Generations of the Public School System

Recently my ‘G-son’ asked me what programs and activities I missed most during my grade school years. I shared with him my love of dissecting frogs (which he was thankful for not having the privilege) but overall, I enjoyed the freedom! From woodshop, cooking class, to science projects it gave me the opportunity to be creative, especially when required to make our own book covers from brown paper bags. I loved personalizing mine with drawings, expressing myself through images silently on display.

That brief discussion sparked a very interesting conversation between he, myself and my daughter when he asked if I knew who Horace Mann was. Shocked and curious to learn what my g-son knew, the conversation between the three of us regarding how the school system has changed over the years led me to further discuss the one thing that each generation has in common is that the education system was not established to create a nation of free thinkers but intended solely for labor, particularly during the times of our ancestors. Horace Mann (1796-1859) was an American educator, the first advocate of public education. According to britanica.com, “Mann grew up in poverty, hardship & self-denial. He was taught briefly and erratically by comparatively poor teachers but managed to educate himself…”. After attending Brown University, he gained interest as a slavery abolitionist and Whig politician known for his commitment to promoting public education. Once we did some research independently on Mann, we all shared varied opinions as to whether or not we could agree on his role within the school system, but we shifted our focus. Our intent was to share our individual experiences in school and how some changes have drastically occurred over the generations.

Many of the differences within the school system for me were due to geographical locations. During junior high which for my time consisted of 7th & 8th grade I attended four schools in four different cities as well as four high schools ultimately earning my diploma at Reuben Daniels Lifelong Learning Center in Sainaw, Michigan. Although I excelled in school, it was very challenging trying to keep up with the other kids. During the conversation the first thing that became obvious was the terminology we each used to reference various topics regarding school. For example, AP (Advanced Prep), “Electives”, “Homeroom”, “Home Economics”, and “Vocational classes” to name a few. Home Ec was no longer offered by the time my children began high school and had also changed drastically for me, since my mother’s school age years. I explained a number of subjects taught when I was in school that are no longer part of the curriculum such as Roman numerals, typing, the decimal & metric system. Shop class at some point became “industrial arts”. Latin was useful in helping me learn and breakdown words in preparation for spelling bees. My g-son wished he was able to borrow instruments to take home for music class like me & his mother. This turned into us over talking each-other while yelling out as many instruments as we could remember as fast as we could. With his love of cars, we transitioned into how students looked forward to drivers ed, field trips to local museums, the zoo, and occasionally opportunities to venture out of town for the day. We also noticed how physical education has changed. I was fortunate enough to participate in archery, gymnastics, and jazz dance. Present day it’s frightening to image if I would have had to attend school online, I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have done as well considering my learning style.

The conversation shifted to stories of our ancestors who never learned how to read. “If public school was free…” he asked, my grandson didn’t quite understand how this could be possible, especially since he began reading at the age of three. We explained the politics of the South at the time and how out of 12 of my great grandmother’s children, many of them had to work in the fields all day for sustainability and a few of them, like my grandfather received their education in the Navy/military. It was important for my grandson to understand, while many of his ancestors may not have been “book smart” that didn’t mean they weren’t knowledgeable in many other areas. It takes a lot to live of the land, by the land and for the land. From cultivating to overall sustainability, they were able to survive & thrive despite educational adversities. Those who were able to attend school still faced many challenges, the photos above of my ancestors gave a visual of some of the conditions they endured only to get a minimal education. For a period of time my ancestors and other colored folks gathered in a tiny shack, and many walked for miles in order to learn what they could while they could. As it did me when I first acquired these photos after Big Momma’s passing, it was just as disturbing for my G-son when he noticed some of them in the photo are barefoot. Another factor he noticed when viewing all the photo’s I’ve collected is that the teacher student ratio has drastically changed over the generations. Many factors play in the changes from then until now which I’m sure will turn into another insightful discussion as my grandson continues to read, grow and return with more questions. I’m thankful my G-son is aware he has a V.O.I.C.E and that we were all able to share our perspectives on this subject. In doing so, it allowed us to not only learn from one another but also have these conversations that hopefully will continue on through future generations.

