Because life is a series of edits

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Keeping Track of Our Kids

In Family, Places, Pop Culture, Young Ones on November 4, 2012 at 9:33 am

Unattended Children

I snapped this picture in a coffee shop near Franklin, TN, last week (for a few pics from my trip, click here) because I thought it was a clever and diplomatic way to remind parents to keep track of their kids.

I wish I could be so clever and diplomatic. Unfortunately, this will be more bumbling and annoying instead.

Do you know where your kids are? I'm not talking about which
part of the house they're in or who they're staying overnight with this
weekend. I'm also not asking about where they should be or what they
should be able to do at this stage in their development (nothing diminishes our kids' humanity more than speaking of them in terms of "percentiles").

Honestly, I wonder if someone giving espresso and a free puppy to
our kids would be enough of a wake-up call to ask the question. How long until we noticed the smell and the barking?

The sign above made me think. Megan and I are to the point now (and
it is a glorious one) where we are comfortable leaving our 13-, 12-,
10-, and 9-year-old daughters unattended at home for short periods of
time. So far, no one's burned down the house, physically maimed another,
or run away thinking this was their one-and-only chance at freedom.

But we still have to attend their hearts and help them deal with things like disappointment, frustration, and anger. We know this because we still have to attend ours regarding the same things.

During this "fall back" weekend, why not invest your additional
hour by attending your child's heart (and not just their activities)?

Espresso and a free puppy are the least of our concerns.

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Providence Hall’s Dickens Symposium

In Books, Education, Family, Oklahoma City, Thought, Young Ones on October 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Our friends at Providence Hall Classical Christian School have put together an exciting celebration of author Charles Dickens and "his inimitable legacy." Mark your calendars!

Dickens Poster Small

Minority in the Sorority

In Family, Oklahoma City, Young Ones on August 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Craig with Girls at Meet the Teacher
Our North Campus started today and our Central Campus starts tomorrow. Our four girls are pretty excited to get back in the swing of Veritas. We had our annual Meet the Teacher event yesterday, when Megan snapped this photo of me with the ladies. Here we go!

Why “Priorities” Are Not Always Helpful

In Calling, Family, Health, Thought on July 30, 2012 at 7:28 am
Prosser Clock
Earlier last week, Megan and I were sitting at the dinner table talking about our family's fall schedule. One of the things we try to do before each school year is formulate what we call our "default schedule" – that elusive weekly calendar which, if not otherwise interrupted by life, represents our ideal "normal" state of existence. Perhaps you do a similar thing…or perhaps not.

All of us are called to be good stewards of the time God has given us, but when we get down to it, our struggle tends to be not as much a matter of time management as it is of priority management. This sounds simple enough, but our culture does us a disservice by pluralizing the word “priority,” confusing us as to what our “priorities” are. When we talk about our “priorities,” we’re talking about something that doesn’t make sense—the nature of priority is singular. We are only able to have one priority.

Is it really true what the commercials say, that we can have it all? Unfortunately, no, we can't; we have to choose. Theologian J. Oswald Sanders wrote, “We are as close to God as we choose to be, not as we want to be." How to choose wisely? The first step may be as simple as taking the time to ask the question (I'm currently considering this in a 2-part series, "Beating Busyness," at Docendo Discimus if you'd like to read more).

Megan and I end up having the time/priority management discussion multiple times a year…a quarter…a month…a week. Probably like you, we've wrestled with what we do (or should do) for 15 years now, but we've hardly perfected the process – life is just so complicated and messy. Still, we know it's an important discussion to have, so we try to give each other grace (again) in the midst of it; thankfully, God does as well.

As you think about the coming fall and your family's schedule, let me encourage you to consider your family's priority (singular) and how that influences your weekly calendar. Cull through your agendas, your expectations, and your guilt-trips and figure out what's really driving what you and your family do. You might be surprised by who's in charge…or Who isn't.

(Clock photo courtesy of Matthew Prosser; used by permission.)

On the Road Again

In Family, Friends, Places, Travel, Vacation on July 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm

IMG_0480

Not sure if a roadtrip through these five states – the five in which we've easily spent the majority of our lives* – counts as a true and exotic "vacation," but it will have to do. We're looking forward to seeing some familiar roads, places, and faces these next two weeks.

(*We've never lived in Kansas, but when you've driven across it as many times as we have, it's felt like it.)

