Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm home

Flew back into the country on Friday (5 Sept), and Jen picked me up at the airport. We spent the night at the Omni Interlochen Resort Hotel in Denver, and then got home on Saturday. It's great to be home, although my senses are somewhat overloaded with the sudden influx of green, terrain, cool weather, etc.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Final Out

Well, I'm finished out-processing for my upcoming deployment (a.k.a. "vacation"). I'm excited about going, although not necessarily ready to leave my fam. Nevertheless, I was able to attend F. E. Warren's 2nd Annual Father-Daughter Banquet last night, where we played, feasted, and danced (interesting for a Southern Baptist, huh?). Here's our picture therefrom . . .



My deployed e-mail is kasjen@gimail.af.mil (note that it is NOT gmail, but gImail!). My address is . . .

Rank/Name
379 AEW/HC
APO AE 09309.

Blessings to your and yours!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Time out!

Spring Break this year was spent at Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Resort near Altus, OK, with my Mom, my brother and nephew, my sister and brother-in-law, and, of course, my three girls. It's the first time in a very long time that I've needed a vacation from the job and not the people! It was great. We geocached, played games, swam, hiked, golfed (83 for nine holes; 165 for 18--not too bad for my first game and a half of golf!), ate, rested, played, read, etc. There is a little "amusement park" nearby. It's safety (or, at least, its string of luck) was demonstrated when a group of 100 school kids took the day off to enjoy it. Nobody died, so it was apparently safer than it looked! At any rate, we did the go-karts and the bumper cars, and had a blast with the kids. You can see the photos, if you wish, at flickr.com under "The World of SMITH." After that, we spent some time with Mom at her house, and had all-in-all a wonderful time.

Yesterday was our 14th wedding anniversary. We did not mean to, but Jen got a very large present . . .



I hit the sandbox at the end of this month for fourish months. Please keep my family in your prayers.

Blessings!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Update!

So, yes, we all survived the "Great Smith Ski Trip" of 2008. There were no broken bones, jammed fingers, fractured limbs, or any other gruesome ski injuries--simply sore bodies. The two girls did a WONDERFUL job of skiing for their first full weekend, and we have, as a matter of fact, been back!! The worst part of the trip was the one hour trip to Denver which, due to traffic, turned into four hours!!! Otherwise, it was a great weekend. Thanks to all who expressed concern.

Other news? We are getting ready for my "Summer Vacation." In fact, the base is helping out by mock deploying me this week (as if I had nothing else to do). The other three are making plans for the summer, which I'm pretty sure involve grandparents and horses. Hopefully, they'll let you know how that works out this summer--otherwise, be prepared for a long blogging hiatus! I have been requested to arrive six days early, so that puts me in-country a week earlier than originally planned. Of course, there's always the possibility of leaving even earlier than that!!! I've started my shots (anthrax, smallpox, and other deadly diseases); we've started making a list (and checking it twice); the countdown begins soon. By the way, we heard the youngest moaning in her sleep last night. When da whiff asked her about it, she said she had been dreaming that sun spiders, camel spiders, and other assorted desert baddies were biting her!! She said, "It was not a very nice dream."

Otherwise, the girls are all doing well. We are attempting to change our eldest's schooling, but that's been an exercise in frustration thus far. The whiff has been feeling very good lately. The dog is doing well. Really, I think all is well on the home front. How are you and yours doing?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mousetraps and Moves

Before Christmas Break, our eldest was tasked with powering a car with a mousetrap! My wife and I thought about this for a little bit, wondering how on earth we were supposed to do that, when I had an epiphany!!!! My father-in-law, Mr. "I can make anything work" was coming!!!! Especially as he lives in MI, and doesn't often have a chance to "create" with his granddaughter, we thought this would be a great opportunity for him and her to do something together. Of course, he agreed, and he and K worked all during the break on her Mousetrap Car (which ran a fast 3.6 seconds, but did not win the race!!!). I now present to you pictures of K's Mousetrap Car . . . . . . . .


video


Just by the way, in about 3.5 months I'll be taking a vacation to Southwest Asia for four months. We knew this was coming, but we look forward it it with some trepidation. Please keep my family in your prayers.

Thanks!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hornet's Nest--continued

Well, it's been a while since my last blog, and I have enjoyed the comments. Thanks to all engaged in this conversation. Let me start by saying this:

1) Homeschooling is a GREAT idea for some. I wish we were in the position to homeschool. I am in NO WAY opposed to homeschooling. However, being in favor of something does not negate one's ability to criticize.

2) I need to elaborate on my starting point, so everyone is on the same page. I began this conversation because I had some HS kids visit our base youth group; their dad then told me that they did not enjoy it because the "speaker" (not myself) didn't know what he was talking about. This is, in a word, untrue. I don't have speakers who don't know what they are talking about. It is this kind of attitude that I have seen in other HS, in Christian school proponents, and in public school proponents--I can't learn from people who don't meet my expectations exactly.

