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.

BLESSINGS WE READ FROM THE CLASS OF 2010
_________________________________________________________

"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.
DAD."
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,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Shake Down The Thunder



Notre Dame has returned to football prominence and has a huge game with Florida State tonight. The following is about one of the greatest players ever for the Irish, and was written on October 15, 2007.

It's been a tough year for Notre Dame football. The Irish, normally a national power, lost their first five games by wide margins before upsetting UCLA last week and getting popped by Boston College yesterday. Notre Dame is the most beloved as well as despised college football program in the country so there has been a combination of hand-wringing and celebrating over their struggles. Players have transferred and coach Charlie Weis has been raked over the coals by pundits who feel he has been condescending since coming to the college ranks from the NFL. But the cruelest blow to the legacy of the university in South Bend, Indiana may have been last week's revelation of the exhumation of Irish grid legend George Gipp on October 4th. Immortalized in the movie Knute Rockne, All American, Gipp was portrayed by an up-and-coming actor named Ronald Reagan. According to the story Rockne told, as Gipp lay dying in 1925, the standout running back asked the Notre Dame coach to invoke his name during some difficult future contest and exhort the Irish to, "win just one for the Gipper." Rockne used the emotional ploy to help his squad knock off highly favored ARMY in 1928 and the legend of George Gipp was cemented. No one seems exactly sure why the bones of the football great were dug up. The coroner simply said the petitioners met the legal requirements to exhume the body in Laurium, a small town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The requesting kin is a grandchild of Gipp's sister. Other living relatives are angry about the process and one family member speculated there is money involved at the root of the story. Adding intrigue to the mystery was the filming of the exhumation by ESPN which is working on an upcoming documentary on Gipp. ESPN has denied any wrongdoing.

Maybe there was a legitimate reason for digging up George Gipp but it hasn't come out to the satisfaction of most who share common DNA with the gridiron star. I tell my students that it is easier to get angry with relatives than with strangers or acquaintances because we know where bones are buried and what skeletons are in the closet. Usually, it's best to let the past remain in the past. It's too easy to open up old wounds and irritate sensitive scar tissue. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus equates anger with murder and specifically warns against being angry with your brother. Sometimes, we just need to leave it alone. The problem is, we can unearth the past without a legal petition to a medical examiner. For our own well-being, we need to bury our shovels. We will reside in the same dirt as the remains of George Gipp soon enough.


Applicable quote of the day:
"George Gipp was the greatest athlete I have ever known. He will be forever remembered as a friend, a student, an athlete, and a gentleman, for to know him was to love him."

Frank Coughlin (Captain, Notre Dame, 1920)


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

School Crossing

(The cross belongs to one of my former players, the awesome Autumn Oliver!)
Each year, I receive several hundred little wooden crosses in the mail from Jarrod Brown with Mission Lazarus, a Christian agency which focuses on spreading love and the Gospel in Honduras. These small bits of thread and wood are invaluable in our WCS relief efforts for orphans in Honduras and in Haiti. Sometimes, the crosses end up being worn by unexpected people! This story comes from May of 2007.

I was sitting in our school lobby this morning reminding kids about bringing their Honduras change bottles when Russell Carr pulled up a chair and told me he had a great story. If you don't know much about basketball, you might not realize that Houston is a hotbed of the sport. It seems there is a young man about to enter the NBA draft, a well-known collegian from a successful program. As many in his position do, he has moved to Houston, hired a personal trainer, and is solely concentrating on his future life on the professional level. Recently, this college standout has been using the facilities at Westbury Christian to enhance his chances of success in the pros. As he left our campus yesterday, Russell, one of our coaches, asked about the cross around his neck. The player, thinking he was referring to his crossover dribble, replied that it came from the Denver Nuggets' Allen Iverson. Russell explained he meant the little wooden cross he was wearing. The future pro told him it was the funniest thing but that several days before, someone had placed it in his bag while he was working out and he had worn it ever since. Russell explained that the crosses come from my summer mission trips to Honduras and that many of our students sport them as jewelry. Russell further explained that our kids collect pennies-nickels-dimes-quarters to build orphanages in Honduras and asked if he would be interested in helping. Our guest enthusiastically endorsed the idea. Immediately, Russell brought him one of our bank bottles and our new ally in the war on poverty promised it will be full of change when he returns. We teach our kids that every penny counts. We don't care whose bottle they are collected in.

