What Say You?

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana

“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.”
James Baldwin

“It [Democracy] is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten, because that history has yet to be enacted”
Anthony Whitman

“History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.”
Maya Angelou

“The use of language is all we have to pit against death and silence.”
Joyce Carol Oates

 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

 If you consider yourself a Christian and rationalize racism and hatred, please do us all a favor and stop calling yourself a Christian.  If we truly are one nation under God, it is time for the silent majority to speak up…


Goodwill to Men…Crossing the Bridge with Susan and Andy

He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:16-19 NIV 

Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
John 4:9 NIV 

As we celebrate this Christmas season, we would all do well to ponder “goodwill to men.” 

Merriam-Webster defines goodwill as a kindly feeling of approval and support:  benevolent interest or concern” It is also defined as “willing effort.”

In one of our Friday letters on race,Tom who blogs over at realchange4u reminded me about the relationship between the Jews and Samaritans.

“Relationship” may be an overstatement because the Jews did not mingle with Samaritans.

Yet, Jesus went about “doing good” and regularly connected with those who were considered the fringes of society. Swearing fishermen, tax collectors, crippled beggars, and the infamous woman at the well were just a few.

Jesus made a “willing effort” to minister to those unlike himself.

“But He needed to go through Samaria.” John 4:4 NKJV

Jesus did not confine himself to “Jews like him.” He did not segregate Himself the way many of us intentionally and often unintentionally tend to do.

 “And he was a Samaritan.” This account of Jesus healing the lepers is miraculous without these five words.

However, I believe these words were included to demonstrate that Jesus did not differentiate between the Samaritan and the Jews. I suspect there is an even greater message in the fact that only the “foreigner” returned to thank Him!

The divide between people will only close when people choose to close it. Doing this requires a conscious decision act differently. It demands a willingness to renew the mind daily and submit to the Holy Spirit.

I would have missed out on so many blessings had I not been receptive to the kindness of people unlike myself.

We tend to prematurely judge people based on what we learn from family and friends, or worse, misinformation in the media. Our personal experiences either affirm or defy our preconceived notions.

Still, when we broaden our vision and view people as God sees them, we can acknowledge each person’s individual merit instead of categorizing someone and hastily applying a label.

If we remain stubborn and defy the Holy Spirit we will always miss out on God’s best. Our blessings are often disguised in the people we would least expect to deliver them.

goodwill-to-men-12-2016-b-is-for-blessed-devotional This Christmas, don’t speak of “peace on earth, goodwill to men,” but live it.

May we be peacemakers, willing to extend ourselves beyond our usual boundaries. May we make the effort to connect with others. Those first tentative steps may very well bridge the gap between where we are and the blessings we seek!

And speaking of bridges, Susan, Andy Oldham and I will continue our conversations into the New Year under a new category titled Bridges.

It is our desire to include more people and topics in our conversations. We welcome your comments and are grateful to you who have joined us on this journey. If you care to contribute a post please let us know! Andy adds his voice to the conversation next Friday and we will begin anew in January.

As this year ends, may we all give glory to God in the highest, promote peace on earth and extend goodwill toward men.

Merry Christmas!

The State of Our Union… (Dear Susan 11-18-2016)

Like most people in our nation, I awoke last week to learn Donald Trump was our new president-elect.

I’d like to say that I was surprised.

But, I wasn’t.

Donald Trump is a very strategic business man and quantifiable “deal maker.” He knew exactly what to say and how to say it to get elected.

Living in the “deep south” I heard again and again the hatred for Hillary Clinton and the Clintons in general. Still, living in the Bible Belt, I was rather amused at the hypocrisy at which “Christians” spoke when making a moral case for Trump.

Trump is many things to many people but I have no doubt his campaign ultimately succeeded on a platform of hate.

His continual tweets against Muslims, minorities, women and anyone not the “right white” were so incredulous, most journalists and half of America couldn’t take him seriously.

The joke, however, was on us.

No one else was talking to the “alt-right” steering clear of an extremism culture that since the election has become emboldened and validated, believing disregard for those unlike themselves is not only their right but now a privilege.