Summer 2012: A Preview

In Family, Holidays, Travel, Vacation on June 18, 2012 at 10:23 am

I'm a little behind with my annual "here's what we're planning for summer" post. Truth be told, I'm a little out of practice as well, as last summer's plan was pretty easy: move.

DSC_0002

As the picture above documents, Megan and I already took a trip to New York state for a Biblical Imagination Conference (we also saw Niagara Falls). In addition, I led a day-and-a-half New Staff Induction and Megan coordinated our annual Resale for Veritas, and this past weekend I took part in our annual Veritas Board of Directors Retreat. Good times.

What does the rest of June and summer hold in terms of trips and events? Here you go:

June
20-23 Assoc. of Classical & Christian Schools' Repairing the Ruins Conference (Dallas)
We're taking 46 faculty, staff, and parents to Big D to learn more together about classical Christian education. Megan's attending the conference, and the girls will rule the hotel pool. We're also planning to take in a Rangers game on Saturday before heading home.

27-29 Family trip with the Servens (Ozark, MO)
Between the two families (four adults, eight active kids), it took us almost two months to figure out a three-day window of time that we could all make a getaway work. We're glad to have this one on the calendar.

July
6-21 Family vacation (Tulsa, St. Louis, New Salem, Colorado Springs)
This is the big trip of the summer – both sets of grandparents, friends in St. Louis and Colorado Springs, a Cardinals game, a Rockies game, a week of camp at Eagle Lake for the girls, and hopefully some down time for Megan and me at Glen Eyrie and around town. If history is any indication, there are sure to be some Griswoldian stories from this one, so check back in August.

August
Just about all of the following has to do with school starting, so I'll spare you the details (though I'm very excited about our new two-day parent orientations for both campuses).
2-3 New Staff Orientation/Latin Student Workshops
6-7 Staff Orientation
10-11 WISE Parent Orientation (North Campus)
13-14 Staff Orientation
17-18 WISE Parent Orientation (Central Campus)
22/23 First days of School (North/Central)

Honestly (at least from a scheduling perspective), the summer seems almost over before it's begun. Still, we'll make the most of it, supplementing the trips with plenty of book reading and book writing, backyard pool time, trips to the dollar theater, and some cook-outs with friends. There's also lots of work to be done with both Veritas and City Pres, so we'll hardly be bored.

Glad for the breaks, glad for the work from which I need to take them.

The Sock

In Family, Movies, Young Ones on May 21, 2012 at 7:26 am

I'm afraid my out-of-town absences the past two weekends have negatively affected my girls in some very creative, strange, and violent ways.

And Now, Melancholy

In Arts, Family, Humanity, Marriage, Vacation, Young Ones on March 20, 2012 at 11:09 am

Melancholy

Every now and then, my melancholy gets the best of me and things go a little gray here on the blog. Maybe it's the rainy weather we're currently experiencing over all of Spring Break (or just the fact that I haven't really been able to take one), but I'm a little down.

No need to feel sorry for me, though (I'm quite capable of doing that on my own). Some things I've heard myself thinking of late (perhaps you can relate and at least know you're not alone):

  • I increasingly find myself chained to my laptop. While I love my Mac product(s), I don't like being inseparable from them. True, all it takes is shutting the lid, but so much of what I do requires time on it that it's beginning to lose its luster.
  • The amount of time spent thinking about life outside these United States continues to dwindle as I get older. Part of this is has to do with plenty of other thoughts occupying my head; part of it has to do with the fact that there is just no way to afford such travel anyway, so why bother? I want to care more about the world, but I don't.
  • Speaking of money, it's wearying watching people throw money at things that don't matter (and I'm not just talking about our federal and state governments), especially when I have so many better ideas of what they could do with it. My heart is living in Psalm 73 these days.
  • Our yard is little more than weeds right now, and after the rain of the past 24 hours, the weeds are all submerged in a big swamp. I want to care about property, but when things happen beyond my control, it becomes more of a challenge.
  • I'm thinking about lighting my desk on fire so as to gain a fresh start there (it's amazing to me how far I've fallen in this area of organization, particularly when I think of past posts like this one).
  • The idea of ever writing a book again is, at best, as or more fleeting as my cluttered attention span. (Sadly, the same could be said for ever reading one again as well.)
  • I continue to see my many failures as a husband and father and wonder how our family is really going to turn out when it's all said and done. Being married and parenting is hard and I wish I were better at both.

