Sunday, May 29, 2011


It's been a busy couple of weeks since graduation.  We've ended another school year (28 come and gone) and I'm a few days from being fortunate to have individuals and teams competing in the state boys and girls golf tournaments for the fourth straight year.  The boys tournament is over the weekend and the girls compete for two days after Memorial Day.  Makes for a busy few days, but it's fun. 

I'm anxious to continue writing about our coaching stops, but today I thought I'd finish talking about our kids.  I've talked about the girls and where they're at in their lives right now so now, #1 and only son, Anthony James (A.J.).

Hard to believe that A.J. will turn 21 in a week.  A.J. just finished up his sophomore year at Midland University in Fremont, NE.  Some know that his journey there was not really planned from the beginning, but as we all know, sometimes we're not able to control what happens, but we can control our reaction to the events that take place in our lives.

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."

AJ's journey actually started at Dana College in Blair, NE.  He was recruited there to play basketball and decided to study education and become a teacher/coach.  Dana was a good fit for AJ because the size appealed to him and it was also an hour away from Treynor, which made getting to games much easier for us.  Things took a turn on June 30, 2010.  AJ was on his way to Blair to play basketball with guys on the team when I got a tweet (for those not familiar a tweet is a message you get from a Twitter account...OK, maybe that didn't help) saying that Dana College was officially closed the next day, July 1.  Needless to say, this was a shock.  I immediately called AJ and told him to be prepared and that it appeared that the college was closing.  He first thought I was messing with him, but then realized I wasn't.  When he got to the college his coach had just found out and was obviously in shock. 

We kind of faced this like we faced a number of moves in our lives.  We just had to accept the fact that where we thought AJ would spend four years of his life was not going to happen and we had to find a solution.  Through the month of July we visited four schools, Briar Cliff, Northwestern, Buena Vista, and finally Midland.  All were working very well with displaced Dana students, but after weighing all of the options AJ decided on Midland and it has ended up being a very positive move. 

His laid back personality certainly helped the situation, but I think part of his being able to adapt has been the fact that he's had to make changes several times in his life with the moves that we have made, make new friends, be in a different school/community, and even though this was a tough deal, he adjusted well and found another new home. 

We're really proud of AJ for a number of reasons, but in particular for me, because he has done such a great job of exemplifying what it means to move forward and accept a situation, make the best of it, and just keep working.  It was a mixed year on the basketball court for AJ.  It's different when you go to a program that didn't recruit you, but you show up to be a part of the team.  AJ started at point guard the first half the season at Midland, then with some struggles that come with the long college basketball season, moved to a back up role coming off of the bench and at times we were all a little frustrated.  It was frustrating because the program and style of basketball he was recruited to play at Dana was different than the style of play the coach used at Midland.  That's college recruiting and I won't get into the different coaching style and philosophies and how that all plays into where you go to play,  but all I kept telling AJ was to keep working hard and learn from the situation.  Learn how he might communicate differently in a similar situation and how it helps him develop his coaching philosophy.  I'm proud to say he did that. 

Again, I think alot of our life becomes accepting the fact that we can't control the things or situations we're put into sometimes, but we DO control our reaction and attitude toward it.  We can take those frustrations and just be totally frustrated and negative, or we can take the frustrating situations, make the best of them, learn from them, and use those lessons in the future when life continues to happen and we come into contact with someone facing a similar situation and we have an opportunity to reach out and help them because we've "been there, done that". 

Now, another chapter of AJ's life unfolds as he enters his junior year.  A coaching change again.  Midland has hired a very fine coach and one that I'm sure will be successful there in the long run, and hopefully the short run for AJ's sake.  However, again, it's a coach that didn't recruit AJ and the other players that are there and nobody really knows how it all will turn out.  But, AJ will control what he can control which is how hard he'll work, as well as the attitude and leadership he will display.  I have no doubt he'll do that well because he always has.  He will be a better player, man, and coach because of this situation because I think it's a choice he'll make to do so.  AJ is a pretty laid back, has compassion for people, is a hard worker, displays excellent leadership skills, and is a fantastic uncle to his nephew Jonathan.  I think those personal qualities, as well as the way he has handled change already in his life, will serve him well in the future. 

