Monday, September 24, 2012

Who Cares Who Is Right?

I found two interesting quotes tonight.

I don’t see any place in the Bible where Jesus says to be right. And I see a lot in the Bible where He tells us to learn about love.
And the other is, 
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
- Paul of Tarsus, 1 Corinthians 13:2 (Msg)
So often, ideas thrown around on the internet and discussed and prodded and poked and foisted upon people and packaged and presented and overmade and remade that a high emphasis is made of being "right." I'm less concerned today with being right than I am concerned with mirroring and becoming God's love to those around me.

Kylie, my 16 year-old just told me,
Being right inflates our pride, while love requires being humble. It's easier to focus on ideas. With writing, there is so much to learn about it. If you focus so much on the how, the rules, the technique, you can actually stop writing. What makes you a writer is writing. If we focus on theology all the time, there's little time to actually practice our Christian faith by putting the love we learn about into action.
Well said, baby girl.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Denver Broncos to support Colorado with helmet decal - NFL.com

After a very long summer, I appreciate the Broncos making this gesture. More importantly, I hope their visits to the victims will help bring healing to the wounds Colorado has suffered of late. Denver Broncos to support Colorado with helmet decal - NFL.com:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Forgot To Type the Title of the Post

Nearly everything I've written lately has not been posted here. It's partly because my blog here is stalled. I wanted a better set up, a smoother appearance, a better this, a nicer that, and in my ignorance, I let my domain expire rather than transfer it. A word of advice about custom domains: Never, ever let them expire. All the momentum I never realized I had gained here went away when that happened. I should have listened to that little voice in my head that said, "Wait!"

So. My momentum is no more. My "mo" is no mo'. Not exactly a shining achievement, but like my friends who lost nearly everything in the Waldo Canyon Fire, I have a chance to start fresh here. I have a few ideas that I'm starting to firm up. This blog will continue to publish as I go, making changes on the fly. Wherever I go, I'm going to do all I can to take you, my friends, along. I will be careful not to lose you again!

Why haven't I been publishing? Partly because my walk with God had hit a coasting spot. If you've walked with Him for any amount of time, you'll know what I mean by coasting. He's not really talking much, and I'm not in any hot water with any one. Nothing seems to be in crisis (aside from fire, flood, and famine, which we've seen before, to one extent or another). I just came to think that there wasn't really anything going on in my walk. Boy, was I wrong! Never ever (is there an echo in here?) believe the lie that God isn't working 24/7/365 on you!

Sure, there will be moments when there's peace around you and he's not visibly altering your heart by pressing it in a vice and heating it with fire, but that's where I got tripped up. I thought that since he wasn't coaching me and I kept talking to Him, that everything was fine and there were "no worries." It's the tagline from a Jaws sequel that haunts me: "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..."

It's always that problem that hangs just beneath the surface. Worse yet, it was contributing to my lack of writing. It seems to me that nothing is worse than a constipated writer. Sorry for comparing this to such a base idea, but when a writer is not writing, it's not that he's stopped writing. It's that he's stopped listening with his heart and writing from what he hears. All the other stuff he's written is not from that spot and the works range from little bits from his heart to what could be considered busy work.

I had been up all night, struggling over the issue, when I had finally resolved to "fix" the problem with what appeared to be the only solution. That's when my wife, wonderful Karen, asked in a middle-of-the-night croaky voice, "Did ya pray about it?"

"What?!" I responded in anger. Whoa. Wait a minute. Did I just yell at my wife? Yep, I shamefully confess that I did, and I was clearly in the wrong. Sorry. The worst part of it is that I hadn't consulted the God Who knows better than me in every circumstance. Sorry, again, Poppa. So I did, and He showed that He's got a better solution than I have. He is faithful, providentially faithful, even when we are faithless. He has never failed me to give me what I need, even if it's not always what I want.

Your brother in the Lion of Judah,
Steve

PS: If you want to read a bit of good news that has come as a result of last Thursday night in Aurora, there is a story of God's grace that, with a little help from me, has gone viral. Petra (PAY-tra) is a graduated homeschooler who already has a gift that shines even as her mom struggles to extend her days here with her. Brave young lady! I'm praying for her and all the others affected by this tragedy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Chasing the Changes, Changing the Pages

So. What has been happening at Walden's Wits? Not much, obviously. This blog is "in transition," to put it mildly. I deliberately let the domain WaldensWits.com lapse because I really didn't want to spend my family's already precious income on what is essentially a vanity. That might change, especially if finances pick up again in the fall like they usually do. While I understand that some folks may not be able to find my blog anymore, I don't know that many folks found the custom name terribly memorable. In the meantime, suggestions for new names on this blog can be e-mailed or commented. This being a personal blog, it's themes will change from time to time, but something on my name or my nicknames will surface eventually and we'll change the name.

