The Best Teacher

By: Brieya Mikale on | Comments: 0
Remembering The Best Teacher 

Think back to when you were growing up. Do you remember your favorite teacher? Was it a patient teacher who listened when you had something to say? Or maybe it was a teacher who was so genuinely invested in you that you felt like you could do anything. Did a name pop into your head? (The name might be one of a family member if you were homeschooled!)

Whoever the name belongs to, looking back they were probably just like you now. A person who has burdens, stress, and all the “fun” adult responsibilities that come with having a job, like teaching, but then chooses to leave the weight of it all outside the classroom for the sake of the students. Why? Because those teachers knew how to love people well even when being a teacher was hard!

Our biggest teacher here at GiveSendGo has taught us that time and time again, even in the midst of nasty messages and emails, pressure from the media, and other factors. That teacher's name is Jesus. We want to love people regardless of who they are, what they look like, or who they voted for...just like Jesus did. 

As Christians, we want to grow more like Jesus every day. Having the profession of a teacher is an honor that goes unnoticed and unappreciated most of the time, but can make such a great difference in the life of a student. We see that in the gospels when Jesus is teaching the crowds, his disciples, or even an outcast. Jesus explained things in a way that made it easier for all different kinds of people to understand, just like teachers do! He knew one style of teaching wasn't fit for all, he understood having patience in the midst of being asked a million questions all at once, and he fostered people’s gifts and helped them grow in skill and understanding! We see this in everyday teaching and schooling. It’s never one size fits all! 

If you’re a teacher or you know a teacher, encourage and pray for them this upcoming school season. Start a GiveSendGo campaign for them to help with purchasing back-to-school supplies!
Whether it’s in your home or at a classroom, teachers are hardworking people who know how to love so well, like Jesus did, and we appreciate you! 
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Remembering 9/11: The 20th Anniversary

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks. 

Although two decades have passed since that terrifying and tragic incident, everyone who’s old enough to remember, can recall where they were when they first heard the news of the twin towers being hit. For those who were there in person, they remember it as the day the sky turned black, clouded with ash and smoke, over New York City. 

That day started like any other day. No one could have expected such an event would take place, stopping time for people nationwide. It was televised worldwide and broadcasted across radio stations across the U.S. All eyes and ears were on NYC that day. In that moment, the world was forever changed by the attack that caused 3,000 lives to be lost. 

Even though I was too young to remember where I was, or what I was doing, on that day (as I was just a toddler at the time), I do clearly remember the aftershock of 9/11. It was taught and talked about all the time as I grew up. I was told about how the world worked to heal, repair, and better defend itself in the days, months, and even years after what had happened. That event claimed more than just a day. It lives in the memories of millions of people, especially those directly affected by the attack. I grew up with these stories. I’ve watched videos, seen photos, heard testimonies from actual survivors, and read articles about that day. Whether you were there or not, it’s a memory shared by the world. And even though I know we can’t experience time as God does, it amazes me that the people of NYC didn’t feel the presence of the future staring back at them on that day. 

But, despite the gravity and devastation of 9/11, there is and was hope to be found in Jesus. 

How can I say this when such evil things like this happen? 

Psalm 46:1-2 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.”

This passage, among many others in the Bible, promises us that God didn’t abandon the world on that day. He didn’t desert those who were killed, the first responders who risked their lives to save people trapped under debris, or the people who lost loved ones due to the attack. Even in situations where the world was literally crumbling at people’s feet, God promised to be a refuge for those who were hurting and needed a Savior. God was still moving, providing hope, help, and comfort to those in need. 

Likewise, He is a God of justice who will bring about the judgement of those who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Psalms 37:28 says, “For the Lord loves justice and does not abandon His godly ones; They are protected forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be eliminated.” It also says in Proverbs 21:15, “The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity.”

