Taking a Knee

A LONG ONE . . . PLEASE READ

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Sue – Voice II:  Well, here we are . . . the country is divided over football, racial injustice, and the National Anthem. Social media is exploding with accusations and people are unfriending each other at record amounts and light speed. There is no middle ground in this situation pitting freedom of speech and protest versus patriotism and the American flag. How sad! I have to admit that I got caught up in the dialogue, but I am finished. It depresses and discourages me to the point that I almost deleted my Facebook account. People who I have known in a professional and personal manner are judging my long-held beliefs about our country, its flag, and anthem as racist and attacking my opinions. It hurts! Circumspection can be a good thing, but try as I might, I can’t seem to move to the other side. A person’s life, one who was made in God’s image, is of more value than “a piece of cloth” as I heard someone describe the flag, or a song about our country. I can draw that line, but can’t cross over the thought that there is a time and place for everything, and just because you have the right to do something . . . doesn’t make doing it right.

I want to fight against injustice, I always have, but cannot support the protests as they are occurring. Do we have racial issues in this country? Yes! There are too many questionable events happening with the police, court cases, housing, etc. that need to be addressed and corrected. However, are there two sides to every situation? I believe so, and that’s where I get caught up. To make a knee-jerk reaction to a police shooting without knowing the facts leads us no where. To make a list of court cases against officers who shot a black person with “no conviction” in the final column isn’t a conclusion. What are the facts of the case, why did the jury rule as it did, especially if it contained Black jurors – why not a hung jury? This country, already divided after the last election is splitting even further apart with a lot of hurt feelings going around as untold numbers of people shake their heads and choose to go their own way, and long-time friends theirs. It’s that serious – people are choosing their side over other people! God must be very disappointed.  😦

 

Deidre – Voice II:  “To take a knee or not to take a knee?” is indeed a really serious question. Once again, it has shoved Americans into the spotlight in a tale of, death if I do and death if I don’t in much the same way as Shakespeare’s character, Hamlet, felt when he stated “To be or not to be . . .” Hamlet’s situation left him in a state of limbo, and our country appears to be in a state of uncertain frenzy also. Many appear to have overreacted, including our professional athletes beginning with Colin Kaepernick, who started kneeling at the singing of the national anthem before NFL games last year. Now hundreds of others have joined him in this silent protest that could possibly bring about death to their careers and reputations if our country continues on this ruinous course of division. No doubt this collision course that we as Americans are on will continue unless we begin to allow ALL Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights, and be given opportunities for self-expression and dialogue through open forums and other positive means.

Initially, I saw the kneeling of athletes during the anthem as totally  disrespectful, and I could not understand why they would dare to disrespect our country’s song and symbol in such a way. However, once I educated myself on their position, I learned that they were doing it to bring about quick responses and results to social injustices that continue to plaque the black and other low-income communities, involving the brutal killings of minority males at record numbers. In our book’ s Chapter VIII, entitled, “Must We Repeat History,” a resounding response of “YES!” has never rung more true and will continue to sound-off until young males of color are given a broader and more respected voice beyond prison cells. This will allow them to be heard in the necessary proportions that go beyond chains of confinement and whines of social disparities. What better way for them to be heard than from the sports arena? History has proven that court, field, and out-field can bring down barriers of race and cultural differences in our country as well as world-wide quicker than any other area of life. Sports seemingly binds most Americans together like nothing else. Why would some sports’ fans encourage, scream, and cheer when their favorite young athletes run, kick, and throw that football at record speeds, but “boo” when they demonstrate a peaceful expression of wanting to be heard. Personally, I have a big problem with that!

Furthermore, as an African-American/black woman, I have had to watch over and over again SOME white people display their Confederate flags, T-shirts, and signs that say, “It’s heritage, not hate.” I have had to watch their display of this flag and signs most of my life. So, my question becomes, whose heritage are you talking about if the Confederate flag represents the states that seceded – divided and separated themselves – from the progressing unity of our UNION since the 1860’s! If  “taking a knee” is one more incident that is capable of pushing a hundred-plus year problem in the history of our country that has not been fully, openly, and honestly dealt with yet, then let it come now. If  doctors have to look at the history of a person’s life, family, and genetics in order to diagnose and treat an individual’s medical condition, why do we think we can treat and heal our nation’s wounds without also looking at the roots of its ailments? As we all know, race and racism is an on-going dilemma that equally requires peaceful and on-going expressions of freedom of speech, open dialogue, and a basic common respect for individuals with differing opinions, thoughts, and feelings because of diversity. When it comes to the race card, America has an entire deck of cards that it needs to divide, organize, and deal with before more realistic healing as a nation can begin. Sue and I say, “We have to agree to disagree” at times (Chapter VII), and this is one more issue to add to that list. This does not exempt us from showing our love and respect for our differing views. We value our God-given friendship.