My life tends to oscillate between learning and teaching. When I started this blog, I was a gainfully employed husband and father of a toddler and two children under 10. Now those children will all be over 10 in a year or so, and my disability has prevented my full-time employment for most of that time. My family has started a ministry, a business and a few other ventures. I'm having to learn what it means to parent teenagers, how to manage hormones that aren't my own, and to do so without stressing myself out and making my condition considerably worse.

I was a blogger advocating homeschooling as an education choice, which, because of it's own merits, is like advocating safer driving or Arbor Day. In doing so, I felt a little bit like a boy scout helping a linebacker cross the street. Much of the educational community seems to have decided that homeschoolers are going to fight any abrogation of their rights and figured they would be better off trying to "help" homeschoolers back into schools with programs rather than harass or intimidate them. Right now, there's just not that much controversy, not that I sought controversy, but it is what makes some blogs popular.

Instead, I found my best work encouraging others in their efforts to educate their kids at home. Homeschooling is going strong and my wife and I continue to educate our kids exclusively on our own, a freedom we appreciate immensely and continue to support wholeheartedly. But change happens. Our local homeschool group disbanded, and it's emphasis on mothers didn't exactly help fathers engage. Our larger homeschool agency suffered a coup d' ├ętat, falling to folks whose views run contrary to our own, leaving us unaffiliated with a conference and without that seasonal boost to get us re-focused.

Rather than focus on these issues, I've wanted to keep my tone positive. The problem came when I held myself back from saying things. It shuts me down and I haven't wanted to write about it. I guess that may keep me out of a fight, but if I want to write, it's not such a good idea.

So. This is truly in transition! I'm not someone to champion a person or cause because anyone short of Jesus Christ is going to have problems and imperfections. I'm so fiercely loyal, I get wrapped up in those issues and my imperfect character and intellect can end up hurting a lot more than myself, and that is difficult to shoulder. I want to help, not hurt, protect, not proselytize, confirm, not condemn. I will continue to aspire to the positive. But I can't keep silent on issues I see. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but I don't want to drag everyone in with me. I'll simply recognize the error--hopefully--and go on. In the meantime, I need to give myself permission to just say what's on my mind and not take so much in the way of self-censorship. I might even float the odd fiction piece or poem, even if there's plenty of bad fiction and even worse poetry already out there. I will either add to the dross or let my work be judged worthy of someone else's attention. In the meantime, stay tuned!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

SP: Blimey Cow - Seven Lies About Homeschoolers

My kids have introduced me to Blimey Cow, a YouTube Channel that's run by a collegiate home school student. He's definitely up there in terms of humor, but incredibly insightful too. Seven Lies About Homeschoolers is perhaps the most helpful and insightful commentary about home education I've seen all year. Yeah, it's February. So?



Click here to watch (in a new window)

This post is designed to be sticky (thus the SP designation), so it may appear out of sequence for you.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What I'm Learning About Me

I've been writing lately, just not publishing. I'm not sure why, but I'm thinking it's something to do with depression.

I have been fighting depression most of the time I've been blogging, mostly because my loss of abilities has coincided with the advent of the blogosphere (circa 2005-06). I deeply enjoy my personal blog because I have the freedom to write about anything. The publishing or lack of it is because I self-censor a lot of it. Either I think it's not worthy of other's attention, or it's "just not quite ready" to show the world.

What I need to be doing is finishing the Christmas letter I publish every year and send out to my friends and family. Yes it's January. It's okay because it's usually a re-cap of the year. Part of me wonders if the "season" of writing those letters is over, or if it's an attempt by the enemy to suppress our testimony, our recount of the way God has worked in our lives. I'm just not sure.

Doubt, obviously, is a part of this depression.

Then there's the other reasons for my depression. I've gained weight again. I'm over "four and a quarter" now.  30.4 stones, that doesn't feel nearly as bad as stepping on the scale does. I am frustrated because I cannot exercise in any meaningful way, and every change to my diet seems to fall short. Please know that this is not an invitation to tell me about your diet or miracle cure.

