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Posts Tagged ‘Childhood’

 

As the teenage student spoke of his experience in the small South African town, I found myself smiling, knowingly.

He spoke of people on the streets saying hi to him, waving from a distance, knowing him before he had even arrived from traveling the thousands of miles from the Pacific Northwest. He had visited a place, as a stranger, which had immediately felt like his very own community … because he felt known.

That is what it is to be in a small town … you feel known.

Many people who visit small towns speak of similar experiences. Hubby and I are both from small towns on the East Coast. When people we know visit the East Coast they often return with tales of how friendly the locals were. Hubby and I usually smile, knowingly, then tell them the truth … the people are friendly, but they are nosy too.

I realize now that to have grown up in a small town was a privilege that few get to experience.

When I walked down the street everyone, from the postmistress, to the car salesman, to the corner store cashier, to the town gossip knew my name, who my parents were, and where I lived. If I was hanging out with the wrong person, my parents knew it before I got back home. When I graduated from high school, I received cards of congratulations from many of the people in our neighborhood.

Growing up in a small town can provide a great sense of security, support and community. It can provide an ownership and responsibility to all who you share life in the community with. It can make you feel like you are part of something bigger.

Sometimes, when we are in the midst of an experience, we fail to appreciate the blessing of where we are. What a great experience it was to have grown up in a place where everybody knows your name.

 

 

 

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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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When you hear the name, Bill Watterson, what words come to mind?

comics
artist
Calvin and Hobbes
mishaps
heart-warming
adventures into childhood
childhood …

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Although Bill Watterson stopped drawing his famous six year old and the stuffed tiger, who came to life, in 1995 (at the age of thirty-seven), his Calvin and Hobbes cartoons are still enjoyed by children and adults alike.

cseriousart

Just this past Friday a documentary, called Dear Mr. Watterson, opened at select theaters (only one in Canada). The dream come true for director, Joel Schroeder, it is “not a quest to find Bill Watterson, or to invade his privacy.  It is an exploration to discover why his ‘simple’ comic strip made such an impact on so many readers in the 80s and 90s, and why it still means so much to us today.”

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In an article in the Pacific Standard, titled Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson, and Separating the Artist from the Art (November 15, 2013), writer Paul Hiebert said, “unlike the actors and musicians and politicians and reality-TV personalities who pursue every opportunity available either to gain or maintain some kind of social acceptance and significance, Watterson doesn’t seem to care. And in his non-caring, the public has only come to care for him more.”

timeout

In honor of the opening of the documentary, and in honor of Bill Watterson, who seemed to preach a simple message … “live. live with adventure and abandon. live the best of life … not the fastest … not the most glamorous … but the best that life has to offer. and live it as you really are, not as the world would want you to live it.”

Although the graphics of the following cartoon link are not original to Bill Watterson, the words are his. Please click the following link, to be reminded, once again, to live!

Click Here: An incredible comic by Bill Watterson – Imgur.

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Cubes - 379 - INFLUENCE

Influence can be good or bad … lets consider the good.

Who has influenced you?

Who has changed your life?

What you do …

What you say …

How you think …

How you live …

There are many in my life who have influenced me for good. My parents, other family members, friends along the way, teachers, my hubby, my children.

One of the events, the other day, was that the youth pastor of our church was taking our son out for lunch, and it reminded me of a person who influenced me as a teen of about the same age as my son.

I did not grow up as a ‘church kid’ who was marinated in the things of that institution from conception onward. I went to Sunday School, and to the summer DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School) programs, but I did not know the ins and the outs of church life (some days I see that as a blessing … after all, we church people are so very human).

What I did know about church came from my own observations … old women had VERY hairy legs, my grandmother sang like Lucille Ball, do NOT run in the sanctuary, and that church is a place where you get cookies and juice (truly, feeding my sugar-cravings was the way to ensure I came back).

The most important learning I received at church came from my Sunday School teacher when I was in middle school.

