Monday, December 31, 2012

What I learned in 2012!

Everyone is busy tonight ringing in the New Year. ME? Stephanie and I are spending a QUIET night at home. We have made this our tradition and I just LOVE it. We have been on the go all during Christmas Break and we only have 2 more full days before it's back to school. I don't know if anyone else agrees, but I am ready to get back to my classes. I love being a teacher and spending my days with the Faculty, Staff, and Students at GHS. They aren't as important as my family, but they are my DAY FAMILY. They are a big part of my life.

I'm sitting here with Stephanie and Copper (my bassett hound) and looking back on this year with great fondness. I had a great year. I'm 52 years old and I'm still learning. So let me share some of the things I've learned in 2012.

10. It takes two weeks to come down from a Sugar High after Spring Break - I love spring break with my daughters and grandkids. This year was not exception. We've had this deal, agreement, that we have ICE CREAM every day on Spring Break. I love Ice Cream. However, when I come back from Spring Break my Blood Sugar levels take forever to RECOVER! I set a new record this year, two weeks to get it back to normal. The ice cream isn't nearly as much fun as spending time with the family. What a blast!

9. Pasties are AWESOME -  Stephanie and I didn't take a long motorcycle trip this year. But, we did make a short week long trip to the U.P. of Michigan. What a great time! The riding and scenery were great and the time spent with my wife was awesome. We did learn about a NEW treat. Pasties! Sounds a little strange but they were wonderful. If you ever make it to the UP you HAVE to try them. I cherish the private vacation time I have with my wife. Sitting around a campfire at night, exploring national and state parks and just US time has been a highlight of our lives together.

8. Who knew WingDingers could be so much fun? - The Honda Goldwingers spent early July in Fort Wayne and our CMA Chapter, worked to serve the WINGDINGERS. What a great time! Even though the heat was unbearable at times, We had a great opportunity to minister and serve. My CMA family is amazing and our times together are awesome. Wingers love to have fun and when you get a bunch of them together, you are in for a blast. Thanks Wingers, come back soon!

7. It rains in Hell - I went to HELL this year and found out it rains. Ok, it was Hell, Michigan. But it really did rain. For a motorcyclist, Hell wouldn't be fire, it would be rain. I went on several great rides this year, but none was as fun as riding with the Fremont American Legion Riders to Hell, Michigan. It was a perfect day until we got about a mile from Hell. Then it was a downpour until I got about a mile away. It seemed fitting!

6.  My family is full of NERDS -- Mckenzie graduated this year with her Masters in Nursing. Lindsae is finishing up her degree. Lauren made it to the Nerd Club and Hannah and I are the dounding members. All of my kids and grandkids are great students. We love learning and I couldn't be prouder of all their accomplishments!

 5. I'm JOYOUSLY addicted to Technology - Hi! my name is Steve and I'm addicted to technology. While I'm not in therapy,  I probably should be. I have an APPLE IPAD, my own personal MACBOOK PRO,  a school issued MACBOOK, an IPHONE, a SMARTBOARD, and projection screen. I write two blogs, tweet daily, read the newspaper online, am a google expert, and use technology every day at school I love it and the resources I get from it. I'm not ashamed! It is a big part of my life and has made me a better person. So there!

4.Teaching is learning and I love it - This might be more proof that I'm a nerd. I just love being back in the classroom and I have spent the majority of 2012 preparing my return to the classroom. Stephanie and I both had to complete more than 18 hours of College courses this year. It was a lot of work, but I found out that teaching is more about learning than teaching. I have enjoyed this growth and have continued it through the rest of the year. Learning will be more a part of my life in 2013 also. I am excited about discovering new resources and better ways to help kids learn.

3. My Wife & Daughters are AMAZING! - This isn't exclusive to 2012 but I am more and more impressed with my wife & daughters and the lives they lead. Stephanie and I were lucky enough to travel to North Carolina to see Kelley over Labor Day weekend. But I can't even tell you how much I miss her and wish she were here so she could be a part of all the fun times we have. I am joyful that Lindsae is able to come back on a regular basis and I have enjoyed all the extra time going to football games, cross country meets, and wrestling matches with McKenzie. I am blessed with 3 great daughters! Words can not even begin to tell how I feel about Stephanie. She is amazing and the main reason we have amazing daughters. I can't imagine a year without her and look forward to an adventurous 2013!

