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The Reading Mother

Next to teaching them about God, I feel that reading out loud to my children was the best thing I’ve ever done for them as far as their schooling goes. It is a painless way to teach vocabulary, geography, morals and a host of other important things without ever leaving your home. We also have many happy memories that are directly linked with books that we shared together. Strickland Gillian was obviously happy too that he had a mother who read to him.

The Reading Mother
by
Strickland Gillian

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings–
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.

 

The Journey Is Almost Over

A few days ago, I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I visited our county library’s website. I have a friend who will be homeschooling her kindergarten age son, and I wanted to see how many books on her booklist would be available through our library system. As I began to search for different books, my mind was flooded with a sea of memories of homeschool days gone by. I read many, many books to my children when they were little(and when they were older too), and many of the titles and pictures of bookcovers that I viewed were very familiar. Sitting there remembering how I used to spend hours putting books on hold through the website, I suddenly became choked up, and a tear came to my eye. This year will be my last of homeschool.

I can honestly say that besides teaching my children about God, my favorite thing has always been reading out loud to them. Many years ago, I read a pamphlet written by a former homeschooled student entitled, “Hand That Rocks The Cradle.” This booklet contained an essay explaining the advantages and value of reading aloud to your children. It also gave an extensive list of quality classic children’s books along with book reviews on many of the books. Many of the books I selected to read to my children were based on this list. I have many fond memories of sitting in our living room and traveling through various historical eras and to different states, countries and regions via the simple vehicle called a book. Often I recall closing a book at the end of a chapter and announcing that I was done reading only to have one or both of the kids shout and plead for me to read more. I fully intended on it. I was just trying to gauge their interest level, and most times, I was just as interested, if not more than they were.

Reading outloud is a very simple way to “kill two birds with one stone” as the expression goes. Actually, you can kill more than 2 birds. Reading outloud often introduced the kids to new vocabulary words. Many of the books I read were somewhat over their heads, so we would often come across new words, providing me with a natural and almost effortless way to teach new vocabulary. As I would read outloud with expression in my voice, it provided the children with a model of how to read outloud themselves. Finally, the books that were read opened up many opportunites to teach great moral lessons as the kids would ask questions about “why so and so did what” and “how could that happen?”, etc. etc.

Every once in a while, I will give my children a little “book quiz”. I will ask them questions about identifying the person that made this quote or in what book did this event take place. They almost always will get the right answer. I was telling my daughter the other day that next to teaching the Bible, that reading aloud was my favorite part of homeschool. She was quick to say that that was her favorite part too.

So, I may be a little older now and not able to read outloud as much as I used to, but my son who is a senior is going to hear at least 2 more books before he graduates, and during the summer at a time when we’re all together, I will probably sneak in one of our family favorites. If I get to the point where I’m desperate to read, and there are no more kids around the house, well…………………I may have to rent a little one for a few hours. :-)

 

Some of our favorite books

Old Yeller

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

This Present Darkness

Piercing The Darkness

Toliver’s Secret

Island Of The Blue Dolphins

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Pollyanna

Watch For Me, Wait For Me, Eula Bee

Call It Courage

 

What are some of your favorite books?

 

The Aroma

As I stepped out the door yesterday and smelled the lovely fragrance of roses in our front yard, I was again reminded of a post I did a few years ago. I can’t remember if there are any roses in the front yard of the rental house we will be moving into shortly, so I am enjoying the ones we have here while we still have them. I pray this post will be a blessing to you.

 

This is the time of year when I love walking out our front door and unto the porch.  “Why?”  you may wonder.  As soon as I step out the door, I can smell the wonderful fragrance from the roses in our front yard.  It is a sweet and wonderful scent.  Isn’t it funny how smells sometimes trigger memories?  Often when I smell roses, my mind goes back to some little dolls I had as a girl.  These dolls were only about 3 inches tall and came in little heart shaped plastic bottles.  There were several varieties of these dolls called LiddleKiddles and each one smelled like a flower.  They were named after the flower whose fragrance they emitted.  We had Apple Blossom, Rosebud and Honeysuckle, but I remember that my favorite was Rosebud.  There are certain roses that smell exactly as I remember my little Rosebud smelling.

 

The other day as I was standing outside breathing in that fantastic rose scent, a thought came to my mind.  What smells good to God?  I don’t know if God dropped that question in my mind or if I’m just weird.  I’ll let you decide.  Then I thought of the term “sweet savour” that I remember reading before in the Bible.  I decided to look up this term in e-sword, and I found 44 references to it.  In the Old Testament, it’s always mentioned in reference to some kind of offering or sacrifice being given to the Lord.  In the New Testament, this term is only mentioned one time in 2 Corinthians 2:15.

