Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy Birthday to the Best Mom Ever!

Today would have been my mother’s 86th birthday. I am grateful to have been in Myrtle Beach on that day in 2013, when my sister and I surprised her with a (very small) birthday celebration with a few new friends in my parents’ new state and town. We did it specifically because Dad realized a month or so before that Mom had never been given a surprise birthday party – in her whole life, perhaps. By that time he knew he wouldn’t be around much longer and asked Jo to make sure it happened. So, 16 days after he left, we did just that. She was quite surprised and overflowed with the pure joy a child knows. Not one person there could imagine it was her last birthday on earth. Such a bittersweet memory, as so many memories of the last years with them.

I am grateful for Mom that she and Dad were re-united so quickly after 64 years of marriage. I am also thankful that she is no longer weighed down with self-criticism, and fear and worry, which sadly, were two of her fairly steady companions. Don’t misunderstand: she experienced much joy and happiness.  Her greatest joys involved giving of her time, her listening ear, and her gift of hospitality to make others know they were loved. Yet fear and worry never lurked too far away – from fleeting moments to long hauls. And her critical look at self did not make receiving love, or pure joy, easy.

Generally, Mom was afraid to die, even though she was certain that this life on earth is a temporary preparation for true life, which is eternal.  A phrase in a movie we watched the other night struck me as worthy of contemplation for the truth it holds, “The people who are afraid to die are those who are afraid to live.” With June 29 approaching, it led me to thoughts of my mother.

Mom, I rejoice that at last you are living life fully unencumbered. You know your worthiness and are able to receive the Love you so willingly gave. You are free, at last, to experience peace, joy and happiness that can never be stolen again.

Happy Birthday, Mommy. I love you forever.

Mommy and Me 2013

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Musical Christmas Memories

Musical Christmas Memories

My parents were seriously into music.  They both sang – all the time. I do believe if Mom had only a little vocal training she could have been sensational. Dad had a deep baritone voice and played the snare at home, at parties, at church. And, their jitterbugging together won many prizes. Dancing with the stars has nothing on them! My dad owned every jazz album ever produced, beginning with the 78 rpm discs through the CD and mp3 eras. Music, mostly jazz, literally filled our house.

As a little girl, one of my favorite Christmas songs was, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa  Claus.” I didn’t understand what it would have meant for a wife to kiss another man, even if he was Santa, but to me it was a sweet thought that Santa would take a minute to give my mom a little kiss in the midst of his busy Christmas Eve schedule.  I was two years old when a 13 year old recorded the song so it’s no wonder it made a musical impression on me. I loved to sing it and imagine the scene in our living room by the sparkling tree that Santa had just decorated (yes, the tree was decorated while we kids slept Christmas Eve), with colorful packages scattered around. I even imagined myself sneaking down the steps to peek.

The song really hit me emotionally the year I learned all about Santa. And from that moment, I still cry nearly every time I hear the song.

Because that special Santa who paused during a busy evening to give my mommy a kiss was my own daddy.   I still see them standing under the mistletoe in the home they lived in for 57 years. He takes her in his arms, kisses her warmly and says, “Merry Christmas, Elaine. I love you.”

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for wonderful Christmas memories.

May all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Frame by Frame

In a dream the other night, I watched my life play out on a film strip. I participated in my life, on the film, but at the same time I was most definitely an observer. Frames clicked along, I participated/observed with each. I maintained an absolute and perfect peace.

I pondered the dream all day. The next morning, it’s essence dawned:

Be active in life, stretch to become all we are destined to be; love life. But all the while, recognize that real life is not the day to day that we are involved in on this earth. In fact, stay detached from the things of our world, don’t fret over them, don’t try to delve too deeply into the meaning of the things we do or say, don’t want too much of whatever that could even lead us to behavior not becoming of our character. Ask our heart how wonderful it would be to be filled with peace regardless of what’s going on around us or what we’re involved in here, on this planet. And if our answer leads us to want that peace more than anything, the way to it is to keep in highest value what is eternal - real life - and cling to that.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

What’s Bike Safety?