I want to end with the following quote. This quote is an excerpt of a prayer by John Piper who said this a decade after 9/11 took place. He said: 

“We turn to you, heavenly Father, as our rock and our refuge, as our King and our comforter. We pray that you continue to sustain all those who lost loved ones on 9/11. Show them mercy. Give them comfort. For those who believe in you, minister by your Spirit and the truths of your word. For those who are far from you, use this tragedy in a new way a decade later to draw these broken-hearted men, women, and children to yourself...We thank you Lord for the firemen and police officers who risked their lives, and often gave their lives, to search for and rescue the victims of 9/11... May every moment of adversity and prosperity point us to Christ. Keep our eyes fixed on the Author and Perfector of our faith. Let us run to Christ. Let us cling to Christ. Let us find forgiveness in Christ. Let us find assurance in Christ. For the only true promise of peace, in this life and in the next, is found in Christ. We gladly confess that he is our only comfort in life and in death. Some trust in chariots; some trust in horses; some trust in the Koran; some trust in their wealth; some trust in their ancestors; some trust in their degrees; some trust in tanks and talks and predator drones. But we trust in the name of the Lord our God. It’s in his name of the Lord Jesus that we live and move and have our being, and it’s in his name we pray, Amen.”
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Why You Should Do a Technology Cleanse

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 1
Have you ever sworn you got a text message or heard your phone ring only to pull your phone out of your pocket and realize there was no notification or phone call? This phenomenon is called phantom vibration syndrome, otherwise known as “ringxiety”. These hallucinations have a variety of possible causes such as attachment anxiety to your phone, the fact that your phone is a part of you (much like a pair of glasses you wear everyday), and even having an addiction to your cellular device. While there’s tons of research that goes into this strange occurrence, the point is, sometimes it’s good to put our technological devices aside for a brief time to improve, and even test, our mental and physical health. 

In college I was required to do a one week technology cleanse as an assignment, meaning no TV, no computer, no phone, and even no music for a week. We couldn’t entirely escape from these forms of technology though since we needed it to do homework for our other classes, so we got a slight cheat for that, but the idea was we couldn’t use technology unless it was absolutely necessary. Although I knew I would get through the week using minimal technology and be fine, I didn’t expect to go through physical and mental side effects along the way. 

Just over the course of that week I experienced everything from withdrawal, headaches, panic and anxiety, loneliness and isolation, restlessness, and exhaustion. This exercise wasn’t just to test my ability to go without entertainment, but it forced me to go through the mental and physical consequences of the dependence I didn’t even know I had on technology.  

Ever since this assignment, I’ve come to the conclusion that the more impossible it feels to separate yourself from technology, the more it probably means you should (at least for a brief period). 

A few benefits of doing a technology detox are:

1. Better Mental and Physical Health

Social media along with many other forms of technology is often used to avoid social interactions, especially ones we feel unsure about. On the flip side, we go to social media to engage in those social interactions, however because we aren’t forced to have these interactions in real time we speak, act, and treat others in ways that are unrealistic to how we would in person. This is often why so much unkindness happens on the internet. We get to hide behind the facade that is social media and be whoever we want to be, suffering minimal consequences for our actions. 

Social media and technology is also unfortunately an easy escape from reality. It becomes a place we run to when we want to numb or distract ourselves from anxiety, depression, anger, and sadness. Most of the time this leads to a habit of turning to social media as the medicine to our problems instead of actually dealing with those emotions head on. This leads to an increase in mental health problems like anxiety and depression as well as a cycle of bad habits. It not only affects our ability to have fruitful social interactions, but it also negatively impacts our eating and sleeping habits. 

And while you may think you have your relationship with technology under control, it only takes a few days away from it to tell you if you really have it under control or not. Why? Because you will physically and emotionally react to its absence if you have an unhealthy dependence on technology to get you through your day, much like having caffeine withdrawals. 

2. Less Comparison to Others

It’s easy to turn to social media as a template for how we should look, how accomplished we should be, how much money we should have, and how well liked we are. This frequent act of comparing ourselves to others often negatively affects our mental health. If you take social media out of the equation, at least for a brief period, you can begin to see people for who they are, not the best, and oftentimes, fake versions of themselves they display on social media. This not only lowers the expectations we place on ourselves, but we get a realistic picture of the people around us and even of ourselves. It also lowers the amount of anxiety and depression we can feel as a result of this comparison, which helps us instill a greater confidence within ourselves. 

3. Better Approach to Technology

When we know we can step away from technology and still function regularly, we have a much healthier approach to technology itself. We can take advantage of the great benefits of technology while still taking into account the risks of it. This changes our whole approach and actually improves the effectiveness of our technology use as a whole. 

4. Developing Good Habits

If you’re anything like me, you tend to choose picking up your phone and scrolling for a few hours over doing anything else. Technology has oftentimes prevented me from starting or developing hobbies. Instead of reading, which I love to do, I find myself picking up my phone. The same goes for exercising, connecting with my friends and family, sleeping, spending time alone, cooking or baking - basically anything I could be doing, instead I choose to check my phone. 