 

2Corinthians 2:15  For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

 

To make it a little easier to understand, here is the verse preceding this one and a few after it in the English Standard Version of the Bible.

 

2Co 2:14  But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

2Co 2:15  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,

2Co 2:16  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?

2Co 2:17  For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. (bold emphasis mine)

 

 

Under the Old Testament law, the sacrifices that were offered to God according to His specifications were sweet and pleasing to Him.  I believe in The New Testament  church age that we’re living in, that as the born again church, we become living sacrifices (Romans 12:1,2)to God through which He desires to spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”     This fragrance is the very aroma of Christ, and to those that receive the fragrance of this knowledge, I believe it will not only give spiritual life here but eternal life in the ages to come.

 

Maybe God was using those roses to remind me once again of my mission in life.  Dear Lord, please use me to spread your wonderful life giving aroma!

 

Edit:  Here’s a link to some Liddle Kiddles.

 

http://dollreference.com/kiddles_kologne.html

 

Tommy, I Miss You

Dear Tom,

You passed from this life on October 22, 2011. I can’t help but remember that today would have been your 51st birthday. It’s been almost 6 months since you left this earth, but I still think of you a lot and miss you. I am thankful that you were a part of my life. You were not only a great brother, but you became a wonderful friend to me during the last year and half of your life. I sure am thankful too that I was on that 14 page prayer list of yours that we found out about after your death. There is probably no telling how many times I was uplifted, encouraged or kept from danger because of your prayers.

I am sad on one hand, because I miss being able to talk to you and share times together, but I rejoice also, because I know you were ready to meet the Lord, and you are now in His loving hands! One day, we will be reunited with you in the presence of the Lord, and what a glorious time that will be!!! Looking forward to seeing you again in God’s time.

Your loving sister,

‘lynnie

 

Blown Away – Part 2

On Monday evening, October 24th, we met at my elder sister’s house to discuss funeral arrangements. While we were there, my sister and I were talking about a particular aunt with whom my brother corresponded on a regular basis. She mentioned how that 2 weeks earlier, that aunt had received a letter from Tom in which he had said that this was the last time he was going to write to her about God. Did he somehow know that his time left on this earth was short? I was blown away.

My brother John who lives in Wisconsin is married and has 3 wonderful children. He told his kids that it was likely that only him and his wife could fly out for the funeral, because they probably would not be able to afford airfare for the whole family. His 10 year old daughter told him that she was going to pray that God would make a way that they could come. My other brother Bob was checking into airfares. A few days later, he found an incredible deal through Southwest Airlines. The deal was so good that John was going to be able to fly out his whole family. God had answered Natalie’s prayer, and I was blown away.

The funeral home that handled the arrangements posted Tom’s obituary online along with a tribute wall where people could post about their memories of Tom. Quite a few people shared stories about how Tom had touched their lives. Some of the stories I knew, and some I did not know or had  forgotten. While reading the various submissions, I realized afresh that the little things that my brother did made a big difference, and I was blown away.

The most pleasant surprises were experienced at the funeral. I saw many people whom I hadn’t seen in years that came to pay tribute to Tom and/or support the family. Beth and Rachel had traveled several hours to be there. As I was on the platform taking my turn to give a eulogy, I saw a blond haired lady standing in the back that looked like someone I knew. “Is that Carmen?” I wondered.  Indeed, I found out later that it was her. She had flown out from Chicago. I was blown away.

The biggest “blow away” for me was yet to come. It was something that my sister Karen revealed when she stood up to give her eulogy.

to be continued…………………………….

 

 

Reunion

This poem is dedicated to my dear friend, May.

Time and distance can cause

some relationships to

decay, but

that has not been the case

with you,

old friend.

When I heard your voice

again, you sounded exactly

the same, and suddenly,

I was transported back to

our teen years.

Remembering the little things;

Your ankles cracking

every morning when

you got out of bed.

Filling your closet space

with…………………

those dreaded banana peels,

and other scenarios

too numerous to mention.

But we are not kids

anymore, and some painful

blows have come your way.

I see you still

fighting the fight,

and I am reminded that

not everything which

is crushed goes

in the discard pile.

Tear the delicate petal

of a rose in

tiny pieces and,

there is still sweet fragrance

to enjoy.

And so friend,

Let’s march on.

Will I see you

in your state?

Or will you visit

in my state?

I do not know.

But

there is a

City that awaits us!

