Author Archives: Barbara

About Barbara

Grandma, Education, Lifelong learner

TEACHERS TOTING GUNS TO SCHOOL?

It feels as though we live in an upside down world where extremism rips apart all traces of sanity and balance. Can we even fathom a notion of working together to solve school shootings? Without a togetherness goal, can we even survive, much less flourish?

No one expects fully armed military personnel to sit in a circle to teach language fundamentals to prekindergarten children. Equally bizarre would be an expectation for teachers to be armed and ready to perform as soldiers. No one doubts the challenges faced by our military. No one should doubt the daunting, although totally different challenges of teaching children and teens. I suggest that we set aside the lunacy of assuming one another’s roles. Please consider: Continue reading

OOPS! Did We Lose Those Anti-Forgetfulness Pills?

OOPS! Did I Lose Those Anti-Forgetfulness Pills?

For some time, Chris and I have worried about our forgetfulness. A few weeks ago, a friend suggested that we get screened for Dementia and Alzheimer’s. What a reasonable idea. So I felt really good about our back-to- back appointments. In fact, when the day arrived, I woke up thinking about my appointment and wondering if I should brush up on my multiplication facts. (To heck with that idea.)

And then . . . WE FORGOT TO GO. We forgot to go to our appointments about forgetfulness. This does not look good for us. Oh dear. Chris called to apologize and make new appointments for next week.

Can the forgetfulness doctor possible meet us with an open mind? Won’t she have pre-determined that indeed, we desperately need her services? At this rate, she’ll make a fortune on us.

Maybe, I’ll arrange for our children and a few of the older grandchildren to call and remind us to remember to not forget to go to the forgetfulness screening.

Celebrating

For most of his 70 years, Chris worked to make a positive difference. He definitely did all he could to help anyone who crossed his path. Today, some of our children and grandchildren gathered to honor him with a birthday celebration.  Army jackets and hats added to memories of his military service.

Without a doubt, he enjoyed his ice cream cake almost as much as he did the children.  The cake most definitely arrived as a frozen, hard to cut delight.

 

Here’s to many more happy and productive years of service to family, community, and life.

Seventy Years Young

That’s quire a milestone for anyone. All who know and love you realize our lives get better the longer you stick around. I wish you many more years of health, laughter, and prosperity. You become more precious to me with each passing day. Happy birthday, my love.

Crossing the Bridge

Last week, I shared a college experience with my teenage partner, John Long. Thoughts of working with John triggered a second Oklahoma memory.

Not only did the small Oklahoma church where John and I worked as Christian Youth Roundup partners provide places for us to stay and food to eat, the members also arranged for each of us to have a car for the week. Two thoughts drove their decision about providing cars. First, every night following our worship service, John and I each drove teenagers from the church back to their rural homes. In addition, the cars provided transportation between the church and the farmhouses where we stayed. No problem! Although old, my car seemed reliable. I did not feel in the least bit uneasy driving on rural roads late at night.

All went well until midweek. As soon as we got to the church, word spread that a man had been murdered the night before under a bridge spanning a dry creek. Fear followed my initial shock as I grasped that each night after dropping off the teens, I crossed that same bridge. Maybe I had even crossed just as the murder had taken place!

Continue reading

Laughing As Part of Sadness

Have you noticed that death often fosters feelings of sadness even while holding tightly to humor? After a memorial for John Long, a friend from TCU days, I found myself in that strange juxtaposition where laughter and fond memories comingled with tears.

For almost sixty years, I have thought of John as a friend from college. As young married students, we lived in a student apartment near John and Donna. Years later, with young children in tow, we moved across the street from them.

John and I first became friends when state church leaders chose us to be partners in a program known as “Christian Youth Roundup”. At that time, numerous pairs of TCU students ventured out to lead teenagers (scarcely younger than we were) in recreation, music, and church services. John turned out to be a wonderful partner who not only carried out his assigned tasks well but who often kept us amused.

One memorable week occurred while working in a Dunkin, Oklahoma church. Two families provided lodging while other parishioners took turns cooking for us. One afternoon, John and I arrived at a beaten down farm, which swarmed with so many children that not all of them could sit at the table to eat. In a hot kitchen, their tired mother served generous helpings of vegetables along with fried chicken and gravy.

As we began eating, one scruffy young boy plopped down beside me and began describing how he had shot and skinned the rabbits for our meal. I looked at John just in time to see him bite into a mysterious chunk of meat unlike any chicken piece I had ever seen. Although today, I view this meal differently, at the time I considered fried rabbit a bit unconventional — not quite up to my snobbish expectations.

