Trees of Transition

Planting seeds of hope throughout our world through sharing photography and thoughts on teaching, cooking, and life transitions.


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Girl, Say “No!” To That Man

The man was saying to the gal, “You are so young and fresh, you shouldn’t be out here!” A ruffled, African American man was standing over a homeless young lady sitting on the street corner next to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature racks. She just smiled, so he kept talking, almost shouting. “You shouldn’t be out here, or you should become a whore like all of the other girls. Why don’t you just become a whore?”
The girl just kept smiling up at him, and I couldn’t hear her response as I walked past.

Yes, I’m not proud that I walked past. I wanted to jump in and tell that man off why no woman wants to become a whore! He seemed sort of riled up, so I didn’t try to talk to him or the gal, but that scenario made me sad and caused me to pray. If I had been walking with a guy, then maybe the two of us could have stepped in. I wanted to tell that lady, “Don’t give in!!”

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Then last weekend at the Original women’s conference in Rockford, IL (see http://originalconference.com), we were challenged to help stop human trafficking around the world. We can do that by donating at http://www.initforgood.com to help with three different ministries that are helping women in Cambodia, Thailand, and right here in the United States come out of destructive lifestyles.

At first I thought, “I can’t give right now…” but what helped me respond and give was thinking of that girl on the street corner of Chicago; I hope she doesn’t give into what that man was trying to get her to do. Desperate girls are being pushed to do what they don’t want to do in order to survive.

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So what can I do about human trafficking?

I can pray. God’s heart aches for all of his beloved children stuck in this destructive system, but he gave humans free choice. We can choose to help.

I can give money and time. The Original conference had partnered with Zoe International, Mercy Ministries, and  SHE Rescue Homes.
And to help support these ministries go to http://www.initforgood.com. I’m committed to giving to these ministries!

I can teach the young ladies I work with at school and church to respect themselves, so that getting pulled into a destructive lifestyle isn’t an option in their minds.

Next time, if I see a guy talking to a girl like that, I have more ideas of what to do…but for now, prayer can reach that gal wherever she is: God, please give her strength and provide for her a loving, safe home. Please bless her with resources, loving people to support her, and your peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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Learning to Have a “No”

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When you say “No!” to people, groups, and institutions you separate yourself from them. It hurts. It divides, but it also frees you to define yourself, to open doors, and to say “yes” to specific opportunities and relationships that you desire to cultivate.
Saying “no” makes your “yes” more powerful and fulfilling. It shows who you are as an individual. No’s define you. No, that is not me. No, I don’t believe in that. No, I think this way, but I still respect you.

Some people have a hard time saying “no” to things and people that may be good, but they are not what they want in their lives.
If you say “yes” out of fear that people will reject you if you don’t agree, then that weakens your “yes.”

People know it if we are not fully committed even if we are saying “yes.” Our actions and attitudes give us away through showing resentment, being slow or late, or clear disrespect; it can be passive aggressive.

Yes, there are times when we need to lay down what we want, and should go along with things we would like different for the good of the whole group. That is part of being in community, which is essential, but to have a voice in the community you need a “no!”

For example, I enjoyed a fun group of friends after college, and we had great fun and prayer meetings. After a couple years, things started getting strange, I didn’t feel safe anymore, so I stood up to the group, challenged them, and decided to leave. I was just starting to learn how to have a “no,” so I fumbled and didn’t do it very well. I hurt people through my “no,” but I started learning how to protect myself, and I started learning how to work through things.

It takes inner fortitude to stand up to people and be honest and say what you really mean. Where does this inner fortitude come from? It comes through practice, and through learning who you are, so that you know your values and can stand up for yourself since you are the one who knows where you begin and end.

If all you have said in the past is “yes,” then when you start saying no, you are letting people know you in a new level. You are defining and knowing yourself more deeply. You may create some waves, but the real relationships will survive. You need to have a “no” to be able to be healthy and have real relationships.

Having a “no” will help you choose a life for yourself, and you will not just float wherever. Expressing your “no” will help you be a better friend, family member, and person.

Resource to help you develop your “No”:

Boundaries
by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend


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Children Testing the Limits: Thoughts on Watching Students Adjust to a New Teacher and the Importance of “No!”

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Watching the children handle change is fascinating. This week our school welcomed a new Spanish teacher! The old teacher had introduced the new teacher to the kids last week, but now the new Spanish teacher took over. Watching how a change in leadership influences kids intrigued me.

Here’s some of what happened: I tried to prepare the students to do well in the first class with the new teacher by reminding them how to act, but once we were in the classroom, I was the supporting teacher, and she’s the main teacher.

The period started out well with the students practicing what they had learned in the last class: saying “Buenas tarde!” when they entered the room. They sat down at their tables, then the new Senora played them some music and started teaching them different Spanish words that were in this song about a wooden doll. At first the students followed along, but then there was more talking and subtle goofing off (the new teacher may not have noticed it, but I did and was not happy!)

About half the class was engaged, while half of the class (the more active, less able to transition well half) was testing the new teacher. Some students were being extra silly, while others were apathetic. I tried to keep them engaged, but I couldn’t make them completely focus because I wasn’t leading the class.

This makes me think back to when I took over four English classes mid-year at a private school in Costa Rica a few years back. The first six weeks it seemed like it was going so smoothly, then problems started popping up. I had wanted to be sensitive and supportive as we all went through the change of teachers, but I’m seeing that I should have been lovingly tough from the start. Now I have learned that knowing how you want the students to act, clearly stating it, giving consequences if they choose to not follow directions, and then plow ahead into learning is a great way to function in a classroom. When a student even does something a little different than how you want it done, quickly correct them and then get back to work. The students want you to keep your word and create a safe place to learn.

In Costa Rica I didn’t clearly know how I wanted them to act, and then I didn’t confront things quickly, so they got away with disrespect and things they shouldn’t have done. I shouldn’t have let them. Once this got away from me, it got harder to manage the students, and then it was even harder to get the classes back on track. I was able to bring a couple of the classes around, and one finally came around on the last day when I finally said a clear “No!” to one junior high boy who had been getting away with murder. I made it through that season of teaching, but now I see how important it is to be able to say “No!” to kids.

Now back to yesterday’s Spanish class. After we got back to our class, I started talking with the kids about it, but I wasn’t sure how firm to be or what exactly to say, so my fellow teacher jumped in and helped me clearly tell the kids, “That is NOT how you act in Spanish class!” They got a consequence they didn’t like, and tomorrow they will have another chance to do well in Spanish. Children need guidance and support through a transition of leadership, and I’m interested to see how the kids will act tomorrow.

Kids want you to stand up to them. They want to know you will protect them and guide them through learning. Saying “No” to children is sometimes the best way to love them.