Another school day morning found me frantically running to the designated bus stop on our rural road. I had shoved my (mostly completed) homework (and my bra) into my backpack to be dealt with later, and was taking out my hot-roller curlers while en route. I had to focus on not losing grip on my flute case while my long legs sprinted down the road. I could see the bus coming. There was no way I was going to make it in time. Why, oh why, was I ALWAYS late?
But then, salvation. The bus sat there, and a big hand waved me on. Glenn, once again, had saved me from my perpetually tardy self. Glenn was my bus driver, and he is also one of my greatest heroes.
A tow-truck operation owner and driver, a bus driver for 27 years, and an EMT--Glenn was a humble man who could usually be found wearing denim overalls and with a candy cane or a pretzel rod in his mouth. He liked to call himself "Oscar the Grouch", though all of us school kids quickly discovered he was just a big softie.
He was so unpredictably fun loving--as we would get off the bus, he would bolt from his driver's seat, tap one of us on the shoulder and yell, "Tag, you're it!" beating us off the bus. (By the by, Glenn looked like a grandpa, but he could move. I am not sure anyone ever caught him!) Sometimes he drove my siblings and I down our long driveway to our back door, just to give "door to door service".
The reason I loved him most though, was that he loved people and showed that they mattered. There was a girl on our bus route who came from a rougher situation than most. She was thin, wore ragged, smoky smelling clothes, and kept her head down most of the time. One day a bigger kid started picking on her for some reason that is long forgotten to me now. All I remember is that it escalated into a physical fight where somehow, accidentally or not, her head smashed into the window hard. Suddenly, the bus screeched to a stop. Glenn was there in an instant. I will always remember what happened next. Glenn stooped down on the filthy floor of that school bus and cradled that girl in his arms as she cried. I don't think he said a word to anyone. He just held her until she was done crying, and said she was okay. He walked her to the front of the bus to sit in the seat behind his driver's seat.
Glenn cared when he didn't have to. He taught all of us kids on the bus that day what compassion and kindness was about. He showed how ugly bullying was by juxtaposing it with tenderness and humanity. He showed us the strength men have in protecting the vulnerable. He showed us how one person matters, no matter their looks, smells or other characteristics. One person matters, no matter what.
I struggled during middle school and high school. I often could be found in the girl's bathroom, hiding out in a stall when I got too anxious. I was painfully insecure and shy, so I didnt have many friends or go to many social activities. But no matter what had happened in the morning at home, or at school during the day, I had my kindly, grandfatherly Glenn to greet me by name and help me feel like I mattered. Glenn, his bus, and his unending kindness saw me through a jaw surgery that left me black and blue, incredibly swollen and unable to eat solid food for six weeks. He was a constant for me through a hellish period of fighting an eating disorder.
Glenn didn't know specifics of my high school life--how many dances and dates I didn't go on, how I would choke at sporting events, or the other incidents that seemed to tell me I was pitiful, insignificant. He waited for me to come frantically rushing down the road hundreds of times. How easy it would be to teach me a lesson and leave me in the dust. But if he saw me, he always waited. He saw me through some epic high school failures, and some high points of success. Glenn was a constant beacon of kindness to me, and showed me that no matter what happened, I mattered.
And that is why he is my hero. Because he showed me. Glenn didn't tell me about kindness, and how it can bolster someone's courage against unseen demons. He demonstrated it. Gandolf said it best:
Glenn came to my wedding, and each of my sibling's wedding as well. He came to my daughter's funeral, and a few years later I got to introduce him to my second daughter. I went to his funeral and saw so many others who were touched by him. So many others. If you are one of those people, please leave a comment about how Glenn touched you. This humble bus driver will always be one of my heroes because of the power of his everyday deeds. I love you Glenn!
Glenn passed away in 2014, one day prior to the passing of his sweet wife. The local paper did an article about their humble, yet extraordinary lives that is very touching, worth the read, and accessible here.
Welcome to Raise the Good!
We believe that educating the heart is just as important as educating the mind. We also believe that we all have “The Good” inside each of us. Both we and our children have a vital contribution that only we can make to the world.
