New School Year … New Approach


Life’s highway seldom follows a straight line. You can force the wheel away from the turns, but you’ll wind up in the ditch. If you ignore every exit ramp, you’ll inevitably run out of gas. And if you drive the same speed as everyone else … well, that’s just no fun, is it?

We recently made a decision to give homeschooling a try. Well, it’s public school … at home. We’re doing this with our 14 year old daughter Reagan, who was set to enter high school this year.

Reagan's new school space.

Reagan’s new school space.

Reagan isn’t better than other kids … she’s just different, and there’s a basket of reasons that made this option attractive.

  • She’s a socially introverted kid (no, really … she is) who learns better on her own than she does in group settings. Constant group work exhausts her, and public schools — for reasons I still do not understand — are increasingly obsessed with forcing group work.
  • She’s an emotionally complicated kid, and the drama and ugliness that’s rampant in our youth (particularly female) culture truly brings her down.
  • She’s an aspiring professional musician who needs flexibility in her schedule for studio sessions and potential travel.
  • She had already decided that she wasn’t willing to commit to high school sports. This broke our hearts, but we agreed that music practice/performance would be a much better use of her time. JV and varsity sports are so demanding; she can still play in club leagues for fun without signing over her life.
  • She truly learns better in her own space, where she can read and study, free from distraction.
  • She’s not interested in wasting her time sitting in a school where too much of the day is devoted to discipline and crowd control; that just doesn’t seem productive, and it just makes her angry. The older I get, the more devoted I am to making the most of every moment, so her concerns about this definitely resonate with me.

Now, Scot and I aren’t the most organized people in the world, and our work hours make for a less-than-conventional schedule. When Reagan initially approached us about this, our immediate answer was “absolutely not.” I then remembered having the same homeschooling request of my parents when I was in 7th or 8th grade, and it wasn’t considered … not for a moment. They had their reasons, I’m sure, but having experienced the same feelings (at roughly the same age) as Reagan, I decided to not be so dismissive of her request.

I reached out to friends to gather homeschool advice and experiences, and that’s when someone sent me information about iUniversity Prep — a free, virtual academy offered through the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. We went to the informational seminar and were blown away with the vision these administrators had for this new, innovative style of learning. When we left, we knew this was the right path for Reagan.

  • She’ll have access to teachers just like any other student.
  • She’ll participate often in classroom settings via video conferencing.
  • She’ll be held to the same academic standards as any other student in the district regarding attendance, grades, testing, etc.
  • She’ll have — when it makes sense to do so — the opportunity to collaborate with other students (on the web, as well as in person).
  • She’ll have the chance to accelerate her learning path and graduate early.

Our prayer is that this experience will go well, and that, when both our younger children reach high school (or possibly junior high), we can consider placing them in iUniversity Prep, as well. They might have personality types and learning styles that lend themselves more to group settings, but if that isn’t the case … we’re excited about having this option. We’re not concerned that our kids will be “socially awkward” — an often-voiced objection to homeschooling — since they are heavily integrated in church activities, and they have ample friendships outside of school.

Besides, they’ll be with us all the time, and everyone knows how normal we are. 🙂

If you’d like more information, click HERE for their informative website.

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Milking this Topic ( . )( . )


BreastfeedingBig breastfeeding show today!

Mark and I had a little on-air duel today (click here for audio) over a topic that, quite honestly, should never be the stuff of controversy. But, since it always does seem to get folks’ bras in a wad,  we were flooded with calls, tweets, and emails — primarily from men (which is entirely different talk show topic) — containing passionate opinions.

The best email I received all morning was from a listener named Linda. It perfectly summed up my feelings on this matter (we actually shared it on air) and I wanted to post it here for everyone’s consumption.
______________

Mark,

I’ve been listening this morning, and I’ll say what I’ve heard you say a dozen times already: “I love you man, but…” You’re speaking from a lack of experience.

