Friday, August 18, 2017

Smurfs And Coaching

Sydney and Lizeth are back in my class as juniors now, four years after this was written. They remain two of my absolute all-time favorites. This is from September 22, 2013.
We had a test on Friday in all of my five Bible classes and it's new to some of our students. I put an essay question on the exam dealing with the weaknesses we see in Lot in Genesis but we are told in 2 Peter 2 that same Lot is a righteous man with a righteous soul. How can we reconcile those two different lines of reasoning? My schedule has me off 8th period for one of the very few times in my career. I leave my room a minute or two early so I can be standing at the confluence of the two upstairs upper school hallways when the end of the day bell rings. Originally, in years past, I would be sort of a behavior monitor but we really don't need that anymore. I just like saying goodbye to our kids and try to meet some of the new ones who aren't in my class. I mentioned Friday was a test day so as soon as the bell ring on Thursday afternoon, Alejandra met me and needed help. She had a very logical question about our test the next day: What and where is 2 Peter? Alejandra has only been in the US for several weeks, leaving her family in Ecuador to live with relatives and study at WCS. We stepped into the glass enclosed high school office right behind us, found a Bible, and looked up the passage so Alejandra was good to go. I'm amazed how much I think my students realize, even though 2/3rds of Alejandra's classmates that period are international students from China, Japan, and Tanzania! (She ended up making an A on the test!)

As we turned back around to re-enter the hallway, I saw two of my basketball players with their faces pressed up against the glass. It was Sydney and Lizeth, seventh graders who are in their second year of playing for me.I thought they might have needed to ask me a question about practice the next morning or were reminding me that Friday is ALWAYS Capri Sun day for the Lady Wildcats...but those had nothing to do with their presence. No, they reminded me they ALWAYS give me a high five at the end of the day when they pass by and they couldn't leave without it. I'm not sure how long they were standing there but I know I talked to Alejandra for several minutes and I know Sydney and Lizeth have places to be. Yet, they took time to remember our tradition and that is priceless.

I had a high school football coach (Bill Bryson for you FCS guys!) tell me that if a male coach coaches a girls' team and has a good experience, he never wants to go back to coaching boys...and I learned he was exactly right. I love my teams and Lizeth and Sydney are prime examples of why. Last year, as sixth graders, they were the two smallest girls on the team so we deemed them The Smurfs. Sydney, our only left hander, has parents who both are very tall so her days of Smurfdom are probably coming to a close. Lizeth, who was born in Colombia, has the greatest accent ever and may be the most easily lovable person I've ever met, based simply on how others react to her. Both are excellent students, awesome teammates, obedient daughters, and the definition of the kind of players a coach loves to have on his or her team. Their standing at the window last week honored me in a way they probably can't understand at this point in their young lives. I read daily news articles on sports websites and so much of it is negative and heartbreaking. Not in my coaching world. Tomorrow, we'll cover the correct angle of setting screens and moving without the ball. But, we'll also just maybe bring up who is sitting with who at lunch and why I didn't really go back on my word when I bought red NIKES and how Coach Marie, our student coach, is the 11th grade Homecoming attendant! And the fifteen of us will pray and I'll remind them that their folks love them and I love them and ask the Father to bless them. And when the day is in the spent column, I'll give them a high five and return them to their parents. I wish every coach was so blessed.

Applicable quote of the day:
When people ask me now if I miss coaching UCLA basketball games, the national championships, the attention, the trophies, and everything that goes with them, I tell them this: I miss the practices. 
John Wooden

*photo by Preston Hill!*

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Six Seconds And A Family Of Six