After telling the story in class, I found out the cross belonged Anthony, one of our middle school basketball players, who tossed his necklace in the wrong bag by mistake. I told him even though he lost his cross, it was my belief that it was no accident. If it had landed in Anthony's bag, we would have had one less collector of loose change, one less wearing a cross made by young men in Choluteca, Honduras, and one less person to tell the story of kids who need a home. Does that sound accidental to you? I find it fascinating that this athlete who stands to make millions is wearing a wooden cross on a string that cost about a dime to make and fifty cents for us to purchase. Seems backwards, doesn't it? Jesus made statements stressing the last will be first and the road to greatness must travel through the district of servanthood. A little thing in the kingdom of heaven is a big thing. Would that boy who made the cross in a shop in Honduras have made it differently knowing it would adorn the neck of an NBA player? I hope not. Its glory comes from its simplicity, a sliver of wood on a piece of thread. In 2000, New York Knick Stephon Marbury had a $150,000 necklace jerked from his neck as he sat in his car after leaving a night club. I would guess our new friend has no worries of theft or need to insure his Westbury Christian necklace. The world would assess Marbury's stolen jewelry as infinitely more valuable than what the rookie is wearing . But then, the world's values have always been skewed toward the monetarily expensive. The going rate for the cross was the life of the Son of God. You can't put a price tag on salvation.

PS: I did give Anthony a replacement cross!

Applicable quote of the day:
"To shun one's cross is to make it heavier."
Henri Frederic Amiel


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Clean Shaven Man


Several years ago, my assistant coach, Katy, and I were talking about how long it takes for guys to get ready in the morning compared to ladies. I told her I shave twice and Katy told me her Dad does the same. This entry, from November 18, 2005, is about my struggles with the razor.

I hate shaving; it's a necessary evil. Flossing, washing dishes, and cleaning contacts (in pre-Lasik days) also fall into this category. I'm not good at shaving; once I took a hunk out of my ear. I shave twice, a once-over with my Norelco electric razor and then scrape myself with a blade. I still end up with stubble. Part of my problem has to do with equipment. My Norelco is old and it gets clogged. I buy inexpensive shaving cream- I would say cheap but that sounds harsh. Until several years ago, I also purchased inexpensive blades, aka Bic Disposable Razors. Have you seen those commercials for insulin testing devices for diabetics? The main selling point is less blood loss. The same can't be said for the Bic. If the Red Cross could have bottled the blood extracted from my face/neck during the Bic days, I would have earned one of those five gallon pins. Some mornings, when in a hurry, I would use the Bic with no shaving cream. Those were never good days for school pictures.

Two years ago, a student changed my grooming habits. Her name is Tiffany Brigham, one of the finest young ladies on the planet. I must have mentioned my shaving travails in class because Tiffany gave me a terrific gift- a Gillette Mach 3 Razor with GOOD BLADES. Now a close shave was possible and a smooth face like those guys in the commercials was attainable. But, I have fallen into another rut. I use them too long. My current blade was snapped into place four months ago, almost to the day. After 120 days of use, it is, shall we say, on the dull side. This morning, I had to repeat the blade/shaving cream process. Does stubble remain? It's not quite Sherwood Forest but it's still pretty scratchy. I've made an executive decision- time for a new blade.

