough day.

Peace





God Has a Sense of Humor!

21 03 2008

I dare anyone to defy that today!  Yesterday, it was rather brown and the “snirt” as we call it here (snow+dirt) was looking rather yucky at best.  It was somewhere in the 40s and I’d shed my jacket for the season, feeling rather comfortable in knowing that the first day of spring had arrived and all the “white stuff” was gone for another season.

Well, I was wrong of course.  I woke up a bit later than usual today as the children didn’t have school so I didn’t have to rush around getting everyone out the door on time.   Needless to say I had to rush myself out the door due to previously stated sleeping in and when I opened the door, everything was white again!  The truck was covered, the driveway was covered, the whole city it seemed had plunged right back into winter!  All day long it has snowed, snowed, snowed.

Thank you God.  For the white to cover up the snirt for Easter.  For reminding me that you do indeed have a wonderful sense of humor (what else explains  aardvarks?), and most of all, for today.  Good Friday.  Thank you for sending your only Son to die on the cross for my sins.  For raising Him from the dead in victory of sin and death. And most of all, for saving me FOR something very important; bringing glory to your Renown.

Easter Blessings,

Beth





Richer or Poorer?

17 03 2008

I overheard a conversation between two individuals sitting at different tables at a restaurant recently. Two couples were eating breakfast and one elderly gentleman asked an elderly lady at the next table where she was from. She replied that she was from a very small town near the Canadian border. “Minnesota side?” he asked. “Nope. Right here in North Dakota,” she replied with an obvious mid-western accent. They chatted a bit more as they ate and then I heard him say, with more than a little pride in his voice, “I grew up poorer than you, I’ll bet.” “I doubt that!” she snapped. “We didn’t even have indoor plumbing. I had to trek to the outhouse in the middle of winter” she stated as if that would surely trump any card he may decide to play next. “Yeah” he replied, “but you lived in the country. I had to trek to the outhouse too and I lived in town!” He spoke with confidence, sure that outhouse treking, coupled with the extra humility of neighborhood witnesses, would definitely make him the absolute winner in the “poor me” contest. She must’ve agreed, because she had no reply other than a nod of defeat. They continued with their meal and their conversation moved to other topics, such as “do you know my carpet cleaner?” “He’s from your home town.” “Yup. He cleans my carpets too.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the conversation as I watched them eat their “everything” skillet breakfast platter served with the bottomless cups of coffee. Here they were, sitting in a heated, carpeted, well-lit restaurant, eating much more than their clogging arteries needed, arguing over who’d grown up poorer. I was just a little struck by the irony.

While I have no doubt there are plenty of poor within the U.S., I’m not sure that the usage of an outhouse, in town or the country, is what qualifies one to claim “poor” status. The U.S. Census Bureau currently defines poverty as annual income less than $10,787 for one individual under than 65 years old to $40,085 for a family of 8 or more. It does vary depending on which part of the country one lives in as well. Living in a moderate climate costs less than living in one with very hot summers and very cold winters. Living in rural areas costs less than living in urban areas.

I watched a program last night which chronicled the journey of a 13 year old boy from Uganda who’d come to America for lifesaving surgery. This boy was born with a congenital defect that fused the bones in his skull prematurely. This fusing caused his skull to grow in a cone shape and it was squeezing his brain and also affecting his sight. He was very disfigured and as a result, he was very ostracized by his entire village. He could not attend school and learned at an early age to hide whenever people were near. He was very small for his age and behind his peers socially as well as academically. His parents were unable to come to the States with him so he traveled with a social worker to Dallas, TX and stayed there for 7 months while 3 surgeries were done. It was amazing to watch this little boy’s life transform over that 7 months. Afterward, he returned to Uganda, looking very different physically, but acting differently too. For the first time, he was happy and smiling and not afraid of other people. The children in his village who used to fight and bully him, were now pressing him for information on America. Surely it must be heaven on earth as it’s this place that changed him so much. “My favorite thing was the doors that open by themselves,” He said. He described the mechanics and then noted that they were really great marvels because they knew just when you’d gone through, and they’d close by themselves too. It was not only his physical appearance that had given him a new outlook on life, but the things he’d seen and experienced in America had changed him on the inside too.

