Wednesday, November 27, 2013


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.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Little Things

Had some windshield time again this weekend.  I typically start thinking about writing at different times throughout the week, constantly on the look out for things that inspire me and make me say "Wow".  I got to thinking over the weekend though, that sometimes it's not the "Wow" moments that maybe are the most impressive.  

Sure, the Wow moments are special.  We know when God has been involved, we can see what He's done, and it just puts us in awe.  But then I got to thinking how awesome it is to know that He's at work even in the small moments, and the little things that we sometimes take for granted.

This weekend we went to take a few things to AJ in Fremont.  We got to spend a few hours eating, laughing at, and with, Parker, and being together before AJ's schedule gets busy in a week with the start of basketball practice at Midland University.  I got to see a couple of Midland players come into the little diner we were eating at on Sunday morning, and call him "Coach Gordon".  That was a proud moment.  Maybe a little thing, but as I thought later, thankful that God has put AJ in the position to be called Coach.

We got to stop and see my sister and brother in law in Atlantic.  Rod had to spend 6 days in the hospital with some pneumonia issues.  He was in good spirits yesterday, we got to sit out in a waiting room with him and visit for an hour and a half or so.  Parker got to spend time with one of his secret girl friends, and we got to be entertained by that.  An hour and a half just talking with family.  A little thing, but something we don't get to do enough.  Rod got to go home today, I know the little things to some of us, like just being able to go outside, sleep in our own bed, and eat a meal at home are sometimes taken for granted.  I know Rod is thankful to have those back and to be home.  (Continued strength Rod)

How about little things like safe travel, going to work at a place you enjoy, being able to be outside on a fall day.  Little things?  Yes, but you know what?  God's just as big there as He is in the big moments when we really seem to need and want Him to show up.  It's great comfort to know that He's just as much there in the little things.  Enjoy those and look for His blessings there too.  My guess is you won't be disappointed.

Be Blessed!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Forget

As I sit here looking out my window I can see our flag waving on the North end of our football stadium.  I was reading tweets today about remembering 9-11, did a tweet myself, which I really did mean, but just have not been able to quit thinking about it.  

What struck me as I watch our students file through the hallways is that they really are too young to have lived through it, and remember it.  I even asked a student if they remembered anything about it, or the significance of it, and the honest answer was "No, I really don't".  

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, can't be mad at the students.  It makes me disappointed in our educational system.  Maybe we have not done as good of a job as maybe we could have of teaching the pride we should feel as Americans.  We can't teach them to Never Forget what they don't know about. Sure, it impacts you more when you were able to have more of a memory of an event, but this was the beginning of a time that changed our nation, and the world.  

I admit I have more respect and admiration for the flag than I did when I was 18 years old.  That's part of the maturing process.  I know I didn't pause back in the late 1970's, like I do now every time the National Anthem is played, and in my mind honor those who fought to protect my freedom.  I feel a deep respect for the color guard as they file past me on Friday night's at the football game.  There are 70-80 year old men who fought in a world war and helped to give us the freedoms we enjoy today.  

I guess all I'm asking is that while we enjoy our freedoms we also Never Forget the people who fought, and died, to protect those freedoms and allow us to live in the greatest country on earth.  Some paid the ultimate sacrifice 12 years ago when they went to work just like any other die.  Heroes responded on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City.  A friend of mine put it so well in a tweet today:  "12 years ago--3,000 ppl were killed b/c someone oceans away who they had never met or even heard of had a grudge against the US." (Thanks Scott Rucker).

Those of you that are old enough know where you were.  It was that big of an impact.  If you're too young to remember, know that when the flag waves, there have been many people that you don't even know that fought to protect it.  I'd encourage to search your media outlets, like You Tube, to learn more about it if you don't remember.

