Sunday, May 4, 2014

Harlan, IA

Time to catch back up on the story of where we've been.

After two years in Norfolk, and Nebraska Christian College (1999-2001), we left to go back to Iowa and one of the top high schools in the state, Harlan Community, in Harlan, IA.  We left NCC for two reasons.  I feel like every job we have is not just a job, but I believe it is our ministry.  I believe that my ministry is in the public schools. That's where I feel like I make a difference.  

Secondly, and maybe what I'm not the proudest of at that time of my life, but I was too competitive.  I was still too much into coaching basketball.  I liked working with the guys at the college, liked being the AD at that level, and enjoyed working as the Dean of Students, but coaching there was a different experience, and I didn't have the right attitude about it.  I'm not proud of that fact, but I think that's the truth.  God was still at work on that and He took me to Harlan to teach me.

Skip ahead to the fall of 2004.  That's the fall that my mom passed away.  That year of coaching was the most difficult one I experienced in all of my years on the bench.  I think I grieved the entire season.  We had a good year in terms of wins and losses, but the season ended with me frustrated and not being fair to the girls I was coaching.  They are good people, and some I know are doing great, great things right now in their professional and personal lives.  They were rewarded for their hard work the next year with a trip to the state tournament.  I was happy for them.

After the season I was planning to get regrouped, and get ready for the next season.  One thing haunted me though.  Knowing I missed mom, and realizing how short our time here can really be, I knew with the way we played games in the Hawkeye 10 Conference I would have a hard time watching A.J. play basketball as he got older because we played many nights with girls at one site, and boys at another.  I always loved my family very much and have been so blessed by them, but I think for a lot of years my priorities shifted back and forth too much, especially during basketball season. I was very torn in the Spring of 2005, but knew we'd probably just have to work it out.  

God had other plans and one experience changed that.

I was sitting at my computer before school one morning and I heard a voice. It was as if someone was standing in the room talking to me.  The voice said, "Call Kevin Elwood". Kevin is the Superintendent at Treynor.  I sat there for awhile, but then decided I had better act on what I'd heard, so I e-mailed Kevin.  I said, I don't know why I'm emailing you, but I feel like I'm supposed to, and asked if they had any positions open.  Kevin responded that just so happened they were getting ready to hire a P.E. Teacher/Athletic Director.  I about fell off of my chair.  Kevin said they were just getting ready to check references and make an offer that day, but if I wanted to apply they would wait and give me an opportunity. I still get chills as I type this and think about how the Holy Spirit spoke to me that day and set up our future.
"For I know the plans I have for you". 

That's the shortened version.  Needless to say, that set up a whirlwind couple of weeks for our family. Totally unexpected.  We ended up accepting the position in Treynor two weeks later, and I'm still in awe of how God uses broken people, reaches out, and begins to heal them.  How He shows up when we may least expect it.  Why?  Because He loves us.  More than we can, and will, ever be able to fathom.

One thing I learned through that experience is to listen.  The more difficult part sometimes is to act on what He tells us.  I look back and am so humbled that we were able to go to Treynor.  I was able to not only watch A.J., but to help coach him.  I was able to all of his, and Abby's games because of how we played in the Western Iowa Conference.  I was able to begin this journey of doing what I do now, being an Athletic and Activities Director.

I need to be clear, I don't say any of this as someone who deserved any of what God gives me.  Why did I have to hear a voice?  Probably because I was too dense to get any other hints.  It's not because I'm special in any way, just slow to figure things out at times.  I hope you know I write this humbled and amazed.  

I continue to be amazed at how much He loves each of us.  How much His grace covers us each and every day. His timing is perfect and He wants to bless us, but sometimes we have to step out in faith.  Who knows where that listening may take you.  Wherever it does it's great to know Who goes before us and with us.

May you be blessed and experience His hand each and every day.  Keep listening.

"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".

