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Archive for November, 2013

Nicholas Winton

Sometimes we hear a story of one person, doing one thing, which gets multiplied much like the Biblical story of the loaves and the fishes.

This is the case in the story of Nicholas Winton.

Nicholas Winton was born and grew up in London, England to German parents, of Jewish background, who had converted to Christianity.

In 1939 there was war in the air.

At the end of 1939, Nicholas traveled to Prague to assist a friend in the refugee camps. This was just weeks following Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), when Nazi soldiers and German citizens attacked the homes, businesses and synagogues of German and Austrian Jews throughout the two countries. Many people were injured, killed or taken to concentration camps. The Final Solution was underway, and Winston’s eyes were opened to where Hitler’s plans were certainly going.

With the help of a handful of friends and family, Winston quickly set up “The British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, Children’s Section.” This group raised money, found foster homes, and did all of the footwork to move children, by train, to the safety of families in England and Sweden.

As I was reading about Winston, and this horrific time in history, I found myself wondering how parents, how a mother, could hand her child over to the hands of a stranger. Then I realized what Winston and the parents of these children must have also realized … there was no hope for the future if you were in Czechoslovakia, and Jewish, at that time. Still, imagine the tears as final farewells were said …

And so, working from a hotel room, parents came, the arrangements were made for their children to be taken away to another land, to unknown foster parents. Six hundred and sixty-nine children were given safe passage to their new homes, their new families.

The largest number of children sent at one time was on September 1, 1939 … the day Hitler invaded Poland, all German-controlled borders were closed. The train, carrying two hundred and fifty children, left the station in Prague … the two hundred and fifty foster families awaiting their arrival in Liverpool waited … never was any child from that train heard from again.

Books have been written and movies have been made (one, Nicky’s Family, was just released this year) about the story of Mr. Winton. In June of this year, at the age of one hundred and four, Sir Winston said in an interview, “if the people lived by the fundamental ethics of goodness, kindness, decency, honor … the world would be a different place.”

In that same interview with Mr. Winton, he stated that his family now numbers about seven thousand …

loaves and fishes … a great miracle happened here!

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It was a recent conversation with my eldest daughter (who happens to be a Psych. Major) that made me ponder the effects of my being a mother has on my being a daughter.

I had a good childhood, surrounded by a cornucopia of immediate and extended family members.

I lived in a place where community meant everyone (but what else could it mean in a village of less than two thousand people?).

I got a good education, by people who cared about their students.

I was exposed to Christianity, even though my parents did not practice that lifestyle.

I was encouraged that I could do whatever I put my mind to.

I was loved … really, really loved.

If I were to attach one word to my childhood it would be … blessed!

Now, get your imaginations out of Cleverville! I said blessed … not perfect! not flawless! not without tears! or hurts! or disappointments! or damage!

There was a time in my early adulthood that I vividly felt the flaws of my upbringing … the hurts from childhood … the damages. I pondered (too long) the disappointments I felt in some of my memories and experiences.

This is all normal, for we need to go through the ice-cold waters in our memories to start to feel the warmth again. We need to feel the frigid to realize that our parents are not perfect … so as to prepare us for the reality that, as parents, we too are not perfect.

As I look back on my own parenting of our three kids, it is when they were very young, that the warmth of forgiveness began to touch my mother-heart.

Anyone with young children will tell you of the ease with which a child will forgive. I remember going to each of our kids on many (many, many, many) occasions to apologize for some hurt, disappointment, damage … tears that I caused them. Each time my kids would immediately, readily, enthusiastically respond, “it’s okay Mommy.” And there and then, my sins forgiven, it was over and forgotten.

As my kids are growing into the young adult years, I am becoming more and more aware that they will soon be sliding into more reflective, more critical years as they look back on their own childhoods … on their own mother. I realize I will need to grow thicker skin, and discerning ears. I realize I will need to put unconditional love into practice.

It is my own kid’s unconditional forgiveness of me, that helped me to forgive, and forget the imperfections of my own parents. It is through my own kids that I was able to look at my parents as having done what they did, with the knowledge and experience available to them when they were in the deep waters of parenting.

With all that said, they did the best they could … and I was blessed.

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As I read the following post by Holly Gerth, I sighed and muttered under my breath,

“thank-you.

thank-you for addressing this topic.

thank-you for telling it like it is.

thank-you for bringing light to something women do, and shouldn’t.

because I have seen where it can go …

a lack of emotional modesty.”

