Saturday, August 29, 2015

PRECIOUS COMMODITIES...


"Your kids watch you for a living.
It's their job; it's what they do.
That's why it's so important to try your best to be a good role model."
James Lehman

On the Sunday morning a few days before schools started up for this year...many congregations had all the students...from little tykes to college kids...plus grad students stand in front of the congregation...what a wonderful sight.  Tell you what...those kids are little brainiacs, honestly.  Made for a few goose-bumps and then to even think about the things they're going to study?  Wow!  Such a challenge.

I don't recall having many, if any, choices in high school as to what courses I preferred.  Counselors were non-existent.  Computers and cell phones?  Who knew?   Oh well, we survived; after all, those were the years during and following the end of WWII...times were different and honestly there really were lots of good times!  Just different.

It's awesome, the education students get these days; and the teachers must be like geniuses to teach such curriculums...impressive.  I understand nothing but that's beside the point...I'm not physically going to school.  Kids are so sharp...so bright.
   
Stop and think about how much the world we live in, the society we're surrounded by...how it has changed; how quickly things progress.  Or, on the other hand, how quickly some things digress?  I think on it more often these days...it's downright disturbing.

 "Society has gotten to the point where everybody has a right...
but nobody has a responsibility.
 
There seem to be some big problems in this society...piling one on top of the other and wonder when will we take responsibility for our actions. 
 
Looking at all those students, beginning another year of learning...what are they thinking about?  What are their hopes, their dreams...do they feel secure?
 
What do they think when they watch their parents, their teachers, their friends...their role models?  You...or me...am I someone they even know?  Am I responsible for being an example?
 

"Looking out for your children is an ongoing process throughout your life."
Liam Neeson 
 
I was always scared at the beginning of each school year; maybe it was due to being in a new city, a new school every year!  I was never good at breaking the ice...terrified.  My freshman year was in Burbank, California...sophomore year in Van Nuys, California...junior year in Iraan, Texas and senior year in Odessa, Texas.  And bless my heart if I didn't move our four sons about the same way.  From Healdton, Oklahoma to Newport News, Virginia to Athens, Greece to Newport News again...then to Lawton, Oklahoma and at last...to Norman, Oklahoma!  Whew...that wasn't so bad was it?  I think the boys were scared as I was when it came to new schools.  We looked out for each other though...that's important; I did my best to make each move exciting for them and that helped lift their spirits. 

Schools now have counselors...and that's a good thing, a very good thing.  Kids can talk about what goes on in their minds, their actions...their worlds and oh boy, sometimes their worlds can be far removed from ours.  Some bad things out there...for instance?

One high school (probably not the only one) had a group of students who made a pact to commit suicide on a certain date...the date came and went without incident except for one of the group who actually carried out the plan.  How heartbreaking...and no one outside the group realized what was going on. 

Here's another example...earlier this summer I met a guy fresh out of high school.  I asked if he had any plans cooking; he said his parents are insisting he 'do something' because if he doesn't he'll get shiftless and lazy.  The guy is working at a pretty good job this summer but said 'I guess I'll join the Air Force'.  I've talked w/him since; he's going to be inducted next month and guess what?  He's nervous and a little scared.  I totally get it; I'd be terrified.  Life can be frightening, you think? 
 
Maybe kids don't want to look to you or me for much...but do you sometimes find yourself surprised at what one of them might come up with and share with you?  They've much to teach us...much to share with us, with you and with me.  Sharing is good, right?  Yep, it is.  Okay, so long as we aren't pushy with it.
 
I am responsible for what I project...whether or not I'm aware of being watched or listened to...someone is watching me...someone is listening.  And, believe it or not, I learn by listening and watching you...to me, age is irrelevant. 
 
Kids are most precious...and I am just as responsible as you
to help care for them...now, here's a closing thought:
"With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
too smart to go down any not-so-good street."
Dr. Seuss
 
From my heart...to yours,
Vasca  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

LION HEARTED...


"There are so many ways to be brave in this world.
Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life
for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. 
Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known,
or everyone you have ever loved,  for the sake of something greater. 
But sometimes it doesn't. 
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain,
and the work of every day,  the slow walk toward a better life. 
That is the sort of bravery I must have now."
Veronica Roth, Allegiant  
 
Perhaps I think too much; I wonder.  Thoughts stick in my head; go 'round and 'round...not that I worry but I think and think about them.
 
One that doesn't go away is: how brave am I?  How much courage do I, would I have when it comes to standing up for what I believe?
 
I've never been challenged to lay down my life for a thing or person.  I've changed my life drastically, left family...friends; especially touched me to leave my mother.  Moving to China was not frightful; nor was introducing God to the Chinese when it was forbidden.  We did it for the sake of something greater. 
 
And what came of it?  Many who never knew Him became well acquainted and He's now their Father...like M...like me!  If we hadn't gone perhaps someone else would've but that's beside the point...we went...and we stayed.  Through the good times...through the SARS times when the other Americans left.  Our care was heavenly...all the way!
 
I'm no heroine but death looked me in the eye...not once but twice.  Once w/o Michael...once with...the with is better...I wasn't afraid.  I suppose I was too ill to be afraid...that seems to be when I am the strongest.  Again, my care was heavenly...all the way! 
 
It's a no-brainer when things are going 'my way' but oops!  It's quite a different take when there's opposition...what if I'm wrong; don't like egg on my face or mud in my eye...what ever! 
 
