Monday, April 25, 2011

Where It All Began

 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.

As I start to reflect on the past 26 years it reminds me of all the great places we've been, but also how I believe God took us to these different schools and the things that he taught us and provided for us there. 
It's a reminder to me of how God has worked and in the process I hope it helps you see how God has worked, or may be working, in your life.  I may not have always seen it at the time because I was making a selfish decision, but somewhere along the way God showed up and went to work in spite of me, not because of me.   He's pretty awesome like that.  Why?  Because He knows the plan, we've just got to get on board sometimes. 

So, where did this journey begin?


Fresh out of Northwest Missouri State with a degree in Physical Education and a minor in Psychology there weren't many jobs open.  Just so happened there was a job in Walnut, IA, 22 miles from our hometown of Griswold.  It was really the only option I think we had.  It wasn't even teaching PE, but being an aide in a special education classroom and doing some teaching under the supervision of the Special Education teacher.  One of the funniest things I remember is that we had a "new" computer lab that the school was able to get through some FFA funds.  25 Apple IIe computers.  Wow, that's right and with Double 5.25 disk drives.  For those of you who don't know these were disks about the size of a CD, but they were floppy and could be written on from the computer.  It was quite the set up.  When they were all fired up it sounded like a jet engine.  The game of choice?  The Oregon Trail. 

Coaching wise I was coaching more than one guy should probably be allowed to coach.  I don't think we would dare let people coach like this these days but back then you didn't have as many coaches and more coaches just coached more sports.  I cut my basketball coaching teeth by being the head girls coach which meant I was coaching the old 6 on 6 game.  Half court 3 forwards and 3 guards, 2 dribbles, couldn't go past the half court line or it was a violation, and the forwards couldn't hit the ball out of the guards hands as they held the ball.  And officials had to be good too because after a made basket one official would grab the ball and throw it to the other official (only a 2 man crew) who would throw it to a forward from the other team as she stood unguarded in her half of the circle at half court.  Talk about a learning curve.  But, back then 6 on 6 girls basketball was huge in Iowa and I am glad to have coached it and had the experience that I did.  I coached some great girls who are now great moms and members of their communities.  Once in a while I get to see one or two of them and they are now great young ladies. 

Below is a short video about the 6 on 6 game. 

In addition to the girls basketball I was also the boys assistant basketball coach so I'd go from one practice to the other and the girls game to the boys game.  Busy, but no kids, and I was in the gym with a game that I loved. 

But, that's not close to being all.  In the fall I was the Head Volleyball coach.  That was quite an experience too.  I don't remember who I talked to preparing for that, but I know I didn't do that on my own.  Buy a book or two and away we go.  There's another game that has truly evolved into something more in the past 26 years.  In those days you didn't have backrow specialists or middle blockers.  Girls basically played the entire rotation with possibly someone coming into serve once in a while. 

After basketball season, it was onto coach track where I was the Head Boys and Girls Coach.  I played golf in high school so you know what that means?  More books.  There was no internet, so it was just turning pages and talking to other coaches.  To top it off, I started doing some baseball and softball umpiring in the summer as well.  I'm tired now just thinking about it. 

So, there's the coaching, but where was God?  He was there, but I wasn't very interested.  Most of you know I grew up with my dad as a preacher so I was in church most of the time if the doors were open.  I knew about God, knew right from wrong, and basically lived a good life.  Deb and I still went to church in Griswold every Sunday,but at this point there was no relationship and I was just too stubborn to do anything about it. 

One thing that is so cool about God is that He's always there, but He doesn't stomp His feet and force us to go to Him.  It's still always our decision.  It's always a choice. 

Nothing really changed in my life until what could be called a selfish decision turned into one of the most important moves in my coachng career and helpd me Find THE Way.  More on that next time.......

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The End but The Beginning

1 Corinthians 15: 50-58
 50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]
 55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
   Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]

 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

That's what the resurrection is all about.  We've received the greatest gift we could ever ask for and our lives should never be the same and reflect that each day, with every interaction at work, at a ballgame, simply put everywhere we go and with everyone we meet. 

I Hope everyone had a great Easter weekend with family.  I was so inspired and humbled by worship this weekend.  I hope you all had a similar experience.  One thing struck me Sunday afternoon as I was looking at Facebook and saw people post things concerning Easter.  It made me realize that we need to live every day like it was Easter.  Do I say all of the nice things about Jesus every day?  Do I thank Him for the gift He gave by taking my sins to the cross?  Do I share the good news of the resurrection with others like I should? No, I honestly don't and I feel ashamed of that.  My goal this Easter is to try to do that more consistently and treat each day like it's Easter. 

