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Essays on Faith: Growing pains as summer wanes

Ah, sweet summer! For those who love it, the sensation that it’s waning is not a happy one. July disappeared like smoke in the wind and we are now into August, the last month of summer in the northern hemisphere.

Most people totally enjoy the summer months. They travel to the most popular beaches to worship the sun, eat fresh seafood and enjoy numerous activities that spell summer pleasure. But I can’t help wondering if some dislike it as I do and just go along so they won’t appear “different.”

It’s what I call forced merriment.

As for me, I’d be perfectly happy if we had only three seasons: spring, fall and winter. But God didn’t put me in charge of the weather so I’ve learned to endure whatever He sends and wait patiently as I only dream of cooler days, colorful foliage, cloudless blue skies, pumpkins and gourds and scarecrows and haystacks.

The countdown to a new school year has already begun. Cooler weather and Halloween are just around the corner. The mere thought triggers a familiar stirring inside me. But, with temperatures lingering in the high 80s and low 90s, some aren’t thinking ahead, as I am, but are still busy squeezing the last drop of joy from the remaining days of summer.

My 12-year-old granddaughter got into a little mischief today. She and a friend thought it would be refreshing to jump off a boat dock and take a dip in the Kanawha River. It was only the two of them, with no adult anywhere within hearing distance. But somehow, her mother discovered what she’d done, which resulted in Jennie losing some privileges during her last precious weeks of freedom. Not only did her mother feel she’d done something dangerous, but also, she was concerned because the river is known to be full of chemicals, which could be harmful.

Just as God sometimes allows adversity to come upon his children in order to get their undivided attention and urge them to spend more time with Him, a mother knows when she must discipline her children for their own good. She may not say it, but many times, she feels deeply the well-known expression, “This is going to hurt me more than it does you.” However, a Godly mother understands that if there are no consequences for bad behavior, nothing will be learned. And she does what’s best for her child.

Twelve-year-olds are special. Not babies anymore, they’re always prepared to assert that fact, but they are by no means capable of making wise decisions. Fortunately, God loves children and watches over them. I fear that many would not survive if it weren’t for His loving guidance.

I remember things I did at Jennie’s age that I shouldn’t have. Some my parents never knew, yet I have wonderful memories of my childhood and early teens.

In the small town where I grew up, there was a mountain that had to be climbed. It was an unspoken dare. You were considered a coward if you didn’t climb it by the time you were 13 or 14 years old. It took a couple of hours to get to the top, tramping through a densely wooded area, some of it very steep. One wrong step resulted in a downward slide for yards before you could stop and gingerly climb back up again. When you finally reached the top, you were standing on a huge rock cliff from where you could see the whole town. It was a beautiful sight, but strictly natural. There were no fences or railings of any kind to keep you from falling, which would have been fatal.

My parents surely would have had heart failure if they’d known I was ever on that mountain.

Like Jennie, I couldn’t stay away from the river. It didn’t matter how many times I was threatened or punished, I kept going, certain my parents would never know.

The lure of the river was ever so much more powerful than the threat of punishment.

I climbed trees, although forbidden, ventured farther from home than my parents permitted and fought with anyone who dared disagree with me. Someone’s mother constantly phoned mine to report something I’d done to her daughter or son. I was punished. A lot.

Nevertheless, under the guidance of God’s loving hands, I grew up fairly well adjusted.

I believe Jennie will, too.

She reminds me of myself at her age. It will be interesting, and a little painful, to watch her grow and learn her lessons the hard way, as I did. Hopefully, she, too, will look back one day and remember these days with fondness.

Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons.

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro.

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Funerals for Friday, August 23, 2019

Boggess, Robert - 11 a.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Conway, Blanch - 2 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Marker, Geraldine - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Pritt, Charles - 1 p.m., Gauley Bridge Baptist Church.

Quehe, Ryker - Noon, Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Warren, Joyce - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.