Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Village Selfishly Lives.....on and on!!!!

I asked Andrew yesterday how his PSAT test was and his answer was "extremely easy". My response to him was "that scares me"! But now that I have had time to reflect on that, it really doesn't. He has spent his life being surrounded by some of the most positive children I know!

Allison, Courtney, Brandon, Ryan, Austin, Briana and Caleb never cease to amaze me. They continue to set the bar higher and higher for each other. They connect on so many levels and push each other so well, if I could mass produce what they have and sprinkle it on others, just imagine this world.

It was a formula concieved by eight "selfish" individuals over 27 years ago! We selfishly decided we wanted to improve our condition and our communities condition We selfishly decided that our word was bond and we would be there for each other regardless. We selfishly decided that it takes a"village" to raise each other and our children so we tapped into each others resources to deal with lifes challenges. We selfishly celebrate all successes that have come our way.

I believe the most selfish thing we do however is intentionally come together annually for the purpose of letting out children see what is possible for them. They can look at what milestones each of them cross every year and say to each other "I see you"!

So of course the PSAT was incredibly easy to Andrew. He was more than prepared. He had already taken the test seven previous times.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who are you? Really.

by Papa_Stan

One of the villagers recently posed the question, “Is it better to be right or popular?” While it’s a legitimate question, it’s also a no-brainer for The Village. “Right” trumps “popular” everyday in The Village. Even better is the fact that the villagers have a pretty common understanding of right and wrong. For that reason, the lines are fairly clearly drawn and the case is very clear-cut… popularity without integrity is of little value. On that, we can all agree. The question, though, stirred up for me a less clear quandary. Is it better to be effective or authentic?

We all strive to be effective AND authentic. As a matter of fact, most of us believe it is actually our authenticity that makes us effective. While that may be true inside the safe confines of The Village, what happens when we are called to be effective in our external dealings? Do you ever exchange authenticity for effectiveness at work, at school, or at play? Do you ever shield others from your true self in order to be effective?

Sometimes this alternate nature is represented by the masks we wear. We change our hairstyles or our dress to make us most effective with our audience. Sometimes we use a particular tone or voice inflection with our co-workers than we might use with the fellas from the neighborhood. You can be brutally honest with your brother and have to be a bit more tactful with your teaching assistant. We have all done it. In those cases are you being authentic? Some might argue that people are complex beings and the ability to morph in and out of various characters (or characteristics) is a useful talent and really represents the totality of who we really are.

The masks are one thing, but what about pretending to agree with something or be someone because you know the ruse will result in effectiveness? Before you answer too quickly ask yourself, “Have I ever laughed at a joke that I didn’t think was funny?” “Have I ever clapped for a speaker whose speech missed the mark?” “Have I ever complimented a host whose meal was less than appealing?” Examples like these are often benign encounters, but what happens when the stakes are a bit higher.

The danger comes when you are tempted to accept values that you don’t agree with or reject principles that are important to the way you live your life – and doing so under the guise of being effective. I imagine politicians have to constantly struggle with the dilemma of supporting a position that they don’t agree with in order to garner support for a project their constituents so desperately need. It’s perceivable that a military leader be faced with rejecting established principles in order to save the lives of the battalion. Even religious leaders, at some point, must have to turn a blind eye to societal ills in order to further a greater good.

Authentic vs. Effective. You make the call.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I'm Better Because of You

by Mama Rita

I had a wonderful conversation with a young couple(my godchild Courtney and her boyfriend Ron)that included the topic of relationships. Of course, as Courtney's godmother, I am listening to the conversation intently because the young man could one day became part of our "family." As always, I am impressed with my godchild's taste in "friends."

Courtney has always been the Village child that was mature, focused and intelligent, so it was no surprise when Ron shared with me that one of the things he liked about Courtney is the fact that she "made him want to be a better person." What did surprise me is that the statement caused me to really ponder the power relationships can wield on our lives. What a wonderful testament to Courtney's character that she had that kind of positive influence on someone.

I shared a summary of the conversation with Courtney's dad, Stan. And he said that he tries to make it a practice to be in relationships that inspire him to be better. He gave the example of his friendship with the other Village dads, Cedric, Luke and Tim, and how each of them influence him to be a better father, manager, golfer (OK I threw that one in there, but I am sure it would be on the list), Christian, etc.

Stan and I went on to discuss how important it is for all of the Village children to be intentional about developing relationships with those that will somehow influence them to be better and to also shun those individuals that may cause them to achieve less than their potential.

We have a great opportunity and responsibility: to live in such a way that we make others better and to also make sure we don't let others influence us in a manner that inhibits our ability to be and do our very best.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Summertime Plans?

In just a few weeks the Village young people that are in school will have completed another year of getting some book knowledge. Feels like the school year zoomed by, but I am sure some may feel the school year didn't come to an end fast enough.

I'd love to see some posts or just comments to this post about your plans for the summer. Are you taking summer courses, traveling the world, earning money, attending camps or just chillin'?

I think it would also be great to see a Village student or two provide a post about what insights they gained from the past school year, both book and life knowledge.

Speak up!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

by Mama Rita
I was happy to hear the following words from someone whose life has had several low points over the years: "I wish I had known three years ago that things were going to be so much better."

I want to remember those words for myself. We all have to "go through" some rough times. Sadly, we sometimes act as if the rough times will never end. I certainly have been guilty of that kind of thinking.

I encourage each of us to practice a lot of faith and a little perseverance the next time the hill of life feels like a never ending steep mountain. Remember The Little Engine That Could story? That little engine had faith that he could make it over the mountain and he verbalized that faith with: I think I can, I think I can.

And especially remember that God's word says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

So let's be sure to encourage each other to persevere and stand on God's word, even when the mountain seems humongous.

I think I can, because I know God can.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Everyday should be Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day has traditionally been the day that people express their love for one another. Minus the commercialization (candy, cards & Cupid), people who love each other ought to express their love for one another everyday. So, just in case you don't know it (because we don't say it enough) I love each and every member of the Village...not just today, but every single day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why Not Meet the Parents?

by Mama Rita
Hopefully by now the Village offspring know they have four sets of parents. Which means when the offspring "date," "are in a relationship," "have a boy/girlfriend," or whatever the appropriate label may be, the significant other may well meet not one, but up to four sets of parents.

Luke, Caleb, and I took Ryan to dinner (Ryan was in town for a law student's conference) this evening. We had a delightful time. Ryan even took my side on an issue we were discussing, which goes to show you he is a very smart young man.

There should have been one more person at dinner -- Ryan's s friend, Brittany. She wasn't there because she allegedly had cookies in the oven. I suggested to Ryan that was just an excuse to avoid meeting us. Ryan explained the Village kids don't like to bring their dates around the Village parents. He referenced the young man Courtney brought to a Village event that was told to "get your own plate." Regardless of that one event, I am just baffled by the idea that Ryan and the others may feel the need to "protect" their significant others from the Village parents.

Would the Village kids please explain why they wouldn't want the people who love them oh so much to meet the young man or woman that may one day be added to the Village?

Note: Ryan's friend picked him up from the restaurant, so we had the opportunity to meet her and have a nice conversation. They make a cute couple, as can be seen in the photo above. She is cute and smart and my soror. Best of all, she bought us a Ziploc bag full of homemade sugar cookies -- fresh out of the oven!