The best news I have heard in years came last week- Piper and Hayden have moved back to Houston from Atlanta and will be playing on my basketball team this year! This is about their family It's from January 27, 2013.
Somehow, ESPN missed the story but there's quite a bit happening with the NFL Pro Bowl today and the Super Bowl next week. Not to mention the Australian Open was going on in tennis and Tiger was leading a golf tournament. And, I forgot, there were quite a few upsets yesterday in NCAA hoops like Syracuse going down and Louisville losing for the third time in a row. Truthfully, I only found out this morning and of all places, after worship services. Piper made the winning shot yesterday in her game with only six seconds left on the clock! It was at the Bellaire Rec League instead of Madison Square Garden or the Toyota Center but that's just a matter of publicity and not importance. You see, Piper, a WCS second grader, was on my camp team last summer so forgive me if I take a vested interest in her clutch moment. This morning, her folks described her style of playing as methodical. As a coach/fan, there's a word I like better for Piper's athletic prowess: Money!

As I mentioned at the outset, the Super Bowl is only seven days away and the big story line is the matchup of coaching brothers, Jim and John Harbaugh. There will be much delving into their family background including their father, Jack, a well-known coach in his own right.  But the Harbaughs have nothing on Piper. You see, her oldest sister, Devin, was my WCS student assistant coach several years ago and did you know Devin paid for a playground with her own money at the Namwianga Mission in Zambia for the toddlers my niece, Meagan, takes care of? And then there is older sister, Haley, who was supposed to also be my student assistant until a class scheduling conflict but who recovered nicely to be selected as WCS Homecoming Queen in 2011. Then, of course, is barely older sister, third grader, Hayden, who:
A. whomped me in tetherball giving me a blog topic last March..and
B. has informed me she WILL be my assistant coach one of these days...and
C. does a near perfect Taylor Swift impression every day at our summer basketball camps.
You see, Piper didn't make it one her own. Her mom and dad and sisters have been there every day and every step of the way, guiding and encouraging and celebrating her successes, including the game winning shot on Saturday. That's what families do. I think it's interesting that two key characters of the Old Testament, Joseph and David, both came at the tail end of the family tree (even though Benjamin was younger than Joseph) and even though there were struggles, family mattered in shaping these two giants of the Jewish faith. Both David's and Joseph's brothers doubted their sibling and each one's respected calling. We're told that even members of Jesus' own family did not believe in Him at first, in spite of prophecies and miracles and appearances from angels. Well, Piper never has to worry about that: her fan club sat two rows behind me in worship service this morning. And it won't matter if she never makes another basket in her life. 


Applicable quote of the day:
 "In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future."
 Alex Haley

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I K(Need) Thee Every Hour


Annie Sherwood Hawks, who died in 1918, wrote four hundred hymns in her life, of which only one is remembered on a wide scale. I Need Thee Every Hour was one of my favorite church songs as a kid and remains so today although we don't sing it as much as we used to. According to Dr. C. Michael Hawn, Hawks penned the timeless hymn at age thirty-seven. One day while doing housework, she was struck by her need for the presence of the Savior, a need she felt every hour. Hawn makes the point that if all five verses are sung along with the refrain, the phrase I need thee is repeated twenty times! I tell my students the more something is repeated in the Bible, the more important it likely is. The same can be said for Annie Hawks' sentiments.

If you are a regular reader, you might recall I had an issue with my left knee several weeks before my annual mission to Vietnam. I woke up on the morning of Tuesday, June 13 with a twinge but by the end of the day, my knee was the size and shape of a volleyball. I kept thinking it would get better but it didn't. I made it through several more days of basketball camp but it was difficult. By the following Monday, I was greatly concerned that my trip was in peril. I was blessed to get into a well-known orthopedic doctor who was covered by our school insurance. The next morning, my left knee was drained of 34 cc's of bloody fluid and injected with a steroid shot. The x-rays showed no particular problems and the doctor told me I would feel better almost immediately, which I did. He started me on a thirty day prescription of an anti-inflammatory and gave me these instructions: stay off it, ice constantly, wear a compression sleeve, and faithfully do the two stretching exercises diagrammed for me. I did and in the fifteen days before my plane left for Asia, I was back to normal. I wore the sleeve on the flight as the doctor recommended and I kept taking my prescription. I got some ice in my hotel room but since I was feeling better, I never used it. During the first part of the twenty-nine day excursion, I religiously did the exercises but as the pain and swelling disappeared, I almost completely stopped doing what I was told. 