2. There's nothing better than being a Grandparent! - I hope my daughters understand. Being a grandparent is even more amazing than being a parent. Not that I didn't love being a parent and I've already shared what I think about my daughters. But, grandkids make a life complete. Klayton, Lauren, Hannah, Ayla, and Rian are the joy of my life. In January 2012, I finally put my priorities straight. My kids and grandkids come before my job. It's taken me 34 years of marriage to finally figure that out. So this might be one of the most important lessons I've ever learned and it all happened in 2012. Priase God for his blessings and the joy of my entire family.

 1. God's in control - The NUMBER ONE thing I've learned in 2012 - GOD IS IN CONTROL. Unfortunately, I seem to forget this every year and have to be reminded constantly of his wisdom and grace. God was busy in my life in 2012. He took me from Athletic Director to Teacher. He took me from CMA Chaplain to President. He is leading me in the classroom, with CMA, with my Gkids, my daughters, and with Steph. I could never have planned my life the way it is today. It is absolute proof of God's existence and his mighty hand in my life. Praise God for his blessings and guidance. Praise God that he has taken a sinner like me and blessed me abundantly with his grace and love.

There you have it. 2012 in a nutshell and what I learned along the way. I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for me. I am looking forward to more lessons from my mighty God. I am looking foward to every adventure with my wife, daughters, and granddaughters. Bring it on 2013 here we come!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What were you thinking?

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double‑edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV84)

Being in education for over 18 years and being a father and grandfather for over 32 years, I have aske this question on numerous occasions. "What were you thinking?" This question usually comes at a time when someone should have been thinking, but wasn't. If anyone could figure out a way to understand the thoughts of a teenager, he / she would make millions. Really, I guess, that could apply to just about any age group. Sometimes I can't understand how adults think either. Many times I just leave scratching my head.

Out of any power God has, his ability to know my heart and my thoughts, is the scariest. He knows our real attitudes, our real motives, our strangest thoughts. God is actively listening to us, watching us, and searching our heart. We are not a mystery to him.

I guess it's time to do a little searching ourselves. God knows us even better than we know ourselves. A part of my devotion time should be searching my own heart. Sure, I still need to pray to my Heavenly Father. I need to search his word. I need to praise and worship him. But, I also need to reflect on who I  am, what I think, what I say and how I act. How was I today? Did I act as God would want? Why did I do what I did? We're my thoughts pure? Was my attitude that of a follower of Christ? We need to search our OWN heart, soul, and mind. If we don't like what we see, we need to change. God knows what we need to do. He is trying to speak. The Holy Spirit is prompting us. Search your heart, is God there?

Have I made a difference?

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 Have you ever asked, "What am I doing?" I've had great days in my life and I've had bad days. But, in the end I wonder if I'm really making a difference. I read a story the other day about a Florida Teacher, David Menasche, suffering from cancer. He has been given only a few months to live. So, he is traveling the country to ask his former students one question, "Did I make a difference in your life?" 

 Dying teacher travels across the US to see if he made a difference

What a wonderfully powerful question?  I'm not dying, but I have many days when I wonder if I've ever really made a difference in someones life. More importantly how many seeds I have planted for Christ grew into blossoming, full grown plants. My sole purpose on this planet is to serve Jesus. I have always felt the way I live my life, my witness, is the most important "job" I have. How well have I performed that job? 

I pray that God has been able to use my life. I pray that every waking moment I will be an example of Christ's love. I don't care about what kind of husband, father, teacher, or friend I am unless I can tag each of those roles with "follower of Christ". Nothing else in life matters. 

What is your impact for Christ? You may never know. SO, don't take anything for granted. Be deliberate in your life. Make your life a life filled with Christ. Let your light shine and make a difference for him.

Friday, December 28, 2012

I hate Deer!

Habakkuk 3:19

New International Version (NIV)
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

          I hate deer. Just a little over a week ago, one of my fellow motorcyclists encountered a deer. The Deer lost the battle but my CMA brother had severely broken leg and totaled motorcycle. Many years ago I also had my own deer encounter. 
          I was coming back in the dark on an October evening on a rural highway. The farmers were harvesting corn right near the two lane highway. When out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Huge Buck . It came straight at my motorcycle. It happened so fast I had no time to react. My helmet came within inches of the huge rack of antlers.  We were so close, I could see straight into his eyes. All I remember is seeing the huge beast stop, instantly, turn his head slightly, change direction and jump over the back of my motorcycle. How he could stop that quickly, change directions and miss any contact with me or the motorcycle is beyond me. When I got home, the only "damage" was  a scuff mark on my tour pack and a broken antenna. Absolutely amazing. I still hate deer, but I am truly amazed at how agile and sure footed they are. 

