CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

November 18, 2014

International Friends Share Our Life Journey — Part 1

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS SHARE OUR LIFE JOURNEY

Part 1

The following piece was written between July 1985 and summer 1988. It has been updated from then to include relationships to the present date.

During our children’s growing up years they met special people from foreign countries, people who joined their life journey to ours. Below are some of their stories.

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One such person was Hung Pheng Tan, a graduate student at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where my husband Monte taught. We were his American host family, and when we relocated from SUNY@Buffalo to Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania, he visited our new community. He was the first international person our daughter Sandy met—although I’m certain she doesn’t recall knowing him back then, as she was only a few months old. Hung Pheng was present at her baptism. She remet him (and his wife) when the couple visited us in 1988, and my son Nolan met him for the first time.

Whether from Singapore or America, we all feel joy

Whether from Singapore or America, we all feel joy

When they visited us in July 2014 Sandy could introduce him, his wife, and his college-age son to her daughter, a sweet sixteen.

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Joseph, a Cameroon (Africa) native, lodged with us for a short time while studying at Slippery Rock University. He needed work and we needed help in our country-style life—especially with planting trees. When he moved on he left behind a young boy—our son—who, for almost two years, rejected the use of silverware in favor of fingers.  This was the result of the effects of an African dish meant to be eaten with the fingers, a technique Nolan applied to almost all foods.

When Joseph’s wife Susanne came to the United States to join him and to study here, she left their son in their native country. While here she also became a special friend. Susanne became pregnant just before we left for Atlanta, Georgia, where my husband Monte studied for the ministry. Understandably they lacked many needed items. Our family prepared a pond-side baby shower for Susanne, complete with a warm-weather swim to cool off. In attendance were several elderly neighbors as well as younger folk, all of whom were exposed to her Cameroon culture. Her son arrived a month later while we were in Atlanta.

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During our three-year sojourn in Atlanta Samir and Farial, from Egypt, joined our life journey. We met through a program that connected foreign visitors with (more…)

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November 13, 2014

My Sister & I: Like Oil and Water

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is now located at Carolyn’s Online Magazine.

After reading about the sisters I invite you to visit the new site.

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

MY SISTER AND I:

LIKE OIL AND WATER

Lee

Lee

 Carolyn

Carolyn

If we had met as teenagers or later in life I doubt we’d have the strong relationship we have today. After all, my older sister Lee and I are very different—we’re like oil meeting water. Perhaps it can be said we are polar opposites.

The few outsiders who have been guests in our respective homes observe one polar difference between us. You enter her home and it is so neat and orderly. You enter my home and…well, I must remove the clutter from the chairs so you have a place to sit…I have to pile up the papers etc. on my table in order to serve you tea. You can read a more detailed comparison between a near neatnik and an almost hoarder by clicking on My Sister and I: Cluttered Versus Neat Home .

Then there is our workplace demeanor. My sister would never walk into her workplace office wearing a fuzzy maroon bathrobe, matching fuzzy maroon sneakers, no makeup, and unkempt hair—looking for all the world like she just rolled out of bed. And yes, I did just that. It was justified, if I say so myself. It was in retaliation for my boss challenging me to (more…)

November 9, 2014

“The Other Day…Welcoming an Adopted Child”

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

“THE OTHER DAY…WELCOMING AN ADOPTED CHILD”

THE REV. MONTE W. HOLLAND, COLLABORATIVE WRITER

1300th POST ON CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

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NOTE: It’s a New Day was a daily (Monday-Friday) radio show broadcast in Connellsville, Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. My husband Monte, a local pastor, and I presented the following program on July 23, 1997. Names have been changed in this piece.

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Monte: Good morning. Welcome to It’s a New Day. This is Reverend Monte Holland of Wesley United Methodist Church on South Pittsburgh Street in Connellsville. My wife, Carolyn, is joining me in  sharing something that happened “the other day” when we were privileged to be part of a group of folks who gathered at the Pittsburgh International Airport to greet the arrival of a Chinese toddler and her first meeting her adoptive father.

Carolyn: We have known Grace for a number of years. She’s always known how to throw a celebration, but in this airport party she, her husband, and their new daughter were the guests. It was a celebration of the transformation of their family.

Monte: Grace and Mike have been dealing with the fairly common problem of infertility. This day was the culmination of the long wait to become parents. Grace and her mother were arriving from China with their new daughter.

Carolyn: On the way home you mentioned to me that while we were sharing in this 7:00 a. m. party you were observing several areas of caring. You indicated that there were at least four Scriptural imperatives being responded to. The most obvious Scripture applicable is that we are to care for the orphan.

