My grand father served in WWII, and during Pearl Harbor, manned the guns on his ship and fired at the Japanese for all he was worth. He married an Irish lass named Ann Rogers right before being deployed. Both survived the Great Depression, shaping the way they thought about the world for the rest of their lives. My dad was born on the anniversary of D-day a few years after granddad’s return, and was taught by nuns in Catholic school. That made him and my mom baby boomers. Though my mom took after her conservative, race-car driving dad, my dad Rick was a sorta-hippie. Though he opposed the war in Vietnam, it was because of the draft, not because he bought into the notion that all war was evil or the “Make love, not war” mentality. He became a Wall street lawyer, moved to Nebraska to teach, where he met my mom, his student. After she graduated, they started dating, Mom helped bring Dad to Christ, and they married.
My selfless mother chose to home school my siblings and me. My best friend Steve, the pastor’s son, was also home schooled. Almost every Friday, our families had co-op day, and our moms taught all four of us together. We usually reenacted scenes from American history, especially the American and Civil wars. Some people argue that home schooling stifles a child socially. That may be true to a limited extent, but I am a fierce proponent of the merits of home schooling to this day. Though I was home schooled, I still had plenty of social interaction with my peers at church and camp, which meant I formed strong relationships with some of the wonderful people at CBC. Barb Phillips is like a second mother to me, and I remember several of my Sunday school teachers to this day when I think about Biblical teachings. One of the highlights of my young life was acting in professional theater. When I was eight, I acted on the Lied stage in A Christmas Carol. Since the Lied used to produce it every two years, I acted in the play a total of three times, and earned the role of Tiny Tim during the second performance. I also played a son in Fiddler on the Roof, and got the lead role for a boy my age in Inherit the Wind. That was a controversial choice at my church. My parents felt it was good for me to see how the sinful world perceives Christians, and to expose me to the debate between creation and evolution. That decision wasn’t popular with some parents, even ones who sent their children to public school to learn about evolution every day! Though I was a bit young to understand that Inherit the Wind was a flagrant attack on Christianity, I had strong Christian beliefs, and I think I may have been a witness to the older actors. I shared a dressing room with over twenty actors, all of whom were probably over twenty themselves. As you might expect of college students, they swore, smoked, joked coarsely, and peed in the shower. Some of them were good enough not to swear in front of a kid my age, and many of them curbed their swearing habit altogether. Over time, I became a sort of mascot. Every performance night, the guys would blare “You’re the Best Around” as a good luck tradition. The show couldn’t start, however, unless I was there to play air guitar. When we talked about the theology in the play, I defended my Christian beliefs to the best of my ability.
I started an amateur comic strip when I was eleven for my church newsletter. For seven years, Bob ‘n Joe has kept me busy, and it’s been published in my school newspaper, online at my blog, and one comic won third place in a national contest sponsored by a candy company and appeared on wrappers seen by people across the country.
While home school was one of the most positive experiences of my life, my parents and I decided that it would be good for me to have some experience with a “real school.” For all for years of high school, I was enrolled in Lincoln Christian. I had a very successful career there. I formed fast friendships with several of my teachers and students. I could talk forever about the highlights from those four golden years, so let me summarize some of the wonderful ways God blessed me in high school. I served as student editor for all four years, founded the journalism club, played lead roles in drama productions, became president of our school’s chapter of the International Thespian Society, was chosen as the art student of the year when I was a senior, and joined the National Honor Society, became a leader in the speech team, medaled at district speech all three years and went to state two of those years. One year, for a duet, I used a scene from The Unaborted Socrates, a powerful pro-life piece, and, though we placed last at districts (the piece’s worldview was a definite factor) a few people spoke to us after our performance and told us we’d convinced them.
Of course, I wanted to attend Concordia. Thankfully, I got enough scholarships to come here, because Concordia was my first choice. Concordia’s Christian atmosphere was very important. Doane was a college I was strongly considering, but during a visit, I discovered that though there were wonderful Christian students and professors there, the worldview of the school itself was not in line with mine. Furthermore, it’s one of the best art schools in Nebraska. Some kids want to get as far away from their parents and hometown as possible, but after all the sacrifices my parents made for me, I wanted to stay close to home and visit them when I could.