7-19-10

 

The Bug Jar

In keeping with my last entry, I wanted to post something special to me which is a part of my “roots”.  My sister Karen posted this a couple of years ago on her blog, but I know she won’t mind me sharing it here too. This was written by my brother Bob many years ago, and everytime I read it, I still laugh(at the collapse of the bathroom door) and am near crying when I think about God’s goodness to my family.

 

When I was a kid, not yet old enough to be enrolled in any science classes, I used to conduct experiments of my own.  One of my favorites was the Bug Jar Experiment.  It consisted of three states:  In Stage One, I would obtain an empty mayonnaise jar and collect as many different kinds of bugs I could find-spiders, worms, ladybugs, tiny red and giant black ants, bees, a centipede (if I was lucky), an occasional wasp, those roly-poly bugs that no one knew the real name for, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, anything that creeped, crawled or disgusted my sisters was fair game.  In Stage Two, I would shake the jar vigorously.  In Stage Three, my favorite, I would watch delightedly as the imprisoned insects bit, stung and generally destroyed each other.  Ironically (and justly, I suppose), when I got to be a bit older, the tables turned, and I experienced the bug jar for myself.

In the fall of 1974, my family had to give up a spacious, three-bedroom home with a big backyard to move into a chicken coop turned recreation room, but to us Home.  The edifice boasted a 15 x 30 foot span; no bigger than our former living room; a mere bug jar,  if you will.  We went into the venture expecting the worst.  Rather than tearing the family apart, however, being thrown into very close quarters under less than ideal conditions actually strengthened our relationships.

We called our new abode “the closet”, because to us, it seemed just about the size of a rich person’s wardrobe.  There was no room for complaining though (literally!).  After all, it was far from the gang-ridden neighborhood we had left behind; it was close to good schools; it was clean, it was much easier on my Mom’s filing clerk salary, and it came furnished with the best hand-me-down furniture that pity could buy.  So Mom told the six of us kids to make the best of it.  We were a Brady Bunch of sorts, with three girls and three boys ranging in age from five to fifteen, but no Alice to do the housework.  Also, we came in two generations:  The “big kids” were each born a year apart, and after a gap of five years came us “babies”, also born one year apart.

Peeking through the battered screen door after we had settled in, our curious neighbors beheld a new concept in interior design:  An afghan-covered couch next to the stove, an army cot bordered by our giant, prehistoric, dust-laden television set, a dining table surrounded by bunk beds.  You see, “the closet” had no rooms.  A tiny bathroom in the northwest corner, with a carpeted sliding door, provided the only privacy in the place.

This was new to us, and at first, we absorbed our living arrangements haltingly and delicately, like couples in a pre-arranged marriage.  Inevitably though, the fighting began.  Some of the most heated battles were waged over bathroom privileges.  Finally, we came up with a “calling” system to schedule bath times.  Cries of “First bath!”  “Second bath!”  “Third bath!” and so on were commonly shouted out in the waking hours, but only led to more arguments as calls were contested and challenged later.

Once while Mom was “using the facilities”, Johnny and I broke into a wrestling match right outside the bathroom door.  One thing led to another, and at the height of our struggle, we lost our balance, slammed into the bathroom door, knocked it off its hinges, and fell clinging to each other and the door onto the bathroom floor.  Mom screamed, powerless to chase us from her seated position, while we scrambled to fix the door and scurry away.

More often though, we were forced to depend on each other, to work together to overcome obstacles imposed upon us by our lack.  Laundry and kitchen duties had to be split and shared by all.  Providing enough food for six hungry, growing children was a constant struggle for my mom.  I remember times when ketchup packets and a hunk of government-issued cheese were the only things left in the fridge.  Whether we liked it or not, we had to share.  Though it was a small area, our home was heated by an aging, rusted space heater, located near the door.  On cold wintry mornings before school, while waiting for the bathroom to free up, the rest of us huddled together in front of the heater, wrapped in blankets, shivering in anticipation of the metallic clicking sound that signaled the release of a fresh blast of hot air.  That nondescript old heater became a great equalizer, bringing us together, if momentarily, to share warmth and exchange conversation at the start of the day.

Because we had no rooms of our own, we had no secrets; what one went through, we all experienced.  One dark night, returning home from work, Tom unknowingly rolled over a skunk with his bike.  When he got home, we immediately smelled the stench, except Tom, of course.  Strangely enough, the skunk encounter provided a bonding experience as we each offered creative, often ridiculous solutions for getting rid of the smell.

Then there was Mike Mester, a gangling youth from a neighboring community, who spotted my oldest sister Karen at a roller rink and immediately fell for her.  Not knowing her name or anything about her, he somehow tracked her down to our humble dwelling place.  He knocked on the front door; my mom answered.  He inquired after this mystery girl he had met at the roller rink.  Immediately, five more heads appeared at the door, checking out the tall stranger, while one head disappeared quickly into the bathroom hiding.  Mike instantly formed the impression that this was going to be a package deal, and he was right.  We couldn’t help but cheer and jeer from the sidelines as Mike and Karen embarked upon each new phase of their sometimes stormy but long-lasting relationship.