3) My goal here is NOT to bash HS, or public schoolers, or . . . . . ., but to learn how to meet the needs of HS in my youth group(s) and to learn how to engage them in the church's conversation as well.

Now, how do I answer all of the posts? That's a great question, and I'm to which I'm unsure of the answer. I'll do it like this--I'll post the name of the commenter, and then my comments to the commenter, and we'll go from there! Sound complicated? Good!

Chickadee--In my opinion, we ALWAYS swing too far, thus the constant reminder for humility in Scripture (something all Christians are generally short of).

EEEEMommy--You're welcome to come out ANY TIME, and we'll have this conversation over cinnamon rolls and cappucinos. Just don't laugh at me in uniform! Now, for your post . . . 1) "Socialization" a la public schoolers is not all bad. 2) I would define "socially mature" as able to relate to peers. Personally, it took me forever to get to that point. It's hard enough, but not learning to engage with one's peers socially makes it harder. Does it matter? I believe so, but mainly because I know it has to happen at some point in time, and it should happen under a parent's guidance, not when they go to college! We don't want to be in danger of raising culturally-irrelevant children, do we? So how do we "socialize" in good ways, and not in the bad? 3) As for not wanting to talk about boys, etc., Kayla is the same way. She's simply not interested. We have some HS friends (another Chaplain) whose girls feel the same way. However, can't we learn to change the conversation, or even learn how to engage appropriately? As for HS "kissing dating goodbye," my question is this--do they understand why they are kissing dating goodbye, or is it because it's the "Christian" thing to do. Knowing why allows them to engage and to keep it up (which I'm in favor of). Not knowing why causes too many kids (HS or otherwise) to go too far when "released" from their parent's protection. 4) There's a danger in saying that the culture is in all ways BAD. It's the same danger as saying all Christian music is good. Both statements are untrue. High School Musical? My kids can watch it. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman? My eldest could read it. Am I going to allow either without supervision and trying to think it through? I hope not. Am I a horrible Christian because I would allow it? There are those who would say so, but again, I'm in favor of teaching my children discernment by practicing it. Does everyone have to agree with me?! I wish!!! Are people horrible Christians if they don't? No. 5) As for HS not being used to being in a classroom environment, they need to learn to be. Almost every training I go to is classroom-based. Are you "complaining" about the classroom, or about the lack of relevance of the material? Two different things here. If you're talking about the lack of relevance of the material, then you should be talking to the Youth Minister and helping him find examples, etc., which ARE relevant. I know you know this, EEEEMommy, but engage with the Youth Minister.

Conservachick--A prideful attitude is already present in our sinful nature, and parents should be on the lookout for it. Unfortunately, it's usually more "caught" than "taught," and is certainly not relegated to HS alone. One question I have is this--are HS considered "spiritually elite?" I hope not.

Shindigs--You might know me too well! 1) I'm taking issue with the snobbery that I have seen in HS (as well as Christian schoolers, just by the way). 2) As HS parents are human just like the rest of us, then yes, I doubt any parent can raise balanced kids! We try . . . . 3) Who has the responsibility to train our kids? Why, the State, of course!!!!!


Just kidding. Naturally, parents do, as do the elders in a church, as does the church, as does the Family of God. As a former full-time Youth Minister, I both understand and take issue with the comment of "Young-Inexperience Youth Ministers." Are you saying that they have NOTHING to teach your children? I hope not. As a matter of fact, why do Christian parents have more issue with "Young-Inexperienced Youth Ministers" than they do with Senior Pastors who are blatantly sinning? God puts people in our lives from whom we can learn, and we do our children a disservice by not teaching them that principle. 4) Speaking at different levels is a part of the process. I see too many Christian parents telling their children, in words and actions, NOT to learn to speak on different levels. "Only those just like us have something to teach us" (James 2, anyone?) 5) A child may well be "socially-immature" when unable to relate to peers. As for having "fun," I'm speaking of the ability to enjoy fellowship without having to have a dissertation every time. Sometimes, we just need to enjoy being a Christian and enjoy being with our "brethren."

Anonymous--Relevance is important. Reaching out to the "sick" is important. Bearing fruit and NOT hiding our lamp is important. "Dumbing down" was nowhere implied. Higher standards are certainly called for. Pride is not. Favoritism is not. "Middle ground" does not imply compromised beliefs. It does, however, imply engaging in the conversation. Jesus may not have come to the middle, but He certainly came to Earth (much beyond the middle, wouldn't you agree?!). Jesus reached people where they are. Standing on an ivory tower and saying, "I can't learn from you; I can't talk with you; etc," is also not what Jesus did. It's great to stand aside and snub our noses at others who don't think like us, but I don't have time for that. I'd much rather teach my kids to learn to love others. PLEASE HEAR ME--homeschooling parents are not the only ones guilty of this, nor are ALL homeschooling families guilty of this, but I hear these same arguments from Christian School Educators, Homeschoolers, etc.

