Saturday, October 25, 2014

To The End Of The Aisle

This is just me but I want to know that I would be missed if I was not where I was supposed to be. Not everyone agrees as you will see in this entry from September 5, 2010.

I did something today that I haven't done in nine or ten years: I filled out an attendance card at worship service. It felt kind of strange and I was not even sure what was included on them anymore. You see, almost a decade ago, I entrusted my attendance card responsibilities to Amber Glenn who was on my middle school basketball team and later would be one of my teacher aides. I knew Amber liked to be helpful and she'd feel like she was watching out for me.The inevitable happened, though, and Amber went off to college. After consulting with the lovely Amber, I offered the position to Chelsey Villarreal, who also played middle school basketball for me and also would serve me as a teacher's aide. The two shared other traits. Both of them have both parents work at WCS and both of them gave up basketball for cheerleading. So much for my coaching influence! But the inevitable happened again and Chelsey several weeks ago moved on to college in Alabama. As the wonderful Chelsey failed to name her successor, I am left to fend for myself. I'm not really worried that the sky will fall in but ..........

I once taught with a guy who was very good in the classroom. When I asked what church he belonged to, he told me never became part of any congregation. His rationale basically came down to this: he did not want to fill out an attendance card so that someone would know if he was there or not for a service.Maybe he didn't want someone looking over his shoulder or checking up on him. He was a good guy who I think tried to follow the Lord but his logic lost me. Being in a church is like being in a family. There's accountability and concern. We call each other brother and sister for a reason and that reason concerns the special relationship we have with other believers. I'm a very private person myself in many ways but I believe we cannot shut ourselves out from those we claim as co-heirs of the kingdom of Heaven. A card is a small thing but it allows us to share not only our presence but prayer requests and good news. That being said, I do have a prayer request that I should have scribbled on the back of my card: does anyone know a middle school girl who can spell my name?

Applicable quote of the day:
“There are many of us that are willing to do great thi
ngs for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.”
Dwight L. Moody

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Dress

I told my classes this week how much I miss my folks and they will miss theirs some day. This is about Mom and Meagan, from November 28, 2010.

It was the main thing I wanted from my parents' home when they passed away. When my mom's brother, my Uncle Bill, was in high school, he built a cedar chest for her. It was always in Mom's and Dad's bedroom, always at the foot of the bed. For the past two years, the chest sat in Dave's garage in Wichita. Until last spring, I drove a Toyota Corolla with no way to move it to Houston without considerable cost. In fact, the chief consideration in purchasing my Honda Fit last April was that there was enough interior room to accommodate the chest on its trip to Texas. And so yesterday, Mom's cedar chest and I traveled the six hundred and twenty miles from Kansas and it now resides in my apartment. Do you know what's amazing? It still smells like cedar when you open the cover, even after more than five decades. As I spent time at my brothers' homes last week, I noticed that I still see our folks' furniture and keepsakes as out of place, even in the living rooms of their children. Dave and Sally have our parents' china cabinet filled with the china they acquired when they were married but I still visualize it in a house in Nebraska. I feel the same about that cedar trunk now that it belongs to me.

As we were measuring the chest and my car to see if it would fit, we lifted the lid and looked inside. There were some family pictures, a board game, and my father's PhD graduation gown hat and tassels from the University of Nebraska. There was something else- our mother's wedding gown, wrapped in plastic. We weren't sure what to do with it since none of us had claimed it. But Scott had an idea- he thought Meagan should try it on. My niece, Meagan, is Dave and Sally's daughter. She's a teacher in Oklahoma and just returned from four years of working in a Christian orphanage in Zambia. She is also the most unbelievable young lady you will ever meet but Meagan politely declined her Uncle Scott's suggestion and I thought that was the end of it. The next day, right after Thanksgiving dinner, Scott brought it up again and the assembled relatives urged Meagan to reconsider and astonishingly, to me at least, she did. After several minutes, Meagan emerged from the bedroom- it was a perfect fit! The dress looked like it had been tailor made for Meagan to walk down the aisle to a most fortunate young man awaiting her at the front of a church building on a magical evening in June. She wore it only briefly, strolling through the room of biased admirers but it was long enough to qualify as the favorite moment of my week in Wichita. She wasn't there but Mom would have loved it, too.

