While I was considering whether to work on the Thirty Day Blog C
I like memories as well as the next person (well, most memories), but this struck me as a good chance to look at seasons of, rather than different memories, of our lives.
I know I grew up privileged. We weren’t rich, but I grew up white with enough to live on and an intact family with many opportunities. My children are just the opposite, in so many ways – skin color,
Our childhood years are such a mixed bag. Having been through this phase myself, and now raising children in various stages of childhood, I am always suspect when I hear someone describe their childhood in glowing nostalgia. There is no such thing as the perfect family and the perfect childhood. I grew up in a VERY GOOD family. Mom and Dad had a marriage rooted in love and respect. I had siblings and friends in the small town I grew up in. I never went hungry or worried about where we would live. I had music lessons, Sunday School, good grades and a lot of books (which I loved!). And yet, trauma touched me and I live with it to this day.
On the other hand, my children can tell horror stories about their early years. Years of pain, fear, hunger, homelessness, and anger form some of their core memories. And yet, they all frequently share memories of fun, good people, good days with family and siblings, and special belongings. Love touched them and they live with it to this day.
My take away as I reflect on childhood right now is that the balance between the good and the bad for children can rest in our hands. Be
Those Teen Years
My teen years were a breeze compared to the world my children live in now. I grew up in a very small farming town in the Midwest.. so small that three towns shared the same high school. I learned to drive, I taught piano lessons, I worked at McDonald’s two towns over and I had my best friend, my sister, to share all things with. Sounds idyllic…
My teens are growing up in a large city with large schools and
But, I notice themes between us (me and my kids) and I think humans are meant to work some things out, each for themselves, during those in-between years. I think
What really happens? Confusion happens – hormones, new schools, new friends, new influences. Fun happens – new freedoms, new adventures, new ideas. Growth happens – plans and goals, insights, and (hopefully) increasing confidence.
And in our home, the reality is that developmental stages get mixed up because of early trauma, new experiences can trigger old memories, and often my kids doubt themselves so much that they fear the future rather than grabbing it with both hands. And everything I try to do for my kids is exactly what my parents tried to give me… a safe place to come home to, words of advice (sometimes asked for, sometimes not), and encouragement to think big, think brave, think creatively, and think from healing.
We all have opportunities to become a safe place for teenagers… through parenting or mentoring or teaching or volunteering.
I went to college… Two years at a small liberal arts college in Illinois and two years at a nursing school in Chicago. I came out with a BA and a BSN with a new nursing career all set for me. I worked my way through college and had a couple of scholarships and a loan. College was expected of me and it was good for me.
But…. I don’t believe in college. Weird, I know. It’s not what you think. I believe that attending college is a great option for many people of all ages. However, we live in an age when getting a college degree does not mean what it used to.
Going to college and graduating from college was a goal bred into a few generations of us. It turned into a success vs. failure equation,
We live in such a diverse world and we need skills of many kinds to function as societies. We let others describe what success means and in our current culture, success often means high incomes and lots of stuff. Success in our family leans on different values.
I work with my kids to help them understand that success is being happy and proud of who they are. That success is making a difference in the world, whether it be for one person or for a community and/or the world. They all come from such hard places and have overcome (are overcoming) some serious challenges and roadblocks that I celebrate every single step of insight and independence as they grow. I have now seen 4 young women leave my home and I deem each a growing success. One is in college, on scholarships and proud to be the first from her family of origin to attend. One left my home and spent time in a homeless shelter for teens as she found her footing. She has worked successfully at several jobs and is slowly taking classes at a community college. This is HUGE for her. One daughter is working retail, is in a successful long term relationship and is independent financially. She is so proud of herself. My oldest daughter is in prison (tragic story), but has done so much healing over her growing up years, that she is navigating the system and is known as one of the kindest and friendliest inmates. She is taking career classes in technical design, which would have never happened without her incarceration. She is succeeding.
I am very, very mindful of the painful journeys each of these children of mine had and still work through, but I see happiness, pride, and hope in each of their lives right now. And I am still shepherding 7 more children right now toward what will be their independence.
Success is measured differently for every person as they enter early adulthood and it is actually a very interesting and engaging process! You can make a difference in the lives of young adults… do not judge their journeys… support and encourage and celebrate exactly where they are at, college or not!
My nursing career shaped so much that has followed after. I started as a “float nurse” in a large urban hospital. I went where staffing was needed. After a couple of years, I moved to a small mountain community and was “village nurse” for a time. It led me to choose the next step in my nursing journey and I got my Master’s Degree in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I then spent 20+ years working with marginalized people… Native American reservation, low-income clinics, a school for students whose families were homeless. I also got to teach at the university for almost a decade in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program. During my career period, I was also a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. I studied
All of this prepared me for what was to come as I began to contemplate parenting through foster care and adoption.
What stands out for me in my career is the variety of experiences that I had. Every turn, every new interest that I found, every new experience that I grabbed kept my career fresh and growing. I use this journey as a prompt when I am parenting my own children. I never ask what they want to BE when they grow up. I ask what they want to DO. If they don’t know, I say GOOD FOR YOU!
Please interact with all the folks in your life and in your own
When Ministry Happened
Ministry is the good that people bring to others and to
I grew up in the church and was raised in the Lutheran persuasion. I have (and to be honest, continue to) studied, questioned, doubted, and even rejected things I grew up with. But my faith is an integral part of who I am, regardless of the religion surrounding it and it (my faith) continues to inform and connect to and support my ministry.
Any of you who have found this blog have probably guessed that while nursing was my vocation for many years, my calling and my ministry has been and will always be to nurture children who live with a trauma background. Everything I experienced, even my own trauma, has led me to the place that will be my ministry for the rest of my life.
Each of you has a calling, whether you recognize it or not. You have the ability to pull a person or a piece of earth towards wholeness. You really do!!!!!
IF you would like to read previous writing from this 30 Day Blog Challenge, here are the links…