All posts by Karen Poole

When Life’s Experiences Bring Pain, It is OK to Shout and Cry!

This past Saturday, March 9th , we celebrated our granddaughter Erin’s  1st Birthday.

The festivities were many.  She loved her yellow spotted balloon (helium filled) pulling it up and down with great delight, watching it float upward and pulling it back down and investigating the paper weight that lay on the floor  ( and kept it from going up to the ceiling).  Soon it became gift opening time.  She opened her gifts, yes, indeed, loving every moment of removing paper from the various boxes, big or small ; size seemed to make no apparent difference.   The ribbons were held, pulled, and looked at with great wonderment.  New clothing was touched, cars that went to her new Fisher Price/Little People’s Garage were tried out for their mobility.  One toy, that received intense work, was the doors that opened and closed on a very small wooden house.  Definitely a favorite of the day.  A break for a nap, was wisely offered by her parents. Upon waking about an hour and half later, it was time for the Rubber Ducky Cupcakes and ice cream.  Mom positioned Erin carefully into her seat of honor.  Bib was placed. And then Beth declared, Erin you are free to get as messy as you like, and I wouldn’t be upset.  The No. 1 candle was placed into the scoop of vanilla  ice cream, and the Rubber Ducky Cupcake was placed on its plate.    We all broke out into a chorus singing “Happy Birthday to you!”  It appeared as though Erin knew that it WAS HER DAY.     Candle blown out and removed, the plate of ice cream and the plate with the Rubber Ducky were placed before her, within reach! The first hand went into the frosting, then directly to her mouth, with a grin from ear to ear, that said, “ I can enjoy another taste of that!”  The cupcake followed.  Then the reach into the ice cream.  “WAH!!!! “  Tears came immediately!  Shock!!   I said to myself, “The ice cream is cold.   We need to remove that from her tray,”  and proceeded to do so immediately, before anymore pain was to be experienced.  Her hands were free to continue the delight of frosting and cupcake, and smiles returned, and continued to abound.  Indeed, a celebration of her new life, now moving into the second year!  What joy, what celebration, what an environment of acceptance were experienced by all that day.  All through the gift of God’s love, shared once again into our world through a  child one year of age.  Oh, indeed, her parents had made many preparations, grandparents had traveled for the event, all the ups and downs of parenthood were not erased, but they were able to be embraced on this journey we call life, through the presence of a little one.

It brought to mind one more time a phrase I have come to appreciate over the years:

“Children need that care of adults if they are to survive.

Adults need the care of children if they are to grow.”

Erin helped me “to grow”,  to remember,  that it is ok to cry out in times of pain .  In one sense, I say, “how could you forget, Karen ” and yet, in another sense it helped to be reminded.  May we stand / sit next to each other in  our times of tears, hear each other’s  screams, and  remove “the plate of ice cream”, as might be helpful, knowing that  through it all, God is there for us/ with us.  Amen and Amen.

I want our children to…

Sunday, January 29th,  Dr. Miller’s message centered around our being “Under Construction” .  It is a state of being that is true for all ages, young and old alike.  At the end of his  “Time with the Children” Dr. Miller had the the girls and boys  select a bright yellow Construction Hat that each joyfully placed on their heads.   Following a time of prayer, the children returned to sit with their families.  I heard one young child say, as they bounded back into place next to their parent,  “that was really fun!”  “Yes”, I said, “a moment of God’s grace and love known and experienced in the life of a child!”

As I begin a new year working in the area of Children’s Ministries, I feel called to share the following CREED with you.  It speaks at least in part, of my passion for children: those who we know by name  here at Nardin; those we are yet to meet in the coming weeks, and months  ahead;   and yes, ultimately to all children everywhere. (adapted from a writing by Pamela O’Brien in Alive Now publication).

I want our children to be
strong and brave,
to do what they believe to be right
even when it costs them a lot.
I want our children to be weak,
to know what it means to be lonely
and scared and vulnerable,
to be able to cry
and to say, “Please help me.”
I want our children to love,
to love a lot, life and other people,
especially those who
aren’t very lovable;
to love buttercups
and red maple leaves
and gentle snows
and shells that cover ocean beaches
after a storm;
to love hot cider and clean floors
and great books and classical music.
I want our children to despise,
to despise a lot, pretense and lies
and killing, cruel words,
violent acts and mean tempers,
diseases that ravage the body
and the mind.
I don’t want them to despise pain
and death and endings,
things that in their essence
are a part of living.
I want our children to love God
and no matter what,
no matter how dark it gets at night,
no matter what awful something
the light of day exposes,
I want them to never ever
let go of God.
I want our children
to go to bed each night,
to rise up each morning, hoping
beyond that trusting,
beyond that believing,
that God loves them,
that God will never let them go.

