TWO ALBERTA CHILDREN VISIT MARS

ImageImagination seems to be a dying faculty among children these days. Their entertainment comes ready made. Video games, TV, and the Internet provide what earlier generations of kids once created themselves.

When my sister Diane learned how to make Chicken Noodle soup, she and I would pretend that the stove was the control panel of our space ship. As the soup simmered, we made up imaginary perils and pretended to turn the knobs of the chrome-topped appliance. Once the soup was ready, we pretended we had landed on Mars. Then Mom dished out our lunch.

I forget who came up with the idea but we drank the soup through plastic straws. One of us children discovered that if a noodle was sucked up the straw, it made a funny noise. This resulted in both of us laughing hysterically. Mom rebuked us for making a mess but she didn’t confiscate our straws.

It’s a shame Mom gave away that gas stove. It was a beautiful appliance. I could have used it when I moved to my present house too. I suspect such a stove would be worth a fair bit to a collector of fifties-era appliances. For me, the pleasant memories of childhood fun would be enough value.

Though I haven’t written about my early years in a book as of yet, I did write about being sent to a school for the blind in Vancouver, British Columbia. Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School and my debut memoir are available from the Bruce Atchison’s books page. My How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity e-book and paperback are on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

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ANGELS AND DEMONS GO BOWLING

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Thunderstorms are a source of fear to some children and entertainment to others. Being one who loved watching the lightning as a child, I pity those who are afraid of it. Of course a healthy respect for severe weather is wise but a phobia of it can panic some folks unnecessarily.

In my home province of Alberta, July is the stormiest month. To me, a thunderstorm was great entertainment. I couldn’t understand why Mom could think that lightning would strike us through the window. It never struck anywhere near our home.

As the anvil-shaped thunderhead would move in, my sister and I loved standing in the yard and watching the lightning. Once it started to rain, we went indoors and watched the storm through the living room picture window. When we saw a bolt of lightning, we pretended it was the static from a bowling ball thrown by one of the angels or demons in the sky. The thunder was the pins going down. “Go angels go!” we used to chant as the rain poured outside. During the hour the storm thundered over our house, we had a great time while Mom just shook her head at us.

I spoke to the bank clerk in Radway about my childhood love of thunderstorms. She also pretended as a child that the angels were bowling but the lightning was God taking pictures of her. I guess neither of us lost our love of storms as we both love watching them. Unfortunately, I have too many trees by my house to see God’s light show easily. Even so, the rolling thunder and brilliant flashes of light still thrill me as they did long ago.

I missed thunderstorms when I was exiled to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. I only saw and heard one flash of lightning and one peel of thunder during all the time I was there. My Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School memoir describes what life was like in that infamous institution. Read more about it on the Bruce Atchison’s Books page.

I have a new book out called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. It’s the testimony of God’s providential guidance in my life. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers distribute the e-book and paperback versions.

HOW MOM MADE HOUSEWORK FUN

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Work is one of those necessary evils in life. Even so, it need not be tedious. My mom taught that lesson a few times during our childhood.

Doing the dishes was one chore none of us liked. Mom actually let us make a game of washing and drying them rather than scolding us. We loved playing “flying saucer.” We would take two plates and place one upside down on top of the other. Then we’d lower both into the wash water and laugh at the bubbles coming out between the plates.

Diane and I used to have races to see who could wash and dry the fastest. Not only was that fun but no dishes were broken. I’m surprised Mom would let us get away with that but she did.

As we grew older, we had many good conversations while dealing with the mountain of dishes that piled up. By sharing the work and being able to talk while working, we siblings grew closer together.

Washing the walls was another odious chore. One summer evening, we plugged in Mom’s portable record player, put a Beatles record on, and scrubbed to the music. It helped pass the time and we heard our favourite tunes.

I’m glad Mom let us enjoy work rather than endure it. It made us feel more like a family and brought us together for a while. Some parents are strict about work and they make it into drudgery.

I wrote about how I missed much of my family’s history in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. It and my debut memoir are at the Bruce Atchison’s books page.

I have a new book out called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read more about this inspiring testimony of God’s amazing leading at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

TWO LESSONS FOR VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL ORGANIZERS

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All over North America at this time of year, churches hold vacation Bible school for five days. It’s a time of stories, games, and fun. For many denominations, it’s a chance to tell neighbourhood children about the gospel.

Two VBSs stand out in my mind. When I attended the Lutheran church, it was just a fun summer activity. We heard stories, made crafts, and ate plenty of cookies. Though I was nominally a Christian, I didn’t relate the Bible stories to myself. They happened long ago in a far away land.

The fun came to an end in 1968. Instead of going to the basement with the other kids, the pastor’s assistant herded us older boys into a room with a long wooden table. As we sat at it, he plopped large black Bibles in front of us. Then he ordered us to look up First Kings something-or-other. Not only couldn’t I read the microscopic print but I had no clue how to even look up the scripture he referenced.

I tried to explain that to the assistant when he demanded to know why I wasn’t turning to First Kings something-or-other. Instead of letting me listen to the lesson, he ordered me to leave. He apparently thought that I was being stubborn.

I wept as I left and never returned to that church except for my sister Diane’s wedding. I heard that it now belongs to the Church of the Nazarene denomination.

