Thursday, July 28, 2005


Out on these Texas plains you can see for a million lives
And there's a thousand exits between here and the state line...
--- Caedmon's Call, 40 Acres

In a few minutes Jason and I are hitting the open road, where we stop, nobody knows. We know we are heading to see our old ETBU friend Jason Fortenberry today and will be in Abilene by next Wednesday. We'll see where the dots connect.

So I won't be posting for about a week, probably. Which, lately, hasn't been out of the ordinary.

Just wanted to share two things before I leave.

The other day I found out some wonderful news. CMT Crossroads, the "groundbreaking" series that puts two musical artists from differing genres together for a concert in which they each cover the others songs, has announced the next concert. This series has brought together Dolly Parton with Melissa Etheridge, Dave Matthews with Emmylou Harris, Travis Tritt with Ray Charles, Wynonna Judd with Heart, John Mayer with Brad Paisley, Martina McBride and Pat Benetar, and Ryan Adams with Elton John.

And next in line has gotten me excited....


Bon Jovi and Sugarland. This could be one of the best yet.

And the second thing is that Jude and Sutton will turn 3 on Saturday. Those baby boys are growing up, wearing big boy underwear and constructing complete sentences and everything. Brings a tear to my eye.

Have a great week.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

And I Will Wait to Find....

By the time I recognize this moment
this moment will be gone
But I will bend the light pretending
That it somehow lingered on....

-- John Mayer, "Clarity"

Even for generally contented, calmly demeanored people like me, moments of peaceful clarity are typically short, fleeting, and rare.

Today I was blessed with one of those moments.

I took my dinner break from work and headed to Panera Bread. After finding out the place could not alter the ingredients of the Turkey Artichoke Panini by removing those dreadful tomatoes, I contemplated another choice only to arrive at the conclusion that I was a big boy, I could take the tomatoes off myself. I got my Dr. Pepper since it's Sunday and I usually let my healthy eating go on Sundays and sat down in the back area of the restaurant with my "Texas Music" and "D" magazines I borrowed from the store.

The magazines were perused, my personal pager on short-term loan from Panera buzzed, I exchanged the pager for my Turkey Artichoke sandwich, returned to my table, and dined.

The last bite of the sandwich had just been swallowed when I realized, everything was peaceful. It was quiet. In my part of the restaurant was me and a young couple at a small table, face to face, confident their silence was not a foreboding, but something to be embraced. The music being played was a piano soloist. One that might be found alone tonight, creating melodies celebrating her solitude.

And then my moment of clarity consisted of about a minute of random thoughts...

I stared across Hwy 6 at the fields of grasses waving in the wind. I thought about how this time next year those wonderful, empty places will be paved with concrete making way for a new steel jungle for people like me-- animals of prosperity.

I thought back to my jam packed day off yesterday. About seeing Jason and Christy briefly and how thirty minutes with people you love can get you through thirty days without them. About the almost three year old Jude who I haven't seen in two weeks running into my arms, giving me a hug and screaming "I missed you Craig! Guess what? I'm watching Scooby Doo!!!!!!!!"

(As often happens when the Lakes come back from extended trips with their kids, I showed up and they got out of the door as quick as possible, leaving me with the angels.)

I thought about what our guest preacher spoke on today. About how outlandish and ridiculous God's mercy is.

I thought about those moments a few weeks ago speaking with the Stumbler's Spouse who asked me what people rarely ask me, if I was happy. I'm not sure if she could tell, but the question brought tears to my eyes. It brought tears to my eyes because it brought people to my mind and all I could do was say, "Yes, I'm very happy."

My moment ended when my loud-buzzing phone rang. It was Kyle calling to tell me he had just received word from from someone, a wonderful writer, that this particular person would read the manuscript and possibly write an acknowledgement. (Name withheld until acknowledgement is written.)

Nothing actionable. Just a moment. A sacred moment at Panera.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, and the Audacity of Hope...

Two weeks ago I finally got around to watching "Hotel Rwanda" and, as I was warned would happen numerous times, I was stunned. The barbarism of what occured there is unspeakable. The movies purpose was to document what occured, and, at least from my perspective, the sub-story was "How could the world stand by and watch such a tragedy occur?" We should have done something. Anything.

A few years ago I watched "Black Hawk Down." I knew little of what occured in Somalia until I saw the movie. One of the questions I remember raised from the movie was "How could the United States think that sending U.S. troops into that region would solve a conflict that had been brewing and perculating for many years.