He's now getting into the classes in his major more now which will be a double major of Social Sciences and History, as well as his minor in coaching.  It will be exciting to see what happens during the next couple of years in AJ's life and future unfolds for the next chapter in his life.  There will be many decisions made but I'm confident AJ will have God involved in those situations, and just like all of us, He'll help AJ Find THE Way along his road as well because He already has. 

A little house update.  Our contract with the realtor expires on Tuesday (May 31) and we'll let it expire.  It looks like God wants us to stay here in this house.  It's not the plan that we had, but when we listed it we left it in God's hands even though we thought moving to a different house would be the right thing for all of us.  Now it appears it won't work out that way but it will be exciting to see the plan God does have for us and this house. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Graduation Abby

Been since Mother's Day that I have gotten to really get on the computer.  Most of the week was consumed with graduation prep, as well as 3 golf meets, but when the dust settled yesterday, our youngest, Abby Joy, is a high school graduate and done with that phase of her life. 

Abby graduated with highest honors, received a multi-sport athlete award, was part of a state championship jazz choir group, and in only one semester of art received the most Outstanding Work awards (3) at the conference art show of any student at Treynor this year.  She had a real nice experience at a very competitive high school as part of a very competitive class academically and in the extra curricular areas.  Abby, we love you, we're proud of you, and look forward to seeing what God has in store for you.

One of the neatest messages Abby got was from one of our friends who had heard a great analogy on the radio the night before.  Simply said, "you can't unscramble eggs".  I think that is just a great way to look at some of the things we get ourselves into.  Once a situation arises all we can do is accept it, make the best of it,  lean on our family, friends, and most importantly our Heavenly Father, and do the absolute best that we can with the situation. 

God has used so many people with so many different backgrounds and problems throughout the ages to accomplish His plans and bring people into a relationship with Him because of contact with someone who is able to minister to them at a very important time and crossroads in their life.  I firmly believe that we are all put into situations or have situations in our lives to grow, learn, and eventually use those situations to minister to others.  After all, isn't that what we're here for. 

Mark 12

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
   29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

Our neighbors might be our immediate neighbors, but I think of our neighbors in broader sense and they are also those people that are going to go through the same things that we will go through, or have gone through and God is going to bring us into their lives to minister to them.  We have to be ready for the opportunities when they are presented to us and act though.  I know there have been times when I've looked back on a situation or person that has crossed my path and I know I missed it and just hate the fact that I didn't act or speak.  I think it should just remind us to not get to caught up in our day to day busyness and miss those opportunities. 

So, Deb and I now have all of our kids through high school, one through college, one half way through this week, and one on her way.  Wow.  time goes so fast.  Don't miss the opportunities with your family and friends.  We're entering a new phase of our life and we're looking forward to it and know it will bring new challenges, but it will also bring new ways to reach out to a Father who loves us and will never leave us.  I pray we all embrace the twists and turns of life and remember that we can't "unscramble the eggs" but we can see God in the midst of them and He will help us Find THE Way. 

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 upon 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. (Jeremiah 29)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day

Spent the morning at church in Kingsway watching our grandson Jonathan get dedicated at church.  It got me thinking about what an awesome responsibility parents have and how it seems to just get tougher and tougher to raise kids as each generation steps up to the plate and begins their parenting journey.  But, one thing always stays the same.  The strength and wisdom of our God.  He was there with my mom when she and my dad began their parenting journey in 1962.  He was there with Deb and I when we became parents in 1987, and he's there for Nicole and Brett as they started a new chapter of their lives on Dec. 30, 2010.  What a great comfort as we seem to constantly have change and new challenges come into our lives.  Parenting is a great responsibility and our children and grandchildren are a gift from God.  Good to know we never have to do it alone. 

I'd especially like to thank the mother of my children, Deb, for being a rock in our family and being a fantastic mom, and now grandma.  She is "worth far more than rubies" (Proverbs 31:10).  Thank you Deb.  Something has been passed down and modeled correctly because Nicole is a wonderful and loving mother as well and I know it makes us very proud.  Blessings to you Nicole.  And, in both of them I see so much of my mom and know that how she lived and loved lives on how each of them love and care for their families.  I'd encourage you to read Proverbs 31 if you haven't already today.  If you were fortunate to have a godly mother then you'll probably see your mom in some of the verses.  I know I did. 