The news often has 'show and tell' concerning ISIS; their practice of killing Christian's...lives on the line if they don't recant and convert.  Off with their heads or other heinous forms of disposal.

I wonder...what would I do...could I turn my back on my faith?
 
What about Malala, the young Pakistani girl who stood up for her right as a female to be educated?  Fifteen years old; the Taliban forbade girls to attend school...no education for them. She fearlessly blogged her opposition to the edict (under another name) and continued attending school.  One day, as she was returning home from school, a gunman boarded her bus...shot her in the head.   They were that afraid of a young girl with books!
 
Malala Yousafzai
You know her story...among other honors she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize...she has spoken at the U.N. and she continues being the voice of all girls like her.  Early on she delivered a bold speech... "How Dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education."  Talk about brave?  Brave indeed, Malala! 
 
Michael and I are reading the book written by the Brantly's, "Called for Life." 
I don't think you need much background on this couple and their struggle with Ebola. 

Dr.  Kent Brantly & his wife, Amber
 
It takes courage to do what many are doing in foreign countries...here at home as well.  I've read some words that condemned Dr. Brantly for bringing 'his Ebola' to the U.S. for treatment...discounting his heroism as it put his countrymen at risk.  I think it heroic for anyone who chooses to remain in a 'lion's den', if you will...when one could be home with some semblance of safety!  These days are there any safe havens?
 
These are just two examples of the many with hearts full of courage and brave deeds.  There are courageous people all around you and me...lots and lots of them.  Friends, neighbors...ordinary people doing extraordinary things...locally, nationwide...near...some are far, far away in strange places.

Getting back to up close and personal...when the rubber meets the road, am I a chicken or a brave-heart? 
 
I asked Michael what he thought about this...what if push came to shove and you were commanded to deny God and convert to................?   If you chose to stand up for your faith in the face of death, could you do it?  His reply was "I don't know...I can only hope I would but...in reality, I just don't know." 
 
I think I'm probably the same ~ I like to think I'm brave...I like to think I would positively refuse to deny my God...but...as yet, this is not reality...not yet. 
 
I dislike arguing/debating...but facing strong opposition I like to think I would stand up for what I deem right...regardless of the consequences.
 
I admire Abraham Lincoln; I believe he was on target with these words;
"Be sure you put your feet in the right place; then stand firm."
 
Truthfully? I'm thinkin' my feet are in the right place...but...my 'firm' is more of a quiver!
 
Wishy-washy won't do, will it? Might be my turn for courage...might need to go for it! 
 
What do you think?
 
From my heart...to yours,
Vasca  

Monday, July 20, 2015

TAMING DRAGONS...


"Always speak politely to an enraged Dragon."
 Steven
Brust
 
I've never seen a dragon...read about them...heard songs about them...yet, I've never seen a live one...wow, what a relief! 
 
One of my favorite songs was Puff, the Magic Dragon; I've read inferences it was about smoking pot, etc.  The writers consistently denied it...stating it was an innocent song about a dragon and a little boy!  I choose to believe the latter.  If I'm naive...so what...perhaps some naivety is healthy!
 
I've had what I call 'dragons' in my life...quite a few and I imagine you're the same.  I don't know any 'perfect' people, do you?
 
The following quote, posted on Facebook, struck a chord as I feel it defines much of my life with Michael.  I've taken the liberty of changing "She" to "I"...hopefully I'm forgiven!
 
"I looked back and marveled how far I had come...
 I didn’t wonder how I had made it, I already knew the answer.
Only by God’s help had I powered through;
for without His strength I could do nothing."
 
Before Michael:
I feared doing anything alone...honestly, terrified me! 
I was afraid to speak in public...my heels always tapped loudly!
Physical problems should have prevented me from having children!
I feared confrontations of any type...no arguments for me!
I was very insecure; never understood why, I just was!
 
Oh yes, "I looked back and marveled how far I had come.

After Michael: I flew alone from Oklahoma to Ethiopia and back...alone again from Oklahoma to Germany and back and once more! 
 
I've spoken to women's groups (practicing for China, was I?)...stepped it up to teaching more than 300 Chinese university students each week...in China, no less!  Hot weather...no a/c...cold weather...no heat...aargh. 
 
We've four sons...all safe and sound...loves of my life...Michael's too!  The boys and I weathered many storms successfully...life lessons learned.
 
I took GM by the horns...confronted/challenged their top people w/o earthly assistance...and won...whew! 
 
Stressful dragons in my life?   You bet'cha...I've been off and on the hot seat.
 
 
Well yes, as a matter-of-fact, I do...learned to 'speak Dragon' with M out of the country.  I was in charge of four teenage sons (bigger than me)...that was a dragon of a challenge but as Nelson Mandela said, "The best solution is to sit down and talk."  And talk we did...lots of talking and the boys became awesome men!  How 'bout them apples?  Yay! 
 
These days I talk to myself, standing up!  That's the ticket...talking and rationalizing as I go.  Whatever works, right?  Right!

I'm an ordinary person, same as many others! 
People, we all have problems! 
We've trials, hiccup's, etc. and we make it.
I made/make it with God's help; that's how I powered through for without His strength I can do nothing. Am I problem free? 
Ha! By no means... but I've done a fair job...and guess what? 
Tamed dragons can be
downright fun...good companions!
 
From my thankful heart...to yours, Vasca