dear Church, it is our time to rise.

If you are weary from the all political talk, if you are afraid for the unborn and for the refugee, for safe places to land, the respect of women and the integrity of men, for the unity of the church, if you are gasping for steady breaths in a panicked world – you are in the right place. Our editor, Rachel Dawson, posed this question on Twitter last week and it affirmed everything I was feeling:

“Daily battling the desire to disconnect from the Internet entirely (it’s hard, heavy, etc) … but don’t want to be ignorant/unaware either. How do we live in this tension well?”

The internet can be a place of abundant kingdom work. But the evil one wants to distort anything that can be used for the glory of God, and I believe that he is using it as a tool of distraction and division today. If we are not careful, it consumes us. Because this is the truth: if there are a thousand voices shouting in our minds about the core of who we are and precisely how we should think, we just might miss the voice of God. As with anything in life, we should know who we are and what our mission is before we say hundreds of accidental yeses as we scroll through a list of both fruitful teachings and faulty doctrines.

If we are not careful, this confusion replaces the people sitting elbow-to-elbow with us. It eats up too much of our valuable time. For some, this means cutting out the internet entirely and reading a newspaper. For others, perhaps for most of us, this means reality checks. Self-control. Intentionality.


The evil one is here, and he wants to divide. Distract. In order for us to thrive in these times instead of retract, we have serious work to do. It starts simply and with us as individuals. We have to strip down every living day and teach the gospel to ourselves. If I am not in touch with the weight of my sin and the freedom from my oppression, then how am I able to make a difference? If I am not grounded in the truth of love, how will I ever be more than another clanging gate, joining the noise of millions?


There is a war going on against everything holy. We have received the Good News of Jesus Christ. Man cannot touch or pluck away from God all that is His. We cannot splash an iota of darkness on it or throw more light on top of it. But evil can distort how the Gospel is perceived, touched, and spread. In order to protect the church, the ones saved and the ones to be saved, we have to fight. Let it be known, friend, that we don’t walk into this battle unarmed and unprepared. Whether it is on the internet, in our own homes, or in our cities, Christ has enabled us with everything we need to walk this out into completion.


You have a belt of truth that holds everything together. Your words are not your own, you don’t sustain the whole world on your shoulders: God does. Walk in what you know confidently and seek His Spirit to give you wisdom where you do not.

You have a breastplate of righteousness that justifies you and cannot change your name from Chosen to Taken. You are covered in the blood of Christ. You belong.

You own a shield of faith that negates everything – not just some things, but all things – the evil one throws your direction.

You hold a helmet of salvation that secures you. It protects you from doubt.

You’ve got a sword from the Spirit that can slay. The Word of God is meant for our life, peace, but it is also created for our strength and protection.

Oh yeah, and those shoes for your feet? You have sandals that scatter peace everywhere you tread on the earth. You don’t have to walk afraid. You can run with readiness, eager to shed the light you’ve got.

(Adapted from Ephesians 6.)

I am saddened, grieved by the events in our nation. But may I say something bold, something that might shake a few heads? This makes me excited for the church. We have an opportunity here to rise up. It starts with living our one life with integrity, generously giving, always praising and reaching out. Stay faithful with the little things and God will use you in big ways. What sign will we hold above our heads in bold protest? Will we hold up condemnation for either side? Or will we consistently be the evil-slayers, water-givers, bread-breakers, and peace-makers everywhere? Maybe, just now, I finally understand what be the rising means?


