Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Dent


I love my car and have been careful with it but things happen. This is about the first mishap. It is from April 10, 2011

As I have mentioned, I often ask the Lord for something to write about. He answered my prayer this Sunday but not in the warm fuzzy way I was hoping for. I prefer that moment of clarity when I realize some great truth or noticing one of my students having a breakthrough. You see, I noticed something when I washed my car this afternoon; someone hit my still new Honda Fit yesterday. I know it was yesterday because I came out of the fitness club after working out and my outside mirror was turned sideways, the way they are constructed if contact is made. It was odd and I looked but saw no marks or scratches on my light blue 2010 model. (A lady at school says my Honda's shade of blue is periwinkle but I'm not sure.)  But today, as I washed the bottom of driver's side door, I found it. There is a four-five inch place where the paint is gone accompanied by a small indention. I have to tell you my heart sank. For the past three hundred seventy-five day, I have tried to protect the car from any damage from weather, other drivers, or my own carelessness. It was on my mind in worship services tonight even as I tried to fight it off.

I knew it was coming eventually, the thing that causes our prized possession not to be quite so prized anymore. They had to know, the other driver. I can't believe you can bump another car with enough force to pop back a mirror and not know something was wrong. But, maybe they did get out and like me, saw nothing. Maybe they were scared or uninsured or .........., you fill in the blank. Truthfully, I've done the same. Maybe not with a car but I've done something wrong and hoped no one would notice. I've spoken harshly about another's character and hoped they wouldn't hear. I've acted innocent and thought NOBODY KNOWS. Of  course, I always knew and the Lord always knew. Not much escapes His sight, does it? I can pray the guilty party has a change of heart and leaves a note on my windshield. That might be a tough example for me. I don't have enough paper to cover my hit and runs.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Accidents, try to change them - it's impossible. The accidental reveals man."
J.B. Priestly

God bless,
Steve

Luke 18:1
http://www.hawleybooks.com/
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Monday, August 19, 2019

Mister Christian



One of my favorite places to do business is Discount Tire. This is from June 29, 2011.

In less than thirty-six hours, I will hit the road for a family reunion in Nashville, Arkansas. Every other Fourth of July, my mom's family gets together on the peach farm where she was born and was raised. The descendants of Jord and Ruth Chesshir will spend several wonderful days together reminiscing, I usually go two years without seeing my cousins and their spouses and children and it's always amazing how the little ones cease to be little. I'll be driving my Honda Fit the three hundred seventy mile each way journey so I have to make sure it's road worthy. I have a warranty contract with Discount Tire for free tire rotation for the life of the car. Since my car is only a year old and had never had the tires rotated, I took it into the Discount Tire location down the street from my apartment and asked them to take a look. The kind folks there took my keys and I sat down to wait. Soon after I arrived, Larry Frank, our congregation's prison minister and the father of one of my students, came in. While his van was being serviced, we sat and talked and he updated me on his son, Ian, and his college/military plans.

It was a slow morning at Discount Tire and when I looked up, Larry and I were the only customers in the waiting room. One of the managers came out, obviously with the news that a car was ready. At first, I didn't catch what he said but he repeated, "Mr. Christian?" No response so then he asked, "Westbury Christian?" Larry and I laughed as it became apparent. The gentleman assumed the place of my employment was my name. I didn't argue with him. I took the keys, thanked him for the service-I was out as promised in forty-five minutes-, and got back into my schedule for the day. Later, I looked at my contract for the first time and sure enough, my name is listed as Westbury Christian. I think that's because the school was the first phone number I gave them, and that's what the computer printed. It would probably be good to go down and correct that oversight before it becomes a problem.

You know, nobody ever called me, "Mr. Christian" before. (In a totally unrelated note, I can't be the only person who thinks Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" is one of the five worst songs ever played on the radio.) I don't introduce myself to strangers as Steve the Christian but maybe I should. Only once in my life has anyone introduced themselves to me in that fashion. Mark McGowen-17 years old- Lebanon, Tennessee- Friendship Christian gym- half court- June of 1985. I remember it word for word from one of the best kids I ever met. That would be a pretty good name for me to have permanently. Did you see Ron Artest has gone to court to change his name to Metta World Peace? Steve Christian sounds pretty good in comparison. And it would be scriptural as well. The Apostle Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 4:16:
"However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."
Whoa- I forgot about that suffering stuff. That could really complicate things. Let me back up and think about this name change for awhile. And do me a favor. Let's not tell Discount Tire- I think they like me the way I am.

Applicable quote of the day:
"People's fates are simplified by their names."
Elias Canetti

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Friday Night Lights: The Requiem

I have come to the point where I rarely watch television anymore. This is about one I watched, flaws and all. It is from August 14, 2011.