          When I read this verse, I instantly thought of MY deer encounter. I have also witnessed deer and elk in many other situations. They are so beautiful to watch. Their movements are so graceful. As a Christian I am so clumsy and anything but agile. I say the wrong things. I make poor choices and FALL constantly. When I decide to trust in the Lord and lean on him, I am MORE agile than a deer. I can do amazing things through Christ. When I focus on God he directs me to the highest highs and makes my life more graceful to watch than the movements of a deer. So, why don't I focus on him at all times? Well, that is the question for the ages. The nice part is God is always there to pick me up again.

I'm "AMPED" up tonight!

If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it— how shortsighted to refuse correction! (Proverbs 12:1 MSG)

Getting back to school at GHS is still a week away, but my week off is over. I have to admit it wasn't easy to step way from "Temple Run", "CSR racing", and "Flow". But, today I began working on plans for next week and beyond. I get so excited about finding new resources and planning new lessons. This past year has really REfueled my passion for learning. It's almost embarasssing how much I love to explore. I'm so excited to find a new method or read an inspiring post about education or teaching.. As teachers, how can we expect our students to get excited about learning if we don't.
We can't keep doing the same old things and expect better results.

It's no different with our walk with Christ. When was the last time you shared a burning passion for God. Do you look at your devotion or prayer time as a duty to be performed or as an exciting exploration. Maybe your prayer life is nonexistent or filled with repitious religious speak instead of exciting conversation with your savior. I can't tell you how to refuel your passion. Although I can tell you that it's fun to explore. Why don't you explore a new bible study, pray in a different place, read a different Bible translation, or read a good Chritian Fiction book? Just do something to see the excitement of a life filled with Christ. Maybe you can even start writing a blog! There are limitless possibilities. Maybe the best is to ask God to ignite a new passion in you. I think you might be surprised what joy and thrill might lie ahead. A life of learning can be an amazing life. That includes all areas of your life, including your relationship and walk with Jesus! You can't expect a complete transformation unless you are willing to be transformed!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Don't judge me!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16, 17 KJV)

I hate it when people say "Don't Judge me!" This seems to always come up when a Christian stands up for what they believe or what the Bible says. Usually, they then turn around and condemn the Christian. This world hates us and judges us so harshly, they can't even see the hypocrisy.  I do not apologize for the teachings of the Bible. The word of God is truth and because that truth is so clear, it is very condemning. That is not the intent of God. God did not send his Son to condemn, he doesn't send US to condemn. We are sent to love. We are not to point out the spec of dust in the eye of the world. We are here to remove our own spec first, then spend the rest of our lives loving our neighbor.
The world does not understand, we are all sinners, Christians and nonChristians alike. If we condemn them, we condemn ourselves.
God loved us even before we came to him. He loved us through our most heinous sins. Even then he does not spend time condemning. He loved us so much, even centuries before our birth, that he sent his Son to rescue us. He sees us, not as hopeless, evil, sinners, but as the lost needing a savior. he looks beyond our sin, straight to the heart. We need to also look at the heart of the lost. Our Love needs to be stronger than our judgement, for we are in no position to judge.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 KJV)

Such a simple verse. But, these powerful words have been read on this day for generations. God left his heavenly home and dwelt among us. He came to save us from ourselves. He did it with the power of a simple servant. He ushered in his kingdom from a manger, homeless, with only a few lowly shepherds as witness. 2000+ years later we are still awed by this night. The God of the universe came to us. Praise God for his wonderful gift. May we never forget the love that came forth on this night. Praise God for the privilege of a life devoted to him. Praise God for our one purpose, to bring others to know of his wonderful love. Lord Jesus we worship you and will forever honor you with our service. Forgive us when we lose sight of you. Forgive us when we act as if you never existed. Forgive us our sins against you and our brothers and sisters. Thank you for your son. Thank you for GRACE! Thank you for this night!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

New Year, New Direction

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (Matthew 2:12 NIV84)

I have to admit, I have a new addiction. I have been playing Temple run with my granddaughter Ayla the last couple days and it's been fun. Neither one of us is very good. When the game gets going so fast, I have a hard time dealing with all the change of directions. I end up running into trees, jumping into swamps, or being eaten by some jungle monster. Do not fear, In this game you get to start over, and over, and over. 

The Magi also had to make a sudden change in direction. They had been warned not to go back the way they came because of Herod. I'm sure they never expected this.  Im sure Even the start of their journey was filled with wonder and amazement. They had no idea what was coming and where they were heading.

Last year at this time I was also hearing a call to change direction, suddenly, and unexpected. I trusted God. It has been great. My journey isn't nearly as magical as the first Christmas, but for me it IS magical. I had a lot of fear about finances, job security, and just fear of the unknown. After 52 years of life, I should have known God would have it all taken care of.