A flood of memories stirs in me when I think back to those bug jar days.  I remember us “babies” clinging to each other in the bottom bunk in fear and joy, begging Tom in the top bunk to be the “werewolf” again.  I remember Carol sharing with us her dark and searching poetry and inspiring me to try some of my own.  I remember the generational gap closing as Tom treated his kid brothers to pizza and bowling or Karen and Carol fixed Annie’s hair.  And why is it I recall the neighbor kids, with their nice houses and families of their own, always wanting to spend the night at our place?

We lived there for almost 12-1/2 years.  And a strange thing began to happen as we made the best of it in the “closet”.  We went from being siblings and a single parent, thrown and shaken together, to being friends; lifelong friends that time, distance and circumstances have not separated.

 

Memorial Day

Although we are not planning on going to a Memorial Day service, or visiting a national cemetery or seeing a parade, I have been thinking a lot about the men and women that have fought and sacrficed their lives that we might have the privileges we have today in our country. If you are reading this blog and have a loved one that gave their life in service to our country, I offer a big, heartfelt THANK YOU.  May we never forget those who layed down their lives to benefit so many.

memorial_day_at_arlington_national_cemetery[1]

 

House On Hayes

IMG_1890

If you are a reader of my blog, you know that my mother-in-law passed away on May 5, 2009. I’m thankful that she was a part of my life for over 25 years. I love her and will miss her very much. The following poem I dedicate to her memory. Thanks again to all of you who have expressed condolences and have lifted up our family in your prayers.

House On Hayes

 

The house on Hayes with

the green awning and white vinyl

siding sits empty now

because

Death doesn’t knock when it’s convenient.

However, my mind is still

full with

the memories we made

in Yia Yia’s two-story abode.

 

As if it were moments ago,

I smell the rosemary laden

roasted lamb accompanied by

the browned, juicy potatoes

and carrots. “Please pass the

rice.” says Uncle Mike.

 

Stepping in the living room I

hear Mom, Mike and Dean,

Pete and I. Of course, we’re playing

Password.

“How did you guess that?” yells

Mom. Pete’s clue was “shorter”,

and Mike guessed the correct word.

“Marathon.”

Sometimes those brothers have

a mind meld between them.

 

In the kitchen, I again

see mom

in her element,

baking the goodies we love so much.

“Peter, you really need to lose

weight.” she scolds.

But

in the next breath,

“Here, have some cookies.”

You’ve gotta love that woman!

 

And I do. She made that

house a home where I always

felt welcome. Like a hand that

pulls out of a glove, she has

left that old house. No more

with my eyes will I behold

that fine house.

 

But time won’t erase the

impressions in my heart

created from beautiful memories.

 

5-15-09

 
 

My Favorite 49er!

img_4578

Kiki with niece Abby on Christmas Day 2008

 

On Sunday, my wonderful elder sister, Karen(affectionately known as “Kiki”)celebrated her 49th birthday.  I am blessed and honored to have her as my biological sister, friend, confidante and sister in Christ.  She’s a great lady, and I’m glad that she’s a part of my life.  I have many precious memories of my sister from childhood to the present.  One thing that I’ll never forget from our childhood was the time we were playing “doctor” in our basement in Chicago. Karen, who was the doctor, decided that her patient(me) needed some medicine.  She had me open up my mouth,tilt my head back, and she began pouring a cup of medicine(some grape juice) down my throat using a funnel.  For some reason, I thought this was funny, and I started laughing. Suddenly, I wasn’t laughing anymore, because I started choking. When Karen saw that I was choking and had a terrified look on my face, she grabbed my hand and started dragging me up the stairs to take me to mom.  Fortunately, about half way up the stairs, I caught my breathe and the panic passed.  A more recent funny memory is the “Holy Smoke” stuffing she made for Thanksgiving in 2007. She had made her stuffing at her house on the stovetop before bringing it over to my place. She knew she had burnt the stuffing but thought it had only affected the bottom of the pot.  This was not the case, and after we had asked the blessing upon our food, one by one we began to discover that the stuffing was horrible. Then the jokes started, and it was probably the most hilarious Thanksgiving we ever had.  I could go on, but that would make for a very long post.

I am thankful though for the good and not so good times we have shared together. Keek, I hope your 49th year is the best ever.  Happy Birthday, and I love you bunches!

 
 
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