Today, I appreciate that instead of purchasing pre-cut chicken from a grocery store, the family had shot, skinned, cleaned, cut, and cooked the body parts in a way that vaguely resembled fried chicken. Many years and many meals after this event, I also realize that the family, with absolutely nothing to spare, worked very hard to prepare a feast for two young people from TCU. This insight humbles me.

John always gave his best. He served God, his family, and his friends. After years as a minister, he spent time in retirement working with individuals suffering from memory loss. Pictures signify that he delivered the same hearty enthusiasm and fun that he had always given. John lived life with gusto until his final days and thus provided a powerful example for all of us.

I close with words from Joan Borysenko who reminds us, “The challenge is to pay attention and grieve what we’ve lost as a testimony to how precious it has been.” Yes, John, you lived a precious life. Although today I feel sad, I’m also grateful that our paths crossed through the years. Memories of a good friend make me smile.

(John shared how proud he was of his only grandson. I think he had every reason to feel good about this young man!)

Can the Words of Jesus Guide Today’s World?

At first glance, it seems to me that Jesus would be quite a misfit in our current national and international society. I wonder, did he really mean what the Gospel writers claimed that he said? Let’s face it. In today’s world, his teachings seem out of place. “Love your enemies? That’s crazy.” How easy to assume that the words Matthew attributed to Jesus fit the political atmosphere over 2,000 years ago but offer no match for a world full of tweets, cyber wars, drones, and nuclear threats.

Today, tough domination and even rejection of all those considered enemies appears to be the desired goal. Unfortunately, hating those we fear requires ignoring many of the words recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What if the lessons recorded by the gospel writers continue to beckon to us today? How might we live if we believe the teachings credited to Jesus fit our current lives more accurately than we want to admit?

I am convinced that IF I want to call myself a follower of Christ, I cannot do less than love my enemies. I also fear that the teachings of Jesus do not work well for wimps, which whispers a hint that I may not be brave enough to actually do this. However, if I want a less demanding way to live, I will need to stop referring to myself as one who seeks to follow the teachings of Jesus.

Don’t Let Winter Blues Keep Your Kids Down!

Jenny Wise has written another important post. Winter blues can be hard on parents and kids.  Please consider Jenny’s good ideas.

Don’t Let Winter Blues Keep Your Kids Down! Entertain Them with These Fun & Educational Activities

Most people are not fond of winter, but kids especially hate it. Once Christmas is a thing of the past, all they have to look forward to is test preparations at school and short, cold days devoid of outdoor playtime. Some children develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) when stuck indoors during the winter.

Kids need to play outdoors. All that fresh air, sunshine, and exercise helps improve their memory and boosts their brain power. Kids that play outside also have less behavioral problems. Plus, sunlight is an important source of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that supports mineral absorption for bone and muscle growth while also helping support a positive mood.

One way to combat the winter blues is to ensure your children are practicing healthy habits in other aspects of their lives: Continue reading

Unacceptable Words Remain Unacceptable

When writing my New Year’s resolutions, I only included one goal: to stop making negative comments about others. Yet, here I sit on day 11 of 2018 struggling over cruel remarks focused on people from Haiti and Africa. Populations in Africa and Haiti include citizens with high intelligence, education, and financial success as well as those living in dire poverty. Can I declare my support for all world citizens without totally breaking my one and only New Year’s goal? Here’s my best attempt.

In only a short time we will celebrate the life of Martin Luther King. Dr. King’s words either inflame or inspire. Clearly, he continues to make a significant difference. Likewise, all leaders hold in their hands, the potential to make the world better or to reduce the well being of all. For that reason, I hold all leaders, especially our president to a high expectation.

Since remaining quiet will imply subtle agreement with recent remarks by the president, I must say, “Racial discrimination can never be acceptable.” This language and behavior does not fit the dignity of anyone from the president to the man living under a bridge. Unacceptable remains unacceptable.

Living in Gratitude and Faith

Chris and I received a double blessing this season by having two separate Christmas celebrations. Both brought fun. However, our memories of Christmas a year ago heightened the sweetness experienced during our earlier celebration.

A year ago, our son lay suffering from the ravages of a 10-hour cancer surgery followed by intensive and simultaneous treatments of radiation and chemotherapy. He missed Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and New Years and all the fun normally enjoyed during those special times. His wife, Melissa suffered along with him and did all she could to help as family members grieved.

Continue reading