Thursday, September 15, 2016

Data As Evidence

Education is valued highly in today's society. One could start by looking at the lengthy list of job requirements around them to see this correlation. But does that mean one needs education for employment? Could family dynamics influence employment?

First, let's take a look at the data. Around 18-22% of the Southeastern United States is in poverty, while comparatively the rest of the US sits at around 10-15% (Population in Poverty, 2014). 40-50% of the children in the Southeastern US are in a single-parent household, whereas the surrounding areas are within 30-40%, decreasing as one goes west (Children In Single-Parent Families, 2014). While the Southeastern US has a higher level of enrolled students between the ages of 3-5 years old (Children Age 3-5, 2012) and fewer children held out of education due to poverty (Young Children Not In School, 2010-14), they have one of the highest rates of students not graduating on time (High School Students Graduating On Time, 2009-10). The southern US has the largest percent of the population having parents without an associates degree or higher (Families... Where No Available Parent Has An Associates Degree Or Higher, 2012). The Southeastern US also has the lowest education ranking (Education Rank, 2014).

Figure 1. Population in Povery, 2014

When I first saw the correlation I began to think through the different reasons that might explain it. After stumbling past different graphs, I found some that provided me with an explanation. The families in the Southeastern US are more likely to be in a state of poverty. This causes the parents to push their children to go to school so that they do not follow in their footsteps (make a better life for them). Since many of the families in the Southeastern US are living in a single-parent household this causes different family issues; these issues arise and the students end up dropping out of high school or doing worse in high school for this reason. These unrealistic expectations from the parents cause the children to not be as educated as well. Or it could be that the education system is poor in quality down there.

The main problem I see in the Southeastern US is education. Neither parent typically has college experience, yet the parents tend to push their children to attend school. Whatever social pressures might exist down in the South, maybe farming or other natural societal causes, students end up not graduating on time. One possible cause is the fact that there are more single-parents down South. This could cause more stress for the students involved. But perhaps there being more heat and more sunshine affects this too. That is for another study, however.

Knowing what region of the US is the poorest, or the least educated, might not be that useful to some, but hopefully it serves to broaden your perspective. The more light we shed on this topic the easier it will be to address the issues.

Works Cited

Sunday, July 24, 2016


First up I want to apologize to my friends. I am only just remembering who I am, and it's because of my friends that I can always find my way back home. You see, when we leave our friends and try something new we always leave a map to guide us back. Friends are a part of you, and if you know how to look for, you can see parts of yourself in each of your closest friends.

I started out with an apology, but now I want to say thank you. I don't have many really close friends, but the ones that have stuck around in my life keep showing me how to grow, how to learn, how to never stop pursuing God. Sometimes I get confused, sometimes a run in the wrong direction - and you know who is there when I want to come back home? My friends.

Recently I was in a not so great relationship. It got to the point where I started to doubt who I was. Luckily I have an amazing God who stepped back and showed me how he has always been working in me: through my friends. When I looked at my friends and how I acted when I was with them I could piece my personality and together. It sounds weird, not going to lie, but take a moment a look at your friends. Do they build you up? Do you have a desire to be with them, a desire that makes you miss them when they leave, almost like you're missing a part of yourself? When you catch up with an old friend, is there something special about it?

True friendship is rare - it takes work, lots of it. But in the end, if you surround yourself with friends that build you up, motivate you to grow, and teach you how to see things differently, it is worth every moment. Here's to my friends, the ones that have stuck it out, the ones who have been with me for the long haul, and the ones that are only just getting to know me.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love: all we have left

United States of America. E Pluribus Unum. One nation.

Take a moment and stop everything. Don't open Facebook, resist the impulse to check your Twitter feed, and just - stop.

When is the last time you invited your neighbor over for dinner? When was the last time you asked your co-worker how their family is doing? When was the last time you showed that you care?

If the answer to all of those is something along the lines of "never", you're in the same boat as me. I know I don't have this figured out, but I know that it is what America needs more of. In today's culture our lawn has become a green moat and our house is a little island. But if you look back twenty or thirty years ago, you treated your neighbor like your next of kin. You hung out with them, spent time with them, helped them when their lawnmower or car broke down - whatever happened to this society? Where did it go?

