Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Headache


I talked to my players this week about the difference between discomfort and injury, telling them that playing a sport will always involve discomfort. Injury is a completely different matter. I told them I have a hard time being empathetic in terms of illness because the Lord blessed me with very good health and the last time I missed school for illness was sixth grade. I also reminded them that if their parents didn't go to work every time they didn't feel good, their families might fall apart. It is easy staying on a schedule when you feel good. When you are in pain and you still show up for life, I have admiration. This is from 7-6-06.

Something happened this morning that is a frequent occurrence when I stay at my parents' house; I woke up with a headache. There is no logical reason for this. I sleep more here. The bed is more comfortable than mine in Houston. Maybe the only difference is that it is cooler in St. Louis but that doesn't account for the same thing happening when I'm here for Christmas. There is a remedy- a bowl of cereal, several cups of coffee, and three aspirin and I'm good to go. The pain is temporary and to be honest, not all that severe. I have taught and coached students who suffered from migraines. From what I'm told, the pain is blinding and incapacitates the sufferer. I should be embarrassed to place my discomfort in the same category as those with migraines. It's akin to comparing a five minute sprinkling of rain with a monsoon. I am not good with minor pain. How would I react to long term agony?

The apostle Paul had a good grip on the reality of problems in the Christian life. In 2 Corinthians 4:17, he referred to his struggles as "light and momentary troubles." But when you look back earlier in the chapter, he defined his circumstances with words such as hard pressed, persecuted, perplexed, and struck down. I would never consider those terms as light; I might be in the panic mode were they to afflict my existence. At the slightest hint of a headache, I reach for the Bayer bottle. (OK, it's really the Wal-Mart generic equivalent.) I overreact to any physical sensation that does not border on bliss. Paul accepted the hand he had been dealt with the realization that it would be rendered inconsequential by the eternal reward he would enjoy at the end. If I were Paul, I would go through a bottle of pain relief per day. He must have been one tough old dude!

Applicable quote of the day:
"I could never say in the morning, 'I have a headache and cannot do thus or so.' Headache or no headache, thus and so had to be done."
Eleanor Roosevelt


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Native Language




 I have a number of International students in class this year. The high school kids do fine but my two in middle school are struggling with English. They will survive- they always do. Language is so important in all of our lives, as this entry, from August 13, 2006, confirms.

I've been on the road for five of the past six Sundays and as a result, I'm a little behind on the news of our church. Every other Sunday, those of us who worship in the Chinese language eat lunch together. This was one of those Sundays. One of the Chinese brothers, James, cooked for the group, a number of roughly thirty. Our menu.... fajitas! Although we normally don't associate fajitas with Asian cooks, the food was excellent. As we ate, I learned we are beginning a new ministry. Three of our brothers- Yirong, Shi-Min, and the aforementioned James- are going to be teaching a class on the Chinese language. The students will be Chinese young people born in the United States. Many second generation Americans from Asia and other parts of the world are losing the ability to communicate in the language of their ancestors. Many might be able to understand the dialect from their motherland but cannot read or speak it themselves. The hope is that by working with youngsters, we might create an avenue with the parents and use this opening to spread the message of Jesus Christ.

I can't say that the situation was any different in my family. My great grandparents on Dad's side were immigrants from Denmark. My grandmother, Minnie Petersen Hawley, spoke Danish as a little girl but not as an adult. The language was never passed on to my father or his brother. Needless to say, I speak no Danish and would not recognize a word in the language should I hear it. That's the way it is in our relationship with the Lord. I love the old hymn, Faith Of Our Fathers. It speaks to the strength of the convictions of preceding generations. But, that faith must be taught and modeled, and ultimately be embraced to make it valid. I can't claim my parents' Christianity based simply on my relationship to their DNA. They had to make sure I was exposed daily to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I thank God they did. Now, through the teaching of Mandarin to American-born Asian children, we are hopeful that multiple generations of Chinese can share both a common language and a belief in the risen Savior.


Applicable quote of the day:
"I also grew up, thankfully, with a love of language. That may have happened because I was bilingual at an early age. I stopped speaking Chinese when I was five but I loved words."
Amy Tan


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Role That Slipped Through Denzel's Fingers


We're a month plus a couple of days into the school year  and we're off to a good start at WCS. I like my five academic classes- two 8th grade Bible sections in which we spend the whole year on the book of Luke and three high school Gospels classes. I've mentioned before that we use some sort of video clip everyday, including a number of movies on the life of Christ. It's fascinating- and I've mentioned this before as well- that Jesus in the films tends to be taller, better looking than the crowd with brighter clothes than the others who inhabit the landscape with Mary tending to be lovely as well. So, I told all my classes yesterday that it was time to let them know that Paramount Pictures was making a movie based on my life. You may think this is ludicrous especially when some of these kids have known me since they were babies but I can be pretty persuasive. I picked out one student in each of the sections and dropped this bombshell on them; cast in the lead role playing yours truly is Academy Award winning actor.........Denzel Washington!! There were some jaws dropping but I pursued it with the selected kids and asked what they thought of the casting decision. The answers tended to be as follows:
"Well, Coach......ummh, well, ummh......."
I countered with, "Isn't he a good actor?"
"Uh, that's not it really ..."
"Is he too short?"