Ephesians 1:13-16 says it likes this: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

If Jesus was so passionate about reconciliation that He gave His life and threw the world in a glorious upside-down motion for the sake of our unity in Him, shouldn’t I dedicate my life towards that same mission? We get to choose what we will be known for. You have to chance to redeem how the church will be seen today. Will they know more about what we are for (light, love, unity, forgiveness) or what we are against (politically, personally, in condemnation)? There will be people you disagree with at every turn. Instead of causing a division with our debates, let’s create conversations. Instead of choosing comfortable silence, speak up in the face of evil. We don’t all know all the answers. If one of us claims to understand everything going on underneath the sun, isn’t that clothing yourself with a kind of arrogance? The way forward to unity during division is through research and spurring each other on further into the love of Christ. If you are in Christ, we must love our brothers and sisters and strive for unity. Be kind, always and with no exceptions. Keep your mind open, while holding your convictions strong. (It’s possible.) Test everything according to God’s Word and at the end of the day change your mind or proclaim your belief more confidently. Will we be known for taking sides and abusing our neighbor? Or will we be known for bold love and mending fences? Will we use the armor of God that is drenched with hope and truth? Or will we stand by the empty promises of man that reap our own destruction?

You are making an impact. Wherever you are, however you are exercising your influence – you’ve got it. However small it may seem, you are called to steward what you have well. Rest secure because in the Spirit, you have a full suit of armor that will withhold you along the way.

“The church of the present – comprised of every Christian on planet Earth – has a rock-solid foundation but it doesn’t have walls. It’s not meant to. It is made up of porous skin. We will have to labor hard and break a sweat sometimes to keep from absorbing the brutality of a culture in love with itself.” — Beth Moore, Entrusted

So wherever you tread today, let it be all be about peace, grace, and justice. May we fight unapologetically for the sake of the Gospel, know that revival starts in our hearts, and that by arming ourselves to be the rising we might continue a holy revolution to the glory of our Father.


See this original post where it was born at my home away from home, The Rising.


beyond the myths: a real look at homeschooling

Read this whole post at The Rising! 

“Homeschooled children have greater potential to work outside the box because they are educated outside the box.” — Thomas Purifoy

I just went to my first official classroom only two weeks ago, and I have been schooling at home for the past twelve years. Homeschooling is widely misunderstood. I wanted to start shedding some light on what homeschooling is really like. This past week, I have heard from YOU – The Rising readers – and have loved your questions! I will be answering all of them today. I know that I cannot begin to speak for everyone. Keep in mind that I am speaking today only from my personal experience, or from the perspective of friends. I have full respect for all kinds of schooling. I am in no way implying that homeschooling is for everyone. However, I believe I should share from my experiences, because something so close to my heart is often ignorantly thrown under the bus – whereas, if more people knew the truth, they could discover something truly life-changing for their family.

First off, is it all awkwardness and illiterate children?

Most often, it is the exact opposite: kids and teenagers that are excelling, reading well, and are extraordinarily healthy socially. There are most definitely exceptions: some parents shelter their kids from the real world, normal social interaction, or they don’t stay disciplined. But most families that decide to educate at home are striving for a higher education, and don’t often settle for one that is below average.

What prompted your family to homeschool you?

There were definitely a few things that went into the decision. My parents were committed to upbringing a Christ-like child. By homeschooling me, they would have direct guidance over the kind of literature and worldviews my textbooks would be feeding me daily. My two older brothers graduated from public school, and my Momma had worked in the public school systems. Mom had witnessed poor treatment of children (either behind their backs or in their presence) that she saw hindered them in a place where they should have been actively flourishing. When I was ready for kindergarten, lots of our closest family friends were also homeschooling and they were huge influences. Because of our strong networking and support system to get us started, the decision was made easy.

What is your daily schedule like?

In my elementary years, my youngest brother was still in public school, so I would get up early in the morning and start with my schoolwork. Mom and I would do devotions together, and then we would dig in to my lesson plans for that day – which included unit studies like human anatomy and the rainforest, reading history texts and answering questions, dissecting sentences, art projects, flashcards for memorization, Mom reading a chapter of a classic book to me aloud, math problems, and science experiments.

In middle school, it became a balance of textbooks I could work through solo and still working side by side with my mom in some reading and all of my math studies. I slept in most days, and rearranged my schedule accordingly! Most often I would start school in the late morning, take a lunch break, and finish up in the afternoon depending on my work load for the day.

