Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hair Apparent



We will begin the study of Nazirites tomorrow in my Gospels classes. That will lead to discussions of what girls know that boys don't - and don't want to- understand. One of those topics is the importance of hair to the fairer gender. This entry is from May 3, 2007.

It used to drive me crazy. When I first started coaching girls' basketball, the fingernail polish and matching ribbons drove me up the wall. As time passed, I came to understand that my players were girls before they were athletes. I read where a prominent coach made the point that boys take masculinity for granted but girls often feel the need to reinforce their femininity while they compete. I think there is validity in his view. Jennifer is a perfect example to me. A sophomore now on our high school team, she was my point guard in middle school. During the NCAA men's basketball tournament, she confessed that she picked the team she rooted for by determining which school had the cuter guys. (Shockingly, other young ladies in my class share her outlook.) Earlier this week, Jennifer entered my classroom for her fifth period Bible class and I complimented her on her hair. It resembled the hair in one of those Miss Clairol television commercials. She was obviously very pleased with the way it looked that particular morning. As we prepared for our quiz, I asked the female students if they could tell as soon as they woke up in the morning if it was going to be a good hair day or a bad hair day. With one accord, they unanimously agreed that you could. The boys were incredulous but I've received the identical response each time I've asked over the years. Girls just know. Since at that age hair is so important, it must be a component in the perceived success or failure of any particular day. (My all-time good hair-bad hair student was Mary Ellen, an eighth grader in my classes in Tennessee during the frizzy/boofy hair period. Sometimes she loved her hair, sometimes she despised it, but it looked the same to me every day of the week.)

It's pretty amazing to me that the value of a twenty-four hour span could hinge on unruly hair. How shallow is that? Well, I have to admit that some days have been ruined in my estimation by much more trivial matters. The Scriptures remind us that the Lord has a round of delights for his children on a daily basis. In the middle of the mournful Lamentations 3, Jeremiah does a U-turn with these words:

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."

The blessings of the Lord await us when we struggle out of bed, even before we steal a hesitant glance in the mirror or run a comb through our matted hair. Our grooming may be less than perfect in the short-term but it shouldn't matter. If hair issues can be detected at the crack of dawn, we should detect God's loving mercy as we embark on his mission for a day in the life. Good hair day or bad hair day; the Lord made them both. We have to rejoice about that.


Applicable quote of the day:
"Hair brings one's self-image into focus; it is vanity's proving ground. Hair is terribly personal, a tangle of mysterious prejudices."
Shana Alexander


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ain't No Sunshine..




It's Betsy's birthday! Now a senior at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, Betsy remains one of my favorite students/teacher aides/people ever. Happy Birthday, Betsy! This is from November 1, 2010. 

My student teacher aide, missed school last Thursday and Friday on a visit to Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. With the assumption that she will most likely enroll at the NCAA Division III institution, Betsy plans to major in photography and play on the field hockey squad. (GO TIGERS!- I looked it up!) What's more, she returned to Texas with presents- a Wittenberg t-shirt and a Wittenberg tie! My wardrobe just improved dramatically. But the reason I am ecstatic has nothing to do with newly acquired Wittenberg gear: I get little done when Betsy is absent.

Over the past ten years, I have come to increasingly rely on my teacher aides. I have been blessed with excellent basketball aides, including Fallon, this year's student coach, but their domain is not academic. For the past five years, I've had multiple aides, including the same set (Chelsey and Hanna) for the past two consecutive years. This August, there was heavy competition for the services of these students so I only have one this year, the aforementioned Betsy. She is an incredible helper, unique in her own way as all the girls have been. (I'm a sexist- I only recruit girls for the positions as I think they generally work harder and tend to be more responsible.) Betsy is a great typist, perhaps the best of all my aides. She often types my blog entries as shown above. She also is incredibly creative, as evidenced by her choice of major. I asked her to re-do the classroom bulletin board today and she calculated her plan in a minute or so. She has organized the student drawn artwork on the wall and is helping Kellie Keese do touch ups on our mural depicting the life of Jesus. On the mundane level, Betsy is also good at running errands, recording scores in my paper grade book, and making me laugh every day. In Philippians 2, verse 20, Paul tells the church in Philippi that he has no one else like Timothy in his work. That's how I feel about Betsy. There are days when she makes the biggest difference in my life by her assistance in the forty-six minutes she spends in my room, giving me the chance to be effective in teaching the Word of God. This past Saturday morning, I spent several hours typing college letters of recommendation for a number of our seniors which will be mailed out to various universities in the coming weeks. But I'll give you a preview for one recommendation not yet penned: you just read the best one I could possibly write for Betsy.


