Sunday, April 30, 2017

Why We Should Answer The Knock on the Door

I'll admit that when I'm home relaxing and there's a knock on the door, I may not get off of the couch to answer it.  If I can peak at the front door and don't know who it is, I may not.  It's very James Bond like but quite silly. It's a lot easier to answer the door when it's the grand kids or I know who it is. How many times does God possibly knock on the door for us to do something and we don't answer because of the uncertainty of not knowing or wanting to leave the comfort of our life's couch.

I'm amazed when I think about the path our family has been on throughout my teaching and coaching career.  I'm also so thankful that God gave me a wife and our three kids who didn't shy away from the moves, new schools, jobs and friends when we've packed up the truck and moved on. Some have even used the phrase "Where's Gordon" instead of "Where's Waldo".  No comments please about any similarities.  I don't even own brown shoes.



One move we made seems to stand out more than the others.  Who knew that our move to Norfolk, NE and Nebraska Christian College for me to be the Dean of Students/Athletic Director/Men's Basketball Coach would put in motion where we are today, in particular with our oldest daughter Nicole.
  1. Had we not moved to Norfolk, would Nicole have been exposed to NCC and had a desire to attend? 
  2. If she doesn't attend NCC, does she meet her husband Brett? 
  3. If she doesn't meet and marry Brett, does she end up in Salt Lake City, UT where they minister in a church and to the many people in the city that need Jesus? 
  4. If she doesn't move to Salt Lake City, does she become a certified pastry chef? (Maybe not as significant in the grand scheme but still really cool), 

Our moves have taken us to several stops, but the move to the land of the Big Red seems like it had the broadest impact, not because of anything that Deb and I did special but just the plan that God put in motion when we went.  

In another blog (The Rider Way), I write as an Activities Administrator with emphasis on leadership and character. I'm writing a piece about opportunity knocking from an educational activities perspective, but from this personal and family experience it seems fairly simple.  When opportunity knocks at your door, listen and go through it.  The door that opens may seem small and like any other door at first, but be assured it will be part of a bigger picture that we have no way of seeing.  Open it in faith, go through it in faith and stay in it in faith until He opens up another one.  

I believe God is always on the move and wants everyone to hear the gospel.  Sometimes He needs us to physically move ourselves so He can work through the move to accomplish that.  He may or may not be done moving you but keep listening for a knock at the door.  

#beblessed

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Harlan, IA




Time to catch back up on the story of where we've been.

After two years in Norfolk, and Nebraska Christian College (1999-2001), we left to go back to Iowa and one of the top high schools in the state, Harlan Community, in Harlan, IA.  We left NCC for two reasons.  I feel like every job we have is not just a job, but I believe it is our ministry.  I believe that my ministry is in the public schools. That's where I feel like I make a difference.  

Secondly, and maybe what I'm not the proudest of at that time of my life, but I was too competitive.  I was still too much into coaching basketball.  I liked working with the guys at the college, liked being the AD at that level, and enjoyed working as the Dean of Students, but coaching there was a different experience, and I didn't have the right attitude about it.  I'm not proud of that fact, but I think that's the truth.  God was still at work on that and He took me to Harlan to teach me.

Skip ahead to the fall of 2004.  That's the fall that my mom passed away.  That year of coaching was the most difficult one I experienced in all of my years on the bench.  I think I grieved the entire season.  We had a good year in terms of wins and losses, but the season ended with me frustrated and not being fair to the girls I was coaching.  They are good people, and some I know are doing great, great things right now in their professional and personal lives.  They were rewarded for their hard work the next year with a trip to the state tournament.  I was happy for them.

After the season I was planning to get regrouped, and get ready for the next season.  One thing haunted me though.  Knowing I missed mom, and realizing how short our time here can really be, I knew with the way we played games in the Hawkeye 10 Conference I would have a hard time watching A.J. play basketball as he got older because we played many nights with girls at one site, and boys at another.  I always loved my family very much and have been so blessed by them, but I think for a lot of years my priorities shifted back and forth too much, especially during basketball season. I was very torn in the Spring of 2005, but knew we'd probably just have to work it out.  

God had other plans and one experience changed that.

I was sitting at my computer before school one morning and I heard a voice. It was as if someone was standing in the room talking to me.  The voice said, "Call Kevin Elwood". Kevin is the Superintendent at Treynor.  I sat there for awhile, but then decided I had better act on what I'd heard, so I e-mailed Kevin.  I said, I don't know why I'm emailing you, but I feel like I'm supposed to, and asked if they had any positions open.  Kevin responded that just so happened they were getting ready to hire a P.E. Teacher/Athletic Director.  I about fell off of my chair.  Kevin said they were just getting ready to check references and make an offer that day, but if I wanted to apply they would wait and give me an opportunity. I still get chills as I type this and think about how the Holy Spirit spoke to me that day and set up our future.
"For I know the plans I have for you". 