I would guess that wedding dress had not adorned anyone since the day Roger Hawley married Nelda Chesshir on December 25, 1949. I would also guess that no one except Mom and Meagan has ever put it on. It shows its age with a few stains and the scent of being in storage for sixty-one years. We had some subsequent discussions of what to do with it and came to no concrete decision. (Coincidentally, I have the tie Dad wore in the wedding, as well.) But for a few moments on a holiday set aside for gratitude, I was reminded of the link between the past and the present. In Second Timothy 1, Paul speaks of his young friend's faith which was passed down from his grandmother to his mother to Timothy. I think of the faith my mother had which she labored so hard to encourage in her grandchildren like Meagan, who she loved so much. Meagan was also blessed by the faith of her maternal grandmother, Racine, and her mom, Sally. Her faith is what they instilled and prayed for and now, it fits her perfectly, just like an heirloom wedding dress. And for that, I am thankful.

Applicable quote of the day:
"After all there is something about a wedding-gown, prettier than any other gown in the world."
Douglas William Jerrold

God bless,
Uncle Steve
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tattoos And Broken Hearts

My middle school players have been teasing one of their teammates about a certain boy. She's in the denial stage and that's part of being in middle school but it doesn't end there. We all know it doesn't always work out with a happy ending and sometimes we behave badly when it comes to the opposite gender. The following, from May 25, 2006, is about one of those times in my life.

I saw this question on the Internet today.
"What can you buy that costs $100 and lasts a lifetime?" The answer is...a tattoo. I heard a new term on a radio ad the other day- tattoo regret. The commercial was for an ointment that allegedly will fade tattoos away to invisibility over several months. The pitchman for the product runs a tattoo parlor and spoke about how people are later mortified by what they have more-or-less permanently imprinted on their bodies. He swears the cream is effective and painless. Laser removal of tattoos apparently is not painless. There remains a foolproof method to the dilemma: you never have to remove a tattoo that you don't get. Tattoos were never an option in my house nor was wearing an earring. Neither bothers me anymore; it's just part of the culture. It's easy to undo a pierced ear by just leaving your earring in the jewelry box. Tattoos, though, don't disappear as simply. I like that term, tattoo regret. I wonder if that rub-on stuff really works. I have seen some folks who would probably purchase a barrel or two!

Like I said, I never had the desire to add a tattoo to my body repertoire but that doesn't mean I don't have regrets from the time period most people get them inked into their skin. Her name was Patti. I met her on the first day of freshman orientation in college and immediately was smitten. She was from Denver and beautiful. I grew up in a little town in Nebraska and was awkward when it came to the fairer gender. I had little dating experience in high school, focusing instead on my quest to make it in the NBA. We started dating and it lasted a number of weeks. I wasn't a good boyfriend. We stopped seeing each other once and got back together. The second time, there was no reconciliation. I took it hard. I took it so hard, I became an idiot and took it out on Patti. Shortly thereafter, she started seeing Gary, one of my friends and basketball teammates. It became serious rather quickly between them. I was jealous. I dated around but it's difficult to like who you are with when you don't like yourself. I had trouble sleeping and even food didn't taste good. The funny thing is, I was never mad at Gary and he was tolerant of me being torn up over his girlfriend. They both transferred at the end of the year and that was the last time I saw Patti or Gary. Fortunately, it wasn't the last time they saw each other. Their relationship kept blooming and eventually, Patti and Gary were married. Over the years, I have heard bits and pieces about their lives. The Lord has blessed them with children, a wonderful marriage, and good works in the kingdom of heaven. It turned out like it should have. Feeling like you're in love can make you incredibly giddy and swirl you into a state of irrational stupidity. At eighteen, when it came to Patti, I chose Plan B. I never got the chance to apologize. If they have medicine for tattoo regret, you would think they could develop a product for love regret. We were students at a small college and yearbook signing was a big deal. I pulled mine off the shelf tonight and read what Gary wrote in my annual long ago in a Nebraska springtime:

"About the little lady, I can't say I'm sorry because I feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the world. We must just have seen the same things in her."
All I can say is, AMEN! The Lord blessed Gary with Patti and Patti with Gary. I have no idea if I wrote anything in Gary's yearbook that night but in case I didn't, let me close with the last verse of a great song, Diary by Bread. (Whatever happened to all those intellectual names of groups?)
"And as I go through my life,
I will wish for her, his wife,
All the sweet things she can find, 
All the sweet things they can find."

