Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Prize


"Where our treasure is, our heart is." What was that guy's name who said that? Starts with a J, I think! This is from June 26, 2014.

We ended camp last week at WCS for 2014. I always count down the ninety hours of the three weeks in my head- it can get repetitive- but I miss the kids when it's over. I've seen several of my campers this week in other camps our school offers and I'm always happy when they are excited to see me. There is something about being around little children that makes you feel young even when you aren't any more.

Several years ago, we started having a Team Of The Week contest in our younger kids' sessions which are in the morning. The teams are divided usually by gender and always by age and they choose their own names, often in a category like zoo animals. (My A.M. squads this summer were the Cheetahs, the Panthers, and the Monkeys.) The morning campers range from about five to entering fourth grade and compete for WOW Points, which are awarded for winning Musical Triple Threat or Coach Says or which team mimics best in a shooting game or which group cheers the loudest. To be honest, it's easier for girls to win because they tend to be better at these things than elementary age boys. The totals are kept on a chart on the wall and are the topic of much discussion when updated. One of my campers, Catherine, mentally kept track of the score and was astonishingly accurate! Trey Austin, as did previous camp director Russell Carr, tells the kids that the members of the winning team will get a prize but never reveals what it actually is. Well, this past week, my team won and as I recall, it was a landslide. Like I said, girls have a distinct advantage when it come to WOW Points.

We always end morning camps on Friday with two traditions, Slip And Slide and Roasted Watermelon imported from Nicaragua. (The Roasted Watermelon tastes suspiciously like the regular variety in case you were wondering!) Right before we all went outside, Trey awarded the Monkeys their prize for capturing the Team Of The Week contest. The hardware? Each girl received one of the blue and gold plastic WCS commemorative basketballs shown at the top of the page, the kind cheerleaders often toss into the stands during high school games. (I was playing with my picture filter and that's why the ball is black and white- artistic license.) Other years, the prize has been a WCS basketball wrist bracelet or a WCS water bottle, nothing expensive but definitely filled with school spirit. I was intrigued with the response of one of the young ladies on my team after she had taken possession of her trophy, and I quote:
Is this all it is?  
She appeared very disappointed but I can guess why. She has been a student at WCS since kindergarten and has seen these prize basketballs constantly, perhaps even owning one herself. She wasn't ungrateful, just let down. To her, it simply was common and nothing to celebrate. I let it go- she's really a wonderful little girl.


As we went outside and were eating our watermelon, a young man saw me holding my prize- coaches get one, too- and exclaimed to no one in particular, 
"Man, I would give anything to have one of those basketballs!"

You see, this camper, who is about third grade age, doesn't go to our school and had never seen one of these balls before. I could actually detect an ache in his voice. Part of me wanted to give him the ball but that would go against what we told the kids plus I'd have to give one to every other child. Truthfully, the ball means little to me as well; I think I'll give mine to Dat in Vietnam if I can fit it into my luggage.

Funny how one man's trash is another's treasure, or at least that's what they say. I would guess the girl, who is generous, would have given her basketball to the boy if she had only known he wanted it. Abundance seems to breed indifference. I read a book this week about Christians in China desperately wanting a Bible and sometimes facing torture for their hunger. (On my first trip to China, I gave my Bible to an army officer.) In our society, we leave Bibles laying around like they have little value; after all, many American Christians probably have five or six scattered around their houses. My only dilemma is figuring out which translation to read from today or if I feel like logging onto my laptop and taking advantage of www.biblegateway.com. The Word of God is precious and powerful and in our culture, abundantly available. In other lands, the Scriptures have been smuggled in and treated as precious as jewels. Here, even in the Bible Belt, we take it for granted. This prize should never be taken for granted especially by those of us who should realize its eternal worth. Lives are on the line in this contest.