So there you have it – a collection of (mostly) first world problems that I'm even embarrassed sharing (yet another contributor to my funk of late). Of course, there are deeper issues beneath these scenarios, so pray I can recognize and offer them to God and regain some hope in my fallen perspective.

That is all.

(Melancholy (1891) painting by Edvard Munch)

A Dispatch from January

In Books, Calling, Church, Education, Family, Movies, Oklahoma City, Places, Pop Culture, Sports, Television, TV, Veritas, Young Ones on January 21, 2012 at 8:03 am

I have over 150 "have-to-answer" emails in my inbox, so it would seem a good time to work on the blog. (I'll just think of this as a warm-up rather than a put-off. Note: If you're waiting on an email from me, it will come today). Some items of late to mark the days:

I just finished two books, both with a financial theme: The Price of Everything, a parable of economic emergent order, by Russell Roberts, and The Third Conversion, a "novelette" by R. Scott Rodin about fundraising as ministry and not just money. The first book is a very readable text that our seniors are reading in Economics; the second is a more semi-hokey series of conversations between a seasoned fundraiser and his up-and-coming protege.

While recovering from my first kidney stone surgery, I found myself with some time to actually watch a few things on Netflix via the iPad. I'd heard of Joss Whedon's Firefly series (only one season of 15 episodes, capped off for resolution by the movie, Serenity) and enjoyed this "space western" well enough. I also had time for a few Shakespeare films (Kenneth Branaugh's Henry V and Patrick Stewart in Macbeth were excellent), which were fun and novel to watch.

There's been a lot of "launching" going on this January. A week ago, City Pres got off the ground with our first official worship service (I helped serve the Lord's Supper) and our Tuesday night CityGroup started back up; this past week, we kicked off our Veritas capital campaign and website, which we hope will come to first fruition in early March; and I've  enjoyed getting back in the classroom twice a week teaching the second semester of our senior American History course (two very different but engaging texts: A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schwiekart and Michaell Allen and A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn).

Other highlights so far this month: 70-degree weather, my four capitalist daughters selling three (and counting) enormous boxes worth of chocolate for their homeschool band program, Megan clearing off and cleaning my desk (she loves me), NFL football playoffs (which is really the only time I'm interested enough to watch), the daily newspaper in my driveway, cold milk on hand, and people who call me "friend".

Okay. Guess it's time to deal with email, to which I say (in my best British accent): "Do your worst!" Thanks for reading.

So I’m Having a Little Surgery Tomorrow…

In Family, Health, Science on January 8, 2012 at 8:36 am

I had a bit of a scare earlier this week by way of a doctor's appointment in which the word "cancer" randomly found its way into the list of possible pain diagnoses. Thankfully, I actually have two "significant" kidney stones (9 millimeters and 7 millimeters; one in each kidney) and am scheduled for an outpatient procedure early Monday morning to have them lasered. (All prayers appreciated for this procedure tomorrow; for the menfolk out there, this is where you cross your legs in empathy).

With the exception of one day, I haven't been in any kind of major pain; however, the doctor was concerned when I described to him the pain I had felt being in both sides of my back. He said it was rare to have "synced" kidney stones in each kidney and thought the odds were a little against that. When I asked him what else might account for the dispersed pain, that was when the briefest of cancer discussions began.

In general, I'm not one to freak out at things like this, and I didn't; odds or not, the pain was similar to the only other time I've had kidney stones, so I was pretty sure that's what I was dealing with here. But the doctor had me get a CT scan later that day so we would know what the problem was, and in the 36-hour period of waiting for the results, I experienced a few emotions at the possibility of having cancer that I'm not sure I had felt up to this point in my life.

My first emotion – starting in the doctor's office – had to do with the challenge of the prospect: I felt myself hoping it was cancer so I could take my best shot at beating it. Perhaps a form of denial or just prideful presumption, I remember thinking through how I could "use" this to inspire others through my battle and come out on top in the end. I know: sick. But that was my first emotion, self-serving and naive as it was.

My second emotion – once I moved past the idiotic hope of wanting cancer – had everything to do with Megan and the girls. I began thinking through all the details I needed to figure out (and fast) so as to make whatever time I had left with them the best that I could. I also spent a lot of mental energy trying to figure out when and how to break the news, as their disassociative abilities are not as fully developed (read: non-existent) as mine are in terms of dealing with bad news and not immediately personalizing it.