There are so many ways to view this election, still my prayer is Trump supporters who can’t comprehend the angst this election has wrought will at least be willing to take a glimpse at it from the other side.

“Why Racism Won This Election” by Jason Cushman clearly puts into words “the current state of our Union”

I don’t believe everyone who voted for Donald Trump is racist.

But make no mistake that each vote to “Make America Great Again” did not carry a disclaimer to the nationalists, extremists and white supremacists who ultimately edged Trump into the White House.

They think you are one of them.

I challenge you to prove them wrong.

the-sate-of-our-union-11182016 If you aren’t part of the problem, become part of the solution.

Trump claims he wants to bring the nation together again. That remains to be seen, but my hope is not in him.

My hope rests with God.

God uses those things thought “foolish” to confound the wise. I believe God can use anyone, even Trump, to fulfill His purpose.

Our “one nation under God” has spent far too much time placing our hopes and dreams in a person (or people) and not enough effort in reverence and obedience to God.

How do we do that?

I certainly don’t hold all the answers; yet, I do believe that obeying God’s commandment to love Him and love one another would be a definitive step in the right direction.

Prayer also works.

We should do it more, and not just for ourselves but for our “neighbors” and our nation.

Love can conquer hate.

If we allow it.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. James 3:9-10 NIV

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18 NIV

Dear Susan, (10-28-16) race relations continued…

Dear Susan,

How can I hope to bridge the gap and promote meaningful conversation in regard to race?

How can I make my white brothers understand what a black mother fears these days?

I fully agree “All Lives Matter,” yet it is the blood of black people staining the streets.

I know you may be tired of hearing it.

Trust me, blacks are even more tired of living it.

My husband and two sons mean the world to me.

I pray they stay safe and unharmed every day.

Every day, the kind of day where your car breaking down leaves you slain in the street.

Hands up, but dead anyway.

Every day, the kind of day when a kid walking home wearing a hoodie dies because a madman thought he “looked” suspicious.

His killer walks free while yet another mother becomes imprisoned by grief.


dear-susan-10-28-16-b-is-for-blessed-devotional-2-letters-on-race When a man chooses to take a stand, or in this case, a knee, why is he ridiculed, threatened and viewed with disdain.

He is a brave voice for those long silenced, aware it may cost him everything with very little to gain.

Why can’t people see there is a difference between an “idol” and respect.

The God I serve commands we love one another, not reverence a song.

And of that song we sing, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

If only everyone was allowed to walk free, pursue happiness and live as God created them to be.

The rockets’ red glare?

The bombs bursting in air?

Black veterans fought and still fight for those freedoms of which you sing.

I understand if you think it’s not “your problem.”

But the problem arises when you don’t object; you permit injustice to continue and entrench itself even further.

Hate is often disguised as patriotism.

It worked for Hitler.

Is that what America has become?

I know there are no easy answers.

It is not as simple as black or white.


I know this topic makes people nervous.


You don’t have to be.

I don’t blame you personally for the sins of our nation.

My prayer is that blacks and whites will do better.

Try harder.

And eventually become one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 NKJV

 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Mathew 22:37-39 NKJV

***Our journey continues. Join us as we discuss race relations. You can find our first conversation here. Comments Welcome!

Who Do You See…

Lately, I’ve taken to morning walks not only to shed a few pounds but to also stimulate my brain. As I enjoy the fresh fall air, I am struck by the wide variety of trees and leaves on my path and how beautiful they all are.

Why can’t we appreciate people the same way? 

The woods I walk past are God planted, not man-made. The trees seem randomly placed. There are all kinds, shapes and colors. Some are evergreen magnolias, short scrub oaks, lanky pines and majestic maples. There are more I can’t even name.

A few of them are shedding their leaves. Others are in various states of fall splendor and transform daily. And then there are those that remain unchanged yet provide a backdrop for the dynamic show.

I suspect God planted these different trees together for reason. Each one serves a purpose. Larger trees provide cover for smaller varieties. Some bloom, others shed. Hard woods are mixed in with soft pines.

