Tag Archives: example

Pillars

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This weekend was bittersweet.  A lot of long-time friends and I were in the same place at the same time.  However, the reason was for a memorial service for my friend’s dad, who was a teacher and administrator at the school I went to, and who was an elder and fellow congregant of the church I attended most of my life.  During the service, as due praise was being spoken, his legacy was being remembered, and it was significant because he was a servant.

 

He was a servant of Jesus Christ, and that led him to serve others around him, namely the students he taught in the classroom, the players he coached, and his own family at home.  He dedicated his life to service, and his impact was felt by those in the auditorium.

 

He was a pillar in the community.

 

As I sat there listening to memories and stories being told of this great man, I looked around the room and saw a number of my former teachers and coaches there to pay their respects.  None of them “took me under their wing,” or were full-blown mentors to me. They were just there in some way in my life as a positive influence, even when I may not have been the model student, player, or kid.  I just know and still know that if I run into them when I am in my old stomping grounds, or see them at mutual gatherings, I will receive a hug and a smile, and give them one in return.

 

This is about the pillars in my life, or some of them.  The men and women that said something to me once, that stuck, or spoke to me through years of action.  Whether it was once, whether it was a steady stream, it was significant to me, and I thank you all.

 

Thank you for taking the time.  Thank you for your life of service to role of being a teacher, or coach, or youth pastor.  Thank you for your life of love for a greater purpose. Thank you that I could be a result of your legacy (or I’m sorry because…you never know).

 

In no particular order, I’ll start with Dean Lagasse.  I met Mr. Lagasse when I was, maybe, in fourth grade. He was a summertime day camp counselor at my school, who later was my P.E. teacher, who later was my football coach, who later is just a great man I would call a friend.  I am happy to see him when I am in town and attend my home church. Mr. Lagasse, whether he meant to or not, showed me how to love by being a parent to his step kids, and, later, heaping adoration on his own daughter. He praised my athletic abilities, encouraging me to excel, and showed me that I have to work for my spot.  He did that by cutting me from the baseball team in seventh grade. There was no easy way in. You gotta work for it.

 

Mr. Lagasse, Dean, thank you for your love and service to the King.  Thank you for your sacrifice to teach students like me. Whether you knew it or not, your example made a great impact in my life.

 

Before I was in Tom Nare’s class, all of my teachers were women, which was noteworthy only because I had to wait until fifth grade to be have a male teacher.  I finally was able to be a student in his class, and he was legendary. Right now, I can’t even remember what was so noteworthy about looking forward to being in his class, but I know we all wondered and hoped to be a student in his classroom.

 

I was lucky enough to be in his math class that year.  He just had an aura of cool for a teacher. Relaxed but not a pushover.  Maybe he was cool because randomly every couple of weeks I would have random work in my folder, bring it up to him, and he would take it and give me credit.  I was supposed to turn it in, but didn’t for no particular reason. Or he would tell me to trash it. Maybe I thought he was cool because he let me get away with that.  Let’s not ask him.

 

One time, a few days after the first earthquake most of us kids had ever been in had happened, I was in class, and a fellow student was standing up against the window in the room with his back to the outside walkway.  Mr. Nare was walking the hallways and pounded on the glass as he passed by scaring the living daylights out of my classmate and most of the rest of us in class. I don’t think anyone stood up against the glass again.

 

Whatever it was about Mr. Nare, it was significant to me.  So much so that when I see him when I am in the old neighborhood and see him at church, I have to call him “Mr. Nare.”  I can’t call him “Tom”. To me, he was a pillar of cool.

 

I had mild reservations when this new guy from Minnesota showed up to lead youth ministries at my church (MY church) when I was in high school.  But I gave him a chance since he came from the church some of my friends had come from a year before when their dad was called by God to become the lead pastor of “my” church.  He seemed pretty funny, fun and knew how to connect with the kids. Tim Bolin was cool enough that I stuck around church and his mission to grow God’s kingdom until I was twenty-three.

 

Tim was fun, funny, and he made loving Jesus fun as well.  He didn’t make a joke out of church, but he wanted to rid the stereotype or idea that church was just another day at school, except God was the subject.

 

One thing he wanted to change was to kick the old people out of the front rows of service.  Our church started in the 1930’s, and, no offense, but a proportion of the congregation looked like they were there from the time they broke ground.  So Tim wanted us young kids to take over the front rows. Eventually, we did take over, and I think some of my friends still sit there now some 25 years later.  

 

Sadly, we are becoming the old people the kids will need to kick out soon.

