Special Day (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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Welcome to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, hosted here today. This month we’re exploring the topic “special days.” Following my thoughts, below, is a widget where you can leave the link to your post.

Somebody’s turning seven! (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

The look on the face of my four-year-old granddaughter—of excitement, anticipation, I’m-ready-for-the-spotlight—said it all. This was her special day.

It doesn’t take long for kids to realize that not every cake with candles and pile of presents is for them. How quickly they learn to let the special person of the day blow out the candles and, hard as it is, open all the presents.

But today was our little four-year-old’s birthday and the expression on her face, even though seen only on video, showed that she knew it was her turn.

I think it’s a great thing to celebrate each person one day a year. In our family we do that on the anniversary of their birth (birthday). Letting the child choose the food for a special meal, the guests to invite for a party, the party theme and decorations, the destination if the activity is an outing are ways to appreciate and affirm each little and bigger one.

We are all created in the image of God as one-of-a-kind beings. What a privilege and joy it is, then, to acknowledge this by giving each person entrusted to us, especially in the family unit, a day of celebration.

Special Day

Each year we celebrate Valentine’s Day
giving our hearts as a present.
Hearts gifted back make us feel special.

Other days we circle too, as special:
Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas day
occasions we want all to be present.

But there is no other like the one I now present
a different date for each of us to feel special
our cake, candles, make-a-wish Birthday!

The day we celebrate the present of each special self.

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Cheerleaders (a poem for Family Day)

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Today is Family Day in B.C. In the year since I first posted the poem below, we’ve discovered that our littlest granddaughter’s developmental delays are most likely caused by cerebral palsy. And so a family very precious to us is walking a new-to-them path with lots of challenges—and the sentiments expressed by little A’s grandma in “Cheerleaders” are more heartfelt than ever. Cheer someone in your family on today!

 

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Swans and cygnets, June 2016 – West Vancouver  (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Cheerleaders

Every wee one who is learning
to kick the ball, hit it off the tee
point her toes and do a plié
summersault, the front crawl
sing in a choir, be elf in a play
play guitar, trumpet, violin
shoot baskets, basket weave
weave in and out in a skillful
soccer dribble to the goal
with the goal to make the team,
every child with dyslexia, autism
Down syndrome, whatever syndrome
who isn’t ever going to make the grade
make the team, team up with the cool kids
(because who are we kidding?)
needs a cheerleader
a yell of encouragement
a bull horn, cow bells, sign held high
banner in the sky
face painted green, blue
or whatever colour the jersey
and an after-game trip to Dairy Queen
because she’s queen of the day
and you’re her mom, dad
grandma, grandpa, uncle, auntie
cousin, biggest fan
on the team of the family.

 

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Bear Scare

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In the vintage Saskatchewan farmhouse where I grew up, a door that looked like every other in the house opened to a stairway to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs was another door to a dark and vacant cell that was once a coal chute. From somewhere I got the idea that that coal chute was inhabited. I scared myself many a time with that thought.

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Image: Pixabay

Bear Scare

 

At the bottom of the stair
in his secret coal chute lair
lives a black and hungry bear.

Fetching eggs or frozen pie
on an errand, do or die
up steep wooden steps I fly.

Feel bear’s breath hot on my back
any moment he’ll attack
when he does, I’ll turn and whack!

At the top the knob I wham
open door and close it. SLAM.
Once again escape bear jam!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

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Image: Pixabay

 

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poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Brenda Harsham at her blog for all things whimsical—Friendly Fairy Tales.

This poem is also joining other poems about frightful things on the October DMC padlet at Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ blog Today’s Little Ditty. The topic of the challenge this month, posed by Carrie Clickard, is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child. Read Michelle’s interview of Carrie and the original challenge post HERE.

Let’s Pretend We’re Normal (review)

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Let's Pretend We're Normal: Adventures in Rediscovering How to Be a FamilyLet’s Pretend We’re Normal: Adventures in Rediscovering How to Be a Family by Tricia Lott Williford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Mr Responsible died, suddenly and tragically. He was sick for only twelve hours. … A thief named sepsis stole his breath and his heartbeat, and his spirit slipped right through Curly Girl’s fingers, even as she tried to save him on the floor of their bedroom only two days before Christmas.”

This grim scene from the Prologue is the background of Tricia Lott Williford’s memoir Let’s Pretend We’re Normal—Adventures in Rediscovering How to Be a Family. You’d expect the story of how Williford and her two young sons, Tucker and Tyler, get back on their feet after their husband’s/father’s death to be a bummer. But it isn’t.

That’s because Williford is a great storyteller and fabulous writer. Though there are lots of sad times, she never melodramatizes them or milks them for sympathy. The only way we know she cries a lot is because her boys mention it in their conversations—of which she has wonderful recall.

In Let’s Pretend we see a mother trying to explain to two little daddy-less boys where God is in all this. We observe the three of them working through stages of grief. And Williford lives parenting before us in ways that I, if by some miracle I found myself parenting young children again, would want to copy.

There’s lots of humor too and scenes that any modern, busy, technology-blessed North American family can relate to. Plus there are stories that tug at the heart.

One of my favorites is of Williford buying a homeless man, Dave, a Happy Meal—and him coming back at her with encouragement from the Bible. Her conclusion:

“… I wondered if perhaps I had just had lunch with an angel sent on a mission” – Kindle Location 1180.