God bless you, Patti and Gary.

Applicable quote of the day:
"I want to get a tattoo of myself on my entire body, only 2 inches taller."
Stephen Wright

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Drew And His Dad

We took a test today in Bible 8 and I am guessing Drew made a 100%. Last Friday night, he was stellar in our chorus performance and the day before,  he led our WCS middle school football team to a playoff win. Why and I telling you this? Read the entry below from March 1, 2010 and you will understand.

I heard a great sermon yesterday. Actually, I heard three but two came from our minister, David Yasko, who I expect to preach powerfully. The unexpected one came from Drew, one of our third graders at Westbury Christian School. Drew, the son of Cindi, one of elementary teachers, has an older brother and a twin sister. But that's not all Drew possesses. During the greeting time in our morning worship service, I ran into him and asked how his day off from school on Friday had been. (We had no school due to the state private school basketball tournament in which our boys' and girls' teams were competing.) Drew told me he had a great day and being a teacher, I always employ the follow up question: 
"What made it great?" 
Without hesitation, Drew replied, 
"I got to spend time with my father.'' 
I have no children of my own but I think I could write a how-to book on parenting from that young man's eight word response. In a society of neglect and abandonment and busyness, Drew's dad, Andrew, knows the key to a child's heart and destiny. He gave his child the most precious gift of all: his time. I don't know if they went to a movie, cleaned the garage, drove to the store, worked on school studies, or just sat around the house together: it doesn't matter. In the first recorded words of Jesus in Luke 2:49, the twelve year old asks Mary and Joseph why they were searching for Him in Jerusalem. The Savior wonders, 
''Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (NKJV) 
Last Friday, Drew's father's business was Drew. That is one precious commodity.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow."
Reed Markham

God bless,

Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Terms Of Endearment

In a month or so, every other commercial or so on television will have to do with a guy buying a Christmas gift for his significant other and the gift invariably comes from a jewelry store. Every one of my students born in this country can finish this sentence: "He went to _____________!" (Jared, of course!) Defining couplehood is sometimes complicated as you will see below, from March 28, 2006.

We had a good discussion yesterday in my fifth period class. We are in the middle of Stanford Achievement Test week so our normal schedule is out of whack. My students were working on a memory verse, Philippians 2:5-7, when a disagreement surfaced between myself and the majority of the young ladies. I often bring up news items or what I saw on television the night before to make a point or stimulate thought. Over the weekend, I caught a portion of an entertainment news show, I think Access Hollywood, where the topic was love interests of the rich and famous. The show enlisted three 'experts' (a professional matchmaker, an astrologer, a media consultant) to link unattached celebrities with a person of the opposite gender. What I learned, amazingly, is that the movie stars apparently can only fall in love with others who are equally well-known. As I shared this insight, the girls and I disputed the meaning of a word: single. I maintained it applies to anyone who is not married. The girls maintain it cannot apply to anyone who is in a relationship. I countered that on job applications, there are only two boxes to check, Married or Single; no space for In A Committed Relationship. The females in Room 258 countered that the word couple is plural and not singular. I might have asked if they were adults who were dating and had to decide on Sunday school, would they attend the married or singles class? The bell rang before we could resolve the issue. It's probably more generational or gender biased. Girls' way of thinking within their age and school culture leads them to define the term differently than I would. We are both correct because we use the word single in different contexts. Either way, I am single.

