VOICE

GenXer tells her story of faith and life.

“Be still…”

I started writing “Voice” because I did not see or hear any voices that reflected mine. Unfortunately, when I read a blog or absorbed Christian media, I did not read or view experiences that reflect my understanding. While I do not expect everyone to believe as I believe- everyone has a choice- it has been hard to not question things that are contrary to what I read in the Bible. So I figured that putting some of my experiences on “paper” would have some tangible benefits. Yet, once I thought about what to write weekly I recognized that my experiences are just life. For example, I have been saddened by senseless violence in my community that for a time was mirrored within my school. But really, what compassionate person would not have similar feelings? Additionally, in the past few months I have been worried about things that eventually worked out for the best. Again, that is just life. Finally, I have been excited, enraptured, and emboldened as well as sappy, selfish, and selfless. For better or worse, that is life.

Is it just vanity to think that my experiences must be shared? Is what started out with decent intentions just an anonymous way of faith-facebooking? That is what I have been puzzling out over the past two months. This afternoon at church, the lesson was about prayer. This made me think about modern traditions of praying to be seen of men. In this case, perhaps voicing my faith perspective falls in the same category.

Maybe, I will add entries to “Word” when I feel compelled to do so. (That does not reflect my words so much. Well, actually, that is not true. I was talking to a friend about how the editors of a concordance are selective in what they deem as relevant. The same is true of a Bible blog.) Or maybe one day, using a pseudonym I will write realistic fiction books that feature someone who recognizes the eternal significance of the Feast of Tabernacles or lives with the hope of seeing New Jerusalem. Or maybe, I will just focus on the big, beautiful picture rather than the tiny, seemingly disparate pieces of life. For now, while I figure out what is next, I will just be still and know…

 

carlamcdougal.blogspot.com

 

Peace and blessings.

 

Passage to Ponder:

Psalm 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God…”

 

Advertisements

Jesus wept.

“Makes me wanna holler.”That is a Marvin Gaye song, a Nathan McCall book, and in real terms- how I feel after the past week.

First, I assessed fifteen sixth-grade students who read three to five grade levels below grade level. It feels criminal that there has not been a concerted effort to teach kids to read rather than focus on teaching them to pass a test that has less impact on their ability to navigate successfully through life. Yesterday’s Bible class was about the importance of reading the Bible. How can people make an informed decision about their eternal life if they can not read? Makes me wanna holler…

 

Second, this morning I read in the headlines about people being forced to watch crucifixions, soldiers being excecuted en masse, and the ravages of ebola. Yes, I know how the story will end but even Jesus wept. It is far away but it makes me wanna holler…

 

Finally,  folks closer to home are “dealing” with lost childhoods, babies born too soon are struggling to survive, and more than a few of my students are impacted by murderous violence and legions of evil spirits in the home. It is so easy to get stuck on the why and to just wanna holler…

 

From Job we see that God removed his hedge aound Job. Satan was allowed to test Job but not take his life. We also saw Jesus in despair and calling out to Abba for relief. So I can weep and holler sometimes if I wanna. I just need to remember to pray and act when I can. Sometimes I can see the good in bad situations -but not always. That is when I have to remeber that God is big enough to handle all of it and that he sees the whole picture.

 

Blessings.

 

 

Passage to Ponder:

John 11:35 Jesus wept.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear ye one another’s burdens…

Her forefinger had been severed. I spent time with my grandmother at least monthly and more frequently during holidays and school summers until I was in college. Yet, I never knew what happened to her finger. Southern politeness, youthful ignorance, and teenage aloofness made the asking of questions out of the question.

One of the books that I am currently reading: Young, Gifted, and Black details that Black people who were caught in the act of reading might lose the digit on their hand. My grandmother was born in the early 1900’s so the timing was a bit off. Yet, it struck me that I do not know her story. Last night, I texted my Mom to ask about my grandmother’s missing finger. Amazingly, she did not know. Mom took care of her stepmother, who struggled with diabetes during her last year of life.

Yesterday, one of my errands was to go to the bookstore in search of an animal encyclopedia that would hook one of my students. As I approached the bookstore door, about to pass the tables full of discounted books, the security guard started talking to me about the kinds of books that she likes. I learned about her collection of cookbooks and chef figurines from her travels. I also learned that she might start cooking again and invite her grandchildren for a meal. I learned that she misses southern style food and watches cooking channels, but no longer cooks. Then the woman apologized for talking to me. I shared that talking is else something that we no longer do and that I rarely stop someone who has something to share.

