Running Through the Storm
She must have been six years old, this beautiful brown-haired, freckled-faced image of innocence. Her mom had on a pair of tan shorts and a light blue knit shirt, with sneakers. She looked like a mom.
It was pouring outside—the kind of rain that gushes over the tops of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. Drains in the nearby parking lot were filled to capacity or blocked. Huge puddles formed lakes around parked cars. We all stood there under the awning or just inside the door of the store. We waited—some patiently, others aggravated because nature messed up their hurried day.
I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I get lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running and splashing so carefree as a child come pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.
Her voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in. “Mom, let’s run through the rain,” she said.
“What?” Mom asked.
“Let’s run through the rain!” she repeated.
“No, honey. We’ll wait until it slows down a bit,” Mom replied.
This young child waited about another minute and repeated her statement. “Mom, let’s run through the rain.”
“We’ll get soaked if we do,” Mom said.
“No, we won’t, Mom. That’s not what you said this morning,” the young girl said as she tugged at her mom’s arm.
“This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?”
“Don’t you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, ‘If God can get us through this, He can get us through anything!’”
The entire crowd became dead silent. You couldn’t hear anything but the rain. We all stood quietly. No one came or left in the next few minutes. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say.
Now some would laugh it off and scold the child for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child’s life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.
“Honey, you are absolutely right. Let’s run through the rain. If God lets us get wet, well, maybe we just needed washing,” Mom said.
Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and through the puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked. But they were followed by a few believers who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars, perhaps inspired by their faith and trust.
I want to believe that somewhere down the road in life, that mom will find herself reflecting back on moments they spent together, captured like pictures in the scrapbook of her cherished memories—the two of them running through the rain, believing that God would get them through.
And yes, I ran too. I got wet. I needed washing.
Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Abbie Blair was a social worker back in the 1960s. On one occasion, she set up an adoption that she will never, ever forget. Let Abbie tell the story.
I remember the first time I saw Freddie. His foster mother had brought him to the adoption agency where I work, so I could meet him and help find adoptive parents for him. He was standing in a playpen and gave me a toothy grin. What a beautiful baby, I thought.
His foster mother gathered him into her arms. Will you be able to find a family for Freddie?
Then I saw it. Freddie had been born without arms.
He’s so smart. He’s only ten months old, and already he walks and talks. She kissed him. Say ‘book’ for Mrs. Blair.
Freddie grinned at me and hid his head on his foster mother’s shoulder. Now, Freddie, don’t act that way, she said. He’s really very friendly, she added. Such a good, good boy.
Freddie reminded me of my own son when he was that age, the same thick dark curls, the same brown eyes.
You won’t forget him, Mrs. Blair? You will try?
I won’t forget.
I went upstairs and got out my latest copy of the Hard-to-Place list.
Freddie is a ten-month-old white Protestant boy of English and French background. He has brown eyes, dark-brown hair and fair skin. Freddie was born without arms, but is otherwise in good health. His foster mother feels he is showing signs of superior mentality, and he is already walking and saying a few words. Freddie is a warm, affectionate child who has been surrendered by his natural mother and is ready for adoption.
He’s ready, I thought. But who is ready for him?
It was ten o’clock on a lovely late-summer morning, and the agency was full of couples—couples having interviews, couples meeting babies, families being born. These couples nearly always have the same dream: They want a child as much like themselves as possible, as young as possible, and—most important—a child with no medical problems.
If he develops a problem after we get him, they say, that is a risk we’ll take, just like any other parents. But to pick a baby who already has a problem—that’s too much.
And who can blame them?
I wasn’t alone in looking for parents for Freddie. Any of the caseworkers meeting a new couple started with a hope: Maybe they were for Freddie. But summer slipped into fall, and Freddie was with us for his first birthday.
Freddie is so-o-o big, said Freddie, laughing. So-o-o big.
And then I found them.