"No......."
Finally someone else would chime in that we are of different ethnic groups so the movie would lack a sense of realism. Few were willing to say he's 
black and you're white and I get that. I confessed that I had pulled the wool over their eyes but we continued. I asked if a movie should be made about pop singer Shakira, would it be mandatory that the actress be Colombian? Some thought yes but most believed she would have to be Latina. I discussed it with Natalia in the hall this afternoon, setting up the same scenario. Natalia, who is Colombian, in her final answer that at the very least, the actress must be pretty. We agreed on that point!

And as we discussed in my classes, I offered my opinion that Jesus in the movies was always American because these films are aimed at Americans and we want it easily understandable language-wise. In one class, I inquired as to how many have seen The Passion Of The Christ. Many had. I asked them who played Jesus in that film- no one knew so I told them it was Jim Caviezel who also plays the lead character on the CBS show, Person Of Interest. Caviezel, an American, is neither of Middle Eastern descent or Jewish, and at 6'2", probably much taller than the Savior. And yet to a student, they believed his portrayal to be accurate and realistic. But no Denzel for me!

You might wonder why I spent close to half a class period on what you might perceive to be a silly topic. I tell them how we shape our views on what we hear by what we see and that is not always accurate. (It's funny but I have yet to meet a youngster who can stomach the idea that Mary might have been unattractive to our standards. I challenge them and the response is always along the lines of, "Coach, she's the mother of the Lord!!!") We've talked about how the Gospels make no reference to what He looked like and I tell them my thesis; if they thought they could recognize Him, there would be many impostors....and there still were. I told them it was interesting how demons recognized Jesus but His closest followers did not. But according to Paul, we can resemble Jesus spiritually in a manner that can lead many to see the Lord in us! Second Corinthians 3:8 tells us that, 
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
I like that thought, even thought I am now resigned to never making it to the big screen! There is regret. I feel really bad for Denzel- I could have made him famous!

Applicable quote of the day:
"My faith helps me understand that circumstances don't dictate my happiness, my inner peace."

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Shirt Off My Back

(My St. Edward's shirt this evening and as it appeared in better days!)
Today was a lifting day for me after school. I try to lift six times per week including two days when I lift morning and afternoon, so I guess I have to go back tomorrow to stay on schedule. I lift at Chancellors Family Center which is about three blocks from WCS and about a mile from my apartment.(Chancellors is managed by a wonderful lady named Cindy Gooden who is a member at my congregation. I also get a 10% discount if you sign up for a membership and list me as your reference!) Chancellors has an indoor pool, a must when it gets too cold for my apartment swims, typically around the first of November. Once, I made to to the weekend before Thanksgiving outside to prove how tough I thought I was, but it's just more enjoyable in a heated facility in the winter. 

When I arrived at roughly 4:30 PM, I changed into my lifting gear which was what I wore to practice this morning along with gloves and a change of shirt. I wore a WCS baseball t-shirt this morning to basketball but I changed into my St. Edward's shirt, seen above to lift. As soon as I got to the weight room, an elderly lady who is more regular in her treadmill routine than the clock on the wall asked me if I knew I had a hole in my shirt. I very politely told her I did. After a very good workout, I picked up my keys from the front desk and Cindy asked me about the shirt and a new fashion statement I might be making. We laughed and I assured her I wasn't. She even offered to buy me a new shirt but I declined and told her the story.

You see, I had a wonderful student teacher aide for two years named Hanna McAdams who graduated in 2010. I wrote her college letter of recommendation and when she enrolled in St. Edward's which is located in Austin, Texas, she sent me the above t-shirt. I got really attached to it. In stores, people would stop and ask me if I was an alumni or if my child was a St. Edward's student. The shirt made several trips to Vietnam with me, where not insignificantly, Hanna was born. As time went by, I began wearing it when I lifted- it just felt right. And as clothing does, it began to deteriorate; first a small tear, then a bigger rip, and now a sizable hole. But I can't let it go. The lovely Hanna even graciously sent me a replacement last spring, but it's just not the same. And that's why I have to explain myself at Chancellors.