My final emotion – and the one that was strangest to deal with – was my first real visceral sense that, in my humanity, I am indeed mortal and vulnerable to death. Though I've made peace with this reality from the philosophical and theological perspectives, this was the first true emotional consideration of the fact that I am not always going to be a living, breathing person. I felt fear, sadness, and disappointment creep in at the possibility that I might be dead prematurely (at least by my watch), and I emotionally winced at the Bible's teaching that, "…you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14) I prefer not to be a poster child for this truth (though I – and all of us – are).

Thankfully, I DON'T have cancer, the kidney stones will be taken care of in an outpatient surgery tomorrow, and I fully intend on making a quick and complete recovery and getting back to what God has called me to do. In fact, as I processed all of the above this week, one thing that did encourage me was that, if indeed I had limited time to live, I had no desire to do anything other than what I'm doing – no end-of-life trips or job-quitting plans required. This is reassuring and has brought new focus to the tasks at hand this week.

I'm glad for that 36-hour period in which I didn't know for sure what the future held; if anything, it was a good and practical opportunity to hold on tight with open hands to my life and check how much I do or don't trust God with it. In not knowing, I felt relief that, by His grace, I seemed able to trust Him for whatever would come, as several times Job's words were my own: "Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face." (Job 13:15 ESV)

Not doing much arguing of ways these days…just grateful to God to get to have one more.

Blended Model Education (in a Perfect World)

In Education, Family, Movies, Veritas, Young Ones on October 18, 2011 at 7:11 am

Our Veritas Online Home Day Film Festival launches today. Here’s the intro video Megan, the girls, and I put together this past weekend to officially kick it off. Enjoy.

Some Blessings…No Turning Back

In Calling, Church, Education, Family, Friends, Marriage, Places, Veritas, Young Ones on September 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

A couple weeks ago, I lamented that I had Some Regrets…No Doubts about our move to Oklahoma. As promised at the end of that entry, it's time to write the follow-up post.

Today marks 100 days on the job as Head of School of Veritas Classical Academy. In making it this far, I've been so grateful for the kindness, care, and friendship shown to my family, and the many prayers and expressions of support for my leadership at Veritas. During the past 100 days, I’ve listened – to parents and students, to faculty and staff, to our Board of Directors and the Lord – to learn what of the past seven years has made the school who we are now, all while planning and positioning us for the next seven (and beyond). It's been incredibly challenging, but as personally fulfilling as anything I've done.

I love getting to see my kids during their school days, but strangely, this has been more awkward for me than for them. During the first week, I felt really embarrassed for them when they saw me and ran up and hugged me during the day. I wonder how long their enthusiasm for Dad will last, but since they don't seem to mind or feel pressure to behave differently, I'm happy to let it continue as long as it will (I just need to get used to it).

DSC_0117

In addition to my own kids, I'm enjoying the other 243 students enrolled at our two campuses. While I'm still learning names and trying desperately to keep up with everything required to run a school, the kids have been kind and open with me, as have many of their parents. One particularly enjoyable bunch of students is my Headmaster's Conclave, a lunch group of juniors and seniors. We meet every other week to talk about their studies, their lives, and their perspectives on how we can improve Veritas. It's been enlightening to hear from them (and they've been more than willing to provide "the new guy" with their honest thoughts).

Craig with VCA Students (72 dpi)

I could go on – about our teaching staff (all of whom I love); about our administrative team (all of whom are so committed to the school); about our board of directors (all of whom I feel safe with); and about classical Christian education (all of which I am learning so much, but still have so much to learn). It's been great – really exhausting, but great.

On the non-school front, I'm encouraged with the relationships we're beginning to cultivate in our neighborhood, which has thankfully turned out to be much more socially and ethnically diverse than I imagined. Over Labor Day weekend, we organized a cul-de-sac party and over 30 people turned out, many of whom had lived here for years and were re-introducing themselves to each other as they had just not kept up over time. The girls have made friends in the neighborhood and the weather has finally cooled off to make being outside an option (though actually being home remains my biggest challenge).