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Monte: Grace’s mom shared that this child had been abandoned on a park bench so that the police would find her and see that she was cared for. This apparently is quite common in China where boy children are highly valued, but girl children are not.

Carolyn: That is why Grace and Mike were almost certain they would be adopting a daughter. We waited while all the passengers  disembarked the plane, then we waited a few minutes more until we saw Grace disembark with Marie in her arms.

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Monte: After Grace introduced the child to her new father and grandparents she sat on the floor and allowed the child to play with some familiar things. She did not subject her to more than casual interaction with those of us there. She allowed the child to be a person coming to a new place instead of (more…)

October 30, 2014

Sears Employees Demonstrate Kindness

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SEARS EMPLOYEES DEMONSTRATE KINDNESS

Making a Difference in a Customer’s Life

Even though the wet spot under the car could be a remnant of the rain that fell the previous night, my suspicions were raised: Was there something wrong with the car? As a sensible human being I don’t trust mechanical contraptions.

I’d driven 40 minutes that morning, from home to the 2014 Health & Education Expo, a senior health expo supported by the Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners, the Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging and other county agencies. I met Kim Ward, Pennsylvania State Senator, whom I’d previously contacted on legislation on open adoption records for adult adoptees. I’d taken advantage of several offerings—a hand massage, a back massage, a hearing test, a blood pressure reading, lots of candy samples, a snack.

And I’d enjoyed a presentation by KDKA-TV news anchor and caregiver advocate Jennifer Antkowiak titled Don’t Stress! Coping with Caregiver Stress.

It came time to leave, so I went to my car and saw the suspicious almost-puddle under the hooded part of my car. I pulled out my camera (of course, very low battery) and snapped a couple of shots of the wet spot

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141029 DSC03905Ebefore I drove to the mall across the 4-lane highway and parked behind Sears, where I had to make an exchange. I accomplished my mission and, not having to rush home I wandered around the mall stores for a couple of hours.

Wanting to drive home in daylight I went to the car just before sunset. As I approached the car I noticed an almost-puddle under the front of the car.

141029 DSC03907EOops. My suspicions had confirmation. I again pulled out my camera and snapped a picture.

The car had a problem, and I had about 7 miles of wooded highway to drive through, a drive that would make a lone woman vulnerable if the car was disabled, particularly at dusk or later.

My cell phone had experienced problems and wasn’t working, and I hadn’t picked up my husband’s cell phone. I’d been enjoyable incommunicado all day, but now I was concerned.

I went into Sears and stopped at the service desk closest to (more…)

October 26, 2014

Tie the Thread on My Finger

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

TIE THE THREAD ON MY FINGER!

Remind Me

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 41:9   Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharoah, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings….” (NI)

DISCUSSION: Finally, the hand of God jogged the cupbearer’s memory, creating a situation that brought release for Joseph. Pharoah needed interpretion of two dreams, and the cupbearer told of Joseph’s gift. Pharoah sent for him. (5: pp. 102)

REFLECTION:  Forgetfulness is a characteristic of mine. Once I complete a task or leave a situation, it is done. I no longer remember details as I move on to other things.

I excuse this as part of today’s high technology information age where one cannot take time to reflect, a memory enhancer, because the requirement is to multitask or to run from one event, memory or thought to another with no pauses in between. Time is of the essence. Production is what counts.

I also tend to have what I call “specific name and date memory deficit.”  It is not age related. Throughout my school years I has trouble with courses needing specific name and date recall—history, Latin, science. I recall substance, not specifics.

On school tests, I would (more…)

October 21, 2014

Finite Creatures We Are

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

FINITE CREATURES WE ARE

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Cemetery in East Lamoine, Maine

I’m eyeing the stone of Louis and Mary Googins des Isles, circa 1794-1825

Interesting this WordPress prompt, finite creatures, appeared the day I after I did research on deaths and funerals in Downeast Maine in the 1790s-1800s. Lest you think I’m strange for picking this topic I’d better inform you that I was researching it for my novel, in which one character, Mary, must deal with having her husband Louis sail for France in 1812 and never being heard from again (oops—there is a surprise in this true life story that mimics the later well-known epoch written by Tennyson, Enoch Ardon).

Thus, mortality has been on my mind these days.

The prompt asks At what age did you realize you were a finite creature, that you not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

Two of my earliest memories are of death.

Our family dog, a cocker spaniel named Buffy, died after being hit by a car.