We have all seen it, heard about it, or maybe even experienced it …

The life of a couple gets busy, time for each other gets squeezed out by jobs, kids, community, church, the football game, that great new novel, the guys weekend fishing, the girls weekend fishing … and the emotional needs (as valid and necessary to living healthy as exercise, good food, relaxation or sex) of the wife go unmet. She is feeling left out, unloved … her cup is empty and dry. She tells this to a male co-worker, a guy at the gym, the man she leads worship with at church and HE LISTENS!

He listens like her words are important. He listens like she is important. He listens …

And, because he has met an emotional need for her (one that her husband is not meeting, and does not even seem to know exists) she begins to feel something …

Please continue reading Holley’s blog post (posted both at her sight and at (in)courage … she says this so well!

“Hey, Friend, pull up a chair and lean in close because I want to have a heart-to-heart talk with you about something that’s important for all of us as women.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine were chatting. Her husband is in a leadership role at a church and she shared how women often confide in him in ways that are personal. That led us to a discussion about how easy it is to share your heart with men who are not your husband these days. There are plenty of opportunities to send a Facebook message, email, or open up to a guy friend. Yet here’s the thing: I believe that baring our hearts makes us just as vulnerable as baring our bodies.

If you are married and a man is not your husband, do not share your heart with him.

And if you are single, do not share your heart with a married man.

Let’s embrace emotional modesty. Emotional modesty means we see our hearts as a great treasures only to be shared with the man who is our spouse. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” {Proverbs 4:23}. Women are more vulnerable to emotional affairs and where our emotions go, our thoughts and bodies often follow. We know that, right?

We don’t go into situations thinking, “Oh, this might be the beginning of an emotional affair.” Instead we have a bad day and find a sympathetic listening male ear. Or we discover we’re writing longer emails to a particular coworker. We reconnect with an old flame on Facebook.

If you find yourself emotionally drawn to a man besides your spouse ask, “What unmet need is this highlighting in my marriage?” Then go to your spouse or both of you go to a counselor and find a way to get that need met.

My husband is incredibly practical and I’m highly emotional. For the first years of our marriage there were times I felt disconnected from him because he approached life head first and I approached it heart first. With some wise advice, lots of patience, and weekly breakfast dates we began learning to communicate. And we’re still learning.

Here’s what I didn’t know when I tied the knot: Marriage takes work, friends. A lot of work. There’s a myth that says, “If you love someone you won’t have to work at it.” But I’ve come to believe the truth sounds more like this, “If you love someone you will work at it.” When you emotionally attach to another man, it lets you avoid that work. And in the moment, that feels pretty good. But it has devastating consequences long-term.

Whew, this was a hard post to write. I hope you hear my motivation behind it and it’s this: I love you. I love your marriage. I love your heart and I believe it’s a treasure worth guarding. And I love your daughters–so please talk to them about this, too.

Let’s help each other with this, friends, okay? We’re made to live in community. We’re made for connection. God just gives us boundaries for doing so because he wants what’s truly best for us.”

XOXO,
Holley Gerth

For another take on this issue, I highly recommend the movie, Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (trailer below) :

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Did you know that in just over one month, Christmas Day will be upon us?! Yikes! I’m not so excited for the hustle and bustle of that season, but I am looking forward to two weeks of family togetherness, and not having to hear my own voice all the time. Working in a school in an instructional support position I sometimes feel I must seem just like the teacher in Charlie Brown … “wah wah woh wah wah”

Speaking of my job, the most viewed post this week had to do with my training for my job, in my post How to Learn about Special Needs. The students I work with make me laugh, cry and scratch my head! And this week, after writing this post, I have been asking for their opinions much more frequently … maybe I needed to write this so that I would change how I learn …

Also this week :

Brokenness Aside
(feeling ‘un-beautiful’ in a broken world … you were made for more)

Who Makes the Sacrifice
(anyone who does big things for others, is not sacrificing alone)

A Note to My Younger Self
(if you could write a note to your younger self … what would you say?)

What I Really Really Want
(don’t stop dreaming)

Blessings to you this day,
Carole

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The other day, after my kids had been moving the radio dial, I was left with the radio playing on ‘their’ station, with the Spice Girls singing out :

“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want”

and it lasted, playing over and over and over again, in my head ALL DAY LONG!

That was the down side (and I banned my kids from changing the radio station in the van for a week), but there was an up side to this song being on repeat in my subconscious. It made me ask the question :

what do I really, really want?

On the heels of yesterday’s post, A Note to Myself, I am obviously in a contemplative mood this week!

I think it is always a good idea to consider what we really, really want from our lives. Doing so gives us the opportunity to reflect and dream about the days, and years to come.