In my past three years of high school, Mom still made up my lesson plans, helped me whenever I had questions, and graded my papers. But, primarily I have taught myself through freshman to junior year. I’ve never stayed with a specific order in lesson plans – so as long as I crossed everything off in my lesson plans for the week, I rearranged the order however I wanted. I’ve worked a part-time job since turning 16, so more often than not I have worked half a day and then done school during the other half.

What are the differences in curriculum when compared to public school?

One of the many beauties of homeschooling, is that you choose your own curriculum! The biggest difference is that you can buy textbooks with Christian worldviews, no matter what the subject is. BUT, that definitely doesn’t mean all homeschoolers are Christians. You can choose whatever curriculum you would like, and most often I had a different curriculum for each subject based on my learning styles and preferences.

Do you still have to take standardized tests, get grades, have a GPA, etc?

I have taken many standardized tests over the years. My mom has always graded everything with discernment and grace, and she has figured up my GPA. As far as HAVING to take tests and show my grades, though, that changes from state to state. I have lived in Iowa, Mississippi, and Kansas, and every state law has looked different. In the standardized tests, I usually tested two grades above average in most subjects so we started to take them less often as I got older and moved to a state that didn’t require them every year.

Was there anything about public school that you felt like you missed?

Yes, of course! I will never go to a prom. I will never have a class reunion. When I went to public school sporting events, I always felt out of place so I eventually stopped going to them altogether. There are things I felt like I missed out on, but they aren’t things that make me regret my family’s decision. With every decision you make in life, you are saying no to really great opportunities for something you believe is better. I believe that is why I wanted to continue homeschooling, even though my parents always kept the option open for me to go to public school. There are things I missed, but there are also things that my public school friends missed out on that I had the opportunity to be involved in. Homeschooling fit just right for me, and although it’s hard sometimes to feel left out, I wouldn’t trade the long term impact that homeschooling has made for any of the short term things I may have missed.

Do previously homeschooled students typically find they are either under-educated or over-educated when later attending public school/a university?

I haven’t ever heard of a student feeling incompetent or under-educated when entering the public school or college setting. In the case of someone feeling a little behind, homeschooling teaches you to be a critical thinker and you are already accustomed to teaching yourself tough new concepts. This means that you have the skill to work independently on the things you don’t understand (which is especially vital in college), and you are able to think outside of the box when it comes to subjects that you were already well-rounded in.

Is there much exposure to the community during the time of being homeschooled?

This is ultimately a family-by-family decision. I was heavily involved in family life, church groups, homeschool group classes or parties, and community events.

Tim Tebow was homeschooled, and he explains it well in his book Through My Eyes:

“Another thing that I think homeschooling helped me with was that we all learned how to talk to adults at a much earlier age than some of our friends… Regardless, the ability we acquired in being able to talk with and to be around adults has benefitted me greatly… We weren’t just surrounded by kids like ourselves all day who were just speaking at our own level of maturity and content. We were challenged to grow in being able to build and have relationships with others – of all ages.”

Name three keys to successfully homeschooling.

Community. It is possible to homeschool without a support system, but practically and relationally it is best to have a team of people alongside you. Discipline. With great flexibility, comes a heavier weight of responsibility. Creativity. Make it fun! And don’t take the privilege of being able to school at home for granted.

What was your least favorite part about homeschooling?

By far, dealing with homeschooling myths and ignorance was definitely my least favorite part. Although I love to answer questions and abolish as many myths as I can, sometimes I wished that I could mention school without having to answer a list of often skeptical questions and face sometimes hurtful comments. Another hardship was not being able to contribute to a lot of my peer’s conversations when they were specifically discussing their sports teams and daily classes. Most of my peers only talked about school – which makes sense, because it is the largest percentage of their life and most of them have the same experience in common. I don’t feel like homeschooling was a hindrance in me making meaningful relationships (it taught me to be outgoing and intentional in a way that public schoolers don’t learn as naturally), but small group discussions were often challenging when everyone was consistently comparing teachers and projects that I wasn’t involved in at all. But my true friends always drew me back in and never let me feel excluded for long.

