Tag Archives: grandchildren

Ready for the Sights of the Season (sort of)

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol   

I’m sure you’ve noticed….the fervor of the Christmas season often assaults us from September’s end all the way until December. The other day while shopping at Costco I felt just that–overwhelmed by an onslaught of Christmas music, faux decorations and mountain of toys two aisles wide. While I rounded the corner next to cases of hummus and casserole fixings, I sighed and pondered our desperate need for a slower walk into the coming season.

I wish more folks in the world ordered their lives around the church calendar and its feasts rather than the calendar of consumerism. Along with harvest decorations and the Halloween costumes there’s mechanical Santas and fake flocked Christmas wreaths at nearly every department store around.

I suppose Costco prescribes to Dickens’ philosophy above, that of keeping Christmas (almost) the entire year. While I support the spirit of this sentiment–being filled with peace and goodwill towards all men–the crush of gift-giving and pressures of picture-perfect holidays miss the point completely. We would do well–I would do well–to remember the need for a slow walk into the season; Advent is the perfect place to begin.  

After All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween) we observe All Saints Day on the church calendar, an occasion for remembering all the saints, known and unknown. After that is the last church feast day in Ordinary Time-the Story of the People of God, Christ the King Sunday on November 24th. We are then ushered into the season of Advent and the months that encompass the Story of Jesus from his birth until the celebration of Pentecost. This graphic below is helpful to me, a clueless Evangelical, when it comes to understanding the church year. Perhaps you’ll find it an aid to your understanding as well.

Image result for church calendar graphic

photo credit-Renovare.org

As with much of Christianity, the church year can be radically countercultural, a much-needed light showing a better way to live. In a culture that is often too hurried and distracted, the church year helps us pay attention because it draws our focus continually back to Christ.    -K.C. Ireton, The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year Continue reading

Grandson, Summer {a #poem}

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The raspberries–your favorite–ripened after

You’d gone, the sun’s August denouement

Leaving a subtle ruby postscript like pendants

Suspended on green-edged strands.

Gentle tugs released the jewels between

My fingers then traveled to my mouth.

They were (almost) sweet and needed

More time for sugaring. Had you been here

To share the waning warm days’ treasure

I could have held you, too, before you

Grew into full fledged bloom, walking into

The world seeking your own fruited fortune.

August 2018

——

((sneaking back in with this short verse to share with you while the Muse strikes))

((new website is gonna be awesome~stay tuned!))

How to Save the World-Write a Letter

“Further, since being a writer involves the building of bridges between our own life experience and that of others, our job is to find the most significant points of connection between ourselves and our readers.”                                                                                                            -Luci Shaw, The Writer’s Notebook, essay in A Syllable of Water

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I remember as vividly as if it were yesterday how I felt in the days after September 11th. My daughter and I were in New York City that day and the next, staying with my nephew who had graciously hosted us in his Brooklyn apartment. After the world exploded, we set out for upstate NY, where my sister-in-law lived, with plans to camp out there until we could get on a flight back home to Seattle.
We overnighted along the way in a hotel where several pilots were staying. As shocked and traumatized as I was after the sky rained down ash and powder for 24 hours, I couldn’t imagine being a pilot and having to face the reality that my job was to get back into the cockpit of a jet and fly the next day. When we checked into our hotel, I boldly approached each one of them and thanked them for their bravery. They were being called to do one of the most unthinkable jobs on the planet. And they went anyway.

As my daughter and I traveled back to the West coast four days later through three different airports, flight attendants and pilots somberly passed us, their rolling bags trailing behind them, faces set like flint. Again I said ‘thank you’ as often as I could; some of the flight attendants also got a hug.
******
The country is reeling again from another tragedy, outraged at the carnage and loss of life at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Many have taken their outrage and channeled it to finding a cause or pointing a finger—more gun control, revamping FBI practices, engaging in more stringent oversight of those mentally ill—each a just and worthwhile issue.
I am not going to argue the wisdom of those efforts, nor am I ignoring the energy and passion of the survivors at Marjory Stoneman who are marching next month. Everyone has a right to use their voice where and how they can.
For my small part, I sat down yesterday and did what writers do: I wrote a letter to my oldest grandson’s high school teacher. In it, I suggested a practice of checking in with students every Friday for a few minutes at the end of the day to see how they are doing. Not verbally, but via paper. (Glennon Doyle Melton recounted the idea via her article at rd dot com and I borrowed it from her.)
High school staff and teachers are the people on the front lines every day from New York to California, Montana to Florida and everywhere in between, who have to go back to work in their buildings after a richly deserved day off and face their jobs again.
They will show up and keep showing up and caring for kids and pouring out their lives day after day in classrooms all over America.
If you know a kid in high school, if you HAVE a kid in high school, if you know a High School teacher, can you take 10-15 minutes to write a note to that principal or teacher? Something like,
“Thank you for facing your job each day under unthinkable circumstances, for doing the difficult job of caring for kids,” or just plain, “thank you.” You can read my letter here and adapt it for your own. 
Or heck, print out this excerpt below (from Glennon Doyle, re: her son’s 5th grade teacher) and pass it along to the teacher or principal. You never know, it might save someone’s life. Or many someone’s lives before more children are lost to loneliness, emptiness and despair.
————–
“Every Friday afternoon, she asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.
And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. She looks for patterns.
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who can’t think of anyone to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.
As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children, I think this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold—the gold being those children who need a little help, who need adults to step in and teach them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside her eyeshot and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But, as she said, the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.
As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea, I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.
Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine. Good Lord.
This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that all violence begins with disconnection. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. Who are our next mass shooters and how do we stop them? She watched that tragedy knowing that children who aren’t being noticed may eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.
And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often in the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11-year-old hands is saving lives. I am convinced of it.” (read the entire essay here.)