There are things we have to keep up with in life or they get out of control. If I choose the scraggly look for several days, shaving gets harder and I'm more likely to end up with gashes on my cheek and chin. Once, I let my beard grow for months. When I cut it off, my face looked like I had been in a fight- and lost. Sin is like that. It's much easier to take care of it at the outset. The longer we flirt with it, the more we get tangled up in it and then the harder it is to extricate ourselves without damage. The scriptures speak of a daily walk. When we test and check ourselves everyday, the less likely we are to have spiritual stubble. I have a set time to shave every a.m.- if it doesn't happen then, it won't get done . I read the Bible each day. If I don't do it when I get up, it won't get done. One day off leads to another which leads to a third, etc. We can't let our religious grooming slide. Like my face, it can get ugly very quickly.

Do you remember those razor blade commercials where the actor scraped his face with a credit card to check the closeness of his shave? If I did that today with my cash card, I am sure the ATM would reject it. But I'm planning on turning over a new leaf. I pledge to change blades every three months instead of four. The Gillette people will be all over that! Could a commercial be in the works? If the Subway sandwich people can make an ordinary guy like Jared Fogle their spokesman just because he lost 245 pounds, think what the razor industry can do with a face like mine! The billboards, the magazine ads, the TV spots with the gorgeous woman- it's inevitable. And I owe it all to Tiffany Brigham and the Mach 3 Razor! Who said America isn't the land of opportunity?

Applicable quote of the day:
"Getting ideas is like shaving; if you don't do it everyday, you're a bum." 

Alex Kroll

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Poster Boy


In my last period 8th grade Bible class this afternoon, I asked Sydney, one of my players, if she thinks she would have liked me had she known me as an 8th grader. She hesitated as I thought she might. You see, many of the girls that age don't like the boys that age due to maturity issues. I asked the girls if they thought they were special compared to many 8th grade girls at large, due to the way their parents are raising them. They readily agreed so I turned it around and asked if the same does not also apply to the gentlemen sitting by them in our school? They agreed, maybe grudgingly, but they agreed. I asked them because of the clip I showed (at the bottom of this entry) in which 8th grade boys show great kindness and compassion to a young man who really, really struggles. There were a few tears shed as we watched although with the lights out, not many would openly admit it. I hope you'll take three minutes and watch- it's worth it.

We took a test today in my two afternoon Gospels classes. My morning Gospels section will take it tomorrow due to their appointment with the PSAT this A.M. Before our test, I showed the same clip I talked about in the opening paragraph and when it was finished, I threw out a challenge to my seventh period: If any of the 27 students could tell me whose picture was on the poster on the school cafeteria wall in the clip, which by the way, is from the CBS NEWS segment, On The Road, I would give the entire class a free answer on tomorrow's quiz. Blank stares from twenty-six teens..... but not from Chloe. 
"Dwayne Johnson!"
She was right and I was stunned. You see, it was a small poster for Got Milk and it did not even identify Johnson, AKA, The Rock, exactly. (The poster stated Protein To Rock Your Day.) It was on for only three or four seconds and was to the side of the action. I asked Sydney's class as well- no one at all saw it. How or why did Chloe recognize it while everyone else in two classes did not? I'm not sure. She is a terrific student and universally recognized at Westbury Christian as one of the best people on the planet. All I know is her brain picked up what escaped the minds of her peers. 


Do you know what happened to me at five o'clock this morning? I found a twenty dollar bill that was wadded up in my medicine cabinet, folded into a WAL-MART receipt and a cancelled check. Do you know how long it had been there? Since April 14, according to the date printed on my bill. I usually get twenty dollars back each time I write a check to avoid trips to the bank. I have no clue why I put it in the cabinet but I know I've had to look at it every day in the six intervening months, subtracting the twenty-four days of my Vietnam mission. Looked right at it and never saw it. When Jesus was asked by His men why He spoke to the crowd in parables, His reply was, in Matthew 13. verse 13:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand."
How true those words ring still today. Few grasp the opportunities laid before us or the truths that go in one ear and out the other. The football players in the clip, they saw a boy in need. Choe perceived what flew by the others. And that twenty dollar bill was hiding in my plain sight. And sometimes, I wonder what else I'm missing.


