Tag Archives: Parents

Nothing Good Gets Away



I just discovered this letter. It took my breath away. I had to share.

John Steinbeck wrote it to his son.  His son was at boarding school and had written to his father to tell him he was falling in love.

This is so beautiful and tender and true.

It brings tears to my eyes because I had a father that wrote letters to me.  My dad wrote me once a week when I was in college…his beautiful handwriting on thick paper folded neatly into a matching envelope.  Always addressed, “Dearest Susan” and always ending with, “Love, Your Father”. He was gentle and kind. I miss him.  I’m so grateful he was mine.

All of this has me thinking about the things we tell our kids.  The advice we give and the way we shape their views through our responses.  Oh Lord I pray for the right words to tell my kids. I hope that I have offered (and will offer!) words that will give hope and encourage.

Here’s the letter.  Enjoy.

New York

November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind.
The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable.

The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



I know. Take a moment. Reread. NOTHING GOOD GETS AWAY.

I’d love to read your comments. What advice did your parents give you that encouraged you?

©2016 Sue Bidstrup, All Rights Reserved, Great Big Yes™

When did I stop playing?



I made a huge discovery the other day that I have to share with you.

I am taking the training for Kids Holy Yoga.  We have been talking about play and how important it is. One of our assignments was to play for 20 minutes.

Oh my gosh this was eye opening!

I decided to swim.  It’s October but I live in Texas and we have a pool and it’s 94 degrees so…why not?

Picture this…it’s mid-day and I decide to put on my swimsuit and frolic in the pool for no reason but to play. To say this felt weird is an understatement.  I was thinking, “What if someone stops by?” I felt like I was wasting time. I had no purpose.  My mind was telling me, “Just swim some laps so you can count this as exercise”.

You guys.  When did this happen?

When did I start needing to account for every minute of the day?  Why was I in the pool feeling like I should be doing laundry or at least reading a book or something.  Weren’t there colleges to research and wasn’t there grocery shopping to be done? HOW WERE MY KIDS GOING TO TURN OUT IF THEY FOUND OUT THEIR MOM WENT SWIMMING ALONE MID-DAY????

Honestly. When did I become the party pooper?

So, I forced myself and started shooting some hoops.  I am so bad.  I can’t make a basket to save my life regardless of the fact I played center in junior high and my dad called me Kareem.

I swam a little and immediately became winded so I started doing handstands and talking to myself under water…”Scooby Doo”…Did you do that? Say things underwater to your friends and make them guess what you said? We had categories.  I was playing TV shows.  By myself.

I did some flips but my ears filled up with water so I stopped.

At one point I chuckled to myself thinking about how long it had been since I just played for no reason.  How long it had been since I had gone in the pool with no regard for how my thighs looked or if my hair was going to get gross or if getting wet was worth it because then I have to shower and get dressed again.

When did this happen?

Years ago.

I sidelined myself years ago.

If I was doing something active, it was for a work out.  I would walk or run or go the gym.  I went because it was good for me and I wanted to stay healthy.  I wouldn’t say any of that was “fun”.  Even my yoga, that I love so much, had become a “have to” in my mind.  I was thinking of it from a “teaching” perspective and I forgot how much I enjoy it.

How does this happen?

I had seen my husband go up on the side of the hot tub and slide down into the pool. There is no slide, he just made up something fun, imagine that? (Side note: He has not sidelined himself.  Ever. He puts on his swimsuit every day after work and jumps in.  He likes the back runs of the ski mountain.  He’s gone sky diving. Friends that went to Mexico with us can attest to the fact that he likes to jump off cliffs and now in Texas, he’s taking up hunting and fishing. If there’s a game or activity happening, he is in. Is this a gender thing?) Anyway, I went in the hot tub and then slid into the pool.  It was fun and refreshing and I startled myself thinking, “I want to do that again!”

When  my husband came home and saw a beach towel out and the basketball in the pool he started asking the kids…Did you swim today? They were like, “No, mom did.” He was incredulous. And envious.  He kept saying, “I always want you to swim with me.  Why don’t you swim with me?”

Ugh. Why don’t I? What the heck have I been doing?  Was I too busy to have fun? Is he thinking…”Where is the fun girl I married?!?!”

I tried to hold my breath and swim across the pool under water without coming up for air.  It reminded me of the many long summer days spent in the pool.  Hours and hours of mindless fun, pruny skin and green hair.  We would leave the pool sun drenched and exhausted.  The next day we would ride our bikes in a pack to do it again. The pool always signified freedom. Summer. Friends. Long lazy days of nothing.

I’m convinced God can do amazing things in those lazy days.  He is the author of freedom.