It's been over 6 years since we suddenly lost my mom and Mother's Day is kind of bittersweet, but when I get to see Deb with our kids and  now see Nicole with our grandson I get to see some of my mom in them and I am reminded of how lucky I was and am.  Thanks mom for teaching us to love our families, to take time to enjoy family, and showing us all what it means for a mom, grandma, dad, grandpa, son, daughter, wife, or husband to love God and live their life for them.  You've helped alot of us Find The Way and I'm thankful for the years we had together. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Best Move? No, But Wait!

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.


Being a young coach I was going to finally be a head boys basketball coach and was going to turn around a dismal program.  No question about it.  At least that was my plan. 

The move to Lisbon took place because I wanted to be a head boys coach and was desperate to be one.  I really didn't care where.  It was my arrogant mentality that I could go anywhere and win.  Wow, what a tough lesson to learn.  Lisbon, at that time, was the wrestling capital of Iowa.  How dumb does that make this move sound now?  (I also found out later that my mom was not happy with me either for taking her 5 month old granddaughter 4 hours away......oops).

Well, from a basketball coaching standpoint it wasn't a great move at all.  From an eternal standpoint it was life changing.  As most know, and I mentioned before, I grew up in the church, knew about right from wrong, knew what God's plan for salvation was, but just hadn't made any commitment to it.  Which brings me to this thought. 

Can it be that God moves in the lives of a non christian to give them opportunities to come to Him? 

I really don't know but I do believe that God loves everyone and wants all of His creation to come into a relationship with Him and I think He does work in lives to allow them the opportunity to choose whether or not to follow Him.  

One thing that I do know is that  I heard the message of God's love from someone other than my dad.  Dad is a great communicator of God's word and was a fantastic preacher so it wasn't his fault that I hadn't yet become a Christian, but I think I did need to get away from the church in Griswold and hear it from Steve Pike at the church in Martelle, IA.  Steve's preaching style really communicated with me and something about how he presented The Word made it start to really sink in.  For those of us who are parents it's like when we tell our kids something and they say, yeah whatever or just blow us off, but if someone else says the same thing it may get them to listen and it makes more sense to them. 

The biggest thing that happened was that God became my God.  He wasn't just my parents God, or my other family members and friends God.  He started to become my God and I started to really want and have that relationship with Him.  There are times in our lives where God becomes very real and active in our life and for me it was when I moved away from my home church and home area.  So, on a weeknight in October of 1988 Deb and I drove to the church, met with Steve and he baptized me.  One of the main things I remember about that moment was that I felt a great relief and weight lifted off me knowing that I had been fighting this for many years, been stubborn about surrendering, and now I had a hope that I'd never had before. 

I do believe that is the main reason I went to Lisbon, but from a basketball and coaching point of view I learned a valuable lesson as well.  Talent beats good coaching, and granted, I wasn't that good of a coach yet, but that experience made me realize that you need talented players before you even think about having a good team.  I think we did some good things there.  We started an elementary program at Lisbon and that was something that they had never had before.  We had some good kids who played hard and I think got better because we coached with passion and made them feel good about being a basketball player in a wrestling school and community.  We only one 4 games in 2 years there.  One in the first year and three in the second year.  We were more competitive and played hard and I felt good about what we were doing.  The guys got better fundamentally and worked hard and were good to be around.  I don't know where many of them are right now, but I do run into one of them, even saw him last year when we went to Grand View for one of AJ's basketball games.  I'd be interested to try and find out where some of these guys are at because there were some very smart and good kids and I'm hoping that they are doing well. 

God has a plan and that was the first time I ever submitted to it.  I still fight it from time to time, but isn't it cool to know that He loves us so much more than we love our own kids and grandkids, knows our name, and wants us to trust Him as we continue to find our way in this life?  It's humbling but I'm so thankful for the move to Lisbon, IA for obviously more than just being a basketball coach.  That move ended up helping me Find my Way and changed my life forever.