My students just knew I’d love this video and insisted on showing it to me.
They were right… I LOVED it!
I’ve never seen this kid, but I’ll be watching more of his “pep talks.” In addition to him being very cute, he seems to know the right questions to ask. For example, this very important question addressed to us all:
“What will you create to make the world awesome?”
Very encouraging. From the mouths of babes.
I wish someone taught me these principles when I was his age. I wouldn’t have so much to make up for now. Better late than never.
Share this to encourage someone who needs to know they’re special and needed in this world.
When you think about the words that you’ve seen in some girls’ bathroom stalls, what do you normally think about? Words that typically come to my mind are vulgarity, nastiness, foolishness, offensive… lots of these types of adjectives come to mind. Of course, then there are all the phone numbers revealing personal data about people who had no intention of sharing that information.
Who would think that one could receive wisdom from a girls’ bathroom stall? And yet, that’s exactly what was found in a university restroom, in response to the disclosure of some tragic and terrible life experiences, written in a single stall.
That someone took the time out to thoughtfully respond is remarkable. Her words are inspiring – for anyone.
Take a look at the story, with an image of the actual note, here.
I love teaching. I love teaching biblical texts. Teaching biblical texts affords me the opportunity to help my learners understand scripture in a way that they’ve never had the opportunity to learn it before. I get to help them explore the texts in their historical and cultural contexts, but we also get to explore together how those texts influence our culture and lives today.
In my Old Testament classes, we’ve been exploring the narrative of the man and woman in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. We do a pretty close reading of texts because I find that students’ assumptions of biblical events and the meaning of those events is often colored by what they may have previously heard in church, and crucial details are often missed, which sometimes leads us to a not-so-complete interpretation of the stories. I think we do ourselves a disservice by not attending to these sacred texts intently, because we can possibly miss what the original intent of the writing was.
Not that there aren’t other ways to interpret the Bible other than historically. I’m by no means saying that. I’m just saying that I’ve discovered that examining scripture in its original context can provide some pretty rich interpretations, and can really help to enrich one’s faith. At least it has enriched my own.
Okay, I’m a little off on a tangent…
My learners and I were exploring the following text:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“ (Genesis 3:1-3)
Now, that’s not the command God originally gave regarding that tree. God originally told the man (Adam):
“You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
So you can see, what God told the man and what the woman said God commanded are a little different.
So I asked my 9th graders, “Why do you think she got the commandment wrong?”
Some students said, “Maybe she just didn’t hear the command clearly.” Others said, “Well, God didn’t give it to her, and so the man (Adam) may have not communicated the command clearly to her.”
To which one of students said,
“Maybe he just didn’t like her.”
I was speechless.
Because it made sense.
For what other reason would he blame her for being tempted to eat the fruit? For what other reason would he not fess up to getting the command wrong?
So I stood there in the front of the class, pondering what she said. For about a minute. I couldn’t seem to move on from my learner’s statement. It intrigued me.
And my other learners watched me in my state of intrigued-ness. I think they took some delight in it, knowing that, as I said to them, I had heard something about that text that I’d never heard before, and it came from a 14-year old.
Which is why I teach.
I learn so much from my learners. If I ever think that I’m teaching only to impart a bunch of knowledge, to open my students’ brains and pour into them everything I know, then I need not be in a classroom. For my classroom is a community, and we are all there to learn.
So in that moment, I was reminded of how each of us has a voice, a very important voice, because God has imparted to each of us a measure of wisdom. It’s up to us to hear that wisdom and use it for the betterment of us all.
And it doesn’t matter who imparts it. Whether I get it from my 8-year old daughter, my 14-year old freshmen, my 17-year old seniors, my ??-year old husband (who is incredibly wise), or someone on the street, it doesn’t matter. God uses His children to share His wisdom with us all.
And I’m thankful I’m in a position in which I can encourage my students to explore their own inner wisdom by asking questions which causes them to dig into texts differently than they’ve done in the past. Because in doing so, I think I’m empowering them to use those voices for good.
The challenge – look for wisdom to come in unexpected ways.
TED.com is a website that I became acquainted with through one of my teaching colleagues. According to the website:
“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.
You can find talks about various topics, from education to religion to technology to entertainment…Lots of very intriguing speakers, some who are well-known, such as Al Gore, to less well-known people, who, in their talks, inspire us, teach us, persuade us, fascinate us…
I came across a new TED talk today that I felt I had to share. This talk was given by Tony Porter at the first TEDWomen conference held just this past month. Mr. Porter is the co-founder of A Call to Men, a non-profit organization “committed to ending violence against women.” In his presentation, he discusses the “Man Box,” and how living in the “Man Box” causes men to live in bondage to what some men think being a man is all about. He discusses how much of living in the “Man Box” leads to violence against women. Nonetheless, he concludes his talk with a profound statement of liberation that we all, men and women, must hear.
Below is the video of “Tony Porter: A Call to Men.” Play it for every man you know. But as a woman, I feel it is also a call to me – to further understand these issues so that I can understand that there are other men who are trying to break free of the “Man Box.” I need to understand these issues so that when my husband explains the “Man Box” to our daughter, that I will be able to understand right along with her.