I did it. Last night, I brought myself to watch the final episode of Friday Night Lights on nbc.com. I had missed the finale while in Vietnam and I have to tell you, the end has brought me some sadness.Over the past five years, I've seen every episode. Before the TV version, I read the book and watched the movie but like many, found little relation between the original and the small screen program. And while the book was gripping and the movie enjoyable,  it was the television production that pulled me in totally. The last hurrah was terrific, maybe the finest final show I've ever seen. I wish they would have had at least cameo appearances from Lyla Garrity, Brian 'Smash' Williams, and Jason Street, but it was a superb effort of tying up the loose ends. It was a fitting ending to a marvelous show.

There were things about FNL I did not care for and many of them began with the letter A: adultery, addiction, alcohol use among minors, athletic boosters, abortion, abusive behavior, and abstinence, as in lack of. Sometimes, you also had to suspend your belief about the chronology of events especially as it dealt with the school day and the football season. But what I loved about the series was the characters and their flawed humanity. I remember only three cast members who had no likability to them- J.D. McCoy, his dad, and Voodoo Tatum, the talented QB who came from Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. We saw the Taylors work through family issues- husband/wife and parent/child. FNL dealt with Alzheimer's (Matt Saracen's grandmother) and prison twice this year with both Riggins and Vince Howard's dad being paroled. We saw love stories, both positive and negative and the violent nature of the sport when Street was paralyzed the very first episode. For five years, we watched life in a small town and those of us from small towns could relate. We saw the coming and going of actors/actresses who played people like folks we know and grew up with and lost track of. And now, there will be a television void for me and all the others who collectively were not enough to keep Friday Night Lights from cancellation.

On Friday in all five of my Bible classes, we began looking at the family of Jacob. I think at least a cursory exploration of this family is relevant to the telling of the story of Jesus which all of my classes center around. Has there ever been a family tale like Jacob's? Deceit, rape, revenge, murder, incest, blatant favoritism, anger, hate, jealousy, etc, etc, etc. It had it all! I told my students that if they made a soap opera of Jacob's family, no one would believe it- too far fetched. And yet God used this clan to produce the twelve tribes of Israel and ultimately, the Savior of the world. Like the make believe characters of FNL, this cast of relatives consistently fell on their faces and yet look how they became the family foundation of the Christian faith. Friday Night Lights did not make it past five seasons but then, they were fictional. Jacob's family is still hanging tough after thousands of years. You know, there's a time slot open on NBC. No...... too hard to believe.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose."
Battle Cry of the Dillon Panthers


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at shawley@westburychritian.org

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Ealing And The Phone Call

I learn more from my students and ex-students than I teach them! This is from October 5, 2015!

Ealing is one of my favorite students ever although I have come to appreciate her more as an adult than as an 8th grader in my Bible class. Now a grad student at the University of Houston, she is heading toward a stellar professional career in the medical field. We interact semi-regularly on FACEBOOK and while I have always known she was brilliant, I have now discovered she has a Last Comic Standing sense of humor, albeit a very clean sense. The stuff she writes on her status updates about her daily life just kills me. Recently, she wrote about a college boy who approached her after she had worked out; he had no clue she was in no mood at the moment for any romantic intentions. It was hilarious, while also played out in the backdrop of cultural setting; Ealing and her sister were born in the US while their wonderful parents grew up in China. The comments following her vignette reflected the exasperation felt by her FACEBOOK friends with the lack of social skills toward the opposite gender displayed by many young men today. I should say all of these came from women with one exception. I chimed in with the thought that at least the guy had good taste and should be given some credit! Ealing replied that she would give him props for that.....but not her phone number! I told you she's funny.

The next day in class, I read her post to several of my high school classes. We had just watched Johnny Lingo, a short film produced by Brigham Young University for Mormon kids on the subject of kindness towards others, particularly the other gender. You might wonder why I emphasize this in middle school and high school Bible classes. I always tell my students the biggest decision they make, after deciding if Jesus will be their Savior, is who they will marry. So using Ealing's words as a lead in, I showed in several sections over a number of days another BYU short film, The Phone Call. Made in 1977, it tells the story of Scott, a high school boy, who has a crush on a girl, Pam, but lacks the guts to call her on the phone. Scott enlists the help of Becky, a twenty-something young lady he works with to walk him through the process while he also is learning karate for confidence. Becky has an abusive boyfriend, Joe, who Scott stands up to, sort of. The point is that girls aren't that scary and don't settle for jerks. Also, many believe the character of Napoleon Dynamite was based on Scott so the kids like the cultural aspect of the quirky twenty-three minute classic!