We need to lose the phrase, “You’re Fired!” and replace it with, “Be Enlightened and Be Inspired.” We must seek out ways to be realistically enlightened with the knowledge of another man’s plight by talking directly with him or others similar to him before just dismissing him as wrong or passing a final judgement. Next, allow the enlightenment you receive to inspire you to make a difference right where you are for the better. Once you are enlightened, share your growth and changes with others. Christian Americans need to lead the way by being Salt and Light (Matthew 5:13-16). Display unity with a willingness to listen and respond to others with the same respect you desire. The only way for America to be great again – for every American – is for Christians and other positive-minded Americans to lead the way back to “ONE NATION UNDER GOD!!!” We must at least try because after everything is said and done, we will all most definitely, “Take A Knee before a Holy God one day!”  For now, we must pray!

Please join us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing the Grief

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In the last month we have had more record-breaking natural disasters in the form of hurricanes and earthquakes, and now have experienced the worst mass shooting in our country’s history. We lift our “voices” in prayer for the victims and their friends and families in all these tragedies. In times like these, we turn to God and leave it all in His hands.

Deidre and Sue

It’s in the “Little Things . . .”

 

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Have you ever stopped to consider that God can speak to us in the small things of life; the incidental encounters and seemingly unimportant happenings in any given day? This morning I read a devotional in The Upper Room by Tyrel Williams which reminded me that these “little things” are important to me and to God. Mr. Williams related a story about feeling the urge to go to the frozen food section of his grocery store and check out ice cream even though that item wasn’t on his shopping list. When he got to that aisle, he saw an elderly man who was having difficulty getting his favorite item off of a high freezer shelf. After helping him and returning to do some more shopping, he realized that the ice cream prompting came from a Heavenly Father who knew that senior citizen needed some help. What a loving God to care about ice cream!

Recently I received an answer of another sort when my first customer at the 2017 Appalachian Arts & Crafts Fair was a woman who had promised to return and buy our book last year, but forgot and left without it. I experience these disappointing situations at almost every sale, and had wondered why people tell me they are coming back and never show. But this year she came back and bought the book – now I had a concrete example of at least one person who was telling the truth. It encouraged me to realize that I don’t have to question others’ motives; sometimes things just happen. Deidre calls these situations a “kiss on the cheek” from God. He doesn’t have to do it, but does so that we can move forward in peace. Sometimes we actually get answers from Above!

Have you been kissed lately by God through a sweet little encouraging act of kindness from a friend, family member or even a stranger? If so, don’t take it lightly. Just revel in how amazing it is that the God of the universe and of all of creation takes time to see about us in the little things.

We like the way David said it in Psalm 8:3-4, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?” How amazing God that you would even consider me. Indeed God does; so stay encouraged and know in every aspect of our lives, He cares.

 

 

 

Prayers For Texas

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Our hearts are broken for the people of Texas. So many families affected by hurricane Harvey; lives changed forever. In the midst of this tragedy we are also encouraged by the many people who are reaching out and helping others, regardless of age, race, gender, or ethnicity. That is the America we want to promote!

We lift up everyone affected by this storm in prayer, and trust that God will send help so they will be comforted and cared for in the days ahead. We hope our country continues “to show up” as Kenny Vaughan so eloquently describes in the video below:

God, please bring us together and bless our nation once again.

Sue and Deidre

BACK 2 BASICS

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As teachers, we strongly believe in the academic basics known to many as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. These main tenets form the foundation of learning upon which every other subject can be built and learned. We also believe that citizenship is the unspoken part of the basics because if you don’t value yourself and others, you will have difficulty behaving and not value being taught.

Basics are also the starting point of any plan, project, or creation. Even the Word of God begins with, “In the beginning, GOD…  God is the foundation of everything and everyone. One of our main platforms is to encourage Christians to be “Salt & Light” in order to demonstrate God’s love and help influence the unsaved to desire a relationship with Jesus Christ. However, too many of us are losing focus and being caught up in the social media frenzy of wanting to be heard, and making our voice be known, seen, and respected to a point where our opinions are seemingly overpowering God’s will and purpose for our lives.

Just as there are academic basics we believe in as teachers, there are also key Biblical basics that we must consistently practice as Christians in order to avoid misrepresenting Christ in what we say and do. Misrepresentation of Christ can occur when Christians get caught up in their individual perspectives due to differences of race, experience, and ethnicity. We may have a different perspective on several issues and topics because of those differences. Sue and I, the Two Voices, relate to that reality since one of us is White and the other is Black, and we may still choose to “agree to disagree” (Chapter 7, ONE GOD, TWO VOICES). Sometimes our experiences and perspectives will naturally lead us to feel differently about the current topics of the day. However, we remind ourselves to just stick with “The Basics.”