What did you like about being homeschooled? What was your favorite thing?

Maya Angelou said, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” I loved the safety and flexibility of homeschooling. I don’t know what it’s like to be a homeschooled extrovert, but as an introvert it only added to my success. I grew up in an environment where I could be myself and broaden my mind without worrying about how I measured up to the kids around me. As I have just started learning in a classroom with peers, I am seeing the value in having a strong sense of self before entering an environment where you naturally compare yourself to others. I love that homeschooling allowed me to travel constantly, go slower when I didn’t understand, sprint ahead when a concept came easily to me, to teach myself effectively, to live a simpler life that wasn’t constantly defined by hurry, and that it enabled me to build rich and unique relationships with people of all ages.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to ask a question before this post, feel free to engage in conversation and drop your questions in the comments below. This post was meant to stand as a kick-off to opening up more informational and kind conversations on homeschooling! If you are interested, don’t let the conversation end here.

For more information on homeschooling, here are some links to articles and a video from homeschooler and recording artist Jamie Grace  – some include humor, some include plain statistics. They are golden resources and hopefully they can clear up anything I may have missed!

For Statistics & Research:

Google search “homeschool statistics”

Well-known people who have homeschooled or were homeschooled themselves:

A MUST SEE video giving another personal account:

the big, glorious picture: a context study

These three verses that we’re going to look at are rich and valuable and not worth simply dismissing. But they are also used in many, many different ways and are often out of context. Let’s be clear: this is not a mandate to never use these passages in only one certain way. The last thing Christianity needs is more people trying to push living words into a small, man-made box. I do believe, however, that we should do our research – not only with these popular picks, but to always check and study the Scriptures on our own.

It is important to use our vast resources wisely, especially because so many people die for the sake of the Word of God. It is not a book that should remain untouched, but it should be treated with respect, reverence, and gratefulness. The Bible is inexhaustible and open to interpretation. This is often overwhelming and why some Christians choose to skim it or never open their Bibles at all. But we are still called to test everything, to search out truth, cling to His promises, and to come to at least a minimal understanding that equips us to share with others.

In trying to study and research the Bible (without getting hopelessly overwhelmed), I try to look at and think over these five components:

1. What are the cultural traditions and ramifications in this story?
2. How does it come back to the good news of the gospel?
3. What words could I be misinterpreting because I am leaning too heavily on the English
4. Look at the big picture. Who and what situations came before this? What comes soon after?
How does the story end?
5. How does this story impact me today?
Let’s dig deeper into the context of Exodus 14:14, Jeremiah 29:11, and Philippians 4:13 together with these questions in mind.

Exodus 14:14

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

This story takes place right before God parted the Red Sea and protected the Israelites in battle. This verse is often quoted in trials of our own, to bring comfort and rest. Jesus tells us in the New Testament that there will be trouble in this world, and He tells us to come to Him when we are heavy-hearted. We are always invited to cast our anxiety on Him, grasp onto Him for new breath and new mercies. But sometimes, He calls us to rise up and take action.

The story continues.

“The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.” Lift

up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may

go through the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they

shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his

horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over

Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” –Exodus 14:15-18

There is a time for silence, prayer, and waiting. And there is a time to get moving and run on prepared, dry ground. The discernment in which way to go moment by moment must come from walking in the Holy Spirit, and listening to His call when He says, “This is my battle before yours. Rest, my child. This will bring me glory.” Or when He says, “Stop waiting. I will go before you, if you would only go. This will bring me glory that everyone would know that I am the LORD, and you are mine.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to

give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29 is a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles of Babylon after a false prophet came to deceive them. The exiles had been fed many lies and were living in tension. Jeremiah comes in to set the record straight: don’t be mistaken. Our God will not deal unjustly. He will provide, He will deliver, and He sees you.

