Sunday, October 31, 2004

So long to go...

Still working on grading. Alice in Wonderland, a new rendition... is on the Hallmark channel. Normally I'm not up for that station as the movies aren't worth much to me. However, this one reminds me of the Disney version, or the real old version of the nasty Jabawaki - how I was freaked out by that! Still... reminds me of happy childhood days when I had little or no responsibility.

Concerned still for a few students that may not be faring so well in the aftermath of all the stress of lately. I want so much to help them, but I know there is only so much that I can really do.

Had a beautiful day today, good times with good friends. Some awesome opportunities may be heading my way based on some events of the day.

Where do we go from here?

Went to see Subseven, Falling Up, Project 86, and Pillar tonight at Lancaster Mennonite School. Great show... I forgot how good Project is... I mean.. at Purple Door they had the whole crowd slinging mud on stage and may never get invited back... but they are a talented hard core band that doesn't scream much. The bass player makes the band... very powerfully driven music. The lead singer came out with his face painted like a skeleton for Halloween and talked about how Halloween came out of a Christian holiday where Christmas and Easter evolved from secular holidays. I get the feeling he likes to mess with Christian theology a lot. I appreciate that... but a few things he had to say were a bit off I think. He was talking about how they play shows at bars in order to get put out with other really good bands... to go play at other summer music festivals... and that he wanted the Christians to come to see them to help them get booked elsewhere strangely he was addressing this to a crowd of mostly high school kids). Sorta on track... but he's missing the reason why he wants the band to play at Ozzfest or any of the other festivals. All the Christian bands that have stepped out into the "secular" music scene have been well recieved, and they don't have to rely upon a Christian fan base to make it... but they all originate from a reason to not only entertain the youth group kids, but play for kids that don't do the church or God thing. Still a good band either way.

I didn't get to hear much of Subseven or Falling Up... but both were pretty hard. Both also involved some amazing stunts on behalf of the musicians... a lot of running, stepping onto the guitarists leg, and doing a flip during the middle of their lyrics. Pretty sweet show. Musically they were good. However, the sound guys weren't mixing blanaces to well as the lead singers were all muffled. I could balance it better!

Pillar was good. They have an amazing drummer with a huge trap set... I think the guy went through over a dozen sticks because he either lost his grip or threw them at the crowd. The guitars were good, and the lead singer - well... I've concluded that his voice was more nasal than the other 3 1/2 times I've seen the band (1/2 = the start of their set @ Purple Door that got shut down due to the torrential downpour and lighting all about). I think he usually has some effects usually on his channel that weren't included tonight.

The crowd was definitely moving tonight... the security guy had to stop the show twice for safety concerns. While observing all this.. I began to think about the fact that the teenage years really are a huge transition. In the teenage years we look(ed) for a sense of independance - from doing what the parents require, from the rigid schedule of school, from the kids we grow up with. Yet as the independance is expressed, we also have an innate desire to be part of something bigger. We seek acceptance. We want to be a part of a larger group doing something... whether it is a sports team or other organized team... or to feel that the hype of a RAWK show partly lays on your own shoulders... we want to be a part of something beyond ourselves. This can be great, or it can be very destructive, depending on the path we choose. My high school years resulted in wanting to help my close friends... sometimes in heroic efforts to talk them out of suicidal thoughts, to stay up forever late camping at Creation 96 at Hershey pushing water off the tarp covering tents to save camp, or doing the youth group thing... I wanted to be involved, to matter to more than just my parents, and to take an active role in something. It's an amazing force, a great desire, and a huge part of feeling like an adult. For some like me... the sense that "we're all in this together" never really goes away.

I took a bunch of pictures at the show... I'll upload them tomorrow or Monday.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Rough times

Romans 5:2-5 We exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Rejoice in tribulation? What in the world is that? God expects me to be happy when times are rough? Is this for real? Apparently so... but why? I find myself thinking that when the workload seems to steep, when I've got a schedule so tight that I have to plan time to sleep, and beyond all that - I dream about all that I need to do. During the midst of that, I know there are people I need to check in with - for my benefit or theirs... whatever the reason - I know there is a point to communicating with them. How in the world will this crazy time end?

Though hard times arise, it causes me to want to endure and overcome the insanity. How I handle circumstances when no one else is looking or is around reveals my character. Do I only do my work and accomplish something when others will notice, or is it a constant state of mind? I strive for it to be how I am daily. Beyond all this effort, I know on the other side of these trials and difficult times, God has a plan that will be fulfilled. God allows these trials to come my way because they will result in further hope. He also gaurentees that he will not bring more than I can handle... and that I will never be alone - or apart from Him during this.

Currently listening to: These Are the Days by Kids in the Way

The cold October air is blowing in my hair. And I'm losing everything I never thought I would. Where is that old playground. Where is that old sundown, when I would come home late an hour or two. These are the days when We will see all our yesterdays are memories. The tides will rise. The winds will turn. And We are drowning and growing from the burn. The red October leaves hold on to barren trees. And frailty is where We became so strong. Where is that old gun fight. Where is that old twilight, when fire flies were on the run.

Friday, October 29, 2004

I don't understand . . .

I don't understand your ways
Oh but I will give you my song
give you all of my praise

you hold on to all my pain
with it you are pulling me closer and
pulling me into your ways

Now around every corner
up every mountain
I'm not looking for crowns
or water from fountains
I'm desperate in seeking,
frantic believing
that the sight of your face
is all that I'm needing

I will say to you

Its gonna be worth it,
Its gonna be worth it all,
I believe this.
Its gonna be worth it,
Its gonna be worth it all,

Rita Springer

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Ah, the end of presentation week... a sigh of relief .... I still have all those research papers to grade though. Sounds like a fantastic weekend??? Okay, so if I get up early on Saturday morning - as in... set my alarm to be up by 9 - I'll be done in time to go to the show Saturday night. I'm hoping to be so productive. Wishful I know... but maybe a miracle will happen. It's been nearly 2 months since I've been to a good rock show.

So, the first practice went okay. Got to work with 2 really great kids. Hope the stick with the team.

Been thinking about the grace of God, and how free He is to give it. I've been digging through the book of Romans... and Romans 5 is particularly hitting me over and over. Mankind is born sinful, God knows before we are born that it will happen. Daily we face what we'd refer to as sin... in losing our temper, lying, cheating, for that matter... being a lawbreaker by speeding down the road. Yet God (this phrase indicates soooo much hope), God, the ultimate creator of everything with omnipotent powers beyond my understanding, chose to provide restoration and the ability to overlook every single thing I've done that causes offense. God, who cannot stand to be in the presence of sin, made a way for me, while I was yet in my sinful ways. Not only has God overlooked the very things that should cause me to spend eternity without Him, He determined to send His only son to endure Hell just to be with me... I mean... who am I that He should do this for me. I'm the one that has a hard time taking a compliment, or feeling worth caring about... and while in that mindset... Christ paid my price. What I've done, God cannot and will not tolerate. However, When God looks at me, He doesn't see all my wrongs. He looks at me through the eyes of Christ who says "Father forgive them".

The fact that this grace, which I can never earn, is issued to all who not only believe that Christ has paid our price, but also who want to pursue a life for His honor - to live as He desires. Those that run after such things, God not only lavishes His amazing love, but also desires to spend time with me. When I was still seperated from His presence, I had nothing worth living for... worth striving after. Yet, the reasons can be heard like a whisper in the wind. God is near enough to feel the heartbeat, the breath on my face, the small delights I see every day in all His creation, or in sitting down (with a cup of hot coffee) and just listening. There is something worth living and worth dying for. I will never claim that life is easier just because I attempt to adhere to Christ's standards and ways. However, I know my aim, I know enough about the reason, and I know I don't want to spend a day away. If anything, there are much more trials, but it is a sign of God's refining process - much like gold. First the dirt is cleared away, then a good washing, followed by utter meltdown, reforming into something new, and being used for something. In the midst of it all, it is easy to loose site of the grand scheme. Yet God, so rich in mercy and grace, reached out beyond all my shortcomings, to take hold of me when I was to weak to reach for Him. Grace so amazing and divine...

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Busy all the time

So it's close to that time again... what time is that you wonder... that time when suddenly EVERYTHING is due. I held out as long as possible on collection dates from students... but I'm also finding that no matter how differently I approach this each time... presentation week is the best yet most chaotic week of the marking period. By the time I make it home in attempts to grade papers and such, I'm spent.

Yearbooks were issued at school today. I opened up immediately to my first group of seniors to graduate. In the mix of everything else I found Travis & Nate. Hard to still look there in some ways, yet good in others.

I wonder what makes some students ready to start the adventure of planning for life after high school, and others just don't want to deal with it. I've seen some students go from downright denial that life awaits and that they need to do something to a sudden and complete turnabout wanting help planning. Days are definitely different from my first year of kids... they don't seem to want to remember that year... and in many ways nor do I.

Club time today was really great. The kids I'd rarely expect to join Know FEAR are those that actually have the most questions... now for focus... haha.

I agreed to be the assistant swim coach for the Big Spring Aquatic Club. Some are thrilled yet others are annoyed that I took their high school part time job. Ooops... in any event - I think it will be a good time. I'll be busy beyond belief, but in that orderly manageable way.

Monday, October 25, 2004


Home again after yet another long day... why is this marking period so fast? Low key work day that had some ups and downs. It's really amazing to see the impact Travis had. Today alone at least 4 different students thanked me in their own way for being at the service yesterday. Sometimes I wonder if they realize that I wasn't there to be the supportive teacher, but that I too, just like they do, needed the chance to grieve, hope, and wait. I thank God that Travis is with Him now... and I am just as grateful that it has sparked a fire into so many others. We stop and think about what really matters. In the days and weeks that lie ahead, it will be a difficult task to return to some sense of "life as normal", yet we must never forget. We slap on our trendy and worthy intended Live Strong Lance Armstrong bracelets for the cause. We want to stop and help now. Will we be so attentive in another year, how about six months, one month, or even just for one week? Will we pause and think about what really matters? Will the reason for life itself be our ambition, or will we forget the point because we were distracted by yet another event, or lack there of.

Doors open for this season, and I want to run right through them. However, I am held back to some degree. I must wait not to enter the door, but to reach through and await the day that someone else will reach out to come through. I cannot run into a burning building without the proper attire and training. I have those. However, I still cannot run in through these doors until I am asked inside... to trespass would simply be to enable yet another reason to stand in opposition to the fact that the building will eventually collapse under these conditions.

I also stop to wonder... how can I reach the unreachable. I know that as my job, I must do all that I can to ensure we have "no child left behind" and that every student reaches their potential in a way that is suitable to them. Yet when it comes down to it, I am a mere human. I am limited by time, resources, energy, and how it is received by others. My standards for myself and others are high... yet, they aren't unreachable. We must push towards perfection. Live life as if all things are possible through Christ, and rest in His presence when exhausted, and continue on in the hope that He works all things together for His perfect plan.

I want so much to do it all, but that is not up to me... it is His alone to uphold. About 7 years ago I heard a great introduction to a song... it isn't a song that I particularly cared for... but the first line spoke volumes.... "Until you find something worth dying for, you're not really living." Lofty dreams and great intentions won't suffice... I realize this frail life, as insane as it can feel, is not mine to constrain. I have no control at all... but I know that laying down my ways, thoughts, and everything else thrown my way... spilling all my baggage at the foot of the Cross will allow such freedom and joy to celebrate in His awesome presence.

Current music: Majesty

Sunday, October 24, 2004

speechless with so much to say

I’ve just returned from Travis’s funeral… and I feel a combination of being speechless yet left with so much to say. I’ve had this blog spot waiting around to get some use for quite a while, yet couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with it. I think I now know.

Two years ago, in July of 2002, I was asked to consider a position beyond what I thought that I was interviewing for. It was beyond my aptitudes to take on, and beyond my understanding of all that would come with it. I was asked to reconsider my interview as a business education teacher in the typical roles for the position of the Career Project Coordinator/instructor. This still falls under the business certification area, and I had undergone much of this in a very personal way within the 6 months leading up to the job. However, I didn’t realize just what an impact the students and community would have on me, or me on them.

I’ve come back to my house (the duplex I bought as an investment with my newfound adult income), after a moving funeral for Travis. Travis was one of my students during my first year. During that year, I took on a position that had a lot of planning, and yet nearly no effective planning put into it. My ambitious yet retired predecessors planned a lot, but I was the rookie left without much help to make something out of literally nothing. I had no resources, no materials, no curriculum, and worst of all… no place. However, I also had no clue how quickly I’d grow, and be impacted by my students.

Travis was in my first period class during the 3rd quarter. He wanted to be an art teacher, but clearly first period wasn’t his finest mental time. It was a hysterical class… by far one of my favorites. With only a dozen students in the class, it was a great chance to get to know some of them very well.

In looking back over the past 2 years, and the upcoming years that lay ahead, I see my role as the career teacher to be a privilege. Though some may scoff at the notion… I am the one teacher near the end of high school that all will have. I am still not that far ahead in my life than my students, and I feel very connected to each of them – whether they are well loved, or if they are the ones that people love to hate… I want to everything I can to help them progress from the life as a child they are tiring of, to the life as an adult that they have grand dreams to attain. Yet beyond all that, the more important aspect of life isn’t the time spent in our earthly dwellings. This aspect I don’t get to share as much as I’d like, yet this is where my ultimate concern lies. I know it is an area that only you can choose.

I learned today that Travis, in all the adult choices and decisions that he had to make, took his eternal life into consideration. Pastor Herr shared a brief description of what salvation means, and where Travis stands. I breathed a sigh of relief… I know that I will one day hang out with Trav again, without all the legalistic and stifling confines of public education. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I’d love it better if I could figure out how to make the connection with students in a way that they wouldn’t have to deny that adult life awaits, that they should make some decisions about that life now, and that it could all be done without grading or paperwork. In the end, I know that these strains can make the process more worthwhile.

So, Travis made his decisions. I look then to his friends. I’ve had the majority of his family and close friends in class. As it is my desire to see each of them live lives to the fullest purpose for which they were created, I do anything for each of them, and all the others I’ve had in class. Yet I see they are still struggling with this process. I would love to know where in the process they stand. I’d love to talk to them about why I became the first Christian in my family, why I’ve chosen to live in such a way. I’d love to tell them why I care so much, or just how much I want to see them connect to the purpose of their creation. I’d love to know that I’d spend eternity with them. Yet, I feel so distant, so disconnected, and so limited. I’d drop everything to assist, to talk, to show them the reasons why… but I am a limited and flawed human.

Travis had an impact on so many of us. He brought a surge of unity, caring, and support to our community. Before he was formed, his Eternal Father knew all the days of his life. Every struggle, every battle, every goofy moment, every night of fun, every meal, every breath – it was all known before you or I ever knew Travis. He was created for the sole purpose to know Christ, and to exalt Christ in all he does. Trav has shown us a glimpse of the love of Christ, and how is reaches beyond all our ideas or attitudes. Take courage, Travis may not be with us in a way in which we can see or hear, but Travis would want you to know the love of Christ that you now can choose to receive. If you probed him far enough, he’d tell you that the trials that come your way are not to be taken lightly… the life we are dealt is never easy to endure. But Trav always had an optimistic take on life… he focused on the good. Christ went through Hell to be with you. Don’t just weep at the loss we face or the destruction that life can offer in everyday circumstances… press on toward the goal of intimately knowing the love of Christ. It won’t be easy, but you won’t be alone. There is a plan and purpose for why you were fashioned just as you are. Find it and press on to achieve it. These daily events may seem overwhelming, but lift your eyes up to a greater purpose.

Currently listening to:
Hallelujah by Kids in the Way

A song to a friend who continues to ignore the truth and turn there back on your efforts to reach them. I'm sick and tired of watching over you. Never knowing what you're gonna do. Every step you take is closer and closer to falling far away. What's It gonna take, what's It take to make you see. If It all came down tonight. Safe from the losing fight. Just know I only want to hear you say. Hallelujah, hallelujah. He's alive in me today. Everyday you search for something new. You turn your back on things that make you choose. And everytime you do, you're closer and closer to falling far away. What's It gonna take, what's It take to make you see...

Feel free to talk to me about any of this. If you are a student, class time isn’t the best or easiest opportunity. Find me online at bigspringcareers on AIM/MSN/Y! or email me.