So much has happened in the past year! It has been an exciting year for my family.
Amy is actively involved as a writer and editor. She’s even been quoted by Slacktivist several times. Way to go Amy!
Jack is surviving fourth grade, and thriving in Mr. Bickford’s jazz band. Way to go Jack!
Sarah continues to learn at home and spend time with Sommer almost every Wednesday. The girls and Jack have a plan to buy a “mansion” and live together as adults. Jack even gets to have a wife! They’ll each have at least one dog. Way to go Sarah for painting a positive picture of the future!
I read Rachel Held Evans’ book A Year of Biblical Womanhood and it has transformed my perspective on living the Christian life with integrity in today’s world.
The Defense of Marriage Act is on trial at the Supreme Court, and it is clear that it will be found unconstitutional. Marriage will no longer be limited to a legal contract between one man and one woman.
I struggle with this concept, but many influential writers have drawn powerful parallels between slavery and persecution of the LGBT community. Right now I’m on the wrong side of history.
I am coming up to the end of my administrative internship and will be qualified to serve as a school administrator by the end of the summer. I am excited to see what comes next! I wonder if I will be a principal by next year. There is no hurry, but I imagine there will be opportunities available between now and then. I pray that I will have the wisdom to say no if necessary, and the opportunity to say yes to the right new position within the next three years.
My attempt to blog for the local Messenger Post papers fell through, but I’m satisfied. I’ve been so busy with other things, including the Data Analysis class on Coursera.
We now attend Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church. It was important to attend a church where Jack and Sarah would not hear the message that girls and women can’t be pastors. It is a welcoming congregation as well.
We now give to the church and to the zoo and Golisano Children’s Hospital. We are in a healthy place financially, in large part because of the lessons we learned at Lakeshore. That experience also prepared me for administration.
I’m so excited to see what the next year will bring my family. Jack will be a fifth grader. Sarah will be 8. Maybe Amy will be even further along in her goal to becoming a freelance editor.
I will continue to pray daily and blog daily and strive to live as a person of integrity and passion. I will bring my enthusiasm for spiritual growth to my job and my church and my friends & family.
Eternal One: See here! My servant will succeed.
He will grow in character and reputation, achieving high standing and status.
Just as people used to be shocked by you,
even so his appearance was disfigured;
His form—once glorious—was marred until it hardly seemed human.
Now many nations will be astonished at his prominence;
world rulers will be speechless in his presence,
For they will see what they’ve never been told;
they will understand what they’ve never heard.
Indeed, who would ever believe it?
Who would possibly accept what we’ve been told?
Who has witnessed the awesome power and plan of the Eternal in action?
Out of emptiness he came, like a tender shoot from rock-hard ground.
He didn’t look like anything or anyone of consequence—
he had no physical beauty to attract our attention.
So he was despised and forsaken by men,
this man of suffering, grief’s patient friend.
As if he was a person to avoid, we looked the other way;
he was despised, forsaken, and we took no notice of him.
Yet it was our suffering he carried,
our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness.
We just figured that God had rejected him,
that God was the reason he hurt so badly.
But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so.
Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole.
The injuries he suffered became our healing.
We all have wandered off, like shepherdless sheep,
scattered by our aimless striving and endless pursuits;
The Eternal One laid on him, this silent sufferer,
the sins of us all.
And in the face of such oppression and suffering—silence.
Not a word of protest, not a finger raised to stop it.
Like a sheep to a shearing, like a lamb to be slaughtered,
he went—oh so quietly, oh so willingly.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away.
From this generation, who was there to complain?
Who was there to cry “Foul”?
He was, after all, cut off from the land of the living,
Smacked and struck, not on his account,
because of how my people (my people!)
Disregarded the lines between right and wrong.
They snuffed out his life.
And when he was dead, he was buried with the disgraced
in borrowed space (among the rich),
Even though he did no wrong by word or deed.
It is hard to understand why God would crush His innocent Servant. But it is in His suffering for sin that God deals decisively with sin and its harmful effects.
Yet the Eternal One planned to crush him all along,
to bring him to grief, this innocent servant of God.
When he puts his life in sin’s dark place, in the pit of wrongdoing,
this servant of God will see his children and have his days prolonged.
For in His servant’s hand, the Eternal’s deepest desire will come to pass and flourish.