Until you’ve held a sweaty, 15 pound heater on your lap to nurse him for 20 minutes or so on a hot Texas day, you don’t realize how oppressive even those “little flimsy blankets” you referred to earlier really can be. You haven’t held a squirmy breast feeder who freaks out every time anything (like a light blanket) comes near her face and struggles to push it away while simultaneously letting go of your nipple (and exposing you) as she starts to scream in fear (thus drawing attention to you). Nor have you had to choose between nursing your baby at a public playground while you supervise your three and five year-old children at play, rather than wrestle them back to the car to wait patiently (???) while you run the motor for 20 minutes or so at $4 a gallon and nurse the baby in private. Children are not always issued in single-dose packaging, they are often reared in packs.

I agree that a nursing mother should be as considerate of others around her as she hopes others will be of her and her baby’s situation. Honestly, the reasonable person who sees a guy wander off to some bushes to relieve himself is going to look away, just as they should if they see a sleep-deprived mother attempting to nurse a baby in a less-than ideal circumstance.

Society needs to take a chill pill about this, period. Every adult criticizing how others accomplish the feeding and nurture of their children needs to remember their own mother who had to do her best to feed and nurture them at one time also.

Signed,

A loyal, conservative listener, who has spent roughly 5 years of her life (total) breastfeeding her children in a warm climate.

No Idea What to Call This


I don’t look to Gordon Keith for spiritual guidance; to do so would certainly signify the end times. But I do appreciate a good challenge — spiritual, mental, physical — to me, it’s the candy of life.

As a believer, I can’t endorse everything in his recent Op-Ed, but he did touch on something that I feel warrants more discussion.

Keith points to the “Invisible Man” phenomenon of Christianity, identifying the ways believers dress our physically unseen God in clothes that best suit our interests. Clothes that promote our agenda. Clothes that keep us warm and cozy, free from the chilling realities of life.

All this is true, but when it comes to the recent controversy surrounding Dr. Robert Jeffress and Tim Tebow, spectators missed an opportunity to address an increasingly common cloak we drape across the shoulders of God: celebrity worship.

Fifty years ago, if an average-at-best quarterback had accepted (and subsequently declined) an invitation to speak at a large church, it would have scarcely made the local news. But as our culture has become so increasingly voyeuristic and consumed with social icons, stories like these now dominate the headlines for days.

Transition to the “I Am Second” campaign. This noble effort has made my teeth itch from day one. I understand the importance of a powerful testimony. I appreciate a person using their public platform to make the name of Jesus famous, and I suppose if you get your arm bitten off by a shark, and God works through that tragedy, you should share your story. But the average “I Am Second” video is three or four minutes long. Guess how long it takes to read a simple Proverb? Bingo. And too many people have traded the pure truth of the latter for the emotional high of the former.

These celebrities aren’t to blame. We’re the guilty ones when we take our eyes off of the ultimate Victor, and instead wrap ourselves — and our view of God — in the victories, struggles, and lives of man.

Josh Hamilton recently became the poster child for redemption, catapulting him to hero status in the hearts and minds of every God-fearing baseball fan, but, oops – there he was taking liquor shots off a random girl’s stomach in a bar. Carrie Prejean stood up for traditional marriage in a pageant and then, literally overnight, was transformed into the cover girl for God’s model of marriage. Oops — then we all got to see her boobs. Tim Tebow? He’s not Billy Graham. He’s just a kid who throws a football and loves Jesus. Did he make the right decision in breaking his commitment to appear at First Baptist Dallas? I would say he did not.

Billy Graham? Just like Dr. Jeffress, he fails, too.

Where then do we go with this? We feel let down. We feel disappointed. We’re discouraged … but why, when we’re the ones who elevated these people to a height from which they were destined to fall — and from which we’d surely fall, as well.