Now, why the title to this blog?  It's because I've reached the end of my basketball coaching career and will begin a new phase of my life without it. 

Why now?  The main reason is that I just think it's time and I trust that feeling.  I tried to coach alot on my gut feeling and trust it and I'm doing the same now with this decision.  It's about family most of all.  That's the reason we left Harlan (more about that in the near future) and it's the reason for this decision.  Brett, Nicole, and Jonathan will be moving to Utah and it will free us up to go out there when we want to.  A.J. will be a junior at Midland University.  We missed a few games this past season because of conflicts with our high school schedule and we just don't want to miss any games if possible over the next two years.  It will go by to quickly.  We also look forward to being able to spend time with Abby as she enters a new phase of her life as well.  And Deb, well Deb has been there beside me every step of the way, through every high, every low, and has been the backbone of support for what I've done over the past 26 winters.  We've had our anniversary fall on Dec. 30th and have never been able to really get away together becuase there has always been a practice to be at.  It's time for me to be able to do some things with her now as well.

Over the next few blogs I'll spend some time reflecting on my 26 years on the bench as I think about what I've learned by being invovled in a game that I have loved for as long as I can remember.  Oh, I won't be very far from it.  I'll still see plenty of Cardinal games, MU games, and will help broadcast some games on KMA as a color analyst, but I'll be able to choose now and have some more control over where I want to be. 

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.  (Jeremiah 29:11)  Only God knows the plans he has in store for us as we close this chapter of our lives, but that's enough.  We're headed down a different road, but we'll find our way because THE Way will be guiding us through it all. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Casting Crowns - "Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)" - Live

Have a Blessed Easter My Friends. 


Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)

Verse 1
One day when heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men my example is He
The Word became flesh
And the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Chorus 1
Living He loved me dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
O glorious day
O glorious day

Verse 2
One day they led Him up Calv'ry's mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish despised and rejected
Bearing our sins my Redeemer is He
The hand that healed nations
Stretched out on a tree
And took the nails from me

Verse 3
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose over death He had conquered
Now is ascended my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him
The grave could not keep Him
From rising again (rising again)

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
We long for Your coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Your glories will shine
Wonderful day my beloved one bringing
My Savior Jesus is mine

Glorious day
O glorious day

CCLI Song No. 5638022
© 2009 Word Music, LLC | My Refuge Music | Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.) | (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) | (Admin. by Sony/ATV Songs LLC)
J. Wilbur Chapman | Mark Hall | Michael Bleecker
For use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use.  All rights Reserved.
CCLI License No. 92440


Monday, April 18, 2011

Taking Time

At some point I'll get to our families transition from to Treynor, IA and how that all took place, but today I'm reminded of that because what took place yesterday (Sunday). 

For the first time in what seemed like a long time we had our whole family at our house for Sunday dinner and then the entire afternoon.  It was special.  (the photo above isn't from yesterday, but when Jonathan was just a few days old)  Yeah, there were a couple of hours where Deb went to town with Brett and Nicole and I was home with a sleeping grandson, and two sleeping kids, but we were together. 

I should have mowed the lawn, put some more laundry in, dome some writing for the class I am currently taking, or even done some work for the track meet we hosted on Monday........but I didn't.  It didn't really matter yesterday. 

Seems like one thing I've come to appreciate in the past few years is to not get to worked up about some things and just be in the moment and I guess "smell the roses" a little bit. I'm not perfect at it by any means, but I'm trying to be better at it.

It's a matter of priorities.  Author Stephen Covey  says that  "the essence of effective time and life management is to organize and execute around priorities."  I think what I've continued to learn is that some days it's OK to wait until tomorrow.  Not as an excuse to not work, but just to prioritize what might be best to do at that time.  In the case of yesterday it was to enjoy our family.  The lawn still didn't get mowed today, and unfortunately it might got mowed for a few more because of the rainy forecast but I'll catch up with it. 

God also talked about priorities and being wise. 

Jeremiah 29:11For 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.

Let's take time......

Time to spend with those we love just becuase we can.

Time to do what we should do, but not overdo it all at once.

Time to relax, rejuvinate, and relax. 

Time to  to look for God's plan and work to make it our plan, after all, He said He knows the plans He has for us.  Why do we seem to try and fight that?  If we would just step back, be still, and be in the moment, we might be surprised at what we find and it just might help us Find THE Way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

History of the Verse

Yesterday I mentioned Jeremiah 29:11.  It got me thinking about the first time that verse really came alive to me and it fits right in with the journey we've been on and where we're at today.  So, the next few blogs will take us back and allow me to share the way life has unfolded for us. 