He is Good!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lessons from Rod

Many folks who read this know the man pictured above.  Some do not, but may have heard of him.  It's my brother in law, Rod Schuler, married to my sister, Michelle.  On Saturday, March 22nd, 2014, Rod left this earth and went to heaven.  Cancer wore out his body, but never his spirit or love for God.

Rod and Michelle raised 4 children in a home filled with laughter, support, and, love.  Love for each other, and most importantly, love for God.  That was never more evident than in Rod's final hours, and in the days that followed.

Out of respect for the family, those moments will remain the family's moments, but there were times when you just knew that God was there surrounding everyone with his love, power, grace, and mercy.

I felt His power many times, but never more so than when I had to play and sing at the funeral.  Singing a new song, "Never Once" (one that I now love), and a song that I've sung three times now for dear friends funerals, "I Will Rise", it was a very emotional time of worship, but one that I was honored to share in.  The experience was another reminder, and lesson learned, not to miss a moment because it may be difficult, or you have doubts that you can do it.  You can do it because of the power that lives within you, not our power, but His.

Words really escape how to describe the emotions of losing someone so close, but Rod "fought the good fight and finished the race".  The prize is now his.  We are left to carry on and live like he taught us, and showed us during his good times, and the rough times.  Through them all, he was a man of integrity, character, and faith.

Two more thoughts:

1) We experience moments in our life that bring us to our knees.  We know our life will now be different.  We live around those moments knowing that our priorities, focus, and energies should be different, and they may be for awhile.  Our goal should be to make those life changing moments/experiences long term, and not just short term.

2)  One of the things my sister said was so powerful and insightful.  Of course, you can never be happy that cancer entered Rod's life, but Michelle said when talking about it, "but we wouldn't want to go back to the way we were before either".  So powerful. Forward thinking.

The legacy of a man is not only evident in how he lives his life, but how those around him live theirs because of him.  May our goal be to never go back to the way we were before either.

Never Once

I Will Rise

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Music Does It Again

Greetings....I hope this finds you well, full of holiday cheer, and food.  Time to get back to normal, whatever that looks like very soon.  

We have had a fantastic Christmas break and holiday. We celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary on Dec. 30th, and we've got more to go, a nephew's wedding this Sunday.  We've got a few more nights of family get togethers, food, and fun yet ahead.  Then, it's back to meal replacement shakes and the fitness routine.

One of the highlights of our break was a trip back to Manning, and a performance with our OLD group,
The Blues Brothers.

We didn't practice together one minute.  Three of them that live in Manning got together a couple of times, but it was basically, get up and go.  We hadn't sung together since 2006, but it was unbelievable how the songs came back to us, and I think we actually did alright.  It was fantastic actually.

Fantastic to see a few of our closest friends on this earth, and to sing with a group of guys that spent eight years together singing for different events, in many different venues.  We shared some of our favorite stories again, laughed a lot, and appreciated the opportunity.  It also allowed me to find out one of the "brothers' lives less than 15 minutes from me now.

And the people of Manning.  Wow, are they terrific.  That group, The Blues Brothers, seems to be a part of of the community.  I think we're the town's group.  They are so kind and appreciative.  I don't know. Is it because we were just a bunch of local guys with different backgrounds and jobs who could sing and play a little bit? Is it because of our lead singer's incredible good looks, our drummers ability to never age, or the bands founder being able to play the piano, and our songs, in any key, without any music? (freaky good)

Whatever it is, it's special, and music brought us back together.  It provided moments from 1992-1999 that were special for us, and provided a chance for all of us to share something that we enjoyed.  It also provided a bond with the community of Manning.  So, thanks again Manning for allowing us to entertain you.  Your encouragement allowed us to be together and create some special friendships that endure the test of time and miles. looks like Manning is going to bring us together again in the Summer of 2015.  Maybe we'll practice for that one.  Can't wait.

Until next time, Hope your 2014 is filled with opportunity, challenge, growth, and moments that are blessed by doing something you enjoy, with people you enjoy doing it with.