Applicable quote of the day:
"She became so important to them that they wondered how they had ever managed without her in the past. And the longer she stayed with them the more indispensable she became, so indispensable in fact that their one fear was that she might some day move on."
Michael Ende


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Witnesses


After lifting this afternoon, I dropped by our WCS West Campus and watched our middle school football team play for roughly a quarter and a half. I'm pretty sure we didn't win- I left with time remaining and we were down three touchdowns- but not winning doesn't mean we lost. Our junior Wildcats were outmanned if that's the proper term for 6-7-8th grade boys. Let me put it in perspective. The school we played had fifteen- 15!- cheerleaders and we only have twelve young men on our squad. Only one sub. Everybody plays both ways on offense and defense and on punt teams....and kickoffs...and kickoff return. I should also mention the temperature was mid 90s and the humidity off the charts. Kenneth Okwuonu does a masterful job coaching these kids up. They fought tooth and nail against much bigger, and also well-coached kids, and held their own. Several of our players are in my 8th grade Bible class- I feel like I should give them some bonus points on the test we took today!

As usually happens, there was a favorite moment for me. Our high school team, which opens their season in three days, was practicing on the adjacent field on our facility. The Wildcats, led by new coach Mark Krimm, finished their workout and moved over to watch their little brothers compete. But they didn't just watch. They cheered. The encouraged. They moved on the sidelines as the ball spot shifted. There was a change in the atmosphere when the big kids showed up. That's how it should be at a school like ours. The big kids- they've been through these junior high battles and survived. The younger kids need to know.

We need to know that in life, too, even as adults. Others have made it. Others survived the same difficulties we encounter every day. Not just money matters or health issues or relationship problems- spiritual matters, too. One of the best known New Testament verses, Hebrews 12:1, phrases it in the context of a roster full of saints:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.....
We aren't alone- we're surrounded! And not just by the evil which rears its ugly head, but by the memory and example of heroes of faith and martyrs. We might seem outnumbered, like our football kids this afternoon, but we're not. In 2nd Kings 6:16, the prophet Elisha spoke the greatest scouting report ever to his servant who feared the surrounding Syrian army:
"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
In God's protection, we are never outnumbered no matter how it appears. I like those odds, even if we are an underdog to the untrained eyes of the world. The final score isn't final.

Applicable quote of the day:
"People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society."

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www,hwleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Monday, August 25, 2014

Olaide's Pursuit


In January of 2013, I wrote an entry on this site called The Value Of The Ball. It spoke of how the girls on my team did not esteem possession of the basketball as highly as they ought, leading to a number of complications, including defeat. Only two kids remain from that squad, Lizeth and Sydney, who are now eighth graders. We start practice first period the first week of school so we get a head start on the other schools we play. The flip side is that our practices are short, typically only thirty-five minutes. This puts a premium on organization and getting things done quickly. I like this new bunch of girls. Six are returning from last year and eight are brand new, with the emphasis on new! I use the vets, some of whom are only eleven, to demonstrate and teach and they have taught well. We add something new every morning, sometimes multiple skills involving simple drills. Simple, that is, until you have to perform them. 

Today, we added several wrinkles; a crossover dribble move and a drill where you have to navigate cones around the lane to make a layup in as few dribbles as possible. Sydney did it in three, earning us a team prize tomorrow! Right before concluding our workoout, the experienced kids demonstrated a full court layup drill with two basketballs. The next shooter in line is the rebounder but the caveat is that you can never let the ball hit the floor after a shot. My six returnees flawlessly ran the drill, even handling a "Change directions!" command in mid-stream. In two minutes, the ball never touched the floor with the exception of dribbles. Having watched nervously from the sideline, we switched groups to the eight rookies. I let them go about forty-five seconds and the ball hit the floor every time it was shot. As we stacked it up, we laughed that it was an exact representation of how these now older kids did twelve months ago. They'll get better.