Raise the Good is a gathering place of resources that help elevate our impact as we educate the heart, mind and soul. Everything you see here is meant to make your life easier as a teacher, parent or as someone who loves self-improvement. Below is just a smattering of the kind of resources we review and share.
Today we want to share all of these fabulous resources with the world to help strengthen individuals, families and communities. It has been a dream for several years, and today we are excited launch Raise the Good and make it a reality.
But we need your help to let other families connect with these great resources. And we want to make it worth your while. (Yay!)
Starting today, you can enter to win a raffle for any book or movie of your choice that we have featured here at RTG!
We would love it if you could explore, share, comment, and take a survey about how we can help you. It's totally easy and will take 3 minutes, max. Just click on the Rafflecopter link below (sorry it looks funky) and it will explain all the different ways to enter the raffle. (Additionally, the survey can be found here.) The contest ends on June 3, at midnight. Good luck!
Please join us, as we try to Raise the Good, and “be the change [we] want to see in the world” by educating and changing hearts, starting with our own. Thanks so much for helping us "Raise the Good." You are fabulous!
This book is a forgotten gem.
Grandma Cathy first gave me A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter to read as I was growing up. I read and loved it, but as time went by, I forgot about it. When my friend Heather J. chose this as a book for our homeschool book club, I re-read it with my children. And I wondered how I could have forgotten about it!
Elnora is a girl that I want my children to be friends with. She has grit, integrity, and compassion. She forgives and serves--even when it might cost her personally. This is a lovely, old fashioned story that deserves to be read again today.
Her story begins when she is born at the same time her father dies. Because Elnora's mother was giving birth, she was unable to save her husband--something she has never forgiven her daughter for. As Elnora grows up unloved by her mother, she becomes sensitive to others' suffering, develops independence, and gets an education in the swamps and forests of Indiana. This book chronicles her struggles, triumphs and goodness. It tells of a mother and daughter trying to figure out their relationship. It shows that those who persevere in love and integrity always come out right in the end.
In a way, Elnora reminds me of Jane Eyre--the refusal to wallow in life's unfairness, the hard work, the independence and spotless integrity. Both books also show how people can change when they are loved unconditionally. I want my children to have these examples always in their sights and to have them part of our family culture.
Side Note: If you are homeschooling, or like to learn together as a family, this book lends itself exceptionally well to a unit study, as Elnora is a naturalist. Not only would you be reading excellent material, but you could also study the moths, plants and swamps native to Indiana that are mentioned in the book.
Family Discussion Guide:
- Both Mrs. Comstock and the Sintons experienced the tragedy of losing loved ones. What was the difference in their reactions? Why?
-Why was it important to Elnora to go to school?
-How did the other students treat Elnora at first? Why? How would you have treated her?
-How is community important? For example, the Sintons, Elnora's teacher and her friends. How can you help others in your community?
-What would Elnora's life been like if she were lazy?
-Why did Elnora decide to forgive her mother time after time? How do we choose to forgive?
-Why did Elnora work so hard to get Edith the violets for her birthday?
-Why did Elnora not like Phillip when he asked for a kiss when he left to help his father?
-Did during their engagement, did Edith Carr's actions showed that she really loved Phillip? How does love act?
-How can our pride end up hurting us? Give examples from both Mrs. Comstock and Edith.
-Why did Elnora go into hiding? Why was that an unselfish thing to do?
-Why was it important for Edith to give the Yellow Emporer to Elnora?
-What does this book teach about mastering ourselves as it unfolds the lives of Elnora, her mother and Edith? Why is this important and how does it affect our life and the lives of those around us?
Community Question: What other old-fashioned books do you love?
Have you met Mel? You definitely should. Not only does she have the most amazing recipe blog out there, but she is also a fabulous, real life mom with great resources herself. She is the one who told me about the Battle of the UFOs game in her review here.
It's a simple concept: a bunch of tops spin at the same time, and the last one up wins. That's it. But we LOVE this game. There are shrieks of both agony and joy in our house when we play it. Adults down to little ones are in love with this handcrafted, completely wooden set. This game is awesome because there is no set up, all ages can play, everyone loves it, and it doesn't last forever (unless you want it to!). Best of all, you can play it with anywhere from 2-8 people.