 

I hated going to church, even though I had liked going to “Sunday School” for junior high service, because my friends were there.  In “Big Church” you had to sit, be quiet, listen – all the things junior high kids “love”. There was a short period of time when my friend Steve and I would ditch church to walk down to KFC and sneak back in until we got caught (Dad, the statute of limitations is up.  This was 30+ years ago. Please don’t get mad). When Tim showed up, he changed church into a place to be. I wanted to be there.

 

It’s a little funny now being a dad:  I am so in love with Jesus and want my kids to be too, but they don’t always want to go.  I’ll just keep praying for them and asking God to speak to them.

 

Before Tim was Randy Strickland, and he was a crack up.  I think if I didn’t know him, or know he loved God from head to toe, I would be really worried that he was actually nuts.  I can’t say I have a specific memory that makes a significant impact in my mind, but he was steady and consistent. I knew he loved God.  I knew he wanted me to love God, too, and that was his mission: to share the gospel.

 

As I am writing about Randy, there is one memory I do remember.  It was junior high winter retreat, and he was driving us in a van to a cabin in the local mountains.  There was a street that had a tree as a lane divider. He wasn’t going fast, but the streets had some snow dust so there was some risk, and he was heading right for the tree.  He got closer and closer saying, “Decisions…decisions…” until he eventually got to one side of the road.

 

I never told my parents about that, and I doubt my kids are going to tell me about their adventures when they’re in junior high, but I hope my kids have servants like Tim and Randy in their lives to help guide them through the mystery of Jesus.

 

When you’re in school, there are situations you just dread.  Getting called on to answer a question in class, to write on the board, act in a skit.  The usual kind of thing. Up until recently as an adult with a career, I was a scientist, and in school that was my focus.  So English class was not my jam. Shakespeare, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Crucible.  Kill me now.  

 

Then there are the days you walk into class and your teacher (in my case, Mrs. Fickett) says, “Hi class, it’s creative writing day!  We’re going to write a poem about your feelings.” Not exactly but the poem part was true. I had forty five minutes to write the perfect poem to avoid getting an F for the day.

 

It didn’t happen.  No poem under pressure.  I wrote a paragraph to Mrs. Fickett explaining that writing under pressure like that, to flip the switch and be creative, was not in my wheelhouse.  From what I could gather, she bought it and accepted what I submitted, because I didn’t fail 11th grade English.

 

Then, out of nowhere while I was in college, I started writing.  I started writing poems. None of them rhymed because that is too hard on my brain.  I don’t know if Mrs. Fickett would care, but I have always thought of sharing with her some of my work.  Not in a, “In your face!” kind of way. More of a, “Thanks for understanding” kind of way. Thanks for recognizing, very simply by saying, “Okay,” to what I turned in, that different people work differently in different environments.

 

But if you don’t like my writing, blame her. 🙂

 

Another legend that I had heard of before I was a student of his was Mr. Endacott.  The stories were that he was laid back, fun, and his class was cool. He lived up to the hype.  He even managed to keep his cool when he had a class full of seniors, made up mostly the “cool” kids who did not care about Human Anatomy – until the reproductive system was covered, of course.  And he maintained his cool even when he found out a friend and I were passing notes after, AFTER, we completed our AP Bio exam.

 

Endo was a big reason I became a scientist.  Science was fun, science was easy in Endo’s class.  He had an easy way to explain and help students understand biology.  He did his best to explain mitosis and meiosis, and I still can’t get the steps straight.  Endo had a picture of Gregor Mendel, the Father of Genetics and doppleganger of Sting, up on the wall, one time mumble-sang a song by The Police, and said he listened to the same morning radio show a lot of us did.  That helped with his “cool cred” in my mind, not that he needed more or my acknowledgement. I just was glad to be a student in his class.

 

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in the church, have a positive experience, and have positive Christian influences around me to help mold my thinking and idea of God.  A family that helped do that when I was in college, and even now to this day were the Swansons. Bob and Marilyn opened up their home to our college group Bible study to meet on Thursday nights for years.  Some weeks they would provide dinner for up to 40 of us, other weeks, it was potluck. Either way, “starving students” would come, eat, talk about God, His relationship with us, and our relationships with each other.  It was a chance to meet with friends, and gave me a midweek God-calibration.

 

Even though I grew up in the church, my relationship with Jesus was still superficial, or just on my terms if I needed Him.  Recently, it has grown, and I love Jesus more than ever, but if I didn’t have that foundation, I don’t think it would be as strong as it is now.  And I have Bob and Marilyn to thank for that, for helping build a pillar in my life.

 

I have been in a Men’s LIfe Group for a year and a half now.  We have met at my house a handful of times. I have to scramble to sweep, pick up the kids’ toys, and make the house mildly presentable for 4-8 middle-aged men (meaning they wouldn’t care).  The Swanson’s did that routine every week for at least 5 years. AND they got food for people without asking for anything in return. I will always remember the sacrifice they made to help plant seeds and grow the kingdom in a group of college-aged kids.

 

But their son is still a jerk, amirite?!  😉 Just kidding, he’s one of my friends I have known the longest and always can call on.

 

There are many more people that have impacted my life.  Gary Correll led my high school Life Group. He spoke on James once about faith and works, and I will never forget his words, “It’s faithworks.  Not faith AND works, or works AND faith. They go together.” Also in high school, Dan Wonser took time to meet with me and a couple of guys for breakfast once a week.  We would talk about high school life, and what’s more important in life. Kenny Murphy lead high school before Tim Bolin did, and he shared, among other things, how God used football and life to speak to him.  He also was an example of sacrifice running the high school ministry while managing and balancing his family and, I believe, a full-time job.

 

Talking about the pillars in my past makes me wonder what kind of pillar am I?  Who am I a pillar to? Do my kids see me as a pillar? A strong, positive pillar?  Or a crumbling one without a solid base?

 

In listening to sermons and podcasts, or watching the way NBC brings out the emotional stories of Olympic athletes, kids just need an influencer.  In hearing horror stories, there are negative influences that can lead to tragedy. But with an open heart and a positive role model, there is a way towards renewal and redemption.

 

I’ll make mistakes, but I hope to be a strong pillar as part of s solid foundation in Christ for my kids.

 

What kind of influence are you on your kids?  On your community? At work? What kind of foundation are you helping build in your kids?

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Blood, Swag, and Tears

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Remember that episode of Friends where Joey pretends a Porsche parked on the street as his own?  Then to try and play it up he covers himself, head-to-toe, in Porsche merch.  Ross passes by him on the street and asks him, “Did a Porsche throw up on you?!”  Our house is getting to be like that, kind of, with swag from my wife’s company.  She was gone on a week-long trip, I opened up her suitcase to put stuff away, and all the leftover swag that didn’t get into the hands of potential clients fell out.  It was like like her luggage was spitting up her swag a little in the hallway.

 

Everyone has their dreams they dream.  Some people work harder than others to achieve their dreams than others.  Then there are some who dream, don’t do any work, and wonder what is wrong with them.  Or they wonder how the people who are seeing the rewards of their hard work got so lucky.  I can be that way temporarily at times.  I hear of cool things people acquire for whatever reason, and I think they are so lucky.  Then I remember whatever the reason they are getting whatever cool thing they get is because of the work they put in, possibly for years and likely for very little reward for a long time.  I’ll tell you what I am talking about.

 

There are a couple of podcasts that I listen to that are not part of larger media outlets like NPR, or The New York Times.  A couple of the shows started as a couple of people in their garages or living rooms, turned on microphones and a computer, and pressed record.  These shows have created a following of loyal listeners.  Their show didn’t start off as a hit, or immediately go viral like NPR’s Serial or S-Town.  It was a slow build.

 

As well as podcasts, I have heard other stories of authors or public speakers and how long they had been doing their work before they were an “overnight success”.  One way I saw it was in a “Successories” type of quote that said “Overnight Success Takes Years.”

 

One particular podcast that I listen to was started by two guys literally in one of their living rooms.  It is a hockey podcast, and they have listeners across the world, with a very loyal following in Australia of all places.  Loyal listeners in the the country often send the show hosts a local dessert from Australia.  Other listeners around the world send them hockey jerseys of their local teams, or just jerseys of teams with cool logos.  When they are opening packages they receive and describe it, I get a little jealous sometimes.  I ask myself, “Why don’t I get free stuff?”  These guys don’t get paid to do their show, though.  Sometimes they have sponsors, but for a long time they paid to produce the show and give it out for free.  It is a weekly show, each episode is often two hours or more, and they have not missed a week in ten years.  THAT is why they get free stuff.  Listeners are grateful to have the podcast and want to show their appreciation and thanks.  There was a period of time they were recording the show during a graveyard shift because that was the time they had access to recording equipment.

 

I also listen to a local morning radio show and follow their Instagram account where they post pictures of free food local places will send over for promotion or just for fun.  What did they do to deserve all those cupcakes?  Or those yummy looking sandwiches?  Or all that pizza?  Oh nothing.  They just spent 20 years making people laugh in the morning on their way to work, put on concerts with some of the most popular bands in the world, and just generally entertain people.  That’s all.  Just that for 20 years.

 

For us normal folk, the rewards and spoils of life take hard work.  It might take a more time for some compared to others, but hopefully there were a few lessons learned along the way.  As kids, most of us can’t understand how other people get so lucky.  Recently, my youngest wasn’t advancing having a hard time getting motivated to go to karate class.  She was frustrated that it had been sooo loooong since she earned her last stripe (the dojo we go to has a 3-stripe process to advance to the next belt).  She forgot, however, that she had taken a couple of months away from karate class and was only going once a week to play hockey instead.  Hockey ended, she picked up karate again, and after three weeks she got her next two stripes on back-to-back days.  She remembered the benefits of hard work.

 

It is hard to remember in the moment, for all of us of all ages at different stages of life, that things take time, sometimes the road takes longer than expected, and the process is just as important as the destination.  Two things to remember:  Work takes work and it’s worth the work; and kids are looking to you as role models.  They love copying you, so copy some hard work and they might follow in your footsteps.

 

A good reminder is you reap what you sow.  It may sound cliche, I know, but you can’t deny that it’s true, can you?  Sure, some kids are going to grow up trying to avoid hard work no matter what you do.  Or if you are a lazy parent, your kids might do the opposite of you.  Who knows, but I know my girls are watching me so it’s up to me to set the best example I can.

 

When my daughter earned her stripes, she was so proud of herself, and I was so proud of her as well.  She was a little disappointed that she has to wait a month before she can officially get promoted and get her next belt, but in the meantime she is more motivated to go to class compared to the beginning of the month.

 

Also, since Christianity and faith in God rule our house, my wife and I encourage our kids to do their best because we serve God in what we do.  What we do matters also because as we serve God in our actions, people are watching and seeing how we react and walk in the world.  This is important to me, because that means I need to clean up my act too.

 

Whatever you do, put in the work.  Yeah, most days it sucks to work hard.  I certainly wish I didn’t have to, but I know there is a greater reward down the line for me.  The reward may not even be for me, but if my kids are rewarded by my hard work and learn how to build on it, that would be worth it.

 

Now go bust your ass!

 

After you watch this video:  https://youtu.be/ZqWa1c4sf9Q

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Why Lent Is A Great Example For Your Kids

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When you hear of fasting, you probably think of not eating, and you probably think of it as something that was only done in the Old Testament or what Jesus for 40 days while He was tempted by Satan.  That is how I thought about Lent.  Or when you think about Lent, you consider it something Catholics do. Since fasting was something that was done in the “olden times”, it didn’t apply to me.  Kind of like, “God, you didn’t have rice krispy treats, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Pepsi, so You can’t expect me to stop eating that stuff for 40 days, right?”  Also thinking that I didn’t have to participate in Lent because I wasn’t Catholic was just an excuse.  However, I think by excluding myself from Lent or fasting any other time is that I am limiting God’s work in my life.  I am taking away an opportunity for God to exhibit his strength in my life.

 

After moving to the town we’re in, we found a church that we liked and the pastor encouraged everyone to participate in Lent.  So the past three years we have been fasting for Lent, and I have found it rather easy.  I wrote about it in a post last year that I’ll link to at the end of this, but it was easy because I had made a commitment to God.  Not to say that other commitments to God have been easy to stick to, but, for some reason, for me, Lent has been really easy to commit to.  Our church has a fasting purpose of fasting from something, for something and for someone during Lent.  The first year we participated I fasted from sugar and spending money on snacks like Starbucks, soda or candy bars from the vending machines.  Year two I fasted from listening to podcasts, except sermons-I listen to a lot of podcasts that include sermons from other churches.  Then year last I fasted from social media-I use Twitter to keep up with news, but it is just an excuse to play with my phone.  All those were pretty easy to commit to.  There were definitely some temptations.  I certainly was in the habit of checking Twitter or Facebook every so often just to see what was going on in the world.  I found without those things, I didn’t have much of a use for my iPhone, which made my wife happy.

 

Granted, these things that I have fasted from don’t solve world hunger or world peace, but they were clearly of some importance to me, and it was important to see God give me strength.  He definitely has before, but if He will give me strength in something relatively insignificant I know He can give me strength in larger things too.  Same goes with faith:  he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much (Luke 16:10).

 

This year’s Lent, so far, has been a little bit tougher.  I gave up junk food, which includes sugar, soda, chips, etc.  On Day 5 or 6 I was wondering if Lent was over yet, which is the equivalent of getting in the car on a road trip and your kids asking if we are there yet after getting on the freeway.  My coworkers happen to have brought in cookies at various times, and just the other day was someone’s birthday that prompted cake and ice cream.  Wisely I went to lunch and ate my steamed broccoli and roasted chicken breast…in the breakroom…alone.  One of my coworkers asked me what my favorite kind of cake is and to get that kind to celebrate that birthday.  I just slumped in my chair and wept on the inside.

 

A couple of my coworkers still tried to get me to eat the cake by saying, “God understands.”  I’m sure He does, but that’s not the point, is it?  To see what God tolerates?  To see what God forgives?  So she was trying to encourage me and told me that the Pope said that if Lent is too hard, just give to charity instead.  That offsets everything.  I thought that was a weird thing for the Pope to encourage, so I looked it up.  Turns out the Pope did say to give to charity, but he didn’t say to give instead of fasting.  What he did say is that Lent is a time to see that we are in need regardless of how rich we are, and in turn should give to charity and help others also in need.

 

We are all in need, including our kids.  Obviously, kids need guidance, but this time of Lent can be a great time to be an example to our kids and teach them about sacrifice, fasting, and God’s strength in our lives.  During lunch one day Zoey offered me something or tried to get me to eat something like chips or yogurt-covered pretzels.  I told her I couldn’t because I was fasting for Lent.  She asked what that was, and I explained it to her.  Then she asked the important question:  “Do kids have to do that?”  I said no, unless you wanted to.  Lent can be a great time and opportunity to model for your kids how and why you’re fasting, and to show how God provides during that time.

 

Junk food is hard enough, but I feel like I am being attacked, which is a little weird to think about in the physical/metaphysical way.  I feel like Satan is attacking me and tempting me with food and my heart and attitude.  I believe this is happening because I am trying to be a good boy during Lent, and the few people I have a contentious relationship with have been getting on my last nerve a lot easier lately.  Tasha asked me once during a stormy time if I thought I was being attacked, and I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, “I don’t know.”  I just never thought about being personally attacked by Satan.  I know there is evil and that bad things happen, but I never thought of myself as someone Satan would attack.  I have never thought of myself as someone who would be important enough to be attacked.  The thing is, we are all important enough for Satan to attack.  I am also fasting this year for a friend’s salvation.  This makes me the perfect target for Satan, because he wants the opposite of God’s will.

 

This is why I need God’s strength.  This is why you do too.  This is why Lent is important:  for you and me to see that I am in need of God’s strength in my life.  I am in need.  You are in need.  God is the only one who can save us.  I can’t do it on my own without getting tired and feeling beat down.  I can do it, and live in freedom while doing so, with Him and through Him.

 

I need strength to turn away from temptations to eat junk food, gossip about or with others, let my mind wander where it shouldn’t, or get angry over small things that my kids do.  Not eating junk food is a bit tough and takes some more energy to focus on because it is normally such a little thing.  Eating a bag of chips at lunch or a candy bar is normally not a big deal, but when it becomes a bigger thing when trying to avoid it.  And it never ends with just one bag or one candy bar, does it?  One leads to two leads to a soda leads to regret.  Or is that just me?

 

Lent can also be a time to show your kids as well as others around you that you are choosing to be joyful during your fast and that joy comes from God.  Just as God appreciates the cheerful giver, God appreciates the cheerful faster, or Lenter (2 Corinthians 9:7).  I’m sure that’s not a word.  A cheerful person at Lent doesn’t intuitively make sense since you are depriving yourself of something you want or would like to have in your life.  That is where the joy and strength of God steps in.  He fills that part of you, which He has a number of times during this season for me, and fills it with His joy and love.  Somehow every year so far I have given up something but found myself in a better place.  

 

Just like choosing to fast for Lent, God gives us the choice to follow Him or not.  He gives free will to all of us, and He loves us enough to sacrifice His Son for us.  He does not want us to choose Him out of force or to make Himself feel good, like stroke His ego.  Like He needs that.  He wants to know that we came to the decision on our own.  Following God is a choice.  Fasting for Lent is a choice and a great time to show faithfulness to God.  In turn, He will show faithfulness to you with strength and a blessing at the end.  I encourage you to fast sometime, either at Lent or another time and ask and watch God work in your life.

 

The start of Lent last year – http://thedadlife.tumblr.com/post/111451021169/40-days

 

Last year’s look back on Lent – http://thedadlife.tumblr.com/post/115646126934/learnings-from-lent

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