The Bus Stop is a series of true stories about my life, people I've worked with and events I've experienced. Of course the names have been changed. I hope these stories will brighten your day with a few laughs as well as give you encouragement. Hopefully you can avoid making some of the mistakes I've made and if you have already made them, then you can identify with me.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Angels of Mercy

Over the last few weeks I’ve been in rehab overcoming some speech and memory problems after surgery with some special help of my therapist Kasey. Naturally I have spent as much time observing others as well as spending some time on my personal recovery and making new friends.

The first thing I realized was many of the people here were in much worse shape than I was and this caused a brief moment of feeling guilty, but also I was filled with gratitude. I knew this could just as easily been me. I am awed by the complexity of people’s physiology how it can be so strong and yet so fragile and resilient.

The next thing I began to watch was the workers and everyone doing their part to make the whole system work. I see the people working and pushing to help their clients move forward and excel in all their endeavors. I see the pain in the patients, but I can also see the hopes in the workers knowing they can help if their clients push through the pain.

What draws these people to this kind of work? What is it inside them that gives them fulfillment and purpose in becoming “Angels of Mercy?” I’ve asked several different workers and it usually falls under the desire to just help people. It probably wouldn’t take too much time to discover there own hurts and pains in wanting to do more than just exist in this life. They want to make their own life counts for more than taking home a paycheck. I can’t help but hear the scripture, “but by love, serve one another.”

There are other Angels of Mercy that I haven’t mentioned yet such as my wife and all the added responsibilities that came on suddenly. She has taken exceptionally good care of me and my sons as well. Then I can’t help but think of those who may not have a loving and sacrificing spouse and once again I feel fortunate.

Then of course the other Angels are the many friends and relatives who have reached out in so many different ways. With the kindness of a message, phone call, visit, provided food and especially their prayers I feel so encouraged to get well.

Many years ago I heard that God shines His light through the holes in our heart and because of the holes in your hearts I’ve seen your light shine.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tribute to My Wife

Back in September of 1978 when I was attending college my second freshman year I met a young lady whose name was Karen Knight. She was a new freshman prospect for dating as all freshmen were. One evening while everyone was hanging out at the SUB I caught her making eyes at me. I learned several years later that she was actually looking at the guy behind me. She just had bad aim. I gradually worked my way over to her and asked her out, she agreed and we went out the next evening to church. Afterwards we were going to go eat somewhere and I asked her where she wanted to go. She said she thought a lot of the students were going to Pizza Hut. This was a problem because I had been dating a girl who worked at the Pizza Hut and we were thinking about breaking up, but we actually hadn’t made it official. I kept suggesting other places to go, but her mind was set on the Pizza Hut.

The only thing I had working in my favor was I knew my soon to be ex girlfriend wasn’t working that night. However, everyone there knew me. I tried to covertly enter the place without being noticed, but of course that didn’t work. Then to make a bad situation worse my soon to be ex girlfriend just happened to drive up. By this time I was practically under the table. At first I wasn’t sure if I had been discovered, but when she got back in her car leaving a black mark for a block and slinging gravel everywhere I soon realized my secret was out. The next step was all the explaining I had to do with Karen.

The old relationship was over of course and surprisingly Karen and I continued to date. After a couple of months I proposed to her and she accepted. Before this time I had never dated a girl for more than a month so I figured since after 2 months and she was still with me this must be the one.

The next summer on August 4, 1979 we were married. We had a wonderful wedding and many friends to attend. The wedding was at her home church out in the backwoods of East Texas that was difficult to find even with a map. Many of my friends that were getting married that summer had been singing to their brides in the wedding. I thought this was a cool idea so I would do the same thing. Stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. When you are already under tremendous stress and fear you should never turn the heat up by doing something stupid. I just knew I was going to pass out before it was over. I was shaking so bad I thought I was going to wear out my tux from the inside out.

After the wedding my groomsmen grabbed me and were trying to carry me off. This was when I learned I did not ever want to mess with Karen. She tore into them like a wildcat and they put me down. We made our escape while the groomsmen were tending their wounds. She actually brought blood on a couple of them.

We headed south and we stopped in Tyler at a pizza place to eat. You will never guess who was at this pizza place. You got it! It was the ex girlfriend. She didn’t live in Tyler or work there. She was a customer. I do not believe in coincidence. I believe there was a message in this from God to let go of the past.

A few years later we began to have children and Karen was a great mother. She worked so diligently with the boys. She read to them, held them and taught them so much. I believe all my boys were reading before they started school. Karen had made so many sacrifices for them over the years as well as many for me.

Over the years Karen has taught me several things…a work ethic, determination, diligence and love. She has stood by me when I was having a midlife crisis, depression and several times of unemployment. Many times I feel like she has given me so much and I have given her so little. Some times the only thing I think I have taught her is patience.

This last August we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary and I have to say I love her more today than when we first got married. We have had some rough times and even were near divorce a few years ago. Some people have asked us what we attribute the success of our relationship. For many years I've always told everyone that Karen and I had nothing at all in common. We had absolutely no similar interest which was true. The other day it dawned on me that we did have some things in common. It was our beliefs, convictions and values. The main thing was God’s grace working in us, but before we got married we made a commitment that no matter what we were never going to get divorced. We actually believed the words, “For better or for worse and till death do us part.” We also figured if we were going to stay together for the rest of our lives, then why not make it a good life.

As our life goes on I ask God daily to teach me how to love my wife more than I did the day before and He’s doing it.

The Temple

A few months ago I had the privilege to go to Baltimore, Maryland. While I was there I was able to see several of the local sights. One day we went to Annapolis for sight seeing and I learned that the Naval Academy is based in Annapolis. The friend I was with wanted me to see the Navy Chapel or Cathedral. When I walked through the doors it took my breath away because of its beauty. After a few minutes of wandering about I began to feel this cold stale feeling. I thought about this for a few minutes trying to understand the spirit of the situation. Then it dawned on me what was going on.

You see, there are many who believe that God dwells in these places of beauty and majesty. This is not true. These places have been created to give significance to religion and man, but not God. These amazing works of craftsmanship and beauty appeal to the emotions and to the eyes. Now here is the really amazing part. God could dwell in these monuments of beauty and craftsmanship, but He chose to dwell in us instead. We are His cathedrals and His temple. How humbling it is to know He chose you and me. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

There are many who make the reference that our body is a temple. This is a true statement taken from the previous scripture. However, many take this out of context and worship their own bodies. There are many health food nuts and exercise fanatics who attempt to take good care of their bodies, but they forget the real matters of importance. No matter how hard we try, our bodies are going to age and eventually die and turn to dust. So much for all that wheat germ and jogging.

The point is, when aging comes and the body fades away…what’s left? I hope you have more than just your body to get through life. Many have learned this the hard way. They got through the first part of their life on their looks, but when the looks were gone, so were they. I remember hearing an interview with Brad Pitt one evening. When the interviewer referred to him as a national sex symbol it seemed to irritate him. He said his mother had told him with attractiveness comes responsibility and looks may get you through the door, but they won’t keep you in the room. In other words, you better have talent behind the looks.

People are composed of a body, soul and spirit. The body of course is the physical part of us and the soul is the mind, will and emotions. Those who don’t have the body fall back on the soul and substitute education, career and personal success. The one which is most important is the spirit and it’s usually ignored. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be aware of our health and education is extremely important. It just doesn’t need to be the most important. The way we should think is just the opposite. The spirit, soul and body. So, what is the spirit? I’ll let you think about this one and answer it in my next letter. I think you’ll like it.