One thing I have come to appreciate in teaching foreign students is that they may know the meaning of the words I am using but might not understand what I am trying to say. We judge meaning by context but if you don't have a grasp of the context, any chance for interpretation disintegrates. In Matthew, Jesus was confronting religious leaders who had little sympathy for his associating with known sinners. His reply to them was that they should "go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' " The Pharisees knew the literal interpretation of that quotation from Hosea but its meaning and more importantly, its application, escaped them. They could define the words but they had not put them into practice. What those words meant to Jesus were obviously not what they meant to those who opposed him. His definition of sinner would have included the Pharisees as well as the tax collectors and prostitutes. All needed mercy but only some of them realized it. It's like my interpretation of single versus my girls' interpretation of single... except our debate did not have eternal consequences!

I am forgoing the normal Applicable Quote of the Day to give the last word on the single versus single debate to one of my sophomore girls, Alyssa Leyva. I am reproducing her note on her memory verse yesterday verbatim, complete with her unique punctuation. (By the way, Alyssa is a straight A student and one of the finest young ladies in the universe!)

"if...let's say HYPOTHETICALLY you're dating Lisa F. (I don't know how to spell her name) & this dude comes up to her (of course you're w/ her) and asks if she's single. Since you said that everyone's single if they're not married, that would create ALOT of problems. I disagree & agree w/ you. Isn't there an in between check box for the marital status?"

God bless,
Steve (Single)
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Monday, October 20, 2014

Grace In Black And Gold

Big time sports are filled with things that make you want to vomit and high school programs are not immune. Still, there are glimpses of how it should be. This entry, from November 10, 2010, is about one of those peeks.

I grew up in Nebraska which almost assures that any such child will be a fan of the Cornhuskers, the only team in the state most people care for. As such, I also grew to despise, not rationally, of course, other state universities whose football squads played the Huskers. Enemy # 1 was always Oklahoma. A close second many years would have been the University of Colorado. There seemed to be an intensity to the rivalry with the Buffalo fans who could not stand anything having to do with our beloved Big Red. I am positive Nebraska fans without exception handled themselves with dignity but I recall stories of snowballs pelting those from my state. Like I said, I'm sure Husker enthusiasts were blameless in these incidents. Living outside Nebraska since my college days, my fervor has waned and with it the animosity which sometimes accompanies sport loyalties. Still, childhood feelings can linger near the surface.

This week, one of the big college football stories centered in Boulder, the home of CU. Yesterday, the football coach of the Buffaloes, Dan Hawkins, was fired. Hired five years ago from upstart Boise State and considered a tremendous catch, Hawkins simply failed to win enough in this age of conference hopping and big money television deals. His fate was apparently sealed when the Buffs blew a 28 point fourth quarter advantage to Kansas last Saturday, the largest loss of a lead in the history of the school. Yesterday, a press conference made it official. Coach Hawkins appeared and spoke graciously about his termination, thanking the people of the state and asking them to support the program. He even wore a black and gold tie, representing the school colors. Then, the team captains addressed the media. One of the captains was Cody Hawkins, the team's quarterback and the son of the newly deposed coach. I asked my students how they would have handled themselves if they had been in Cody Hawkins' cleats. There were a wide variety of answers as you might expect. Think of the anguish of the conflict between your team- and every team preaches loyalty- and your own flesh and blood. As coaches, we tell our players that your team is your family. So, what does that make your family? When given the microphone, these were the words that came from the younger Hawkins:

“College football is a business, and there are a lot of great guys in this business who get put out on the streets. I have the greatest dad in the world. He handled things very well. Dad gave everything that he had every day. When I signed a national letter of intent, nowhere on the contract did it say I was going to play for Dan Hawkins. I wanted to be part of Colorado. I’m going to give every single thing that I have to this football team. Inside my chest, I have a black and gold heart.”

Wow. With the chance to vent and display the hurt he must be feeling, Cody Hawkins responded with pure graciousness. His parents have to be filled with pride today as they see the son they raised perform admirably in an arena filled with more potential pitfalls than any hostile stadium possesses. In Colossians 4:6, Paul admonishes his readers to, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." I don't know if Cody Hawkins read Paul's advice before he went on stage but he was a blueprint for its implementation. On November 20, Colorado will celebrate Senior Day when the parents typically escort their sons who will be playing their last home game onto the field. I don't think there will be much doubt where most eyes will be trained that afternoon. It will be the kind of sports' moment which makes for such great drama as the story lines fall outside the yard markers. But this drama will really only be the second act. One Colorado senior already had his day... and graduated with honors.