I always try to make a teaching point as we close. I asked them how they would handle an infant if they were babysitting. Would they ever drop the child or let them hit the floor? Of course not- a baby is precious! In basketball, having the ball in your possession is everything but young players, and sometimes older ones, are careless with it. I told them about Olaide, a young lady they don't know who played for me in the dark ages. OK, it was only thirteen years ago but it seems like an eternity now. I was Olaide's coach in both her seventh and eighth grade years as well as her varsity coach in ninth grade. She was a good athlete but did not have as much basketball background as my other players. But this is what she did. Every time she was in a shooting drill, she NEVER let the ball hit the ground! That may not seem like a big thing to you but to a coach, it is huge beyond description. You see, there is no such thing as a bad second shot- most rebounds are in the lane- and Olaide put herself in that position constantly. Why don't all players do that? IT'S TOO MUCH WORK! IT TAKES NON-STOP EFFORT! And not many kids are up to that level of desire. Do you know that effort is now considered a skill by college recruiters/pro scouts? Times have changed.

Olaide is a pharmacist now and is the kind of young lady who will undoubtedly change the world. I stay in touch a little bit through her brother, Sheyi, who now sits in my Gospels class. (I also taught and coached a third sibling, Tosin, who rewrote the Parable Of The Good Samaritan more hilariously than you would think possible!) I would imagine Olaide pursued her graduate studies in pharmacy with the same attitude as she pursued the ball. Nothing was ever half-way with Olaide. What did Jesus call that half-way demeanor? Luke warm? No place or praise for half hearted efforts in the classroom or in the athletic arena or the family or the community. Especially not in the Kingdom of Heaven. We can't let our efforts to shine the Gospel drop silently to the ground. Treat the Word like it's the most precious thing on earth. It is.


Applicable quote of the day:
"The one thing I do that nobody else does is jump three and four times for one rebound."
Dennis Rodman


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1
www.hawleybooks.com

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Direction!


This week in all five of my classes we discussed the meaning of the words prequel and sequel. We did so in the context of the New Testament books of Luke and Acts. Basically, a prequel is part 1 and a sequel part 2. So, Luke is the prequel to Acts and Acts is the sequel to Luke. See? If you were in my classes, you would (hopefully) understand! I said that to say this: tonight's entry is a sequel. The funny thing is there was a thirty month gap between part 1 and part 2. But it's about girls and girls never change..... until they do.

There was big news in Houston last Friday! It wasn't NASA/Space Center news or the oil business or a visit by the pope. No, it was much bigger- One Direction came to town! The five man put-together boy band from England/Ireland which has captured the hearts of young ladies the world over performed at Reliant Stadium forty-eight hours ago and thousands upon thousands of pre-teens and and teens and their folks filled the mammoth arena. In fact, one of the lead stories on the news was the health of the girls who got in line very early on a very hot day. It would take more than a heat stroke to keep them from screaming and crying over their idols! Two of my players, Lizeth and Sydney, were there, with Sydney's mom acting as chaperone-in-chief. They were so excited! Sydney, who does her nails in a manner that Da Vinci would envy almost as often as I eat supper, did a special painting just for the concert! The concert even came up in class this past week. We were talking about arranged marriages as perhaps Joseph's and Mary's was, and I asked Lizeth if she wanted her parents to arrange a marriage for her. Her response?
"NO!!!!!!!!"
So I changed the question: "Well, what if it were Harry or Niall?" (For the uniformed, those are the two band members girls seem to believe the cutest.) Lizeth's new answer, filtered through the lens of 1D as they are commonly initialized?
"MAYBE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I'm sure I will hear all about it tomorrow!


In the first paragraph, I told you this was a sequel so I guess I need to get around to the prequel part. You see, I had another student in my classes on Friday with some One Direction history. On March 12, 2012, I penned a devotional on this site called One Way! It centered on one of my 8th graders that year, Kaitlyn, whose obsession with One Direction far surpassed that of Sydney and Lizeth and any other middle schooler currently enrolled. I'm not saying that's all she talked about but............................ (If you are interested, click here: http://stevehawley.blogspot.com/2012/03/one-way.html) But now, Kaitlyn is a junior in my Gospels class and was unimpressed with the hoopla with her former heartthrobs. I even asked her if she would go to the concert if she had free tickets- she would not. You know, she still looks like Kaitlyn but something has really changed since she was in 8th grade!!!