Look, I know you might think I am the last person to be giving a spiel on male-female courtship etiquette but if nothing else, I can repeat what I witnessed with my parents. And I can tell the kids how my dad's side of the family is in a streak of five consecutive generations of Golden Wedding Anniversaries. But it really boils down to Jesus' teaching of treating others how you want to be treated, regardless of number of chromosomes. For more than two decades now, I have had all the boys in my classes stand when a lady walks in and by lady I mean any female. With my 8th grade boys on their feet, I always ask the female visitor, and today it was Roseline, "Do you like it when young men are polite?" The answer is invariably, "YES!" Let me give a real life example. Last week, one of my favorite former students, Tiffany, came by to visit during my planning period. She works as a recruiter in the Texas public university system. Our conversation turned to romance and she told ne she had found the one, a young man named Tony. Tiffany told me one thing that sold her on Tony was how chivalrous he was, even arranging a gondola boat ride in Dallas after telling him how it was her favorite memory of her trip to Vienna. That same week, they got engaged! Isn't how it's supposed to end? Maybe in a fairy tale world. But sometimes, the good guy gets the great girl by just being a good guy, with a slice of guts thrown in. Your time is coming, Ealing. And he will be one extremely lucky guy.

Applicable quote of the day:
"
There's no chivalry in culture any more. Sometimes you meet someone who everyone says is polite and you're like, 'Wow,' but then it's like, 'Hang on, isn't everyone supposed to be polite?' "
-will.i.am


*If you want to watch The Phone Call, here it is!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqU37SKPeVE

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Man In The Red Shirt



I saw Kaeden in the hall at school yesterday- he's now  third grader! This is from June 14, 2015.

In this camp picture taken a number of years ago, I am working with Victoria Silvas who I later coached and more importantly, baptized into Jesus Christ!
We start our third and final week of camp tomorrow with sessions in both the morning and afternoon. I mentioned in a post last week that I am completing my 17th year of working at the Westbury Christian All-Star Basketball camp. That is a simply staggering number to me. It's a blur and the memories are completely random with categories more likely to be recalled than specifics. Since its inception in 1993 (I think) with then boys' coach and AD Greg Glenn as architect, our campers have worn the same white camp t-shirts. There are five basketball jerseys spread out horizontally, each bearing the word of the day. (In case you are curious the five are attitude, fundamentals, effort, discipline, tenacity.) The campers clap when they hear those words, usually spoken in a teaching moment. When I first started working the camps, the coaches wore regular t-shirts, usually with some shoe logo or college/NBA team emblem. About twelve years ago in a terrific move, Greg began requiring the coaches to wear a shirt identical shirt to the campers, only in red. No telling how many of those red shirts I've been through. 

All that brings me to Kaeden. The son of Kenneth, one of my WCS colleagues, and Lynette, a financial adviser, Kaeden goes to both school and church with me. I should also add he just turned four and is all boy. He has a motor the Energizer Bunny must envy. When Lynette told me several weeks ago that Kaeden was coming to camp, I silently thought he wasn't quite ready but I was mistaken. He has been terrific. What could be better than a four year old male being able to run almost to his heart's content with a ball in his hand? Well, last Thursday, Lynette and Kaeden arrived at WCS for the AM camp almost simultaneously with yours truly. With the innocence of his age and an amazingly cute voice, Kaeden asked his mom:
"Why does Coach Hawley have on a red shirt and mine is white?"

In all the years I've been at our camp, I don't think I have ever heard a camper ask that question or have it explained to the kids by the adults. If memory serves me correctly, Greg changed the policy for several reasons. The first is so we as coaches would look more uniform, professional, and would represent the school. The second is so that the parents as well as the campers would know who the coaches are. That seems simple but it isn't because a bunch of our teachers and coaches of other sports walk through the gym area constantly. If you don't attend WCS or if your child doesn't, how are you supposed to differentiate? So Kaeden's question is both legitimate and insightful. And what is probably even more remarkable is that I doubt he remembers asking it. Little boys have an inborn ability to live in the present.

There are always categories which mark us as different from others- age, gender, ethnicity- but these are qualities we have no control over. Some we can control might be deemed more important based on the interpretation of society; career, level of education, neighborhood, accomplishments. But look at how Jesus defines His spiritual family in Mark, chapter 3 and verse 35:
Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
That's pretty definite. Where humans argue is the definition of God's will. From the beginning of time, roles have been set out for God's creatures who are made in His image. Some are concurrent; father/son/uncle/brother/nephew/grandfather/grandson. Some are temporary. Some are, I fear, being blurred. But I do know this; if I want Jesus to be my brother, I have to follow the will of the Father. I wish it was as simple as wearing a t-shirt.