That's the shortened version.  Needless to say, that set up a whirlwind couple of weeks for our family. Totally unexpected.  We ended up accepting the position in Treynor two weeks later, and I'm still in awe of how God uses broken people, reaches out, and begins to heal them.  How He shows up when we may least expect it.  Why?  Because He loves us.  More than we can, and will, ever be able to fathom.

One thing I learned through that experience is to listen.  The more difficult part sometimes is to act on what He tells us.  I look back and am so humbled that we were able to go to Treynor.  I was able to not only watch A.J., but to help coach him.  I was able to all of his, and Abby's games because of how we played in the Western Iowa Conference.  I was able to begin this journey of doing what I do now, being an Athletic and Activities Director.

I need to be clear, I don't say any of this as someone who deserved any of what God gives me.  Why did I have to hear a voice?  Probably because I was too dense to get any other hints.  It's not because I'm special in any way, just slow to figure things out at times.  I hope you know I write this humbled and amazed.  

I continue to be amazed at how much He loves each of us.  How much His grace covers us each and every day. His timing is perfect and He wants to bless us, but sometimes we have to step out in faith.  Who knows where that listening may take you.  Wherever it does it's great to know Who goes before us and with us.

May you be blessed and experience His hand each and every day.  Keep listening.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".

He is Good!



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lessons from Rod


Many folks who read this know the man pictured above.  Some do not, but may have heard of him.  It's my brother in law, Rod Schuler, married to my sister, Michelle.  On Saturday, March 22nd, 2014, Rod left this earth and went to heaven.  Cancer wore out his body, but never his spirit or love for God.

Rod and Michelle raised 4 children in a home filled with laughter, support, and, love.  Love for each other, and most importantly, love for God.  That was never more evident than in Rod's final hours, and in the days that followed.

Out of respect for the family, those moments will remain the family's moments, but there were times when you just knew that God was there surrounding everyone with his love, power, grace, and mercy.

I felt His power many times, but never more so than when I had to play and sing at the funeral.  Singing a new song, "Never Once" (one that I now love), and a song that I've sung three times now for dear friends funerals, "I Will Rise", it was a very emotional time of worship, but one that I was honored to share in.  The experience was another reminder, and lesson learned, not to miss a moment because it may be difficult, or you have doubts that you can do it.  You can do it because of the power that lives within you, not our power, but His.

Words really escape how to describe the emotions of losing someone so close, but Rod "fought the good fight and finished the race".  The prize is now his.  We are left to carry on and live like he taught us, and showed us during his good times, and the rough times.  Through them all, he was a man of integrity, character, and faith.

Two more thoughts:

1) We experience moments in our life that bring us to our knees.  We know our life will now be different.  We live around those moments knowing that our priorities, focus, and energies should be different, and they may be for awhile.  Our goal should be to make those life changing moments/experiences long term, and not just short term.

2)  One of the things my sister said was so powerful and insightful.  Of course, you can never be happy that cancer entered Rod's life, but Michelle said when talking about it, "but we wouldn't want to go back to the way we were before either".  So powerful. Forward thinking.

The legacy of a man is not only evident in how he lives his life, but how those around him live theirs because of him.  May our goal be to never go back to the way we were before either.

Never Once


I Will Rise


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Music Does It Again

Greetings....I hope this finds you well, full of holiday cheer, and food.  Time to get back to normal, whatever that looks like very soon.  

We have had a fantastic Christmas break and holiday. We celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary on Dec. 30th, and we've got more to go, a nephew's wedding this Sunday.  We've got a few more nights of family get togethers, food, and fun yet ahead.  Then, it's back to meal replacement shakes and the fitness routine.

One of the highlights of our break was a trip back to Manning, and a performance with our OLD group,
The Blues Brothers.
 

We didn't practice together one minute.  Three of them that live in Manning got together a couple of times, but it was basically, get up and go.  We hadn't sung together since 2006, but it was unbelievable how the songs came back to us, and I think we actually did alright.  It was fantastic actually.

Fantastic to see a few of our closest friends on this earth, and to sing with a group of guys that spent eight years together singing for different events, in many different venues.  We shared some of our favorite stories again, laughed a lot, and appreciated the opportunity.  It also allowed me to find out one of the "brothers' lives less than 15 minutes from me now.