Cul-de-sac

As you may know, one of the other reasons we moved to OKC was to help my college roommate/co-author, Doug Serven, plant City Presbyterian, the first PCA church in the Oklahoma City limits. Here's a picture from one of our first leadership meetings in June:

Church Plant Couples

And here's a picture from our first "preview" worship service this past Sunday evening:

As you can see, our chairs runneth over. Granted, not all of these people are going to stick around as part of City Pres (several were simply well-wishers from other churches while others were there to see one of the nine baptisms that took place), but it was fun to pull everything together and provide an opportunity for folks to hear the Scriptures proclaimed, to partake in the sacraments of communion and baptism, and to visualize the future of Oklahoma City with a Reformed church in its downtown.

As we don't anticipate formally launching a weekly service until perhaps the spring, we'll be meeting in City Groups (ours meets on Tuesday evenings) and in Sunday night vision rallies until then. However, it was especially fun for me to see Megan enjoy offering of her behind-the-scenes gifts of service and hospitality (not to mention picture-taking), as well as see our girls jump in and help set up, pull off, and pick up after the service. Having been dragged along to so many of the leadership meetings over the summer, they felt real ownership for the service and the church, which was hugely exciting.

In thinking through all of this – school, neighborhood, church, family – I keep coming back to Psalm 16, which has, for the past six years or so, become one of my fortunate favorites:

    Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
    I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
        I have no good apart from you.”
    As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
        in whom is all my delight.
    The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
        their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
        or take their names on my lips.
    The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
        you hold my lot.
    The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
        indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
    I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
        in the night also my heart instructs me.
    I have set the LORD always before me;
        because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
    Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
        my flesh also dwells secure.
    For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
        or let your holy one see corruption.
    You make known to me the path of life;
        in your presence there is fullness of joy;
        at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16 ESV)

Some blessings…no turning back. Grateful to God for who he is and all he is doing.

Some Regrets…No Doubts

In Calling, Family, Friends, Marriage, Oklahoma City, Places, Places & Spaces, Young Ones on August 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

On Friday, the girls and I got home from school around 2 p.m., as Veritas is only in session on Fridays until 12:30. My normal "Daddy's home" routine is to greet Megan (usually with a hug), greet the dogs (also usually with a hug), and then head upstairs, change clothes, and collapse on the bed for a period of time in direct proportion to what kind of day/week it's been.

As we just finished our first week – a very good but exhausting one – my time on the bed went a little longer than normal. After 45 minutes of repeatedly falling asleep but then being awakened by one of four daughters, I gave up the idea of a nap and came downstairs. The girls wanted to watch something, but I was not in the mood for Phineas & Ferb; thus, we pulled up Chariots of Fire on Netflix and enjoyed.

There's a scene toward the end of the film in which Erid Liddell can only watch the finals of the race he was favored to win (the 100-yard dash) because his Sabbath conviction stood in the way of participating in the qualifying heats the previous Sunday. As Liddell is sitting in the stands waiting for the race to begin, a friend leans over to him and asks if he has any regrets. Liddell's response: "Some regrets…no doubts."

I resonated with Liddell's sentiment. Moving to Oklahoma has hardly been an awful thing and I have no doubts we are supposed to be here. But I'd be lying if I said there weren't some regrets that I've been processing and feeling this summer.

I suppose the first source of grief is just the loss of time and money that goes with any major transition. In thinking back through all the hours invested praying and wrestling with the pros and cons, asking questions and communicating decisions, selling a house and buying a house, packing, loading, moving, unloading, and unpacking, and paying for it all, I regret the toll our move required and the burden it placed on our family. A look at my minimal reading list or our bank account confirms that it's been a tough seven months.

Second, I regret distancing the relationships we had in St. Louis (as well as the ones previously distanced in Colorado Springs before we moved from there). We've always been fortunate to have surrounded ourselves with good people, but that fact is not always comforting when you have to leave them behind. I miss those I used to work with, went to church with, laughed with, argued with, and just loved being with. These are wounds that I don't anticipate healing completely.

Third, I miss the simplicity of "just being a teacher" and being able to focus exclusively on the science and art of teaching. I first felt this reality in May, when I finished teaching and started my new role as Head of School ten days later (moving in between), but being around kids this past week really made me miss the classroom and the discussions I got to have with students all day long.

Fourth, I miss the Midwest and the common sense spirit of keeping your head down and your nose to the grindstone because, well, that's what people do in the Midwest. Granted, the Southwest is perhaps not that different, but while I never thought I'd miss the weather in St. Louis, after living through the hottest summer on record in Oklahoma, I confess I miss that as well.

