Friday, October 31, 2014

The Buzz


I enjoy telling my students about young people who sat in those same chairs over the years. Over time, I have been blessed to teach the siblings of several famous entertainers. That is always impressive to my current classes! The following, from 12-12-05, details my brushes with fame.

Barely into December, our Westbury Christian School girls' basketball team has already played a staggering twenty-one games, sporting a sparkling 17-4 record. Win # 17 came Friday with a 50-44 victory over a tough squad from Barber's Hill High School. The win wasn't the main story, though. When Coach Russell Carr saw me at worship Sunday morning, his first words were "Guess who was at the game Friday? Van Chancellor!" To the non-fan, Van Chancellor is the coach of the WNBA Houston Comets. It's not a stretch to say he is the Phil Jackson of womens' basketball, leading the Comets to the first four WNBA titles and guiding the US Olympic team to a gold medal in 2002. It turns out he was only there to watch his son coach for Barbers' Hill and not looking for the next Lisa Leslie but his mere appearance in our gym created a buzz.

There is something about the famous that generates excitement. Sometimes, even a passing encounter is big. One of my former players dated NFL defensive end Grant Wistrom while he played for the St. Louis Rams. Sarah and Grant came to my folks' house for dinner while I was in Missouri for Spring Break. George Brett, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, married one of my brother Dave's basketball players. Sometimes, even the sibling of a celebrity is worth noting. The brother of the star of the TV drama, The Gilmore Girls, spent two semesters in my freshman Bible class. One year, I had an eighth grade Bible student who mentioned that it wasn't easy for her to be the sister of Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child. To show my ignorance, I had no idea at that time the identity of Destiny's Child or its enormously famous lead singer. The young lady, Solange Knowles, came back to visit several years ago. By this time, Solange had her own recording career and fan base. As we talked outside the office, a line of middle school girls magically appeared seeking autographs. It was hard for me to comprehend that this young lady was no longer a child. In fact, I've run across mentions and pictures of her in Parade, People, and Sports Illustrated. To these kids, she was a star but to me, she was simply an older version of that thirteen-year old cheerleader who possessed braces, incredible energy, and a high average in my class.

Jesus created a buzz wherever he went. Crowds grew as the stories of his miracles were told and retold. John 7 reports widespread whispering about him and rumors of who he might be. Houses where he taught were so packed the paralyzed could not get in. People tried to reach through the masses just for the hope of healing in his touch. His entry into Jerusalem the week of his crucifixion caused a religious leader to remark that 'the whole world has gone after him!' And yet, this did not stop the people from turning their collective backs on him. Even his closest friends were swayed by fear and doubt, leaving him to face the cross, if not alone, then underrepresented by those who had earlier praised the heavens because of him. Our culture is no different. Adulation is temporary. Athletes are glorified one week, reviled the next. An entertainer is red hot, then passe. Politicians are swept into office in a landslide and voted out by the same margin in the next election. Jesus isn't about the buzz. In the Parable of the Sower, he warns of those who hear, get enthused, and quickly fade to disinterest. That's us when we buy into the hype of the hot/cool/happening person whom the media anoints as the NEXT NEW THING. Remember the Eagles' "New Kid In Town?" They described our lack of loyalty with this line:
'They will never forget you 'til somebody new comes along.' When it comes to our souls, there won't be somebody else coming after Jesus. There will be pretenders but the Master referred to himself in Revelation 22 as 'the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.' Not much wiggle room in there if he is right-and Christians take him at his word. Our fame won't save us but our obscurity doesn't impart righteousness either. I take it God isn't impressed by our standards of fame. We'll be judged on the Lord's scales rather than by the world's applause meter. It only takes one set of clapping hands-the ones scarred by Roman nails- to orchestrate a final standing ovation for the believer.

Applicable quote of the day:
"The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people, they think it's their fault."
Henry Kissinger

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bedtime Blessings Chapter III

(Dad, Grandma Hawley, Mom, Dave, and me in Michigan. You just don't see kids rocking sweet hats like that anymore!)