Since I've been back in Houston, two weeks ago today, I've only stretched three or four times. I was sore after swimming and working out the first time in two months but that was temporary. But here's the thing. Both the doctor and our former trainer who examined me told me the same thing; doing these exercises would help prevent the situation from happening again.... and I believe them! And yet, once the crisis had passed, I quit doing what had helped heal me and what promised to keep me much freer from pain. Let me tell you, I was in agony before I had the knee procedure and I NEVER want to be limited like that again. But I'm doing nothing to prevent its recurrence. That's what hits me about Annie Hawk's wonderful hymn. She confesses her complete and utter reliance on Jesus all the time. Not just when she's sick or scared or lonely or needy. Her third verse begins with,
I need thee every hour
In joy or pain

Sometimes I/we treat prayer and communing with the Godhead as an emergency measure, like breaking the glass to the fire extinguisher. When our calamity is under control, we return the safety equipment back to its storage space in case we need it again. Prayer should be a consistent theme in our life, not a fall back position for when we are out of options. I really dislike the statement when all else fails, pray as prayer should be the first thing we do in every vignette of life. And yet, that's how I often act. I'll stretch again when my knee hurts again. I tend to pray more when my heart hurts again. If I prayed every hour as Annie Hawks suggested, maybe my heart would not ache as much. That's why I need thee every hour.

To listen to I Need Thee Every Hour, click or copy/paste the link below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOT4mKE4GFI


Applicable quote of the day:
“Songs and hymns refresh the body. Hymns invoke the spirit to rise to its maker for strength. When we live in a day without a hymn or a song, we disregard the essence of the day” 
 Ernest Mangy Yeboah

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Surf City/Westbury Christian


I'm giving our inservice devotional tomorrow, the last one before school starts on Thursday. I'm not sure when it started but it's become a tradition that I do the last one. In the past, I've asked to be last because it takes me a long time to put it together- I do a Power Point presentation about my mission to Vietnam and I always have a great deal to process with pictures and emotions. Plus, I'm not good with technology!

As I have done for a number of years in a row, I will be giving away stuff from my mission; ties, t-shirts, fans, coin purses, and key chains. In the past, I've asked trivia questions but I've found there is an unfair advantage for long-time employees PLUS it takes too long. Tomorrow, I'm simply going to pull names out of a hat with the proviso that we start right on time and if you aren't present when you name is called, you lose out. To make it fair, I requested an employee list from our administrative assistant, Janice Pearson, which she graciously sent. I wrote all the names of our faculty/staff on slips of paper, putting males in one bag and females in another. And as I progressed, I made a startling discovery: we have over twice as many women working at WCS as men! The exact count is 63 ladies, 30 gentlemen. If you remember the old Jan and Dean # 1 hit song, Surf City, the hook line was, "Two girls for every boy!" That's our school- with apologies to our women for referring to them as girls. Two women for every man.

I was shocked at what I learned but when I mentioned this news to my female colleagues, none of them were surprised- they already knew and seemed shocked I didn't know. I guess I'm just not very aware. In the high school and middle school arena where I spend my time, it's pretty even. And our coaching staff is 90% male which skewed my perception. But I guess I'm just not very observant. Our pre-school, kindergarten, and elementary faculty is overwhelmingly female in nature as is their office staff. I know that but I just never put two and two together. Sometimes our eyes have to be opened. Joseph's brothers were not aware they were standing before him when they came to buy food in Egypt. The men on the road to Emmaus were not aware Jesus was in their midst as they walked down the road. Adam and Eve were not aware they were naked but that's because they were innocent. I wish I could claim the same. It's not a big thing that I was clueless about the gender composition of our school. But it is significant when I am blind to the needs of others; when I overlook the pain in my neighbors' lives; when I retreat into my own little orbit. I put in eye drops the first thing each morning when I wake up so I can see clearly. Maybe I need to reapply as the day wears on. After all, there's a pretty big difference between two and one.

