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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

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A colleague came into the staff room, barely containing laughter, bursting from within, along with the the story she was eager to share.

Just moments before she had walked into a classroom, where three high school-agedĀ students (all of whom have diagnosis which included struggles affecting social skills) were giggling hysterically. In between their joyful giggles, they were telling each other knock-knock jokes.

As the story was relayed to myself, and my colleagues, I found myself reflecting on what a beautiful scene that must have been. I also found myself pondering how beautiful it was to have heard of what these students can do, when left to their own natural devices.

So often, we in school think that we are the only instruments that can be used to teach social skills. We also often seem to forget that our definition of social skills might not be appropriate for our students to learn to understand.

How many times have I asked a student to “say the who thing” in response to a question? Yet, if someone were to ask me “what is your name?” I would not respond with “my name is Carole” but, simply, “Carole.”

Although, I do believe that social skills often do need to be taught, the best practice of them is done, not in the classroom, but in real life … out in the community, over lunch with friends (just friends, no educational sidekicks), doing social activities like swimming, shopping, playing games, having a drink at the local coffee shop … you know, the stuff that is social for the rest of us.

The nature of most (if not all) humans is to desire human connectedness. We do not all desire it in the same ways, nor in the same frequency (some need very little, many need much), but we do desire to connect with other humans. Within us all, that innate desire can push us to achieve what we want so greatly. Even for those who have a diagnosis that includes struggles with social skills.

What a delight to be reminded that my job is more to encourage real situations, where the real practice of social skills can be exercised, and less to teach a lesson plan about it.

These teens want human connectedness, and, as with any other teen, they are determined to achieve it.

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IMG_1371.JPGWe had a chat the other day, you and I.

A chat about your name … one of your names.

Jonathan …

If I were completely honest, I would say that if you had been born at this, more vocal stage in my life, your first name would have been Jonathan (though I do so love singing “Bennie and the Jets” to you … high pitched, and my singing (in)ability means I hit every note, whether I should or not). Jonathan was, and is, the name that ‘feels’ like the one you were born to wear.

Jonathan, a gift from God.

You were, you are a gift from God to me. You were a oft prayed for, hard fought for, child of mine.

Though Shakespeare would have us believe that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, do we become what we are named, or are we named what we are to become? Is our name a self-fulfilling prophesy?

The other day, as you poured out your heart full of concerns for a friend, I smiled. I was not smiling because I was insensitive about the concern you had for your friend. I smiled because your concern was the proof that you are growing into your name.

Jonathan, son of King Saul, best friend, and brother-in-law of David … David the greatest enemy of his father.

The words of 1 Samuel 1:18, echoed in my heart, “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Knit together, like the passage from the Psalms, “knit together in my mother’s womb” (139:13). Knit, by the only one with needles so perfectly purposeful. Knit together to be one entity.

As my smile grew bigger, from my insides out, I looked at you and said “I was right to name you Jonathan.” And the question mark formed in your eyes, and the Bible story, the history story was shared.

Jonathan, the prince of Israel, the heir apparent to follow his royal father, Saul.

Jonathan had a friend, a best friend, a bosom buddy, a “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Psalm 18:24). His friend was no blue blood, he was a simple shepherd. A simple shepherd that was a “man after Gods own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

Remember this son, God chooses leaders based on the condition of their hearts, not their abilities, not their credentials!

You know the story of these two. You know of the the deep love, followed by the insane, jealousy-inspired hatred King Saul had for David. You know of Saul’s plots to kill that shepherd boy. But do you remember what Jonathan did? Jonathan begged his flesh and blood father to be fair, to show mercy. Jonathan protected David from his father. Jonathan protected David, and through his protection he eventually lost his rightful place and position as King of Israel.

My son, my last born, remember when you were young, and too busy playing with trains to hug your mom? Remember what I would say?

“If you won’t hug me, I’ll have to have another baby, and then you’ll lose your place in the family as my baby.”