It started out as it always does—an impersonal record in my box, a new case, a new Home Study, two people who wanted a child. They were Frances and Edwin Pearson. She was 41. He was 45. She was a housewife. He was a truck driver.
I went to see them. They lived in a tiny white frame house in a big yard full of sun and old trees. They greeted me together at the door, eager and scared to death.
Mrs. Pearson produced steaming coffee and oven-warm cookies. They sat before me on the sofa, close together, holding hands. After a moment, Mrs. Pearson began: Today is our wedding anniversary. Eighteen years.
Good years. Mr. Pearson looked at his wife. Except
Yes, she said. Except. Always the ‘except.’ She looked around the immaculate room. It’s too neat, she said. You know?
I thought of my own living room with my three children. Teenagers now. Yes, I said. I know.
Perhaps we’re too old?
I smiled. I don’t think so, I said.
We don’t either.
You always think it will be this month, and then next month, Mr. Pearson said. Examinations. Tests. All kinds of things. Over and over. But nothing ever happened. You just go on hoping and hoping, and time keeps slipping by.
We’ve tried to adopt before this, Mr. Pearson said. One agency told us our apartment was too small, so we got this house. Then another agency said I didn’t make enough money. We had decided that was it, but this friend told us about you, and we decided to make one last try.
I’m glad, I said.
Mrs. Pearson glanced at her husband proudly. Can we choose at all? she asked. A boy for my husband?
We’ll try for a boy, I said. What kind of boy?
Mrs. Pearson laughed. How many kinds are there? Just a boy. My husband is very athletic. He played football in high school—basketball, too, and track. He would be good for a boy.
Mr. Pearson looked at me. I know you can’t tell exactly, he said, but can you give us any idea how soon? We’ve waited so long.
I hesitated. There is always this question.
Next summer maybe, said Mrs. Pearson. We could take him to the beach.
That long? Mr. Pearson said. Don’t you have anyone at all? There must be a little boy somewhere.
Of course, he went on after a pause, we can’t give him as much as other people. We haven’t a lot of money saved up.
We’ve got a lot of love, his wife said. We’ve saved up a lot of that.
Well, I said cautiously, there is a little boy. He is 13 months old.
Oh, Mrs. Pearson said, just a beautiful age.
I have a picture of him, I said, reaching for my purse. I handed them Freddie’s picture.
He’s a wonderful little boy, I said. But he was born without arms.
They studied the picture in silence. He looked at her. What do you think, Fran?
Kickball, Mrs. Pearson said, You could teach him kickball.
Athletics are not so important, Mr. Pearson said. He can learn to use his head. Arms he can do without. A head, never. He can go to college. We’ll save for it.
A boy is a boy, Mrs. Pearson insisted. He needs to play. You can teach him.
I’ll teach him. Arms aren’t everything. Maybe we can get him some.
They had forgotten me. But maybe Mr. Pearson was right, I thought. Maybe sometime Freddie could be fitted with artificial arms. He did have nubs where arms should be.
Then you might like to see him?
They looked up. When could we have him?
You think you might want him?
Mrs. Pearson looked at me. Might? she said. Might?
We want him, her husband said.
Mrs. Pearson went back to the picture. You’ve been waiting for us, she said. Haven’t you?
His name is Freddie, I said, but you can change it.
No, said Mr. Pearson. Frederick Pearson—it’s good together.
And that was it.
There were formalities, of course, and by the time we set the day Christmas lights were strung across city streets and wreaths were hung everywhere.
I met the Pearsons in the waiting room. There was a little snow on both of them.
Your son’s here already, I told them. Let’s go upstairs and I’ll bring him to you.
I’ve got butterflies, Mrs. Pearson announced. Suppose he doesn’t like us?
I put my hand on her arm. I’ll get him, I said.
Freddie’s foster mother had dressed him in a new white suit, with a sprig of green holly and red berries embroidered on the collar. His hair shone, a mop of dark curls.
Going home, Freddie said to me, smiling, as his foster mother put him in my arms.
I told him that, she said. I told him he was going to his new home.