And the people of Manning.  Wow, are they terrific.  That group, The Blues Brothers, seems to be a part of of the community.  I think we're the town's group.  They are so kind and appreciative.  I don't know. Is it because we were just a bunch of local guys with different backgrounds and jobs who could sing and play a little bit? Is it because of our lead singer's incredible good looks, our drummers ability to never age, or the bands founder being able to play the piano, and our songs, in any key, without any music? (freaky good)

Whatever it is, it's special, and music brought us back together.  It provided moments from 1992-1999 that were special for us, and provided a chance for all of us to share something that we enjoyed.  It also provided a bond with the community of Manning.  So, thanks again Manning for allowing us to entertain you.  Your encouragement allowed us to be together and create some special friendships that endure the test of time and miles.

And.....it looks like Manning is going to bring us together again in the Summer of 2015.  Maybe we'll practice for that one.  Can't wait.

Until next time, Hope your 2014 is filled with opportunity, challenge, growth, and moments that are blessed by doing something you enjoy, with people you enjoy doing it with.

#BeBlessed

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hope

HI Again, well it's been a few weeks since I wrote.

Maybe a few reasons.

One being, we've been finishing our basement for about that amount of time.  Did a lot of painting, moving stuff, arranging the house.  We're excited to have this project done.  I won't put up a bunch of pictures, but I'll post one that may make those of you that know me know that it's my basement.  (Well, not just mine, but at least a Gordon basement)


The second reason is, seems like I've been doing a lot of observing recently.  Taking in life, taking in what's going on around me.  There's been stuff happen in my life, and in my family's lives, but I've also watched the lives of other people, and today, I was reminded again through a song, what all of those situations need.

It all comes down to having hope.  I've often wondered, and said, how do you live this life without hope, without real hope.  I'm not talking about, "man, I sure hope things work out", or "hope you get to feeling better".  I'm talking about the hope that we have because of what we're going to be hearing all about over the course of next month or so. The Savior that came to save the world and give us Hope.  Yeah, it will be called a holiday season, but to me it will always be Christmas, and I'll call it that.  Christ is the reason for Christmas, and that's where our hope lies.

Here's a list of a few things that I've observed, in my life, or the lives of people I know and interact with the last few weeks:
* divorce
* custody battles
* sickness
* hospitalization
* physical pain
* mental anguish
* spiritual battles
* traffic accidents
* financial hardships
* job hardships
* unrest in the home

I think we can also get drawn into the trap of thinking things are OK because life may be going smoothly.  We can put our hope in things that bring us joy too.  They can become a distraction in having us think about where our true hope and joy come from.
Things like:
*  Job
*  Time with family and friends
*  Sports teams and games
*  material blessings
*  being involved in church and charitable activities
*  being a good person

These few things are all good, and can be a blessing, but not what we need to base our life on.

Hope......In good times, in tough times.  All of those things ran through my mind last Sunday as I thought on the words of one song that we sang.  The song, Jesus Messiah, written by Chris Tomlin.  In the bridge the words go like this..."all our hope is in You, all our hope is in You, all the Glory to You God, the Light of the World".  

I came across this version of the song, performed by a group called Dave's Highway.  I watched one version when they were probably 12 years old, then one with them singing it live with Chris Tomlin, then finally found this version, performed this year.  Beautiful harmonies from these teenagers.  Simple, but powerful.

I'm thankful this Thanksgiving for Hope, The Hope, The Light of the World.  Without Him, the bad times are tougher, and the good times, are just good times.  Nothing more.  With Him, the bad times are doable, and maybe, dare I say, a blessing......and the good times, are more enjoyable and cherished, because it's not all their is.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Gordon's.  May your hope be in Him.





Thursday, October 24, 2013

Norfolk, NE


The uneasiness had started a few months earlier.  A stirring in my heart that had me asking if there was something more I needed to be doing.  Was there something else?  I was feeling burnt out with K-12 PE, and was looking for more of a challenge professionally.  I knew I would probably not have an opportunity to be an athletic director for quite sometime because my good friend was doing that in Manning, and he wasn't going to be leaving, so I knew any chance of change in Manning was slim.   

I don't even remember how I even really found out about the position at Nebraska Christian College, but it was very appealing.  A chance to coach college basketball, be an athletic director, be in a position of leadership, and work at the college that my parents had graduated from, my sister had attended, and had a rich history in our family.  An opportunity to go to a city where we had been many times for Christmas, and other holidays, when my grandparents had been alive and living there.  It was actually the city I was born in. 

I remember sitting at our dining room table, alone, on a Saturday morning, reading a devotion, and there it was, the verse that would become a life verse for me.  Jeremiah 29:11....."For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".  
That was it, I felt it, and knew it.  We, I say we, because we had to decide together.  We loved Manning, and our church in Carroll.  We have many close friends in both of those communities.  But we did it.  We went through the interview process, and moved to Norfolk in the summer of 1999.  

We were there just two short years, but we had a great experience, and I think parts of the rest of our adult lives were shaped by those two years.  We made connections that I think were directed by God, and will write about some of those in the future.  God orchestrating things that only God can orchestrate.  Here are a few of the things that were a result of our time in Norfolk, and Nebraska Christian College.  