Today everyone is on edge. You can't say anything that might be racist, you better be accepting of all LGBTQIA+ individuals, and you better not have an opinion (they are too judgmental). Does this seem odd to anyone? I think we have gotten to the point where we know hate is a problem, but we haven't turned to love. Love is not acceptance, it's not a feeling, it's not an action - it encompasses all of those.

America is supposed to be a united nation. If you look at the presidential campaigns and everything else going on right now you can see that is not true today. Hate has spread like wildfire through our country and it is tearing us apart. The only way left to reunite our nation is going to be loving one another. Love is knowing the people around you, enough to know their struggles, and still willing to stand next to them. Love is saying labels are stupid and listening to each other. Love is respecting that everyone is going to have their opinion and yours is not better than theirs.

And here's the greatest thing: love is free. So let's start something new and let's love one another. Let's so no to fear and let's invite each other into community.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I am not... only 20

The other day I was offended because someone discredited me because I was... only 20. "Am I not more mature than that? Does she not understand the situations I have gone through, the things I have learned from?" The truth is she wasn't wrong. I am not only 20. I am a engineer, a problem solver, a friend to some, a brother to others, I am a light in the dark, I am a planner, I am only human; but I serve a God who is everything and to him I owe my everything.

Here's my challenge for everyone: instead of letting age determine anything, let's look to listen before we teach. Let's look to love before we look to hate. 1 Timothy 4:12 says "do not let anyone look down on you because of your youth; rather set an example for the believers in faith, love, hope, and purity." The next generation is here. And they are ready to be different, they are ready to be connected in ways no other generation has, they are ready to be the church of the bible, but we need to invite them along and listen to them. They will learn nothing if all you do is preach at them. We naturally rebel against everything we do not like. That is just a part of my generation. So if you breathe down our necks, do not be surprised when we ask for space and then try to fight back. But if you come along side of us, if we can tell that you care about us and that you see our potential, we will give you our motivation, or drive, and our minds. If you let us, we will be able to push into the culture and take it over. I'm not saying we can get rid of anything, or that we are superchristians, but rather I am saying to there is something powerful about my generation, something that scares me because of its power. If we let Satan take my generation, we lose. He is already telling lies and stealing hearts. But if we rise up and take a stand, all we have to do is shine. We have already won the battle, but we still have to go through it. I am not saying that reaching out and evangelizing will be easy, but I am saying it will be worth it.

I am not... only 20. I am so much more than that and it would be silly to say my age is my identity. People today are capable of processing and understanding so much information, so let's listen to what they have to say rather than trying to shut them down and teach.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

It's simple: there is nothing sweet about God but he is everything

These are the people my heart breaks for. But they are also the people I am scared to reach. You see, I don't have all the answers and I'm not perfect myself, and I'm scared these people are going to see that. I'm scared one of them is going to ask me a question and I won't know the answer so then they will reject my God. And I take that personally rather than remembering that my God can move mountains; yet here I am, scared he can't change someone's heart. It's not about me or my words, it's not about following a list of rules, it's not about getting out of hell when you die. The thing I am about to say has stumbled theologians and philosophers for centuries and leaves all knowledge at the curbside: God loves us and all he wants is to know us - to really know us. "But he gives us all those rules in the Bible, and all the Christians I see are stuck up and don't even follow the book they say the believe". Again, I'll say it: God loves you and all he desires is to know you personally. He wants a relationship with you and nothing less than your everything is going to be enough. He wants all your wrongdoings, all your imperfections, all the scars that you still wear (even the ones that fill you with shame every time you think of what you did), he wants all of you, the good and the bad. Romans 5:6-11 [ESV]:
6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 
Christ died for us even when we were slandering and actually beating him with a cat o'nine tails. He still had compassion in his heart, so much that on the cross he cried "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Luke 23:24 [ESV]). I don't know about you, but if I was being beaten and slandered for doing the right thing, meaning being honest and not lying about who I am, I would lose heart very fast. I know that if it were me in Jesus position I would have given in to bitterness very fast.

It comes down to this: there are people out there that are searching for a relationship that fulfills them. They think drugs will do it, they think sex will do it, they think alcohol will do it, but none of those things ever can. They try dating thinking that this relationship will fill them up. And for a while, it does. But then it fades away and they are left just as empty as before. God designed us to search for him and he made a spot in our hearts and our minds that only he can fill. And I don't know about you, but I fell like I should tell others how to feel this fullness I feel. Tell others about this amazing love God has already shown, and let them find out what true relationship feels like. It's not about religion, it's about relationship.