Applicable quote of the day:
Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Ain't Misbehaving




I have many ties! Jill,  my teacher's aide, selects what I wear each day to make sure I look appropriate for a teacher. Sometimes as adults, we struggle with appropriateness in our career decisions as well. This is from February 7, 2006.

I'm wearing a Christmas tie today. It is six weeks past the holiday but there is a reason. I've worn a tie each day since the beginning of school and have yet to repeat my choice of neck wear. Several days ago, I discovered a tie with a holiday scene which I had overlooked. To extend my streak for another day, Santa and his reindeer complemented my outfit, although not well. The point is this: my tie is not appropriate for February. I get by with it because I am a guy with no fashion sense. I wish life was always that tolerant! Last week, a high school Spanish teacher in Lexington, Kentucky lost his job after showing an inappropriate movie in class. The film, The 40 Year Old Virgin, has an R rating and no connection to lesson plans. The teacher at Tates Creek High School was quoted as saying he used the video when a student brought it and told him it was funny. Based on that recommendation, the movie was viewed, the teacher was suspended, and the teacher resigned. We all make mistakes in the classroom; I have made more than my share. But when a teacher's activity in a classroom makes national news, it usually is for the wrong reasons.

We learn appropriate behavior as we mature. There are markers which indicate to doctors if a child is progressing at a normal rate of development. We learn there are certain things we do not say in public. We understand that we do not go outside without clothes. We find out what is acceptable in society and what is not tolerated. We become aware of the way to behave in worship services, at funerals and weddings, and in school. There is right and wrong. There is APPROPRIATE and INAPPROPRIATE. Part of our learning comes from training, part from observation. If our standard is simply what we witness in the world, maybe what that teacher did was not out of the ordinary and maybe excusable. But, if we use the higher standards set forth in the scriptures, those kind of lapses in judgement are far less likely to occur. Appropriate is only found twice in the Bible. In Genesis 49, Jacob gives a blessing to each of his twelve sons that was individually appropriate. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2 that good deeds are appropriate for women who declare their allegiance to the Lord. Reasonable adults understand that actions should fit situations and when ours do not, it is evident. It is evident even to a child.


Applicable quote of the day:
"What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What's the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?"

Leonard Cohen

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Legacy


This is about one of my very favorite youngsters. It's from May 9, 2011.

Alyssa came to see me this afternoon. She popped into my eighth grade Bible class to turn in her Honduras bank bottle filled with change just as she did when she was a student in my classes. Almost a senior in college, she could only stay for a minute as she had just finished a final and I believe her significant other was waiting in the car. None of my middle schoolers know her but their classroom experience has been partly shaped by Alyssa who was one of the artists who painted our Life Of Christ mural on the wall. While she was standing there, I told a little story about something she once told me about boys which I have found to be true, at least from a girl's perspective. But the main thing I wanted my eighth graders to know about Alyssa was really about her family. Her parents are from the Philippines and I don't believe they are extremely wealthy. And yet, during Alyssa's first year at Westbury Christian, look at where their money was going: Alyssa was a WCS freshman, her brother Abner was a WCS sophomore, her brother Aldrin was a WCS junior, and her brother Alvin was a WCS senior. On top of that, her sister Astrid was in medical school. You don't need a calculator to know their tuition bills were steep. But their investments have paid off- five great, educated kids with morals and a relationship with God. (I'm going on reputation with Astrid who I've never met but judging from her siblings, she's in the same league.) We show what we value by the spending of our money and the spending of our time. Without a doubt, this is one family that values its children. It's an investment that is already paying dividends in world class offspring.

Applicable quote of the day:
"We all grow up with the weight of history on us.  Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies." 