What happened to Kaitlyn? Almost three years, that's what. She's growing up; she's serious about school and college and career and my guess is that a crush on a boy band does not move her dreams down the track. Some of you ladies reading tonight might have had the same feelings for New Kids or NSYNC, for Leif Garrett of David Cassidy, or etc. etc. It's called maturing. We do it physically, we do it academically, we do it socially. We should do it spiritually but that one's trickier. We grow in our faith but sometimes we slip back. We make strides in our prayer and study life but then we get busy. We try to witness to others but we get discouraged. The writer of Hebrews likened a stunted spiritual development to the difference between edification by milk versus solid food. I kid you not- sometimes  I feel like I'm back on the baby diet. It will be interesting to see how Sydney and Lizeth feel about their favorite group when they are one year from graduation. I never thought Kaitlyn would grow out of it! But Kaitlyn gives me hope. She knows what she needs to do to get where she needs to go. And she's heading in the right direction. (Sorry- couldn't resist!) 

Applicable quote of the day:
"Feel free to insult me, but you don’t have the right to insult our fans."
Louis Tomlinson (One Direction
)

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Saturday, August 23, 2014

T.L.N.B.


I've always been blessed with terrific student aides at WCS as I mentioned two nights ago. Over the years, none has evoked more of a response from our little children than the young lady chronicled below. THE LOVELY NANCY BARRERA is now THE LOVELY NANCY BALTODANO with her new better half, Alvaro, who also rated a mention in this entry, dated January 27, 2006, and now with children! When you are finished, would you mind clicking the link below and paying her a visit at the photography business she owns? I'll owe you one!
I heard the voice as soon as I walked in. "Coach Hawley!" Like most theaters, this one was dimly lit and I couldn't tell where the voice came from. Suddenly, I saw a form running down the stairs towards me. As it came closer, I recognized the diminutive Nancy Barrera. It had been a long time! Nancy was one of my students who graduated from Westbury Christian School in May of 2004. She was with her family and her significant other, Alvaro Baltodano, another former WCS student. I love seeing old students but Nancy is NOT just another alumnus. She was a celebrity of almost rock star standing in our elementary school during her senior year. She was, in fact, THE LOVELY NANCY BARRERA.

For five years, I've been blessed to have student aides assigned to me. They have all been seniors and female. I have nothing against my gender but at that age, I have more success working with girls. I prefer they be bilingual. My aides this year are Beverly, Bouba, and Viri. Beverly and Viri speak Spanish while Bouba is fluent in French/German. They all have areas of proficiency and tasks they enjoy more than others. Beverly is terrific at making keys from video quizzes, Bouba is my computer guru, and Viri is the best at organizing papers/recording them in my gradebook. The three of them, along with Brandon Greene, my student basketball assistant, make my life easier. You might wonder about my needing helpers who speak other languages. In reality, I recruit aides who speak Spanish. Our school raises funds for a Christian orphanage for boys in Honduras and my grasp of Espanol is .2 on a 10 scale. Having an aide who is a native Spanish-speaker adds realism. In the spring, I spend considerable time in our elementary school promoting our Honduras work. By extension, so do my helpers. We collect pennies to help build and now grow Jovenes en Camino, the boys' home located an hours' ride from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. I visit each classroom, show a 10 minute video about the boys, give away little wooden crosses from Honduras, and talk about the love Jesus had for children. It's a big thing. We have, with Friendship Christian School in Tennessee, raised over $150,000 for some of the poorest children on earth. (Two years ago, our schools were honored when one of the dormitories was named jointly for us.) I always introduce my aides to the kids and for some reason, I decided Nancy needed a title which would describe her and help the little ones remember this senior. THE LOVELY NANCY BARRERA just seemed to fit. The kids fell in love with her and would get so excited when they would see her in the halls. When they noticed her with her boyfriend, it might as well have been on Entertainment Tonight! Nancy made a special connection with the first graders. She would read to them and laugh with them. She treated each child as if he or she were the most important person in the school. We have practically every ethnic group in the world represented at WCS and they all saw her as being like them. Kids respond to love with love and they loved her. We all did. Each grading period, the faculty selects a "Student of the Six Weeks." Incredibly, going into her last two months at WCS, Nancy- an honor roll student involved in cheerleading, soccer, volleyball, etc.- had never been the recipient. Bradley Crider and I campaigned and Nancy became the honoree. The presentations are made during all-school chapel. When our Headmaster, Bob McCloy, announced the winner was THE LOVELY NANCY BARRERA, I thought the kindergarten through fourth grades would riot! Their hero was getting her due. Little ones identify quality- it was instant recognition with Nancy.