We worked on one of my favorite memory verses in all five classes last week. All of my 90+ students wrote The Blessing Of Aaron for a grade as a memory verse and repeated it on their test. Found in Numbers 6:24-26, God commanded the first high priest of Israel to use these words to bless his chosen people:
"The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."

We spoke of the human need for approval and how parents can have such an effect on the self-worth of their children. We talked of bedtime rituals and how moms and dads can make their kids feel important and ease their fears. I told them about how our folks tucked us in when we were small, prayed with us, and kissed us good-night. With that discussion as background, I gave each student a sheet of paper and had them pen a bedtime blessing to the child they will bring into the world in future years. The next several nights, I'll let some of them speak for me. Boys are in blue, girls in pink, all are used with permission........... and all tonight are eighth graders!


My dear beloved son; As you grow up and become a man, always remember God because as you grow, you I don't want you to grow up just a man. I want you to grow up as a Godly man. A Godly man knows how to get through struggles without letting struggles take him down. I want you to be the best man you can be and do the best in everything that you do. I want you to make me proud of you in everything and I want you to take the Dixon last name and make good of it. Everything that I’m telling you, I want you to tell your kid or kids. I love you no matter what and I love you unconditionally, son. Be the best you can be.
Love, Dad (Dylan Dixon)

My sweet darling; Never give up. Keep running towards your dreams and goals. If you fall, I will catch you, and when you are back on your feet, keep running. You may get tired and want to sit down, but you will one day realize when you have reached your goals and lived your dreams, that every step you took in the marathon of your life brought you to where you will be. Never give up. I love you.  Love, Mom  (Ariana Nelson)

My child, never forget the blood we had. The curse of want is the curse of life. God made us not want things we don't have. We earn what we deserve and keep what we have. Never throw away something we earn. Life is not a tool; live it and never regret for if the world hates you, your father will always love you. (Mason Reach)

Dear Aubrey,
 I wish the best for you. I love so much. I hope that one day you take this letter and cherish it. Remember that have many talents not many people have. You are brilliant at tennis, very creative, lovable, sweet, providential, and beautiful. The one thing I never want you to have is jealousy.  You shouldn't want it either. Jealousy can lead to many things: hatred, wanting to do bad things to others, and much more. I love you! Stay Golden.
Love,Mommy (Blake Lanier)

Hey champ! Soon you will take my history and make it your fantastic future. God has guided me and led me to this moment, this night, this second telling you the great things you will be in twenty years. I have a long way to go guiding and teaching you until I'm done. You have to not only believe, but put it in your mind forever. Then one day, you will have a very lucky life and wife. Sweet dreams! Dad (Kaine Lopez)
  
My dear child,
             I want you to know that God is your father and He will always be by your side to guide you. When you ever need a friend in times of troubles, you can always come talk to me about it. I will always be by your side in times of happiness and in sadness. Your father and I love you so much because we have been blessed with an amazing child. If you have dreams, always try to achieve them! I will be there to support you.
I love you, Mom (Sydney Wyatt)

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bedtime Blessings Chapter II

(From left: Mom, me, Dave, Dad)

We worked on one of my favorite memory verses in all five classes last week. All of my 90+ students wrote The Blessing Of Aaron for a grade as a memory verse and repeated it on their test. Found in Numbers 6:24-26, God commanded the first high priest of Israel to use these words to bless his chosen people:
"The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."

We spoke of the human need for approval and how parents can have such an effect on the self-worth of their children. We talked of bedtime rituals and how moms and dads can make their kids feel important and ease their fears. I told them about how our folks tucked us in when we were small, prayed with us, and kissed us good-night. With that discussion as background, I gave each student a sheet of paper and had them pen a bedtime blessing to the child they will bring into the world in future years. For several nights, I'll let some of them speak for me. Boys are in blue, girls in pink, and all are used with permission!