Chronic fatigue is merely the surface of the issue. I have sleep apnea, which directly feeds the CFS. I have all sorts of neuropathy, but thankfully, my feet don't burn like I've heard others describe. My back is usually hot to the touch and inflamed. It requires ice packs 24/7. My arthritis in my back is not responsible for all of it, either. I have hemangiomas on my spine. Those are benign tumors that, like their name implies, are mostly blood. My arms, legs, back and neck are wracked with spasms unless I continue to take supplements. It's amazing how those supplements help, thanks to a dear friend who suggested them after years of patience and kind prayers. Friends like that are few and far between!

I have skin issues, as well. I have stumbled onto one of the best dermatologists in the state, if not the world. What's worse is that he seems to know it, without my saying so. Colorado is one of the most likely places in the US that a person will contract skin cancer (pdf), so he is in the right place. I get in to see him almost more often than my CFS doctor. The only problem is that I leave his office feeling like a hunk of swiss cheese. I have been lucky thus far.

My hobbies occupy my time, but I don't lose perspective. Much. Sometimes, I feel it's more of a job than a hobby. I just wish I'd get paid for the job part.

I have found out the following in the last year:
  • I love maps, with a passion. It's my need to explore. I used to lock myself in a bathroom with the most recent Rand McNally I could find and explore those distant places in my mind. I discovered how pathological this had become when I found out the USGS lets you download PDFs of their quadrangles at no cost. I have over 32 GB of the 7 1/2 minute series alone. Like I said, pathological ...but harmless.
  • I enjoy peppermint tea nearly as much as coffee
  • I like a peculiar juice blend, but I'm not sure what I can call it without saying a word that would get my blog reclassified by the bots.
  • I cannot tolerate soft drinks with HFCS, because it messes my blood sugar up. On the other hand, a little bit of birch beer or a soft drink with real sugar in it is greatly enjoyed and doesn't mess me up as long as I have other food to go with it. This and the fact that I've always been borderline hypoglycemic makes me nervous when I think about my recent weight gain.
  • My kids have adjusted to my disabilities much easier than I have. I know that you get less pliable as you age, but I didn't realize how far this extended to psychological aspects.
  • Reading the names of USGS maps to my kids can be as funny as anything on TV. It's easy to giggle about names like:
    • Badger Wash - How do you wash a badger?
    • Bald Mountain - Is it worried about its receding tree line?
    • Barking Dog Spring - There's a story there ...maybe
    • Bears Ears Peaks - There are two of each?
    • Big Hole Butte - 'nuff said
And that's just the B's in northern Colorado.

I'd better hit publish before I self-censor again. Thanks for reading, and hopefully this doesn't come off as narcissistic, just self-absorbed. There's a lot of disclosure here, but I hope I haven't surprised anyone.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why Colorado's Prop 103 Failed

Why this year? Colorado had a state-wide ballot issue on an off-year election this year with the hopes of stacking the polls. Most schools hold their school board elections on odd years because, quite frankly, they're not willing to risk asking the bulk of the population to pick their board members. They'd rather have it on years when voter turn-out is low because the teachers unions can more effectively work to keep their union-friendly--or union-intimidated--board members in power. Likewise, if the teacher's union stands to gain a windfall into their feeding trough via a tax increase, like Proposition 103, putting it through on an off-year election is when it's most likely to succeed.

What happened? The upset was apparent in the polls this week. Colorado voters roundly rejected the tax hike by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, even though commercials like this one (note the lack of inspiring Colorado mountains, Colorado homes, or Colorado anything) pulled at the emotions. HuffPo n' Co. stated unequivocally that school budgets have been "decimated." Heavens. It's enough to make a school administrator reconsider that Lexus purchase.

Why did Prop 103 fail? In short, it failed because of mail-in ballots that allowed the public to still voice enough of a general opinion. The Denver Post article addressed a tax hike's chances next year, saying,
"Maybe when this economy turns around, and people feel a little more confident with their personal situations, people will be a little more willing to talk about it," said state Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, who led the 103 coalition.

Some advocates had even wanted to mount such an effort in 2012, something [Boulder Democrat State Senator, Rollie] Heath said was now unthinkable.

