Last week Logan was in day camp at Greenfield Village. If you are unfamiliar with this place it is a collection of homes, churches, schools, and more spanning 300 years of history. The Village itself is historic as the opening was in 1929 and attended by Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Orville Wright, George Eastman, and many others. Ford started the museum because he was tired of studying history from the perspective of the kings and queens. After all, how much did a change in leadership change the way the peasants lived? He knew that America was different. In America anyone could study hard and rise up to achieve great things. And he had seen it happen. He had lived it. Look at that list of people invited - all regular people, brilliant perhaps, but definitely not royalty - and think of what they had accomplished. Their hard work and dedication to their area of study had changed the world.
“We’re going to start something. I’m going to start up a museum and give people a true picture of the development of the country. That’s the only history that is worth observing, that you can preserve in itself. We’re going to build a museum that’s going to show industrial history, and it won’t be bunk! We’ll show the people what actually existed in years gone by and we’ll show the actual development of American industry from the early days, from the earliest days that we can recollect up to the present day.”
During the days Logan was at camp I wandered through the Village, writing and asking all the questions that I can't ask with kids and a group in tow. My love for the Village was rekindled and I was in history heaven. Seeing how people lived centuries ago can make me thankful for technologies (indoor plumbing is spectacular), but this past week I was struck by the incredible technology apparent in the homes. From a tool to keep windows open to the desired height to a house designed to enhance the air flow and thus cool the home I saw marvelous examples of ingenuity and innovation.
And there it is. That word. That totally and completely overused word. Innovation. Innovation is one of the most overused words in business today because everybody claims to be innovative, but what exactly is innovation?
Today's Word: Innovation
Four syllables. Pronounced in-uh-vey-shuh n. Defined in the OAD as 1. the action of introducing new methods, ideas, or products. 2. a new method, idea or product. Using this definition it is easy to see why innovative is such an overused word. This definition is a little too broad so I did some searching and found this definition which is more narrow and specific. "Executing an idea which addresses a specific challenge . . ." This definition (link here) goes on to describe how it applies to business, but that is not the only place innovation is found.
At Greenfield Village I saw numerous examples of innovators, after all, that's what the museum is all about. They saw a problem and used ingenuity to fix it. Sometimes, as in the case of the Wright brothers and Henry Ford, they started businesses, acquired patents, and became wealthy off these ideas. Sometimes the innovations just made life easier. In the photo you see a bundle of flax on top of soap. When we asked what this was they showed that the flax bundle fit the groves of the pottery so that is how they cleaned their dishes. It is a 17th century Scrub Daddy if you will. Isn't that so cool!?
As you go about your day today, take some time to be grateful for the innovations of the past and the regular people who solved problems big and small. Next post I'll be writing about our perception of those people and hopefully challenge your perception of genius.
The Henry Ford, which is made up of several parts including Greenfield Village and the Museum of American Innovation, is a fascinating place. The button below will take you to the page I referenced regarding Henry Ford's desire to open a museum dedicated to innovators. From there you can follow the links to explore for yourself. I recently got a membership to the museum so if you want to check it out maybe we can do that together. I have guest passes!
Everything happens for a reason, as fate would have it, it just so happens -- All ways of saying that circumstances seemed to be aligning themselves in a particular way. We've all experienced something like this. Some people look at these circumstances as chaos. Some see a nebulous "universe" at work. Some see God. I am solidly in group number three.
A dear friend of mine loves to share how God is working in her life. Sometimes people can get uncomfortable if you tell them, "Let me share how God worked in my life." They may think you are going to get preachy or weird, but my dear friend, would just say in the most excited manner, "Hey! You have to hear what happened yesterday. It was a total God thing!" Then she would share a store about how God had worked in her life circumstances and she had seen his love and sovereignty.
So if I could, let me draw you into one of those conversations. Grab yourself a cup of something, I'll take coffee, and settle in. Let me tell you a "God thing."
From late September to mid-March I subbed at Smith Middle School. I covered a maternity leave for a fabulous teacher of digital apps, life skills, and health. The day she came back I shadowed her as she resettled into her classes. It was close to the end of the quarter so she chose to teach a quick stand alone lesson on sun safety. At one point during the lesson she mentioned the importance of dermatologist check ups and watching for changes in your skin. This got me thinking and I realized that it had been awhile since I had gone for a full body scan.
So I made a dermatologist appointment. The first visit was just about meeting the doctor and asking about specific areas of concern, of which I had none. I scheduled another appointment. This one was later in the day and the office was running late. Very late. I didn't see the doctor until approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes after my scheduled appointment. I was upset. I wanted to leave. I should have left. I didn't.
The PA I saw noticed something suspicious on my back so she said she wanted to take a biopsy. It was a small mole on my mid-right back that I couldn't even see. I was hangry (so hungry I was angry) and freaked out. I didn't want to let her do the biopsy. I did.
She took the sample and said that I probably wouldn't hear from them. No news was good news. A week later when checking my phone after school I saw a had a voicemail from the dermatologist. I thought, "No news is good news," and my stomach took a elevator to my throat.
When I called, the nurse said the biopsy had tested positive for melanoma. Melanoma. The word temporarily stopped my heart. This was a Tuesday. She said I needed to come Thursday at 2:15 or 3:00. There were no later dates. Immediate removal of a larger area of skin was necessary to remove the cancer and test for indications of any spreading. I was numb. I managed to tell Jason who immediately said he would be drive me and be there for anything. The next day and a half I just went through the motions of life until I went in for my appointment.