Applicable quote of the day:
“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you've done will have mattered as much.” 
Lisa Wingate

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Thursday, August 15, 2019

MisconSTEPtion


Today is DAY nine since my 32 day mission to Can Tho, Vietnam came to a conclusion. It takes me ten days to recover from jet lag so I'm almost there! I go through sleeplessness and disorientation upon awakening. I'm nearly back in my sleep pattern which isn't all that great as I'm a terrible sleeper! The day after my return home, I returned to my workout routine which is alternating days of lifting and incline treadmill. The lifting has been a breeze- I think I'm stronger than when I left but that's probably just because my body needed a break. The treadmill has been rough. I'm only back to where I was in January although I'm increasing each day. My goal each day is not minutes as much as calories burned on the treadmill's meter. I was over 1400 burned calories a day before I left and did 1000 for the first time yesterday. Hopefully, I'll get back to where I was before too long!

I've written before about receiving a FITBIT from my brother, Scott, and sister-in-law, Karen, for Christmas this past year. I've worn it every day since. The one thing I miss the most on these missions is the ability to work out; no time, no equipment, no facility. The good thing was that now with the FITBIT, I'd be able to keep track of all the extra steps I take in Can Tho and that would count for something. But that isn't what happened. Guess what I found? I discovered I don't take more steps on this adventure, I take fewer. Far fewer. Over the course of a week, I average over 11,000 steps per day when I'm in the US and I don't wear it working out so those steps aren't padding the total. Over the time I was in Asia, I averaged less than half that number. I only remember going over 8,000 once. I was shocked, sure I walked much more there than I do here. Upon 
reflection, I hypothesize that my jobs/responsibilities here keep me on the move all the time, especially during basketball practices. My Vietnam life is more sedentary than I realized. I've got some re-evaluating to do before next July/August!

As I've considered the situation with my steps, I've begin to wonder if I'm off the mark in other areas of my life. Am I as honest as I think I am? Or caring? Or giving? Or loving? It's much harder to quantify those qualities. They don't have a FITBIT for righteousness. We can fool others and maybe even fool ourselves at times without even trying to. Habits become routines which turn into ruts and we no longer take the long hard looks in the mirror but go through life on auto pilot. A FITBIT counts steps but not their intent or impact. Walking around in circles may accumulate numbers but you get nowhere. Following the steps of Jesus...... that's the ticket. Might even be a hymn in there somewhere!

Applicable quote of the day:
"One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time."
John Wanamaker

God bless,

Steve
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Thaw

Guess what? The Carr kids, after moving to Alabama, are back at WCS and Evelyn will play basketball for me! This is from June 20, 2015.

Every couple of months, I am called on to help serve communion for our congregation. This is one of those months. (One of our deacons, Larry Hale, who is in charge of the structural handling of the Lord's Supper, used to tell me I was to cover the 'north side, outside.' After awhile, he realized I have no sense of direction in Houston, so now he just points and says, 'You go over there!') Last Sunday, I preached at another congregation so I missed my turn. Two Sundays ago, as I was making sure the trays moved up and down the rows smoothly, Jackson waved at me. That may not seem like a big deal to you but it is to me. You see, six months ago, Jackson could not stand me. Neither could Evelyn, his sister or Wyatt, his brother. Why would all the siblings in one family despise me, a guy generally considered on the lovable side? I probably should put some perspective on the story. Jackson is five, Evelyn is seven, and my guess is that Wyatt is three although I am not positive. What is also true is that they are not aware of the connections between their family and me. Their grandparents helped me re-do my apartment and I coached their aunt in basketball. Beyond that, it is entirely possible they might not have even been born without some inadvertent intervention on my behalf which is another story. And, I preached their mom and dad's wedding to boot. But they are little and for the overwhelming majority of their lives, they acted like I was invisible. And as we worship together and the older ones were students at WCS, it was common for our paths to cross.

I can't tell you exactly when but one day, Evelyn came up to me at school and hugged me. Since then, she hugs me every time she sees me. Evelyn was even on my team at basketball camp this week and without fail, she brought cold water to me at breaks. Coinciding with Evelyn deciding I was OK, her brothers suddenly liked me, too. They are more the high five types but they also get into a triple threat stance on command, a sure sign of affection! (That's basketball lingo if you were unsure.) I transformed from being a pariah to an unrelated uncle with a different last name. I can live with that!

What brought about the change? Maybe Evelyn saw other little ones liked me or maybe it's just a step in the maturation process. Maybe her brothers follow her lead. But it was sudden and immediate and it seems permanent, as permanent as can be for that age youngsters. It was kind of like Saul on the road to Damascus! Well,  without the voice from heaven or the blinding light with the resulting blindness but outside of that, it was just the same. Little ones are a gift from God who put them in families with blessed parents/grandparents. It was a tough week for Evelyn and Jackson and Wyatt. Their great grandfather died last Sunday and the last seven days has seen a family trip to Tennessee for a funeral, which can be a confusing time for kids. But they are loved and they show love because they learn it at home....and because they are the children of God. And now they love me, too.

Applicable quote of the day, # 1:
"If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!"
  Dwight L. Moody


Applicable quote of the day, # 2:
"Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven."
  Henry Ward Beecher


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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