Beth was a lovely, loving lady. Not a nasty word was ever spoken from her mouth, and she greeted each of us with a warm, welcoming and sincere embrace. She was a wife of a pig farmer, and mother to two little boys. They did not have much money, yet her eyes glittered with more joy than any other person I knew. She loved us all equally, whether we were a ‘church kid’ or just some kid from the community who was brought faithfully to Sunday School each and every week.

In Beth’s presence I felt cared for, accepted, and loved far beyond what I expected from someone who was not family. It was the way that Beth loved me, loved all the girls in that class, that made me see the possibilities of a life with Jesus as the model. And, for me, Beth was that model of Christ’s love for me.

She shared of her life as a believer in Christ, she shared of her life as a wife, as a mom. She held nothing back when she shared of her own experiences in those roles.

She lived the life of being patient and kind, she did not envy, or boast, and was not proud. She did not dishonor others, and was not self-seeking, easily angered, and kept no record of wrongs. She did not delight in evil but rejoiced with the truth. She always protected, always trusted, always hoped, always persevered.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

In her Sunday School class, Beth taught … from the Bible. My most long lasting memory is a continuing lesson on faith, that was rooted in:

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

The teaching of that lesson … teaching about hope, teaching about faith influenced my life even until today. And she communicated love in the most consistent of ways.

I am thankful for this sister-in Christ, who influenced me so significantly.

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Every once in a while I check out the visual list of top watched videos on YouTube …

I work in a high school, I am a mom of a houseful of teens, and so I desire to be as current and aware of the culture that these teens live in as is humanly possible on my end.

Last weekend I was was drawn to a particular video on the list … not because of the number of views (although over six million is a significant number of views), but because I recognized the face … the face of the man whose shared gift impressed me most at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 img_2012Vancouver Winter Olympics.

“We Are More” is a spoken word poem that Shane Koyczan shared at that opening ceremony. With words and passion he defined all that is the nation of Canada, leaving our nation so stirred by national pride one could have mistaken us for our neighbors to the South. My favorite line from his poem was “so don’t let your luggage define your travels.”

And in the video I watched last weekend, he unpacked more baggage that we humans sometimes allow to defined define us … bullying.

In the first video is Shane speaking at the filming of his TED video of his entire poem. Although it is over twelve minutes, I recommend you watch that one!

This, second video is shorter (about seven and a half minutes), more visual, and I have included it because it is the one with over six million views (it is also the ‘cleaner’ video, the first has one line that ‘may’ be offensive to some) … I still recommend the first one … but, if you are short on time, go with number two … BUT spoken word is best heard when you can see the passion in the speaker speaking … just sayin’

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As I write this post I am sitting outside, in the shade of the trees behind our house, as the sun is crawling up into the late morning sky.

I am also being entertained by the four individuals in our pool. Their ages are five, eight, almost thirteen 🙂 and fifteen.

Our youngest daughter and son are playing with abandon, with their younger friends. There is no biology shared between them, but their relationship is akin to cousins. The younger pair trailing behind the older, keeping up because they so want to be together, because they so want to do what their older friends do.

They have a relationship that means every greeting and farewell includes a hug. They each get an instant smile on their faces when they see each other. There is total and complete confidence in the love and affection that they have for each other. Together they are like one unit, with no divisions.

The littler ones presence also seems to bring the older ones together in a manner normally unseen in these two VERY normal siblings (aka. fighting, disagreeing, arguing). For all the hours they were together there was none of that ‘normal’ behavior, and I relaxed in my temporary utopia.

The littler girl loves to be paired with the older one, and the littler boy (aka Little Ben) loves to be with the older (Big Ben). That said, they all play together, and when one is missing, their twosome or threesome continue on.

What refreshment they bring to our home and to our day. They provide instant smiles and laughter.

When we see them, I am immediately reminded that the stage of childhood that they are now at (elementary school aged) is completed in our home, and I am immediately satisfied with the return of the joy that their presence brings.

