“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
As some of you know, I have a beautiful 4-year old little girl. Being that I’m home during the summer months, it is sometimes necessary to entertain her (I so admire and respect stay-at-home moms; being one, if even for ten weeks, is tremendously difficult, but joyous, work!).
One of the great ways I found to entertain her is to throw in a “Veggie Tales” DVD. If you’ve not watched “Veggie Tales,” I must tell you, the series is an absolute treat. Even my husband, Manchild, got hooked on the series of videos produced by Big Idea, Inc., whose mission is “to enhance the spiritual and moral fabric of society through creative media.” Presenting biblical stories and value lessons in the form of animated stories with vegetables as characters is indeed ingenious!
There is a segment, sort of like a commercial break, that appears in the videos entitled “Silly Songs with Larry.” Those I’ve seen are pretty silly; it doesn’t appear there is a moral behind the songs, at least not with those I’ve viewed. There is one silly song title, however, that while silly, seems to have a lesson regarding the things we love and our fear of losing them – “I Love My Lips.” I wanted to share it with my readers because, frankly, I think it’s funny! If you’ll indulge me a little, take a look at the video below.
Next time you’re experiencing some particular fear, write a song about it! Or better yet, play this video!
Our 4-year old daughter loves the movie “The Incredibles.” Because of her love for the movie, we watched it three times in one weekend. Mind you, if we could have watched it more, it would’ve been fine with her.
So our daughter has now re-characterized her family. Our daughter has renamed Manchild aptly as “Mr. Incredible.” She has coined me as “Elastigirl.” And of course, our daughter has temporarily lost her identity in the character “Violet” (although this has gone on long enough, and we constantly try to convince her that she is not Violet, but that Violet is her sister).
Identifying oneself with a superhero is one of those things children innately do, I think. I don’t think she’s doing it because she believes we need to have superpowers. In fact, she doesn’t talk about Mr. Incredible’s strength, or Violet’s power to generate a force field that can keep out all sorts of evil and danger. She definitely doesn’t talk about Elastigirl’s ability to literally stretch and adapt to problematic situations.
But as I think about this and reflect a little deeper about Elastigirl’s superpowers, I realize that she was flexible and resilient in the face of adversity. And she recovered quickly in the midst of the problem, even before the adversity passed, so that with every situation, she was able to immediately respond.
Indeed, what would it be like to have that type of flexibility and resilience when bad things happened, to appropriately respond at a moment’s notice?
And then I think to myself, or at least in this post, “How I wish I had those same superpowers!” (Now I know I can call on God at any time, and I truly have enough faith to do that, but don’t spoil my post!)
If you could be a superhero, which one would you be, and why?
Senator Barack Obama spoke today at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago for Father’s Day. During his speech, he stated “…there are still certain lessons we must strive to live and learn as fathers – whether we are black or white; rich or poor; from the South Side or the wealthiest suburb.” He encouraged fathers everywhere to strive to learn to and live to:
He ended his exhortation with the following:
…what I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children – all of our children – a better world. Even if it’s difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don’t get very far in our lifetime.
“That is our ultimate responsibility as fathers and parents. We try. We hope. We do what we can to build our house upon the sturdiest rock. And when the winds come, and the rains fall, and they beat upon that house, we keep faith that our Father will be there to guide us, and watch over us, and protect us, and lead His children through the darkest of storms into light of a better day. That is my prayer for all of us on this Father’s Day, and that is my hope for this country in the years ahead. May God Bless you and your children. Thank you.”
I’d say that while this was a great Father’s Day speech, it applies to parents everywhere, not just fathers. It applies to teachers. It applies to mentors. It applies to us all. Let us ensure that we are all setting that example, no matter how imperfect it may be, so that the next generation will inherit a world in which we all seek the good in children of God everywhere.
I’m not much on writing political commentary; there are many insightful bloggers who take that as a cause and do a fantastic job. But I do enjoy reading political commentary these days. Indeed, we are part of a historic time which the world has not experienced, and it serves us well to become part of the process in some way, if not, at the very least, to become politically informed about the issues for which we care and where our representatives stand on those issues. Nonetheless, I recently read a quote that sums up what I feel has been happening in our government for a long time, maybe during my entire 44 years of life:
“Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the constant omission of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
My only political commentary consists of this: I hope and pray we will do what we can to usher in the change we need and elect a President who will turn up the heat to melt the ice cubes that have frozen the hearts of government to the needs of ordinary, average American citizens. Yes…
My husband, Manchild, began writing Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness over 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 least expected.” 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?
I remember when I first started blogging back in November 2006. It was fun. It was exciting. It was draining. It allowed me to uncover a writing voice I didn’t know existed. I have been grateful for the opportunities it has given me to get to know a few people out in the blogosphere that have given so much of themselves, people I’ve learned alot from.
Nonetheless, I experienced a block, and I neglected posting for a significant period of time. I thought about whether I had anything of any significance to say, and discovered that I really didn’t at the time. So instead of trying to post something of no value, I sort of disappeared. I sputtered a little here and there, attempting to make a comeback. But it just wasn’t there for me.
Part of me was dealing with the fact that I didn’t feel I had anything to say. But a large part of what I was doing was helping my husband get his book published. And while I posted back in December “It’s Here!” to celebrate his completion of the book, we experienced some production issues that took a minute to resolve.