1)  If we hadn't gone to work at NCC, would Nicole have gotten to know the campus and had a desire to go there?  Don't know, but it's where she met her husband, our son in law, Brett.  Was part of God's plan taking us there to set the place where they would meet?  

2)  My good friend, Shane Coop, who was the worship pastor at First Christian Church in Norfolk, really got me into doing contemporary worship.  He helped to show what authentic worship really looks like, and introduced me to leading in that setting.  I'm grateful for that experience with Shane and how that helped shape that part of my life.  

3)  I got to coach and work with some great guys in my two years there who are now doing great things in ministry, and as husbands and fathers.  I didn't have much to do with that, they were well on their way, but I'm proud of them and glad to be able to still follow what they're doing in their lives, and ministries, through social media. They are making a difference in people's lives.  

4)  With that, I got the opportunity to coach college basketball, even though at the lowest level, it was still college basketball, we competed against some NAIA teams, and played in the National Tournament in 2000.  At that point in my career I wanted to coach college basketball, and I got the opportunity to do that and not have to ask "What If" for the rest of my career.  (Those guys on that team who may be reading this, who can forget "The Shot" by Jeff Bredehoft against Grace at the Regional Tournament that probably put us into the National Tournament).  Great coaching memory.  

4)  The work at the college was my first introduction into the world of administration, and I know I learned a lot.  I'm thankful for the friends we made at NCC in our two years there, and the people I got to work with. The people there, and at other Christian Colleges, who have dedicated their work to training and working in that ministry have all of my respect.  It is a great calling.  



Our time there lasted only two years, but we were blessed, and I think God did what He wanted to do. It doesn't seem like we were destined for being somewhere for long periods of time, and while this was short, that time shaped a lot of things that happened later in life.  It makes me appreciate Jeremiah 29 even more.  His plans don't harm, they may not be obvious right away, or even show up where we're at, but I think this was the start of me realizing that God's plan may be set in motion, show itself several years later, but we can see how it worked, and how he used our time in one place several years later.  It's pretty awesome when He does that.  He knows the plan, and it's perfect.  

Be Blessed!!


Monday, October 7, 2013

The Power of Music


Music has been a major part of my life.  I think back on the good times, and memories, that I've been fortunate to have playing, and performing, all kinds of music. I think of the tough times, and music was there too.

Two groups I enjoyed being a part of:

The Blues Brothers - The old time rock and roll band we had for eight years back in Manning, IA.  It started as a spoof for a community show, then got going and more busy.  We had great times, I think we did some music that was musically sound, and put on good show.  Always fun to perform, and have some lifetime friends and memories from the many hours spent together.

The Messengers Quartet - Still plugging along with our once a year reunion tour (one hour concert) every March.  A great group of friends.  We get together to practice a little, eat a lot, and still seem to get our sound right, and enjoy singing the "old" quartet songs that have such nice harmonies, with beautiful meanings.

The last few years most of the music I do is contemporary worship music at churches or other events.  It's probably the one hobby that I spend the most time at.  I love playing, discovering new music, applying it to every day life, and then being able to share it.  Even when I'm not leading, just being able to play gives me great joy and helps to calm, and lift up, my spirit.

My earliest memories of music are from my dad's quartet, The Jubilaires.  I remember the good times they had together when I was around their group, just listening to them laugh, and that probably helped to embed, in me, a passion and love for music, and all of the memories that can be made with it.  They made wonderful music together too, and still do, as they did just a week ago in a reunion at their Alma mater, Nebraska Christian College. A video of that performance is posted below.  Even in that clip, you can hear them having fun and laughing.  50 plus years of singing together.  That's fantastic.  They can still bring it too.  In fact, if you listen to the third song on the video clip, "Who Am I", you'll hear a 76 year old Don Gordon really bring it.  Beautiful Dad.

I mentioned earlier how I recall the music being powerful during some tough times too.  It's been right at nine years since my mom suddenly died.  On the day of her funeral we were all gathered at my sister's house.  The quartet was all at the house......that says something about the lifetime bond they share too.  Larry Cripe, the quartet's piano player slipped to the piano and started to play.  Before long, the entire quartet came around the piano without prompting, and began to sing.  It was beautiful, and helped all of us feel a little bit better on a very tough day.

So today, I'm really grateful that my parents shared their love of music with me.  They showed me what meaningful relationships can be developed through sharing that love of music with other people.  I learned that music speaks to the heart and soul, and that if you do it with an honest, and open, heart and soul it can touch, and help other people too.  Thanks to the Jubilaires for letting God use you, thanks Dad for a great example, and through that legacy, I hope I've helped others through my music too.   But, the most important thing I've learned is that we do it for God's glory, not for ours.