During a visit to our local library in February, I found a display in the children’s section highlighting books in honor of Black History Month.

One book in particular caught my eye. It’s called Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change, by Michelle Cook.

The book is simple in its message, yet packed with power.

In very few words, the author names well-known, influential figures who made a difference in the world, and traces the impact they had on future generations.

Our Children Can Soar features George Washington Carver, Jesse Owens, Hattie McDaniel, Ella Fitzgerald, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Barack Obama.

Here’s an excerpt:


Our ancestors fought … so George could invent.

George invented … so Jesse could sprint.


our children can soar illustration 2

Jesse sprinted … so Hattie could star.

Hattie starred … so Ella could sing.


our children can soar illustration 1


Ella sang … so Jackie could score.

Jackie scored … so Rosa could sit.

Rosa sat … so Ruby could learn.


our children can soar - illustration 3


As I paged through this beautifully illustrated book, I couldn’t help but ask myself,

What am I doing to pave the way for future generations?

How is my life now making their lives easier or more difficult?


My daughter recently completed a family tree project for school.

I sat and watched as the branches spread out left and right on tye-dye poster board in all its girlie 4th grade glory.


family tree pic


I looked on in wonder as she glued name after name, faces of people I’ve loved and people I’ve never met. All of them are a part of me, and they’ve made my daughter who she is today.

My eyes traced the intricate tangling of brown pipe cleaners twisted together to illustrate unions between husbands and wives, fathers and mothers growing the family tree taller and wider with sons and daughters.

I read about direct ancestors from Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa — relatives who sailed across the Atlantic from Europe to America — and I sat amazed by the perfect plan of God to join specific people together for specific purposes.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” ~ Acts 16:26-27

I watched my nine-year-old labor over colored construction paper and photographs, lining them up just so, and I marveled at the long line of people who have gone before her to make her who she is today.

It made me think back to this book, this short but beautiful book I read in February.

And I ask myself the same question all over again:

What am I doing to pave the way for future generations?

One day my great-great-grandchildren are going to be gluing my name to a posterboard for a class project, and I’ll be long gone. I’ll be nothing to them but a name on a piece of paper.

I think back to the people in the book, those named in the title as “pioneers of change” — and I wonder if they really knew how their actions and choices would impact those who followed.

Could they have known?

I doubt it.

They couldn’t see into the future, but they lived with intention and purpose.

[Tweet “They were living faithfully according to their gifting and convictions. Am I? Are you?”]

You may not be the next Rosa Parks or Ruby Bridges.

But God has placed you where you are and made you exactly who you are for a purpose.


_I am the vine, you are the branches. If


He carved out that specific notch in your family tree for you to thrive and grow.

How is your branch making shade for others? How is it reaching out to give others new life?


Related posts: Art and Legacy, Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are


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