Shirley Abbott

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

When Jasmine Turned Her Back




My Bible classes do quite a bit of memorizing. The eighth graders memorize a combination of hymns and  scripture but the juniors, with the exception of Lead Me To Some Soul Today, only do Biblical passages. I know not everyone sees the value in memorization but I think it has great merit. It also helps I'm very good at memorizing so it was a natural carry over into my teaching career, starting with my years instructing in the social sciences and continuing into my time in the Bible department. This past week, my Gospels classes comprised of 11th graders recited on paper this passage/prayer by Paul which is found in Ephesians 3:20-21:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
As always, we rehearse a number of times before we put pen to recycled paper. The words are on the screen and I give often silly categories and if you fall into that group, you have to say the verse with me. For example, "Whoever has been to WHATABURGER in the last month" or "Whoever thinks they need a haircut" or you can make them up as you go as I do. Actually, the kids get a kick out of it and sometimes I let them choose the subsets for the group chant. (Side note- this may not come as a shock but my best memorizers are almost always from Asia.) On that particular day, I added a twist. In my third period class, I told Aliya that if she could recite the verse flawlessly, everyone would get two points or the equivalent of a correct word added to their grade. Aliya, new to WCS this fall, nailed it! In fifth period, I decided to make the same offer so I chose Jasmine, a wonderful young lady who was also in my Bible 8 class three years ago. She accepted the challenge but before she began her recitation, she did something that caught me off guard. Without announcing herself, Jasmine stood up and turned  her back to the screen. Then, she perfectly quoted the forty-four words flawlessly and sat back down, greatly appreciated by her classmates who saw their grades automatically go up on the merit of Jasmine's excellent memory. Not surprisingly, she made a 100% when it came time to write out the verse on paper.

In my next class, I made the same offer. Klyde, Andrew, and Kevin all missed by one word and it had to be perfect to count. (Two of the three missed the word all.) Finally, Lance nailed it and the two point addition was given to everyone. Here is what I found fascinating. Before we began, I related the story of Jasmine and her posture when saying Ephesians 3:20-21. Guess what all the boys did? All of them stood up and turned their back to the screen in identical fashion. In all the years we have followed this procedure for memory verses, no one had ever turned away like this young lady did. My take is that now we have a precedent.

I'm not sure why Jasmine turned her back when called upon and I have no plans to ask her. My guess is that she wanted there to be zero doubt that she was being honest and not sneaking a peek. Here's the thing, though. NO ONE who knows her would ever have had that notion cross their mind. She is as honest a student as I have ever had. Jasmine is a young woman of integrity. But I'm glad she did face away from me and the screen. Too often we try to straddle lines of what's right and wrong. Oh, we'll do the right thing but we like to flirt with the bad. In Ephesians 5:3, Paul denounces immorality and impurity and greed while adding there should not even be a hint of these evils in our lives. I think we like being edgy and drop a few hints here and there about stuff we deep down know is wrong. Not Jasmine. She steers her life away from even the hint of dishonesty. Last week, she said it loud and clear. And she didn't have to say a word.

Applicable quote of the day:
Children who see parents model care, love, respect, generosity, self-control, integrity, and faith in Christ are much more likely to exhibit those traits in their own lives. 

Mark J Musser

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Friday Nights

For seventeen years, I was manned my position on the WCS football chain gang at home games. You always hold your breath when you see kids go down and not get up and on the sidelines, you have an unobstructed view. The following, from September 4, 2008, is about a high school injury from a very personal perspective.

I talked to Jared in the hall today at school. He showed up on a prayer request this week for a football injury suffered in last Friday night's opening victory. Jared told me the injury might require the insertion of screws into one of his fingers and he was going to the doctor to find out the prognosis. Justin, an excellent lineman for the Wildcats, missed last week's game and won't play tomorrow either as he heals from an ankle sprain. Football is a tough game and not for the faint of heart. My mom could not bear to watch my brother, Scott, play high school football in Lubbock, Texas but as a faithful mother, she was in the stands anyway. It has to be the greatest- and most gut wrenching- feeling to see your child compete. Ian told us in class today that his dad is hopeful he can get out of the hospital, where he has been readmitted for complications due to major surgery, simply so he can see his only son trot out on a football field this weekend. The Scriptures are full of examples of the Lord loving, and aching for, his children. I have no personal testimony with that experience but I know my folks rejoiced when I did and mourned when I was disconsolate. Rick Telander of Sports Illustrated below writes a beautiful but heartbreaking story about his son's football season which was supposed to begin for him last week. At the risk of a copyright violation, which I am unsure of, I have taken the liberty of reprinting it below. Please read it....and say a prayer for all the kids who compete in all the different sports and pour their hearts into their teams.