——–

Build a bridge, be a connection, stand in the gap. Fill the gaps with love, and maybe a letter. 

The Sound of Musing

A thousand years ago when my children were growing up, their grandparents spoiled them by letting them stay up as late as they wanted when they went to visit their home in Southern California.  

And when they stayed up late it was usually to watch ‘The Kids’….my children’s name for “The Sound of Music.” (Well, wouldn’t you call it that? After all, a captain with seven children…).

When Grandma and Grandpa sold their home and began to travel in their motorhome, they equipped it with a TV and a VCR to watch movies on VHS (you can Google it). They’d park in front of our house in Fresno for a two week visit and invite my son and daughter to come watch a movie.  Out the back door, across the lawn and into Grandma and Grandpa’s trailer….and their own private movie land.  There was The Sound of Music’ in all its glory–they never tired of watching it.

I was enraptured with ‘The Sound of Music’ from the first time I saw the film. I drove my siblings crazy singing along with the movie (as the oldest of 5 children, I felt like a governess myself sometimes.)  That love of song and dance on stage and in films is something I passed on to my children and now it’s been passed on to my grandchildren. Apparently, they waited in great anticipation of last week’s history-making television event, complete with costume-making of their own.
We all enjoyed it thoroughly, my daughter and daughter-in-law and I all chatting via Facebook during the commercials. (Then I HAD to stop so I could focus. People were singing, for Heaven’s sake….I couldn’t be distracted.)  

Image result for carrie underwood in the sound of music

Although I didn’t weigh in with the 4, 7 and 11 year olds, among the grown-ups in our family, I don’t think anyone was disappointed.  I cried when Audra MacDonald (also from Fresno) sang ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’. How could you not? I smiled out loud when they children sang ‘So Long, Farewell’ at their father’s party.  The nuns sounded heavenly, Uncle Max was a delight….I could go on and on.  
I knew the scenes weren’t ‘real’, changed with lowering or raising of a backdrop–from Abbey to mountains and back again–no matter.  The magic was still there, if you were looking for it.

Did I expect it to be like the original? Absolutely not–there is only one Julie Andrews.

But this wasn’t an attempt to copy or recreate anything–it was a fresh, new joyous experiment in television, and I think it worked. Say what you will about Carrie Underwood’s acting chops, the girl can SING. And, more importantly, she is the definition of brave–musical numbers in high heels up and down stairs (twice) with small children and well, high heels.

LIVE.  In front of 18 million people.

Talk about being out of breath.
Talk about the pressure to be amazing.
Talk about the pressure to measure up.

Apparently Carrie Underwood didn’t care about any of that. I can only guess she tackled this once in a lifetime adventure because it looked like loads of fun and might just be what America needed–wholesome singing, dancing TV fare for the whole family.
And why not?

There were doubters and critics (whom she said would be in her prayers) but I’m guessing her priorities are elsewhere–maybe to just use her gifts to bless other people and make Jesus look good? Without caring what anyone thought?

Just for the joy of it? 

Gosh, I’d like to be like that–sold out to joy to make Jesus look good.

I’m thinking people could use a good dose of that this Christmas season–
how about you?
~~~~~~~~~~

Summer Snapshot-A Photo Essay

I’ve not been very up close and personal with the family scrapbook-like sharing here in this space.  But since Jennifer Finding Heaven Ferguson asked……well, here’s how I was refreshed last weekend.  And praise Jesus it came just in the nick of time–it’s been a challenging summer.

Forthwith The Collins Family Swimming and Burger King Adventure
(with a little Julie Andrews thrown in at the end…you’ll see what I mean.)
Crazy Grandpa (my husband Bill) with youngest grandson Luke.
Hanan (too cool for school) in front. Abi to the left is a floating fish.
My son Aaron is behind him with Peter in the air,
and Courtney is trying to convince Paul it’s okay to be in the water.
Heathman Lodge in Vancouver WA.
We love the Heathman!
Luke Ezra–2 in October
Hanging out at Burger King with Nana
Son Aaron and wife Courtney
The Stately King and Queen of Burger Kingia
“This is my cute swimming face, Nana.”
Abigail–almost 6.
Hanan adjusts his mask.
Pauly 4 in October.
MUCH happier OUT of the pool.
My son with his Garden Manager tan.
Adorable Abi and Paul at church.
Peter has freckles just like his Grandpa
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We are richly blessed!

Watching Hanan See the World {a #poem}

Grandson Hanan Samuel Collins, 3 ish (2006)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spider, bug,

Ant and bee

In my garden,

At my knee.

Provide a show

For this young one,

Eyes tuned tight

In midday sun.

He alone can see them move

We pass so fast his dawdling proves

Were we more still

We’d find delight

In this wee world

Through child’s sight.


Just a simple poem for my first grandson. Children delight in the simplest things.