Tag Archives: Steph Beck’s Blog

Look Who’s Orbiting My Biosphere!

I rarely leave the NASA HQ building in the cold, blustery winter season. We’re a self-contained biosphere, with a cafe and deli, credit union, post office, and dry cleaner. What more could I need?

Yesterday I zapped downstairs to mail a package. Horror of horrors, I found a note in the chair where the Post Office guy should be. He was off taking a class. Rats. That meant I needed to go down to the garage, get my coat from my car, and trudge out into the winter air to the post office around the corner. (I’ve lived in DC for 20 years, but I still have Texas weather  blood. I really, really don’t like the cold. I was annoyed.)

Let me set the scene. I walk across the street, round the corner, and head toward the sketchy railroad bridge I must go under. A car horn blares behind me. I keep walking. I’m not about to turn around. The car horn is quite insistent. It blasts away, getting closer and closer. I look straight ahead and keep walking. In a matter of moments, I realize the honking car could mow me down, so I turn to see what’s going on.

A shiny black Lincoln Town Car — the kind the NASA Administer rides around in — pulled up next to me. I see a figure inside the tinted windows waving wildly. Wait. I recognize that familiar outline.

It’s my DAUGHTER!!!

The window rolls down. Oh my gosh. There she is, all official in her Homeland Security Legislative Affairs Town Car. She’s on her way to the Hill for meetings with Members of Congress. She introduces me to the occupants in the car. We laugh and laugh. Her driver  teases me that I can still get honked at walking down the street. By my daughter, I might add.

Too funny!

As a mom, I walked on air the rest of the day. A momentary glimpse of my gorgeous daughter lifted my spirits. I didn’t mind the cold after all. It was a poignant moment for me. Not that I didn’t realize it already, but this was an opportunity for me to see my daughter all grown up. And then the irony, of course, made me laugh. She has a better ride around DC than I do. I’m walking. She’s being transported. She orbiting right outside my little NASA-sphere. 🙂

I’m truly amazingly blessed. One daughter is helping keep our nation safe. The other is helping keep children safe a continent away.

Thank you Postman for taking your class. You gave me an unexpected highlight. Not only did I get a chance encounter with my daughter, but I got to see her in her own sphere of influence. She’s pretty amazing!

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Filed under Africa, federal government, NASA

South Africa: Creatures Large and Small

South Africa is home to many exotic creatures. Some are amazingly beautiful and others quite ugly — yet all are majestic, intriguing and fabulous in their natural habitat. I wanted to share a few pictures with you from our trip.

The zebras amaze me. I can’t get enough of them. Each one looks like a painting.

Zebra: South Africa Pilanesberg Game Reserve

The giraffes seem so awkward, yet so compelling. The elephants so ancient, yet agile. They can run faster than a car — especially the rental car we had. Our little rental car could barely make it up a hill. That’s why we moved out quickly when the elephant (below) started flapping his ears and moving toward us. I wanted a head start in case he decided to give us a scare.

Charging Elephant: Pilanesberg Game Reserve

The Wildebeest remind me of Klingons. You Star Trek fans know what I’m talking about.

Wildebeest Looks Like WorfWe missed seeing the lions at Pilanesberg Game Reserve, so we visited a Lion Park to pet the lion cubs. I had visions of holding the cute little darlings in my lap. That’s not exactly how it went down. The cubs were quite cranky by the time we got our turn inside the cage to pet them. They fussed and paced. We chased them around for the elusive snuggle time. Hey, we tried.

Lion Park Cubs

A highlight of the trip: Seeing South African penguins up close and personal, not once but twice. We saw them at the Penguin Colony in Simon Town and also at Robben Island. I’m quite taken with the little tuxedo-creatures. So much poise. So much character. They’re simply adorable. And they mate for life. How cute is that?

Penguins: Simon Town

Come with me on a visual stroll through my virtual zoo.

I’ve also thrown in some pics of the Bethany House animals — hog, turkeys, chicks — and some geese we encountered at a local shopping mall. 

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After spending time out in the countryside in South Africa (which, BTW, reminds me SO MUCH of Texas), it’s hard to conceive how society “progressed” from living off the land with caves as shelter and wild berry snacks to wifi-wired life with computers, cubicle farms and vending machines. Yes, I’m addicted to wifi and comfy beds, but I long for more time in nature away from traffic and deadlines.

Someday. But, for now, I’ll enjoy trips to visit Steph in South Africa.

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Filed under Africa, Bethany House Trust

Bethany House: Children in Crisis

The Bethany House children overflow with love to give. They come from unhappy, often tragic home environments. Some have lost their parents. Some have been removed from their parents. Some have been abandoned by their parents.

But each child yearns to love and be loved.

My heart overflows for them. Spending time with the Bethany House kids during our time here with my daughter Steph in South Africa has been a tremendous blessing. I love seeing how much they love Steph. The moment they see her, the kids chant her name and run to her for hugs. We’ve been privileged to benefit from the hug-fest ourselves. My oldest daughter Carol and I have been squeezed and fought over. We have chocolate fingerprints on our clothes. The kids run for our laps each time we sit down. I’ve learned to carry two kids at a time, as others wrap themselves around my legs. Though we’ve only been here a short time, we already have favorites. We can’t help ourselves.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will forever be highlights for me. Our impromptu Christmas Eve dance party with the older girls of Bethany House was such a blast. We twirled and giggled. What a crazy fun evening. Christmas Day morning, we attended church with the Bethany House kids, followed by a delightful picnic Braai (BBQ) in Bethany House Gert and Antoinette Jonker‘s backyard. Children everywhere!

I really can’t remember a more wonderful Christmas with my daughters! It wasn’t about gifts, but relationships. What better way to celebrate Christ’s birthday than to be surrounded by children from ages three months to 18 years.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Sadly, I can’t take pictures of the kids. I could put them at risk by posting their pictures online. Some have been removed from dangerous situations and their location must remain unknown — for their own safety. Our world is full of children in crisis. We just don’t want to think about the horror some of them face. And yet, they are so resilient. They blossom with counseling, attention, and love.

I wish you could see the joy in their faces. Your hearts would melt!

It’s SO hard for me NOT to take pictures of the Bethany House kids. I want to share them with you, and also take home memories with me. Today, for instance, I played Cricket for the first time. I really really don’t get the game, but I tried. I played soccer with the boys the other night. Now that I think of it, perhaps it’s a good thing I don’t have photographic evidence of how badly I play their games.

We only have one full day left in sunny South Africa before flying back home to winter in DC. I’m heartbroken to leave Steph, but I know she’s in good hands. She’s made wonderful friendships with the Bethany House staff. The kids will hug her cares away, so that she won’t miss us as much when we leave. They’re glad she’s staying here in South Africa with them — though many have offered to stow away in our luggage for the return trip to America. If only I could fit them all in….

So, not only will we leave Steph, but also all the children we’ve grown to love here.

As we close out 2010 and look ahead to a new year, I hope you can all find a place in your heart for children in crisis. It won’t be hard for you to find them in your neighborhood, county, state, or even internationally, as with the Bethany House. You can contribute your time or your pocketbook, foster or adopt…or simply smile at children you encounter.

The world conspires to crush their spirits. Your smile alone can make a difference. Your action can save a life.

Blessings to you for a Happy New Year.

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Filed under Africa, Bethany House Trust