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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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Points of Light

When darkness seems to overwhelm our lives, we do well to look for any positive sign. For in so doing we will find our way.

Never underestimate the power of Light. Light will overpower darkness.

Every point of Light is Hope.

Hope and Light. It’s what we need to move forward in faith regardless of what we see around us. It’s all we need.


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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad

Dear Dad,

You may not have deserved to die in this life when you did. But you surely deserved to live face to face with Jesus for all eternity. I am happy for you that you didn’t need to wait any longer.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. I love you and I miss you so much.

March 9, 2014

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

In Honor and Memory of My Mother, a Mighty Woman

Mom 2013

I wrote a letter to Mom a couple months ago. It is the sum of my heart to the woman who I miss more than I ever imagined possible. I’ll just read part of it here, as a tribute to her.

Dear Mom: “I know that my solid foundation of faith is not only because you brought me to church every week while I grew up. It is also because you have been a steadfast role model of what it means to be a Christian and to trust in our Creator. You are a woman of prayer and worship…I have watched you be the ears, the hands, and the heart of Jesus to countless numbers of friends and strangers alike. You have listened with a caring heart. You have given time and energy to many in the form of cooking and teaching and prayer. You have shown me the gift of hospitality as you have always graciously opened your home to many. You put the needs of many before your own. Your first thoughts are always about the welfare of the people in the world around you, not yourself. You are a woman of incomparable integrity. And you are forgiving.”

That was my mom right up to her last days. Her life was about Jesus and her life was about others.

God alone knows our hearts and it is our hearts that he judges. I know that when he looked at her heart, He saw one that desired to love first and to become like Jesus, our ultimate purpose in life.

Mom missed Dad so much her last couple of tired months that it was achingly hard to hear and watch. I believe it’s true that in the union of marriage, two become one. Their spirits are joined. Even death cannot part them.

I had a dream the night before my mom passed away. It was a wide open place of light in countless beautiful colors and Daddy was there. He was so young, like in his 20s. His hand was outstretched and he said, “Come on, Elaine.” And then I saw Mom run toward him. She was young, too, with the thick, medium length, nearly black hair of her youth.  He whisked her up into his arms and twirled her around like in their old jitterbug days. She threw her head back and I heard her laugh with joy in a way I’d never heard her on earth. Dad said, “Come with me, Elaine, I want you to meet Jesus.” He took her hand but paused and said, “Listen to this music, Elaine. Isn’t it glorious?” He began to praise with the angelic choir in his great baritone before they ran off together, holding hands.

At least four times in the night I woke up and that scene was before me. In the morning, I texted the dream to my sister who read it to her.

Mom passed a few hours later.

Missing Daddy wasn’t enough for Mom to let go of this world. She was 84 years old when she died on the 84th day in the hospital. When I told my neighbor she got her Bible and read Psalm 84, “My soul longs for the courts of the Lord.”

On the 84th day, my mother, mighty prayer warrior and lover of Jesus, longed to praise Him in his courts even more than she missed Daddy.

And then her heart was able to let go of the world.

I love you, Mommy. And I’m thankful that you and Daddy are in the courts of the Lord, dancing together and praising Him, as one, for all eternity.

Mom & Dad in Chicago 2005

Elaine S. Brancato Foster, 
June 29, 1929 to December 31, 2013.
May her soul rest in peace.
Richard B. Foster III, March 9, 1927 to June 13, 2013.
May his soul rest in peace.
Richard B. Foster III married to Elaine S. Brancato 
on May 28, 1949.
They were wed 64 years and 2 weeks
when he passed on just ahead of her.

Mom & Dad's last Thanksgiving weekend together. Myrtle Beach 2012.

(I read this at Mom's Memorial Services.)

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