Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Inaccessible


I've made progress since I wrote this on June 9, 2013! I've just passed my three month anniversary of having a cell phone. If it were a marriage, I'd use the term celebrate my anniversary but so far, with this phone, there really has not been any cause for rejoicing and there is only one place to put the blame. You see, the thought was that when I had the modern phone, I would be more accessible. I was wrong. When I had my land line, I also had a little pre-paid cell that I very rarely used, typically only when I went out of town in case there were emergencies, which there never were. Usually, I didn't even know where it was. I did all my calling on my regular phone. I'd check messages on it everyday when I'd arrive home from work. It was never unplugged and always rang faithfully when someone wanted my attention. Many people knew the number and it had my father's voice on the answering machine. But, I thought I could get a better deal and it was time to join the modern era so I willingly made the switch.

You know, old habits die hard. I rarely turned my pre-paid cell on and I never took it with me and it's carried over. I'll go two or three days without even turning on my AT+T LG phone. Not many folks know my number which thankfully also appears to apply to the unwanted solicitations! Truthfully, I'm kind of scared of this phone. When I got it back in March, I had my teacher's aide, the awesome Megan Hill, transfer the contact list from the pre-paid to my new cell because I didn't know how.....and still don't. I'm shaky on checking for messages, anyway, so unless I've got it turned on and in my hearing distance when there is a call, there's a 50-50 chance I'll miss whoever is trying to get in touch. I'm not saying I'm hopeless- there are plenty of folks who have offered to help me navigate these uncharted waters- but it probably is going to be painfully slow.

To be honest, I don't want to be like so many people I see who are riveted to their phones to the point I might use the term enslaved. I see it with our students- when the 3:25 PM bell rings, 95% of the high school kids get out their cells and check them. On the other hand, I don't need to isolate myself from the world. Just think; what if God shut down and didn't listen to our prayers for days at a time? Look what David penned about his pleas to the Father:
As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
 Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice. (Psalm 55:16-17)


What a blessing that the One in Heaven always is available. If He took a vacation, the universe would crumble and we would perish in its destruction. But if we are faithful, He promises to hear AND answer. And, I'm fairly certain He knew my number even before I did. (Well, that's a bad example because I have to look it up.) We sang an old standard tonight in our worship. The second verse still goes like this:
There's not an hour that He is not near us;
No, not one. No, not one.
No night so dark but His love can cheer us;
No, not one. No, not one.
His line is open as it always has been. Just in case you might call, I think I'll turn mine on!

Applicable quote of the day:
Steve Largent

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lunch And Language

Language can be a tricky thing in our school and church! This is from February 17, 2013.
We ate lunch together as we usually do after our Chinese services. It was simple and delicious and Lynn, one of the ladies, sent home leftovers with me, some egg rolls and a potatoes and vegetable dish. (Lynn always tells me she is praying for me to find a wife so in the meantime, she makes sure I don't go hungry!) We have an interesting mix; about five Chinese couples along with their Americanized children, a few single Chinese adults, a number of Asian young men from Westbury Christian School, and several natives from the United States. It's a good group, one I've been blessed to be part of for almost ten years. They are tolerant of us westerners!

I noticed something today as we ate. I sat at a table with five adults from China. They were discussing what to have for lunch next Sunday as there is the traditional celebrating of the Moon Festival. To be honest, I had no stake in the topic as it's not an American holiday and I'll love the food, no matter what. But something struck me as they talked. Although all of them have Mandarin as their native language, they were speaking English and there was only one reason they could possibly be speaking English..... and that was me. Without saying a word about it, they were including me. I would have understood- bad pun- if they spoke Chinese. After all, it's a big tradition for them and I know they want it to be nice dinner, especially as they are far away from home. (Two of the past three summers saw me spend the 4th of July in Beijing and Moscow so I can relate.) But out of kindness for me, they allowed me to listen in....and I was honored. Paul wrote about being all things to all men and I can't think of a better example of that concept. He also wrote of the stronger brother/weaker brother and there is no doubt which role I took this morning. Language can be tricky- I had two of my students tell me they are never quite sure whether to speak English or Spanish to strangers as they risk being offensive either way. This morning, it would have been more comfortable and easier for my Chinese sisters and brothers to speak the tongue they spoke as children but that would have left me on the outside, even though I sat in their midst. They could have but we are a family. And families just don't do that to each other.