My Dear Beautiful Daughter, you are so incredibly blessed and created carefully in God’s image. I love you more than you’ll ever know. God has blessed you with amazing talents and gifts. He has an amazing plan and purpose for your life. May God’s favor be shown through you and may you grow in your faith. Remember to be strong and pursue your dreams! – Love, Mom (Madison Belcher)

Mommy and Daddy’s prince, we are so blessed to have you in our lives. Lay down and may God wrap his loving and protecting arms around you, and keep you safe. May God favor you and bless you. I pray that everything you ask God for you get. Everything we do will be done with your best interest. You are a gift from God and we love you so much. Goodnight son.  – Love, Mommy (Dessiah Daniel)

My dear boy, my little soldier, my junior. I will do everything to raise you in the right way so that you have a successful future. I want you to dream big. Shoot for the stars. Don't let anyone get in the way of your future. Keep faith in God because all success is within Him. Whatever you do, do in the name of the Lord and you shall amount to be victorious. (Markus Henderson)

My dear child,
How thankful I am to know that God brought you into my life and ever since you have showered the sparkle in our family. I hope you have a goodnight’s sleep and praise the Lord as you wake you up thanking Him for everyday that woke you up safely. I have handed the night angels the responsibility to watch over you as you sleep. Goodnight my love. You will be in my heart forever and ever.
Love, Mommy (Naila Dar)

Sleep is as important as eating and drinking. So… get some sleep. And eat your vegetables. Don't worry about screwing up, kiddo. I’m here to guide you, not judge you. You can tell me anything, or you can keep it to yourself but no matter what happens, I’ve got your back. Now get some rest… you've got chores to do in the morning. (Julia Edwards)

Hi, my baby, it seems a little awkward for me to write a letter because I have never written a letter by my heart. I know, this is really cheesy, but whoever you are going to be, I will always be by your side and support you. Do not be afraid to tell me when you feel down. I love you unconditionally. (Han Tran)

My dear son, you are not only my son, but the son, a child, of the Most High God. I know that you will live your life according to Him in every way that you can. No matter what you do, I know you will do your best at everything you put your mind. I want you to be yourself and no one else. In no way do I want you to live your life in the way I live mine, because I want you to be who you desire to be. In everything you do, I know you will work hard to gain success. Success in life is not given- it is earned- and I know you will earn it.
Love, Your Very Proud Father (Sheyi Ajiboye)

My dear sweetheart: I love you! You're my angel and I would do anything for you. Always remember you can do anything you put your mind to no matter what anyone says. When someone can't do something, they try to tell you you can't do it. Close your eyes and dream your biggest dream because anything is possible with the word of God. Daddy (Jeremiah Simon)

My precious baby, I love you so much. I hope that you know no matter what happens down the road, I will always be with you. Your father and I will never try to shove our faith on you, because I want to see you pick and see that God is the one who is blessing us with everything that we have, own, and desire. I need you to know that what you are going through today will not matter a month from now. Remember that forgiveness is key throughout your life.
Love, Mommy (Lyanne Velasquez)

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Madison's Dolls



Much has happened since I wrote this about Madison in March of 2006! She is now a seventh grader and all grown up and will be in my Bible class next year. Her selflessness remains timeless.

Madison is a hoot. The soon to be four year old daughter of Mike and Jennifer White, Madison is a student in our pre-kindergarten class at Westbury Christian School. She is blessed with a chubby baby brother, Drew, and wonderful parents. Mike is our Director of Guidance and Jennifer is an elementary teacher in the public schools. One Tuesday night, there was a mishap in the White household. A cup was knocked over that contained pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Madison asked Jennifer what the money was for and Jennifer explained their family saved change to help an orphanage in Honduras. Madison asked if the people in Honduras were poor and Jennifer told her they were. Her next question was, "Mommy, do the children have backpacks?" Jennifer said no. Madison also asked about clothes and food and Jennifer explained how needy the little ones are. Madison's next inquiry was the one that bothered her the most. "Mommy, do the little girls have Barbies?" Once again, Madison's mother broke the sad news to her daughter. Madison was crushed but she had a plan. "Mommy, I'm going to give them my Barbies!" Jennifer thought that was a terrific idea so this July, I will be transporting Barbie Dolls to some very lucky little girls in Honduras that Madison will never meet.