Applicable quote of the day:
“Coaching isn't a great mystery. It's Just hard work, determination, and inspiration at the right moment.”
Bob Zuppke

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oh Happy Day!

My student teacher aide, Minna, was standing outside my door before the start of eighth period as my seventh period class was departing on Friday. I told her, 
"I love it when they are happy leaving." 
I thought that might be a poor way to word it so I tried once more. 
"I love it when they are happy when they leave."
Not sure if attempt number two was any better than number one but I think Minna got the intent. Many in the Gospels class, all juniors, straggled out and some just flat out acted as if they didn't want to leave. They were talking about their in-class writing assignment which some were still working on as the bell rang. It was something we do every year, writing a blessing to their unborn child. We started the period with putting the memory verse of the day on paper, Numbers 6:24-26, more commonly known as The Blessing Of Aaron. I showed two short film clips from CBS News' On The Road segment. Then, I told them about my folks' tradition when we were young of tucking us in, praying with us, and telling us they loved us. I read four examples of seniors of the class of 2010 doing the same assignment- reprinted below- and set them free to write. And they loved it.

I was taken aback when Tucker asked me if he could take out his phone and take a picture of what he wrote. Since I rarely return papers, I gladly gave permission. Others asked to do the same- no problem. Several of them asked if they could turn theirs in but re-write them as they were not satisfied- I was honored. You get the drift. They were gabbing about the thoughts they had penned to the little boy or girl who won't be born for several years at the earliest. Musically speaking, popular songs featuring words of advice from parents tend to be angry (Father And Son by Cat Stevens) or boyfriend tips like The Shirelles' Mama Said. These gems were much deeper and often contained spiritual depth not often associated with teens, although maybe that is simply underestimating the demographic. The mood of my students' reminded me of two Biblical references. The first is David's beginning to Psalm 122:
"I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD."
I'm well aware that David was speaking of the temple in Jerusalem but for a moment, I caught what might be just a sliver of his joy.

The second would be Peter's exclamation to Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17 and verse 4:
“Lord, it is good for us to be here."
I believe the kids really had a glimpse of closeness as a class and with me as they went on to 8th period- they were glad they had been there. Sometimes as teachers, we wonder if it is worthwhile. It was Friday. We'll see about tomorrow.


"Goodnight my sweetheart. I love you with all my heart. Even though the night is dark, don't be scared; mommy will always be with you and protect you like God is always with us and protects us and forgives us. So rest now, my little treasure. I love you."
Bella, grade 12

"My dear sweet angel; lay your head, rest your eyes, and be thankful God allowed you to see another day. I am so thankful I have you in my life. Do not be afraid to come to me when you cry as I will welcome you with open arms. I thank God for everyday and pray that He allows you to see another. You are His gift to me and I cherish you like no other. I love you, princess. Sweet dreams and goodnight."
Cameron, grade 12

"My son, you are the prince to my throne. I am thankful that God has blessed me with you. I want you to promise me that you will never give up. You are a vessel full of power and the Lord is going to use you as He has used me. I love you and will never stop loving you. I want you to carry the blessing of the name "Beadle" with honor and pride but humbly submitting to others with respect. Always strive, not to be the best, but to do your best. I am proud of you and I love you.
Deandre, grade 12

My dear angel, I hope you dream of everything that you ever want to accomplish and believe that dreams do come true everyday. God will always be there to guide you, and will never lose sight of you. You have many people in this world that love and cherish you. So, whenever you have a day when you feel like you just want to breakdown, know that me and your dad will always be right by your side and God is there watching over you. Believe in yourself and believe that dreams do come true everyday. I love you always and forever.
Love, Mommy
Veronica. grade 12

Applicable quote of the day:
Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
Franklin Roosevelt

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at