Applicable quote of the day:

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Cautious Life





This entry from March 12, 2013, is about a characteristic of my personality that may be a double edged sword.
We're in the middle of Spring Break- well, technically tomorrow is the middle- so I'm in errand mode. I'm getting up to swim at 6 AM each morning to make sure I stay on a schedule but I'm not above sneaking in a nap. Tomorrow, the apartment maintenance crew is coming to clean my carpets as they do for free every six months so I'm getting some much needed reorganization out of the way. This morning, that required an early morning trip to a Super Wal-Mart which is three or four miles from my residence. After ringing up several items (pool shoes, ironing board cover, bath mat, shower curtain, digital clock), I presented the nice lady at the cash register with a check. Sometimes the system requires a driver's license ID so I pulled mine out of my wallet.....but it wasn't there. The system didn't ask for it so I was OK temporarily. As I left, I began backtracking my movements and wondering where I possibly could have left it and I came up with a wide range of possibilities. The problem was that I had to make two more stops on my way home and both were on a busy boulevard next to the 610 loop. Fortunately, I made it home without incident where I found my license under a pile of papers on my desk. I spent yesterday calling dentists/credit cards/utilities with my new phone number and it kept requiring me to pull stuff out of my billfold. WHEW! I was already mentally planning an excursion to the DMV for a replacement license and if you live in Houston, you know that's kind of like Nightmare On Elm Street. OK, I've never seen Nightmare On Elm Street but I've heard rumors. And in all honesty, my times at the DMV have been pleasant so that's a bad comparison....but it would take time and I'm guessing more money would be involved.

It's been a very long time since I got a traffic ticket. In fact, I've only got two in my life, one in Kansas and one in Louisiana. The first was when I was in college and the second right after I graduated college so I'm the owner of a very good driving record. And yet, when I drove home those several miles today, I wasn't myself. I was cautious and nervous and deathly afraid to make a mistake, like a police siren would at any second and for any reason start bearing down on me. I was looking in the rear view and outside mirrors obsessively, making sure I did not violate any ordinances or run any yellow lights or fail to come to a complete stop. Of course, it's been decades since I even spoke to an officer while operating a motor vehicle but I was positive that today was the day I would screw up, the one day without my license. And what patrolman is going to believe that I JUST lost it, even though I had my proof of insurance and all of my tags/inspection stickers are up to date? I think by trying to be perfect this morning, I was much more a hazard to myself and the others on the road. This afternoon, with my license back in my pocket, I was much more relaxed cruising the streets of Houston. I'm pretty sure Houston breathed a sigh of relief as well.

You know, I think my life sometimes imitates my driving experience this morning. I mess up and then I become so afraid of sinning again, that I take each step in anticipation of a hidden trip wire attached to a grenade that's going to annihilate me. My guess is that the Lord never intended for us to feel like we're on thin ice all the time, although that was my dad's pet saying when I was being borderline stupid, which happened with some regularity. We need to be careful of our steps but the Scriptures teach we should live a life of boldness, too. It's hard to be bold when we are constantly looking over our shoulders which are sagging with the load of guilt we are hauling around. God is our license and our identification. Be thoughtful, be wise, BUT DRIVE ON! He's also the judge when we err but we are His children. It's good to be related to The Authority!

Applicable quote of the day, # 1:
If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?