Never Late

As a visitor to a small West African town, my American pastor made sure to arrive on time for a 10 a.m. Sunday service. Inside the humble sanctuary, however, he found the room empty. So he waited. One hour. Two hours. Finally, about 12:30 p.m., when the local pastor arrived after his long walk there—followed by some choir members and a gathering of friendly town people—the service began “in the fullness of time,” as my pastor later said.

“The Spirit welcomed us, and God wasn’t late.” My pastor understood the culture was different here for its own good reasons.

Time seems relative, but God’s perfect, on-time nature is affirmed throughout the Scriptures. Thus, after Lazarus got sick and died, Jesus arrived four days later, with Lazarus’ sisters asking why. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). We may think the same, wondering why God doesn’t hurry to fix our problems. Better instead to wait by faith for His answers and power.

As theologian Howard Thurman wrote, “We wait, our Father, until at last something of thy strength becomes our strength, something of thy heart becomes our heart, something of thy forgiveness becomes our forgiveness. We wait, O God, we wait.” Then, as with Lazarus, when God responds, we’re miraculously blessed by what wasn’t, after all, a delay.

Reflect: What are you waiting for God to do or provide on your behalf? How can you wait by faith?

Prayer: For You, Father, I wait. Grant me Your strength and faithful hope in my waiting.

The God Who Redeems

As part of a sermon illustration, I walked toward the beautiful painting an artist had been creating on the platform and made a dark streak across the middle of it. The congregation gasped in horror. The artist simply stood by and watched as I defaced what she’d created. Then, selecting a new brush, she lovingly transformed the ruined painting into an exquisite work of art.

Her restorative work reminds me of the work God can perform in our lives when we’ve made a mess of them. The prophet Isaiah rebuked the people of Israel for their spiritual blindness and deafness (Isaiah 42:18–19), but then he proclaimed the hope of God’s deliverance and redemption: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you” (43:1). He can do the same for us. Even after we’ve sinned, if we confess our sins and turn to God, He forgives and restores us (vv. 5–7; see 1 John 1:9). We can’t bring beauty out of the mess, but Jesus can. The good news of the gospel is that He has redeemed us by His blood. The book of Revelation assures us that in the end, Christ will dry our tears, redeem our past, and make all things new (Revelation 21:4–5).

We have a limited vision of our story. But God who knows us “by name” (Isaiah 43:1) will make our lives more beautiful than we could ever imagine. If you’ve been redeemed by faith in Jesus, your story, like the painting, has a glorious ending.

Reflect: How have you messed up? What has God provided for your restoration and redemption?

Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for never giving up on me. I surrender to You and ask that You please redeem what I’ve ruined.

Rescue Mission

Message:

Volunteers at a farm animal rescue organization in Australia found a wandering sheep weighed down by more than seventy-five pounds of filthy, matted wool. Rescuers suspected the sheep had been forgotten and lost in the bush for at least five years. Volunteers soothed him through the uncomfortable process of shearing away his heavy fleece. Once freed from his burden, Baarack ate. His legs grew stronger. He became more confident and content as he spent time with his rescuers and the other animals at the sanctuary.

The psalmist David understood the pain of being weighed down with heavy burdens, feeling forgotten and lost, and desperate for a rescue mission. In Psalm 38, David cried out to God. He had experienced isolation, betrayal, and helplessness (vv. 11–14). Still, he prayed with confidence: “Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God” (v. 15). David didn’t deny his predicament or minimize his inner turmoil and physical ailments (vv. 16–20). Instead, he trusted that God would be near and answer him at the right time and in the right way (vv. 21–22).

When we feel weighed down by physical, mental, or emotional burdens, God remains committed to the rescue mission He planned from the day He created us. We can count on His presence when we cry out to Him: “Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior” (v. 22).

Reflect: How has God revealed His faithfulness when you’ve felt weighed down? How has God used others to comfort and support you?

Prayer: Gracious God, help me to encourage others who feel weighed down, lost, or forgotten

My Sollitude

(This one is from my 2013 archive)

     Sitting here in this place known as home
On the brink of tears, at the edge of my seat reflecting on the horror film of my day
     Cold and dark, the temperature continues to fall
I prevent my anger from boiling over like the sticky oatmeal in the A.M.
     Surrounded by vultures, ready to swarm as if death is near
     Wet and damp are my thoughts, like that of an un-rung
mop-
 drip, drip, dripping away
     The ecru tiles evenly displayed by the dozens
One after another surrounding, robbing me mentally 
     Finally, that time of the day to vacation, wherever I choose
Far, far away from the five-car pile-up of my life
     No fatalities, only fender benders yet the escape is heavenly
I submerge into the cloak of lavender scented bubbles
     Soak, soak soaking in the aroma of my nest



Legacy of Faith

Memory Verse2 Timothy 1:5

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice.