“For this says the LORD: when seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will

fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,

declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you

will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me,

when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will

restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven

you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:11 is used most often on greeting cards in seasons of change and scribbled underneath well wishes. Does the LORD know His plans for all of us, plans of goodness and not darkness, and a sweet future? Does that include where you go to college and what job you take next? Absolutely. But it’s not just about the future of your bodily life. It’s about a distorted relationship being restored. It’s about the fulfillment of His promises, even if it takes seventy years. He longs to be sought and found by His children. It’s about knowing a God that sees us in our waiting, hears us in our whining and struggling, and desires to bring us back. God is most definitely involved in our grander life decisions, but keep in mind: He is with us every step of the way, and even if we don’t get a full glimpse of what He is doing in our mesh of routine and spontaneity today, He has the grander plan in His hands and He is our prize.

. . . Read the rest over with my friends at The Rising!

building faith & strong houses

Donald Miller says in his book Scary Close that love is less like making a pop song, but building a symphony. He also proposes that love is more like farming than a fairytale. It is true within human love, and it is very much applicable with our love towards the Father.

It is true that when we come to Christ we are no longer slaves to sin and we are made into a new creation.

But so often we forget that although now we are no longer under the rule of the law alone, our hearts still need to hear the good news of the gospel. Although we are now under the law of grace, we must daily die to self. We must continually fill ourselves up with truth so that we can first battle our own lies, and then get up and fight the lies that our brothers and sisters are facing. The work has only begun – of testing everything we hear, and testing our own hearts. We live in an instant society that wants to see results polished and as soon as possible. We are hurt when we think of our spiritual lives as a list of steps to make us better in ten days versus a relationship that is slowly making and molding us to be more like Christ. We are hurt when we measure ourselves according to someone else’s life, and do not simply look up and dare to listen for ourselves. I am trying to stop seeing my faith as an already-perfected diamond that doesn’t dare get dirty, but rather to see it as a cave of unmined treasure awaiting me.

Building faith is a process. You must stand and trust your foundation. You begin to carve out time to spend with the Lord. You ask him to hold up your arms when you feel like giving up. You ask Him what is worth setting on the foundation He has already given, and what needs to be thrown out. You start adding strong pillars of wisdom, discipline, and hope. And to keep the house strong, we must invite others to help us along the way.

… To read the rest, go to The Rising!

a prayer for Ecuador

I went to Ecuador in 2014.

When I heard that Ecuador was where I would be going to go on this mission trip, I had to look it up on

the map. I’d never heard of it before, or given it a second thought.

Most of you can probably relate to this.

I don’t speak fluent Spanish or know as much as I could about the history and culture, but I have an advantage over anyone that has only read about the country in headlines: I’ve hugged the necks of some of Ecuador’s beautiful people. I’ve prayed with them. We’ve sang songs of praise together.

I’ve played soccer with the kids at school. I’ve cried under a palm tree. I’ve climbed Las Peñas, and I’ve spent a Saturday walking through a banana plantation. I’ve experienced church services that have changed the way I view Christ’s church entirely. It’s a colorful, beautiful place. I may have only been to Ecuador for a short time, but I fell in love when I didn’t think another country could ever steal my heart again.

On Saturday night, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 shook this land and has killed hundreds of people, while injuring countless others physically and emotionally.

President Rafael Correa recently said, “The immediate priority is to rescue people in the rubble. Everything can be rebuilt, but lives cannot be recovered, and that’s what hurts the most.”

Right now, Ecuador is trending. Just like other countries when tragedy strikes, everyone says they are praying. This, if they truly are praying, is an incredible movement. It is a way to bring everyone that live miles apart, who argue on the daily about their opinions online, to gather together in unison for a common cause. But I want to challenge you from this point forward: don’t hashtag your prayers unless you’ve lifted those people up in the light first.

