SouthLake Christian Academy Update – February 2023

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

Welcome to February, and to Missions Week, a beloved tradition at SouthLake. Missions Week introduces students to God’s work in the world, locally, nationally, and internationally. In addition to tee shirts and spirit wear, we celebrate the week with three school-wide chapel services, each centered on the theme “Let Your Light Shine” from Matthew 5:16. With songs, skits, videos, and guest speakers from the SouthLake community, students enjoy an upbeat worship experience while learning about missions and how we can be a light to those around us. We are livestreaming each chapel service so you can attend or watch online today and Friday at 1:55 p.m. on the SouthLake Media YouTube channel.

I am happy to announce we are expanding. For many months we have operated near our maximum capacity and managed to accumulate dozens of students on wait lists for various grades. In particular, high demand for kindergarten represents our greatest growth potential. Beginning this fall, we will add an additional kindergarten class to SouthLake, and then a first grade class in 2024, a second grade class in 2025, and so forth, in order to keep our class sizes small. This will require us to renovate facilities and build new space. In the short term, we are reviewing a bid to renovate space in Wilcox, turning our library into classrooms and relocating the library closer to the students who use it most. We are also getting bids to clear a wooded area adjacent to the First Building and add a structure for Fine Arts classrooms, freeing up existing space for new classes. These projects will allow us to grow our lower school for the next 4-5 years, and eventually lead us to build a new academic building. We will not need to raise tuition in order to pay for renovations as generous contributions to our Annual Fund in recent years will fund much of the development. We will also continue to work without interruption on our new donor-funded athletic complex. I will have more details in the weeks to come, but let me know if you have any questions.

“Diving Into SouthLake” Podcast
Episode One of our new school podcast drops today. You can find the podcast on the Apple Podcast app, or wherever you access your podcasts. The podcast has been months in the making and I want to thank high school math teacher John Keith Sheridan for his work as producer. We plan to release one episode each month, near the first of the month, from September through May. The first episode chronicles God’s providence to SouthLake through the ups and downs of our history. The podcast represents our latest effort to keep you informed about everything happening at SouthLake, past, present, and future. If you have ideas for an episode, you may email your ideas to

Mental and Spiritual Health
Current events often pose a challenge for us as educators, counselors, mentors, coaches, administrators, and ministers. How do we address social issues or concerns that affect different families differently? One event can have little impact on one while being traumatizing to another. As a school and a ministry, we want to be sensitive to student needs while not adding to the social turmoil around us. In this spirit, our School Counselor recently extended an invitation to high school students who may want to talk about the events surrounding the killing of Tyre Nichols and the significant media attention that has generated. Additionally, she is available for one-on-one conversations with students who may have need. I know not every student knows or is directly affected by current events, while some students and their families are deeply disturbed by what they see. We will always do our best to make school a safe place for the conversations students need to have, and a safe place for those who don’t need the conversation.

In closing, let me say how uplifting it was to spend two days listening to students, faculty, staff, and parents talk about SouthLake during interviews for our new school video. I can’t wait to see the finished product when we release our newly redesigned website coming this March. We are not a perfect school, but we are blessed with some amazing people who work tirelessly every day to make this place better for the sake of our students and God’s glory.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Mental Health Race Suffering

Trail Running and the Life of Faith

I’ve been a runner for about 20 years, and an avid trail runner for the past 2 years. Saturday (Jan. 17th)  I completed my second ultra distance trail race (50 kilometers). My first 50k was about six weeks earlier at Oak Mountain and that race was a great experience. Yesterday’s race at Lake Lurleen, however, was miserable. Don’t get me wrong, the race was superbly well organized and the volunteers were great; the misery was all on me. I started feeling badly at about mile 13 and never really recovered. The first 12 miles were great; I felt great, ran great, and kept the pace I’d hoped to keep. But at about mile 13 everything went south. My left calf started to cramp, I wasn’t hungry, I had no energy in spite of the fact that I was well hydrated and nourished, I started wheezing and it got worse with every mile, and everything within me wanted to stop at the half-way point. Almost none of these things has ever happened to me in any of the more than 50 races I’ve run. But in this race, at about mile 22 I was reduced to walking off and on to the finish with an overall time that was an hour slower than what my fitness level should have allowed. The final 9 miles of the race were a total mind game, and to stay focused but detach from the pain, I came up with this post comparing trail running to the life of faith. Here are the lesson I’m learning from experiences like yesterday.

1. Some things you can’t control. I like running in the cold and enjoy the variation of steep climbs that take their toll on your legs but allow you to use different muscle groups. By contrast, yesterday’s race was warm and included no steep climbs. I was tempted all day to think that I’d perform better if circumstances were different. The truth is, it doesn’t help you go one bit further or faster to fret about race conditions.

Life will give you plenty of circumstances that you’d prefer not to face. You can’t choose the pain, but you can choose how to respond. The life of faith means that you live not on the basis of what you see, but with hope and trust in the One who sees beyond your circumstances.

2. Pace yourself. In an ultra distance event, if you start too fast you will pay a severe penalty later. My pace for the first half of the race yesterday should have been correct, but it wasn’t. My body wasn’t right, and I probably ran the first 10 or 11 miles in denial about that. I should have swallowed my pride and started slower than I’d planned. I didn’t, and by the time I realized fully what was going on, it was too late.

The life of faith is a marathon not a sprint. When the scripture says to “run with endurance the race set before you” (Hebrews 12.1), it means that you should move through life in a way that is sustainable for a long time and distance. Not everyone runs at the same pace, but everyone has a maximally efficient pace given the circumstances. Slow down, monitor your spiritual health, and humbly readjust as needed.

3. Keep moving forward. If you race long enough, you’ll eventually have a day where your time goals goes out the window and your only goal is to finish. No podium finish, no possible PR, and not many people at the finish line when you get there. I’ve heard that for years, but yesterday I experienced it first-hand. All I could tell myself was don’t quit. Finish. One step at a time. Any form of forward movement is success. It feels like it takes forever, but eventually you get there if you keep moving forward.

The life of faith is not an easy life. True religion is not an opiate. Following the way of Christ doesn’t immediately solve all of your problems. Jesus taught his followers to pray for their “daily bread, “and he said “don’t worry about tomorrow.” So stay in the moment. Sometimes everything goes wrong and you want to quit. Don’t. Keep moving forward, one small slow step at a time if necessary.

Are you a runner? Do you see other parallels between running and the Christian journey?

[Update: On Sunday, I visited Urgent Care where I tested positive for the flu (second time this winter, strain B this time) and a sinus infection. I suppose that partly explains Saturday’s race!]

Running Suffering