And you would drop everything, and wrap your arms around my neck hard … because you liked, because you wanted your rightful place.

Jonathan didn’t lose his rightful place, my sweet son, he gave it away, wrapped with a bow and a kiss of friendship, and hand delivered to the one who, he knew, God appointed in his place.

And that is who you are named after … a man who was also God’s gift. And through his selfless gift, the ultimate gift of redemption, through the bloodline of David to the blood shed of the Messiah. This Jonathan was no push over, he was aware that God’s purposes were greater, even if he might never come to understand the grand plan of the Creator.

And so, my son …

  • know that you are a gift from God
  • know that you have a purpose
  • love your friends
  • in everything, keep your heart pure … it is that which God can use
  • know that you are a gift from God

Happy Birthday, to my Jonathan.

 

 

 

 

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What makes ones life wonderful?

The other night I came into the bedroom to see hubby watching the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” … without me! So I climbed into the blankets, snuggled up against him, and we watched the last part together. Many years ago it was hubby who introduced this classic to me. And every year since, it has become a part of our Christmas season.

It is a story of looking back, looking at today and looking forward into the future (kind of like Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’). It is a story of hopelessness and of hope. It is a story of redemption.

The movie is focused on George, a man who had always wanted to travel the world. It also tells of his life’s impact on others, not by any one big thing that he did or accomplished, but just by living, and making choices (just like all of us).

In this movie we learn that George never did get to travel the world. He never followed his dream.

To many of us that seems like such a loss, like such a waste. Our society tells us that ‘we can do it’, that ‘if you can dream it you can achieve it’. Even within the Christian culture we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’ as well) often believe our dreams and passions are the ways that God reveals our purpose in life, and the outworking of the gifts and talents that He has created us with. When we think this way, we become very dependent on fulfilling our dreams, to accomplish a wonderful life.

But, is it in following our dreams that we can live the wonderful life?

For George, his realization of his wonderful life came from the blessing of seeing his life, as others saw it. He had indeed had a wonderful life. And his wonderful life came from the impact his own life had on all around him, not through his pursuit of his dreams, but through his care for others. And, in the end, they reciprocated … big time.

The final, and most beautiful reminder of what it is that makes a life wonderful life, is when George reads the inscription his angel-friend Clarence writes in a book for him, “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends.”

It is not in achieving a dream that we have a wonderful (or, dare I say, wonderfilled) life, but in sharing our life with others who we can call friends.

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It was not until I was dating my hubby that I discovered what a PK (Pastor’s Kid) was. Now there are three under our roof.

I have written before of some of the struggles of growing up PK (PK’s), but all is not negative of this experience! There are sweet benefits too.

One of the sweetest benefits for our kids is that they learn, from a very young age, how to communicate with people of all ages. They have spent time in homes with younger children, peers, and no children. They have gone to homes that are ‘child-proofed’ and those that have crystal candy dishes and lace doilies.

The best education our children have received from this life our family lives, is from being with those who are older … retired … elderly.

They have learned (although, like all of us, sometimes forget) to speak so that those with hearing problems can hear what they say. They know to make eye contact when being spoken to.

Most important, in this exposure to those much older than them, is that they see them as individuals to honor, respect and treat well.

One day, years ago, hubby took our preschool son to work with him. As the work day progressed hubby got a call about someone in hospital, and he had to go … alone. He was desperate for child care, and dared to call a lady who lived across the street from the church to see if she would mind our boy. She was elated to be asked! An hour after dropping our son off at her home, hubby returned to find the two of them playing on the floor with cars, complete with car noises. This boy of three or four playing with his new best friend, in her late eighties!

Our eldest has been taken out to lunch, taught how to bake special cakes, and given art lessons by sweet-hearted women who have invested their time and gifts into her life.

