Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I used to read a lot of Stephen King when I was younger.  I always enjoyed reading books that were rather advanced; I like to think that I was a pretty good reader.  I started books like Stephen King way back in middle school and even though some parts I found tedious and boring I generally enjoyed them.
I look at the depth of Mr. King's books and I still enjoy the fact that he can write with such flourish and that he can keep so many plots going and bring them all together at the end of the books but recently I haven't enjoyed all the subject matter as much.
I find that in some ways Stephen King writes about the baser and more animal side of human interactions and their ways.  In some ways that is good because there are many people that truly act like that but perhaps it isn't what I want to read right now.  I find myself trying to be positive and find the good in all people on a regular basis and reading books that describe people in such a cynical or negative manner makes me feel sad.
I think that I will be packing up some of my books that are like that and not reading them anymore.  I am thankful that they got me through my younger years and I enjoyed reading them quite a bit but I want to look at the world in a positive way and what I read should be a reflection of my outlook on life.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Just a quick post on something that was wonderful tonight.
I was driving home from the basketball game where I was working concessions for Sleepy Eye girls basketball.
The lights were glowing, the snow was falling gently and there was Christmas music on the radio playing softly.
I realize that this may feel a little cliche for being beautiful but there were a couple other things that made it just right and I wanted to mention those.
1.  The roads were clear.  I love parts of winter but one thing that drives me nuts is bad roads.  It probably doesn't help that I have a car that doesn't mix well with winter.  But tonight the roads were dry and clear.  I could cruise along at 60 and not worry about sliding off the road so I could appreciate the night without feeling in danger.
2.  The snow was flowing up.  I know it was just the wind but snow swirling and dancing to Christmas music is a great sight.  There is something about dancing snow that is extra great.
3.  I was able to thank God for the moment because even though I had a tiring day and I am fighting a cold it is like my cold disappeared for a moment and everything was perfect.  I loved it.
It was a nice moment in my lately extremely busy life and I enjoyed it and wanted to share it quick.
I hope everyone can experience a moment like that sometime in their life.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Swimming Upstream

All my life I have been a loner.  I have never felt like I truly fit in anywhere with any groups I am a part of or anything I do.  I realize this is partly my fault because how we perceive our lives is exactly how they turn out to be.  (If that is confusing basically if you see yourself as a loner then you are going to make yourself one because we make ourselves what we see ourselves as).
In being a loner I have also made myself a chameleon.  I work on blending in and I can get along with most groups I am a part of.  But it doesn't stop me from feeling like a loner.
All my life I have lived this fine line and done my best chameleon impression.  I have done the hair style thing or the clothes thing, or the interests thing, or the whatever thing that allows me to feel like I can fit in well enough with a group to hold my own and to feel less lonely on the nights that I want to feel the presence of my fellow human beings.  But still it is all just a charade as I wander through life.
Lately I have more and more felt like swimming upstream.  By this I mean I don't want to go with the flow as much as I used to even though I am generally a fairly laid back person when it comes to interests and activities.
I know what I like and I know what I want to do and if that means I walk my own path that is becoming more and more acceptable in my life.
I don't know if that is because I am just becoming more stubborn or if I have stopped caring as much about what society thinks about me........
I guess it doesn't matter either way in the long run.
Doing my usual reading and thinking these late nights I have found more and more that there is only one being that I care about their opinion.  That is God.
I try to make myself charming or funny or handsome or many other things in order to try and attract a wife (and yes I would really really like a wife and I would give up softball for the right woman and those of you who know me well enough know exactly what I just said) and I also want to be friends with everyone.  But what if I look at those people I want to be friends with or the people I want to attract and I find myself less than enamored with them as people?
That is kind of what has been happening lately.
I value friendships; I really do.  The friends I have I would do so much for and I hope they know that.  The ones that stand by me at all times I would give my very being to help them in their time of need.  I love them and I do my best to let them know that as much as I can.
But the ones I am trying to impress; why am I trying so hard when I am not even sure I want them to be attracted to me when I stop and look at them?
Why am I being a chameleon when I would rather just be myself and if they don't like me we will be almost no different than we are now which is we say hi cordially when we see each other on the street?
Rather than go with the flow and not be myself I think I would rather start to swim upstream a little here and just be myself.  If that means I have only a few friends but they are good ones I really am no worse off than I am now.
I am through trying to impress people if it means not being me.  I just want to be myself and be happy with myself and God will love me for that person because I know that person wants to be right with God.  As for the rest of the people out there; I am always willing to be friends but I don't need to impress any of you if I am acting in a way that is not me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Something that makes me a little sad

I have really spent the last few weeks looking very carefully at people.  I know that with my state of mind I was being rather observant and I wasn't just looking inward.
I have noticed lately that I know a lot of people that really make me sad inside.
While I have had ups and downs in my life I generally find myself happy and satisfied.  I deeply trust my friends and when I know they are there for me I truly do let them in on my whole life if they want.  I know they won't let me down when I really need the help.
As I look around me lately I have noticed that there are quite a few people in my life (not necessarily good friends but just people around me) that are either very negative or very cynical (or both).

I know that I can be both of those things as well and I know that we are all like that when things are frustrating and it seems like the world is pushing against us.

Perhaps it is because God is so central in my life; perhaps it is that I have seen that most of the time things work out for me and I don't have to worry too much about them (yes I know concerts still freak me out so I have my own problems with this); perhaps I just don't like being negative and cynical.  But no matter what I find it sad that there are so many people out there that this seems to be the predominant thought processes every day.