I think it made him “poorer’ in some respects. While his appearance and even his very life were changed and saved from certain death, he’d been exposed to things that would forever impact his outlook on life in Uganda. He confided to his mother that he was not coping well in Uganda since he’d returned. He couldn’t handle the primitive way of living any longer and he longed to live in the U.S. He wanted only to return to Uganda to visit his family and be sure they had enough to eat. He wanted a job as a mechanic. He wanted to fix things. He wouldn’t do it for free however. He’d get money for what he did and he wouldn’t be back to his village for anything other than visits. This experience repaired a physical defect that would’ve otherwise killed him. It left him with spiritual and emotional defects that could kill him too. His hope now lies in leaving his village instead of investing in it; abandoning his people and his culture for the “comforts” of America. I’m afraid he will be much poorer if he does.





Bible Survey

12 03 2008

Hello Readers,

I’m conducting a short survey and I hope you will participate and then send your friends here to participate as well. I want lots of participation because, well, a few won’t really tell me much, except that I have few readers, which I already know. I want to know out of simple curiosity, not because I’m doing research for my latest book or anything. I’m not collecting any personal data or offering anything in return except my gratitude (and the results if you’re interested). This is something I’m curious about because in talking with others recently, it seems that some are very passionate about their particular choice of Bible. I’ve come across these questions in pastor search surveys, Bible study classes, those seeking a church home, etc. I also suffer from a wonderful sense of curiosity. Thanks for sending your friends and for easing my suffering. I’m including a link you can send to others so they can participate too. Bible Survey Link

Here goes:

1) What Bible translation do you currently use? If it’s more than one, which one do you use most frequently? (ie: KJV, NKJV, NIV, etc.)

2) How long have you been using the above translation?

3) Did you choose this translation or was it chosen for you?

4) If you chose it, why?

5) If you didn’t, what reason(s) do you continue to use it?

6) Does your particular Bible offer any tools such as a concordance, dictionary, commentary notes, maps, etc?

7) Who published it (Nelson, Thompson, etc.)?

8) What do you like most about your Bible? Least?

9) Is it hard or soft cover?

10) Do you write or mark in your Bible? Why or why not?





Picture Time

11 03 2008

Here they are! The three cutest, sweetest, most lovable little blessings we’ve ever sponsored. These are our precious children we sponsor through Compassion. Wedner is 8, Byron is 7 and Eva is 4. They are just like our biological children. They laugh, they love, they sing and play, they cry when they’re hurt. They LOVE Jesus! They are gifts from our wonderful God. They are rescuing us from our wealth. We love and pray for them. They are part of our family.

Wedner

Wedner

ByronByron

EvaEva





Compassion Bloggers Dot Com

11 03 2008

Check it out!  A new blog for writers of Compassion International blogging trips!  15 bloggers recently journeyed to Uganda to see what Compassion does, how they do it, and who they do it for.  They returned with some incredible stories and new inspiration for sharing the life-changing benefits of child sponsorship.  Their collective blogging resulted in hundreds of  children being sponsored with more coming in!  More trips like this are in the future.  Check out the site and sign up for more information.  Be a part of a great beginning!





No Autographs, Please!

9 03 2008

Yep! I’m famous. I made the news last night. Now wait a minute, not “made the news” in the sense that I “made the news” exactly. Geesh, ya think ya’ know your friends! Right away you jump to conclusions that could get me kicked out the PTA and the national hockey moms association.

I was, however, on the evening news. I was called at home yesterday by my wonderful receptionist who said that someone from the local TV station wanted to speak to me. I assumed, of course, it was due to my money-saving discovery for professional athletes or perhaps my recent hosting of a certain soft-rock star. Nope, it was because they were seeking to dispel the many myths surrounding the economic stimulus rebate that Congress is doling out later this year. It seems that I am the local expert (read: only manager available) concerning this and there were many questions from local citizens concerning this potential windfall. I’m not sure I dispelled many myths, but I sure looked good! I even heard from people I hadn’t talked to in over a year! They called for free tax advise. Several people mentioned my 3 minutes of fame (not just 15 seconds, thank you very much!) at church this morning and the children were especially well behaved in the nursery too. I’m sure this was due to being awe-struck by my mere presence. It could be because I had gummy fruits for snack, but I prefer to live under the d illusion of the former.

I’m off to polish my crown for work tomorrow and also to read up, just in case I’m called on to go nationwide with my vast knowledge and myth dispelling talents.