September 21, 2015

50 Year Discoveries: Childhood

Part 4: Childhood: Birth through High School Graduation

My son is coming to visit us in the morning. It has been 13 months since I last bought him dinner. A lot has taken place in a year. The home we brought our kids up in was sold last November, we moved south to eastern Tennessee. He remained behind, found a new place to live and work, walking by his childhood home often on the way to the bus. I had never stopped to see it through his eyes before until I started thinking about my own childhood and the things I learned, the things I gained, the things I lost, who I became because of growing up at an address on a farm in mid Michigan.

I was the middle of three kids. My dad was a teacher, my mom worked at McDonalds and then as a bus driver for the kids in the county who needed transportation to special education facilities. I have an older sister and a younger brother. I called myself the “sandwich kid”. The invisible kid because the older is the first and the last is the baby. The second girl. Before the first boy.

I weeded gardens, raked yards, stacked wood, rode bikes, rode a plastic sled and wood toboggan down the back hill and played in snow forts dad created with the tractor from all the snow we got. Vacations out west to every state west of the Mississippi, except Hawaii and Alaska. Red rocks, mountains, waterfalls, caves, the ocean, the Redwoods & Sequoias, Arches and Zion, Yellowstone and Crater Lake, etc. From a young kid to a teen there was: Sesame Street and Emergency, farm life, school, cousins by the dozens, all but one grandparent living, holidays and awesome food, Jesus and youth group, playing flute in marching band, pursuing visual arts with joy, sexual abuse, concerts and art shows, boyfriends and football games. Childhood was both traumatic AND full of fun things and people all at the same time – the balance tipping from year to year, home and school, family and friends. Mine was not better or worse or different or the norm. But it was MY childhood.

Let me tell you more…

I loved to read and learning what I could through reading books was my way of exploration of the world. Stories of others places, people’s lives, events that changed the world. I found that so exciting. But I was just a middle kid from a farm, the second girl with hand-me-downs that my brother was never doomed to have to wear – thankfully. Were these places or things I could go to or do or be? I can often remember wanting to be noticed, appreciated, be able to stand out, speak in such a way as to hold others attention because they actually found me interesting. To sparkle in some way. I lived up to the name my daddy gave me of Krispie Anne – like I was in another world, dancing to a tune all my own. My dad knew me and recognized that – we are both perfectionistic, melancholy creatives. The rest of the world just didn’t understand me much. To their credit, I was a bit of a puzzle.

This strong sense of justice and wanting to help or seem like I was helping – especially in school- continued from elementary to high school. I befriended those whom others would not be friends with. By high school graduation I had a mixture of friends, in popular crowd, brains, burnouts, those in older grades and those in younger grades. At one of my high school reunions I was approached and asked to pray for the blessing on the food, because they knew I was a person of faith. What? Here, many decades after graduation, I realized I had actually made a difference without even knowing it. I had actually been made fun of and left out when I was in school. Being years removed from the drama and emotions of teen years and being asked to pray. Ok… so, I prayed. This simple event highly transformed my thinking and my perception of my contributions to life.

Now none of this do I share to condemn or shame anyone in my family or schoolmates and relatives growing up. It was my perspective – the view from my eyes looking out on the world. I just didn’t fit in. And for me at the time I thought that was a terrible thing. So the life I lived from as soon as I can remember to the day I turned 18, was lived in light of that. I was resigned to the fact that I was not outstanding, so I would work harder to shine as brightly as I could, where I could. And of course to overcome the wounds inflicted on my confidence and identity caused by sexual abuse… this would take much longer, as I have explained in previous parts of this series.

So why did my son visiting bring all this back right now? The next step in my 50 year Discoveries series was my childhood and out of the blue my son messages me and says he is coming to visit us in Tennessee on his way from Idaho to Michigan. He has made a full loop since last August to today. Michigan to Alaska to Oregon to Idaho to Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, and he is almost here. Home for him has been so many places along the way. What memories has he added to the ones from when he was a boy and teen that will continue to shape him? What part of me is part of him? What part of the “sandwich” child, who was born on a farm in mid-Michigan, danced to her own tune, was wounded and curious, sensitive and insecure, creative and a justice-seeker, friend to most, has shaped who my son is now as a person? That a story for him to tell if he ever chooses to write it all down like his mom.

What I Have Learned

About Myself:

  • I was second, but I was not unimportant. Birth order does not equal worth.

  • My life had a purpose. I was Kripsie Anne – free-spirited and curious

  • My life made an impact as I passed through those years even if I didn’t know it until I was in my 40s

  • I can still be insecure and want to be noticed – have someone acknowledge my sparkling addition to the world (people-pleasing)

  • When I sit down and talk with my Mom I find out my perspective of reality was skewed in places and more of the bigger story is discovered which gives context to my perceived story within it.

  • I liked those mountains and the outdoors of our vacations so much I live in the mountains-appreciating and enjoying them daily


  • They have their own story of ups, downs, successes, failures. They may also be struggling with their birth order placement. Who knows?

  • Their perspective also has worth in their journey to understand what their childhood means for their today and future.

  • They can hold too much power in my happiness when I let what they think of me or how they respond to me, affect who I am and what I think of me.

  • Family and friends are important parts of who we are, what we become, and where we go, but they are not the ultimate indicators of our impact in and on the world. That is God’s department. He uses it all to shape us and use us.


  • He knit this Kripsie Anne in her mother’s womb.

  • He knew every day of my life, from birth to Kindergarten, 1st grade to Graduation, college to present.

  • He wants to use my life to make an impact for HIM, letting others see HIS sparkle – His glory – through me.

  • He makes beautiful things to see and explore and enjoy.

  • He gave and gives gives me great friends and family, that are supportive and like who I am – even though He is not done with me yet and they KNOW it, loving me despite or in spite of that.

So how about you?

  • What are the details of your childhood that have had the greatest impact on who you are today?

  • As you look back over your life, where do you see the fingerprints of God, even in the things that hurt or you didn’t understand then?

  • What missing details of your story would help you understand or move forward with more confidence or sense of purpose if you were to know them?

  • Who can you talk with to gain “the rest of the story” – to give you perspective on YOUR previously held view of life?

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