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.

R E S E T

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?

R I S E

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.

Christian,

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?

R E C O N C I L E

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:

http://www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html

https://www.time4learning.com/homeschool/homeschoolstatistics.shtml

Google search “homeschool statistics”

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

https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/a/famoushomeschoolers/

A MUST SEE video giving another personal account:

5 Things for When You’re Discouraged in Community

Christian community is making great strides toward improving and recognizing our weaknesses, but we have to keep up with the truth when communication is almost immediate and typically inch deep. Churches are resembling clubs where people have the chance to show off their newest outfits and smile away their cares of the week. Dressing nicely and being kind is not the problem – but if we’re looking for our love to be genuine toward those we are in continual fellowship with, we’re going have to stain our perfect ideals of ourselves one honest encounter at a time. This is what I mean.

How do we start the journey to let people see the true us? How do we learn how to walk beside these people?

1. Lower your expectations for others and raise the expectations you have for yourself.

This sounds cynical, but let me explain. Once you know that people are inadequate and broken and pretending like they have it all together just like you, you will be able to enter into a community life that is messier and more beautiful than you could have ever imagined. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Life Together, said, “He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”

2. Write down who you are and don’t apologize for any of it.

Whether you keep this list in your mind or on an actual sheet of paper, write down some of your characteristics, your interests, and what makes you come alive. In Christian community, we are to make each other better. We are to challenge each other to go the extra mile for Jesus and everyone we serve on His behalf. But, if your “Christian friend” is shaming you for an area in your life that you see as pure but just quirky, first, ask Jesus to examine your heart to see if there is something to repent of. Secondly, once you’ve taken time to listen to the Lord, and if the matter is simply trivial, do not apologize for it. It doesn’t mean you have to cut off this relationship because they said one negative thing you didn’t agree with. This is about keeping your integrity while at the same time actively working to live peaceably with everyone you interact with. It’s what is being called self-discovery. My personal definition of self-discovery is when you’re open to growth, but no longer sorry for what makes you who you are. It means that we don’t all have the same characteristics and personalities and backgrounds, and this is going to make collisions easy to come by. But it means we can make every effort to be unified, and sometimes that means agreeing to disagree. Will we run? Or do we face the conflict for what it is, fight for unity, and walk away stronger as individuals and as Christ’s church?

3. Walk humbly, and know your worth.

Before you enter the doors of the next social gathering you attend, this is what you need to tell yourself: Whether these people accept me or not, whether we click or not, whether we go beneath the surface or not, I am loved outside of this room. So are they.

Once you go beyond only knowing that you are loved outside of one single space, and somewhat grasp the true concept, you will then be free to be yourself, to invite the Holy Spirit to fill up every void, and to see people brighter than your own insecurities. And when we are willing to get outside of ourselves long enough to see people as better than ourselves, we can find that loving others is so much easier. We will wish that we would have checked our insecurities at the door years ago, because when we finally look outside of ourselves, there is a room full of people looking for all of the same things that you are.

Once we are free from the weight of our own emotional resistances, we are free to love people well and connect on a less artificial level whether the interaction leads into a string of stories or it falls short automatically. This freedom means you’re no longer afraid of being alone and you can sit taller no matter what the setting is. You’re just learning how to be embraced and how to stand alone with less apologies written in your eyes – and the important difference between the two.


To read the remainder of this post, go to The Rising!