As a result of the trials and troubles that wrack his soul,
God’s servant will see light and be content
Because He knows, really understands, what it’s about; as God says,
“My just servant will justify countless others by taking on their punishment and bearing it away.
Because he exposed his very self—
laid bare his soul to the vicious grasping of death—
And was counted among the worst, I will count him among the best.
I will allot this one, My servant, a share in all that is of any value,
Because he took on himself the sin of many
and acted on behalf of those who broke My law.” (The Voice)
Last Good Friday, I wrote:
My goal ought to be pleasing God first, people second. I’m not sure how to measure how well I’m pleasing God, but just because it can’t be measured quantitatively doesn’t mean that it’s not a valuable goal. I’ll reflect upon this idea more next Good Friday.
This is intriguing, because I’ve felt major concern about this idea of targeting measurables.
Distilling success into measurables eliminates those things most important in life. Who can measure love and loyalty and compassion?
My goal for the upcoming year is to reject measurables as an evaluative tool in lieu of qualitative measures like self-reflection and the Golden Rule.
I will create and submit to measurable evaluations when necessary, but I will strive to avoid the temptation to base my satisfaction on the success of meeting these goals.
Doing the right thing is different than meeting a goal. This year, I will choose the right thing over the measurable thing as often as possible.
Please pray for me! This will be hard.
I have reflected upon my personal growth and progress each Good Friday for many years, but I’ve only gone public since 2008.
April 12, 1974, by birthday, was a Good Friday. Since April 12 is sometimes a work day, but Good Friday isn’t, this feels like a natural time to reflect upon where I’ve been and where I’m going.
Last year I missed one goal completely, partially fulfilled several, and met one or two to my satisfaction.
For two years, I’ve set a target to learn NT Greek well enough to read the New Testament in its original language. My mom shared that when she learned Greek as an undergraduate at Roberts Wesleyan, she felt like it was a breath of fresh air. To meet this goal, I will need formal training with a qualified teacher or professor. This means waiting until I have time in my schedule to sign up for a course at a local college. Until then, I’ll table it.
Last year, I wrote that I wanted to become less selfish. This is not a target I will ever hit; I don’t think anyone can do this completely on this side of heaven. But I do feel that I’ve made some progress in this area.
I recently reapplied to serve as the math lead teacher at Willink for at least another two years, and I’ve received positive feedback. I feel satisfied with my progress in this area.
However, I did not pursue my action research goal sufficiently until a couple of weeks ago. Before then, I was too focused on publication, not on helping my students grow. Now I have a better attitude and feel ready to move forward with my research.
I am pleased with my family relationships. They continue to be a major focus of my time and energy.
This year, I am setting the goal of praying more regularly, at least twice per day.
Echo Prayer Manager is a useful tool. I have signed up for email and SMS reminders. This service serves as a gentle reminder that I need to begin and end my efforts with God’s purposes in mind, not my own goals.
It is my sense that as I pray more regularly, I will experience growth in all areas of my life.
Next year, I will review my prayer list and reflect upon my balance of priorities.
Roberts Wesleyan’s school motto is “Ora et Labora,” prayer and work. I often forget that, given my beliefs, prayer must come first.
I wonder how regular prayer and reliance upon the Holy Spirit is different than a humanistic desire to do the right thing and treat people well.
My goal ought to be pleasing God first, people second. I’m not sure how to measure how well I’m pleasing God, but just because it can’t be measured quantitatively doesn’t mean that it’s not a valuable goal.
I’ll reflect upon this idea more next Good Friday.
Since I was born on Good Friday, I use this as a day to reflect upon the previous year and consider where I’ve been and where I’m going.
In terms of meeting last year’s annual goals, I missed the Greek goal entirely, partially met the growth in faith goal, and met both school and family targets. All in all, not a bad year!
Next year, my spiritual goal with be developing a less selfish attitude.
My intellectual goal is still learning to decode and comprehend NT Greek. Let’s focus just on John, since that’s traditionally considered the easiest to understand.
My school goals are being published before age 40 and growing in my leadership.
And my family goal stays the same: staying connected with Amy, Jack and Sarah.
Thank you, Lord, for the clarity you’ve given me. Remind me to stop comparing myself to others. It is vital that I measure my progress against your standards, Lord, not the world’s. You desire mercy, not sacrifice! This means, in particular, that I need to give up my perfectionism related to teaching targets.
Serve and get better results via prayer and spiritual growth, not more intellectual and professional struggle.