She kissed him, and her eyes were wet.
Goodbye, dear. Be a good boy.
Good boy, said Freddie cheerfully. Going home.
I carried him to the little room where the Pearsons were waiting. When I got there, I put him on his feet and opened the door.
Merry Christmas, I said.
Freddie stood uncertainly, rocking a little, gazing intently at the two people before him. They drank him in.
Mr. Pearson knelt on one knee. Freddie, he said, come here. Come to Daddy.
Freddie looked back at me for a moment. Then, turning, he walked slowly toward them. They reached out their arms and gathered him in.
We all want to be loved, to have our place, to find open arms greeting us. One of the great difficulties, of course, is that so much depends on our desirability. If we look good, if we do what we’re supposed to do, if we meet someone’s expectations, if, if, if, then maybe they’ll love us.
But there is a unique kind of love. There is an as is kind of love that says we don’t have to look good. We don’t have to say the right things. We don’t have to be in the right places. We don’t have to have the right money or power. Rather, we can be loved for just being ourselves.
Abbie Blair’s story is courtesy of Reader’s Digest.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Smell the Flowers
Having been born “BI” (before internet), I see people frantically texting away and sometimes wonder how they would have survived “back in the day,” when “texting” involved a 30-pound typewriter, messy correction fluid or an eraser, a trip to the post office, standing in line to buy a stamp, waiting a week or two for the letter to get to its destination, and waiting another week or two for a reply.
Why is everyone so darn busy? Today even my auto rickshaw driver was multitasking, negotiating a business deal on his mobile phone while navigating city traffic. Was he even old enough to remember when making a phone call in public meant hunting down a phone booth, having the right change, and feeding more coins into the phone if the call went longer than three minutes?
What I want to know is where does all the time go that we save by not having to go through all that? Shouldn’t we be swimming in leisure time, thanks to all of our time-saving modern marvels?
Is it simply a matter of poor time management? Good advice abounds: Prioritize. Delegate. Do difficult tasks first. Clear your life of clutter. Learn to say no. …
But there is more to it than that. Sometimes it’s not a question of what we are doing, but of what we are becoming. As the Indian sage Rabindranath Tagore put it, “He who is too busy doing good finds no time to be good.”
How can we slow things down a bit and enjoy life more, while still doing everything that really needs to get done?
The other day I was leaving for a meeting when my granddaughter grabbed my hand and asked excitedly, “Can I show you the new steps I learned in dance class?”
Before I could blurt out, “Sorry, I’m too busy. Show me another time,” my mind fast-forwarded five years and I heard her say as she rushed out the door, “Sorry, Gramps! I’m too busy being a teen.”
“Sure,” I said. “Show me your moves.”
Five minutes of vigorous dancing and continuous applause later, I left for my meeting feeling less stressed and more optimistic.
I had found my answer. If we take time to stop and smell the flowers, their scent will linger with us throughout the day, reminding us that there’s more to life than rushing to the next thing.
- Curtis Peter van Gorder, courtesy of Activated magazine.
According to a report in The Express newspaper of Easton, Pennsylvania, studies done by the consulting firm Priority Management show that “the average married couple spends four minutes a day in meaningful conversation, and the working couple spends 30 seconds a day talking with their children.”
Says the firm’s president, Michael Fortino: “Most people say their families are important, but they don’t live that way.”
Children are to respect and obey their parents.
Pray for God’s guidance and help in raising your children.
Treat children gently and in love.
Patience, mercy, and reasoning are the most effective.
Parents are responsible to both teach and set a good example for their children.
Parents are responsible to correct their children when necessary.
Godly parenting will guide children all through life.
Based on an article from Activated magazine. Image courtesy of photostock/freedigitalimages.net
What a Teacher Can Do
Taken from Mr. Washington, by Les Brown
One day in 11th grade, I went into a classroom to wait for a friend of mine. When I went into the room, the teacher, Mr. Washington, suddenly appeared and asked me to go to the board to write something, to work something out. I told him that I couldn’t do it. And he said, Why not?
