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Posts Tagged ‘Memories’


This week began busy, is ending busier.

This week began with a head full of plans for a fun day for two of the students I get to work with. Days like this are much more enjoyable, and more work … crossing i’s, dotting t’s …

They, the two young men, who live with challenging Special needs, are in their final year of high school.

In just two weeks, when they cross the stage to receive their diplomas, their lives will change. Change can be more challenging when one’s life started out with challenges.

They spent the beginning of their day, together, like many of their days in high school. They shared breakfast with the rest of the graduates, then drove around the school parking lot, beeping horns, disturbing the staff and students who were in the midst of classroom learning. Then off to a movie, joined by three who wanted to share the experience as they had shared many days of high school … together.

It was a holy ground, it was a sacred, moment.

How, you might ask, could teenage boys, diner-style breakfast, beeping your car horns and popcorn be sacred? Not one of those things is sacred in itself, but with the intervention and participation of God, the breakfast is like communal meal, beeping car horns like the singing of angelic chorus’, watching a movie with friends like sharing in fellowship with the saints. When God is involved in the lives of the participants, the sacred absorbs the secular, the mundane becomes the miraculous.

This dear pair of young men, and their faithful friends, shared moments and memories that day, that made one realize where they are, and recollections of where they have been.

God’s grace was on them at conception, God’s grace is on them now, and by the grace of God, they will be under His care for every day allotted to them.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with them both (2 Corinthians 13:14).

 

 

 

 

 

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This past summer I heard that the first church of my childhood was to be torn down. When my brother shared that the contents of it, as well as architectural features, were to be auctioned off I found myself remembering that place and it’s people.

When I was three, my mother met my soon to be father. From their wedding on, my paternal grandmother took me along to her church each Sunday, for Sunday School, often followed by the church service.

It was a small, white clapboard building, with pine flooring, dark wood trims on the interior, and stained glass windows at (from my memory) almost every entry the sun could penetrate.

The small foyer opened straight into the vestry, where the opening of Sunday School would take place. I cannot remember all of the songs I learned there, but Jesus Loves Me, Jesus Loves the Little Children (all the children of the world) and This Little Light of Mine were certainly ones that I learned in that small, but airy room.

Walking straight through the vestry to the back would then open a door on the left, then through the petite kitchen, to another petite room. It was there that I first encountered that classic Sunday School teaching tool, the flannel graph. If I close my eyes, I can still see the lame man being lowered through the roof, by his friends, so that he might be healed by Jesus.

Upstairs were more classrooms, though I only remember being in one of them. They were reserved for the older kids, and as I got older I attended Sunday School closer to my home.

Parallel to the vestry was the sanctuary. A rectangular room, with stained glass windows on one side, and on the other, a magnificent door that rolled right into the wall, separating the sanctuary from the vestry. The front was raised, and the simple pulpit in the middle. An old organ sat to the left, down on the floor. The back of the sanctuary was the most beautiful stained glass window (below).

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The image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, so gently carrying his lamb captivated by attention, and had me turned around staring in awe and wonder as a child. This image created from glass and lead, was and is who I see when I hear the name of Jesus.

But, the church was not just a building, but a people too.

There was that older lady who I sat behind in the vestry, who had the longest leg hairs ever (longer than any woman or man I have met since). Or the woman who made the cherry and cream cheese sandwiches, rolled up like a pinwheel. Or the kind man who always had hard candies in his pocket. Or the sound of my grandmother’s choral voice (equivalent to that of Lucille Ball). Or the ‘old ladies’ my grandmother picked up to drive to church every Sunday, even until the Sunday prior to her death in her mid 80’s. Or the women who, for a Vacation Bible School, were teaching the story of the loaves and the fishes, and they gave each child five buns and two cookies cut out as fish.

In recent years, the church … where I first met Jesus … had reduced to single digit attendance, and it’s hundred-odd year old building, badly in need of costly repair. It, and the community both suffering the effects of society moving away from the rural and towards more urban centers.

It is sad to think of a church being de-constructed. As the day approached, I imagined the sacrifices that those who built the church had made over the years. The coins in a jar, the roof replacement that was delayed by another year, the cookbooks sold, the pennies from a paper route. How sad that all their efforts would come to such a final end.