Let us leave you with these Biblical basics – Love, Belief, and Forgiveness – to consider and stand on for strength.  Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.  Believe and keep the faith that God has placed in each of us so we can exercise it for growth; for without faith, we cannot please God. When you believe in God and place your faith in Him, you will continue to obey His Word and not your own, regardless of how you feel or what you think.  Forgive in order to be forgiven. It takes practice to really forgive those who hurt and persecute us. It is the ultimate example Jesus gave us as He died for our sins.

Love, Believe, and Forgive are the basic tenets for Christians to follow and build our lives upon in order to be “Salt & Light.” Prayer is the unspoken principle that we must desire without fail, for we must pray in order that change may come. We must pray for direction, for strength, for our nation/world, and for our president, regardless of what we think or feel.

The Voices want to exhort you as well as ourselves to, “GET BACK TO THE BASICS, AND  STAND!”

The Voices – Sue and Deidre

 

 

This entry was posted on August 30, 2017. 2 Comments

Another School Year Approaches

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What happened to summer? How can it be time for another school year? Even though summer vacation has passed so quickly, it is indeed time for the 2017-2018 school year to begin. Teachers are preparing their classrooms, parents are buying school clothes, shoes, and supplies, and bus drivers are familiarizing themselves with new routes. It is a time of new beginnings.

As teachers, Deidre and I were drawn to the plaque pictured above. In Ch. I of our book, Deidre decribed me as a “teacher-teacher,” a nickname coined by a former student who saw me as someone who lived, breathed, and totally enjoyed teaching. He was right as I truly embraced the job and my “kids” – all 120+ of them every year. Some were  challenging in a positive way – pushing me to find more and better ways to present an ever-changing curriculum. Others challenged me in a negative way with behavioral and learning difficulties that caused me to need an Excedrin occasionally!

Teaching, regardless of the nature of the challenges, is a unique career in which you have the ability to change a person’s life, enhance their abilities, and perhaps their view of themselves. A little positive reinforcement and consistent expectations can do wonders for that student who has heard criticism most their life and never had anyone hold them accountable. Our Chapter II – “Why Teach?” – talks about all of these topics and more, bringing back many memories.

Nevertheless, Deidre and I wish your children a wonderful, fun-filled school year; one in which they learn a lot and are blessed with the kind of teacher described above. May God keep them safe, and may they be a true example of a student who befriends and encourages others.

The Voices also want to remind teachers to stay encouraged throughout this school year. Although, you may love to teach, there will be those times when you will have to encourage yourself just like David did ( I Samuel 30:6) as you hit those extremely difficult situations or when no one else recognizes the many sacrifices of extra time, money, and other resources you naturally want to give in order to make your daily “sphere of influence” (your classroom) the best it can possibly be for your students in a new demanding school year.

Ephesians 4:11-13, states how, “He (GOD) gave some to be apostles; and some prophets; and some pastors; and teachers…” The word some denotes that only a portion of us were graced with the gift of teaching. As Christian teachers, you have been placed in either a public, a private, or a Christian school to be both SALT & LIGHT (Matthew 5:13-16). We must not forget that God specifically chose only “some” of  us to prepare and preserve our future legacy. Those precious human commodities have also been called and chosen, and they must also be taught that they all have a God-given purpose. As students begin to grasp this concept, they will begin to enjoy and want to learn.  They must be inspired to understand how they will be the ones who will assume various leadership and/or other roles that will impact all other future generations. Remind your students how school is a huge part of their preparation in order to discover their purpose.

So, when the going gets tough, stand right where you are, and “man your ground” to the best of your abilities. God is always watching, and He is definitely with you because those of us who teach, really do touch the future. We can also share in the blessing of feeling proud as well as we state, ” We are:  the few, the proud, the chosen and most importantly, we are, the “Some.”

Sue and Deidre

 

 

 

This entry was posted on August 16, 2017. 1 Comment

Hatred Is Not A Christian Virtue

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Prior to posting another blog this Wednesday, Deidre and I wanted to respond to the horrific weekend happenings in Charlottesville, VA. We always encourage others to “let their light shine” in sharing God’s love to others. How different when that light comes from tiki torches to reflect hate instead. This Facebook poem by Terri Caldwell perfectly reflects our prayer for our country:

Brothers and sisters here we stand, united together hand in hand.

Let’s build our nation, not tear it apart; let love guide us from the heart.

Father, forgive us for the brokenness in our land.

Show us how to heal and lend a helping hand.

Give us eyes of mercy, eyes full of grace, to make this nation a better place.

May Your compassion fill our souls, because only God can make us whole.

We surrender our pain, our sadness and fear . . . God please be very near!

Comfort the broken-hearted and all who mourn, this world is divided and very torn.

Put us back together as only You can. Make us One Nation Under God,

As united we stand!

Amen.

Sue and Deidre