I said, Because I’m not one of your students.
He said, It doesn’t matter. Go to the board anyhow.
I said, I can’t do that.
He said, Why not?
And I paused because I was somewhat embarrassed. I said, Because I’m Educable Mentally Retarded.
He came from behind his desk and he looked at me and he said, Don’t ever say that again. Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.
It was a very liberating moment for me. On one hand, I was humiliated because the other students laughed at me. They knew that I was in Special Education. But on the other hand, I was liberated because he began to bring to my attention that I did not have to live within the context of what another person’s view of me was.
And so Mr. Washington became my mentor. Prior to this experience, I had failed twice in school. I was identified as Educable Mentally Retarded in the fifth grade, was put back from the fifth grade into the fourth grade, and failed again when I was in the eighth grade. So this person, Mr. Washington, made a dramatic difference in my life.
I always say that he operates in the consciousness of Goethe, who said, Look at a man the way that he is, and he only becomes worse. But look at him as if he were what he could be, and then he becomes what he should be.
Mr. Washington believed that Nobody rises to low expectations. This man always gave students the feeling that he had high expectations for them and we strove--all of the students strove—to live up to what those expectations were.
One day, when I was still a junior, I heard him giving a speech to some graduating seniors. He said to them, You have greatness within you. You have something special. If just one of you can get a glimpse of a larger vision of yourself, of who you really are, of what it is you bring to the planet, of your special- ness, then in a historical context, the world will never be the same again. You can make your parents proud. You can make your school proud. You can make your community proud. You can touch millions of people’s lives. He was talking to the seniors, but it seemed like that speech was for me.
I remember when they gave him a standing ovation. Afterwards, I caught up to him in the parking lot and I said, Mr. Washington, do you remember me? I was in the auditorium when you were talking to the seniors.
He said, What were you doing there? You are a junior.
I said, I know. But that speech you were giving, I heard your voice coming through the auditorium doors. That speech was for me, sir. You said they had greatness within them. I was in that auditorium. Is there greatness within me, sir?
He said, Yes, Mr. Brown.
But what about the fact that I failed English and math and history, and I’m going to have to go to summer school? What about that, sir? I’m slower than most kids. I’m not as smart as my brother or my sister who’s going to the University of Miami.
It doesn’t matter. It just means that you have to work harder. Your grades don’t determine who you are or what you can produce in your life.
I want to buy my mother a home.
It’s possible, Mr. Brown. You can do that. And he turned to walk away again.
What do you want now?
Uh, I’m the one, sir. You remember me—remember my name. One day you’re gonna hear it. I’m gonna make you proud. I’m the one, sir.
School was a real struggle for me. I was passed from one grade to another because I was not a bad kid. I was a nice kid; I was a fun kid. I made people laugh. I was polite. I was respectful. So teachers would pass me on, which was not helpful to me. But Mr. Washington made demands on me. He made me accountable. But he enabled me to believe that I could handle it, that I could do it.
He became my instructor my senior year, even though I was Special Education. Normally, Special Ed students don’t take Speech and Drama, but they made special provisions for me to be with him. The principal realized the kind of bonding that had taken place and the impact that he’d made on me, because I had begun to do well academically. For the first time in my life I made the honor roll. I wanted to travel on a trip with the drama department and you had to be on the honor roll in order to make the trip out of town. That was a miracle for me!
Mr. Washington restructured my own picture of who I am. He gave me a larger vision of myself, beyond my mental conditioning and my circumstances.
Years later, I produced five specials that appeared on public television. I had some friends call him when my program, You Deserve, was on the educational television channel in Miami. I was sitting by the phone waiting when he called me in Detroit. He said, May I speak to Mr. Brown, please?
You know who’s calling.
Oh, Mr. Washington, it’s you.
You were the one, weren’t you?
Yes, sir, I was.