Part of this has to do with the dopamine that’s released every time we turn to social media. It feels good to us and often serves as a “rewards system” or “reward loop” every time we check our phones. When we’re forced or compelled to choose to do something else, it’s easy to feel that urge towards technology again. For me, sometimes it’s just the reality of being alone with my thoughts that makes me want to turn to technology instead of doing something I actually truly love doing. 

But, when we take technology out of the equation, even for a few hours out of our day, we can develop a good habit of productivity. Technology often distracts us from our thought processes. It then takes us twice as much time to accomplish something that should have only taken a short while to complete. We often waste our lives away using technology which diminishes the potential God has given each and every one of us. 

Taking a break from technology also gives us the opportunity to make new memories with our friends and family, allows us to have in-depth conversations with others, and to develop new unique, creative, ideas! 

5. More Restful Sleep 

The blue light that emits from our phone screens actually disturb our body’s natural production of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that controls our sleep-wake cycle, which helps us feel sleepy at night and causes us to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. This means when you spend that hour or two laying in bed scrolling on your phone instead of trying to fall asleep on your own, you’re actually making it harder to fall asleep and preventing your body from getting the rest it needs. Again, this leads to insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness which are all harmful mental health problems. 

There are tons of other reasons why taking a break from technology is good for your overall health, but here are some tips for having a successful technology detox. 

1. Be Realistic 

Don’t expect yourself to be able to quit cold turkey for a week and then give up the moment you accidentally use technology again. This is about improving your mental health and giving you the tools to take control of your technology use. 

Some people choose to get rid of all technology for a week or for a day. Others choose to take it a little at a time such as going without social media for a week, or even simply going without a specific app or just TV for a week. You can tailor it to your needs or to what you may be specifically struggling with at that moment in time. 

It’s also best if you spend some time planning or preparing for your technology cleanse. Don’t do it spontaneously because you’ll be just as tempted to start it back up spontaneously. If you can prepare for it, you can get into the right head-space before you begin. This also gives you time to let others know you’ll be doing this cleanse for a day or for a week, to remove any distractions, and to fill your time with other things aside from technology. 

2. Set a Limit

A wise decision might be to ease your way into a detox like this. What I mean is that it might work out better for you to start taking a break from technology for a day before you try it for a whole week. It’s also easier to achieve a goal like this when you have a clear idea of when it will end. As you set limits and achieve those goals you’ll find yourself naturally putting aside technology for longer periods of time because you’ve developed a healthy relationship and habit with technology. 

3. Let your Family and Friends Know Beforehand

Letting your family and friends know by text or sharing it on social media before you take a break from technology will solve a few problems. First, they’ll be less likely to text you or send you something through social media if they know you’re trying to take a break from it. If they don’t know about it they can’t support you. Second, by letting them know you’re taking a break from technology they won’t think you dropped off the face of the earth, which will also put them at ease and prevent them from texting you. 

4. Remove Distractions

It’s pretty hard to take a break from something if it’s still in front of you, taunting you, and reminding you of how much you want it. Just like when people remove caffeine from their house so they can take a break from soda, you’ll want to take away the temptation to use technology altogether. Put your phone in a drawer, have someone take or hide your remotes, do whatever you need to do to remove the temptation. The whole “out of sight out of mind” mentality is real. It’s much easier to stop using technology if you can forget about it altogether. Instead fill your environment with what you DO want to do such as books if you want to start reading more, go out with your friends if you want to build up your connections more, or be intentional about exercising every morning with a friend or family member. 

5. Repeat the Detox

It’s not enough to do this once in your life. Make it a regular occurrence. Some people choose one day out of the week to go without technology (or at least social media). Others choose one week out of the month. Whatever works best for you! Just be honest with yourself and discipline yourself to go without it based on what you need mentally and physically. 

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “look to Jesus” or “set our eyes on Jesus”. A technology cleanse like this is much like fasting. Not only can we fill the time we now have with prayer, reading Scripture, and devotion to Jesus, but we’re also able to determine what our idols are. For a lot of us technology and/or social media is that idol we put before Christ. It’s what we turn to before we go to sleep and the first thing we fill our minds with when we wake up. But, we’re called to look to Jesus who is able to help us in our struggles and doubts and who is worthy of our praise! 
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