We all have stuff we won't let go of, don't we? Guys are notorious for having favorite articles in their wardrobe they wear until their wives recycle them into rags or the trash bin. I have no wife to intervene on my behalf. And it's so comfortable! But we do the same in the non-physical parts of our lives. We let old habits and attitudes and excuses linger, even though we know they need to go. Paul put it like this in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 22 through 24: 
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Now, I'm not equating a new t-shirt with holiness and righteousness but Paul uses the word corrupted which is exactly what has happened to my beloved shirt. It's more than that, though. If I just take my St. Edward's garb off and don't replace it, I'll be asked to leave! The must wear shirt/shoes signs are everywhere! I think I'll give it a couple more work outs just for nostalgia sake- you know, the guy who is going to quit smoking on New Years. It's served me well; maybe my muscles just outgrew it! New wine, new wine skins! I knew there was a parable buried somewhere in here!


Applicable quote of the day:
"Your best T-shirt should be like your bed; it just feels like you are home when you are in it."

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



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chess And Basketball

I don't currently have an assistant in basketball. In years past, I've always had a player from either our high school girls or boys team to help me coach my squad when we practice first period. (None of our varsity players could work it into their schedules and believe me, we tried! I am blessed to have Emily as my aide, an awesome helper, but she doesn't have a basketball background to help me in the finer aspects of the game.) When you stop playing, your skills deteriorate and you need someone to demonstrate, particularly ball handling, which is the first skill to desert has-beens. I have fourteen kids this year, including eight who have never played before and a couple more who are only in year two. It's forced me to be more creative and do things en masse. One drill my kids always love is Dribble Knockout. The rules are you have to maintain control of your basketball while getting the others in the competition to lose theirs or step out of bounds. There are variations such as Weak Hand Knockout and Two Ball Knockout which is very difficult- you have to maintain dribbling two basketballs while trying to dislodge your opponents from their two basketballs. I like these games because it forces the kids to protect the ball, something of which we do not always excel!

On Friday, we went through all the variations of the dribble knockout but I made an addition- we made it a team competition. We divided evenly into teams of blue and white and expanded the boundaries from the free throw lane to the entire area within the three point arc. I gave them a chance to put some strategies together. When you play as a team, everything changes. I met with with the white team and Emily the blue team. Basically, we decided to send our two least experienced players, Dahlia and Kayla, after Shelley, the other team's best dribbler. Dahlia and Kayla both went out quickly but they forced Shelley to speed up and she didn't last long, either. The other gambit we implemented was to protect Sydney, my team's best ball handler. Sydney's teammates surrounded her so the evil blue squad could not harass her into making a mistake. And it worked! Well, it worked the first time. We played again and the blue team won. The kids loved it and we'll come back to it. We still have the small matters of passing/shooting/rebounding/playing defense to master!

As we stacked it up, I told them I don't know anything about chess but I know the queen can be the most powerful piece and you have to protect her, like we tried to do with Sydney. We also talked about sometimes our role is to give ourselves up for the good of the team as Kayla and Dahlia did. I like these kids trying to come up with ways to win, to think through situations and circumstances because that's what life is going to throw at them. In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul speak of Satan's schemes. If the devil has a plan, we are derelict if we don't and if we don't teach the next generation to do the same. In my Gospels classes on Friday, our memory verse was also from Paul, Ephesians 6:12, as he defines spiritual warfare:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
We need to be ready. Basketball is an enjoyable game with some earthly benefits but life is winner-take-all with no do-overs. Fortunately, we have the only coach that matters on our side. And He doesn't need a whistle.

Applicable quote of the day:
"In life, as in chess, forethought wins."

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thanks But No Thanks


I wrote the following on October 26, 2005. It was about a young man in our school who I struggled to like, although I never had him in my class. No one apparently had ever taught him how to say, 'thank you.' He's gone now and maybe he has learned. The truth is, I am pretty good at it with other people but not so diligent when it comes to the Lord, the source of all good gifts. Maybe there is still time for me.

I did a favor for a student last week. It wasn't a big thing. In fact, the young man did not even ask for my help; it was completely unsolicited. His response? There was none. No "Thank you," or "I appreciate it," only silence. I have to admit that it made me mad. Like many of you, my day is tightly scheduled and I was running, if not late, at least behind that morning. Even one or two minutes off my timetable can cause a ripple effect that wreaks havoc on my plans. Although I'm positive I gave no reaction that would let him know my feelings, it bothered me for the rest of the day. It's always the little stuff.