As children enter their preteen years (9- to 11-year-olds) most experience an increased desire to belong to a group, club, or a social network of some kind. Your child may be interested in communicating via chat, e-mail, or some other form of online communication with his or her peers. When and how much you allow your preteen to use the Internet as a means of communication is entirely up to you as parents.
Identifying the risks
Many teens do not appear to fully comprehend the public nature of material posted on social networking sites. Even material shared “privately” with one or selected others can easily be made public by the recipient. This lack of sensitivity to the potentially damaging nature of such disclosures is extremely evident on social networking sites, where some teens are posting personal contact information, intimate information, and material that is highly damaging to their reputations and current and future opportunities.
The biggest message that must be imparted to children and teens with respect to privacy and the Internet is this: it’s not private! Anything and everything that is put into electronic form and sent or posted online is public, or could easily be made public. Think before you post.
In the real world, when you share information with your friends, it is primarily just between the people present at the time. In general, the distance that offline information travels is limited, as are the ways in which it can be documented.
In the online world your private information and actions can be documented and made public, often by you. In a sense, everyone who participates in public social networks is suddenly a public figure. You should consider all the implications that status carries.
* Help your child set up his or her profile and account settings so that they are acceptable and as safe as possible.
* Let your child know that you will monitor his or her social networking site or blog, and make it clear to him or her what is acceptable and what will not be allowed.
* Help your child understand the public nature of the Internet. Teach your child to be careful of what he or she divulges through text and photos. Things that he or she wouldn’t feel safe saying to someone you have just met on the street should be considered inappropriate to share online.
* Keep an eye on who your child is connecting with online and how much information is being shared by your child, or by comments his or her friends make.
* Teach your child that the surveys and questionnaires abounding on social networking sites are consumer information techniques that companies use in order to find out what kind of products you’re likely to buy, which then helps them formulate advertising strategies.
Motherhood may have its ups and downs, but when we stop to focus on what is truly great, truly important, truly wonderful in this world, one thing that most people will always have at or near the top of their list is the wonder of mothers.
How do mothers do it? What is the secret of that seemingly boundless patience, endurance, and love that seems to keep reviving again and again in spite of anything that life throws at it?
Here are some of my thoughts about mothers—things that mothers do, or are, that make them so special.
and sorrow of those in your care. It costs in battling their fears on top of your own and
worrying as your children fall again and again. It costs in trying to muster a little more
strength when yours is gone, yet more is needed to lift those who are looking to you
for strength. It costs when hope seems gone, yet you know that you cannot let go for
their sakes, and you hope against hope until you see them back on their feet.
It is far beyond defining,
It defies all explanation;
And it still remains a secret
Like the mysteries of creation.
A many-splendored miracle
Man cannot understand,
And another wondrous evidence
Of God’s tender guiding hand.
b. Balancing moral standards with compassion and mercy that teaches them forgiveness and tolerance, coupled with a conviction for what is true and right.
c. Prayer, faith, and trust as an integral part of our relationship with our children.
d. The example of trust and faith that we show in how we react to the heartaches that come into our life and into the lives of others.
e. The resilience we show when we make mistakes or fail, and the seeking of ways to grow from the experience, so that our children, when they make mistakes, can discover the purpose of them without condemnation.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I wanted to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you pour your heart out to Jesus,
and I knew there is a God I could always talk to.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I felt you kiss me goodnight,
and I felt loved.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw the tears you shed,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared
and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you react graciously to the difficulties in life,
and I saw that I could do the same and still have joy.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you forgive over and over again,
and I learned the value of forgiveness.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you praying for me,
and I learned how to do it too.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you sacrificing to give to others,
and I learned that you truly gain from giving.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you healing hurts and calming fears,
and now I know how to do it with others.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I learned so many lessons about how to love and give,
and these now bring blessings to me every day.
When you thought I didn’t notice, I saw all the many times you loved and sacrificed,
and I realized that you are the proof that God exists.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked …
and wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw,
When you thought I wasn't looking.
Free Children's Stories