So insane and reckless has our obsession with popular culture become that Ed Young Jr., the founder and pastor of Fellowship Church (one of the largest churches in the country) led a sermon series centered around what Christ would say to various celebrities — Ellen Degeneres, Lance Armstrong, Kim Kardashian, among others. Were there meritorious points made in the series? I reckon there were, but did it warrant taking Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Last Supper portrait and superimposing a picture of a porn star over the face of Philip the Apostle?

The examples are countless, but they all beg the same question: is Christ not enough?

I guess in the hearts and minds of most people, He isn’t. We all struggle with idolatry in one way or another; I am no exception. And until we let go of the rotten bananas the world offers, pull our hand out of the monkey trap, and experience the abundant life, love, and grace Christ freely offers, some folks will feel a need to identify with something tangible. If that something needs to be a celebrity, I’ll at least concede they could do worse than the cast of “I Am Second” characters, Dr. Robert Jeffress, or Tim Tebow.

I suppose they could even do worse than Gordon Keith.

A Tale of Two Speakers


Help me with something …

Tim Tebow has canceled an upcoming appearance at First Baptist Dallas — a church led by Dr. Robert Jeffress, whose sermons give occasional cause for controversy. Tebow is a Christian, a football player, and a media figure who clearly doesn’t want to further deal with the concerns surrounding the perceived intolerance of the First Dallas. Would he have — and has he already — experienced personal and professional backlash for agreeing to this appearance in the first place? You bet. Would his participation have signaled that he, too, believes everything taught by Dr. Jeffress? Absolutely not. The only message sent would have been whatever message Tebow planned to present — and that message would have been entirely up to him.

I’m speaking on Monday, February 25 to the Metroplex Republicans — the Dallas affiliate of GOProud which is a national political organization representing gay conservatives.  I am a Christian, a conservative talk radio producer, a (Baptist!) worship leader, and self-proclaimed chief among sinners who, without God’s grace, is nothing. Do I expect to — and have I already — received personal and professional backlash for agreeing to this appearance in the first place? You bet. Does my participation signal that I, too, believe everything promoted by GOProud and the Metroplex Republicans? Absolutely not. The only message my participation will send will be the message I plan to present — and that message will be entirely up to me.

Please tell me what I’m missing.

Convenient Christianity


"I saw her standing there and I told her she had three beautiful children. She didn't have to get angry. It was an honest mistake."

“I saw her standing there and I told her she had three beautiful children. She didn’t have to get angry. It was an honest mistake.”

Check out the caption on this picture (to the right) that popped up on my Twitter feed the other day.

At first, sure … it’s clever. But if you’re a Christian, it’s inexcusable.

I don’t care how outraged you are over 9/11, Islamic jihad, or the threat of Sharia law, to suggest that an innocent child looks like a sack of trash is disgusting. I understand the real target here is the perceived ridiculousness of the Islamic dress code, but inside that burqa is a little girl, and beneath countless burqa across the world children can be found who:

  • have had their genitals mutilated
  • are denied the opportunity to obtain education
  • are forced into a marriages (and sex) as early as nine years old, often to men three to four times their age
  • will find themselves in abusive marriages with no legal or societal recourse

Sure, I believe the majority of Muslims reject these obscene human rights violations, but Christians, no matter how righteous our indignation, can’t ignore that this is a culture full of hurting, hopeless people.

You can’t pick and choose who you express the love of Christ to. It isn’t a commandment of convienience, in fact, if you’ll remember, it was His second greatest commandment. When He commanded us to “love one another,” He meant everyone: people who don’t look like you, live like you, vote like you, and, yes … even those who wage jihad against you.

It’s a tall order, and one with which I admittedly struggle, but Christ also gave us a reason to love one another. It’s a reason that makes the unnatural act of loving our enemies beautifully rewarding, and I think it’s something a lot of Christians — likely, most of us — forget:

“I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” — John 15:11

It’s not surprising that there are so many angry, joyless, bitter Christians walking around, not to mention an increasing number of non-believers who are repelled — repulsed, actually — by the way we approach our world.