Applicable quote of the day:
“There must be a happy medium somewhere between being totally informed and blissfully unaware.”
Doug Larson


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

Monday, August 14, 2017

This Little Light Of Mine


Sometimes you meet people only once but they leave a lasting impression. This is about one of those occasions. It is from December 19, 2010.

Many of you know I exercise religiously. From April through October, I run/swim in my apartment pool. Last year, when the water became too frigid, I ran and used the elliptical machines at the fitness club across the street from my living quarters but they unexpectedly closed in August. That left me with no real alternative but to return to running. Each morning at 5:00, I run in the driveway around the apartments before leaving for school. Eighteen days ago, I awoke with a splitting headache so I took some aspirin and went back to bed for another hour. After school, a day in which we amazingly had no basketball game scheduled, I went straight home and took a nap. Feeling better and needing some sort of cardiovascular work, I decided to walk for thirty minutes through the area around my apartments. I walked out of the complex and had just turned into the adjacent neighborhood when two little girls ran up to me from in front of their house. 'Excuse me, sir,' the older said. 'Would you like some lemonade?' She was holding a cardboard sign with something written on it and she had the world's biggest smile. I apologized that I was carrying no money but she told me that didn't matter! I accepted their kind offer and they ran to the porch and brought me a Styrofoam cup of lemonade which included ice. While their mother watched from the porch, we engaged in a short conversation. The young ladies' names were Bailey and Rivkah but they might as well have been Personality and Charisma. After a minute or so, I thanked them profusely and continued on my trek with a warm glow, in spite of the fifty degree temperature.


I'd never seen the sisters before that Wednesday late afternoon but I hope I run into them again. Maybe, it would be more accurate to say I hope they run into me. You see, when we use the phrase run into someone, it implies randomness but there was nothing random about these little ones. They targeted me, and others, I'm sure, for their acts of kindness. I have no idea what prompted this outpouring of generosity- it was not the normal time of year for lemonade and the temperature almost discourages drinking anything with ice in December. Perhaps it was their mother's prodding or maybe it was just two little girls who wanted to make their corner of the world a little brighter and did so with glee. What was that Jesus said about a light on a hill or giving out cups of cold water? It was a sermon without Scriptures. I just wish I could preach like that.


Applicable quote of the day:
"At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote."
Emo Philips


*picture is from earnestlycontending.com

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Chain


I love the connections that bring us to our current point in life, that may well have little meaning at the time they happen. This, from April 23, 2009, is about one of those connections.

I made the promise back before Christmas. One Saturday morning, I wandered into our high school girls' varsity basketball practice. Since I coached about half of those kids in middle school, I enjoy seeing how their skills are developing. Cathy was there, too. Cathy Caputo is the mother of Nicole, one of the girls running up and down the floor. Nicole played for me in junior high and went to Honduras with me last summer. Cathy and her husband, Dennis, have grown children with grand kids but have added to their numbers by adopting five more, of whom Nicole is the eldest. As we talked watching practice, I told Cathy I was reading, or re-reading a book, and would pass it on to her when I was finished. The book: My Utmost For His Highest, a daily devotional guide by Scottish theologian, Oswald Chambers. First published in England in 1927, these 366 thought-provoking messages are sometimes difficult to understand and always challenging. And, tomorrow, four years to the day after it came to me, I'm passing it on to Cathy.