The great thing about being a Bible teacher is that I teach lessons that are as much applicable to me as to the kids. Our eighth grade memory verse yesterday was Luke 6:35. Jesus was teaching on the subject of being gracious to those who hate us: 

"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because HE IS KIND TO THE UNGRATEFUL AND THE WICKED." 
Did you get that last part? Our Father in Heaven is good those who don't say 'Thanks' so how can I do any different? Besides, that student was unappreciative of a small thing while I forget to praise the Lord for the tremendous gifts and blessings he showers on me on a minute-by-minute basis. Talk about having a plank in my own eye while complaining about someone else's speck! And the time thing? We are slaves to Day-Timers and Palm Pilots. Jesus didn't have a personal secretary keeping him on task. He never was too busy to veer off course to heal the sick, comfort the grieving, or hold a little child. I can't imagine our Lord turning down a request for divine intervention with a "I'd really like to help but I have to be in Capernaum in two hours." When Jesus healed ten lepers, he told to fulfill the Law and go make it right with the priests. Only one said "Thank you!" The rest of them neglected the more important responsibility of gratefulness. They did what they were told to do but none of the nine were praised by Jesus. The one who made the detour was the one who won the admiration of the Son of God. It comes down to this: I was exposed by my attitude towards that young man. My glass house reminds me that I need to drop the rocks in my hand. Hopefully, I am not listed in the wicked bunch Jesus spoke of in that passage in Luke but I am positive I fall in the ungrateful category. Maybe I will do better this week. Maybe the Lord will give me another chance to be Godlike in my approach to others. Maybe I can do the right thing because Jesus says that when we do, we are really doing it for him. Maybe then, I won't get mad at a teenager because it goes further up the ladder than just a seventeen year old boy.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls."
Aesop


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Focus Factor


We have basketball practice the first period of the day. Our middle school boys practice on one end of the gym and we practice on the other. At times, due to activities of the previous day, the bleachers are left out and we cannot lower the curtain that normally divides the two groups. The result is predictable. The girls struggle to keep their minds on what we were doing. The following, from September 11, 2006, illustrates the dynamics of the situation.

We moved into our new home today. My middle school basketball team has been displaced for five weeks as a remodeling project takes over our gym. It will be worth it. Our old rubber floor has become dangerous, bubbling up when the temperature rises, creating hazardous playing conditions. A new wooden floor and a revamped lighting system will provide a much improved atmosphere for basketball and volleyball, as well as for chapel and school functions. This morning marked our first workout in our temporary arena. Our address for the time being is the classroom courtyard at the adjacent Westbury church of Christ building. This court has no markings or bleachers; it even lacks baskets. Our practice would seem unconventional to most. We never took a shot and the four balls we used were Heavy Trainers, basketballs that are identical in circumference but weigh about 2 1/2 times more than a regulation model. For thirty minutes, we worked on passing and catching, footwork, and turns. These drills might seem very mundane but I was exhilarated as we stacked it up and talked before our closing prayer. You have to visualize our setting. The courtyard is 50' by 50' square and completely walled in. Sounds of the outside world were shut out, save for the chiming every fifteen minutes from the next door Catholic Church bell tower. The kids don't always evaluate practices like I do but they were genuinely tuned in today. Perhaps it was the novelty of the setting but I asked them why we had a high level of concentration. Their unanimous answer was, "No distractions." I have coached young ladies long enough to know that response is girl-code for NO BOYS. When we practice in the gym, our junior high boys' team is on the other end, obscured by a dividing curtain, but believe me, the girls know they are there. They can hear them and they catch glimpses of them. Today, we were isolated, our own basketball island. With the girls admitting the boys interfere with their athletic performance, I asked how many of them would want to attend an all-girls school. Again, the answer was unanimous; NO! Why not? TOO BORING! I guess our enrollment, coed by nature, is safe!

You know, if we played our games in that tiny courtyard, we might be pretty good. There were elements missing this morning that would not be absent in a game setting; cheerleaders, referees, parents, and of course, the opposing team. These girls aren't going to be totally focused on basketball and I wouldn't want them to be. Our makeshift court is terrific for learning skills of how to play but eventually, we are going to have to actually play basketball. Dealing with a swirling environment is part of the process of maturing as a basketball player as well as a Christian. Isolation can help us focus in the short-term but life plays out in a group setting. Jesus separated himself for a time from the crowds, even from his apostles, but he quickly returned to the arena where he was desperately needed, the world stage. In mid-October, we will come home to our new basketball dwelling. I hope the time away will help us appreciate the facilities we have. Who knows, this month long adventure may become a tradition with my girls. I'll let you know in five weeks!

Applicable quote of the day:
"Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short."
Adam Hochschild

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