God gives us gifts. Nancy used hers as well as anyone. She was herself; no frills, no pretensions. You don't have to be tall- she could barely see over the heads of the elementary students. Because Nancy enthralled them, kids collected every penny they could to save boys they will never meet. Nancy wasn't lovely because of beauty, even though she's beautiful. In his third epistle, Peter tells women how to be beautiful. No mention of extreme makeovers, cosmetics tips, or hair care secrets. Peter's beauty formula is a 'gentle and quiet spirit.' I have yet to see that counter at the mall! When they open that franchise, I have the perfect model- THE LOVELY NANCY BARRERA!

Applicable quote of the day:
"Every human being has a work to carry on within, duties to perform abroad, influence to exert, which are peculiarly his, and which no conscience but his own can teach."
William Ellery Channing


Here is the link to Nancy's photography shop!
https://www.facebook.com/noahsarkphotography

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1
http://www.hawleybooks.com/
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Friday, August 22, 2014

Love And Hate



Everything we know has a beginning and so did this devotional outlet. What follows is my first blog, from October 18, 2005 and it examines a famous football player and the hatred that drove him.

As I mentioned, I am an instructor at Westbury Christian School in Houston, in the middle of my 9th year at WCS. My B.A., Masters, and teaching certificates are all in Social Science but I have become a full time Bible teacher. This year I am teaching both our 8th graders and sophomores. The 8th grade is studying the Gospel of Luke and my 10th grade curriculum is the Life of Christ, covering Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I enjoyed teaching US History but I love teaching the Word of God. It is a blessing to have a job you can't wait to get to every day. Today, my 8th graders will discuss Jesus' healing of a paralyzed man and my sophomores will learn about the meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus. But, as we often do, I am going to spend some time talking about something in the news. These kids have to understand that the Christian life is not lived in a vacuum and that they are affected by their culture and current events.

Did you see the "60 Minutes" interview on CBS this past Sunday with Bill Romanowski? The controversial former NFL star spoke about his career and his reputation as being the most despised-feared-dirty player in professional football. When asked the secret to his success on the field, he summed up his week to week motivation in one word- HATE. He said he hated his opponents, their coaches, their city, etc. Romanowski detailed how he worked himself into a rage which allowed him to be a tremendous, although loathed, athlete. I was taken back. Never had I considered hate to be such a strong psychological weapon. My 8th grade students memorize hymns. We are currently working on Martin Luther's classic, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. In the first verse, Luther portrays Satan as being 'armed with cruel hate.' As Christians, we have to be ready to do warfare with the overwhelming power of hatred. How can we survive? Our kids are growing up in a society that teaches them never to back down. The Scriptures teach a different concept. The answer is LOVE. It isn't easy but Jesus told us not just to love our enemies but to pray for them, do good to them, and lend to them. This is a difficult teaching for my students to swallow. Hating is easier- and sometimes more enjoyable. Love is harder and not much fun at times. We have the best example, though. God sent his Son to save us from the power of Satan and the power of hate. We show the love of God to others in the way we live our lives. Someone will be watching and the power of the love of Christ they witness in us may help snatch them from the grips of hatred. Is there any Bill Romanowski in us today? Probably- and it is time to let it go. Otherwise, it will destroy us.


Applicable quote of the day:
"We have just enough religion to make us hate but not enough to make us love one another."
Jonathan Swift

God bless,

Steve
Luke 18:1

http://www.hawleybooks.com/
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com