Here is a video showing how one family used it. (From Battle of the UFOs facebook page.)
Hint 1: if you end up getting the game, remember to put the tops "upside-down" from how you normally spin them. It took me two weeks and some disappointment in the game until I realized I was spinning them wrong. *face palm*
Hint 2: When ordering here, (a Facebook page) play it safe and order the game several months in advance of when you want it. These games ARE handcrafted after all, and in big demand, so just plan ahead to be safe.
HInt 3: This game is pretty big--almost 2 feet in diameter. I was a little surprised when it arrived, so I just wanted to warn you.
Hint 4: Just get it. It's awesome. (No affiliates links here, just raving fans.) :)
Community Question: What is your favorite family game?
Some of you probably already know about Studio C. But for those of you who don't--seriously, check them out!
Clean family comedy sketches are almost impossible to come by, but with six seasons under their belt and counting, Studio C fits the bill time and time again. Every Monday night when a new episode come out, you will find my family rolling on the floor laughing, while Tuesday will find us quoting lines from our favorite sketches.
These talented people are tuned into pop culture, common emotions, idiosyncratic personalities and are able to awkwardly, hilariously exploit these to their advantage--and ours. Sketches range from: dating, bad karma, Star Wars, superheros, misunderstandings, annoying co-workers, unflattering middle school pictures, and kids on the playground. The list goes on and on.
It is so refreshing to not have to worry about might pop up in a show if I haven't previously viewed it. No problems here. Always clean, always funny. My family really bonds as we laugh together over this show.
Thanks, Studio C.
***10/20/16 Edit: As I mentioned, Studio C is designed on purpose to be family friendly. That is because every cast member is a committed Christian. If you would like to see an interview with Studio C, as they talk to a bunch of teenagers about their faith in Jesus Christ, click here. It really is fantastic, and I was thrilled that my kids got to see people who are fun and cool, talk about what is most important. It made me laugh, and it made me cry. They have fun while they are being good.
Be sure to check it out.
Community Question: If you've seen Studio C before, which sketch is your favorite?
When my husband and I had our first little girl, he had just begun a graduate program in Marriage and Family therapy. Our sweet Ava had been born with a congenital heart defect, and a myriad of other health issues, and was in the NICU for 7 weeks in a city 2 hours away from our home. It was a very trying situation emotionally, physically (she was born via emergency c-section), mentally and financially.
She was discharged from the hospital with a lot of unanswered questions, and 24 hour health needs. My husband and I took care shifts at night because essentially one person needed to be watching after her to adjust her constantly fluctuating oxygen levels. It was November, and Thanksgiving was upon us. I had heard of people keeping a gratitude log, and one particularly difficult and heart wrenching night we decided to write something every day that we were grateful for to see if that would lift our exhausted and discouraged spirits.
Mundane items were listed first. We obviously were grateful for heat, since winter in Northern Utah was upon us. We were grateful for plumbing. No brainer. But then something remarkable happened as we wrote humble expressions of thanks. We began to feel truly blessed. That bag of Mint M&Ms proved to be a Godsend as we both feverishly worked into the wee hours of the morning to revise a final paper in time to meet the deadline. Fuzzy socks felt like they were hugging our feet, and became treasures. We saw the goodness of neighbors who brought meals, called, listened to and cried with us. Our comfy couches became luxurious day beds since all of our time was spent with our baby on those couches so she would remain connected to her oxygen. Common place items became saturated with thanks, and our hearts grew so much lighter.
Now, I wish that this was a happily ever after story, but it isnt. At least in the traditional sense of everyone getting exactly what they want and having only rays of golden sunshine upon the land. A few days after the New Year, our sweet girl passed away at 3 months and 1 day old. She never got an official diagnosis, but we knew that her life had purpose and beauty. We were heartbroken and full of mourning, but that was tempered with gratitude. And gratitude made that experience--one of the most dark experiences one can endure on this green earth--sweet. It lessened the bitter, and amplified the good. And it was a real power in our lives in the days, weeks, years following her death. I will always miss that tiny and darling baby of ours, and though it sounds crazy, I also cannot help but cry in thankfulness for all the blessings that were showered down upon us during that time. Even now, I am overcome with thanks for the very fact that I was able to, through modern medicine and God's grace, meet my child and care for her, even for a short and troubling time.