I signed the petition online at because I believe the President and Congress should be pressured to do something, anything, to alleviate the suffering in Sudan. Although I do disagree with the wording of the petition that says..." We must demand that the U.S. government do everything necessary through the United Nations (UN) to ensure an urgent multinational intervention to protect civilians in Darfur." The United Nations? Did they watch "Hotel Rwanda?" Do they not know how impotent the U.N. is?

When I was younger I was 90% idealist-10% realist. Now the proportions have flip flopped. And as a result, I believe the only way, now that it is out of control, to stop the genocide in Sudan is for American soldiers with guns to go in there and blow the brains out of the bad guys. (I've been watching a lot of "Gunsmoke" this weekend.)

I love America. I think a lot of the ideas about the uniqueness of America is overplayed, but I do agree with this-- America is the only country founded not on common land or a common leader, but on an idea. The idea that all people are created equal and possess the rights, given by God, of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Of course it has taken us many years to get around to justly defining "all people," but we were founded on the idea nonetheless. Barach Obama (who, if he could convince me his belief that unborn, innocent life should be protected, would be my choice for president) called this idea "The audacity of hope."

Audacity-- Bold or insolent heedlessness of restraints, as of those imposed by prudence, propriety, or convention.

The "Audacity of Hope." How beautiful is that? All the patriotic songs ever written about America have that theme rolling like a mighty rushing river beneath and through them.

Unfortunately, that audacious belief in the hope of all people is generally only confined to immediate situations in American history. We have a tendency to overlook small wrongs and wait until they turn into large tragedies before we feel the need to act. We looked past the inequitable idealogy of our allies in the second world war only to allow it to escalate in the extermination of millions of people by the Soviet Union. We ignored the menace of Saddam Hussein, (even aided and abetted him,) until he had the nerve to invade another country. Then, after putting him back in his place, effectively ignored him for ten more years. We have ignored Africa for, well, forever, and only now are opening our eyes.

We are infected with "the audacity of hope." And I believe that is a wonderful thing. But we are also infected with the audacity of the immediate. Wait, wait, trouble is brewing.... here it comes, here it comes, OH NO! A GENOCIDE! DO SOMETHING!.

We should do something, anything. But after we do something, anything, let's consider this:

Churches who are banding their efforts to attempt to heal Africa should double their efforts in educating high school students in Jesus' preferential treatment for the poor, oppressed, and outcast. Any amount of money sent to Africa for AIDS/Poverty/Genocide relief should be matched and put into a "Prevention Account." There should be a scholarship set up for students who graduate from these churches who want to study international relations. We should target the type of kid who has the right balance of intellect, idealism, and realism. We should refuse to allow these students to go to any college that is two closely aligned to left-right type ideologies. (Berkely and Texas A&M are out) These students, upon graduation, should be willing to work shit jobs in the basements of the State Department and Pentagon, showing excellence in every menial task they perform, working their way up into career jobs that slowly, over time, shape U.S. policy into engagement with a dangerous world.

This should have happened many years ago. But it's easier, and less glamorous, to want to appear immediately heroic by putting out fires than to take the risk on audacious, long term, hope.

Random thoughts... I could be wrong, but it's what I'm thinking anyway.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I failed to mention...

In our talk last night I forgot to tell you: I got the shortest haircut I've ever had yesterday. 8 guard. 5 on the sides. I've decided it's high time I embrace the fact that I am a balding man. Kevin Spacey, Bruce Willis, and me.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pull up a chair, let's hang out...

I have nothing coherent to say tonight. Just thought I'd let you know what's been going on with me the past couple of weeks. I'll pretend we are sitting in the two comfortable brown chairs in the office over good H-E-B Texas Pecan Coffee...

A couple of weeks ago I attended a day of the CBF's general assembly to visit with Jason and Christy and to be at their commissioning. In case you didn't know, they're leaving in early fall to live in Paris (France, not northeast Texas) and to work with African Refugees and to see where Freedom Fries were actually invented. The day was wonderful. On top of spending good quality time with J. (as our other friend Jason Fortenberry likes to refer to him,) I ran into TONS of old friends and acquaintances including, but not limited to, The Stumbling Runner, The Stumbler's Spouse, Fred Ater-- an old friend and former missionary to Estonia, Jason Jenkins-- former UBC'er and current Duke Divinity student, Scott Davis-- ETBU acquainance, Dr. David Chrisman-- ETBU prof., and many Wacoans, including a group of Truett friends/acquaintances trying to be politically cute by wearing stickers that read "Religious Freedom: The Original Faith Based initiative," (the implication being that the people who currently use the latter phrase could care less about the former virtue.) It was a good day, it was a full day, and it was a tiring day, but well worth it.