Though it is more sad to imagine maintaining a hollow building, with money and time that could instead be spent bringing light to those encompassed by darkness.

That church, as a building, taught me that Jesus was kind, and loving, and the main focus for that holy house.

That church, as a people, taught me that people were important, that I was important. They taught me that to worship God we did not have to have a perfect offering, but to offer what we have.

No place is so dear to my childhood …

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I do not remember where I saw these words, but when I first read, “the past is always present” I loved them. A play on words that contradicts itself, and yet is so true as we live our lives.

I love the past concerning my childhood (although, there was that time I got stung by like a gazillion bees just because I listened to the advice of Mr. Dressup … HE was wrong about standing still … but, I digress).

I love the past of my teenage memories (most of them … there was that time I mistakenly tucked my skirt into my undies, and then walked on a busy road to my grandmother’s place, with my back end in the forefront … but, I digress).

I love the past of my heritage (I grew up on the east coast of Canada, in a family who have been there for, literally, hundreds of years).

I love the past of my marriage (I have the most fantastic memories of vacations, and planning for vacations … that is something we are good at together).

I love the past of my children being born, and growing up (each stage is so full of novelty and excitement).

What I do realize, though, is that although the past is … past, it is still here, in the present. It is part of who we are today, how we think, and how we react. It is the reason we anticipate some events, as well as the reason we feel anxious about other events. When I see or hear a bee, I immediately respond (at least inwardly) due to my being stung as a child … that memory of the past is always there.

The past can keep us from making the same mistakes too. There is not a time that I am wearing a skirt or dress that I do not, consciously, check to ensure that the back end of … me, is covered up.

Pride in my country, and the part of it where I come from are a result of the place I grew up and the cultural expectations I experienced there.

Every time I see a tent on a green, grassy hill, I remember a memorable vacation with hubby.

Every time I see a woman, pregnant for the first time, I glance at her eyes, and know that, once that baby is born, no future decision will ever be the same, because she will never again be the same.

The past is always within us, even today. Our choices today will have impact on how we live tomorrow … and each tomorrow after that.

The greatest consequence of the past is that we remember. We remember experiences, we remember joys, we remember hurts, we remember what we have conquered, and what has conquered us. The past IS always with us, so we need to live today acknowledging the long term consequences of our present.

“Choose well. Your choice is brief, and yet endless.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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It is Father’s Day today, and to my Dad I say thank-you for being simply the best!

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Father’s Day can be a great day of celebrating the father in your life, or it can be a day when negative experiences, words or actions (or a lack of actions) surface in your mind and heart.

I am so fortunate that my father is one I desire greatly to celebrate. He is a good and honorable man, who always made me feel loved and valued. Despite our not sharing a blood connection, it is through his legal and emotional adoption of me (almost forty years ago today) that I came to understand another Father’s love.

This video is a metaphor for that most sacrificial of all loves.

May you today know of the the love of the Father who is always there, always fulfilling promises, always loving you.

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Spring in the Bronx

Spring is sprung,
Duh grass is riz;
I wonder where dem boidies is?

Dey say duh boid is on duh wing:
But dat’s absoid!
Duh wing is on duh boid!
Anonymous

Tomorrow is the first day of spring, 2013!

When I read the words to the above poem, I read them hearing the voice (and accent) of Archie Bunker!

I used to hear this poem from various relatives when I was a child. Sometimes, though, instead of reciting “I wonder where dem boidies is” I would hear, “I wonder where dem flowers is?” This was perhaps because I grew up in the Northeast, where “dem flowers” were still buried by many feet of snow on the first day of spring.

hyacinthFor my adult years spring is not marked by a date on the calendar, but by the presence of planted bulbs in pots at the grocery store.

As an adult, a planted hyacinth was often the gift of my maternal grandmother, Nanny. It was always purple (even though the color could barely be discerned when she purchased it), her favorite color. It was always a strong, heady scent that emerged, almost before it bloomed.

That scent, the perfume of the hyacinth flower says, ‘spring’ to my soul.

As a child it was the scent of mud that said spring to me. The winter’s snow would melt, allowing the warming sun to thaw the frozen earth. It would soften and cake our boots and shoes, causing the most ‘earthy’ scent to rise to our nostrils. Causing our thoughts to drift to warmer days, warmer activities.

