One of the many things my students used to tease me about was my use of the word “favorite”. I tend to be fickle in my tastes and don’t really have any one thing that I can say I prefer above all others. I often make choices based on how I’m feeling at the moment. Sometimes my favorite lunch is salad; sometimes it’s guacamole and tortilla chips. Sometimes I want to go out for Italian food while sometimes I am hungry for steak. Sometimes I want to sit down with To Kill a Mockingbird while other times I crave non-fiction like The Devil in the White City. Students would mention a book during class and more often seemed logical I would say, “Oh! That’s my favorite!” I enjoy discussing books with people and sometimes the question, “What’s your favorite book?” is asked.
Now here’s the part where I’m going to be very real with you. My least favorite answer to that question is, “The Bible.” I know, I know! It’s the Bible! It’s the literal Word of God. But as an answer to that question, it seems like such a conversation-stopper. I’m excited to talk about being entertained by Pride and Prejudice or To Kill a Mockingbird and this answer comes across as demonstrating spiritual superiority. Maybe it’s not intended that way. I feel terrible about being annoyed by this answer but when I consider my feelings there’s a good explanation for my annoyance.
The Bible is a big book. It is 66 books that vary in genre telling a meta-narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. When I was younger I would read it out of a sense of obligation one chapter at a time. The reading was painful because it was confusing and the sense of obligation made it a drudgery. For a while, on the advice of some lesson I heard, I tried to read until I found something to me. This was really hard to do particularly when reading through the law or genealogies. At some point, I gave up and did daily devotionals (sometimes) just to keep from feeling guilty.
Then around 2012, I had a crisis of faith that drove me to ask, “Is all this really true? Am I wasting my time with all this God stuff or is there something worth clinging to?” I thank God daily that through a series of circumstances, I came upon friends and a congregation of believers who loved me and pointed me to God. They didn’t guilt me or push but they loved me, prayed for me, and left room for God to work. I started wanting to read the Bible because I wanted to see what it said. I hadn’t really considered the meta-narrative before so I wanted to learn about that. I read The Story and found myself riveted. I knew what was going to happen but I still couldn’t put it down! It was so exciting. Later I read The Books of the Bible which is the entire Bible with the chapter and verse numbers removed. You may think, as I did, that those aren’t a big deal, but boy, I was shocked to see how much clearer the text was. It was challenging to search and mark passages so I understand why we have the divisions we have but still deeply appreciated this read-through.
For the last several years I’ve been on a quest to read through several different versions and so far I’ve read the KJV, NASB, NLV, HCSB, and the NIV. I'm currently working through the ESV but that’s going to take a while because I’m doing it one study at a time. I’m about a year six months in and I’m only through Psalms and sixteen chapters of Genesis. My reading is challenging as it changes me, exciting as I make connections and understand more about God, and enjoyable as I read along with the millions of others in our time and in ages past who have read and loved the same book.
So what does all this have to do with my annoyance at answering “The Bible” when asked to name my favorite book? I think it’s because although it is a book I see it as so much more. It is fair to say that every book I’ve ever read has had some kind of impact on me. The words have made a difference in my life, which is why I love reading so much. In Pride and Prejudice, I see a beautiful love story, a quirky family, and a strong woman who refuses to settle for the life society has foisted upon her. In To Kill a Mockingbird I see the horrors of racism and prejudice through the innocent eyes of a child. I love these stories, but I would not die for the book itself or for the authors. In contrast, the Bible is a book full of ancient truths that are living and active. I would die for this book and its Author. I’ve seen this book change lives and I’ve seen people react in strong opposition to it because they hate its Author.
I’m going to start posting the results of the last several years of reading, listening, watching, visiting, and interviewing people about women. Before doing so I want to clearly state that my foundational book, the book I try to consume daily, the book that has changed my life is the Bible. I love it. I would die for the words it contains and it is important to me that you know that because it will be my foundational premise. I look forward to sharing the things that I’ve learned and hearing from you about them.