The doctor was wonderful. He explained exactly what he was going to do and talked me through the whole procedure. About a week later the office called saying the pathology results came back clear and I was healthy. Now I have several follow up visits and a cache of high SPF broad spectrum sun screen.
Sigh, smile, sip. Do you see it? Do you see God working? When did He start? The doctor removing all the melanoma? The PA catching the suspicious tissue? Me staying at the appointment way past what my rational self thought necessary? The thought occurring to me that I should make an appointment for a skin check? The teacher deciding to teach a lesson on sun safety? The principal inviting me to sub for that teacher? The circumstances that lead me to subbing? I could keep going back and back until the point when I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. All of it has been a God thing. He orchestrated the situation and for the time being I am healthy and cancer free.
Now, what if I wasn't healthy or cancer free? Would God still be in control? Would he still be good. Yes and yes. He would still be good and I would still be able to look for the little and big ways He is working in my life. I thank God that I am a hot mess because it makes it so much easier to relinquish control of my life and trust His sovereignty.
So that's my story. I've been talking for a long time. I'm going to get myself a cup of tea this time and now I want to hear about a God thing you've seen in your life.
Below is a link to the American Academy of Dermatology's "Find a Dermatologist" page. When I heard the lesson on sun safety I didn't have a doctor so I searched and found Oakland Hills Dermatology in Auburn Hills through Google. I would highly recommend yearly skin checks.
In the past several months I've been studying French using DuoLingo, a site/app that allows you to learn languages on the go. While English is a conglomeration many different languages, French and English are uniquely intertwined considering their history. (A great book on this is 1000 Years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke.) Throughout the middle ages the courts of England and France vied for control of the two lands which left French as a vibrant color in the tapestry of the English language. Often as new words are introduced on DuoLingo, I find they are not so new indeed. Words like brunette, omelette, chauffeur, and table are easily recognizable for what they are. Occasionally though, a word gains a greater depth and understanding by learning its origin which brings me to our word of the day.
Today's Word: Souvenir
Three syllables. Pronounced soo-vuh-neer or soo-vuh-neer. Defined in the OAD as thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place or event. That is how we use it in English, but in French it can be a verb meaning, to remember. When I saw the translation of remember as souvenir I experienced one of those "ah-ha moments" of understanding. I buy a souvenir to remember.
With all our travels this summer we have seen a large number of souvenir shops. These establishments sell t-shirts, sweatshirts, refrigerator magnets, postcards, knick-knacks, decorative pillows, and a million other items. The items range in price from cheap to expensive and often when shopping in them, your view of what seems like a "good deal" gets thrown off-kilter by the prices. "Only $5.00 for this hideous flip-flop wall hanging! What a deal!" Here's the problem though. Remember when I wrote about experiencing things? Experiencing things will change your perspective on the world, improve your understanding of history, and enrich your life. Owning a $5.00 flip-flop wall hanging will make those visiting your home cringe.
Reasons to avoid spending money in souvenir shops:
I'm not opposed to all souvenir purchases. I collect Starbucks mugs and have acquired quite a large number of mugs. Some of my mugs have been purchased by me on trips that I've been on, and some have been purchased by others who know I collect them. When a dear friend traveled to Bangkok, Thailand she brought me home a mug. Every time I use that mug I think of her. The mugs are also a conversation piece for my guests. When people come over for coffee I ask, "Where do you want to go?" The conversation the follows is always one of my favorites. My husband collects stickers from places he's been while vacationing and puts them on his camping bins. The memories that flow from seeing these build up anticipation for future trips. These purchases are intentional and help the viewer connect with a person or individual. This is a good souvenir.
Tips for buying good souvenirs:
My mug collection helps me to remember places and people.
This entire week you will see people wearing all varieties of red white and blue, decorating with the stars and stripes, and even making menus to reflect our nation's colors. People screaming "'merica!" and blowing up fireworks. People attending parades and waving flags. This is patriotism, right? Well, no. Back when I was teaching a high school government class I read an article by Lawrence Reed that changed my perspective on what true patriotism is.
Freedom—understanding it, living it, teaching it, and supporting those who are educating others about its principles. That, my fellow Americans, is what patriotism should mean to each of us today.
The article, written in 2003, make a great case for true patriotism and warns about the dangers of false patriotism. I am weary of political debates in which the sides claim to have America's best interests in mind and claim that the others just hate her and want to see her burn. Look back at history; the founding fathers were passionate about their beliefs and debated vehemently with those who disagreed. Each saw their vision for the future to be the best. That has been the case throughout our history and continues today.
I propose that this Independence Day we lay aside our differences and celebrate the freedom we have to share those opinions. We have much to be concerned about, but we also have much to be thankful for. We live in a society in which we can openly speak and not go to jail. We can flaunt our political opinions on our shirts and the bumpers of our cars. We can write about and post about our beliefs on social media. We can travel around the country and visit monuments, landmarks, and museums celebrating our history.
How can you be patriotic this Independence Day? Spend some time this week or month learning about those who fought for our freedom. This is not only the founding fathers, although they would be good place to start. Learn about those who fought for civil rights and equality. Learn about the hero scientists who created medicines and vaccines that have saved countless lives. Learn about those who invented things that drove American industry and made us the superpower we are today. In short, celebrate freedom.
Below are a few of my favorite books about Americans and stories that are worthy of getting to know. The links are to Amazon, but if you can buy it at your local independent book store that would be even better.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."