Our conflicts have changed a bit since the last world war, but the fight that wages now is still one that is protecting our county and freedoms.  That change started, in my mind, on 9-11-01.  I believe we're stronger as a nation now as a result of that day, but I hope we can also teach every generation about that day a little bit better too so it just doesn't become a day in a history book.

(Below is a picture of 9/11 memorial lights representing the Twin Towers, New York)

Embedded image permalink

Here's one story, 13 minutes and 29 seconds long, that I just saw today.  There were thousands of stories from that day.  Thank you to all who sacrificed on that day.  I've rambled a bit, but I do feel a bit shaken today as I remember, and hope that I Never Forget.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

More Than A Song

Passion is defined as an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something.

Hopefully, your job is directly connected to your passion.  I've been lucky enough to be passionate about my profession and have never really wavered about my career choice to be in the education field.  Sure, there are days, but it seems those days and moments are quickly followed with one, if not more, moments that totally blow those tough times out of the water.  (Thank You God for those)

Sometimes though, I know that's not the case.   There may be some that have to do a job to pay the bills. More on that in a moment.

If you're not fortunate to feel passionate about your work, hopefully you have some hobbies that allow you to get a taste of that passion.  I'm  been passionate about music for a long time.  I like several different genres of music, appreciate good musicianship, and love listening to it live.  For probably the past 12-13 years I've grown  passionate about the area of worship.  Not just the music and leading worship, but pursuing a life of worship, and learning more about it.

I don't say this to say I have it all figured out, just what I believe, and what has helped get me through some of "those" times.  Romans 12:1 says that we should "present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship".  

I love how The Message version says it...."Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering".  

Awesome.....that's our challenge each and every day.  Wake up, get up, thank God for the day, and let Him use you, and what you do, for His glory.  Even those jobs, or days, that seem mundane and ordinary can be used by God.  Give it to Him and all of a sudden what we see as "just a job" turns into a way to meet and influence others.  If we can do that, and be passionate about it, who knows what kind of impact we can have.  Let's be passionate about letting the creator of the universe use what we do for His glory.  

That makes for a life worth living.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Manning, IA 1989-99

I've wanted to continue to look at the journey we've been on through the years, and look at a few of things we've been blessed with and I've learned at our stops with the different places my career path has taken us.

Today, we revisit Manning, IA, where we spent 10 wonderful years.  In no particular order, here's some of the things we were blessed with:

  1. The birth of AJ and Abby, both right there in town, at the Manning hospital. 
  2. We bought our first house. 
  3. We made some life long friends from Manning. They include some of my former students and players who are now approaching "middle age" and friends from our church family in Carroll.  People, that to this day, I know we could call and they would drop what they are doing and come to help us if needed.  We have so many great friendships from those 10 years.  
  4.  I spent 8 years playing with a group called the "Blues Brothers" that played old rock and roll music.  I also started singing Southern Gospel quartet music with 3 guys from the Carroll church, and we still get together once a year in the spring 20+ years later to sing and enjoy a weekend together in Carroll.
Here's a few things I learned that have stuck with me from that time:
  1. I had an honest principal who told me the truth, and probably made more of an impact on me than anyone else in my professional career.  After my first year at Manning, he had me come into his office and very bluntly told me that I had to expect more discipline from the players and students, and if I didn't, I wouldn't succeed.  He told me I had the knowledge to be a good coach, but if I didn't demand discipline and take care and control of my program, it wouldn't work.  To this day I not only believe that to be true from a teaching/coaching philosophy standpoint, but I also have tried to be very honest in my approach as a leader.  I don't often say things with the most tact, but I do try to be honest and open with those that I'm leading.  
  2. As part of being in the Blues Brothers I learned how to play piano in a whole new way.  I had never learned how to play music from a chord chart before, and the leader of the group, a very talented piano player, taught me how to do that.  I learned how to play more fills in music from those chords, how to play with some more expression, and it's a skill I use all of the time now playing, and leading, worship music.  
We have so many fond memories from that decade in Manning.  I began to develop a desire to become an athletic director at that time, but knew that I may not ever have the opportunity to do so there because of the man who was doing the job so capably there at that time.  That turned out to be correct.  Floyd retired just a couple of years ago after a fantastic career there.  I started to take a few classes toward my degree at that time too, but the timing of coaching basketball, having young children, and having to go to another town at night, just wasn't a good combination, so that educational pursuit got put on hold.  

After 10 good years there I remember sitting in our house, thinking about what the future might hold, when Jeremiah 29:11 really came alive to me for the first time.  It was about that time that I learned of an opening at a Christian College in Norfolk, NE and we were called to go there.  

We continue to be so grateful for the blessing that our time in Manning was to our family and the part the experiences played in our journey to where we are right now professionally and personally.   

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Writers Block

I sit here looking at my blog site, empty page for the last hour,  listening to some worship music.  I've started this blog 2-3 times, and although maybe worthy topics to write about I just didn't feel it.  I guess what I do feel tonight is the awesome feeling of Worship.  Adoration toward a God that I believe truly exists and loves me.  I so believe that we should strive to live our life as an act of worship to God to offer thanks for the blessings that He gives.  I'm thinking about, now listening to the worship set we did today.

We did a new song at Pathway this week. "The Same Love", by Paul Baloche. We've been going through the book of Acts at Pathway, and the words of this song have come to me every week as I have been listening to the teaching.  I wasn't really that familiar with the song, but I started to listen to it almost every day and the words have just been on my mind non stop.  I've just been in awe of the fact that the "same love that set the captives free, the same love that opened eyes to see, is calling us all by name".  "The same God that spread the heavens wide, the same God that was crucified is calling us by name".  As I've read and listened about the beginning of the church every week, it is just is awesome to think that the same God is working here in 2013 too.

I'm thankful for guys like Paul Baloche, guys who are still leading worship at a local church, but continues to be inspired and used by God to share his prayers and thoughts and put them to music so beautifully.  One thing I've heard him say more than once is that his songs are prayers that he's been able to put to music.

So, even if you find yourself not knowing what to say, or sitting silently thinking about where you're at on life's road, remember you have a God that offers the same love that he's offered for generations, even from the beginning of time.  That's comforting, awesome, confusing, but worth writing and singing about.

Be Blessed!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Another Birthday

Yeah, I had mine (#51), but it's not that big of a deal anymore, however, I am thankful for another year of life and all of the blessings, and trials......I'm very thankful.

This writing though focuses on our daughter, Abby.  Abby turned 21 today (Aug 19).  Kind of a big one.  I suppose mine was too, but that was so 1983.  Anyway, to say we're really proud of her is probably an understatement.  As many know Abby is a single mom of our grandson, Parker. I guess the way I've always described it is that he was unplanned, but he's definitely not unloved.  We can't imagine life without him or how this experience has helped us all grow in one way or another.

Sure, it was tough at times for everyone, but we've learned so much about being less judgmental, more compassionate,  less stressed out about what we might consider little things, and I think continue to live each day with more joy and a feeling of blessing because the little guy makes us laugh every single day....and that's good for anyone's soul.

We're proud of Abby because she could have chosen to not have Parker and we never would have known. I guess as I wrote that the honest truth is we wouldn't have known she was pregnant, and we wouldn't have known Parker.  That's pretty sobering.  Instead she faced an uncertainty and has turned into a wonderful, loving mother and grown in many ways over the past two years.  She has been accepted into the Physical Therapy Assistant program at Mercy College in Des Moines, will complete that program five straight semesters from now, and she's working part time at Hobby Lobby.  Then, when she's home she's mommy full time.  It has given me a deep appreciation for the single mom and what they go through to raise their children.  God Bless them all.

You never know what God can help you handle until He brings it to you.  The key for all of us, whether a single mom or not, is to understand that God brings it for a reason, and the whole purpose is to help us grow closer to Him by becoming more dependent on Him, and less on ourselves.

So Abby, we're proud of what you've done, what you're doing, and where you're going.  Along your journey, you've helped us on our journey too.

Happy Birthday.

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". 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Influence vs. Impact

I have been reading a lot of leadership stuff over the summer. I subscribe to a few newsletters, e-mail lists, and come across good stuff on Twitter.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about Influence vs. Impact.   

First off, what’s the difference?  In my mind we have influence when we have rules, expectations, and things that control people’s behavior.  Those can be good, and can have value to help people do what’s right, but it may not have a real lasting value.  Coaches have rules in hopes of keeping athletes from getting into trouble.  I have expectations for coaches that I think are good for their programs and will also benefit the students they are working with.  They aren’t bad, can be positive for people, but I don’t think they have any real lasting value.  Just a way to do something and control a situation.  

Impact is bringing a lasting affect on a person or situation.  Think about the people in your life that have had a lasting impact in what you do for a living, what you believe, how you treat people, and live your life.  Some had that Impact a long time ago, while others may be in your life at this very moment. The list can change, but we all know who those people are.  Their influence is beyond enforcing a few rules. It changes who we are.

Two thoughts:

1) I shudder to think of the number of times I’ve missed an opportunity to Impact a person’s life.  I have gotten too caught up in coming up with the things that influence people and have not focused enough on people and serving them.  That’s how we Impact.

2)  Impact is risky and can be disappointing.  When we offer ourselves up to people and invest in their lives we can also be setting ourselves up to be turned away. I know I need to continue to look for situations where I can Impact and not worry about potential failure.  It’s like we size someone up and think about if they're worthy of our effort.  That’s selfish and not what we should be about if we want to have a servant’s heart.  

Wait.....there was a man who came to earth a little over 2,000 years ago that could have felt the same way but didn't.  I wasn't worth the risk, and there have been countless times that I’ve disappointed Him.  I’m glad He has continued to make an impact on my life.  I think my life should reflect the example that He set. 

The Impact He’s had on my life needs to be reflected more.  More of Him, less of me.  That’s how we can have a true impact on the people we’re living life with.  Yeah, it's risky, but there are some people whose lives depend on us taking that risk. 

Invest and Impact = Leadership

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back At It

Kind of took a couple of months off from writing.  Like everyone, the schedule gets a big hectic in the summer months and I was going to miss a few dates, so just took a break from both of my blogs.  I'm ready to get back to some writing on both sites.

Here's a bit of a summary of the last couple of months.  A TOP 5 if you will, of what's gone on in our lives.

In early June we got to enjoy 10 days in California with our entire family.  We got to attend the wedding of our niece, enjoy some new things, and some of the traditional things, that we do when we visit every few years.  It was a great time.  We're pictured here on Pismo Beach.  You can tell it's a nice June afternoon by the jackets.

In early July we were blessed by a 2 week visit by our Salt Lake City kids and grandson.  Brett, Nicole, and Jonathan were on a month long trip visiting supporters for their work in Salt Lake.  It was fantastic and we look forward to another visit around Christmas time.

During the time they were here we celebrated Deb's 29th Anniversary of her 21st Birthday.  We had several days with some different activities.  I had a good time.  I think she did too.

Exciting news for Abby as she did get into the Physical Therapy Assistant program at Mercy College.  She was the first alternate for a couple of months, but found out less than a week ago that she made it in.  We are very proud of her and she now has 5 straight semesters of work to complete the degree program.

AJ has started his work as the Graduate Assistant at Midland University with the Men's Basketball program and working on his Master's Degree.  He'll have his Masters a cool 24 years before I did.  Good for him. It will be fun for us to continue to follow MU basketball.

We're gearing up for the 2013-14 school year in about 10 days.  My time centers around the school year calendar, so January 1 is just a nice day for football for me.  The real year starts in August and I'm getting ready to start my 29th year of doing what they call "work".  Yeah, some days it seems like it, but overall, what a great blessing.

I look forward to sharing some more thoughts with you weekly on this journey we're on together.  I'll leave you with a good quote I read today as part of a devotional.  "If you're not serving, you're not leading".

Be Blessed and Be A Blessing!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Two Trips, One Big Lesson

Deb and I just returned from a long weekend trip to San Antonio. We decided to take a trip for our 30th anniversary 6 months early.  We usually have bad weather around our anniversary on Dec. 30th, so thought this would be a good idea.  On Friday morning, we had to laugh, because The River City was in the midst of receiving 12 inches of rain in 24 hours and experienced major flooding.  Hey, we wouldn't expect anything less.  It turned out nice though, and we had a great trip and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and time away.

On Wednesday, June 5th, (AJ's 23rd birthday) we will leave for a family trip to Santa Maria, California.  All of our kids and grandsons will be together for the first time since last August.  We are going for my niece's wedding, and will have several other family members there from Deb's side.  It should be a great trip filled with many special memories.  

So what's my lesson?  It came to me from little Parker.  When we are out in a store, or he is outside playing, whenever he sees another child he gets so excited and acts like it's his long lost friend.  He might scream, and even run up to his little new found friend.  Now, sometimes this is shocking to the unexpecting child, but Parker is just so friendly and is excited to see them.  It got me we grow older we become so much more guarded.  We've had so many relationships that have been hurtful, that we even develop a mistrust of others and our human nature is always worried about what somebody might want from us, or be using us for.  

I'm not saying we need to rush up to eveyone, scream, and try to hug them, that would be a little creepy and might get security called at the mall, but what if we let ourselves trust people a little bit more and just acted like we were happy to see them a bit more often?  What if we treated strangers with a bit more respect?  A smile?  What if we "paid it forward" a little bit more?  

I think I'm going to try and take this little lesson from my 20 month old grandson and see if I can show Christ to others more than I do now?  Thanks Parker, keep teaching me. (See, I told you he was smart)

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Passing of The Pioneer of The Iowa Girl

Today I'm going to keep my blogs basically with the same content.  Many of the readers of this blog will remember who E. Wayne Cooley was.  You'll remember the pageantry of the Girls State Basketball Tournament back in the Vets Auditorium days.  There was nothing like it.

I think one of the things we've lost in our society is a true appreciation of the past.  You can't live in the past, but I think it's good to know where you came from, whether it be your family heritage, your faith, or even those that helped to shape the job that we do.  In all of those areas, I think we go through stages where we miss, and even long for, the past.  It's not healthy to live in that mode, but it's fun to remember sometimes.

So with respect to a man that helped to shape a portion of the job that I do every day, I pay respect to a man who helped to shape the past of girls athletics in Iowa.

Here's what I posted in my Activity blog.

This post may be a bit of a history lesson for the younger readers.  The young ladies who read this should especially pay attention.  On Tuesday, May 14th, E. Wayne Cooley will be laid to rest after a memorial service honoring his life.  Mr. Cooley was the man who helped to make girls athletics in the state what they are.  Many of you still in high school may have never heard of him, but he was responsible for giving your grandmother's opportunities to play sports long before it was mandated by Title IX in 1972.

Mr. Cooley is responsible for promoting the "Iowa Girl" because he believe that they should be given the same opportunities as the boys.  What he did with the girls state basketball tournament back in the 60's, 70's, and 80's was unbelievable, making it one of the best attractions in the nation.  I can tell you honestly that while playing in the girls state basketball tournament now is a great treat at Wells Fargo Arena, what happened in the old Veteran's Auditorium just to the west of the Well was second to none and will never again be duplicated.  For those that have a genuine interest in Iowa girls basketball I would encourage you to do some research and discover the pageantry that it used to be.  You'll be amazed.

I've included in this blog a short news story from KCCI, a video aired in 1988 about Iowa Girls Basketball,  and a link to a short blog post by a writer in Cedar Rapids.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Graduation Time

It's going to be a busy few weeks with many high school and college graduations.  I time of celebrations, reflections, and thoughts about the future.  One of the things I love about Twitter is the fact that every day can be a day of learning from some very thoughtful leaders in education, athletics, and business.  

This past week one of my favorite leaders, Jon Gordon (no relation), wrote a blog titled 11 Lessons for Graduates.  It was based on one of his books, The Seed.  I thought it was very interesting, thought provoking, and helped me to reflect on some of my own personal journey.  

There are several "lessons" that are preparing graduates for what may happen to them, but for those of us who have already lived several years of this life, post graduate, it spoke a lot of truth and helped me think about some of the lessons that I've learned.  Maybe it will do the same for you.  

If you're on Twitter, check out @jongordon11.  If you want to check out his website, check out  

Here are the 11 Lessons for Graduates by Jon Gordon. 

I walked into Barnes & Noble on 46th and 5th in NYC last week and was surprised to see thatThe Seed was on a special table with other books for new college graduates. When I spoke to the manager he said that they thought it would be a great book for college graduates searching for their purpose and passion. While I wrote the book for people of all ages, the conversation inspired me to think about how the lessons from The Seed could benefit recent graduates. So here goes…
1. You are here for a reason and the most important thing you can do in life is to find, live and share your purpose. It’s the one thing in life that truly matters and if you don’t pursue it, everything else is meaningless.
2. Follow your passion. It so often leads you to your purpose. Do what energizes you.
3. You may not know what your passion is right now. That’s ok. The important thing is to make it your life mission to find it, live it and share it. To help find your passion, seek out jobs and experiences that allow you to use your strengths and gifts.
4. Beware of Hobbies. Just because you love spending time on Facebook doesn’t mean you would enjoy working for the company. And just because you love to cook doesn’t mean you would enjoy owning a restaurant. For example, I owned restaurants but I realized I didn’t love the food business. I loved the service and marketing aspect of the business.
5. Quit for the right reasons. Don’t quit because work is hard or you’re experiencing challenges. Quit because in your heart you know there is something else for you to do. Quit because you are not benefitting yourself or the organization you work for. Quit because you are absolutely certain you are no longer supposed to be there.
6. Learn from every job and experience. Every job, good or bad, prepares you for the work you were ultimately born to do.
7. Whatever job(s) you take after graduation simply decide to serve. When you serve in small ways you’ll get more opportunities to serve in bigger ways.
8. Your dream job is likely not the one you dreamed about. So often we end up in amazing careers that have nothing to do with our college degree or childhood dreams.
9. The quest for your purpose is not a straight line. It is filled with mystery, signs, obstacles, victories, dead ends, delays and detours. Your job is to stay optimistic and faithful on your quest.
10. Don’t rush the future. There is a process that seeds must go through in order to become all they are destined to become, and you must go through this same process to become the person you are meant to be and do the work you are meant to do. You may want things to happen NOW but more than likely if you got what you wanted NOW you wouldn’t be ready for it. The purpose process prepares you, strengthens you, shapes you and grows you to be successful,not in your time, but in the right time.
11. Be the Seed. Seeds surrender themselves to the ground so they can be used for a greater purpose. Wherever you work, decide to plant yourself where you are and allow yourself to be used for a greater purpose. When you plant yourself and make a difference you grow into the person you were born to be and produce a harvest that will benefit others and change the world.

Good stuff.  Made me think.  

Update from last week's blog:  If you didn't see a Twitter of Facebook post from our family last week, AJ accepted a position as the Graduate Assistant with the Midland University basketball team, and will continue his education there pursuing his master's degree in education and coaching with the men's basketball team for the next two years.  It's a great opportunity and we're all very excited for, and with, him. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Drive Time Reflections

Yesterday, Sunday, April 28th, Deb and I drove to Omaha for AJ's Athletic Banquet for Midland University Seniors.  I had a lot of reflection time in the car thinking about our family, in particular, I was thinking about our kids, what might be in store for their futures, and where they're at right now.  

AJ is graduating in 3 weeks with his education degree.  Next year is a little bit up in the air for him at this time, but he has an interview at a school in SWI on Thursday.  No matter what, he's taken the Gordon attitude of not worrying too much about it.  I know that he has that feeling that God will provide and His timing will  be perfect.  He has an idea about what he (AJ) wants, but I know that he knows there's a bigger plan and a bigger God that will place him where He wants him.  I'm grateful for his attitude.

Abby just finished her first semester at Mercy in Des Moines and will now wait to see if she gets into the program that she feels like she wants to be in as the fall semester resumes.  If not, she knows there will be some other options and she'll be fine.  We're happy that she just got a job at Hobby Lobby just a few miles from our house and will start there this week.  We're thankful for her being a loving mother to Parker and know God will bless her future.

Nicole, Brett, and Jonathan are doing very well in Salt Lake City working with Impact and the ministry there at the University of Utah.  I just feel like they are exactly where they need to be at this time, and I know they are feeling the same way.  We're very proud of them.....and look forward to time with them in a few weeks in California and then in July back here in Carlisle when they are here for a couple of weeks.

There's no better feeling than feeling like you are exactly where you are supposed to be in the middle of God's plan.  God can change that plan anytime that He wants to, but I know when we seek His will and surrender ours it's a beautiful thing.  God has worked so many times in our families lives as we've moved and it's cool to see Him working in the individual lives of our kids now.

I did a little bragging about our kids this week, but when you have 5 hours of drive time with some great worship music tuned in on Spotify and a great wife by your side, it makes for a fantastic time of reflection so that's where I'm at today.  Grateful and Thankful.

God is continuing to lay out His plan for us all.  It's good for us to tune into it, with or without the windshield time.

"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

Monday, April 22, 2013

Different School + Different Church = Same God

I was just reflecting today about the different churches that we've been a part of in recent years as we've moved to a few of our different jobs.  We've been blessed to be in some churches who have been seeking to be the church to the communities they are a part of, and not just be a church by name only.  We've been in churches of 200-2,000 but the best ones have been about being the church, not only to the people who come to it each Sunday, but also to the people of the communities they are in.

Along with that, I was thinking about the different preaching ministers I've been able to learn from and how different they've been style wise.  The best ones we've experienced though have all had a couple of things in common.  They've all preached the Bible and you could tell it was genuine.  It didn't come at you as judgmental and it seemed like every Sunday you were able to relate real life to what they were preaching.  I think that's been pretty cool the more I thought about it.  Different styles, but all from the Bible, and each have been effective in speaking to the heart.  The one constant?  The Bible.

Besides the preaching minister's, I've been doubly blessed to work with some fantastic worship leaders.  Again, each with a different style of leadership and preparation, but with hearts that want to help lead people to worship not only on a Sunday morning, but also give them something that can stick with them through the week and be an encouragement when thinking about a certain song or lyric. Being a part time worship leader once in awhile I can tell you that's a God thing....It's a God thing when you do a song that you think has one reason, but come to find out it speaks to someone else in a totally different way because of the place they are at in their life.  That's cool stuff.  God stuff.

So, I guess here's where it's at this week.  Find a church that preaches truth, is genuine, speaks to you from start to finish of the service and gives you something to apply to your life.  Not only that encourages your life, but prompts you live life with everyone you come in contact with.  That's the church.  

Pastors, keep it real. Keep Preaching the Word.

Let's all pray for each other, encourage each other, and let the church be the church the way God intends it to be based on His Word.  It's a tough world right now, we need God in it more than ever.

Live Out Loud!!