The next year, Diane’s friend invited us to her mom’s place for VBS. Along with the usual activities, Mrs. Blacklock told us how we could have a personal relationship with Jesus and give our lives to him. I’d never heard that at the Anglican or Lutheran churches. After thinking about it for the five days of the VBS, I decided to heed the call and repented of my sins.

I wrote in more detail about both VBSs in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. It’s available from my Bruce Atchison’s books page, along with my debut paperback called When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies.

I also have a new book out called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. It’s the story of how a lack of mentoring caused me to join a toxic church and how God led me to the freedom of the truth. Read more about this inspiring story at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

HAVE YOU EVER MET A TV STAR?

ImageOne sad fact about fame is that it isolates celebrities from their fans. The more famous the person, the more secluded they need to become. Stories are legion regarding crazy people doing outlandish things in order to see their favourite personalities. As a result, celebrities need to hire guards to protect themselves and their privacy. Only when they appear at public events can their fans catch a glimpse of them.

The most famous individual I’ve met was John Levene. He played Sergeant Benton in the BBC science fiction TV series Doctor Who. In July of 1988, the local Doctor Who fan club held a conference in downtown Edmonton. It was a weekend filled with¬† all sorts of convention-style fun. John Levene was the main attraction.

On that Saturday afternoon when John was scheduled to speak, I brought my PXL2000 camcorder to the venue. After making videos of the Doctor Who memorabilia and a cake in the shape of a Dalek, I sat in the convention room with the rest of the fans and waited for John to appear.

After the Doctor Who theme song played, John sat on a tall stool and told us about his acting career. Afterward, he asked for questions. I saw my chance to ask about something which I wondered about for years. “Where did the music for the Doctor Who shows come from?” I asked when John acknowledged my raised hand.

“You know, nobody’s ever asked me that before,” he admitted. Then he explained about the BBC’s recording library and how they had their own music for their productions. I felt disappointed at his reply. I had hoped some of my electronic works might be suitable for the series.

After John gave his talk, he posed for photos. As a photographer took my picture, I put the camcorder up to John’s face. “That’s a real close up,” I joked. Then John autographed the photo with a silver pen.

Along with video and photographic mementos, I bought 3 T shirts. I still have them and wear them with pride today. I also have the memories of that special occasion when I met a TV star in person.

Of course nothing compares to knowing eternal truths. I wrote about how the Lord led me to the knowledge of his true character in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

I also have two previous books. Check them out at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

A SYLVAN ADVENTURE, PART 6

ImageHave you ever been in a situation where your parents wanted you to do something you were deathly afraid of? They might have meant well but the experience still terrified you. In July of 1961, Dad thought that taking us kids out on the lake aboard a wooden floating contraption would be an enjoyable activity for us. But for me, it was terrifying.

At the Sylvan Lake resort, the company operating it had what they called surf boards. They weren’t like the kind used by surfers but long rectangular enclosed boxes. Dad rented one for an hour and led the three of us kids to the beach.

At first, I enjoyed sitting on the candy-apple red floater. But when the water was up to Dad’s neck, I grew afraid. I stared in horror at the water which seemed a million feet deep. When I told Dad I was afraid I’d drown, he said, “No you won’t. I’m here and I’ll make sure you won’t drown. Look at Diane. She isn’t afraid.”

None of his words convinced me. As I wailed in terror, he fumed. “I rented this thing for a whole hour and you have to spoil it for the rest of us,” he complained as he pushed the pseudo-surf board toward the shore.

As I sat alone in the shallow water, I thought about the incident. I didn’t want to spoil everybody’s fun but I felt paralyzed with terror at being so far from shore.¬† My young mind wrestled with the unfairness of the situation as I waited for the hour to end.

I’ve had many times in my life when a decision made by my parents caused me anguish. The worst one happened in September of 1964 when I was sent to an institute for the blind. Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School contains the full story of my exile from home for months at a time. Visit the Bruce Atchison’s books link to find out more about life in that government-run institution.

Spiritual elders also hurt me with their criticisms and decisions. I recently published my testimony called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read about God’s providential leading in my life at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

A SYLVAN ADVENTURE, PART 5

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Children learn fast that this world is filled with nasty creatures. All of us have been bitten by mosquitoes or stung by wasps at a young age. Our illusions of a world where everything is harmless and friendly are quickly shattered through such experiences.

My sister Diane certainly learned that lesson one sunlit day when we vacationed at the Sylvan Lake resort during July of 1961.

As we stood on the beach after swimming in the lake, Diane noticed a pain in her right thigh. Looking down, she screamed when she saw a blood sucker gorging itself.

Mom and Dad tried to make Diane hold still so they could pull the wretched creature off. As Dad tried to pull the blood sucker, Mom warned him not to lest its head separate from its body. Dad took out his lighter from his pants pocket and flicked it open. As Mom tried to hold my panicking sister still, Dad touched the tail end of the creature with the lighter’s flame. It let go, ending the crisis.

All this happened in a matter of seconds but to us children, it seemed like a long time. From then on, we felt reluctant to go in the water, especially by the boat dock where Diane was bitten.

Three years and two months later, I learned that adults weren’t as trustworthy as I thought. I suddenly found myself five-hundred miles from home in a school for the blind. I couldn’t believe it when a boy told me we wouldn’t go back home until Christmas. Read more about my shocking experience at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

I have a new book out called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read about the providential guidance of God in my life at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.A review of How I Was Razed is at the Amazon review link.