Finally, I regret the potential risks I've exposed my family (and others) to in leaving a well-established, well-respected, and well-funded school in an amazing brand new building run by seasoned leaders who know what they're doing in order to be a first-time Head of School in a fledgling education movement that rents limited space every week in two churches just to have a place to meet three days a week. I won't say the pressure's overwhelming yet, but there is pressure, and I feel it on a variety of levels.

Some regrets, yes. Plenty of them. But no doubts. None at all. I'll write about why in my next post.

Because We Apparently Need More to Do

In Calling, Education, Family, Internet, Technology, Veritas, Young Ones on August 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm

You may or may not have heard, but Megan and I have started writing a new blog together about our journey (past and present) through the world of classical education. The blog's called Docendo Discimus. Here's our angle on the name and idea:

Seneca "The philosopher Seneca (c. 4 BC-65 AD) offers us his counsel: 'Docendo discimus.' Translation: 'By teaching, we learn.' As we seek to provide our children with a classical Christian education, we hope to gain that which we did not experience in our own. Granted, it is probably more difficult now at our current stages of life due to slipping memories, full-time jobs, and possible mid-life plateaus, but it is not impossible, nor do we have to do it alone; hence this blog."

For more on our rationale, you can click here to get an idea of where we're going with it (and why). We're planning to write every Tuesday and Friday and, while what's up there now (a short series on what makes education Christian) is mine, Megan's planning to launch her first series from the homefront next week, so you won't want to miss that.

In addition to the new blog, we've also created a Twitter account to go with it. You'll find us tweeting about most things classical education at @PagingSeneca, so retweet us every now and then if what we write resonates with you.

Rest assured, we'll still continue writing individually at Second Drafts and Half-Pint House, but we're excited to be able to contribute to this new one together. So, check out the site and/or follow us on Twitter. Hope they help.

First Day of School

In Education, Family, Oklahoma City on August 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Oncoming

Yep, it's a lot like that…only louder.

U2: A Recap

In Family, Musicians, Places & Spaces, Young Ones on July 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Girls Outside Busch

Smiles

Word

U2

Wiped

Always Pain Before a Child Is Born

In Arts, Calling, Church, Education, Family, Oklahoma City, Places & Spaces, Thought, Vacation, Young Ones on July 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I've been listening to a fair amount of U2 the past couple days as part of my preparation (yes, preparation) for the upcoming concert at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. If you remember, we're planning to take the girls on Sunday, and I can't wait for their reactions to all that they will see, hear, and experience at their first-ever rock concert.

I've written before about the band and the fact that their music has served as a soundtrack for just about every major transition I've experienced. True to form, six months before we moved to Oklahoma, we bought tickets to the St. Louis show for July 17th and gave them to the girls for Christmas, not knowing until a few months later that we wouldn't be living there anymore come summer. When I took the new role, the only contingency was that we could take a week of vacation leading up to the concert. I won't say it would have been a deal-breaker…but it could have been.

As it turns out, "vacation" started Saturday, but it's not exactly the one we originally planned. Megan and the girls arrived in St. Louis as of Sunday night, but they've spent the past two days in the dentist and optometrist offices trying to get one last round of check-ups in before our insurance transfers in August.

I'm still in Oklahoma as I felt the need to be at several important meetings yesterday and today. I'll fly up early Wednesday morning to join the ladies for a couple days at the farm before spending Saturday and Sunday around a hotel pool gearing up for the show that night. We'll then drive back to OKC all day Monday (I'm looking forward to the drive, as it will be the first time we all will get to process the concert at length together).

Today, while making the drive up and down I-35, I listened to "Yahweh" from How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. Below is the acoustic version of the song (the album version includes the bridge and features a more rock arrangement) from the Chicago concert we were actually at in 2005 (don't make fun of Larry's one-finger string arrangement – he's a drummer, God love him):

The song is a prayer – a prayer I prayed with tears today as I wove in and out of traffic trying to get where I needed to go. It's how my prayers to God sound these days – prayers filled with painful self-awareness of my inadequacies as well as angry frustrations at my limitations. As in the chorus, the desperate cry of "Yahweh" was about all I could manage to get out while driving through Oklahoma City, and that was okay.

What's weird is it's been a great six weeks – six weeks that I would change very little about in terms of what we've done and accomplished. But six weeks does not a school build, nor a church plant. Every day has been hard, and from what I can tell, every day is going to be hard for a long time. I'm embarrassed by my impatience, but grateful for it too in that it reminds me I still expect God to do something here (and there is so very much that only He can do).