"I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell," he said. "In a presidential year? To do what we need to do to educate folks? I don't recommend doing anything in 2012."
Glad to see that even liberals believe in hell, by the way.

Seriously however, Heath was saying that it would be too costly, that too many people would turn out to vote next year for them to stack the polls in their favor. My belief is that unless the economy makes a turnaround in 12 months, the polls could turn even more hostile towards government solutions toward any issue, not just the majority that it's failing at.

I'd like to think that the public's perception is that it really doesn't take a lot of money to educate children. After all, if homeschooling families can both support a government funded school system with their tax dollars and still produce students who on average out-score 9 out of 10 public school students. and entrepreneurs, along with the occasional star athlete, there must be more at work than money. Maybe successful students start at home. On the other hand, others may not see it that way. Maybe they're just ignorant and greedy, like Rollie Heath seemed to say. But I hope not.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Todd: Jobs; Around the House, the Heart Is Where Dads Do the Real Work

I have long followed Todd Wilson, a homeschooling father like me, who goes across the country speaking to other homeschooling dads and moms, unlike me. If I had boundless energy and established donors and speaking contacts, I still wouldn't have the God-given anointing to do what he does to bring homeschooling families the encouragement he does.

Todd's transparency, his willingness to admit his failures to live up to his own ideals, places him in a unique class of legitimacy and sincerity. His tag line, "You da dad!" means simply that each father occupies an irreplaceable role in the lives of his children and that each of us are called to step up and fill the role. It doesn't shift with the changing nature of relationships and the sense of impermanence that pervades today's society. We are the ones who shape the next generation into what they will be, by our presence or, regrettably, by our absence. Our children need things--irreplaceable things--from us as dads that they will never get from their moms or from anyone else in their lives; our approval and our blessing, to name two.

Did I get all this by listening to Todd? Maybe. Or it could be that he simply confirmed what I've known in my heart all along. Regardless, I've grown under his leadership and direction as he teaches by his own life and experiences, which enables his sometimes brutal honesty to cut through all the malarchy and flotsam of being a parent and a person in ministry, two roles I can appreciate more than most.

His latest dispatch from the trenches was about the passing of Steve Jobs, one of the most visionary leaders of technology the world has seen in the past 200 years, perhaps since creation. No, I'm not putting you on, and yes, I'm a PC person. I haven't supported Apple since the Apple IIc in 1985. Yet, even the most hardened PC proponent must recognize Jobs' role in making the technological world what it is today. Nonetheless, Jobs' accomplishments didn't really matter in the big scheme of things. Nor did Newton's or Edison's or anyone else's. They were all human, they died, and what really mattered was who they loved and who loved them. That's true greatness. Todd gives hints of this in his latest update.

Hey Dad,

I hope you’re doing great, but I’m feeling a little somber. It started last night as we were gathered in the familyroom to watch one of the original Anne of Green Gables movies. My oldest son Ben (18) walked into the room and announced, “Steve Jobs just died.”

I imagine it was a little like that evening in the 60’s when they announced that Walt Disney died, especially for a technology kid. Ben is also a techno-kid, so for the last 2-3 years he’s kept us abreast on all the latest Apple inventions and upgrades, Apple stock, and the news that just a few weeks ago Apple passed Exxon as the most valuable company in the world.

Today, the tech-world is eulogizing him…recounting his story, his unique personality, and the gizmos he invented that have helped shape the modern world.

To tell you the truth, I can’t stop thinking that all he worked for, sacrificed for, and cared about…didn’t really matter. Don’t get me wrong. I think all the iGadgets are cool, but I would just about bet that he wasn’t thinking about iGadgets during his last few moments.

In fact, his name will soon fade (my little kids didn’t know Walt Disney was a real person), and someone else will control the iUniverse.

The truth is that some things matter and some things don’t…iThings don’t matter but iDads and iHusbands DO.

So, Dad, go love your wife and children…and change the world!

You ‘da iDad!

There's little to say after all that, except that, the further I go in living with my disabilities, I'm realizing that my role as a husband and a father has so much less to do with my abilities than it does with my heart and my will. I could never lift a finger again and yet be a successful father. Though I can't walk out my love for them by providing for them and working with them on things, I can love them with my heart, my eyes, my words, and my care of their hearts. I will not always have them in my home as I do now, but being a father, as my own father is showing me, never goes away. I will live forever, and I will love forever as well.

Much peace,