Spontaneous hugs… chubby smiles looking up at me… little voices calling “Miss Jennifer!”. These are just a few of the visible blessings that my past week was filled with. Only 5 1/2 years ago I started teaching a small group of girls in my small town studio. About three years ago I began teaching classes in Omaha. Our first recital in the “big city” included 17 dancers, the next year grew to 37, and this year I was privileged to be “Miss Jennifer” to 46 girls ages 4-16. As my studio (and hopefully knowledge!) continues to expand I am just so amazed that God has brought me to this place of role model and teacher.
Recitals no doubt come with their share of stress and chaos. If it’s not dealing with a heart-stopping call about facility issues, it means trying to get a costume out of a shut locker, soothing pre-performance tears, or dealing with last minute costume confusion. And while I only spent about 11 hours in class each week leading up to recital, time on the road driving to classes came to 6 hours a week, and once you add in 57 hours in the studio choreographing dances plus all the preparatory work on those million little details… recital season is definitely a full time investment and demanding project.
Then in one evening, after 5 months of rehearsing and planning and ordering and measuring and calling and driving and printing and choreographing and emailing, it’s all over. An hour long performance and the year is already over. Will the audience remember it all? Was it worth it? If I had a horizontal perspective I would hesitate to pour such energy and work into something that ends so suddenly. But the exciting part about all this is that though the audience may only see a sparkly costume and just another dance to Tchaikovksy, the dancer sees months of teamwork, challenge, fun, and by God’s grace hopefully spiritual growth as well.
Am I, at nearly 21 years of age, really wise enough and mature enough to be entrusted with 46 pairs of eyes watching me and ears listening to me? I would venture to say “no”, if it were not for God’s grace and holy spirit working through me. What an honor, what a delight to have so many blessings to call my own! What a thrill to see my students with heads bowed in the wings before they go on stage, or to lead all 46 of my girls in prayer on their knees before the program. The actual performance lasts such a short time, but by God’s grace the impact can last for eternity.
Photo credit: Rachel Uleman
This speech was delivered on February 23rd at the Nebraska State Capitol by yours truly, addressed to those attending the annual homeschool Legislative Day.
How to Impact Campaigns
by Jennifer D.
4 years ago my sister Emily and I were convinced that politics was something mysterious, confusing, and just plain scary. Even the possibility of being involved in a political campaign seemed so far off, and with no experience and hardly any interest in all things political, we didn’t think that our involvement could make a difference.
That’s where parents are so wonderful, because ours were convinced otherwise, and before we knew it we were flying to Davenport, Iowa to join a political action team with Generation Joshua. And lo and behold, when we arrived and joined the group of 30 teens, I found out that we were all the same- just normal kids without credentials or experience.
In the next few days of rigorous campaigning, I realized that we had been fully capable of making a huge difference in politics all along. During the last push of the campaign, we became the hands and feet of the candidates- waving signs, knocking on thousands of doors, and making hundreds of phone calls. As volunteers, we were making a very real, tangible difference in the State of Iowa- and it was a revolutionary discovery for these two naive teens.
Once we found out how simple it was to be involved, and just how much fun it was to work with a team, we were hooked. We continued volunteering for national and local campaigns. Our candidates didn’t always win, but we knew that we were on the right track, and the Lord was using our efforts for good. The main thing was that we were fulfilling our responsibility as citizens- before we could even vote- to be involved in the process of election and the future of our government.
Since we had so much fun working with our peers on previous campaigns, we decided to organize our own team of volunteers for Sen. Beau McCoy in 2008. I mean, how hard could it really be, right? The first step was to muster up a small army of volunteers, and we were rather sobered by the lack of involvement we saw on a local level. Out of roughly 6,000 home schoolers in Nebraska, we ended up with 35.
Over the course of 4 days leading up to Election Day, our volunteer base reached hundreds of households by foot, and on November 4th Beau McCoy won the election with a lead of 8%. The impact our team of 35 was able to have on a local campaign was amazing, but imagine what God could do with 50… 75… even 100 teens deployed across the state. With youth, passion, and a firm reliance on our Creator, we as home schoolers can make more of a difference than we realize.