When we are children we are constantly dreaming of the future :

– what is up that tree?
– will there be dessert after I eat my vegetables?
– how many days until Christmas? my birthday? vacation?
– how many days until I start school?

Then, when we are teens the dreaming grows and intensifies :

– I cannot wait until summer vacation!
– I cannot wait to be in twelfth grade!
– I cannot wait to be done twelfth grade!
– I cannot wait to be in college/university!

As a young adult there is more dreaming :

– I cannot wait to own my own car
– I cannot wait to have my dream job
– I cannot wait to own my own house
– I cannot wait to marry

As an adult who is married with children we begin dreaming for ourselves and others :

– I cannot wait until this baby is born
– I cannot wait until this baby sleeps through the night
– I cannot wait until date night!
– I cannot wait until the kids start school

Then we reach this mid-life stage and dreaming of the future becomes a little foggy … maybe because we see where the next half eventually ends.

Even so, this is a great time of life to dream new dreams, start fresh adventures, try something new, take chances.

The book of Joel (2:28) tells us :

“And afterward,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your old men (and youthful but aging women) will dream dreams,
    your young men will see visions.”

Dreaming is for the older, the more mature. Maybe it is because, as we get to the midway point we have enough experience to be better able to dream because we have had the experiences of dreams that came true, and dreams that crashed and burned. We know not to count on our dreams, but we also know how dreams give us direction, motivation and a spring in our step. At the same time, we know we have more limits on our time, which can provide the urgency to work to make the dream a reality.

And so, let us dream! Working towards the goals in this life that we really, really want, and in doing so perhaps we will also be fulfilling the plan God has for us in this life.

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It is said that experience is the best teacher …

When I saw the above image posted on Facebook I immediately started to write the note in my mind. It began as a list of what not to do. Perhaps, just as experience is the best teacher, regret is a powerful lesson.

The list in my head was growing my the moment when I realized that I missed the final part of the challenge of what I would say to my younger self …

… in only two words

Okay, now that changed things!

Then I really had to think … what two words would I wish I could communicate to my younger self?

It made me really regret my ‘don’t do’ list, because, all of a sudden, having only two words to communicate … well would I want them to be dont’s?

So then my mind was racing, trying to come up with two positive words … not just positive, now, but encouraging. So now my aim was to find two words … just TWO words, that would be words of encouraging to my younger self.

When I was younger I was confident of a handful of goals for my life, and I was committed to not make any choices that could adversely affect my goals. So I was not a rule-breaker. But, when I look back, I realize that I made my rules to be laws, and they not only kept me on the straight and narrow … they also kept me from experiencing variety in this life.

So, after hours of contemplating and considering what two words I would wish to write to myself, my conclusion would be :

live wonder-filled

How about you? What two words would you wish to write in a note to your younger self?

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The idea of sacrifice surrounds this month.

Just over a week ago we remembered those who sacrificed for freedom in world conflicts on Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day, or whatever other title that day holds for you, where you live). Then a friend went with the Canadian Medical Assistance Team (CMAT) to help set up a medical center in the Philippines, after the deadly Typhoons, causing thousands of deaths, injuries and millions of people displaced from their homes. Then a mom, experiencing mixed emotions as her son, who desires to be a law enforcement officer, got called into training.

These events have caused me to consider sacrifice.

Who is it who is making a sacrifice when a person in the military is called to go to the Middle East?

Who is it who is making a sacrifice when they go to work in law enforcement?

Who is it who is making a sacrifice when they go to work as a firefighter?

Who is it who is making a sacrifice when they get called to the hospital to do emergency surgery, on Christmas morning?

When our friend left for the Philippines, I heard people say,

“what a sacrifice he is making”

but he is not the only one making a sacrifice.

Those who have gone (and who are presently involved) to places of conflict are not the only ones who sacrificed. Their families, their communities, their loved ones, also paid a price.

The man who is entering law enforcement is not the only one who is sacrificing. His wife, his parents, his current workplace, his community are also paying a price.

Our friend helping those who have suffered the ravages of the typhoons is not the only on who is making a sacrifice. His wife, working full time, will be living as a single mom for three weeks. Their two young children will be missing their dad. His workplace, as a firefighter, will be sacrificing the hours he would normally be fulfilling his job requirements. His parents will be concerned for his safety. His friends will miss him.

These people who sacrifice, sacrifice many intangibles, for those in need.

We mustn’t forget, as we pray for them, to pray for those who love and care for them … the sacrifice is theirs too.

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