Applicable quote of the day, # 2:

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Irish For The Day


I was in the middle of writing something else two days ago so these are my St. Patrick's Day thoughts from March 17, 2013. It's St. Patrick's Day! I saw plenty of folks at worship this morning sporting any number of green articles of clothing, even hats! There was nothing green in my outfit as I dressed up in a suit and although I have many ties, they don't tend to the shade one would wear on this holiday. When I was kid, I seem to recall not wearing green on March 17, I'm sure in hopes of certain girls pinching me. Of course, my bachelorhood is proof of the fallacy of that pre-teen boy logic....and I guarantee there's a lot more where that came from!

By my best estimated guess, I would think I'm 1/8th or 1/16th Irish but I'd have to have Uncle Jack and Uncle Monroe consult with each other to make sure. Did you know that 11.2% of the US population is of Irish descent according to the 2010 census and that the State of New York has the highest Irish percentage? Or did you know that Irish people in the US are older than the general population and that both parents of President Andrew Jackson were born in Ireland? All I know is that one of my favorite movie scenes ever is when Harrison Ford (Dr. Richard Kimball) escapes into the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Chicago! You can't beat The Fugitive!

I'm not sure why this calendar date is slotted as St. Patrick's Day but to me, it was interesting it fell on a Sunday this year. Sometimes, I think we approach our Christianity like we do this holiday; you know, pull it out when it's convenient. I don't go around mentioning my Irish heritage normally but it came up today. Maybe we wear a cross like we wear a swatch of green, sort of an identifying mark, just enough not to get pinched. Often I believe we pigeonhole our spiritual side to one day instead of a daily walk. We're believers on Easter or Christmas or Mother's Day but that leaves 362 days unaccounted for. Being a disciple can't simply be like St. Patrick's Day in America, a feel good nod to those good folks and ancestors who four and five generations ago fled poverty and scratched out an existence in places like New York and Boston and points west. I'm proud to be partly Irish but that produces a minimal difference in this world. I can only hope my Christian heritage is of more substantial impact to our culture at large.

Applicable quote of the day:
“If my last name were Bedient, I’d want to Irishize it and have you call me O’Bedient. Of course, just because you call me, doesn’t mean I’ll come.” 
Jarod Kintz

PS: I would have printed this entry in the predictable color but blogger doesn't supply a good Irish green for print!

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Be Of Good Cheer


The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament started Thursday! There is nothing like March Madness which includes the student fans, the band, and of course, the cheerleaders! The following is my favorite cheerleading story ever, complete with video. It is from March 9, 2006.


Did you see the video? A Southern Illinois University cheerleader was seriously injured in a fall from a top of a pyramid during the Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball tournament in St. Louis. Eighteen year old Kristi Yamaoka landed on her head from a height of fifteen feet, fracturing a vertebra in her neck, bruising a lung, and suffering a mild concussion. The arena went silent as the sophomore from Springfield, Illinois lay motionless, strapped to a gurney. But an amazing thing happened as the paramedics began wheeling Kristi off the floor to rush her to the hospital. The band started the SIU fight song and the injured Saluki cheerleader, whose arms were not restrained, began the clapping and arm motions along with her teammates. The crowd went nuts at the sight of this young lady exhibiting school spirit in an unconventional manner. Kristi, already making the talk show rounds, is expected to make a complete recovery and hopes to be ready for the April tryouts for next year's squad. Can you imagine the outcry if she doesn't make it? I, for one, will cancel my season tickets to all SIU sporting events! We can debate the wisdom of her doing a cheer with a broken neck but in her quotes, she said it was instinct and she was still part of the squad. The squad was cheering so she cheered. No one could ever doubt the loyalty of Kristi Yamaoka.