BUFFY B

The man whose car hit him made a pine box for his burial. Buffy was buried under what is now an addition to 29 Spring Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I don’t recall my age but I might have been 5 or 6 years old. During a burial “service” I ran about the yard laughing. Was this an apartness from death or a (more…)

October 19, 2014

Angel Rescues Traveler in Massachusetts

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

ANGEL RESCUES TRAVELER IN MASSACHUSETTS

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A Night Time Ride to Safety

Along a Circuitous Path as

Angel Rescues Traveler in Massachusetts

(A Devotion)

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 40:23, 41:9    23. But (even after all that) the chief butler gave no thought to Joseph, but forgot (all about) him. 9. Then the chief butler said to Pharoah, I remember my faults today. (AMP)

Luke 17:18   Was there no one found to return and to recognize and give thanks and praise to God except this alien? (Amp)

Related Scripture:   Luke 17:12-19

REFLECTION:  Gratitude. For major events. And most commonly rudely forgotten.

For Joseph, who interpreted the dream for the chief butler and whose request to be recognized to the Pharaoh was “forgotten.” For Jesus, nine healed lepers neglected to thank him.

I, too, can be ungrateful. I don’t express gratitude often enough.

Sometimes, though, verbal thanks seems insufficient.

I traveled to New England by myself in the spring of 1996, and left Brocton, Massachusetts after 7 p. m., unconcerned about finding a hotel. I would be on a main road. No problem. I’d drive towards Merrimack, New Hampshire and stop along the way.

Wrong! I was traveling through a “bedroom community.” No motels!

At 8:45 p. m. I stopped at a drugstore in a strange town not too far from Framingham. “Are there any motels around?” I asked the pharmacist. Neither he nor the customers knew of any.

One customer said she felt bad. She had a spare room, but she also had company. She knew a place in Framingham but the dark night, the late hour and the heavy construction would create travel difficulties, particularly to a stranger. But she knew of a Bed & Breakfast out in the country. She’d call from her car phone.

A room was available! She drew me a land-marked map, then said (more…)

October 16, 2014

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Malignant Fear

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

IN HONOR OF

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH:

MALIGNANT FEAR

 Tamara D., Guest Writer*

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 Speed Racing Heart

Stomach dropped to the floor

Breast smashed like a pancake

Too late to run for the door

Front Image Side Image

Deep breathing to the count of four

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Something is Not right

They need to (more…)

October 12, 2014

God’s Creation: Is It Disgusting?

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

GOD’S CREATION:

IS IT DISGUSTING?

NOTE: This devotion was entered in a devotional writing competition at a conference. The judges didn’t know how to handle it because the content and the style weren’t in the typical format. One judge pulled me aside to tell me that the committee members were befuddled and didn’t know how to respond to this devotion. She ended by saying I should know and write to my audience.

I remained quiet while she explained the situation to me. When she finished  I explained myself.

“I did consider my audience. I was writing to a reader who studied science: biology, chemistry. This audience wants references (she’d told me devotions shouldn’t include references). Typical devotions aren’t written to this audience, so I thought I’d try writing several for this purpose.”

I don’t know if the judge was mollified, but I stand by the option to write devotions that speak to specific audiences.

Let me know what you think.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 1:27     God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (NI)

   Related Scripture: Psalm 139:13-14  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (KJV)

REFLECTION:   Although God created a wonderful being, the human, I’ve found that a built in life-saving technique may be—is—unpalatable for most people. It has to do with what we consider human waste.

Human waste, urine, not only stops infection when applied to wounds, but it can also be recycled as a re-hydration beverage.

“Disgusting,” you say.

But be patient. Release your prejudice and bias, if only for the moment it takes you to finish this devotion.

“There are many survival stories where people saved and drank their own urine to (more…)

September 28, 2014

Tarantulas: Those Scary Creeping Things

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

TARANTULAS: THOSE SCARY CREEPING THINGS

 download

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 6:7   So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them.”  (KJV)

REFLECTION:     Many people would be happy if somehow the creepy, creeping tarantulas were destroyed, removed from the earth. But some people set out to save sick ones.

The June 5, 1999 AP headline captured my attention: Sick tarantula getting top-notch care.

2 ½ ounce Goliath, No. 79011, had an infection oozing from her side and an abscess the size of a quarter. The infection gave the salad-plate sized eight-legged critter value. She could teach doctors about medical care of tarantulas in captivity.

The antibiotic wasn’t working. Veterinarians planned CAT scans to identify problems during surgery that hopefully would correct Goliath’s problem.

Goliath, with her dark brown hair and turret of eyes atop her flat head, able to make a fearless person arachnophobic, must be a special spider. Such great lengths to save a creature that has “a habit of showing her fangs and shooting barbed hairs from her rump” doesn’t seem like something I might consider.

One of my pre-married era boyfriends would think differently. Stanley, my senior prom date, attended (more…)

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