Our younger daughter has sleep-overs with one of her best friends (in her eighties), and has a gentleman (in the same age range) whose house she biked to (and made cookies for) on his birthday, to celebrate with he and his wife.02b820d10639ee5a4b27ac1c3b030f0c

Our son, although thirteen, knows how to hold a conversation with the lady (same age range) who refers to him as her boyfriend. And he can smile genuinely when she calls him that.

They have done more senior visits than some pastors. They have learned to eat off of handed-down china (this being more stressful for me than for them). They have played games, shared jokes … shared their lives, with these beautiful seniors. Our children have had the opportunity to see these elder members of the community not as old people, but as fellow human beings, with worth, meaning and so much to contribute.

To some, spending time with a senior might, as Russell from the Disney Pixar movie “Up” said, “might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.” And I think our kids will look back, and see the beautiful education on being human this PK experience has provided for them.

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Twenty-five years … can that really be possible?

Twenty-five years ago today I walked with my peers, down the aisle of our high school gymnasium to “Pomp and Circumstance,” wearing a burgundy cap and gown, smiling happily, thinking that this was the most exciting moment of my life. In my mind, life was about to begin, once that diploma was in my hand, and my cap was tossed in the air.

I graduated from a small rural school, in southern New Brunswick, along with fifty-eight of my classmates. Most of us got to school by bus. Kindergarten was not experienced by all, or even most of us, as kindergarten was still a private business.

Most of us started school in 1975.

We started school in the days of the ‘strap’, and graduated in the early days of the more emotionally feelings-based, psychological approach to discipline. We went to school in a time when you actually did not know if you would ‘grade’ until you saw your report card. We had mid-term exams in December, and finals in June. Our passing grade was not half way (50%), but 60%.

We dressed in bell bottoms, shoulder pads, miniskirts, turtle necks, neon colors, leg warmers, and Aviators.

We had wings, afros, and mullets. We parted our hair in the middle, to the side and had bangs. We used gel, mousse, Love’s Baby Soft and Brut.

We listened to disco, pop, country, heavy metal and classic rock.

The futures of many were to continue studies, but there were at least as many who were heading directly into the workforce. Since that night of anticipation of the future, we have had peers who have already passed into death.

As a group, we have had marriages and divorces, children and pets. There are those who have never moved from the village (yes, I grew up in a village … my own kids thought that villages were only part of fairy tales, and laugh loudly when the subject of my home ‘town’ comes up), and those who have lived around the world. We have worked in commerce, in business, in so many trades, in education, in health care, in marketing, in peacekeeping, in childcare and in our homes.

Many have done what they intended to do twenty-five years ago, and many have taken very divergent paths.

Our school motto, “esse quam videri” means “to be rather than to seem.” This sounds like a great motto for a high school, for I would hope that a young adult would leave school understanding that reality is better than imitation, that being yourself is better than being like everyone else.

As I am no expert in Latin, I checked it’s deeper meaning, and it’s origins. It would appear that it comes from a writing by Cicero. He was a wealthy Roman, in the last century of BC. He was a lawyer, a politician, an orator, a philosopher. Our school motto actually was part of a larger sentence in his writing “On Friendship”

“Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt

Which translates; “few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so.”

Maybe it is because I am old, or maybe it is because I work in a high school, or maybe it is because I am the mother of teens, but I have much greater appreciation for the entire text than for the three part motto twenty-five years later!

Virtue goes beyond being real. Virtue is moral or ethical excellence. It is not just being yourself, but it is being the best YOU, that you can be. It is not just being excellent in and of yourself, but so that you can impact those around you. It is not perfection, it is effort! Truly it is the work of blood, sweat and tears. It is not about being, it is about doing.

Twenty-five years later, I have learned a precious lesson. My life did not begin when I had the diploma in my hand and my cap tossed in the air … but every morning that I awake, with the opportunity to chose to be the best I can be (for others) … that is when life begins … again, and again, and again. It is a life that is new and fresh every morning.

To those who I share this anniversary of common place and time, my thoughts and fun memories are with you today. May we all live the next twenty-five knowing that life has neither begun nor ended yet.

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