I am the wife of a man who has long broken out of the “Man Box.” Nonetheless, let us all seek to understand the men in our lives to support them breaking out of their own “Man Box.”
Poetry slammer Katie Makkai gives voice to how we – as parents, as teachers, as those concerned with the tender hearts of our young people – should respond to the insecurities our girls carry as a result of listening to and watching what the media deems to suggest what’s right for them. It is absolutely powerful.
My husband is a phenomenal man! He doesn’t settle for second best. He seeks to do everything with excellence. So when he told me he was updating his first book, Steppin’ Out of the Darkness, my first question is, “Why?” He replied, “I can do better.” So after many months of rewrites and revisions, my husband has now published and released his first hardcover book entitled Come Morning. You can view a description of the book on my husband’s blog, “When Least Expected.”
Come Morning is indeed a blessing to read. There is something for everyone in this book. It was easy for me to identify with different characters in the narrative. Oh, and there are surprises in the book as well. I remember reading and editing the revision for one chapter, and as I read, I suddenly laughed and said, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.” I won’t tell you what happened; you have to read it for yourself.
Take a look here to read what my husband has to say about the book. Then go to Amazon.com and order it! Keep a journal by your side as you read. As someone already reviewed, it “…will make you take a slow, deliberate & honest look at your mindset…” You’ll want to write the insights you make about yourself in your journal as you read.
I usually don’t get too emotional about YouTube videos. Yet, one of my students sent me a link yesterday to a video that he said, “gave me the chills.” For this particular student to preface his email this way piqued my curiosity, so I clicked on it and watched. And most certainly, it was very emotional for me.
The video is a presentation of “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” what many refer to as “The Black National Anthem.” The Rev. Joseph Lowery quoted from the third verse of the song during his benediction at the Inauguration on January 20, 2009 when he prayed,
“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.”
As I watched the images, I couldn’t help but be propelled into a past that I only experienced on the surface (being born in 1964 living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin). I couldn’t help but to feel some pain knowing the injustices that were wrought on innocent people just because of the color of their skin. Yet, the video is full of images of power, in the midst of the injustices served, and in the midst of the hurt and pain I felt, I also felt proud for the progress we’ve made.
I think the video tells a powerful story. As my student shared it with me, I’d like to share it with you.
My husband, Manchild, began writing Steppin’ Out Of The Darknessover ten years ago when he himself was experiencing what he refers to as “a series of sunny-side-down days.” He wrote this inspirational story about personal leadership for seasons such as this.
I was watching a news program this past week that told the story of a town in which working, middle class families had to resort to standing in line to get groceries. Not at Kroger or Ingles or Publix or any other neighborhood grocery story. No, standing in a food line. The story told of one woman who had to quit her job because her income did not cover the gas, child support, and essential expenses she needed in order to sustain herself and her children. As I watched, I thought to myself, “That could be us.” At one point, that was Manchild.
Foreclosures are at an all-time high. Many people took out mortgages they could not afford. Many people had good intentions, taking out risky mortgages believing that in 2, 3, or 5 years their circumstances would change for the better and they’d be able to refinance their loans. Yet, the real estate market crashed, and so did the hopes and dreams of far too many homeowners who are now experiencing the devastation of losing their homes. As I write this, even celebrities are at risk. Watching these stories almost daily, I think to myself, “That could be us.” At one point, that was Manchild.
Overall, the credit markets are in a shambles, and the constituency who is bearing the brunt of the desolation are not just American consumers, but consumers of goods throughout the world. The causes of our economic situation are many. This is not meant to be a political commentary, yet personally, I trace what appears to be a crash of the American economy on poor policies and practices instituted and condoned by our current President. Moreover, big oil companies are pocketing increasing profits as the pocket books of American consumers become more empty each day. Wall Street gets bailed out while small businesses throughout the country have to fold because the cost of doing business continues to rise. At one point, that was Manchild.
We all know that things must change. Circumstances can’t change for the better fast enough. Based on daily news reports, however, times will get worse before they get better.
But there is something we can do. In seasons such as this, we can choose either to focus on what Manchild refers to in Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness as “the giants from the valley of Circumstance” or we can focus on “the Giver of Gifts” who can lift us up above them. While daily news reports may be bad – more than just figuratively – we may be embarking on a time in which God is forcing us, as Manchild says, to “…unearth the ‘forgotten dreams’ buried beneath the ‘abandoned visions’ still cluttering the ‘valley of sun-dried bones.’” In other words, what dreams and visions about your own destiny have you abandoned because Adversity struck once, twice, ten, twenty, or fifty times in your life? Might this be a time when you may need to discover “the reasons why you…fear what follows seasons of Change”? Manchild did it…why not you?
Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness is “a message of encouragement for seasons such as this.” A season in which God may be forcing you to “face your fears” and allow the dreams and visions He placed within you to finally become birthed. And as you allow those dreams and visions to become born again, expect “the ‘Giver of Gifts’ to do the unexpected when leastexpected.” The world needs you to overcome your own fears and embrace Change as we all face our own “giants from the valley of Circumstance. Will you begin your journey today?