This may surprise my regular readers, but I usually don’t end late-night adventures being interviewed by the police. Last night was an exception to that usual set of circumstances. It started after our school’s graduation. Logan’s class was responsible for putting on a reception after the absolutely lovely ceremony. The kids did a great job setting up, hosting, tearing everything down, and cleaning up.
One of Logan’s friends graduated so after we were finished at the school we went to Wendy’s to get some food and spend time together. It was after 10:00 so the dining room inside was closed but the drive-thru was open. We got food and hung out together in the parking lot. There were six teens including the eighteen-year-old graduate, two upper elementary cousins, and three parents. After we ate, the kids were playing some live-action version of Pokemon that I didn’t understand but it was very entertaining to watch. I’m not sure where this description should go but I want to note that the teen girls were wearing semi-formal performance attire and the boys were wearing tuxedo shirts and bow ties. They weren’t on social media, they weren’t trying to bother other customers, and they tossed all their garbage into the trash cans. One of the girls and I were imagining what the workers watching were thinking of us. We were laughing guessing that they were making videos saying, “These kids are nuts! There’s no hope for the next generation!” and other common observations. That thought made us laugh because the graduate wasn’t drinking or being wild, just having fun with his younger friends and siblings. Honestly, I was so proud of them.
Suddenly, an employee popped her head out. She was clearly upset and yelled, “The cops will be here in five minutes!” and then disappeared back into the building. We all looked around at each other and worked to figure out why the police had been called. Were the kids doing something wrong? Were we breaking any laws? Had we been asked to leave? No, no, and no. The graduate got nervous, cleaned everything up around his vehicle, said he was tired, and left with his family. Only three of us were left - Logan, one of his classmates, and me. I wanted to stick around to talk to the police. I assumed they had our vehicle information and I wanted to know what was being reported about us.
Two officers came. First, they talked to the employees then they came and talked to us. I gave my name and information and said that we had never been asked to leave and we didn’t know we were upsetting anyone. The officer said that the employees were going to be going home soon and that they were afraid for their safety. I assured them we were just having a good time and didn’t intend to scare or upset anyone. I even commented on the wild experience of being kicked out of a Wendy’s parking lot and he informed me we weren’t even being kicked out. The whole thing was weird and kind of an exciting but sad end to a wonderful evening.
Today, I’m upset. Here’s the problem. I can see it from the employees' perspective. They appeared to be older women who looked out and saw a group of teenagers acting oddly and were scared. I’ve seen so many recent videos of teens acting like monsters - jumping on people’s cars, acting like fools to get social media content, and being degenerates. These women were scared that these kids were going to act like that too. Maybe without context, I would have felt the same way. This is why God hates sin so much. The sin of others ruins everything. I think these kids were innocent of wrongdoing but they experienced the fear and distrust caused by the sin of others. To put it in modern phrasing, “This is why we can’t have nice things!”
Yet I’m bothered that we weren’t asked to leave before they called the police. We weren’t given the opportunity to do right by them. I’m so sick of hearing adults complain about kids these days when they do everything in their power to avoid interacting with them. “Kids are always on social media,” adults say as they watch teens’ videos and share their content. Fun fact, I don’t think many twelve-year-olds are paying their own phone bill which means adults are complaining while actively supporting teens’ social media consumption. On top of being complicit in their social media consumption, many adults actively avoid interacting with teens. Regarding teaching children about God and his law, Moses said, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) If you spend more time complaining about “kids these days” but aren’t willing to invest in this generation, you are part of the problem. On Twitter, someone posted a “kids these days” post and I shared a short version of last night’s adventures. I said that my fear is that the kids learned that they were doing something wrong and that the “safer” activity was staying home and playing video games or scrolling through social media. As a society, we’ve made being on a screen safer than spending time outside then we wonder why kids are unhealthy, screen-addicted, and depressed. We have got to do better.
It may be cliche and overused but be the change you want to see in the world. Get involved in your church’s youth group. Hire neighborhood teens to work with you in your yard. Demonstrate the love of God and show interest in their lives. Your investment will make a difference and you will be blessed beyond measure as I know I have been.