They remind me that washing faces and hands is a must after eating (especially enormous waffles with whipped cream and blueberries). They remind me that half an hour is enough time for any one activity, and don’t try stretching it our too long. They remind me that fights erupt quickly, and are settled and forgotten about just as quickly. They remind me that please and thank you are the most used words in a day. And that when they are with someone they love, their little eyes and hearts and minds are fully attentive to the object of that affection.

This is a privilege, and an honor. To spend time looking at the world through the eyes of children. How much more beautiful, more large, more wonderfilled it is.

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This is another the final post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story. Today is the final segment that will be added to this series on my blog. This summer I will be editing and adding to this story, in preparation for publication (hopefully) by the end of summer. When it is completed, and ready for purchase, I will provide information on my blog. I have enjoyed getting to know Amara, Joy and their family, thanks for walking this journey through their story!

Joy watched Joe and Jilly walk slowly down the corridor of the hospital, then disappear as they turned the corner to the elevator.

She let out an audible sigh.

“It sounds like you have more on your mind than just your mother.”

Joy turned quickly to face Dr. Lewis, who had such a gentle, grandfatherly face. Joy was certain that he was most sincere in his concern about what was occupying her thoughts.

“Oh, Dr. Lewis, it has been a stressful time, and so much has happened in just the past week.” Joy said, trying to be both honest, and not fully transparent at the same time.

Dr. Lewis nodded knowingly, but only knowing of the stresses of her mother’s events in that time. He reached into his pocket,  pulled out a prescription pad, and scratched something onto it.

“If you need anything,” he paused, ensuring that Joy was fully engaged in his eye contact with her, ” I mean anything,” he sounded so lovingly firm, yet concerned. “You call this number, and I will return your call before you can hang up your phone. The healer is only helpful if she has a place to go for strength,” and he placed the paper in Joy’s hand, and held it for a moment. Then he smiled, and walked towards the elevator.

Joy watched him for a long time, thinking how she had not been cared for by a father figure for a long time. She missed her father deeply in that moment, and as the doctor turned the corner towards the elevator, tears flooded from her eyes. She could feel the weight that on her shoulders, causing them to sag.

I must keep moving, Joy told herself. She took a deep breath in, and held it for a moment before forcing it out again, ever so slowly.

Then she turned towards her mother’s room, and walked determinedly towards it, where she stopped, took another breath, and slowly, ever so slowly pushed the door so that she could peek in.

Jessica was still curled up on the bed beside her mother, both with their eyes closed. Joy took in the picture before her as she had with the breaths of air … whole, fully, and not wanting to let the image go, in fear that she might never get it back again. It was a beautiful, peaceful image before her. One that put her at ease, at rest, simply by being a voyeur to the intimate moment so close to her, and yet she was so removed from it.

As beautiful at the image was, as peaceful at it was to look upon, Joy felt such regret that it was not she who her mother desired to be close to. As she deeply felt that regret, she also knew that she had been pushing her mother away from her for most of her life. Maybe, at some level, Joy had been punishing her mother for the choice she had to make all those years ago, to give her time and attention to her dying son. Now, as an adult and a mother, she considered what she might have done? What other choice did her mother have, but to leave her healthy daughter’s care to her own parents, so that she might be able to care for her desperately ill son?

Joy so wanted to walk over and embrace her mother, but she could not face the possible rejection that could very well be the response from her mother.

She stared longingly at the pair on the bed, when Amara’s eyes opened, and looked to Jessica.

“Oh my sweet little one, you look so lovely when you sleep,” Amara said, to Jessica, as she continued to embrace the child’s head with her hand. “You fill my heart with love. You make me smile. You are the answer to my prayers.”

Joy could feel tears welling up in her eyes.

Jessica moved in her sleep, closer to Amara, who was smiling with great satisfaction the closer Jessica got to her.

“Oh my sweet, sweet little girl. You bring me such … ” and Amara stopped speaking for just a moment, just long enough to kiss the top of her head. “That is why I called you, Joy.”

The tears that had been welling in Joy’s eyes were now loosed by the realization that her mother did not think that she was holding her granddaughter … but her daughter.

Unfading – Part 1

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