Tag Archives: voice

One Voice

Election cycle is upon us, but don’t worry, this post is not political. However, this time of year reminds me of a conversation I had during the last presidential election. We were talking about the candidates and I said something to the effect of:

“I’m researching the Libertarian candidate right now. I like to know all my options”

The other person scoffed before replying with:

“That’s throwing your vote away.”

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but I do remember feeling hurt and angry because that statement is simply not true—but it is shared by a large portion of the population! That’s a shame because the way change happens in a nation, government, institution, and society is always the same. All it takes is one voice. One person who is willing to go against the established norm. Sometimes, exciting times, that one voice catches like wildfire and society shifts.

Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

And sometimes it doesn’t.

Regardless, things CAN’T change if people aren’t will to at least look for alternatives, and they certainly CANNOT change if we keep perpetrating the LIE that our singly voice is TRASH!

Currently, I am in the midst of the Night unit with my E2H kids, so we talk a whole heck of a lot about voice and speaking up when something is not right. One of my favorite diagrams is the pyramid of hate.

Students are asked to study the pyramid and decide where one person (presumably the individual reading it) can stop the upward movement. In other words, where can one voice pipe up and stop society from reaching the zenith? There is a lot of mumbling, but not a lot of confidence here. So I ask this question:

How many of you have heard a racist, prejudiced, or stereotyping joke lately?

They squirm. No one raises their hand, but there is a lot of murmuring, indicating that it was probably 20 minutes ago in the hallway. So I ask a second question:

How many of you have laughed at or made one of these jokes lately?

Now the squirming is uncomfortable and all eyes are looking at the floor because they know that I know. Earlier that week a kid made a blonde joke, you know all in good fun, but I called him out on it. I asked why it was so important to him to make the girl in question feel bad about herself?

And that’s where it (hopefully) hits them: jokes at others’ expense lay the foundation for hate. Your voice, speaking up when others are doing wrong, matters. It doesn’t have to mean putting your life on the line like the thousands of unnamed heroes who saved as many lives as they could during the Holocaust. Speaking up starts with your own sins, then your friends and family, then your school. Our voice matters because it can have a ripple effect.

Photo by Kai Dahms on Unsplash

I have been teaching for 13 years now. At approximately 6 classes per years (a couple of. Years I only had 5–I miss the 7 period day…), that’s 78 classes of students. Most had at least 25 (sometimes as many as 36) individuals. That makes for 1,950 students, give or take, who have come through my classroom over the years. Have I changed every one? NO. But I have impacted some and they’ve gone on to do amazing things in the world! So, I have to believe that one voice matters, because if I don’t, every day of my adult life has been a complete waste.

Which is where I challenge you to find your voice and use it to make a real difference. No, I don’t mean posting a rant on social media in which your opinion is meant to make other people feel bad, I mean a real difference. First in yourself, then in others around you.

Because who knows? Maybe your voice is the spark the world needs.

Lift (My journey through Psalms: 93)

Last weekend we had our second annual “Chosen” girls night at GraceLife. We gathered the middle and high school girls together and pampered them with worship and wisdom. I had the great honor of speaking to these beautiful girls who received me with such grace it was easy to forget to be nervous and let God move. The next morning as we were processing together over eggs and bacon, we discussed Lisa Bevere’s advice I shared that as women we should





The girls asked good questions and one stumped me in my post-sleepover haze. What is the difference between lifting and encouraging? My words escaped me. I did my best and the other leaders picked up my shattered explanations and we moved forward in our discussion. So, it shouldn’t have surprised me when, in my morning devotions Sunday, I read in Psalms that word ‘lift’ again.

3 times to be precise.

Psalm 93 verse 3 says: The seas have lifted up first their voice, then their waves. A quick dictionary turn yielded the definition of this word, lift: to move to a higher position.

Now, this psalm is using seas as a representation, a symbol of the chaos in pagan religions that surround the psalmist’s words–juxtaposed with the firmness of the earth in verse 1 and God’s statues in verse 5, I begin to understand the beauty of this word–LIFT.

Lift out of chaos.

Lift into the heavens

Lift onto the firm ground.

Moving from the lower position to the higher position requires strength.

Encouragement does not require strength. When you encourage someone you are giving hope or confidence, telling them they are on the right path. It requires faith and kindness. Maybe even empathy.

But lifting requires backbone..and humility. It requires a willingness to move beneath someone and lend them your strength till they are higher than you.

I lift my niece.

I lift my students.

I lift my friends.

As Jesus lifted me. Lifted us.

We don’t stay lower after we lift someone, but it requires a certain amount of denial of self to lift someone into a higher position.

The seas lift their voice to praise God to a higher position–out of the chaos.

And we do the same.

We lend our strength to lift others out of the chaos and into the presence of God.

Hearing God’s Voice? Psalm 19

 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. – Psalm 19:3-4

I love the word yet. It’s such a little word and YET it contains such power. It turns a sentence on its head and a person’s thoughts around in a single moment. And that moment can be either beautiful or terrifying. In this case, I find yet to contain hope.

Even though you can’t hear it, doesn’t mean it isn’t speaking to you. A flower, a mountain, a stream–all these have voices. They speak in different ways. A wheelbarrow. A balloon. A baby. It’s probably why I’ve always admired those who can’t hear. They communicate on levels that are sometimes more profound than we can with simple words alone.

Don’t get me wrong. I love words, but there is so. Much. More. And people often forget just how much more and so they think God doesn’t speak to them because they can’t HEAR him.

YET just because He doesn’t use words doesn’t mean he doesn’t speak…His voice travels to our hearts, minds and spirits of we can just be open long enough to hear it. Most of the time it isn’t that He has stopped speaking, but that we don’t listen or hear what is right in front of us.

It reminds me a lot of teaching the Imagist movement to my students. William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound said so much with so little, but students will say every time ‘what if he didn’t mean anything by this? What if it really is just a red wheelbarrow and teachers just you know add all that other stuff to make it complicated?’ What if indeed, but you miss the point little grasshoppers. It’s not about teachers adding stuff, but about what’s already there. The voice that you can’t hear is every bit as important as the one you do. It speaks, if you’ll just listen.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matt 26:41)