As my husband continued in his graduate program, he came upon some research that corroborated our unexpected and sweet experience with gratitude. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, studied several interventions and their effect upon an individual's self-reported happiness level. (You can find the full text of the article here.) Essentially, what they found was that the intervention that had the most positive influence for the longest amount of time was a kind of gratitude log of writing down three good things each day and the cause of those good things. Very simple intervention, but it had the longest staying power of positivity. Seligman found, in fact, that:
While gratitude may not change arduous circumstances, it can temper the heaviness of troubles with the acknowledgement of how many things in our lives are going wonderfully well, of how many conveniences we have at our disposal, at how many people are indeed standing behind us to help and lift, and how good life has been to us in unmerited and undeserving ways. Gratitude didnt change the events in my life, but it changed the flavor. It made my life sweet.
I know... weird title. But there is just so much jam packed in to this great movie!
I have to admit: I am a total sucker for Regency romance stories. Then, if you make it a true, compelling story that teaches my kids kindness and respect for all of our brothers and sisters, and helps create empathy for others' feelings, well...I just HAVE to share it!
Belle is the true story of Dido-- the illegitimate, bi-racial daughter of an English naval captain from a prominent family, and a slave woman-- during the time when slavery was still legal in England and her colonies. As Dido grows up among her white relatives, she finds that she belongs nowhere, being paradoxically too high and too low in station at the same time. As she reaches adulthood, Dido wonders what will become of her future. She is especially concerned as she learns about a legal case concerning the murder of hundreds of slaves. As she struggles to love herself despite her skin color (it hurts me to write that!), and to stand up to those who mistreat her, she also finds true love with a wonderful man who sees her beauty inside AND out, and who also leads the legal fight in forcing the government to recognize people of all colors...as people.
Two really big thumbs up for this movie!
-Explain the historical and political background of the age.
-Why were Dido's guardians so perplexed as to what to do with her?
-Why did they exclude her and never expect her to marry?
-Did they love her?
-Why did Dido turn down the offer of marriage?
-Why did her cousin say such hurtful things?
-What risk was the young lawyer taking in his career, and why did he do it?
-Why did Dido decide to marry him?
-Have you seen racism (toward any race) in your community? How do you personally feel about other races than your own?
-Is there anyone you know in general who doesn't fit in? How can you help them feel more included?
Community Question: Is racism a problem in your community? How do you teach your children about it?
I take for granted the remarkable ability I have to listen. Sound is all around me and my brain processes sound waves in an automatic way a good chunk of the time. But am I really listening?
Julian Treasure has studied sound and its impact on humans for decades. He tells us that we are "losing our listening". Julian brought to my attention how some technologies give us the ability to "self-broadcast", which obviously does not receive sound and meaning, only produces it. The studies he quotes show that we retain only 25% of what we listen to. He also mentions how media outlets work very hard for our attention, and contribute to our tuning out the quiet and the meek. And this, he says, is a bad thing.
As Julian states, "Conscious listening creates understanding". Without listening, without understanding, we are soon left to a brutish, survival of the fittest scenario. I was so struck with the truth of that statement in my own life. How many arguments with my husband could I have avoided if I were making enough deliberate space to understand what he was trying to tell me? What if I took the time and mental effort to consciously listen to that associate who always annoys me? What would happen if I understood more often, and self-broadcasted less? Well, something good. Something meaningful.
Julian goes on to teach five ways that we can practice conscious listening to train ourselves to be better listeners and extract more meaning out of sound. Take a look, and a listen, and see how this concept of consciously listening can help Raise The Good in your life, family, and world.
Additional note: Julian shows us a slide depicting the violence and shame that comes from a lack of listening and understanding. You may want to preview this almost 8 minute video to be sure that it is suitable for your children, or other audience. I personally thought that it was a very powerful demonstration and the slide lasted only a few seconds, but please make your own decision about its appropriateness.
Community Question: Has there been a time in your life when listening made all the difference?