When my dad taught me to ride a two wheeler, bicycle safety was part of my lessons.  He taught me which side of the street to ride on, how to use hand signals, and to obey road signs like STOP. He explained why riding from sidewalk to sidewalk could be dangerous: drivers of cars expect people to walk on sidewalks and to stop and look both ways before crossing. They don’t expect cyclists to be riding on sidewalks. If I would ride my bike on the sidewalk and cross the street at intersections as though I were on a street, a driver could, at the worst, hit me because he wasn’t expecting a bike to fly out from the sidewalk. At best, the driver’s surprise at seeing me where I didn’t belong could cause a near accident. We taught our daughters the same rules.

My observation of kids on bikes the last several years has led me to believe that few parents give bike safety teaching time to their children.

I very nearly hit a boy a few weeks ago as he zoomed down the sidewalk and into the street without pause. No pause at the intersection would be expected if he had been on the street where his wheeled vehicle belonged. But he didn’t pause. He flew right in front of me as I turned left onto that same cross street. I never saw him until I was in the middle of my turn and he was directly in front of my car, in the street. I wasn’t looking out for a bike rider to enter from the sidewalk.

The kids in our neighborhood ride their bikes erratically up and down the street. They swerve, pop wheelies, and turn round and round in circles. They rarely see a car approach because they rarely look for one. When a car does approach, they usually continue their fun until they are ready to stop. And then they just stop where they are. Either way, the cars must yield, stop, and go around them. It makes driving down the street hazardous and backing out of my driveway frightening.

What’s going on with parents these days who don’t care enough about their children’s welfare to teach them responsibility for their own safety?

 We try to stay on bike trails - not even streets!

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Teaching Children to Read

Children and reading go together like grass and green. You should never have one without the other. Why is children and reading a perfect match? Because children who read become adults who lead and teach.

There is a good reason why reading, writing and arithmetic are foundational subjects in any good curriculum. Think about your last week going about whatever it is you do. How many times did you have to do some quick arithmetic in the kitchen or at the store? How many times did you read directions, do research on the internet, read a map or look at road signs? Did you ever write a note or a letter to communicate your thoughts to someone else? We can barely get by in this world without basic skills in those areas. Basic skills are necessary. Important to greater achievements in any society are advanced skills in basic areas. Every course we take for any profession needs a solid base in reading, writing and arithmetic.

Teaching reading begins in early childhood. Actually, some say it begins before birth. Before a child can read, he must be spoken to often so that their brains can develop to hear what they will eventually see. Before we can teach reading to children those children must be read to. Before a child can do math problems, he must know how to read those problems. Before a child can write, he must know the words and their meaning that he intends to communicate.

What are the best times to read to children? When they ask for a story. When we need them to settle down. When they are curious about new ideas or concepts or things they see. When we want to transition from an active day to a quiet evening.

How can we enhance every reading time with children? Ask them questions throughout the reading session, improving reading comprehension as you determine they are listening. Engage them in the story with those questions so they will know they are a real part of the activity. Later in the day, reference the material read; they will understand that reading is a part of everyday life.

Reading with children should be viewed as an opportunity to carve the future of the world. It should be viewed as a chance to make a difference in a child’s life by giving him the tools to make his own positive mark. Be assured that the one reading to or with a child will realize tremendous intrinsic value and be grateful they took the time to help that child improve reading skills, the foundation of all learning and leading.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Lighthouse Media Giveaway!

Lighthouse Media has excellent material. Enter here to win a great bundle.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Creation Riddle

There are two of us
But we are one.
We are uniquely individual,
Though not independent.
We belong to each other,
But only in our separateness.
If we were identical
We would be as boring as one.
Yet if we opposed one another,
Our differences would tear us apart.
Respecting our singularity,
We grow individually

And become more united.

Who, or what, are we?

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