Well, this time, it’s here!!! The book has been published and it has been released. Below is the new cover image:
Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness, “When Good People Become Great,” is an introspective, inspirational story about “personal leadership.” The premise is that it’s not what happens to you that matters most; it’s how you choose to respond after adversity strikes when life happens and after bad things begin to happen when least expected.
Moreover, Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness is a family friendly book containing lessons lived and learned by three generations of men. Not once did the author disclose the ethnicity of the characters in the story because he wanted each reader’s life experiences to color the faces of the characters. He did this to avoid forcing the characters to fit into a mold that may not apply to each person reading this literary legacy of faith, hope, and love. The book is 272 pages. It is only available through Generation Y™ Publishing, and you can purchase it through my husband’s blog, “When Least Expected.”
Well, I now have something to say. To celebrate, I have a new look for my blog (for those who were past readers here)! And what I’ve decided to do was write some reflections around Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness. To give you a little flavor before I get started in a couple of days:
“When life happens and the invisible fist of Adversity strikes, always expect the ‘Giver of Gifts’ to do the unexpected when least expected.“
To get a little flavor of the tasty nuggets my husband has cooked up in the past, take a look at his blog. Purchase the book. And let me know how you like (or don’t like) the new look of my site!!!
As many of you know, I teach high school – grades 9 and 12. As they often share with me different aspects of their lives, I am increasingly flabbergasted at the amount of time children spend online. I am actually floored that their way of making friends and interacting with those friends is no longer face to face, but through mediums such as Facebook and MySpace. I am amazed that young people feel a sense of loss when they don’t have access to these sources of relationships. I’m looking back at those last three sentences as I describe how I feel about this online world in which our children engage – flabbergasted, floored, amazed…
(Actually, I shouldn’t be all that amazed. Email has become a vital method of communication in our offices and businesses as well as between our families and friends.)
Maybe I’m overreacting. After all, our daughter will be four years old this spring, and naturally she is increasingly interested in computers, particularly in viewing videos online (since her daddy and I spend a lot of time at the computer). I often think about how we’ll navigate that world with her as she begins elementary school in less than two years.
I was recently made aware of a PBS Frontline program that will air tonight entitled “Growing Up Online,” where “Frontline Investigates The Risks, Realities And Misconceptions Of Teen Life On The Internet.” And lest you think that the only concern is encountering sexual predators online, this program will also discuss “cyber-bullying” and achieving “instant ‘Internet fame’.”
Here are a few quotes from the program’s press release:
“Jessica Hunter was a shy and awkward girl who struggled to make friends at school. Then, at age 14, she reinvented herself online as ‘Autumn Edows,’ an alternative goth artist and model who posted provocative photos of herself on the Web, and fast developed a cult following. ‘I just became this whole different person,’ Jessica tells FRONTLINE. ‘I didn’t feel like myself, but I liked the fact that I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like someone completely different. I felt like I was famous.’”
“Through social networking sites, kids with eating disorders share tips about staying thin, and depressed kids can share information about the best ways to commit suicide.”
“John Halligan’s son was cyberbullied for months—first at school, then online—before he ultimately hanged himself just weeks into the start of eighth grade.”
Here is a preview video of the broadcast:
(If the video isn’t displayed, click here.)
Whether we’re parents, grandparents, teachers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, or mentors of young people, this should be of interest to all of us. What do you think? Are our children growing up too fast in this online world? What should be done about it? And do you plan to watch the program? (Note: the program will re-air several times and also appear online – according to pbs.org.)
We live in a fast-paced society. We want things quickly. We want them now. We want to arrive at our destinations quickly. We want to lose weight quickly. I personally want those 15 pounds off RIGHT NOW!
Change can’t happen soon enough. We want to be more loving – now! We want to be more compassionate – now! We want to be more patient – now!
And what happens when it doesn’t happen – now? We are unkind to ourselves. We beat ourselves up. We say to ourselves, “This is just the way that I am. I can’t change.” And so we give up. We don’t give ourselves the space to just be. To allow God to do His work in us.
I read a poem the other day while I was walking down a hallway filled with high school kids. And after I read it, I could only say, “Wow” (one student actually thought I was talking about him – I had to quickly clarify). I think it expresses this idea that we must be patient with ourselves as we go through processes of change.
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
When we are able to build
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.
We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
simply because the space is there,
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.
– Judy Brown
Give yourself the space…
Well, it’s finally happening…
I met my husband, Manchild, almost 8 years ago. From the time I met him, I have seen him labor over a literary project that he started over 10 years ago.
It’s been a painstaking process for him. Who would’ve known that it would take the enormous buckets of sweat and tears flowing from his very being to write a book? Days and nights and nights and days. Lots of revisions. Not just two. Not just five. Countless revisions! And seemingly endless editing (yes, I am a wife, mother, and now editor too!).
And now it’s time. Manchild has finally completed his book, Steppin Out Of The Darkness, When Good People Become Great. It is a book unlike any I’ve ever read. As a friend of ours said to him one evening as she was reviewing the book, “This is not normal” (in a complimentary way). Below is the cover image for the book.
You can get a feel for what I’m talking about by reading what the book is about on his blog, When Least Expected™. Click the right side image below to read the back cover of Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness.
Sweetheart, I’m so very proud of you!!!