Yesterday, I passed on my afternoon walk due to the weather, instead spending twenty-plus minutes on my Gazelle exercise machine. I watched television while I got my aerobic workout in. I don't have cable so options are limited. Not much of the programming was worth watching so I jumped around with the remote. I am able to pick up three religious stations, two in English and one in Spanish. As I switched back and forth, both religious networks had the same program showing. The speakers were different races and the formats were not the same but it was the identical message: Send us money and your life will be blessed! Are you in debt? Send a check! Are your finances in a shambles? Call our hot line and make a pledge! The sermons centered on the premise that if you give something to God by giving it to us, you will be prospered financially. The Bible teaches we will be blessed by being generous but I don't believe prosperity is ever given as a reason to serve God or our fellow man. We give because we are obligated for what he has done for us, not as a down
payment on a big payday. Madison had it perfect- we give because it is the right thing to do and to show that the love of the Lord lives in us. Jesus taught that we must become like a little child. I know the perfect role model!


Applicable quote of the day:
"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."
Angela Schwindt


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bedtime Blessings

(Dave, Dad, Mom, me)

We worked on one of my favorite memory verses in all five classes last week. All of my 90+ students wrote The Blessing Of Aaron for a grade as a memory verse and repeated it on their test. Found in Numbers 6:24-26, God commanded the first high priest of Israel to use these words to bless his chosen people:
"The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."

We spoke of the human need for approval and how parents can have such an effect on the self-worth of their children. We talked of bedtime rituals and how moms and dads can make their kids feel important and ease their fears. I told them about how our folks tucked us in when we were small, prayed with us, and kissed us good-night. With that discussion as background, I gave each student a sheet of paper and had them pen a bedtime blessing to the child they will bring into the world in future years. The next several nights, I'll let some of them speak for me. Boys are in blue, girls in pink, and all are used with permission!

My son, you are a Johnesia by birth. That name comes with responsibility and leadership. With honor and dignity. There are those out there in the world that will try to bring you down. Pay no attention to them and keep moving forward. Keep your heart open to love and mind filled with focus. Don’t be afraid to come to me or your mother for help of any kind. I will always be your number one fan. In all you do, do it for a noble cause. Treat anyone you meet with respect, regardless if you like them or not. Be your own person. There’s only one you out there and the world needs him. God is your guide. Let Him show you want needs to be done or abstained from. “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
 Love, Dad (Josh Jonesia)

Dear sweet child: No matter what happened or what will happen, know that I, but most importantly, God, love you with all our hearts. You are the precious jewels of our womb. Strive to be your best, not the best. Know you are worth more than the biggest diamond, but also be humble and strive to treat others better than you treat yourself. Do not ever doubt yourself, and do not ever let anyone tell you that you cannot. That word does not exist in our hearts. Always trust in the Lord my child, for He will never fail you.
 (Clara Akwarandu)

I hope and pray that you will strive for excellence in everything you do. I hope you will actively seek God and be after God’s own heart like David (but maybe minus some of the stuff he did). I hope you will always work to make everyone proud and you will care about what really matters instead of trying to be popular. (Addie Symonds)

My dear precious baby: I love you so much that words cannot describe the fulfillment I get when I look into your eyes. Never doubt that Mommy loves and never question if God loves you, too. You were made beautiful, strong, and set apart in God’s eyes. My baby, never forget where your help comes from; remember God loves you and never stop dreaming. Goodnight baby, rest your head and prepare to beat the world tomorrow.
*sings a melodic hymn, then proceeds to turn off lights and close the door
song: I Love You Lord Today (Natalie Hamilton)


My Dear Sweet Angel,
 I want to tell you while you are young that though sometimes I may be disappointed in your choices, I will never, ever, stop loving you. I want you to not only learn from the mistakes I have made in my life, but that you also learn from your mistakes that will enable you to grow. I pray for you daily, that you would put others before yourself with a servant’s heart and always remember that Daddy and I love you so much and do everything in our power to protect you and keep you safe… even if that means disciplining you at times. I am so thankful for you each and everyday, and I am sorry if you think I say “I love you,” too much. You are a blessing from God and should never think otherwise. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for your life. I LOVE YOU!
Love, Mommy (Chloe Sims)