Remember that even if you have to look that country up on the map, there are real people with real families and with real emotions. There are quiet homes and bustling capital cities and devout churches residing there, and it is just as important as our corner of the map. They are worth more than fleeting thoughts after you press “Retweet”. Use a hashtag to spread a movement that is outside of yourself, not to coat your feed with chatty charity that isn’t fueled by love.

Click here to read the rest of this post at The Rising. 

why I am praying bigger.

I have a sign in my room that has been hanging for going on around five years, since my family moved to the house we’re currently in. It just says, “Pray big.”

Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve been looking over my prayer life. I’ve been reading through my prayer journal entries. I’ve been looking at how often I resemble the Lord’s Prayer. And even evaluating what I actually thank Him for, and what I ask Him for in comparison to what I honestly need or want.

Although I’ve been making progress in my prayer life — and I believe that any prayer is better than no prayer at all — I realized that I wasn’t asking God for anything specific. I wasn’t “praying big” like the sign sitting on my window ledge hopefully instructed. I wasn’t exhibiting the childlike faith that was so alive within me a few years ago.

Let me preface by saying: Orienting your whole language around the ultimate will of God is vital. He has supreme authority, He is in control, and – thankfully – our own desires are not the center of his orbit.

But, I found that I was wrapping my friend’s names in vague pleas or my own dreams in lofty thoughts. The prayers weren’t wrong, and there were a few exceptions. It’s not wrong to say, “Just do You will, Father, because I don’t know what You’re doing.” But the reason I was leaving it at that was because I was living with little faith and underestimating my Father. I wasn’t asking Him to intervene in specific ways and actions, because if He didn’t do it exactly as I wanted it to all be done, I was afraid I would retaliate against Him. I was often afraid to ask God for anything specific because I thought that He would disappoint me. I knew if He disappointed me, I’d be more prone to wander, and I couldn’t afford it.

But the thing was, when I was trying to hide my heart’s desire from my God, I was already wandering. I was wandering and I was not trusting. With the blessings He was giving me, I was plagiarizing them and calling them my own creation. When I felt a lack in my life, I wasn’t telling Him about the emotions I was feeling, because I was feeling guilty that I was feeling any void at all. With the abilities and compartments of my life that meant most to me, I wasn’t keeping held with an open hand because I was afraid that He would snatch them from me. I was distancing myself from Him and the truths I knew by heart.

“For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” —Matthew 7:8-11

But in my internal struggle the fact was this, and is this: He is a good, good Father. He is a gift to us, and yet He still gives good gifts that are born from His heart. And in everything I ask for, He will not be flippant in the way He acts. He will make sure His glory is known through His response, and that my refinement and discipleship and relationships are strengthened on the other side.

There are many goods that God will not give us unless we honor Him and make our hearts safe to receive them through prayer. . . . God will not give us anything contrary to His will, and that will always include what is best for us in the long run. We can, therefore, pray confidently because he won’t give us everything we want. —Timothy Keller, Prayer

I have started praying big again.

I don’t know if He’ll say yes to any of my requests. But I know that He is changing me in the process of my honesty.

In case of disappointment and the possibility of wandering, may He soften our hearts toward Him in these times of waiting, so that when the climate changes we will realize that having Him is better than all our small expectations and His good gifts. May we be able to thank Him for not saying yes to our small prayer, because of His big plan. We can remain confident in our requests, because He will give us what is best.

And if He graciously grants us the desires of our hearts, may we accept it humbly, thanking Him for His will and for the preparation of our hearts to receive it, and that we would be driven closer into His heart in the celebration.

In all these things, may we thank Him for the how much more in all the ways He gives.

more than anything I want, I want You first — Lauren Daigle, First

See it originally here on The Rising Blog: