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)

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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.