Without love, we’re nothing.

Text Messages from My Teenage Daughter: A Continuing Saga




She’s fourteen. She’s complicated. She’s an artistic, beautiful old soul. And she text messages me … constantly. I figured I’d make a little keepsake album that I’ll update weekly.

Enjoy … 

HORMONE-DRIVEN OVERGENERALIZATIONS:

  • I’m emotionally exhausted.
  • This day SUCKS. Can’t stop crying. I’m so mad. You have no idea. When I couldn’t see [due to power outage] I tripped and freakin rolled my ankle again. And I couldn’t see so I couldn’t do my hair, And when we got the power on it was too late so I look like crap. And I can’t find my hoodie, so I’m wearing one with a logo, so it will probably get taken up and I won’t have a jacket. And when I was getting in the car I tripped in a big puddle and got my pants wet. And I couldn’t open the door cause my hands were full and I crushed my poster in the door. And my song lyrics got wet and the ink is smearing. I’m so stressed.

MEDICAL EMERGENCIES:

  • I woke up with a terrible wheeze and cough. My nose is so congested. This is so irritating. I can’t sleep. I’m not supposed to wake up for another hour. My throat hurts really bad.

MOMMY’S LITTLE CYNIC:

  • This day is freaking useless. I’m sitting in the hallway while they take the test. That’s what I have to do next period, too.

MEDIA OBSERVATIONS:

  • Just saw a kitty litter commercial. It said “every granule is coated with baking soda”. BS.

ON GRAMMAR:

  • …like a cake, brownies, cookies, or something. (See my Oxford comma? I love my Oxford comma. It makes me so mad when people don’t use him. It’s just a plain lack of common sense. You don’t have orange juice, toast and milk. You have orange juice, toast, and milk. Otherwise you are a freak who likes soggy toast and crumbly milk.

POLITICAL OBSERVATIONS:

  • I need to take over the White House. — Everyone would be happier, and there would be more tacos.

CRIES FOR HELP:

  • Outside. Can’t get back it. Need you to unlock the door.

EDUCATION:

  • 105 on algebra test. (5 are the bonus points.) I’m so happy.

ON FRIENDSHIP:

  • [Friend] just texted me and told me that a kid in her English class fell out of his chair, everyone laughed at him, and he sat in the corner and cried. She asked me what she should do. In reply, I told her to get off her ass and help the kid. She said that it was harder for her than it was for me. Then she went in about how she wishes she would have done something. And she said how bad she felt. She just said that she wishes she could stand up for people like me. In which I replied: “You know what? It’s human nature. For some reason, I’ve been blessed with the ability to not care about what other people think of me. And honestly, that’s not natural. For most people, it’s a work in progress to get to the point where others’ feelings are more important than your own. And you are far ahead of most people. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You are a great Christian girl. But you have to WANT to help people. The ability isn’t just given to you.”

RANDOMNESS:

  • PO-TA-TOES. Boil em. Mash em. Stick em in a stew.

2013: Read. Sleep. Serve.


I’m keeping my resolutions simple this year:

Read — If doing three consecutive days of three-hour solo radio taught me anything, it’s that depth of knowledge is the key to success. I need to read more, and not just political websites and blogs — actual books … (well, eBooks).

Sleep — I just don’t do it enough, and it’s killing me. I should probably be specific about the number of hours I’ll shoot for, but for now, I’ll just say that I’m going to do it more.

Serve — I want to give more of my time and treasure. Several occasions in 2012 revealed to me my selfish human nature — amplified by various opportunities I had to engage folks who embody the servant’s heart. Simply put: I want to bless.

Oh, and I have to throw in this one, though it’s not too profound:

Embrace my height — I’m, like, 5’5.3333334″. Not exactly short. So why have I been walking around on stilts 24/7? It’s just ridiculous. And I’m tired of my feet hurting. I’ll wear heels when appropriate, but the days of doing it daily — are over.