Another is the conversation she has with her boys one night after reading the story of God testing Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac. Discussing their family’s test of losing husband/father, her older son asks:

“’But Mom, do you think God has an important job for you to do? And that’s why he asked you to give up my dad? … Mommy, do you know God has picked you to write these books. He made you a writer to tell stories. And so maybe God had to know you would trust him no matter what” – Kindle Location 2275.‘”

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends will gain insight, compassion, and wisdom from Tricia Lott Williford’s faith-saturated story of family, grief, and recovery.

I received Let’s Pretend We’re Normal as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

View all my reviews

The grandma poet

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Children playing with microphone and xylophone

The toys love it when the grand-kids come to visit.

The last few weeks have felt unusually busy. When that happens, I find it hard to get in the poem-writing zone.

Last weekend was a case in point. It was Canadian Thanksgiving. We had the kids and grandkids here for a visit. It was such fun, but there was hardly a minute left over for reflection! Then, after they went home, I had to get ready to teach my weekly class (Wednesday a.m.).

This morning I told myself, This has to stop. And I wrote some senryu.

Sit down. Put feet up.
Relax. Breathe in your busy life.
Exhale a poem.

One of the things my 5-year-old grandson loves to do is watch spider videos. “I just love spiders. They’re my favorite insects!” We found a wonderful series called Monster Bug Wars.  I figure one of the reasons he likes these videos so much is that the conflict is a lot like superhero conflict.

spider videos
transfixed by eight-legged titans
insect supermen

The five- and four-year-old are beginning to play with real Lego. We have a box of it from when our kids were little so I brought it up. “Grandma, can you make a helicopter?” (This after seeing one pictured in the instruction book.) So this grandma spent an entire morning, searching through Lego for tiny wee pieces to build a picture-perfect flying machine.

wrist-deep in Lego
hands sore from sharp-edged comb-through
helicopter search

I think if our old toys could talk, I would discover they live for the all-too-short weekends when the grand-kids visit.

Duplo, Lego, bus
dollhouse, xylophone, happy
when kids come to play

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is submitted to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Cathy at Merely Day By Day.

Eyes to See (review)

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Eyes to See by Becky Keep (with Tim Keep)It was an afterthought that prompted Becky Keep to ask the nurse practitioner to check five-week-old Jesse’s eyes. An observant grandma had commented that those baby eyes didn’t seem to be following normally. That last-minute request set the Keeps on a four-year journey that they never dreamed they’d be taking. Eyes to See: Glimpses of God in the Dark by Becky and Tim Keep is the story of that journey.

Through the book we experience the hills and valleys of their Jesse’s battle with retinoblastoma—cancer of the eyes. We ride the ups and downs of the many times the Keeps were told that the latest treatment seemed to be working only to discover that the cancer was back. We live with them through their on-again, off-again plans to return to the Philippines, where they were missionaries. But this book is much more than a riveting story. For in it we wrestle, along with Becky and Tim, with the mysteries of God’s dealings with people. Some of the things that I took from this story:

– The amazing way circumstances fell into place so that Jesse’s condition was discovered as early as it was. The chain of events was set in motion long before Jesse was even conceived.

– The goodness of God to the Keeps through family, friends and their church home, wherever it was.

– God’s way of providing an answer, e.g. a place to live, a job, often in the nick of time.

– The discussion of divine healing.

If there is one issue that people who believe that God’s healing power is available today grapple with it’s how do we explain when physical healing doesn’t happen. The Keeps went through the wringer here as people recommended a multitude of remedies, berated them for their lack of faith and scolded them for praying for healing “according to the will of God” insisting that this kind of prayer was “symptomatic of wavering faith, faith which should never expect to receive what it asks for” – p. 58.

This brought them to a realization of what seems to me the gem takeaway from the book, expressed in what Tim heard from God as he meditated on the story of Jesus who delayed coming to Bethany so that He was too late to heal His friend Lazarus (from John 11: 40):

“’My Son, I don’t want you to worry about my intentions toward Jesse or My will for your family. Nor do I want you to keep measuring your faith. What I want you to pray for right now, and the only thing I want you to pray for, is for My glory …. I want you to pray that through this difficult trial, men and women will see the embodiment of My life, My peace, My joy and My enabling grace” – P. 71.

Becky Keep tells the story with the skill of a seasoned storyteller, drawing us into their family’s life and experience through personal memories and anecdotes. There is also a section of black-and-white photos.

The story has a happy ending, or maybe I should say ‘continuation.’ Jesse appeared with his mom (along with the Collingsworth Family: Kim Collingsworth, mom of that musical clan, is Becky’s sister) at this year’s Gospel Music Celebration in Red Deer Alberta (July 13th). Jesse, now 15 years old, played to thousands, talked about his musical ambitions, and later signed copies of Eyes to See.

This is a book anyone, young or old, could read and enjoy. It would be especially meaningful for people struggling with health issues, particularly in their youngsters. It is a story of hope in God who gives the best healing of all—the healing of hearts.

Eyes to See: Glimpses of God in the Dark is available at Amazon.com

Collingsworth Family - 2013

The Collingsworth Family smile encouragement …

Jesse Keep - 2013

…as Jesse Keep plays piano. His mother, Becky Keep (author of Eyes to See) and weekend organizer Wayne Dyck look on.

Jesse Keep - 2013

Jesse Keep – up close (via the crowd monitor)

Eyes to See endorsement from Kim Collingsworth

Eyes to See endorsement from Kim Collingsworth