I love being back with kids in the classroom. I have been blessed with great students and I feel useful and valued. But, most importantly, I feel I am following the direction God has placed before me. He has given me much more time to spend with my grandkids, CMA, and with my 
great wife. I can't stop thinking about how unexpected this new change was. Thank you Lord for guiding my life. Thank you for the unexpected road you have set before me. I can't wait to see what new twist and turns I will face in 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Presence = Happiness!

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. (Matthew 2:11 NIV84)

I hate shopping as a regular activity. It's painful. But, I love going Christmas shopping, by myself, on Christmas Eve, and looking for that one special gift. I was just watching a YouTube video about Money vs Happiness. Here it is:

I have never really thought my Christmas presents would bring happiness. The act of giving does bring happiness and I love giving gifts on Christmas. The wise men offered "Treasures". These are not just gifts, they are TREASURES. But, what ever happened to these gifts? I'm not a Biblical scholar so their could be some mention of these gifts I'm not aware of. But, in my Christian life, I can tell you, after Christmas we never talk about these gifts again. Many gifts I've given end-up like this gold, incense, and myrrh.  My gifts aren't all that memorable. It's not about the gifts. It's not about the shopping. It is about the act of giving. It's the act that we take the time to find that one special gift, treasure, to share with the ones we love. The gift is the act of giving ourselves.

When the wise men came to worship Jesus, the gifts weren't as important as their presence. Many of us have been blessed with God given gifts. It is so important we use those gifts for God. But, the gifts aren't the important part. God doesn't really care about the gifts, he cares about us. No, he doesn't just care, he LOVES us. He loves us so much, he wanted to come down to Earth to be with us. He didn't have to, he chose to come down to be with us. Then he took that Love to the Cross.

This Christmas don't get so wrapped up in the Gifts. (no  pun intended)

 Get wrapped up in the act of giving, the precious time with the ones you love, and the relationships with family and friends. They will forget the presents you bought for them. They will never forget the time spent with you. That's what God treasures more than Gold, Incense, and Myrrh.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What will we learn this Christmas?

David Taylor came home from school sad and discouraged one day in early November. With tears rolling down his freckled cheeks, he told his mother that his teacher told him that he couldn’t sing in the Christmas program. “She said that I am awful and that I sing too loud,” David explained between sobs. David’s father was sitting in the living room reading the afternoon’s paper and overheard his son’s heartbreak. Mr. Taylor was indignant and furious. How could any teacher do this to a child? Mr. Taylor decided to help his son learn how to sing. After dinner that night, he took David into the living room and had him stand beside the family piano. Mr. Taylor began to play the familiar melody of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. As David opened his mouth, a cat-like screech came out. “David, part of singing is listening. Listen ... then sing,” instructed the patient father.  David’s second attempt was worse than his first! But when the father was tempted to give up, he thought of the unfeeling teacher and realized, “If a father doesn’t do this, who will?”  The days of November faded into December, while Mr. Taylor and David spent every evening at the piano going over and over and over the melody to the song. “Peace on the earth good will to men ...”  When the day came that David sang for his teacher, she said that he could be in the program! David was front and center in the third-grade Christmas concert. He was angelic and on pitch as the song ended with the glorious thought, “The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing!” On Christmas Eve, Mr. Taylor looked out the window and saw his pajama-clad boy in the front yard looking toward the sky. The father quietly walked out the front door and put his arms around David without saying a word. The son leaned into his father’s chest and said, “The world is lying still, Dad. Just like the song says.” “Do you hear them, Dad? Do you hear the angels singing? I hear them ... do you, Dad?”  -- The father thought that he was teaching a little boy to sing a sweet song at Christmastime, but what had really happened was that the little boy had taught them both to listen ... to listen for the angel’s 

 I got this from my YouVersion Bible Ap,  "Joy to your World" , daily devotional. 

Now that school is out for Christmas break, my world slows down for two weeks, two weeks of peace, joy, and stillness. During these next two weeks I get the joy of giggling grandchildren, the wonder of hugging my kids, family laughter, dedicated time with my wife, the stillness of a peaceful morning, and extended time with God.

Oh, how I cherish this time of year, if I could only capture it the other 50 weeks of the year, I would be a lucky man. The gift of Christmas teaches us so much more than we could ever imagine. Just like this father teaching his son to sing a simple Christmas song. If we truly listen to the words of the Christmas carols, if we truly read the message of the special night in Bethlehem, if we truly listen to the choir of angels, we hear more than our ears can capture. We hear the peace, the joy, and the hope of eternal life through our loving Savior. Christmas is so much more than the hustle and bustle of shopping, Christmas lights, Trees, and packages. Christmas is the peace and stillness of a simple Christmas Carol. Christmas is the joy and laughter of family and friends. Christmas is PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN! 