Last year Emily and I had the privilege of joining a Political Action Committee in Omaha. Chris Conrad, a homeschooling father and also the President of the Committee, recognized the need to mobilize home educators and provide a support base for like-minded candidates. After a restrictive bill on homeschooling- LB1141– was introduced in 2008, it became clear that home schoolers needed to step out of their comfort zone and pay attention to the political climate around them.
The purpose of the Nebraska Home Educator’s PAC is to help families do just that. We interview candidates and endorse them based on their support for families and our constitutional right to educate at home. We provide you with the tools you need to be involved, and we prepare and mobilize teams to represent candidates who will in turn represent us at the capitol.
It’s an exciting process that was repeated last election, as we deployed 44 home schoolers for Sen. Jim Smith in Papillion. After a successful campaign, he won by an 11% lead and is here at the capitol to encourage us to continue that momentum. Political involvement works.
In conclusion I have 5 main points to encourage you to be politically active:
1. We have a duty
Most of us probably did not have to take the oath of citizenship, and it’s easy to forget that we do have a duty to our country. It is our responsibility as the next generation to step up and be involved. It’s not something to leave to the “experts” to figure out. We are called to further God’s kingdom in every area of life, and that includes politics.
2. There’s no excuse
Emily and I thought we had pretty good excuses for not getting involved. It just wasn’t our thing… we weren’t experienced… and we just didn’t want to. Whatever our excuses for not stepping out and making an impact, they are never good enough for the King of Kings. We are called to do hard things and leave the results up to Him.
3. Act on what you believe in
If you believe that life begins at conception, then I sincerely hope you take the time to make that belief known to your representatives. If homeschooling is close to your heart (and I really hope it is) then you should be passionate enough to defend your right to educate at home. We can be sure that if we do not speak out now in defense of our God-given rights, they will surely be taken away.
4. Take the initiative
Emily and I are excited that we have opportunities to be politically involved and organize teams. But I will say this honestly- we need more people to step up to the plate and take responsibility, and I speak especially to you men. We need to be ready to lead our own children towards a stronger nation, and it starts here with how we choose to lead and take initiative.
5. Get connected
It’s a whole lot easier to hit 100 doors if you’re not the only one on the street. Next election make sure that you’re connected with a group of like-minded home schoolers to work alongside, such as our Political Action Committee. You can visit nhe-pac.com or visit with me afterward for more information on how to get involved.
We can be a very key part of the election process. Without a strong volunteer base, candidates will not be successful on the campaign trail, and we will no longer be represented in our Legislature. We’re seeing it happen across America, and I know that we have the tools and resources to turn this nation back over to the Lord- starting right here in Nebraska. So be active, be prepared, and the Lord will use your involvement to make a huge impact on politics.
When I started my original blog “Jennifer’s Musings” in 2004, my intentions were to strengthen my writing skills and share some silly ideas with various friends. What took me by surprise was the response I received from complete strangers who read, commented, encouraged, as well as criticized my writings. I was motivated by both the encouragement and opposition, and quickly found myself growing more familiar with the Christian Teen Blogosphere, with much admiration for the cause of the Rebelution. Since then I have continued to grow in controversial blogging with a vision to be a part of the rebellion against feminism, secularism and more sins growing rampant in our culture.
Currently I am a stay-at-home daughter residing in the red state of Nebraska with my family of 9. Home schooled all my life, I graduated in 2008 and have not pursued college as many would expect. This is yet another controversial subject which I am not afraid to touch on as I instead pursue various dreams and ministries; including teaching dance, working with a Political Action Committee, taking part in Church ministries and continuing to study at home.
Saved by Grace…
If I were to write on this blog, and publish posts under my name with no mention of Jesus Christ, I would be claiming praise and recognition stolen from the one who created it. I live and breath each day solely because my Lord is a gracious God, and all I do is because of His amazing mercy, even down to each post on this blog. My writings, I pray, reflect a biblical outlook on culture as I seek to bring to light the reason for living and searching for reform.