It's that time of year again. Time to spring clean? Not yet. Time to declutter? Always. Time to take down the Thanksgiving decorations? Umm . . . definitely.
It’s time to invest in those around us by telling them how much they are loved. I’m actively preparing for my annual Galantine’s Day party. Each year I take the time to invest in women who I want to celebrate by thanking them for being in my life and telling them how much they are loved. This all started in February 2019 and was inspired by the Galentines Day on Parks and Recreation. It has become one of my favorite days of the year.
It’s time to invest in those around us by telling them how much they are loved.
I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. My mom made holidays special by doing fun things for us and my teachers always let us exchange Valentines in the most fun ways. I love pink. I love hearts. (My childhood bedroom was decorated with heart bedding from JC Penny.) I love chocolate. It’s a fun time to celebrate Love and the God who is Love. All this makes me look forward to Valentines Day every year.
But for some people it’s not a fun day. They don’t have good memories of their childhoods. They are lonely and in desperate need of encouragement. They don’t feel loved. There are so many women and girls who are longing for love - the love of a spouse, the love of children, the love of a lost family member. With so much hurting and longing it can be discouraging to see all the hearts and reminders of painful longing. Too many people face the depression of a cold winter on top of the ubiquitous reminders that they are alone. This is why we need to invest in the women around us.
I would love to see more Galentine’s Day parties this year. I’m already hosting mine and my guest list is the girls in the class I sponsor at my son’s school. This is a precious opportunity to pour love into them and empowering them. I want the girls I spend time with to know that I love being a wife and mother but that there is so much more to being a woman. I don’t want them buying into the idea that Valentine’s Day is just about romantic love and if they don’t have a man than they are somehow less of a person.
- Photos of Galentine's Days Past -
So here’s the challenge - who are you going to invest in? Are you lonely? Plan a get together. Are you a single mom? Invite your kid’s friends or their moms. Are you empowered and confident? Plan a get together. Here’s my stragety for hosting a great event:
How to host a Galentine’s Day Party:
So that’s it. Who is going to do this with me? Who is going to help share love and joy with others? If you are a believer in Christ you should have love to pour out and share and this is a great place to start.
The last few months have been challenging to say the least. Two members of my close family have passed into the next life and we've been missing them dearly. That's all I can say about that for now. God is good and he has promised to provide beauty for ashes.
The world can be an ugly and stressful place. People can be rude and destructive. Assumptions and judgments are made about others and if your beliefs don’t match with others you can suffer derision and scorn. Sicknesses of all kinds are rampant and death is not restricted to unknown strangers. With all this going on in the world my home has become an extra special place. I work in my home, entertain in my home, and study my Bible as well as a large variety of subjects from my home. I’m home with my crazy dog who needs lots of work and activities. In summary, I spend a lot of time at home.
This being the case, I have fallen really hard into houseplants. Yes, my home may look like I’m slowly losing a game of Jumanji, but there could be worse things to fill a home with. Here are a few of my beauties. Some houseplant gardeners like to have multiples of one particular plant. Not me. While I do have a few multiples, I prefer variety.
Aren’t they amazing? Each plant’s leaf has a different color, structure, and shape. Each is unique in its own way. They remind me that God is creative and loves his creation. Yes, these plants are readily available to me at grocery stores and garden centers, but for millennia these were solely in their own ecosystems, quietly glorifying their Maker. Today there are hybrids and cultivated varieties, but they all shout praise with their incredible design.
When I study my plants, I see the toxic danger of root rot. I am reminded to be rooted in Christ. Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” If my foundation is weak, if my roots, what grounds me, is sickly, I can not thrive and I will never bear fruit.
That’s all for me today. I’m off to work around the house. Come see me. Stop in for a visit. I’d love to share some coffee and show you my plants. They are gorgeous.
