Thursday, May 26, 2016

One Baylor Alum's Reflections on a Dark Day

First, let me say that I'm just a single voice and others will speak more eloquently and possibly more accurately.  Part of blogging for me has been a method of saying things that I couldn't get to without writing them.

I am so sad.

Baylor has fired Coach Art Briles, demoted President Ken Starr, and sanctioned A.D. Ian McCaw.  A damning report by an outside law firm has crushed many in the Baylor family.  Baylor failed - the kind of failure that all of its constituents feel.  We were not who we said we were.  My wife, the Queen, will tell you that I'm a cup half-full guy.  I was on this too.  No way my beloved Baylor was as bad as the rumors were.  The truth will win out and it will turn out okay somehow.  But no.  We were worse than most imagined.

We didn't learn much from Dave Bliss, apparently.  Athletics trumped righteousness (in the biblical sense of that word).  We valued disproportionately what was (and is) not all that valuable in the end.

And that's not the worst of it.

The worst of it is that there are ladies who are scarred for life whose stories are now interwoven with a national news cycle.  Anonymity and healing will be a lot harder now.  May God have mercy on them.

I am mad.

I am angry that athletes were allowed to treat others like this with impunity.  I am angry that there was no clear-headed person who could call it what it was.  I am angry that there were assumptions and arrogance and absences of judgment.

I am wary.

I am wary because, according to the report, there was a systemic failure of good-natured people.  I'm not talking about those who dismissed or failed to do their duty.  I'm talking about the people who thought that it wouldn't happen at Baylor.  I'm talking about the people who should have been working to put the appropriate Title IX systems in place but slow-rolled it because either (a) leadership above them didn't prioritize it or (b) they had other things on their plates or (c) some combination of both.

It's a terrible leadership lesson to learn.  Let me be clear:  as a Christian university, I actually think it's correct for administrators and other leaders to expect it not to happen at Baylor.  We ought to expect men not to act like animals, especially those who claim Christianity.  But just because we expect one thing doesn't mean we don't guard against another.  And that's the leadership lesson:  expect the best but have guards in place against the worse.

On a personal level, I know I've implemented this in my own life.  I expect faithfulness to God, my wife, and my family for life.  However, I have also built in some personal legalisms that guard against the dreaded "what could be."  We've taken steps recently as a church to do something similar regarding facility usage, etc.

O!  My heart hurts.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Follow ups and catch ups

Thanks for all who have stayed with us and prayed for us in these days.  Below are some notes that will hopefully catch everyone up to speed on where things are.

Currently, Maggie is home and doing well.  She was discharged Tuesday evening because she was holding stable on the medicinal regimen she was taking and they were willing to take "stable."  What that means is she still has her pleural effusion (the fluid around her lung) but it didn't appear to be increasing.  The hope is her body will catch up and clear it now that we've plugged the leak in the dam, so to speak.

And that leads to today.  She has a follow-up appointment today close to noon.  The blood work and x-rays will tell us a lot about how she's doing.  That's definitely a point of prayer.

So many have asked about her seizure on Sunday.  Because of her prior strokes in 2014, she has a lower seizure threshold where her brain activity can overcome her brain chemistry leading to bad things happening.  This can be caused by dehydration, exhaustion, fever, and a myriad of other stimuli.  In her case, we **think**, it was the extreme nausea from the potassium supplement she had to take.  Maybe.  But honestly, no one knows.  They have upped her anti-seizure meds to hopefully help her with these struggles.  It was and remains a scary part of her medical makeup.  

Out of the many people we have met during our tenure at TCH, the conjoined twins from Venezuela have captured our affection the most.  They are so sweet and genuinely joyful, matched by the sweetness and joy of their parents.  The Queen and I have coordinated (well, mostly the Queen) an effort to try to get them some items that would be nice to have as a sign of God's love and favor for them.  I'm amazed at how generous some of our friends are and how God typically provides in advance what we can pass along.  In one case, an iPad was sitting around waiting to be given away by one of our friends.  And...boom.  The twins have an iPad with Spanish movies.  So fun to see how God works and moves even in the midst of a very difficult situation for their family.

In addition, we've had conversations about Christ with a Muslim nurse, conversations with one of our favorite nurses about adoption, a long conversation with a doctor about following Jesus as a professional, and a conversation with another favorite nurse about being real while being people of faith.  The Kingdom is still worthy of pursuit - even when my circumstances aren't easy (Matt. 6.33).

Throughout, we have known we are loved (evidenced by so many of you who have loved us well for the sake of Jesus).  Our circumstances have never changed His love and disposition of mercy toward us.  I have a quote from a Puritan pastor under the glass on my desk that reminds me of this.  And so I leave you with this from Thomas Wilcox (1621-1687) and his sermon Honey out of the Rock:

Judge not Christ's love by providences [circumstances], but by promises.  Bless God for shaking off false foundations, for any way whereby He keeps the soul awakened and looking after Christ; better sickness and temptations, than security and superficiality.