In 2019, research exploring the spiritual heritage of believers in Jesus in the United States revealed that mothers and grandmothers have a significant influence on spiritual development. Nearly two-thirds of people who claim a legacy of faith credited their mother, and one-third acknowledged that a grandparent (usually a grandmother) also played a significant role.

The report’s editor remarked, “Over and over, this study speaks to the enduring impact of mothers in . . . spiritual development.” It’s an impact we also discover in Scripture.

In Paul’s letter to his protégé Timothy, he acknowledged that Timothy’s faith was modeled to him by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5). It’s a delightful personal detail highlighting the impact of two women on one of the leaders of the early church. Their influence can also be seen in Paul’s encouragement to Timothy: “continue in what you have learned [because] from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” (3:14–15).

A strong spiritual heritage is a precious gift. But even if our upbringing lacked the kind of positive influences that helped form Timothy’s faith, there are likely others in our life who’ve had a profound impact in helping to shape our spiritual development. Most important, we all have the opportunity to model sincere faith to those around us and leave a lasting legacy.

Reflect: Who’s had a significant impact on your spiritual development? How can you encourage others in faith?

Pray: Father, thank You for the men and women in my life that have modeled sincere faith.

This particular devotion stood out to me because although it was my great grandmother along with my grandfather and her other six sons who strongly exercised their faith, I didn’t catch on to what they were trying to teach me until after they were gone. For me, the role was reversed, and it was actually my daughter who taught me about the importance of faith as I’ve watched her walk-in faith over the years. You can read the story here at https://5thgenerationgirl.blog/2021/10/03/the-blind-beautiful-faith-of-a-child/ of how God reached me through her.

Repetition & Echo

The following poem by Thomas Lux is an example of a style known as pantoum, where the lines are repeated and the pantoum is written in quatrains (the second and fourth line of each stanza become the first and third of the next. Therefore, “the principle is one of repetition and of echo”.

                       All The Slaves

       All the slaves within me
       are tired or nearly dead.
       They won't work for money,
       not for a slice of bread.

       Tired or nearly dead,
       half underwater, wanting
       merely a slice of bread:
       the inner slaves, singing,

       Half underwater, wanting
       only a few flippers to swim,
       the inner slaves, singing
       the depth-charges within.

       Only a few flippers to swim!
       And a sensor to sense the sound
       of the depth-charges within-
       that's all they ask for aloud.

       A sensor to sense the sound,
       a hearer to hear the small aurals:
       that's all they ask for aloud.
       They're slaves with slaves' morals.

       Hearers hearing small aurals
       they won't work for money.
       They're slaves with slaves' morals,
       all these slaves within me.

Voice & Style

I’d like to share this work that clearly reflects the “voice” and “style” of the poet. Although I love poems of all genre’s, I especially enjoy when it speaks to me loud and clear.

” I am a black woman poet and I sound like one”.

     Homage to my Hips 
These hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
They do not fit into little
petty places, these hips
are free hips.
They don't like to be held back.
These hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
These hips are mighty hips.
These hips are magic hips.
I have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!
     
          ...by Lucille Clifton

Trusting Our Future to God

(Devotional from Nov. 23, 2022)

In 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz made the first purchase with bitcoin (a digital currency then worth a fraction of a penny each), paying 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas ($25). In 2021, at its highest value during the year, those bitcoins would have been worth well more than $500 million. Back before the value skyrocketed, he kept paying for pizzas with coins, spending 100,000 bitcoins total. If he’d kept those bitcoins, their value would’ve made him a billionaire sixty-eight times over and placed him on the Forbes’ “richest people in the world” list. If only he’d known what was coming.