If you’re interesting in learning about plants, I would recommend these books. There are a lot of how to grow guides but most of the information in them is easily accessible from a quick Google search. These two books get into details and share some more in depth information.
Do you believe that your words matter? Sometimes, when viewing the massive number of available books, podcasts, blogs, TikToks, Reels, etc., I assume that my words are insignificant, that they only add to the cacophony around us without making an impact. When I start to feel like that though I find that I’m looking in the wrong direction. When I fall into thinking, “I don’t matter,” I realize that I’m forgetting whom I matter to. One of my favorite Bible verses is I Peter 4:11, “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.” (NIV) This is referring to those with the gift of speaking but I think also applies to those of us who have the freedom to share and speak or write to others as an ambassador of Christ. In some versions, the word oracles is used. An oracle is one through whom the gods speak. In writing to the believers of the early church, Peter is conjuring up imagery and wording that would have been familiar with this imagery. Peter is challenging believers to speak as though they are speaking God’s words. That’s quite the challenge! Too often we speak our own words acting like they are God’s words. We put our words in His mouth instead of putting His Word in our mouths.
Recently, I was discussing the web-like connectivity of the Bible. An example of this connectivity is the idea that we need God to be the foundation and sustainer of our lives. The Israelites were told to collect manna every day and that to only collect what they need for that day other than the Sabbath. Jesus alludes to this when he asks for daily bread (Matthew 6:11) as well as later when he tells his followers not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough troubles (Matthew 6:34). We can cast our cares on the Lord and He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22) like the wise man who built his house upon a rock (Matthew 7:24). The idea of only speaking God’s words is not isolated to I Peter 4:11. Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” We are to hide God’s Word in our hearts and meditate upon it because we can’t speak words we don’t know. Have you ever been in a conversation with a group of people who have all seen and loved a movie you have not yet seen? Their entire conversation becomes quotations from the movie as you realize you have no frame of reference for these quotations. If you tried to quote the movie it would quickly become apparent you don’t know what you’re talking about. You haven’t memorized the lines. You haven’t made the quotes from the movie part of your everyday language. (Lest you think I’m exaggerating about movie quotes being part of language, I dare you to think of the word inconceivable without coming around to thinking about the Princess Bride.)
So what about you? Do you know God’s words well enough to quote them? I struggle with memorization but have good comprehension. I love doing what I did above and finding connections between verses and peppering my writing and speaking with them. I like to read multiple passages over and over to help me understand and absorb more. Before speaking at an event or counseling with students, I pray that I would only speak God’s words. This isn’t some weird mystical thing, it’s just making sure what I’m saying aligns with God’s Word. Before a salesman goes out into the field he needs to make sure that he knows the product he is speaking about and trying to sell. If he is misinformed it will reflect poorly upon the company he is representing. Political leaders pick their own ambassadors because they want people who will represent them well.
Your words matter. You impact the world with your words. You will be held accountable for your words. Lest you think you are off the hook because you are not a speaker or writer, I will remind you that your words on social media matter - and not just what you write but also what you share from someone else. Your words to the sales person at the store or your server at a restaurant matter. Most of the world is short staffed and it’s easy to become impatient, but Christians are called to be the light of the world. We can demonstrate our love for others and our willingness to be different simply by being kind.
In my life, there have been many dreary days when the sun did not shine and it was too wet to go out and too cold to play ball. On those days I could read and travel around the globe with books. Sometimes I went to places that were real and sometimes I traveled into Narnia or Wonderland. In my travels, I discovered that from there to here, from there to there, funny things are everywhere.
When I grew up I became a teacher and had students who would rather eat green eggs and ham than read. They wouldn’t read in a box or with a fox, in a house or with a mouse, but with some work most discovered that they liked reading everywhere.
March is celebrated as Reading Month by schools and families across the country. Special days and contests are designed to help students discover the joys of reading. We celebrate reading in March because March 2, is the birthday of Ted Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Geisel did much to expand the library of children’s literature by creating high-interest stories as an author-illustrator as well as the editor of Beginner Books. He worked with P.D. Eastman and Stan and Jan Berenstain to create a library of titles that would motivate children to read including Go, Dog, Go and Old Hat New Hat. One of his requirements was that the illustration on the page had to match the words to help struggling readers self-correct.