My precious gift from God: As you sleep tonight, think of all the things that you want to accomplish in life. Never let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Remember that your father and I love you and want to see the best for you. Remember that nothing is handed to you on a silver platter. You must work hard for it. Life isn’t easy, my daughter, but that doesn’t mean give up. I want you to know that every time I see you and when your father sees you, we see beauty. Yes, you are beautiful and NEVER forget that. When you are down, pray and talk to God or you can talk to me. When you are up and things are going great, talk to God. You are truly a blessing from the lord. I am thankful that you are in my life. Now as I kiss your forehead, let it keep all the evil spirits and all the bad dreams out your precious little mind. Sweet dreams, my little angel. I love you, Mommy. (Tiata Collier)

My dear son: You are great! I already know it because you are my son and most ultimately, you are made in God’s image. Remember, when someone messes with you, hit them with that famous “knockout combo.” I do not care if you become a doctor or a lawyer or ballplayer- whatever you do, I will support you always and forever. Remember, love is a great thing so when you find it, hold onto it, cherish it, and make sure the young lady deserve a great man like you'll be because only a Queen is fit for a King and that’s what you'll be.
 Pops (Xavier Simon)

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Comedy Of Politics


One thing I will be thankful for in several weeks will be the end of the election campaigns. Politics have lost civility and, in my opinion, the view that civil service is a high calling for the good of our country/culture/society/future. Here is a look at politics from a humorous point of view, from January 24, 2006. 

Life imitates art. Or, is it art imitates life? Society has come to the point that jokes and hoaxes take on lives of their own. Television became a great force in politics during the 1960's and 1970's. We like to watch things that entertain us and make us laugh. Politics neatly fit into those categories. I remember The Smothers Brothers Show on Sunday nights when I was a boy. The folk singing siblings were always getting in trouble with the network over their social commentary, some of which I picked up on and some which escaped me. One of their regulars was comedian Pat Paulsen. The definition of droll, Paulsen mounted a satirical bid for the White House in 1968, using the CBS variety show as a vehicle. His mock campaign garnered a number of write-in votes in the election won by Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey. More artistically, Paulsen was awarded an Emmy that same year for his Smothers Brothers performances.

Politics remain a staple of American television comedy. Late-night hosts like David Letterman and Jay Leno feast on the latest scandals of the parties and elected officials. You have to stay up very late to catch Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Following Letterman on NBC Monday through Friday, O'Brien has carved out his own niche of night owl loyalists. His humor is in much the same vein as the man who precedes him each night. In recent months, O'Brien has become a political mover-and-shaker in an unorthodox manner. In October, O'Brien started an on-going gag, emphasizing a supposed resemblance between himself and a candidate up for re-election in Finland's presidential race. The Finn, Tarja Halonen is female and twenty years the senior of O'Brien, but they both have red hair. O'Brien even began running pseudo campaign ads promoting his endorsement of Halonen. Late Night is wildly popular in this tiny country of 5.2 million citizens and it has brought attention to his opposite gender twin's campaign. Hits on Halonen's campaign website have quintupled, due in large measure with the tie-in with the American comedian. Halonen's political team has taken to running legitimate campaign ads right before O'Brien's show airs on Finnish television. Halonen is not adverse to the links with the comic. She is thrilled with comparisons to someone twenty years younger, in spite of their chromosome differences. All in Finland are not amused. There are rumblings that this could sway the vote. Harri Jaskari, who manages the campaign of Halonen's opponent, accuses O'Brien of making a mockery of the process. "If this decides the election, then we're in trouble. It gives a very poor picture of Finnish democracy."

I am no political commentator- I renounced analyzing government and politics when I gave up my social science classes to concentrate on teaching Bible. However, I do think Mr. Jaskari is incorrect in his view of democracy. Every democracy is based on free willed citizens freely making up their mind on candidates they choose to support. We may think the particular stand of one party is silly or immoral but we have the right to work for changes in representation. I can understand why the gentleman might be upset that the impetus is from an outsider like O'Brien but people are enjoying the race. Didn't we used to do that in this country? Wasn't there civility in politics on our fair shores in some distant past? I appreciate that Ms. Halonen can laugh at herself. In our system, those in the public eye view everything as life and death. I say HOORAY for the Finns who can poke a little bit of fun at themselves. We could afford a small dose of their late night medicine.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least."
Robert Byrne

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

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,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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