Of course, Hanyecz couldn’t possibly have known. None of us could have. Despite our attempts to comprehend and control the future, Ecclesiastes rings true: “No one knows what is coming” (10:14). Some of us delude ourselves into thinking we know more than we do, or worse, that we possess some special insight about another person’s life or future. But as Ecclesiastes pointedly asks: “who can tell someone else what will happen after them?” (v. 14). No one.

Scripture contrasts a wise and a foolish person, and one of the many distinctions between the two is humility about the future (Proverbs 27:1). A wise person recognizes that only God truly knows what’s over the horizon as they make decisions. But foolish people presume knowledge that isn’t theirs. May we have wisdom, trusting our future to the only One who actually knows it.

Reflect: Where do you see temptation to control the future? How can you better trust God with your coming days?

Pray: Dear God, help me to simply trust You today.

Quality Time with My Family

Recently my son and daughter-in-law decided to start hosting game night at their home as a way to spend time together since all of our workloads haven’t allowed for many opportunities to catch up with one another. I’m excited because it not only allows me to see my grandchildren more, but my son is also the one who can always lift my spirits and make me laugh until it hurts. Although I’m glad he’s left the nest, I still miss his company. This quality time allows me to become more acquainted with my daughter-in-law as well as her family members.

The first game night was a blast! For me, it was emotional and exhausting all in one. I’d forgotten how much fun my children and I used to have when it was only us in the home. The daughter-in-law blended smoothly into the mix. It was a pleasure to see a side of her I’d yet to witness. The plan initially was to start with a game of dominoes; however, since none of us had played in a while, there were minor details regarding the rules some couldn’t agree on, lol. So instead, we began with something that was new to all of us. Unfortunately for this first gathering the only one’s present were my son and his wife, my daughter and of course myself. We started with a game titled “Do you Know Me”, which was a great since the idea was for us all to re-connect since the pandemic began along with all the other changes over the last few years. This is a card game where basically each player pulls cards with various questions along with a series of cards that read “yes” and “no”. One card of each based on the number of people playing the game. There are also blank cards for the option to create a question of your choice which proved to be very interesting. Initially, I figured the game may possibly be unfair to my daughter-in-law, thinking my kids and I (for the most part) knew the answers in regard to one another, but once again, a lot of time has passed and with that time also came much change for us all. Aside from that, I was a bit off with anticipating what the cards would say.

Next, we played a drawing game that from what I understand has been popular lately on social media. Each of us have a blank sheet of paper with one person standing behind the other. Every person has their eyes closed with the exception of the very last person. The person at the front of the line uses the wall as a platform to draw what they think the “feel” the person behind then who’s using their back as the drawing platform. The key is to firmly press the tool used for drawing against their back so they can feel the direction of the markings being made while attempting to draw the same pattern. This was a challenge considering my son stands over 6ft and my daughter barely 5ft. After 2-3 minutes everyone opens their eyes to see how close in comparison the drawings are. The goal is to discover how accurate one can “feel” the pattern of what the person behind them is. Each person rotates until all participants have drawn in each order from first in line to being in the very back of the line. This was hilarious to discover how rare any of our drawing turned out to be similar or even close in comparison to another person in the line. After discussing it, we found it the reason was mainly due to not “feeling” what the person was drawing, but more so trying to think like the person and guess what they would draw. The outcome was fun and brought us closer together sharing a great laugh.

Although I try my best not to, it’s hard to resist pleading with my son to sing for me EVERYTIME I see him. When he sings, his voice takes me to a place of peace that I can’t seem to find anywhere else. To my surprise he ended the night by not only adding a bit of karaoke, but before long we were all joining in. Ok, I tried to sing but we know I can’t, lol. I love when my children sing together and put on a show, but who knew the daughter-in-law could also hold a tune. The love and passion for music that my children have always had motivates them to listen to and enjoy all genres of music. In my son’s excitement, he made a wager very confident that I didn’t know a particular song he anxiously waited until the end of the night to sing for me. I was nervous until I heart the first few very distinct notes of the song as I hid my grin. I’m almost sure I’ve had to mention it at some point before now, maybe he forgot. A-Ha’s Take on Me, one of my many fav’s growing up, mainly due to the video. He was in shock! The bet was, he now has to sing for me every time we see each other. Had I lost, I’d be making lasagna and a few of his other favorite meals to bring to game night from now on.