This year, the day is being swallowed up by controversy about the work of Dr. Seuss. I’ve seen more posts about the controversy than I have about reading month! So here’s my plan of action - I’m going to move forward without heeding any of the articles because they don’t affect me and I doubt they affect you. One story states that a school district in Virginia is dropping Dr. Seuss and another states that six books will no longer be published. Although I have opinions about these issues, neither announcement has any immediate effect on my life. I don’t live in Virginia and I already own a copy of And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.
Andy Warhol predicted a world where everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. I’ve seen people achieve those minutes in a variety of ways but it seems like a current popular method is to cancel something. People start sharing their approval or disapproval and soon it’s all anyone can talk about. But what happens then? We aren’t talking about the benefits of reading, rather we are arguing and fighting for something that really has no impact on us. I’ve seen many shares of the anti-Seuss campaign with great consternation and while this is understandable it has to stop. Social media gives you a positive feedback loop so the majority of what you see affirms your own viewpoints. This gets us nowhere. I strongly encourage you to read “The Zax.” It’s only a few pages long and can be found in The Sneetches and Other Stories. (That whole book is incredibly relatable right now. In “The Sneetches,” Sylvester McMonkey McBean takes advantage of the Sneetches by exploiting their desires and encouraging divisiveness.) In “The Zax,” a North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax run into each other while walking across an open plain. Neither would deviate from their course and so they stayed butting heads for a couple of years until the growing world grew around them. Arguing with people on social media feels like that. I can argue and refuse to deviate course but what will that accomplish?
So today, I’m asking you to join me. Don’t be a Zax. Don’t let Sylvester McMonkey McBean manipulate you. Pick up a book and read. If you can, read a Dr. Seuss book aloud today. Luke (age 2) was delighted by Green Eggs and Ham this afternoon and I plan on reading and discussing some of The Sneetches and Other Stories with Logan this evening. Read The Lorax and discuss conservation or read The Butter Battle Book and discuss nuclear proliferation. For a taste of what it feels like to age read You’re Only Old Once, but follow it up with something positive and inspiring like Horton Hatches an Egg.
I know it’s upsetting to read about things “getting canceled” but you don’t have to participate. No one is coming for my books (yet) so I’m going to fight back against cancel culture by going around the “other Zax” and sharing my love for reading and learning with others. At night, don’t spend time fretting over what others are doing or refusing to do, rather inspire those whom you have the ability to influence then lay your head down saying, “Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. Every day, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.”
It was few days into the New Year and I found myself sobbing while sitting on the floor amid a mess of Christmas decorations, storage boxes, and semi-decorated trees. Every year I like to take the ornaments off the trees while watching the Rose Parade. Jason and Logan wish the decorations would stay up a little longer but I like starting January 1 off by putting Christmas away. Our little debate has become a tradition and one that I didn’t know how much I loved until it was gone. No Rose Parade, no decorations taken down and, suddenly, everything was just “off” about this new year.
I knew there wouldn’t be drastic differences between December 31 and January 1, yet there’s always that hope ushered in by a new year and it was already dashed. Everyone had so loudly protested that 2020 was the worst year ever and the idea that its end would bring a promise of change. Now 2021 was only a few days old and the virus was still here, political tension reigned in the land, and 2021 was proving that hope in this new year would provide disappointment.