How do we handle adversity? Do we shut down or run away? Or do we do what we have been trained to do? I never remember my mom being sick as a kid. Dad did all right around the house but it would have been tough with Mom on the sidelines. Moms make the world run. I believe in many ways women are tougher than men and girls can handle more pain than boys. I admire those that keep going. One of our freshmen at Westbury Christian endured chemotherapy last year. She missed some days but kept up her academics. The Bible is replete with examples of perseverance. Elizabeth and Hannah kept praying for children, enduring the shame of being barren in a society where childlessness was pitied. Paul wrote epistles from prison. Stephen forgave his killers while they stoned him. After grief, disappointment, and misunderstanding at the death of their Savior and friend, the apostles turned the world upside down with news of the risen messiah. Like Kristi Yamaoka, they refused to let adversity detour their duty and sacred obligation. Maybe we all have one of those moments that define us. Kristi had hers on a national stage with cameras rolling. Bible characters had their moments recorded in spiritual history. Our moments might be known only to ourselves and those close to us. The anonymity of our lives does not diminish their relevance. Kristi Yamaoka was unknown one day, a celebrity the next. It probably won't happen to us but you can't tell. Television turns unknowns into media darlings. Sometimes, the new found stars are worth a second look and can teach us about ourselves and the human spirit. Solomon told us in Proverbs 16:18 that "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." In our world, sometimes fame comes after a fall!

Applicable quote of the day:
"The greater the loyalty of the group toward the group, the greater is the motivation of the group to achieve the goals of the group and the greater probability the group will achieve its goals." 

Rensis Likert

Applicable quote of the day, # 2:
"I think it's kind of crazy because I don't know how many times I've hit that stunt perfectly and no one cares until you hit the ground."
Kristi Yamaoka (Southern Illinois University cheerleader)


To watch the video, click or copy/paste the link below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki4Lw7Iy09c&list=PL07E09EB18D2B36CB

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Freaky Friday


Last night, my entry centered around a man I sat next to on one leg of my trip to Milwaukee for my Uncle Monroe's funeral. One point I made was that the Southwest Airline concept of open seating based on check in times results in never knowing who will be your next door neighbor for each portion of the journey. My last two hours was spent on a connection from Dallas/Love Field back to Houston/Hobby. Because of weather issues, we left Dallas an hour late, arriving at 10 PM instead of approximately 9:00. And then....... we sat on the runway for forty-five minutes. All the gates were full due to the inclement conditions and there was nowhere to dock. Everyone on the plane was anxious, including me. For most, it was the last stop and I was concerned about being ready for school which would begin in less than ten hours. But eventually, a gate opened up and amazingly, my suitcase was one of the first two or three to come around the baggage carousel! I had to get a shuttle bus to the parking lot to pick up my car and then a twenty minute drive home but as you can tell, I survived. We usually do, don't we?

On this flight, I had the aisle seat while the other two were taken by a mother and daughter. My educated guess is the young lady was probably an 8th grader. They had been somewhere over the weekend for some sort of select team tournament, either volleyball or basketball and I'm putting my money on the former. I could not help overhearing them as the minutes dragged by. They had another plane to catch and it was obvious they would miss it, unless it too was delayed. Perhaps understandably, a considerable amount of stress was revealed through their conversation which became somewhat heated and increasingly louder. A plea of calm down and a take charge command of I'll take care of the boarding passes, you go to the gate ensued. Still the irrational behavior continued in spite of the attempt to defuse the situation and get back on a rational train of thought. There was still consternation when we finally deplaned and but I did see their flight was held up so they didn't have to wait until morning to get home, which happened to me on another airline two years ago in Georgia!

Here's what fascinated me about the scene and it's all I remember from Dallas back to Houston. The level headed one in the vignette was the daughter. She tried rather unsuccessfully to calm her mother's emotions even though the barely teen was the only one of their family unit thinking logically. It was like that movie, Freaky Friday, where the mother and her teenage daughter switch places. (Actually, I should say movies as it was remade with Lindsay Lohan reprising Jodie Foster's role from the 1976 original. FYI- I've never seen either!) Part of me was appalled at what I saw. The mom should be the mom and the child should be the child. I heard enough to know there was a father at home and admittedly, I know absolutely nothing of their lives. I also am confident that the mother sacrifices greatly for her child athletically in time and money and emotions; having your kids in these programs is very, very expensive. I also know zero about being a parent as I've never had that blessing. Still, I found myself worrying, if that's possible with people you only shared seats with, that the child is the rock in the relationship. Maybe I'm too sheltered. From what I saw, the girl is the kind of kid I would love to coach. She was never disrespectful; they've probably acted out this drama before. In my limited interactions with the mom, she seemed very nice. Parenting can be overwhelming as even single people know. God put us in families for a reason or reasons, to be more more accurate; support, training, safety, comfort, comradeship, guidance. Father knew best...... and hopefully down here, moms and d can successfully negotiate the sometimes treacherous path of parenting. If not, the kids may have to step in.

