Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: parents

Book Review: Harvey’s Hideout

Harvey’s Hideout, Russell Hoban, Plough Publishing, 2018. 

Harvey Muskrat and his sister, Mildred, find themselves in a continual feud.

Originally published in 1969, Russell Hoban’s classic, much like Bread and Jam for Frances or Charlie the Tramp, Harvey’s Hideouthas a hint of realism. Whether muskrats or humans, siblings fight. Both siblings have their lesser qualities, which seem to be the entry of frustration with the other. Harvey is inconsiderate, while Mildred is bossy.

But, as Father Muskrat reminds them, it does not mean that they are “stupid and no-good” or “mean and rotten.”

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Book Review: Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast

Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast: Reflections on Fatherhood, Matteo Bussola, Penguin Group TarcherPerigee, 2017.

Fatherhood, I have learned in the past two years, is a true gift. Sure, there are moments when the whining and the fussing gets a little weary, but hey, we all whine and fuss, right? All of those moments are pushed to the shadows when your little girl climbs in your lap to give you a kiss. Or when she makes a joke and then laughs at herself.

Being a dad has been the best calling on my life.

And it’s one of those callings that you only realize how powerful it is until it happens. I remember church members telling me after it was announced that we were expecting, that my life would never be the same.

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My God is Powerful

Holy.

Spiritual.

Transformational.

These are not always the first words used to describe a Vacation Bible School. You are more likely to hear words like loud, chaotic, messy. But that was not the chance at Peakland last week. While talking to Kristin, our VBS director at Peakland, she said, “My goal was for someone, somewhere, to have a spiritual experience.”

It happened.

2015-07-12 21.22.55

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The Ten: Honor Your Parents

Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12, Common English Bible)

The Ten - jasoncstanley.comEvery Sunday my mom goes to a local nursing home to visit with her mother. Some days she knows who Mom is, some days, she’s not so sure. Some days she is warm and comforting. Other days, she is cold and violent. My grandmother suffers, as so many older adults do, from dementia. More than 5 million Americans live with the disease, in its various expressions. It is the sixth leading cause of death, and affects one in three senior citizens. (For more about dementia, visit alz.org.)

Honor as a verb means to “regard with great respect.” It is a wide range of a definition, leaving it quite open for children to find ways to honor their parents. Scholar Terence E. Fretheim suggests, as others have, that the commandment is intended for adult children. In a time and age when care for the elderly has become a major focus for some many families. Nursing homes. Social security income. Health care.

We are called to honor our aging parents.

Mission KidsIn the Jewish tradition, age was something to respect. We too often choose to neglect those who are older than us. Like a child who thinks his parents don’t know anything, we treat older adults more like a burden than the treasures they are. This past Sunday we took a group of third through fifth graders to a local retirement home for women. We did not have the children sing and do all the traditional things children do when they visit such homes. Instead, they went around the room asked the women questions like, “What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?” The kids got some really awesome answers. One woman shared how she jumped out of a plane when she turned 70. Another shared about growing up in England. The women then asked the children the same question. Everyone enjoyed themselves – both children and older adults – because someone took the time to ask them about their lives and listen.

This is why Mom goes every Sunday to see her mother. Even though their relationship has not been the best, Mom has forgiven and forgives. Even though she doesn’t always know who Mom is, Mom still goes and listens. She tells her about life and bears through her mother questioning where Dad is, even though Dad has been gone now for 14 years.

To honor our parents is to care for our parents through all the stages of life.

Maya Angelou penned some amazing words around this in her poem “On Aging.”

On Aging by Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it!

When my bones are still and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.

When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tirer don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

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