Eventually, all the Christmas decorations did come down and the house is now back in order, or at least our version of it, but I’ve been thinking a lot about hope. Not the hope that hopes I find my lost keys or the hopes that I have for Logan’s future, but rather the hope that my heart looks to when it is in trouble, the thing that anchors my soul. The song lyrics, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,” have been stuck in my mind and I’ve been thinking a lot about Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
Today’s Word: Hope
One syllable. Pronounced [hohp]. Verb. Defined on Dictionary.com as “to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire, or trust”
As Biden was sworn in as President of the United States people around our area began shooting off fireworks. Of course this sent Samoa scrambling upstairs convinced that we were under attack and that it was every man, or dog, for themselves. Today my social media feeds are full of celebration and hope for the future. People are happy that their daughters have hope in Kamala Harris becoming VP. People are looking forward to so much and it makes me sad. I’m not sad because I hate the elected officials or because I disagre with their idology. I’m sad because I see people building on the wrong foundation.
In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus tells the story of two builders. One builder built his house on the sand. I’m sure it was a great house with a great view, but when the storm came the house fell flat. Its foundation was unstable and provided no protection. The other builder built his house on the rock. Maybe this house had a great view as well or maybe it didn’t, but what matters is that when the storm came, the house stood firm. It didn’t fall down or suffer damage. My favorite image to illustrate Psalm 46 is that of a lighthouse pelted by giant waves. God is our refuge and strength and so because of that we can be still and know that he is God. The quality of the building materials isn’t the point here. This isn’t the story of the three little pigs. This is about foundations. What is your house built on?
My literal house is built on a solid foundation that includes a basement. My spiritual house is also built on a solid foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that I have a created purpose so I seek to fufill that purpose with confidence in a future hope. Please understand I am not being critical of those who are hoping in VP Harris. I don’t know if she will meet their expectations for her or if she will fail to meet them, but I know she is human and that in this era of cancel culture we have seen so many people fall from the favor of those who once supported them. Today, people who once cheered for and supported VP Pence are calling him all sorts of names including traitor. The point is that people dissapoint.
In this era of the mind-bending convergence of cancel culture and “don’t judge me” attitudes, it is radical to say that one thing is sure and trust worthy. We are in an era when nothing and no one seem trust worthy and yet I choose to trust God. I have seen Him working in my life over and over and I will follow him. I don’t do this because I’m a wonderful person. I am a person who really wants that beach front house built on my own fabulous ideas, but I’ve seen the damage done by storms that have destroyed my attempts to build anything off a solid foundation.
So where is your hope? Is it in someone or something that might disappoint or is it in the unmovable and unchanging God? I’m currently reading through the Bible using the R. M. M’Cheyne reading plan which will take me through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice. I’m not doing this because I want to check a box everyday but because I want to know the God that I serve. I want to live in the knowledge of him so that I can honestly say, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I’m not certian of anthing this 2021 except for knowing that God is the unchanging and unmovable rock I upon which I will build my life.
We are in the midst of a polarizing political season. Facebook and Twitter are full of very angry people trying to convince others to agree with them, or more often crititizing those who don't agree with them. People shout and yell then they feel good when they get likes and shares which bolsters their viewpoint. They forget that the platforms’ algorithms show users what they want to see which causes further polarization. I make a habit of following others whom I do not agree with in order to get a broader perspective of the issues. I constantly go back to God’s Word as my foundational belief before proceeding with any belief.
Although this has been a long time concern, I have been noticing it growing increasingly worse. Individuals who may agree with a group on an issue are being attacked for not being zealous enough or for deviating from the party line. The concern is that these people who feel marganilized and attacked will fail to participate in the voting process at all.
Based on the conversations I’ve had with many people lately I’ve compiled a list of things that make me say, “You lost me,” when I see your political post. These are things that make my respect for people’s viewpoints diminish and weakens future ideas you promote. Please read these and share if you agree. I don’t think I’m alone here. You lost me when . . .
So what can you do to persuade others to agree with you? Well, in all honesty, in some cases, nothing. Some people, despite your best efforts and the best arguments, will never agree with you. So don’t waste your time arguing with them. Move on. If you have to get along with them because they are a co-worker, neighbor, family member, etc. find common ground and meet them there. However, there are people searching for answers and looking for direction. Here are some ways that you can influence them.