I am completely undeserving of God’s special grace towards me for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I am fallen and helpless, and so it is only through His power that my errant writings may be of any worth. It is my prayer that the verses below would come to light in my readers’ lives;
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
As I seek to seek to pursue excellence in my writing I pray that you, my reader, would be enlightened and edified not by my works but by the power of the gospel transforming my feeble words.
Undeserving of Freedom…
Many conservatives today are becoming increasingly pessimistic and bitter about the secular turn our nation has taken since the days of our founding fathers. There is no doubt that the liberals have wreaked havoc upon our constitution and biblical foundations, but this is in no way a call to abandon our nation. If our government and society can be called away by the devil in a mere 200 years, how much quicker can it be claimed by the Almighty God?
I have much hope for America not only for the many freedoms we have the spiritual weapons to reclaim, but also for the many blessings we continue to enjoy. Having been spoiled by our liberty and wealth, we forget nations bloodstained by mass killings of Christians who must run from their lives and struggle to care for their families in poverty. We forget the horrendous economic situations, the ongoing civil wars, the poverty and complete government control in nations such as China, India, the Middle East and much of Africa.
We as fallen sinners are completely undeserving of our liberty, privileges and prosperity in a nation such as America. What a sin it is to bewail our easy situations, and even more so of a failure and sin against God to give up this country we have inherited. While I endeavor to be a culture-changer and bring reform to our nation, I am without hesitation thankful to be an American girl living in the United States.
Why a Patriot? I love this country that the Lord has placed me in and have not given up on it. As Noah Webster described it, so I want to be
“A person who loves her country, and zealously supports and defends it and its interests.”
A young patriot from rural Nebraska can do nothing to save a nation. A perfect God willing use his many imperfect children can do it all.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
I’m not usually a big fan of football. Actually, there are very few sports I can sit and watch for hours, let alone jump and scream enthusiastically like some emphatic addicts. However, when I have a better understanding of and connection to the players’ lives, I am much more apt to pay attention. Needless to say, Thursday found me watching parts (but not all) of the Gator Bowl; cheering at the right moments, grimacing at the collisions and injuries, and peering for a second glance at the writing on Tim Tebow’s face.
As a homeschooler and Christian, what qualities I have seen from Tebow have piqued my interest and gained my respect. While I wouldn’t pick a life of grunting, slamming and sweating as my ministry, it’s exciting to see culture changers from my generation enter all different areas of life with the cross as their goal. We can’t all be preachers or missionaries. We need to be sending arrows out into the political, medical, legal, entertainment and educational arenas. Every year I look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for homeschoolers, and not because of a general vision we might have, but a unique and personal plan He has for each person.
So what’s the problem? Where are the misleading trails and hidden nets? Invariably with the fight and progress come the setbacks, and even for the most grounded Christians there will a struggle against more than just quarterbacks and linemen. What I’m talking about is the big P-word that no human can escape; pride. As we endeavor to live in purity and holiness, and experience victory over sin in our lives and ministries, God will send encouragers as well as challengers into our lives.
Pride is such a hard sin to conquer. Often it creeps in without our noticing; sometimes at one simple praise, other times by wounded feelings or bitterness. It’s possible to feel both broken and insignificant, and proud at the same time. In any case, whether we feel high or low, pride is never lurking very far to take down it’s young and eager victims. It’s one of the major hindrances to young leaders and culture-changers who are not prepared against it.
So. I’m excited for myself, Tim Tebow, and other young rebelutionaries who have a vision to impact society through the gifts God has given us. We can do so much through Christ who strengthens us, as long as we are not deceived into taking our eyes off of the cross and place them on our pride. It’s when we listen too long to the praises and smile too much for the camera that our goal no longer has meaning, and our mission is not blessed. Meekness is the goal; not weakness, and indeed we crumble when we replace His praise with our pride.
So let’s put on our helmets, line up together, and prepare to run towards the goal; not forgetting the game plan for our own pursuits, but working as a team with God’s blessing.
It’s been a long and short past few days as I look back at coordinating a volunteer group for a local campaign. My sister and I gathered 35 homeschoolers to make hundreds of phone calls, do literature drops and wave signs Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. Our candidate was Beau McCoy for Legislature, and we were working in part as teen volunteer coordinators with the PAC.