Back in the spring of 1999 we were in our 10th year in Manning, IA and I had a restless feeling in my heart and soul that I needed to do something else and felt like I had done all that I could in Manning.  I was burnt out teaching K-12 PE and didn't see any chance of getting to be an Athletic Director in Manning because my good friend who was the A.D. was young enough that he wouldn't be retiring any time soon.  (turned out that was correct because he just retired 2 years ago) 

That spring there was an opening at my parents alma mater Nebraska Christian College in Norfolk NE for a Dean of Students, Athletic Director and Men's Basketball Coach.  It was an appealing job because even though it was the lowest level of college basketball it was still college basketball and coaching college basketball had been a goal of mine for a few years as well.  In addition, getting to be an athletic director was a plus and I liked the idea of going to NCC because of all that I knew about it because of my parents love for the college and in addition my sister had attended for a year.

I was torn on whether or not to apply for the job for a number of reasons, but on a Saturday morning I was reading the bible and the my study took me to Jeremiah 29:11 and following.  I can still remember that moment and knowing that I had my answer.  I don't know where Deb was, but when she got home I do remember showing her the verse and we knew that I should apply.  I did get the job and spent two great years there making some great memories and friends.  But, probably more importantly, it introduced our kids to Nebraska Christian and I think Nicole ended going to school at NCC because we spent two years working there.

Which brings us to today and the first of my blogs a couple of days ago writing about Nicole and Brett and where they're headed in their lives. 

Did God bless me and all of the Gordon family through my experiences at NCC?....definitely. 

But was that the real purpose of us going there?  Maybe not. 

If Nicole doesn't go to NCC does she meet Brett?  Chances are probably not.

If she doesn't meet Brett is she going to Salt Lake City to support her husband and be a part of a campus ministry there? 

If Brett doesn't meet Nicole is he headed to Utah to minister at the University?  We don't know, but we can be sure that God does knew the plans that He was putting into motion on a Saturday morning in Manning, IA in the spring of 1999.  Now, 12 years later, He's preparing the way for a young couple to go to Salt Lake City and begin working in a life changing ministry. 

We may not always know the way that we should go or what we should do, but I think it's important for us to step out, trust the prompting of the Holy Spirit and let God put His plan into motion.  When we do that we may eventually see that God's Way sometimes takes years to play itself out and the first step may not have just been about us.  It may have been just the first step in God's plan to help people find THE Way. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The House

Part of what has been going on with us is we've been trying to sell our house for the past 5-6 months.  We haven't had to, but just wanted to try and are attempting to get into something a little bit bigger for our family that is expanding and will continue to expand.  It hasn't been a real big deal, but just kind of busy in the fall, nothing through the winter, and now we've hit a hot streak again since the weather has broken. 

Deb has been great at getting the house ready when we've needed to and has been very creative decorating it.  If it sells sometime it will be because of her and her persistence.  Part of the reason we're super motivated now is to be able to help out Brett and Nicole and have them live with us if we can get into something bigger. 

Do you ever feel strange praying for something different when you have enough right now?  That's kind of how I've felt and don't know if I've been super committed to praying hard enough for the house to sell and get into a bigger one because I feel kind of guilty doing that, but I've been more intentional lately praying about it and have felt better about it because I still think that God loves us like we love our own kids and wants us to be happy, but I also know that He knows what is best for us.  He knows if we should take on a bit bigger house payment.  He knows if we'll even be in Treynor to need a bigger house here.  My favorite verse is from Jeremiah 29:11-13,  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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I mentioned that I've learned alot in the past couple of months because of Brett and Nicole's situation, and life in general, about trusting God and seeking His face more intently and consistently, and in the process I think have talked to him more openly and honestly than I have in quite sometime. 

Well, tomorrow we have a family coming to look at our house of the 2nd time in 10 days or so.  I bet we've had our house shown around 20 times and this is the first couple who have come back for a 2nd look.  We're kind of excited about that.....but, we had a deal in place contingent on the sale of our house, but we let that go and have nothing in place at this point.  "For I know the plans I have for you....."  So.....what will happen?  I don't know.  I don't have to.  We'll continue to trust and pray.  That seems to be what our family is doing alot of lately. 