So, there it is. I have been purposefully vague regarding specific candidates. My purpose in discussing politics isn’t to debate the 2020 election but to encourage others, particularly believers in Christ to do so with compassion and critical thinking. Now more than ever it is important to be a light in the darkness of this fallen world.
Last year I began to research the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. My first discovery was that it was impossible to learn about the suffrage movement without studying the women’s rights movement. My second discovery was that this topic makes most people very uncomfortable. I read many books and still have many more on my to-read list. I think that Elaine Weiss best described why women gaining the right to vote is so hard to sum up quickly in the introduction to her book The Women’s Hour. “Winning the vote required seventy-two years of ceaseless agitation by three generations of dedicated, fearless, suffragists, who sought to overturn centuries of law and millennia of tradition concerning gender roles. The women who launched the movement were dead by the time it was completed; the women who secured its final success weren’t born when it began. It took more than nine hundred local, state, and national campaigns, involving tens of thousands of grassroots volunteers, financed by millions of dollars of mostly small (and a few large) donations by women across the country.”
Discovery 1: It is impossible to learn about the suffrage movement without studying the women’s rights movement.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucrecia Mott were discussing the lack of women’s rights with some other Quaker ladies at a tea party. There they decided to host a women’s convention in Seneca Falls, New York. They wrote up a Women’s Rights Declaration. After discussing and reviewing the document Stanton added one more desired right, the right to vote. This shocked some women who thought this was too far. Susan B. Anthony did not attend this convention but she and Stanton joined forces later after being introduced by Amelia Bloomer. Stanton was unable to travel as extensively as Anthony so she primarily wrote Anthony’s speeches. Stanton said of Anthony, “I forged the firebolts and she fired them.”
It is important to note that the rights these women were fighting for are the very rights we so often take for granted today. The rights to serve our communities as employees, leaders, and elected officials. The rights to hold men accountable for their actions through a divorce, separation, or legal repercussions. The right to vote was added as a last and final thought. Many convention attendees believed asking for this right was too ambitious but eventually, suffrage became the main battle. Because the issue of suffrage was originally part of the greater women’s rights struggle it is impossible to study one without the other.
Discovery 2: The topic of women’s rights makes most people very uncomfortable.
One cause of this is the fact that women’s rights issues are very broad. In the Declaration of Sentiments, Stanton laid out grievances in social, political, and religious spheres. The broad nature of these topics makes it possible for a large range of opinions. It is hard to give examples and explain while also remaining on topic. You might read the above statement and assume I am only talking about certain groups. I am not. I went into this research with a very open mind and was very disappointed to discover very few people who I could hold up as wonderful examples. Stanton and Anthony were admirable for beginning the movement but they were livid when Fredrick Douglas prioritized helping black men gain the vote over helping the women’s suffrage movement. Douglas tried to make the women see that he agreed with the cause of women’s suffrage but to black men, suffrage was a matter of life and death.
Racism was a key theme on both sides of the suffrage issue. When Ida B. Wells, a prominent writer who spoke out against lynching, attempted to march with the suffragists she was turned away because she was black. Although the exact wording is debated, Sojourner Truth’s plea of, “Ain’t I a woman?” still echos through history. She was begging for the rights that white women were trying to secure for only themselves. They were unwilling to share their rights with Truth because of the color of her skin.
Another aspect of the women’s rights issue involves the Bible and the Church. I could fill volumes discussing this but today I will limit myself to saying this: Women of the Church are called to the Great Commission just as our brothers in Christ are. In the New Testament, the Bible lays out very specific parameters for how women should behave IN THE CHURCH. Too many times these have been misused to silence women in their communities. Mott, Anthony, and Stanton’s main reason for joining together was that all three had been silenced in groups speaking for abolition and temperance. Women of God MUST take the time to gain a biblical understanding of womanhood before accepting the cultural role of women of any given time including our own.
In the end, I came up with seven names that I wear today with the understanding that they are flawed humans but their work and sacrifices made it possible for me to enjoy the freedoms I so often take for granted.
