Because life is a series of edits

Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Marathon Thoughts

In Oklahoma City, Places & Spaces on April 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Back in April, my two younger girls (along with 70+ of their grammar school classmates from Veritas) participated in the Oklahoma City Marathon, running the 1.2-mile Kids Marathon and generally having a good time. I kick myself for not having signed up to run with them (safety was not an issue – it was a regular fence-lined cattle chute through downtown), but the idea of doing so just never crossed my mind, so I didn't.

I wouldn't say I'm activity-averse, but I do have an overly-active homebody gene that often reacts negatively to situations involving crowds (i.e. thousands of people running all over downtown Oklahoma City). My aversion is not a phobia (rarely do I make decisions out of fear), nor is it born out of a superiority complex or condescension toward others (seeing myself in spandex shorts has helped me with that). But it is a preference – one that probably works against the idea of me ever running a marathon.

Simply put, I might be interested in training for and running 26.2 miles if I didn't have to do it with and when anyone else did.

About the same time last month, I came across the following quote from author/pastor Tim Keller: "The more independent you are, the less intimate your relationships." I didn't want to retweet it, but I did. To paraphrase Bono: "You preach (tweet) what you need to hear."

While I've always gotten along with people, I've usually (strangely) also found myself maintaining an independence from them. Megan says I'm my own best friend, and while I think that's true, it doesn't strike me as bad. I'm a pretty good friend (so what if it happens to be to me in addition to others).

In my mind, the danger of independence manifests itself more in narcissism (this post, for example) than doing something stupid. While I'm certainly capable of the latter, my logic filter is more developed than my desire to think about something other than myself. Thinking about oneself is not always evil, but only thinking about oneself usually is.

To Whom Shall Educators Go?

In Educators, Parents, Students, Veritas on April 26, 2012 at 9:55 am

Wednesday was a bad news day.

From the morning edition of The Oklahoman to that night's national and local newscasts, there was a lot I (Craig) found myself sighing over: a middle schooler in Enid gets beaten unconscious at school; a teacher aide (who actually worked with a friend of mine) at Southmoore high school is caught sexting photos of herself to sophomores.

To top it off, I got an email from a colleague at my former school telling me about a senior prank gone wrong. Apparently, the Head of School's email was hacked and the following message sent to the entire parent community:

"We would like to inform you of some small changes that will take place, this year, regarding Junior/Senior Banquet. As servants of God, we strive to protect our community. For this reason, we have arranged for condoms to be available at this event. Every male student attending will have the option of taking a complementary condom at the door. This is to encourage our students to practice safe sex. We hope that by doing this, we can set a positive example, so that other schools may recognize our efforts and take action against sexually transmitted diseases. Thank you, and have a blessed day."

Sometimes it's hard to see God at work, particularly in our schools and especially despite our human capability to really mess things up. And yet I read a quote on Wednesday from United Methodist Bishop Will Willimon that was particularly helpful in the midst of trying to do some good in the midst of that bad news day. Willimon wrote: "Scripture teaches that time and again, God refuses to be stumped by our inadequacies. Therein is our hope."

Indeed, therein is our hope. "Whom have I in heaven but you?," wrote the psalmist, "And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you" (Psalm 73:25). John records that, "Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).

With four weeks to go, I take comfort that any hope we have cannot be in ourselves – which of us this time of year has anything left to hope in? In the face of what's ahead, let's confess to God, each other, and ourselves where our true and only hope is: in Christ, his love, and his grace. Pray this for yourself, your students, and our families.

This is what I'm praying for all of us these next four weeks.

Who Knew I Married Such a Party Girl?

In Oklahoma City, Veritas on April 23, 2012 at 10:40 am

We were a part of history (in more ways than one) at our first-ever 40's-themed Veritas Classical Academy Spring Swing. Our students had a great time, and Megan and I even got into the act (she perhaps more than me, as seen below). Who knew I married such a party girl?

(Thanks to Holly Martin at HJM Images for the great shots! Click here for more.)

Good News on the Oklahoma Admissions Front

In Colleges & Universities, Educators on April 20, 2012 at 8:59 am

Oklahoman

Back on Good Friday, The Oklahoman published this article on the University of Oklahoma's desire to revamp their admissions process and make it more holistic in its consideration of potential OU students.