But that's really not why I'm writing this. You see, the book was a gift to me from Katie Deathridge, a wonderful little (at the time!) girl at Friendship Christian School where I taught and coached before moving to Houston. Inscribed on the inside back cover is her name and mine and April 24, 2005, the date she sent it to me in the mail. But we are not the first names there. In fact, I am the tenth person who has owned this particular copy of this particular book. Apparently, the book was a high school graduation present in 1996 to a young man named David. Since then, Utmost has been presented to, in order, Kevin, Chance, Nicole, Emily, Rachel, Laura, and Kristen who gave it to Katie who gave it to me. Interestingly enough, the transfer date up until it came into my possession, was always July 14th- I'm not sure of any significance. I am sure of this- I don't know anyone before me but Katie and I'm sure none of them know me...or Cathy. Still, we are connected as each one of those earlier owners brought Chambers closer and, ultimately, to me. There are always links. My dad was fascinated with finding how few links it took him to connect strangers to each other through common acquaintances. Don't you think that's how the Lord works, in ways we can't comprehend? Who told Ruth to tell Naomi that there were openings in the field of Boaz? We know if Ruth doesn't make it to that field, there is no David and we know who the ultimate human descendant of Davis was; Jesus. I don't know who Cathy will pass the book to or if she will keep up the new transition date of April 24. I do know that with all she and Dennis have going on in their lives, she can find words of wisdom and comfort from the pen of a man dead for ninety-two years. And to me, the # 10 link in the chain, that's no coincidence. It's a chain of evidence.


Applicable quote of the day:
"We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties."
Oswald Chambers

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

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Meant To Be




Several nights ago, I wrote about the wedding of Emily, one of my basketball players. The following is about the fascinating beginning for another couple. It is from June 6. 2010.

I remember years ago reading an article by famed sportswriter, Frank DeFord, ruing the coming of music videos. DeFord surmised everyone would tend to have the same memories of certain songs, based on what they saw on the screen. I think he was right even though I've never spent much time watching MTV or its derivatives. I liked it more when each was more likely to have interpretations of songs based on our own memories and associations. I admit I'm prejudiced towards music from a generation that wasn't called X. Most of us have favorite lines from songs, lines that make us wish we had penned those words. I am no fan of country music but I think there was one song out of Nashville with the best line ever. It was from Broken Lady by The Gatlin Brothers and this was the opening lyric:
''Her love was like a fortress around the man she would have died for...''
Those fourteen words just grab me and pull me into the song which, ironically, is about a failed marriage. To me, that line simply was the perfect beginning.

I read a story last week about another perfect beginning. A young couple from Pennsylvania will get married this coming Saturday, June 12. What is amazing is that they were born in the same hospital (St. Luke's in Fountain Hill) on the same day (April 17, 1986) AND their mothers were maternity ward roommates. The couple, Amy Singley and Steve Smith, were born with only five minutes separating their arrivals. They knew each other as children through church and had their first date at sixteen, a movie to which their folks acted as chauffeurs. Amy says people tell her they were destined to be together and she knew Steve was the one after only two dates. Steve took the poetic route; one year to the day after their first date, the soon-to-be-groom penned his future bride a sonnet which fittingly was entitled Destiny. It sure seems that way!

What a neat tale with a story line that goes back to birth. Amy and Steve sure seem to have their priorities straight and I wish them the best. We do know, however, that not all great beginnings have fairy tale endings. Love is a choice and a commitment. We have to realize, though, that sometimes the one we love does not reciprocate. In the Gatlin Brothers' song, the wife would have died for the man she loved but that alone did not keep them together. Most of us have someone we would die for; a child, spouse, maybe even a close friend. I liken the first line of Broken Lady to the love Jesus has for us. He was willing to die for us and His love is like a fortress around his brothers and sisters. But to have the perfect ending, we have to love Him back. Not everyone does and that love returns to the Savior like an unopened Christmas present. It wasn't enough just for Amy and Steve to be born on the same day in the same place. They had to love each other....and they do. Amy said yes to Steve and we must say yes to Jesus. We all need that personal fortress.

To watch and listen to The Gatlin Brothers sing Broken Lady, click or copy/paste the link below!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBlRD_FrqK4


To read a newspaper account of Amy and Steve's courtship, click here: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2010/05/star_struck_lovers_born_on_the.html 

Applicable quote of the day:
Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other never forgets them.

Ogden Nash

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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