Taralynn819--Great comments! I wish I had written this in the first place!!! Let me point out just one comment: "The goal is finding common ground without compromising my faith in order to encourage other believers and to share Chris with the lost . . . if parents give their kids the tools, they have to entrust the outcome to the lord and not shelter them from the world." Thanks for sharing.

KYTransplants--I like stirring up trouble--it's a gift of mine!!! :) I don't actually feel "beat up," but engaged in great conversation.

Let me close with these questions--
1) How do I, as a minister, help homeschoolers (parents and students) to relate to other kids and other teachers and to the life of the Church as a whole?
2) How do we use the gifts of homeschoolers and their families in our groups?
3) Is there a way to "cross the divide" between HS and "others"?
4) How do I help HS learn to engage and relate without being dragged down?
5) How can YOU, as HS parents, help the rest of us to welcome your kids into our groups without a sigh and a worry that you will stand back and judge, not come alongside and help (which I have seen as well)?

Thanks for engaging in the conversation. If I have offended, I do apologize and ask for your forgiveness.

Peace and greetings,
Kraig

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hornets Nest

I'm thinking out loud here, so don't shoot me. Having run youth groups for the last seven years, I've noticed several interesting dynamics, but the most recent involves homeschoolers. In fact, at a recent Youth Specialties Conference I attended, there were a couple of seminars on how to deal with homeschoolers in your youth group. What's the problem? Here's what I see with homeschoolers (and I welcome feedback and input).

1. They have learned so much more Bible and theology than other kids their age that they don't seem to know how to relate to those kids who are "Christian," but aren't as deep. At least, they can't relate on a spiritual level without being scornful.
2. Church groups are very educational for them. Learning is great, but education is best tempered by rubbing shoulders with others not the same.
3. Grace is often lacking towards others not on the same spiritual path.
4. They don't know how to speak spiritually to different levels.
5. Pride? Hubris?
6. Very spiritually mature, but not socially mature when it comes to other Christians.
7. Have difficulty having fun spiritually.

I don't see these in all homeschoolers (especially my friends who homeschool!), nor am I against homeschooling. Nonetheless, I see it enough that it worries me. As humans, we can never come to the middle, but always seem to swing too far to the opposite side. I wonder if the homeschooler characteristics I've described here aren't a symptom of that very thing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I hate conferences!

It never fails--I go to some faith-based conference and the following happens:
1. I go somewhat "crazy" for two days;
2. I start returning to Kraig-normal and begin to experience some spiritual crisis;
3. God deals with me in a very meaningful way;
4. I go home a very different person.

It is, quite honestly, a truly painful experience for me! This has been no exception. I am currently attending the Youth Specialties National Youth Worker Conference in Atlanta, GA. I arrived on Wednesday, and I go home on Monday. True to my normal experience, I went "crazy" Wednesday night and Thursday night; Friday was a very down day for me--I mean that intensely. I sat in worship and felt nothing. I sat in conferences and felt . . . . nothing. Honestly, I have noticed, at least twice in the last year, times when I have actually experienced spiritual depression, which is unusual for me. I came home last night asking God to reveal to me the root of my "issue" (one of many, I know). When I finally arose this morning, I felt some better, but I still have been praying today for God to show me what's going on.

For tonight's "General Session," I made sure to get a seat closer to the front. Louie Giglio spoke and Chris Tomlin played afterwards. Just by the way, if you've never heard Louie Giglio speak, stop what you are doing (like reading this blog), and look him up. He is phenomenal, not because he has great words of wisdom, but because he is always pointing to the very basics of Christ and, in this case, the cross. His whole 'talk' tonight was how we MUST go to the cross when the bottom drops out beneath us. The cross shows us God's love for us; it shows us God's empathy with us; it shows us God's victory for us; it shows God's control over life and man's freedom for us; it shows God's plan for us. As a "side benefit," I can see times when I have failed, in my AF ministry, to point people to the cross of Christ and God's plan in the world as the answer for injustice. Anyway, as Louie prays, and Chris Tomlin begins to play, God just reveals the root of my struggle. He gives me a word for the struggle and a picture of His healing in my life. Chris Tomlin ends with "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" tonight. As he did, I could see and feel the chains drop off. It was amazing. It was freeing. It was totally God at work.

Please pray for me these two things:
1. God's healing of reconciliation in my life;
2. That I can get into the practice of pointing people to the cross, especially as they share with me their struggles, questions, and hurts.

God Bless.