I honestly had no idea what response we were going to get from the voters, and never saw any polls to know how Beau McCoy was coming. Even up to the few days before the election our opponent’s supporters were making slanderous comments and sending out negative mailings about Beau McCoy. We were seeing money put to use, but money does not buy volunteers, and where negative rumors were sent circulating we had energetic teens running door to door and ten people to a street corner waving signs.
“Regardless, even with a whole army of home schooled children “volunteering” for McCoy, this is still going to be a very close race. If the primary attacks on Moats are any indication, it’s also going to get rather ugly from here on out.”
We didn’t have an army, but we did end up being blessed by having more volunteers than were expected. Regardless, the Lord didn’t need an army to elect a godly man to office, but he chose to use homeschooled youth to impact society, and on Tuesday November 4th Beau McCoy was elected Senator of District 39 with 54% of the votes.
We were so blessed by the Lord for protecting all the volunteers, and also for providing beautiful weather (which promptly changed the day after election!). He provided for everything and we are so thankful that He chose Beau McCoy to run, and to win.
I am tempted to now take a deep breath and go “now I can relax!” when in reality, now is the time we need action more than ever. The decline of morality in our candidates has come about because of failure by evangelicals to be involved at the state level. We have to work from the bottom up, starting right here in our own cities, districts and states. Responsibility has been thrown out the window and apathy has taken hold of many so called “Christians”, and it will be everything we can do to raise up godly leaders, equip them to run, and campaign for them.
So don’t relax. This is just the beginning.
As a naïve 16 year old, I thought being asked where I went to school was bad enough. Being asked what grade I was in was even worse. Try telling someone you are home schooled (my mom teaches me… actually, most of it is self study) and that you really aren’t in one grade; it depends on what subject you’re talking about. There was always that strange look that would eventually pass as they politely say “oh, that’s nice”.
That was then. Now as a home school graduate the simple question “so what are you doing now?” could be considered the hardest question to answer; especially for the 576th time. Life is so easy for college students. The answer is a short and oh-so-easy “Bellevue University” or “Wheaten College”. Why? Because it’s expected. Even in our free country where certain forms of education are not mandatory – but each citizen is free to choose his schooling method – people are still held captive by the status quo.
As a homeschooler and a Christian I was taught not to do things the easy way just for the sake of measuring up to the standards of others (and started to live that out at the age of 6 under the tutelage of my mother). Homeschoolers are not always safe from the cold shoulder or even harassment from government officials and Legislative bills. Abstaining from watching certain movies, saying certain words or hanging out with certain friends can be difficult. Wearing feminine skirts and dresses is definitely not something expected or easy to do in our flippant and sex-promoting culture.
But explaining that you’re not going to college brings such bizarre looks and comments it’s not even funny. When others see me working during school hours the question is sure to come up. Why aren’t you away at college like everybody else?
Here are some answers that may shock you as well.
I am staying under my father’s authority and protection
A few years ago I would have told you my dream was to either go to college and study classical art or join a dance company away from home. Most of this was due to my desire to please others; to present a degree and be praised for my accomplishments. Over the past year especially I have come to appreciate the security and protection of my home; my parents’ continual guidance and wisdom, the closeness of a family relationship, the added liberty of no college or living expenses.
Skeptics can call stay-at-home daughters isolated and ignorant (as counter culture women, we can take it), but no 18 year old, home schooled or public schooled, can guarantee her maturity and strength to battle every negative influence she encounters away from home. Nor can we say that stay-at-home daughters are sheltered from life experiences and struggles simply because we live at home, watched over by our fathers.
I don’t need a professor to learn what I want to
It seems to be a common misconception among critics that living at home means a girl does not get a job, take classes, and interact with other human beings. I am not restricted to socializing with my family, or working simply in our kitchen during the day (though I’m definitely not opposed to it). I have waitressed, teach ballet, volunteer at our Church office and am coordinating a volunteer group for a local campaign (Beau McCoy for Legislature).