I had to work on the 4rth of July. I think I've worked every 4rth since I've worked at B&N. It's been many years since I've had a Nash Fourth of July. I miss those. My and my gazillion uncles, aunts, cousins would meet at Uncle Johnny's farm, shoot fireworks (we burned down a barn once) and eat the greatest fried catfish in the world. Ooooh, lawdy, do I miss that.... The plan was to meet the Lake clan for dinner at Ninfa's, find something to do till later in the evening, then head to the top of the parking garage (as we had done for the previous four years) and watch the Waco fireworks. Ninfa's, check. Find something to do, kind of check. We came back to our house because Tom had "The Incredibles" rented, and we figured watching it on the big screen would keep the kids sedated for a while. It kept them sedated for about 23 seconds, and then they proceeded to run around the house, open the door to my room, at which point Avery yelled "What Happened in Here!" and break some of Tom's toys. So we decide to head straight to the parking garage, get a spot, go eat dessert at Chili's TOO, then fireworks. They closed the parking garage, so we headed downtown. The kids were being brats (tired) so we decided to go home. I listened to the fireworks while laying on the couch watching a TIVO'd episode of 7th Heaven.

You know I like 7th Heaven, but do you know why? Because it's so corny. Because it paints an ideal. Because they all give each other hugs a whole lot, and everyone (well, most everyone.... well, everyone like me) would love to live in a world where that happened.) I swear, those Camden's get me every time.

Have you been following this Karl Rove story? If this is true, and it's looking more and more every day like it is, Rove should be fired. Put Karen Hughes in charge of winning the midterm elections and let Rove start looking for whose campaign he will work on in '08. I'm surprised Rove hasn't advised the President to fire Rove. Now THAT would be a genius move.

Harry Potter comes out tomorrow. Whoop-dee-freakin'- do. Just show me the money.

The Lake's left for Florida yesterday. They'll be there for about a week and a half. Jude and Sutton are going through an especially adorable phase. They are both talking so well, creating sentences with clauses and tenses and everything. Jude is in a little acting mode where he makes these HILARIOUS faces to make you laugh. Avery turns five next month and is turning into a little young lady. You want to know someone who can give a freakin' hug, go see that Jude and Sutton. They got the squeeze going on like nobodies business.

I've been cranky all day and haven't known why. On my way home from work I realized it's because they are gone.

If I were to write a play, the characters would be Bill Clinton, Anne Lamott, and Joel Osteen. The plot? They would all three be in charge of planning the Waco Christmas parade? Why? Hell if I know. I was just thinking today about how those three people have one thing in commone: For the most part, I am against almost everything they stand for (all three of them, though different,) but I would LOVE to be their friends. It's weird, I know.

Well, I'm out of things. I'll try to do this more often.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005


I've been writing about Avery, Sutton and Jude for years now. Thought I'd share pictures, since I just figured out how to use the scanner...

This was from about a year ago. Sutton is on the left, Jude on the right.

After Avery's dance recital last month.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What to do....

So here's my day.

6:59-- Woke up.
6:59 through 8:00-- Urinated, coffee, 1 1/2 episodes of Tivo'd "Coach."
8:00 through 8:45-- Four mile run. (I know, I'm slow. But it's hot, even at 8:00)
8:45 through 9:50-- Showered, prepared for work, a few minutes of "Today" on NBC. Katie and Matt are away, so I didn't watch very long.
10:00 through 6:45-- Work.
7:00-- Led Bible Study at Mission Waco homeless shelter on the parable of the Good Samaritan.
7:35 through now-- An episode of "The Real World: Austin," (kind of lame,) episode of "Ed."

For the past 25 minutes this conversation has occured in my head:

Craig, this Sunday you are preaching again at St. Paul's. You are also writing a piece to be read by Lacy at UBC. You plan on going to East Texas tomorrow after work and staying through Thursday evening to visit friends. On top of that, you haven't blogged a significant blog in quite some time. As your friend and coworker, Carol, has pointed out, your blog just isn't what it used to be. And, oh yeah, what about that book you started earlier this spring? Three chapters? Puh-leeze. You've had three chapters done for three months now. Get your lazy ass off the couch and start writing.

Yeah, but I'm tired.

Here's what I'll do: Go to bed now (9:30 p.m.) wake up early and start writing.

You have to be to work at 7:00. You know how much you like your sleep. You may get up early, because you are an early riser any way, but you know TIVO is busy working while you are sleeping. There's sure to be an episode of "Coach" or "Gunsmoke" or some piece of joy you can't even begin to expect on that little black box. You wake up early you'll still waste your morning on television.

No I won't.

Yeah, you'll change your ways tomorrow morning won't you?