Copy and paste the link below to watch the clip to which I'm referring:
http://www.upworthy.com/their-son-wasnt-a-popular-kid-imagine-their-surprise-when-this-happened-right-before-their-eyes?c=reccon1

Applicable quote of the day:

"I was brought up as an only child, and we were very close. But when I was 14, we got evicted. We came home to a padlock, and I looked up at my mom and she was crying, and there was nothing to do."
Dwayne Johnson


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Witnessing At The Neighborhood Wal-Mart


Kiley walked by me at lunch today and greeted me with these five words:
"I saw you at WAL-MART!"
It was true. Friday afternoon, after a haircut and swimming, I stopped by the Wal-Mart two block from WCS to to do my weekly stock up on groceries. As i waited in the checkout line, I saw Kiley, a fourth grader, and her second grade brother Solomon walk by with their mom. They went to the self scanning line and din't see me. As the young lady finished ringing up my order, I snuck over the three lanes to the do it yourself line to surprise them. It's funny but little kids don't always believe deep down that teachers exist outside of school walls. They were obviously happy to see me and it was mutual. But that's not what made it memorable for me. Apparently, their mom allowed 
Solomon to get the change when it rolled out of the cash depository when she paid their bill. When Solomon saw me, without hesitation, he put the money in my hand with a huge smile on his face. It wasn't much, just two shining pennies. He didn't have to tell me what it as for. For seventeen years, our WCS family has collected loose change to help build and sustain Christian orphanages in Honduras and Haiti. And that's where the 1/50th of a dollar will go, to benefit children who are Solomon's and Kiley's ages. Believe me, it all adds up.

We've all heard the old phrase, "put my two cents in." It's been around for hundreds of years while I would estimate Solomon is only seven or so. And yet, that's exactly what he did. Opinions vary on the origin of the line but most feel it has something to do with the story of the poor widow as told in Mark and Luke who put the entirety of her life savings into the temple treasury while Jesus looked on. We all know that the sum total (is sum total redundant?) was ONLY two cents. And yet the Savior praised her. I don't know if Solomon has ever heard that story from the scriptures but more than knowing it, he's living it. That's the kind of sermon I want to preach. And Solomon managed to do it without Power Point.

Applicable quote of the day:
"No person was ever honored for what he received. He was honored for what he gave."
Calvin Coolidge

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Web


Seven years ago, my family was dealing with Dad's stroke and his attempt at regaining his life. Although he lost the battle, I will never forget the courage with which he faced his crisis and his never ending concern for Mom. This is from August 12, 2007.
We have a community mailbox at our apartment complex. It's in an area surrounded by trees and flowers and it isn't unusual to see small lizards scurrying down the benches. When I go out early, I often witness one of the amazing sights of nature. Spiders have woven intricate and architecturally stunning webs between tree branches, covering a considerable distance. The dew glistening off the strands gives an even more beautiful glow to the intricate patterns. When I walk back through in the afternoon, the webs are always gone. Maybe people walk into them or intentionally pull them from their moorings but they are no longer there. Yet, when I come through the next morning, they have reappeared in all their splendor. Don't those spiders know their work is just going to be demolished as the day wears on? Or maybe, do they just build back because it's what they know and they can't give up? We have been touched in the last few days as rescuers search for survivors in a mine collapse in Utah or in the rushing waters of the Mississippi as the Minnesota bridge came crashing down. It seemed hopeless but we can't quit. Jesus taught that in Luke 18:1, my favorite verse, when he told his men a parable to show them they must always pray and not give up. Somebody told those spiders the same thing. I bet it was the voice of their Creator. My family is in the fight of our lives as we deal with the health crises of our parents colliding. My dad can't quit fighting as he tries to return to the life he knew. If he gives up, it's over. The spiders know.

Applicable quote of the day:
"When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion."
Ethiopian Proverb


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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