My father has also encouraged me to consider taking classes at a community college someday, and I have many new skills, talents and jobs I want to learn over the next few years. My interests have always been with the arts; mainly ballet and violin. I also enjoy sewing, cooking, embroidery, reading, and would like to continue expanding my knowledge in history, science, math and language.
The best part about all this is, there are endless books and resources to help me learn – without a professor to look over my shoulder and tell me what to read or study. Self study requires a lot of diligence and focus, but almost all of the subjects I have an interest in learning are more than possible to learn on my own.
I can’t afford the expense, and don’t want secular teaching
While expense is definitely not the major reason I’m staying at home, it’s a pretty big factor! Any college I would go away to would have to be a Christian private college, and I’m afraid Patrick Henry just isn’t within our budget! How nice to be able to save my money for future expenses, like a home when I marry or a savings account for any emergency that comes up.
There’s no way I would ever consider going to a secular college. You may call me weak; I don’t think that I could handle being bombarded every day with an evolutionary and biased worldview, and consistently come out making the right conclusions and being untouched by it all. Granted, some classes are more generic and some professors more balanced, but for the most part college classes consistently teach an anti-Christian and very liberal worldview. However, being able to choose my own books and resources and take questions to the best professors ever (my parents!) has been a successful process yet, and without the anxiety of always having to be on my guard for untruths and biased opinions.
I want to be available
Something I always looked forward to during High School was the freedom to drop everything and focus on a special project or opportunity when it arises. One such example would be campaigning. Homeschoolers have been extremely influential with political campaigns simply because we are able to put school aside for a few days to volunteer.
Generation Joshua offers academic courses and creates political groups for teens, and since 2004 has been coordinating Student Action Teams for conservative candidates across the U.S. This year there will be many different teams campaigning. Meeting candidates, making phone calls, and being a part of the election process is an excellent educational opportunity; not to mention character building and learning to communicate effectively
This Fall my sister and I will be coordinating a group of teens to help out with the Beau McCoy for Legislature campaign; an opportunity we never would have had if we were attending college. As a single young lady, I want to be available to help when needed; to support my father’s role at Church as an elder and help minister to families, to take part in performances and festivals, to be involved in ministries by writing, volunteering, and traveling.
One adventure my family hopes to take (soon!) is building a straw bale house on an acreage. This means designing a home, building together, landscaping and gardening. I’m excited to be available to work with my family on such a project; to design rooms and plan orchards and gardens. The opportunities are endless for young ladies who offer themselves for service to others and the Lord.
College is not inherently evil and I know many beautiful and Godly young women attending college away from home. I rejoice that we are free to pursue our interests as we feel led. For myself, I believe the Lord has led me to stay at home, and I couldn’t be happier in another place. As I want to be available for projects that come up, so I want to be available to get married when the time comes. I have so many dreams and aspirations, but my greatest is to become a wife and mother for the Kingdom.
So in the end, what is to become of all the weird looks from shocked strangers at my occupation? My prayer is that the Lord’s work would be evident in me as I fulfill my calling at home. I want to politely yet firmly show that really, it’s not the opinion of others that affects the things I do and say. While it may be a trifle annoying to be asked that inevitable question for the 577th time, the Lord knew there was a reason for it, and I choose to believe it’s for His glory and not my own.
Tuesday, February 26th
A young lady in a purple sweater stood against the brick wall as the chamber doors opened and parents and children of all ages poured out into the capitol rotunda, her face intent and her eyes scanning the moving crowd. Not quite sure of the details on her contact, she stood discreetly to the side, unnoticed by the hundreds of people filing past her.
A young lady with brown curly hair and brown eyes, wearing a green sweater caught her eye briefly before walking past her to wait at the corner. They stood there with their backs to the cold brick wall, watching… scanning… waiting. Then a young lady not too much unlike the one in green (wearing a pink shirt) smiled as she and the purple agent reunited, after having met one another at a super secret clandestine meet up a month prior.
But wait; the agent in pink also happened to be the blood relation of the agent in green standing off to the side; and unbeknownst to the two reunited; agent purple’s own contact! Greetings were exchanged and top secret information shared before agent green and agent purple discreetly melted off into the crowd once more, on their mission to save the world and restore sanity to a culture of chaos and disorder.