Applicable quote of the day:Our children are counting on us to provide two things: consistency and structure. Children need parents who say what they mean, mean what they say, and do what they say they are going to do. 
Barbara Coloroso


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Guy In The Middle Seat


I’m sitting in the waiting room at my Honda dealer. We are on Spring Break and this was the first time I had to deal with the airbag recall notice I received last summer. It’s free but it will require several hours of sitting. At least there is coffee! I’m not a good sitter which is why flying is something I don’t really enjoy unless there are movies, not offered on Southwest Airlines domestic flights. Flying back and forth to and from Milwaukee thirteen days ago required four legs of travel with stops in Dallas and Denver meaning four sets of seat companions. Southwest’s policy of choosing your own seat based on check in time is a roll of the dice. Two of the four segments produced some thought provoking moments for me. Between Denver and Milwaukee, I sat with an engaged couple. The gentleman, who is from Greece, offered to share his meal with me, a complete stranger. They told me about their upcoming wedding and even wondered if I might be willing to come to Colorado to be the officiant as they were having trouble finding someone to perform the ceremony. I politely declined, citing basketball camps and preparations for my Vietnam mission trip. The guy, in his early thirties, basically told me his life story between bits of his dinner. His family had been wealthy but the economic crisis in recent years had caused his parents to take a severe financial hit. No longer could they totally underwrite his American education (he has several advanced degrees from prestigious US universities) and he was forced to fend for himself in large part. This is what I found fascinating. He told me he wished it had happened earlier, not the crippling of the Greek monetary system, but the shutting off of the financial tap from his folks. They had never made or even let him work. Even in the summers, they paid for his vacations all over the map. He told me that he found having to pay for his own stuff for the first time in his life liberating. And while he dearly loves his mother and father, he feels he was deprived of a tremendous human need, the need to work and handle money with responsibility. I can assure you; I never felt that same deprivation!

My new friend and I touched on other matters as well, particularly his parents’ desire that they wed in a church building in his homeland. But my overriding takeaway was the mature grasp he had of blessing in the midst of hardship, a viewpoint few in the world would share under the same circumstances. I got my hair cut this morning by a lady whose family fled Korea after the Conflict/War. She told me how important work is to her; how she feels she would be less accomplished if she were idle; how she still makes her lunch even though she is wealthy enough to buy it. She might be as patriotic an American as I know- she realizes what she left behind and how she has been blessed in the land in which I was born. And although both the lady barber and the soon to be groom are different in many ways, they share the common appreciation for work. Their experiences could scarcely be more different but they treasure that one mutual value which they arrived at from life in other nations and cultures. In looking at them, I am reminded of some things in my childhood. We weren't rich but I always knew I was loved; loved by my parents, loved by God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Loved by my extended family and the adults who I saw at worship and in school as well as on the court and baseball diamond. The value of love is something I've taken for granted as I've never lived without it. My parents gave us the gift of  absolute acceptance, coupled with boundaries and consequences.... but there was zero doubt we were loved to the maximum. Tragically, we live in a world starving for love. So many have never had the blessing of being adored in an earthly family or feeling adored by a Heavenly Father. If only they knew. If only I hadn't known. Don't keep it to yourself. It's the gift that multiplies.

Applicable quote of the day:
One might think that the money value of an invention constitutes its reward to the man who loves his work. But... I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success. Thomas A. Edison

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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