I am aware we cannot take our children’s journey for them.  As they reach the end of their teenage years, they must choose that for themselves.  But, we can offer them something to choose from beginning with the day of their birth.  In their adult life, the choice is theirs.  Somewhere along the way, they may  “let go of the God of their childhood”.  And in the letting go, to yet, discover God anew for the new stage of life they are now called to live.  Hmm, is that somewhat like being “Under Construction” for the rest of our lives?

I’m excited about the new Lenten Study for this year.  Three Simple Questions by Rueben P. Job.  For I think that as we continue to explore the questions:  Who is God?  Who am I?  Who are we as Christians together? our children will come to sense the presence of God’s grace and love alive and moving among us each and everyday.  And I would suggest that as we are among the children,  may we too be open to new and evolving  insights into the Realm of God, that they may be offering us.

“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them;
for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Mark 10:14

God’s Peace,

Separation from Those We Love

These thoughts were stimulated first by my reading of Dr. Miller’s writing “A Crack is How Light Gets Through”, and second by the impending death of Pat Johnson.

“Separation from Those We Love”
Nothing can fill the gap
when we are away from those we love,
and it would be wrong to try to find anything.
We must simply hold out and win through.
That sounds very hard at first,
but at the same time
it is a great consolation,
since leaving the gap unfilled
preserves the bonds between us.
It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap;
God does not fill it, but keeps it empty
so that our communion with another
may be kept alive, even at the cost of pain.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Letters from Prison

Our immediate family is dispersed far and wide across the United States and Canada.  It began grand scale when my father retired from Fisher Body and my folks moved to Arizona in 1972.  Their move was like a “death” to me.  No longer could we visit spontaneously on the weekends. It was a four days drive one direction to their home in Sun City.   I began reading articles and books on death.  In one article was something close to this statement….”When death has taken someone you love, use the time you would have spent with them, doing something in their honor for someone else.” Thus, began my journey in Christian Education.  My folks had given me the gift of the church, an arena beyond our home, where I began to learn and experience God’s love in community, so it is there I searched.

I became the Director of Christian Education at Grand Blanc United Methodist Church.  From that church, through the invitation of Dr. John (Jack) Jury, I went to seminary “just for the fun of it” for one summer.  The rest is history.

In April of 1990 I received a phone call from my father saying that my mother had died that morning. (Totally unexpected)  That night I awoke about 3 a.m. and remembered a writing by Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled “Separation from Those You Love”.  (Posted above)  In it he states that when someone dies there is an emptiness that we experience.  He suggests that we fill it with nothing, but leave it empty.  Go to the empty space and meet the person from whom we are separated (by death, distance, etc.) from time to time.  That night I did so, and in language I can describe no other way: I met my mom, we talked, and “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) flowed through my being.

Our children and their families live in Oklahoma, Canada, Missouri and Michigan.  Our siblings live in New York and Maine. Family reunions are not easy to put together, but we keep trying. (I admire those of you who do this on a regular basis). Thus, I have often said, the church is my family.  And all of humanity is loved by God, near or far, known or unknown.

That is what drives me, what empowers me, that is my passion to create spaces where the love of God can be shared, become “known” and lived out in our lives each and everyday.  Tears are not eliminated, pain is not unknown, struggles need to be worked through, seasons of bleakness are experienced, but not outside the realm of God’s love that dwells within and surrounds us each and everyday, whether we acknowledge it or not.  As a Christian I continue to learn through the study of the life and ministry of Jesus, the living Christ.  (But in that I do not exclude God’s revelation to other cultures and religious expressions.) But, as Marcus Borg’s puts it Christianity is my home.

It’s great to be a part of the program staff here at Nardin Park.  I am thankful for the meaningful ministry that has transpired over the years in Children’s Ministries. I offer myself to be another link in the chain of care and passion for an area where I feel God’s calling has led me at this time.

Dedicated to the love of God, through Jesus the Christ who is recorded in Matthew to have said,” Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matt. 19:14)

p.s. Thanks Mom and Dad