People are just as diverse as the trees that line my path. We have various body shapes, skin colors, personalities, and backgrounds. Yet, God has placed us all here to share this one earth. What if the diversity among us is intended to make humanity better as a whole?

fall-dogwood-10-11-2016  Many of us attempt to “convert” others into what we believe is proper. Our tolerance for others isn’t always what it should be even as we yearn to be seen and heard. We gravitate toward people like us. Very rarely do most of us dare deliberately talk and mingle with people much different from ourselves.

I have seen creative or “artistic” people scoffed at and challenged to do something “practical” instead of nurturing the gifts God gave them. I’ve watched people dismissed and discounted because of the color of their skin, gender or sexual orientation.

We do ourselves a disservice when we can’t appreciate others and see beyond whatever label or stereotype that first comes to mind. Each one of us is created in our Father’s image. Still, some of us have placed God in such a small box, we often fail to recognize Him let alone the people He created!

What if the individual characteristics that make each of us unique are there to serve a purpose?

When we quickly dismiss people far different from ourselves we lose opportunities to learn and grow.

It may require us to intentionally go to new places or talk with people unlike ourselves to receive blessings we don’t even know we need.

As I look around at all the various trees they remind me of the “different” people God placed in my life. They have been of different religions, nationalities, races, economic statuses, political affiliations and only God knows what else.

Many “different” people blessed me at some of the hardest times of my life. A few influenced my thinking. One in particular encouraged me to face my challenges head on. Still, others made my daily routine that much easier to bear.

With all of our differences we somehow managed to find more common ground that not. And through each one of them, so very different from myself, I realize I’ve been blessed.

“Thus saith God, the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:” Isaiah 42:5 KJV

** Feel free to join our dialogue on race relations that begins 10/21/16 with myself and Susan Irene Fox. 

…and Justice for All

When you see me, who do you see? A Black face?

Someone who evokes rage or fright,

Undeserving mercy, grace?


When you see me, who do you see? Blind and white

and deaf; loath to step into shoes

of your pain, color, grief or plight?


When you see me, when will you see that I am

a child of God blessed by the Lamb?


I have been rocked back and forth this year by the violence in our country over race relations and a serious lack of understanding, grace and communication between us all. To be frank, it reminds me of another decade.

In the 1960s we faced a country horribly divided by racial tension. We watched in revulsion scenes on our televisions of federal marshals escorting young, black children into white schools for the first time while being spat upon by angry white housewives.

We saw Black folks being attacked by dogs and fire houses, arrested for sitting at a lunch counter, and heard about the murders of three young civil rights workers. And at the end of 1964, the first Civil Rights Acts passed, which outlawed discrimination in voting and segregation in schools, at work and in places that served the public.

In 1968 we watched the Freedom March – a five-day walk from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama where thousands of non-violent demonstrators of all races faiths walked to the steps of the capitol building. State troopers attacked the unarmed marchers with tear gas and billy clubs. We mourned the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and two months later of Bobby Kennedy. The second Civil Rights Act was passed which outlawed discrimination in housing.

I cannot, even now, get those images out of my mind when I see Black men shot down by police or when I view disturbing videos of police officers clearly out of control. And I don’t understand if just and righteous police officers can wound and capture a terrorist in New Jersey, why it’s not possible, with 3-5 officers present, arrest a man of color without a fatality – particularly those who are unarmed, who have their hands in the air or who are already on the ground.

We need the courage to have public discussions because this is not about one man or woman – a possible offender or a survivor of racism or a police officer. It is about our justice system which does not apply the same justice toward all.

I reached out to my friend Lilka Raphael, a sister in Christ, to ask if she would engage in this discussion with me. Because while I can sympathize and step into her pain and frustration for moments in time, she lives it every day. Because Lilka is a Black woman with a Black husband and two sons for whom she worries each time they walk out the door. And she said, “Yes.”

So beginning next Friday, Lilka and I will begin to write letters to each other, begin to ask and answer questions, begin to talk openly about our own perspectives, our responses, and our hope. Because we each derive hope through Christ, and we each see all our brothers and sisters as clay molded in love by our gracious Creator.

We pray you will look forward to our letters, read them, and engage with us in conversation to create healing and reconciliation in this online community and in your own communities.

In love and prayer,

Susan Irene Fox and Lilka Raphael