This new sign of spring, that of the hyacinth scent, also takes me to warmer thoughts. Thoughts from my childhood days with my grandmother. Thoughts of taking a city bus from her home into town, to shop, and always to have lunch in a cafeteria. Thoughts of picking raspberries with her, then we would take them to her kitchen where she would make a pie from them … she made the best raspberry pie! Thoughts of her nodding off in her chair, crossword in hand, game show on the telly. Thoughts of her visiting when our oldest was still a preschooler, sitting snugly beside her, as my grandmother read her a story from a picture book … my grandmother with an uncompleted grammar school education. Thoughts of her faded Scottish brogue. Thoughts of her giggle.

The first signs of spring, the flowers in the pots, don’t take me forward to spring, they take me back, to the loving relationship I had with my Nanny.

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It’s true!images-3

I shot my students!

(even a few who are not my students)

And they LOVED it!

And they even shot me back!

Of course we were playing Lazer Tag, so the shooting was all on the up and up 😉 .

It was an event birthed in the repeated conversations between a pair of students (could there be a better place to birth an event for students?). Then one day, I heard one of the students mention it to their mom …

and I saw the ‘look’ …

the look that wordlessly said,

“I have put this off too long, but I have so much on my plate …”

When my children have friends over, my life becomes easier, for many with children with special needs, having a friend over can be more planning, more work, more exhaustive.

Months ago I had written a previous post of these “Moms That I Admire“, and in that mom’s facial expression of ‘momma guilt’ I was reminded again of how very heavy the burden of raising a child with special needs can be.

I was also reminded of a line from the child dedication ceremony that my hubby has led many a congregation in:

“Will you, upon hearing the commitments made by these parents, do your utmost as God gives you opportunity, to ensure the fulfillment of these promises and seek to encourage, support and be faithful to these parents and this family?”

The correct response is “we do” or “we will”

Back to these “Moms That I Admire” …

As the momma-guilt look showed all over this lovely but weighted down parent, the commitment from these child dedication ceremonies reminded me that part of our task … as Christ-followers … as friends … as schools, is to come alongside of these families. These families raising a child with special needs, need the support of His people, His churches and schools named for His Son to do the job well.

And I thought, “wouldn’t it be great to support these two families in a practical way.” So, the dreaming began. Then the dreaming was shared with a co-worker, and we began to run with it!

In the end, my co-worker and I, along with twelve students (half deemed ‘special ed.’ and half not or ), and a school alumni, left school at noon on a Friday , leaving their classmates to snooze through their afternoon classes. We donned the vests of the battle, issued mortal threats, complete with evil laughs, chose code names, then we marched off to battle.

An hour and a half later, sweaty and sticky (and stinky) … and laughing with great memories made, we headed for Slurpies, then a slow drive back to school … we didn’t want to get back too early … that would have meant having to return to classes!

You might be asking, “so, Carole, what academic benefit was there from this event?”

To which I would reply, “none.”

But the goal was NOT academic, it was purely social skills.

About half of the students are designated ‘special education’ students, and learning the skills to be socially acceptable in the larger society is a main factor in their learning (of course if anyone walks the halls of any high school, the majority of students might seem to need social skills learning … heck, if anyone were to walk into the staff room … but, I digress 😉 ). The best place to teach and reinforce these skills is in a true social setting, not in a classroom.

These students got to talk, interact, laugh and observe their more ‘typical’ peers in a social setting. There was no ‘us’ and ‘them’ that day, only ‘we’. The ‘typical’ students got to be noticed for the intrinsic way that they already care for their peers … a ‘thank-you’ that most probably did not feel necessary, as they are who they are because that is how they have responded to God’s call to “love their neighbor, classmate, as themselves” (Mark 12:31). These ‘typical’ students were chosen by their ‘not so typical’ peers … no higher praise could be earned!

I cannot wait to see and hear the interactions, and rehashing of memories next week in the halls and classrooms of school.

My favorite part was when my co-worker recounted the words of one of the boys, who said something to the effect of, “I think I will remember this for an exceptionally long time.”

I hope he does, I know I will too.

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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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