IF we will just take the time, the simple story of Christmas will fill our hearts with the grace and hope that will last the whole year. 

Praise God for this wonderful time of the year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Living in Fear is not living at all!

I know this is my third post dealing with Sandy Hook. There is so much to say about this tragedy and so much pain. I have heard constant talk about what we do to stop this from ever happening again. Arming teachers, building prison like schools, removing kids to be home schooled, stricter gun laws, mental health care overhaul and countless other solutions have been offered. Fear has some people paralyzed and frantic. Everyone of my classes wanted to talk about it. I assured them how very rare theses incidents are and how our faculty and staff are committed to doing everything to protect them. I also encouraged them to NOT live in fear. Do not let evil win by being paralyzed in life. I had similar discussions with some of my fellow educators.

Life living in fear is not life at all.

In reality, as a Christian, if my worst fear is death, I have no fear at all. Because I have been granted eternal life, God alone will choose my death. He alone will determine the time and place. Until then, I will choose to live a life filled with active service for him. I will love and share regardless of the potential pain or even death. I'm not going to carry a gun. I'm not going to change what I do, where i go or who I meet. I will continue to live life for Christ and Will Not Fear Death! If anything, it has become even more apparent that I need to try to save the lost. I need to be an even more vocal and visible witness in a world captured in the grips of fear. I have nothing to fear because of my wonderful Heavenly Father. He has built my permanent home and if I die, even a horrible and senseless death, I get to spend eternity with him. That alone brings joy to my life and overcomes all fear! Praise God I have nothing to fear and eternal life is mine by the grace of Jesus!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The loss of a life filled with anticipation.

Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord's hand was with him. (Luke 1:66 NIV84

When John was born. Elizabeth and the entire community wondered what this baby would grow up to be. We would eventually find out he was the messenger of the arrival of the savior of the world. At his birth no one knew. He was given a great honor and his life was full of purpose and meaning. The entire community anticipated the future for this new born child.

 The birth of a child is so exciting, but part of the excitement is anticipating the future. we never know what the future holds, but we look forward to the adventure as it unfolds. God knows. Evil may have won in those classrooms of Sandy Hook Elementary, the gunman took away the excitement and the mystery of so many young lives. Their parents and families will always wonder what they would have been. That pains all of us. We know they would have suffered loss. They would have struggled just like the rest of us. They would have had a long hard life here on this Earth before seeing Jesus. 

Now, they get to skip all that pain and suffering and go straight to the reward.

 We grieve the earthly loss, but rejoice for the victory they receive in Heaven, at the feet of Jesus. They will know no more pain, no more sorrow and no suffering. They will be at peace forever.

Praise God for his Love as he wraps his arms around those who have suffered such a tragic loss.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How can we celebrate Christmas?

The tragedy at the elementary in Connecticut is so heartbreaking. I just watched the ABC interview with one of the first grade teachers. She huddled her 15 students into a small bathroom to save them. Her story is both heroic and traumatic. How can this small town move forward to celebrate Christmas? I pray for their peace and healing through this great tragedy and loss. I can't imagine even going to sleep in the midst of the horror of the days events. So, what would God have us do? Strangely enough, in the midst of overwhelming dispair we are to turn to God and Praise him. When Mary was pregnant with Jesus, she praised God. Her life was in turmoil. Uncertainty and public ridicule were everywhere. Yet, she praised God. When Jesus met his painful death on the cross and the torture leading to that death, he praised and worshipped his heavenly farher. In tough times we are called to him. He will comfort. He will heal. He will lift our burden and he is the only one to bring peace in such turmoil. In the face of tragedy, we need to turn to him. And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49 NIV84)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I will not be shaken!

I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, (Psalms 16:8, 9 NIV84) I've had a rough couple weeks and I've let it get to me. I have had colitis and even went to the emergency room. I've been in pain off and on for the last 10 days. Today, I gave my kids the state ECA test. It's a key measure of their Math skills and reflects on our school. After day one, I was depressed. I don't know the results and won't for a while. But, I don't think they did well on it. I let it get to me. Then my nightly devotion had this psalm. Why do I let this world get to me? I know better. God has been in charge of my life for nearly 40 years and he has taken me straight through rough times victoriously. Why do i act like that is going to change now? Its never going to change God will never leave or forsake me. I rejoice in the opportunity he has given me to teach young people. I love it regardless what the outcome. The relationships are the important part. The math is secondary.