The woman at the bookstore and I did not get into a religious conversation and I did not invite her to my church. However, maybe she got what she needed: to share some of herself or to give her hopes a voice.

 

Blessings.

19/52

 

Passage to Ponder:

Galatians 6:2

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

…I will be thy mouth…

He stood in front of 6,500 people and eloquently told his story. It was polished, witty, and darn amazing. At the end of his speech at the Houston Convention Center, we all stood and applauded wildly. Proud of the young sixth-grade student who used his words to inspire an auditorium brimming with educators, we were excited to be a part of the mission that created such fantastic opportunities for students.

Today two things were running through my mind as I read about two men who did not consider themselves to be masterful speakers. First, neither Moses nor Paul felt that they had anything to say personally. However, the messages that each relayed from the Holy Spirit changed the world. Second, the young man who spoke was authentic. He spoke about his trials and his accomplishments. He spoke of his sacrifices and of his hopes. When one is sharing their life in more than twenty minutes, it takes a bit of finesse to balance the good and the bad without murmuring?

It was wonderful to hear a youth tell his story without fear. Hopefully, as his story grows he will continue to have faith that he has something worth saying and we will listen. It is a simple truth: someone somewhere is helped when we share our stories.

 

18/52

Passage to Ponder:

Genesis 4:12

Now therefore go, and I will be thy mouth, and teach thee what thy shalt say.

 

He is often a better person than I am.  Please know that I do not have it twisted. He is human and I do not imagine him to be otherwise.

 

A friend sent an email of thanks to 58 people who have offered kind words, support, or contacts during several life transitions in the past year. I had just commended my husband for the many kindnesses that he extended during the past week while we were at a work conference in Houston: he went out of his way to love the “unlovable”, he encouraged a busload of frustrated teachers to see the bright side of our cross-country trip that extended from eight hours to sixteen, and he held me as a weeped because of my health.

In the words of Jill Scott, “he incites me to co-rise”. So when I complain about the frigid temperature on the bus, he challenges me to take action. When I am sad  because of a turn in my health, he praises God for taking care of us. When I

 

 

 

 

He has the last word

Ten days ago I had an event in which we provided refreshments. Afterward I packed up the items and threw the trash in the chute. Unfortunately, a couple of hours later I could not find my glasses. I looked in the event room and in the remaining grocery bags to no avail and concluded that I must have thrown the glasses in the trash in my exhaustion. 

These two years old transitions lenses were my daily glasses even though I had a basic spare. I am overdue for an eye exam. I fretted for a bit and beat myself up for inattentiveness but then just started wearing the other pair. I figured this would prompt me to go ahead and make that overdue appointment with the eye doctor.  I let go of my little loss. 

This morning as I was preparing for church, my transitions lensed glasses peaked at me from the floor of my closet. My first thought was thanksgiving to the Lord for providing when I thought that all was lost. Truly, I know that lost glasses are not a significant issue but I got the lesson in this: things that I know may not actually be fact because He has the last word. 

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving…

Thirteen years ago there was a song that played on a loop at the local Black radio station in Atlanta. (I really wish that I could recall the name of the song because I would love to hear it again.) Basically, the song featured an older woman who caught the bus to work but prayed daily: thank you Father for my new car. Without fail each day at 6:40- I was in tears a few miles from my school. I knew after the first hearing how the story would end but I was captured each time by the beautiful simplicity of her message.

I had my own prayer of thanksgiving at the time. So maybe that is why it touched me so deeply. Our prayers were ones of faith, trust, and belief that our Father knows what we need and will provide.Yesterday as I read my daily email from Biblegateway, I was reminded of this simple truth.

I may have good intentions when I add to my prayer box people who are experiencing sorrow and struggles. Yet, upon reflection it is an easy thing to pray that they be delivered and those prayers can easily become a “grocery list”. I know I can easily begin each conversation with thanks but before wrapping up put in a plug for what I or others want. Perhaps, it would be more thoughtful to simply thank the Lord for providing strength, faith, or hope- full stop.  

Blessings

 

Passage to Ponder: 

Psalm 95:2

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 

 15/52