In looking through the playlists posted from the last few U2 concerts, I don't see "Yahweh" anywhere on them. Still, maybe the Lord will spark Bono to change things up and do it Sunday night, which if that happens, I will break down weeping at the gift it would be while my wife and daughters (once again) wonder what's wrong with Daddy.

And the answer is nothing…and everything – all of which God – Yahweh – cares for deeply.

 

Take these shoes – click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes and make them fit
Take this shirt – polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt and make it clean, clean
Take this soul – stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul and make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I'm waiting for the dawn

Take these hands – teach them what to carry
Take these hands – don't make a fist
Take this mouth – so quick to criticize
Take this mouth – give it a kiss

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahewh, Yahweh
Still I'm waiting for the dawn

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city – a city should be shining on a hill
Take this city if it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart, take this heart
Take this heart and let it break

Listening for God’s “Rock” Voice

In Calling, Education, Family, Veritas, Young Ones on July 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Just sent this out to our Veritas families and staff and wondered if anyone here might like/want/need to read it as well:

This morning I was reading the prophet Zephaniah's book when I came across 3:17, which says,

"The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."

Israel (now split into northern and southern kingdoms) continues to avoid returning to God and His covenant because of their sin, but God, through Zephaniah, clarifies their reality: they are in trouble, but He is in their midst and is able and willing to save them from themselves.

Does this reality describe your house as much as it does ours? As Megan and I parent, it seems we're often having to point out to our four girls when they are in trouble and remind them that we're here to help before they make things worse for themselves. (Truth be told, Megan and I sometimes have a similar version of this conversation with each other, but that's for another email…).

So we get discouraged. And we wonder if we know what we're doing. And we begin to convince each other that we don't. But since they're ours, well, we've got to figure it out. So what does figuring it out look like?

Figuring it out looks a lot like God's promised response to a repentant Israel: a rejoicing one; a loving and quieting one; an exultant one, complete with loud singing over them (this is not a lullaby; this is God's "rock" voice).

Megan and I are good at recognizing trouble, offering help, and warning our kids about their own sinful natures. But we have miles to go in celebrating their repentance, even more so in truly "rocking out" at their return to what's right.

Summers are a great time to re-evaluate a lot of things; parenting should be on that list. Let me encourage you to give thought to how you correct and train your kids…AND how you love and rejoice over them when they respond, too.

So This Is Oklahoma?

In Calling, Family, Friends, Oklahoma City, Places, Young Ones on June 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Lake Hefner

Believe it or not, yes, it is. The flying bird/bat things? Parachute surfers on Lake Hefner, which is approximately two miles from our house here in Oklahoma City. Weird, eh? It's like California (minus the light sand and snowballing state government deficit).

Non-surprises: Highway 44 (previously the formerly famous Route 66) is not nearly as romantic when you've been on it for six hours (the trip takes a good eight from St. Louis); we should have rented a semi-truck instead of Budget's 24-footer (thanks to everyone back in the STL who helped Megan load up our second round of stuff on Friday); and, while the house is a wreck, it really is going to be a great place for all of us to call home (especially when we finally get to close on the silly thing on Monday).

We had some good help get us set up last Tuesday. Thanks to Becky, Josh, Brent, and Ruth (among others) for lending a hand.

Craig and Keith

A prayer request: Keith (pictured with me above) is a men's minister with First Stone Ministries. He and his wife, Lisa, are the folks we're buying the house from and they have been nothing but a pleasure to work with through the process. Unfortunately, their attempt to purchase a home in Norman has been far from enjoyable due to a contrary seller. As a result (and because we're here now), they're displaced and hoping not to have to double-move their stuff (they also are trying to find new homes for Boomer and Lloyd – their dog and cat – for whom our own Peaches is currently providing hospitality.) Anyway, if you think of it, pray for their deal to work out and that all would be well for them.

So, we're here and glad to be so. I'll have more pics and posts to come; until then, suffice it to say that after our twelfth move in 14 years of marriage, it's good to be home (again).

Our R.O.U.S. (Rodent of Unusual Size)

In Family on May 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I took Peaches to PetSmart today to get her nails ground down and came home inspired to save $20 and give her a haircut myself. Unfortunately, I'm probably going to have to spend the money anyway to finish her face and ears as I was too afraid of going all Van Gogh on her. Here she is in all of her half-shaved rodent glory:

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