"We may not solve world hunger here at JustServe, but we're convinced that by serving with each other in our local communities, we're paving the way for much broader changes. Our individual efforts don't need to be huge – a little bit of change here, a few hours there – but even small efforts quickly add up to make a real difference.
I notice a difference in my family when we serve. Though sometimes it is hard to get started, once we get into it, my kids have fun and they aren't whining or asking to be on electronics. We get along better and we feel really productive at the end. It's really quite a selfish thing!
JustServe.org is designed to help match up those who need volunteers with those who want a chance to serve. It's really fabulous and super easy. You type in your zip code and a list of places that need volunteers in your immediate area immediately comes up. It gives you the contact information you need to make arrangements and off you go! Even in my rural "3 hours from anywhere" location, JustServe.org had opportunities for me and my family.
It is easy to teach and talk about raising the good. But when the rubber hits the road, what it really comes down to, is action. Helping others matters. This non-profit website is a beautiful solution when we look around and wonder where to start.
Community Question: Tell us about a time someone did something for you that really mattered.
I just recently finished reading these two books back to back and LOVED them. (Maybe I should say rather, that I listened to them with Audible in snippets as I got ready in the mornings and drove kids thither and yon.) Anyway, as I thought about writing reviews about each of them, I realized that they are kind of inseparable, so that is why I decided to do a combined review.
Simon Sinek and I both agree that everyone is a leader. I don't care who you are--a big CEO, stay at home mom, or kid at school--you are a leader. Leadership is nothing more than exercising influence. We all do that. How we govern our homes, how we treat people at school, work, the grocery store, or even on Facebook, we influence the people around us one way or another. I can't count the times I have been inspired by a single comment or an action (sometimes by a stranger) that spurred me to do better.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action is geared towards people who want to grow their influence. It teaches that the leaders who inspire us the most, the ones that we would follow anywhere--those leaders know WHY they are doing what they do. In turn, their "why" resonates with something deep inside us, it is something we share and that is the reason we are willing to follow them. Those leaders without a deeper "why" are often not leaders at all; they are followers of trends, numbers and popular ideas. Their influence is diminished because their cause (to make more money, reach certain corporate numbers, get elected, etc) is uninspiring--they are no different than anyone else clamoring for our attention or efforts.
I read this book as I was preparing to start this website. Going through the exercise of writing down my "why" gave me incredible clarity. It steered me from fuzziness to clear action. It inspired me. If you have a message you want to share, a cause you want to champion, or another calling of some kind, I highly recommend this book.
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't could very well be called a sequel to the previous book. This book teaches that not only does putting numbers before people a rather despicable practice, but it is also not smart in a business sense over the long term. As business leaders treat employees like family, and create a place of safety, the company will actually see significant and lasting growth. Real leaders see money as fuel for worthy purposes, not as a destination in and of itself.
But this doesn't just work for business. This works in politics, in families, and all other types of organizations. Sinek explains in a very clear and easy to understand way, the biological reasons why certain actions produce certain hormones which then produce certain results. Chapter 6 in particular is extremely interesting, as I was able to understand on a biological level why "Raise the Good" is so important to me--it's the oxytocin that is released! When someone does a good deed, they get a shot of oxytocin and literally feel good. The receiver of the kind action also gets a hit of oxytocin. Even a third party--someone who merely observes or reads about the action also receives oxytocin. How incredible is that?!
Sinek also teaches about other hormones, and how the digital age, selfishness and abundance affects our brain. Though I disagree with him on some of his interpretations, I found this a highly valuable and informative book.
Leadership matters. It shapes our families, our communities and our world. There is a huge lack of quality leadership right now, but we have a chance to fix that as we look at our own leadership and teach the next generation. I get really excited as I consider that we are raising the leaders of the future, the ones who can make the world better than it is right now.
Community Question: Who has been the most inspiring leader you have had?
Hi, I'm Jen! I adore chocolate, I'd rather read than clean my house, and I haven't seen my abs in I-don't-know-how-long. But I love my husband and kids to death and try to Raise The Good within myself and my family by making wise and uplifting media choices and having a deliberate family culture. You are probably doing the same thing. Let's share what works with each other!
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