This public announcement lines up with what OU Admissions Director Mark McMasters alluded to me (Craig) privately last fall – namely that OU was working on admission changes from which non-accredited schools like Veritas would benefit. Mark told me that OU measures success in terms of admitted students actually graduating, and colleges and universities can't deny the positive numbers when it comes to homeschool students who successfully start and finish their collegiate studies.

Seeing an opportunity to affirm what Mark and OU's Board of Regents are doing, I wrote a letter to The Oklahoman affirming OU's decision and urging the Oklahoma State Board of Regents to follow their lead. To my surprise, the paper published my Letter to the Editor in full earlier this week.

Pulled Over & Waiting Here in Tornado Alley

In Nature, Places, Pop Culture on April 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Tornado

So we're supposed to get major storms and other various and sundry severe weather this weekend, beginning mid-to-late afternoon today and throughout the evening tonight. Always one to completely underestimate the power of nature, I have been pacing around all morning trying to figure out how to speed things up and get there. I've thought about jumping in the old Delta 88 and driving around looking for one, or even standing out in the middle of my cul-de-sac with a sign reading "Do your worst!" directed at any apporaching mesocyclones.

In my brazen ignorance, I've subjected my family to a not-so-bad-B-movie called Tornado Valley (my personal tornado favorite, Twister, is not available for streaming) and an old NOVA documentary on the F5 that hit Moore in 1999. I've downloaded a couple of tornado alert apps on my phone and even thought about chanting some old high school cheers from back in the day (ironically, we were the "Tornadoes" at Griggsville High, but that's as close to seeing any as I've come).

For all you Okies out there, what do you do while you sit around and wait to get blown away? I'd like to start a list to get me through the rest of the day…after which you may never hear from me again. Ideas?

Living and Loving Accordingly

In Calling on April 7, 2012 at 10:41 am

A passage and meditation for you/me on Holy Saturday:

"One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50 (ESV)

When I was younger (though, sadly, not that much so), I remember once reading this passage and thinking to myself, "Great story, but what do those of us without dramatic conversion stories do? How do those of us whose sins are not that many love much when we've not been forgiven that much?" I even thought about writing a book about this "conundrum," for surely, I thought, there are plenty of "good" Christians out there who felt as I did.

Indeed, there were…and are. And that's the problem…with them and with me.

Even as a kid – even before I would say I came to faith – I remember giving serious and significant thought to the idea that, if one were to really put his mind to it, it couldn't be that hard to live perfectly. Of course, much of my consideration at the time had everything to do with mastering outward behavior – a discipline I've been trying to unlearn ever since – but even from a young age, the thought that I might do the impossible – somehow nobly and with pure motives – has always been the sin behind my sin.

Much to my chagrin (not really, but I should probably say that), I've never had a pure motive in my life. Mostly pure behavior, sure (at least as far as you know), but doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason, well, it's never happened, and unlike in baseball, "two-" or even "one-out-of-three-ain't-bad" thinking doesn't cut it with holiness.

As a (barely) recovering legalist, I want Good Friday and Easter to mean something. And they do, mostly by helping me recognize my wanting to reduce them to things that don't because I'm still wrestling to wrap my head (forget about my heart – I don't want to go there) around the data that says I need them to. The schizophrenia of it all feels a lot like what Paul must have felt writing Romans 7:13-20 (ESV):

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Truth be told, the older I get, the more I don't want to acknowledge that I needed Jesus to die for my sin. In my pride, I'd rather take a raincheck on being reminded of my need for mercy and grace because, at least from my perspective, my sin is not nearly what it could be, nor hardly what others' might be.

Actually, according to 1 John 1:5-9 (ESV), it's worse – for when I deny my sin, I accuse God of being a liar (among other things):

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My heart doesn't want to spend time here; my reputation certainly doesn't. But for the sake of both, this is exactly why I need to declare to myself and anyone else who knows me that, to the degree I understand it, I'm grateful for the truth of the Gospel that says I was loved before I was lovable and fully forgiven before I fully understood my need to be so.

God, forgive me for the (many) times I make you a liar and your word is not in me. You have forgiven me much, Jesus. Like the sinful woman, let me live and love accordingly.

Veritas Video Goodness

In Parents, Pedagogy, Students, Veritas on April 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Really proud of these videos produced for our Constructing the Vision banquet in March. Thanks to Veritas parent Jody Wickersham and all our parents, faculty, staff, and students for their good thoughts and inspiring examples.