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.