WE OFTEN play catch with a football in our yard, Zack and I. Well, the yard is too small, so we play on our driveway, and a bad throw means the ball will hit the blacktop and be gouged. But recently this old high school quarterback hasn't been able to sling a ball the kid couldn't catch or at least stop. At 17 he's a wiry 6'4", with a 6'7" wingspan, hands like pie tins. And he can sky. In junior high he finished fifth in Illinois in the high jump. He's fast, too—had the fastest 300-yard shuttle time on the football team this summer—and agile. He started on the sophomore basketball team, still owns club swimming records, was a terrific diver and has thrown a baseball 260 feet. Last spring he made all-conference in lacrosse.
But football is something he loves with a passion, and, after playing cornerback, safety and quarterback, this was going to be his bust-out senior season as a varsity wide receiver, the position he was meant to play. I called him "White Randy Moss" when I threw to him. "Dad, I can't wait to score a touchdown," he'd say. "I can't wait."
All winter he lifted weights, and all summer he worked with the team, honing routes, catching pass after pass from strong-armed junior quarterback Tommy Rees, snaring balls that were nearly silent as they nestled in his hands. The season opener was approaching, and the excitement was building in Lake Forest. Never before had our high school team played at home under lights. But after more than a year of fund-raising by the sports moms and the booster group, the lights had been installed and the switch would be thrown on Friday at 7 p.m.
Then on Monday, while running sprints at practice, Zack went down. The kids running next to him thought he'd had a heart attack. It was his right knee. The MRI was inconclusive, but the leg was locked in a slight bend as if it were welded that way. I had ridden my bike over to practice earlier that day, sitting far up in the empty stands, out of sight, as I like to do. I had left when the sprints started. Boring stuff, and I had a long way to ride. But when I got home, Zack was already there, on crutches, a haunted look in his eyes.
The surgery came on Thursday, and Ed Hamming, the orthopedic surgeon and a family friend, said it went well. Zack's torn and buckled meniscus was sewn back together, a small part was removed, and now, in a straight-leg brace, he would begin to heal. How long? A couple months or so. The football season would be over.
Just that morning, Aug. 28, a full-page article had appeared in the suburban paper with a photo of Zack catching a ball in practice under the headline: TELANDER WILL BE TOP TARGET IN LF'S PASSING GAME. The writer had mentioned that I used to play ball, and had asked Zack if his dad had given him any advice. Zack answered, "He said there is nothing better than high school football or high school sports, and that one should never take any moment on the field for granted."
On Friday morning Zack and I went to a pancake restaurant. Zack sat in the backseat of the car, barely fitting from door to door. "Dad," he said, "is my knee going to be O.K.?"
I assured him it was. What dad wouldn't? He had taken a shower—that was an effort—and the Steri-Strips on his knee had fallen off the three single-sutured holes, revealing the inked word Yes on his kneecap, written by a nurse so the doctor would know which leg to cut.
After a time he said, "I think I had a life experience a couple years ago when I saw this movie called Outside Providence. Have you seen it? It's kind of a kid's movie."
I told him I hadn't.
"The narrator is this guy who says, 'My younger brother Jackie had an accident when he was a kid. We were playing touch football, and he fell off the roof.'" Zack laughed at that, and so did I. "But the brother doesn't cut Jackie any slack. No pity. He's in a wheelchair, but his brother's always yelling at him, 'Come on Jackie, hurry up! We're gonna be late!' Feeling sorry for somebody only makes them feel worse."
"You're right, bud. That is so true."
There are many tragic things in life. What is a missed season? A wounded limb? A chance lost? I told myself those things were inconsequential. That even if they weren't, they were blind bad luck, nothing you could do, move on. A large, hand-lettered sign had appeared on our front doorstep the night before. It read, GOOD LUCK ZACK! GO SCOUTS! BEAT THOSE PIRATES. It was signed, THE VARSITY CHEERLEADERS. They didn't know.
At the game I watched my son stand on the sideline as his teammates rallied to a 30--15 victory over Palatine. He wore his jersey, number 13—was that the cause?—and he tried to stay up with his pals. But when they jubilantly left the field, he was alone, moving awkwardly on his metal crutches.
I thought back to my senior season. Wasn't it yesterday? Under my hometown lights in downstate Peoria, we Richwoods Knights rained down hellfire on those who dared enter our house. There were the seven noble stitches in my chin, the cheerleaders in forest green and white, the white-booted Royalettes, my wise-guy buddies in the stands, the kids in the band, the tubas, the flutes, the swishing pom-poms, parents up high where adults should be, neighbors there too, even teachers. And then there was the football arcing through the velvet sky, under those Friday night lights, a bright, flickering orb of danger and unimaginable joy.
I stand away from the large exiting crowd now, in my blue TURN ON THE LIGHTS T-shirt and think of my son. And for a moment it's almost more than I can bear.


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Biggest Loser


I cannot keep up with anything! This is from January 16, 2006.

I am no fan of reality television. The shows seem scripted which life is not. There is one reality show which I think I am perfect for- The Biggest Loser. Competitors vie to see who can lose the biggest percentage of their body weight. It does appear that some contestants achieve radical transformations in both their bodies and self-esteem levels. You have to love that much! The reason I believe I am THE BIGGEST LOSER has nothing to do with calories or workout regimens. I could be the undisputed champion because I lose EVERYTHING! When I coached and taught in Tennessee, I put my keys on a six foot yellow jump rope to help me keep up and I still misplaced them. One night, I received a phone call from a student, Gina Bentley. She told me, "Coach Hawley, I found your checkbook!" When I inquired where she made her discovery, the exact location was a newspaper vending machine outside the local Kroger. I must have left it when purchasing a USA TODAY. I have no doubt the Lord put Gina there that night to rescue me from my own ineptitude. I love my parents with all my heart but apparently something was lacking from their contributions to my DNA portfolio.

At Westbury Christian School, we receive our paychecks on the 1st and the 15th of the month. The 15th in January fell on Sunday so we were paid on Friday the 13th. (That should have been a tip off.) When I got ready make my deposit on Saturday, my bi-monthly check was nowhere to be found! I went through my clothes from the previous day and the rest of my dirty laundry. I searched under every pile of stuff it could have used as a hiding place and poked in the trash can at our community apartment mail boxes. I dug through my car- nothing. Finally, in a last ditch effort, I drove to school, hoping it MIGHT be in my classroom. WHEW!!!!!! There it was, on top of a bunch of assorted junk on my desk. I have no remembrance of how it got there and I know I will NEVER lose it again...until the next time.

In Luke 15, Jesus teaches three parables in response to complaints he was fellowshipping with SINNERS, i.e. the lost. The best known of the trio of lessons is commonly referred to as the Prodigal Son. The others involve one lost sheep and eerily similar to my fiasco, lost money in the guise of one silver coin that goes missing. If someone had actually found my paycheck and cashed it, my net loss would have been 1/24th of my salary or 4.2% of my yearly earnings. In Jesus' parable, a woman loses only one coin but it represents 10% of her wealth, potentially a much more devastating loss than what I faced. The common theme of Luke 15 is that one is an important numeral to God and rejoicing always follows rescue, whether a coin, a sheep, or a son. I am not ashamed to admit I rejoiced and breathed easier, too. I was looking at stopping payment on the check and asking our business office to issue another. I would have been just a little sheepish about that! In the CBS show Without A Trace, when someone goes missing, the FBI hunts non-stop until the lost is found. That's what Jesus was talking about.The woman searched for her coin, the shepherd tracked down his errant sheep, and thank goodness, the Lord watches over me. It must be a full time job!

Applicable quote of the day:
"I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." 

Martin Luther

God bless,
Steve (rated the #1 Biggest Loser by Viri, Bouba, and Beverly, my student aides)
Luke 18:1

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Face And Voice Of A Company


It was just one of those days! This is from March 15, 2013.
Do you ever feel the Lord sent someone just to you? Like there was one perfect person to get you through the predicament you were in and they just appeared? That happened to me today and not just once, but twice. I awoke this morning to find my Internet not working. Sometimes it's slow getting kicked into gear but after several hours, I knew there was something wrong. I mentioned I upgraded to a cell phone six days ago which required some changes to my Internet service but it stayed with AT+T. Two days ago, there was a notice on my door that a guy named Sam had come by and connected me back up. Since it worked fine, I thought end of story but it's never that easy. Sam kindly left his name/number on the notice so this morning, I called him. He was in the neighborhood so he stopped by. He explained I needed a new password and had to register my new account  Since he was there, he did it for me, explaining as we talked that he has been with AT+T for thirty-two years, a rarity these days, and why my Internet was so slow in the morning- my shutting off the modem every night . I thought that was all she wrote but when I came home from working out this afternoon, the Internet was out again and my laptop kept directing me to an AT+T site which took me fifteen minutes to go through, telling me something I didn't understand. I wasn't frustrated, just resigned that all the stuff I need to get done tonight and tomorrow would be interrupted by trying to figure out how to fix the problem. Well, maybe I was feeling sort of sorry for myself but I prayed about it and called the AT+T tech support line. I was connected to a wonderful lady named Elizabeth. For the next forty-five minutes, she walked me through a series of fairly complicated sequences on my laptop and not only restored my service, but corrected several issues I was having which I didn't even know I was having. I asked her if she worked from a script with all these scenarios written out but she told me she simply has them memorized. Here's the amazing thing- Elizabeth acted like I was doing her a favor for allowing her to help me. Before we hung up, which I guess you don't actually do with a cell, I profusely thanked her repeatedly. My Internet had been restored but so had some faith in corporate America.

You may disagree and that's your prerogative but I don't think it's coincidental my path coincided with that of Sam(uel) and Elizabeth today. You might say they were just doing their jobs but if you know anything about my lack of even the most basic tech skills, you know that not just anybody can help me sort things out. Then there's the name thing. You Bible scholars are way ahead of me. You know that Samuel's mother, Hannah, prayed for a baby and he was the answer. You know Elizabeth prayed for a baby and the result was John the Baptist, even being announced by the angel Gabriel to Zechariah! The Bible says both Hannah and Elizabeth were barren but these two women of God produced two men of God who were essential in the story of the Messiah, and both life long Nazirites! (I know all my students can effortlessly list the five parts of taking this ancient vow.)You know, the world may not care about a Bible application to this story but it might about customer service in an age of lowered expectations. I mean, I'm the one who thanks the employees at the grocery store and fast food chains when good business practice teaches it should be the other way around. But now, when I think of this huge corporation, I'll associate AT+T with Sam and Elizabeth, whose last names I don't know and in her case, I can only go on a voice. Come to think of it, that might be a good application for Christians. No one knows everyone in a church but they might know you or me and they could judge the group, and maybe even the Savior, in the impression we make in our interactions. We will make an impression: make it a good one. I saw two pretty good examples myself today.

Applicable quote of the day:
"It's easy to make a buck.  It's a lot tougher to make a difference." 

Tom Brokaw

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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