Mott: Lucretia Mott was a Quaker known for speaking out about temperance and abolition. She attended the tea party during which the Women’s Convention was first discussed. Mott loved people and fought for the rights of others.
Stanton: Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a writer and advocate for women’s rights as well as an organizer of the first Women’s Rights Convention. Stanton fought with fervor and grit despite setbacks and discouragements.
Anthony: Susan B. Anthony is the name best known for women’s suffrage and it is her name that is associated with the 19th Amendment. She fought tirelessly for the cause for the majority of her life.
Truth: Sojourner Truth was enslaved in New York but after gaining her freedom she spent her life speaking out against slavery and in favor of women’s rights. She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth to testify to the hope that was in her.
Douglas: Frederick Douglas was maligned and mistreated for his stance on suffrage by Stanton and Anthony yet he remained faithful to the cause. They chose to distance themselves from him because of the color of his skin but he remained a defender of women’s rights. He didn’t let evil from leaders blind his mind to the justness of the cause.
Wells: Ida B. Wells was a teacher, journalist, and a leader in the civil rights movement. She was born into slavery but became one of the most well-known women in America. She spoke out against lynching despite the danger to herself. She faced discrimination for both her color and gender but never backed down.
Catt: Carrie Chapman Catt was Susan B. Anthony’s handpicked successor to lead the suffrage cause. She fought with grace and dignity. She did not adhere to the ideals of Alice Paul and the militant suffs but rather fought through lobbying, letter writing, and campaigning.
Me: I am still figuring out where I belong in all this. I am dedicated to studying where my role in the world is and discovering God’s plan for my life. As a teacher, I want girls to know that they are loved and they have an exciting role to play in society and the church. I want to celebrate the efforts of the women (and men) who came before me to fight for what I so thoroughly enjoy today.
Here are some of the titles I've read as I've been researching this topic. I still have many more on my to-read list. Do you have any favorite books about women or women's issues?
Women and God: Hard Questions, Beautiful Truth by Kathleen Nielson
What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics by Rachael Denhollander
Eve in Exile and the Restoration of Femininity by Rebekah Merkle
Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You by John F. MacArthur Jr.
Young Radicals: In the War for American Ideals by Jeremy McCarter
Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote by Susan
100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls: Unforgettable Tales of Women of Faith by Jean
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
When You Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for You by Eleanor Roosevelt
The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine F. Weiss
Wild Women of Michigan: A History of Spunk and Tenacity by Norma Lewis
Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting by Jennifer Traig
Uppity Women of Medieval Times by Vicki León
Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein
Freedom Heroines (Profiles #4) by Frieda Wishinsky
Heroes for My Daughter & Heroes for My Son by Brad Meltzer
Ladies First: 40 Daring Woman Who Were Second to None by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
In just a few days Hamilton: An American Musical will be debuting on Disney+. When I first heard this news I was elated. I’ve seen the stage production in Chicago twice and listened to the original cast recording many times. I wanted to take the time today to tell you a little about it before it airs on a streaming service with so much content for children.
If you have Disney+, you know it’s great. The vault has been opened and users have access to (almost) all the movies Disney has created. That said, it is important to keep in mind that not all movies on the service are appropriate for children. Some, like superhero movies, are violent and not appropriate for small children.
Which brings us back to Hamilton. As I said before, I thoroughly enjoy the musical but always shudder when I see young kids listening or attending. Here’s why. There are several objectionable elements that make the musical inappropriate for young kids.
He concludes that he wrote his own successes in the past and decides to do it again. This time his writing exposes his family to shame and he finds that he can not write himself out of every situation. Later in the song “It’s Quiet Uptown” Hamilton receives forgiveness from his wife and we see a beautiful example of redemption. I’ve heard immature listeners quote “Hurricane” as a type of mantra but that lacks the understanding of its place in the story.
So, there are the negatives. With all that you may be saying, “Um, Edy, why are you a fan of this show?” Yes, there are negatives. But there are many parts of this musical that lead me to rank it up with my favorites including The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."