We'll find our way as we continue to look to THE Way because we know He has a plan and that's enough.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Brett and Nicole and Jonathan

Headed to a golf meet in Audubon right now so might as well pass the time.  I really enjoy coaching golf and especially like coaching the mental side of it.  I’ll let you know at the end of the blog how we did. 
There is so much going on in life right now.  I’ve often made the comment that every phase of life is different and exciting as kids get older and the season that we’re in right now is no exception to that.  Please understand I’m not one of those guys who think that the Gordon family is the only one going through things because I’m not one of those guys.  I think we’re all in need of ways to share what we’re going through and this blog just happens to be mine at the present time. 
I’m going to focus today on Brett and Nicole.  Many know that they are in the midst of raising support to move to Salt Lake City to work with Impact International doing campus ministry at the University of Utah.  Not sure what the time frame is for that yet, but God does.  They want to be there in August when school starts.  That’s the goal and I think we’ll know if that’s God’s goal based on if they get all of the support they need to make the move.  They have really taught us a lot about faith and trust.  Brett quit his full-time job a couple of weeks ago and they are now working full time on raising their support together.  Brett wrote a great blog awhile back about burning the ships and not turning back and you can catch his blog here:
In less than a month they may be living with us for a few weeks until they can move into a little cottage for the remainder of their time before the move.  Am I excited about that?  Well, it doesn’t faze me one way or another to tell you the truth.  To me, it’s just part of sharing life with them and we’ll make it work.  If it’s what we need to do to help them in their ministry then we want to do it. 
Will we be crowded?  Yes.  Will we make some special memories with all three of them before they move 14 hours away?  Yes.  And that’s what life is about for me right now and something I don’t want to miss.  Making memories and taking time to enjoy Brett, Nicole, and Jonathan while they’re still close…..(and they will be close).  
Am I excited to have Jonathan 14 hours away from us?  No.  Am I excited to see how God will work in the next few months to prepare them to go to Salt Lake City?  Yes.  I believe God will show himself to us all in the next few months and we will be able to look back and see His provision and guidance. 
Have I ever been to Salt Lake City, Utah?  No.  Am I excited to see the beauty of God’s creation there?  Yes.  I believe God has already provided us the most important thing we need to be able to drive or fly west to visit….Time.  He’s restructured our jobs and I think that we’ll be able to work out the rest to visit them out there from time to time.  In the meantime, there’s Skype.    
Why Salt Lake City?  Why Brett?  That’s easy to see.  I’ve told this to many people when talking about this.  Brett’s greatest gift is living life with people.  He’s not a regular “church guy”.  He’s not as comfortable inside the 4, 6, or 8 walls of the church building developing programs and doing the stuff that “regular pastors” do.  Could he?  I suppose and he has.  But we’re all called to let God use our spiritual gifts and talents and we all have different and unique gifts.  Brett’s is living life along side people and ministering that way.  And Nicole is the perfect match for him and that ministry.  Super proud of them.  And why Salt Lake City?  Utah has one of the highest suicide rates in the country along with high rates of alcoholism and substance abuse.  Brett said that when they visited the University campus you could almost feel the darkness and oppression as they walked around.  Finally, it’s where they have no doubt that God has called them to be at this point in their lives and we support that 100%.  We know it won’t always be easy and Satan will work to discourage and frustrate them, but he will not win because the team that God is putting in place at the University of Utah is HIS team and God’s team wins. 
If someone is interested in learning more about and possibly even supporting Brett and Nicole’s ministry in Salt Lake City please let me know. They’d love to come meet with you and Deb and I would have a good reason to take care of Jonathan.  J
Until next time, remember, we’re all out there and we’re all trying to find our way and THE WAY is patiently waiting for us all to let Him light the way.    

We won both matches.  Girls 202-213…Boys 168-174

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Where to start?

Where does one start, where does one look, when it seems like there is no way.  All of us experience many unexpected, scary, and challenging things in our lives.  I honestly don't know how we could ever face any of them without the Grace and Mercy of our Loving God.  I'm not planning to use this blog to tell you about me, but to share how God is working in the Gordon family...and HE is working.  We all have God working in our lives and I want to write about it to record it for myself and if it helps you in some way then to Him be the glory for that.  I'd be happy to hear how He is working in your life too, and together, we can find our way on this journey. 

My wife Deb and I entered into a great time of being grandparents on Dec. 30th, 2010 which also happens to be our wedding anniversary.  Our oldest daughter Nicole, and son in law Brett Ricley, gave us Jonathan Alan.  What a blessing and a precious gift.  We enjoy having him visit and going to visit him as well.  Most of the time he brings his parents and that's a good thing too.  Now, talking about Jonathan is not real challenging, but a phase that the Ricley family is entering is scary and exciting.  More on that in the near future.  We also are blessed with our 20 year old son, AJ, a sophomore at Midland University in Fremont, NE and Abby, an 18 year old senior at Treynor High School.  For now, just wanted to give a brief introduction and tell you about where this journey is beginning. 

We're all out there and we're all trying to find our way.  Just remember, THE WAY is looking for you too.