We spend all this time reading and writing and working and studying and striving and not wasting a precious minute…and yet, He beckons…put that down, come outside, swim with me.  I want to see you laugh and play and be free.

Yesterday, I said “Yes” and I could feel His delight.

©2015 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved


Middle school and life…what is learning anyway?

I had my first school parent coffee in Texas.

Yep, that’s right. I did it. I checked in, showed my license, put on my name tag and entered the scariest place of all…the middle school lunch room.

lunch room

I have to say it has gotten much better.  It’s still not easy but I’m okay. I can enter without the panic of, “Who will I sit with?”

Being new to town and the school and the state and well…just NEW in that way that feels sort of confusing but also funny because there is no way you can hide it.  I mean, I walked in and started wandering around and a teacher asked me, “Are you lost?” and I thought about answering, “Honey, you don’t know the half of it.” Literally, just getting to the school was a major feat.  Needing to know where the lunch room is is way beyond.  I just can’t.

So, it’s obvious.

Thank God I ran into someone I did know right away. By saying I know her, I mean I met her once and I thought it was her so I approached and thank God she recognized me and we started chatting.  I guess maybe the lunch room hasn’t changed that much.  We still look for someone to sit with. I’ve just become much braver.  And wiser. And more comfortable in my skin. Which takes a lot of years of walking into the lunchroom, board room, dorm room, new job, new neighborhood…you get my point.

The Principal started talking and I realized that this school, this experience,  this whole Texas thing…is different.  He said he started in education in 1953. I was doing the math in my head and he clarified…that’s when he started FIRST GRADE.  And he said, He’s “loved education ever since”.  His title is Dr. so I know he’s gone to a lot of schooling but I couldn’t give a hoot. (Don’t I sound southern already?)  I was more interested in what he said about the CULTURE and how important it is to him.  He talked about when he was a principal before and he was widowed and he suffered so much and he just couldn’t do it anymore so he retired.  He said he couldn’t “run the race” anymore.

He said he was blessed to find a wonderful woman who is his wife now and she brought him back, reminded him of how much he loved being in education and he came out of retirement.  He said school is important and he loves it but he loves his wife and family more.  That school and learning and accomplishing and all that we do here in this building is really, really important but not as important as your family.

He assured us that even though the school is new and the technology doesn’t work yet and there is confusion and the busses are late…the teachers love our kids and are trying their best and working really hard.  He asked for our patience and asked if we could please encourage and support the teachers.  He reminded us that we are all in this together.

There was a mom that shared her daughter was not allowed to go to the bathroom because she didn’t have a “pass” so she had an accident.  He was mortified and so sorry.  He launched into this whole thing.

He said there are 2 camps. “Rules and Regs” and ‘Culture”.  He said he’s not much of a rules and reg guy but he knows they are necessary.  He’s more into relationships and getting people what they need and OFFERING GRACE.  

Of course, this made me cry. Me too! I wanted to shout! Me too! Amen! 

There were moms there of course who kept pressing about bathroom passes and the busses and complaining about homework.  I was having an out of body experience.  I was watching and listening and I wanted to shout!! Did you hear him?!?! We are offering GRACE.  It’s about GRACE!!  All are doing their best!!

Now don’t get me wrong, parents have every right to ask all of those questions and all of the administrators there were lovely and accommodating and trying their best to help everyone.

It just reminded me of how we get sometimes about God and Religion.  We put all the rules and regulations in.  We start keeping score.  We demand. We perform. We measure.  We get so tired we can’t “run the race” anymore.  We forget that we are in this together.  We get so worried about people having a “pass” that we don’t see they are about to have an accident right in front of us.  We don’t recognize the suffering.  We make them jump through hoops.  We abandon. We criticize. We humiliate. This is love? This is Christian living?

But then Jesus comes in and goes, “Hey, guess what? I’m not much of a rules and reg guy.  I’m here to offer grace.”  He assures us that he loves us and he’s for us and he cares about our CULTURE.  He sets us FREE. To go to the bathroom or whatever.  He says, “You don’t need a pass…I AM THE PASS!!!”  You are all good.

Okay so at the end of an hour of people questioning, complaining, etc…a woman stood up.  She stood up and said, “I want to thank you.  For coming in here and talking about CULTURE and GRACE and for making it a priority to make this a GOOD, KIND place that offers understanding and support and encouragement.” Actually, I have no idea what else she said. But she was tracking with what I was feeling and a lot of other people in the room.  I couldn’t even hear her.

I was crying Holy Spirit tears and shaking my head and saying “Amen!”

Because honestly, he’s a principal but he’s also a missionary.  Right here. In Texas. In the Middle school lunchroom.

It was a lunch room.

But it felt more like Church.


©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved