Category: Uncategorized

Happy Dad’s Day

I was unfairly blessed with an incredible dad whom I always knew loved me unconditionally. I know I’m not the perfect dad, but I’ve been blessed with three amazing daughters, all of whom make me enormously proud & none of whom I could imagine life without. If you’re half as fortunate as I am, remember to count your blessings & tell your dad you love him.
Over 25 years of teaching & coaching, I’ve known too many kids who lost their dads too soon, never knew their dads, or were stuck with jerks, deadbeats or monsters instead of decent dads. 

This weekend, keep these kids in your thoughts & prayers because it can be a painful holiday. 

For me, one of the best parts of teaching & coaching has been getting to know those kids & hopefully being able to be there for them when they’ve needed it. I could never replace a real dad, but I hope I’ve been able to help.  In many ways there are a lot of kids that I’ll always have in my heart, as if they’re my own. I know a lot of teachers think of their students as “their kids.” What a blessing that can be.

All year round why not try to be a friend or mentor to children without parents (or with broken parents)? You don’t have to be a professional teacher or coach to be a reliable, stable adult appropriately available to kids who need it. 

As the saying goes, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Psalm 68:5-6a “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.”

Multi-Front Attack on the First Amendment

c_fasm_rpr_2Collective Bargaining is the very embodiment of at least three, if not four of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment & public employees, police, fire, civil service and yes public school teachers MUST have it protected for them.
Meanwhile the Supreme Court has equated campaign money with “free speech,” so that billionaires and corporations have enormous leverage over individual voters, but workers are denied the leverage they need to balance their needs with the interests of employers, corporations and political pressure groups.
A free and freely functioning press/media is not only vital, but imperative for the functioning of a participatory democratic-republic. Incidentally, this is also protected by the First Amendment.
If Christians are honest about wanting “religious liberty,” they MUST protect this right for all religions, no matter how egregious their teachings or some interpretations or misinterpretations of their teachings may be. Ironically, the contentious travel ban on 7 majority Muslim countries not only violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, it also violates many of the teachings of Jesus Christ about welcoming strangers, loving our enemies, and caring for the dispossessed.
The First Amendment protects our rights to free speech & expression, peaceable assembly & association and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. If you don’t want people to riot, let them march and picket. If you don’t want them to burn or walk on flags or fly them upside-down, then don’t deride them for taking a knee instead of singing the national anthem.
Voting is the most important means of exercising our First Amendment right to freedom of thought and participation in our democratic-republic. The Voting Rights Act was intended to protect this. In recent years it has been gutted and Congress has refused to renew it. In that climate, state governments and officials have taken advantage of the opportunity to make it harder for groups of voters to exercise their God-given right.
Meanwhile systemic dysfunction plagues our criminal justice system. You can argue that you don’t believe it’s “institutionalized racism,” but regardless of cause, there is unarguably demonstrable gross inequity in arrests, grand juries, prosecution and incarceration. Even if this weren’t deliberate discrimination by design- it is undeniable that huge portions of our population are having their 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendment rights violated or ignored.
So that when Senator with a recognized history of racism has been nominated to become the Attorney General, who’s very role it is to insure justice and fairness and protect the Constitutional rights of American citizens, it is only fitting that another Senator might oppose his nomination by reading a letter from the wife of a slain civil rights leader.
And when the Senate majority leader prevents her from being heard in the well of the Senate itself, not only is he violating the First Amendment right of that Senator, he his violating the rights of ALL Americans who would stand for justice and equality.
Make no mistake- “…our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”
THIS is why we can’t remain silent. I teach my students that your rights (and your brains, for that matter) are like your muscles, “use ’em or lose ’em.”
Disagree with me. Be offended by me. Think I’m over reacting to the changes in government since the election. But I can’t shut up. YOUR rights are being challenged and eroded and violated. Not just foreigner’s rights, refugees’ rights, Muslim rights, Black rights, Mexican rights, not just liberal’s rights, not just my rights, not just your political opponent’s rights. OUR rights. Americans’ rights. Human rights.
Please take this seriously. It’s not complicated or boring or academic and theoretical.
If you don’t like “#BlackLivesMatter,” how so you feel about #democracymatters? Does the First Amendment matter?
  • Religion
  • Speech
  • Press
  • Assembly
  • Petition

Don’t give up any of them. Don’t deny them to ANYONE, no matter how different they are from you, no matter how differently they exercise each right or how much you disagree with them. These are fundamental human rights. God-given rights. These are the principles on which America was founded.

https://twitter.com/pdamerica/status/825099946684735488

https://twitter.com/thenewdeal/status/819594020959744000

Preamble Principle #1 More Perfect Union

“We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union…”

Initially, the delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, no doubt were concerned that the 13 little countries that were the states would cooperate better under a single Federal government that would be more secure and more efficient than the fragile “league of perpetual friendship” offered under the original Articles of Confederation.

But it’s also the point of our original national motto found on the Great Seal of the United States; “E pluribus unum” which in Latin means, “out of many, one.”

We are not all Germans, or Spaniards or Magyars (Hungarians). We are a nation of immigrants. We are English, Dutch, French, Russian, Italian, Polish, Greek, Lithuanian, Senegalese, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, Malaysian, Nigerian, Somalian, and don’t forget Sioux, Navajo, Inuit and Cherokee. Americans are by our very definition, a blend, a mix, a hybrid.

We need to come together in spite of our differences, political, religious, philosophical, linguistic, cultural, gender, age and economic. Singles have different interests than couples and families. Retirees have different interests than children or those of working age. Civilians have different needs than military personnel. Rural has different needs than urban. Urban different than suburban.

But somehow we still need to overcome out differences, hash-out and negotiate compromises until we settle on common-ground so that we can coexist and better yet work together toward common goals… goals like, oh I dunno, just grasping for anything here… “justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, the general welfare,” and just maybe “the blessings of liberty.”

United we stand, divided we fall. There’s power in numbers. We’re all in this together.

Sure we all want to be independent, but to remain independent, we need to lean into our interdependence for the sake of our common goals and interests.

I’ll tolerate debate and discussion about degrees of sharing and balance, but be careful when toying with concepts like nullification, interposition and especially secession because Americans gave their last full measure of devotion to help maintain this union.

 

POEM; All God’s Children

 

All God’s Children
Seared in flames
One hundred years later
One hundred years later
Still languishing
One hundred years later
Where is freedom?
Where is justice?
One hundred years later,

All God’s Children
We cannot walk alone.
As we walk
As we walk

All God’s Children
We can never be satisfied
We can never be satisfied
We can never be satisfied
Until justice rolls down

All God’s Children
I have a dream today
I have a dream today
I have a dream

All God’s Children
This is our hope
This is the faith
With this faith
With this faith

All God’s Children
Work
Pray
Struggle
Go to jail
Stand up
Together
Together
Together

All God’s Children
Let freedom ring
Let it ring
Let it ring
Ring
Ring
Ring

Free at last
Free at last

All God’s Children
Free at last
At last
Thank God Almighty

One hundred years later
Still languishing

All God’s Children
One hundred years later

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Don’t Look Down

Here’s something I wrote waaaay back in 2002. I keep it on my Cheer Coach’s Website. When I get negative or down, I need to remind myself of this.

Today’s lesson in church was from Hebrews 12:1-3 reminded me of the importance of focus and of allowing yourself to be encouraged by others.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

In other words, look straight ahead, keep your eye on the prize, trust your squad, and whatever you do, don’t look down.


ChristineXNovember 2002

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but cheerleaders learn it every year, usually in the searing heat and glare of the late summer sun at camp, long before the school year and the football season begin. The lesson is, Don’t look down. Put another way, attitude determines altitude.

Pilots know this. If you raise the aircraft’s nose up, the plane flies up. Cheerleaders have to learn this too; where your eyes go, your body tends to follow. If you look straight ahead at the crowd, you’ll keep your balance, look down, even for an instant, and your body will begin to lean.

Cheer is not the only sport in which this principle applies. A basketball shooter doesn’t watch the ball, to make a basket, they have to focus on the hoop. Golfers can try to follow their ball after they swing, but at that instant they follow through, they’d better be concentrating on where they want the ball to go if they want to avoid a wicked slice.

A few weeks ago PBS host Allan Alda talked to University of Arizona scientists about this on his show, Scientific American. It seems that whether it’s a tennis serve or a volleyball serve or a hunter after a pheasant, the principal is the same- where you look, there you go. Don’t look at the ball, look at where you want it to go, don’t look at the bird, aim at where you expect it to be the moment your shell reaches the same point in space.

If you don’t want to fall, don’t look down. Principles are things that can usually be applied in other areas of life. That’s why sports are good for kids, they learn valuable life lessons without even realizing it- a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Seems there have even been studies that suggest that while you’re walking down the street, if you tend to constantly be looking at the ground, your mood sours, whereas if you look up more, you’ll naturally become more upbeat, less tense, even happy. One theory is that when you look ahead or up, more light can make it into your eyes. In the fall and winter when days get short and clouds hide the sun or people stay inside all day, some people begin to suffer symptoms of what doctors call seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So looking up can literally, physiologically keep you “up.”

Let’s use our “don’t look down” principle as an analogy for other things.

Take people. If we expect the worse, they probably won’t disappoint us. If we’re critical of them or defensive toward them, they’ll treat us as we’ve treated them. If we look for even one good thing in them and appreciate it, we may even bring out the best in them.

Take politics. If a candidate focuses only on what’s wrong about his opponent, he or she only turns off the voter. America is fundamentally an optimistic place, voters want to know what the candidate’s hope and plans and qualifications are. Ever notice how when one person is looking up, everyone else starts looking up? We want to see what they see. “What is that? What are they looking at?” It’s compulsive. That’s leadership.

Take work. If you focus on how hard it is or how unpleasant, it only makes it more unpleasant. Time drags on when you watch the clock. If you focus on a goal or your accomplishments, it’s much easier.

Take business. If you focus on your obstacles, expenses or irate customers, you’re dooming yourself. If you focus on trying to build relationships, and on trying to provide your customers with what they want and need, you’re bound to succeed.

Take religion. There’s Law and Gospel, right? The Law shows us that this world is messed up because people are basically selfish and short sighted. What does that get us? It’s meant to humble us and make us realize that we need God. Great, but if we never stop focusing on how bad we are and how bad everybody is, we’ll never get on with living. The Gospel is the good news that God loves us even though we’re selfish and short-sighted. It shows us that He wants to have a relationship with us and He wants to help us be selfless and broaden our vision.

Take any problem we have or all of life for that matter. Take society in general. If we insist on always being critical or negative, where does that get us. Nowhere, stuck, stagnant, digging downward. But if we look forward or look up, guess what- we’ll at least stand firm and tall, at best, we’ll start moving forward.

Many a cheerleader who has the bruises to prove that “don’t look down” is one of the most important lessons anyone can ever learn.