Three Graduates

Three of the men in my life are recent graduates, one from 4-year-old preschool, one from high school, and one from college. As I watched my little grandson Braden march across the stage in his blue cap and gown last night, I couldn’t help but think that that was just the first of many rites of passage he will experience. I also thought about how even though he was graduating, he was also participating in a commencement ceremony; he’s just beginning his educational experiences.


Then my mind wondered a bit as I thought of something I’ve read many times:  All low-income countries have one trait in common when it comes to schooling, that being that there isn’t much of it. In the poorest nations only half of the kids ever get to school, and for the world as a whole, only half of all children ever get to the secondary grades. As a result, about one third of people round the globe can’t read or write. Aren’t we fortunate? Here in America, education is considered a right. It’s too bad that more people don’t take advantage of it.


Can anyone deny the value of education? For starters, post secondary education is linked to a better job and more satisfying career, better health and a longer life, and a certain amount of social mobility. Schooling affects both occupation and income because most (but not all) of the better-paying, white-collar jobs require a college degree or other advanced study. And get this, only three percent of adults who have a college education live below the poverty line whereas high school drop outs are ten times more likely to be living in poverty. In addition to higher earnings, people who continue their education past high school are more likely to hold jobs that have a lower accident risk.


The number of years of education is one of the best predictors of health. Compared to less educated adults, those who spend more years in school have lower death rates, lower disease rates, and lower disability. This association remains even after age, sex, race, and marital status are taken into account. I’m not sure why this is the case, but it could be because people with some postsecondary education have more fulfilling work, a sense of personal control, and a healthier lifestyle. Actually, I’ve got lots of ideas about this, but that’s a post for another day.


A sociology professor of years past told his class that two variables went into a person’s social status: the family he or she was born into and the person’s education. An individual doesn’t have much control over her parents, but she can sure choose whether or not she pursues her education or not. That’s the ticket, according to my old professor, and I believed him then…still do. 


I’m proud of Braden, Chris, and Paul, and I hope they realize that they’re fortunate to be living in a country which permits, even encourages, its citizens to get an education. Keep it up, Guys, if you want to have better jobs, live healthier and longer lives, be more financially secure, and experience a bit of social mobility.



Too Simple?

Lately I’ve been re-reading parts of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and have been reminded of many truths, one of which is that it’s not about Me…or You either as far as that’s concerned. What I like about this book is that it’s easy to read and understand and that Warren uses tons of different scriptural versions of the same passages.


About the being easy to read and understand comment, I’ve learned that many people are opposed to the book for that very reason. “Oh, I look at it sometimes,” an acquaintance said, “but it’s not very deep, is it?” Hmm. Well, maybe not. But one of the things I love about the stories that Christ told was that they weren’t deep in the sense that his followers couldn’t understand him. He used objects, events, and the things of nature to teach people…the things of daily life that they knew and were familiar with. At the same time, there were layers of meaning within his sayings and sermons that confounded even the esteemed scribes and Pharisees.


About the different versions of the same scriptures, I’ve also heard criticism about that. While I prefer the King James Version of the Bible, I’m not so naïve to think that works translated from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramic are going to be completely accurate. Just think for a minute about all of the possible things that could be misinterpreted when “mortal man” is dealing with issues of translation, foreign language, idioms, hard-to-decipher handwriting, and damaged paper. The Old and New Testaments were written over a period of several centuries by many, many prophets who lived at various times. Truly, does anyone really know EXACTLY what was said in the Garden of Eden? Even the versions written in English are different, and I don’t even know what language Adam and Eve spoke.


Here’s an example. Mark:16:15 of the King James Version says, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”  The New Century Version says, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.” What I think is that God knows how different we are in our learning styles, preferences, and perceptions, and He has allowed and perhaps even encouraged these different versions in order to reach every soul.


So back to the original thought behind this post. Maybe to some people, Warren’s writing might not be deep enough, and others might be opposed to his use of different versions of the scriptures. But can anyone doubt his sincerity? Can anyone read this book and not feel divine power behind it?

Yes to the Best

I’ve been thinking lately about how we become all of the things that we see, hear, read, and experience. We are a composite of all that has come before even when we forget it. Several years ago a good friend of mine was going through a rough patch, and her therapist recommended a little book of meditations entitled The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. My friend gained so much insight and peace from it that it didn’t take much convincing on her part for me to get a copy for myself.


In a word, Wow. It seemed as though Melody’s words were written just for me. I bought and gave away several copies of it, and about a month ago, I realized that I no longer had a copy of my own. Thanks to, that problem was solved in a matter of days, and since that time, I’ve been rereading meaningful passages.


What’s on my mind today is the author’s treatment of the word yes, my word for last year. Why did I choose that word? Hmmm. After re-reading the August 8 meditation, I’m thinking that maybe I absorbed Melody’s advice into my own heart and soul so much that YES became a part of me. On the chance that her “yes words” might mean something to you, I’m going to list a few:

“We can learn to say yes to healthy relationships, to people and activities that are good for us.

We can learn to say yes to ourselves, what we want and need, our instincts, and the leading of our Higher Power.

We can learn to say yes when it feels right to help someone. We can learn to say yes to our feelings. We can learn to identify when we need to take a walk, take a nap, have our back rubbed, or buy ourselves flowers.

We can learn to say yes to work that is right for us.

We can learn to say yes to all that will nurture and nourish us. We can learn to say yes to the best life and love have to offer.”


Is that last line powerful or what??? The truth is that way…powerful.