While you see what you want to see and your past has made you what you are, I just can't feel the same way.  I don't have a get other people before they can get you attitude and I don't think that people are out to ruin my day.  I don't feel like I can be cynical about other people all the time and talk about how they are just doing awful in everything and I am doing wonderful and they are almost out to be lazy and stupid.  I think we are all trying and sometimes we don't get as much done because we aren't as talented or we are having a bad time but I like to think that each of us does our best to go home every day knowing we tried.  Maybe I am wrong or naive but I like to think that most people are out there doing that.

I am also saddened by people that are always negative.  Or usually negative.  They seem to have one subject that they can talk about that is positive and the rest of life just sucks all the time.  They can only take a small bit of happiness from the few meager things they have in life.
I just don't see it the same way I guess.
Perhaps I am just simple but I am mostly happy where I am.  I know I wouldn't mind having a bit more money or being a bit more handsome or having a wonderful woman to call a wife or at least a girlfriend but I have a job working with some very good kids, I am getting paid more than a lot of people out there (and those credit card bills are my fault so I really can't complain when I ate so much pizza in college :P), I have a roof over my head and while it isn't the Hilton it is warm and I have tv to watch and internet to surf the web and I even get out with friends once every couple months.  I have books to read and I have some video games to play and I have time to write in my blog here.  I have food that keeps me full and even though I don't always get to eat whatever I want it isn't like I am eating lousy food, I just don't get to eat steak or lobster on a regular basis.
There is so much to be thankful in my life I don't see how I can complain too much.  And I feel sad that some people think they have it so bad.
I don't know, maybe my tastes are just simple right now too.

I realize that in complaining about people that complain I am putting myself right into that same category and I see the irony in it.  haha

I guess I have it better than most people.  I could have had nothing.  I was born and could have been in an orphanage for years and grown to hate people.  Instead I was adopted by loving parents with great sisters and have made friends that I would lay down my life for and they would do a ton for me in return as well.
I am generally healthy, I get to watch some baseball and play some softball, I have got to go sailing and camping and fishing and I get to read good books.  I have a fun car and I get to eat most of what I want if I just save some money and make it special occasions.

I am glad I don't have to be negative or cynical all my life and I wish I knew what I could do to help show those people the way to happiness.  For now though, I will stand by and be happy I don't have to look at life through such dreary circumstances.  It makes me sad for them that their lives are so rotten.
But I feel lucky I have what I do.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

First Smile in a While: The Weekend

There are some good things to look back at this weekend; I just want to write them down so I don't forget them either.

Most of you know that my grandma recently died.  While it is never easy for anyone to lose a close relative, for some reason this one hit me especially hard.  It could be many things about her and it could have been partly my state of mind but whatever it was, I hadn't been having a really good time as of late.  I am sure those people I was around noticed and my students definitely did.  I was facing some pretty hard depression there for a bit and I had lost all my happy thoughts.  The concert was a nightmare for me; not because the kids had done a bad job (far from it) but because I couldn't find any joy at the completion of the songs.

I had been struggling since the day I sat by her side as she drew that last breath and I couldn't find a light at the end of the tunnel.  Every day was cloudy and there was always rain.  And Friday started no different than any of the other days.  (I realize that there wasn't really clouds or rain but sometimes your frame of mind can make it that way).  I had an ok 1st period and a bad 3rd period (the kids were not well behaved).
6th period rolls around and the kids had been unfocused ever since Halloween.  I don't mind if they day after the concert they are unfocused because I push them hard right before and they deserve a small break.  But it lasted Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as well and I had to give them a tongue lashing as a result.
The first spark hit that 6th period on Friday.  They were focused.  Boy were they ever focused.  I had my band back; the one that I love to conduct.  We got some work done and had some fun too and that is all I ever want every day for my band during rehearsals.  7th period as good as well, the kids were working so hard and doing their best and there were even some break throughs musically to be proud of.

Friday night is seminar at Jackpot Junction.  I am by myself from Sleepy Eye and I went in not really caring.  I figured I would sit by myself, learn some stuff, go up to my room and just chill.  But instead I get to sitting by some other people that seem pretty cool and we went out after the seminar was done and had a drink and got to know each other.  It was fun.

Saturday isn't sleeping in (more seminars) but that is ok too.  Then off to play practice where we get done a little early and I come home and take another shower.  Tangent: I don't like seminars at casinos because they still allow smoking and then you come home smelling like crazy and you have to take a shower to be presentable to people around you.  Fish Frye, my favorite local band is playing.

I got to the Grand early (where they were playing) and I sat with a glass of wine and just looked around.  There was something in the air that night for me.  The clouds had finally started to pull back and I could see some sun.  I wish I had brought a notebook to the Grand because I felt like writing my feelings while I waited for my friends to arrive.  It was really nice there.  I had a good server and some nice wine and I was going to get to hear some good music.
Fish Frye was amazing as always.  I love their shows.  When they do arrangements there is a good chance I prefer their arrangement to the real thing and since they always do a song for me (Pinball Wizard) because they know I love it I always feel special and I will always keep a special place for them in my heart.

Sunday (today) sleeping in for the first time in months.  Pit Orchestra where Lauren made me smile all afternoon (and evening even though we were done) and Nate and I got to talk music (one of my favorite things to do in the world right now is to talk to Nate.  He always has good things to say).
Then stars in the sky as I drove home and here I am.

Grandma, I still miss you and I still get tears in my eyes sometimes when I think of you.  But finally this weekend, with the help of some great people, I was able to smile (I mean really smile not the fake ones I had been putting on for the last couple weeks) and enjoy life a little bit again.

Thank you to all of you who helped make this weekend good for me again.  Scholls, Berans, Christmans, and Lauren.  (p.s. Lauren I read your pie blog this weekend and that helped too!)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

No more technology, just a good book and a glass of beer.

I have been doing a lot of reading and meditating lately.  I love it.  Alone with my thoughts or even just a book that makes me think can do wonderful things for the brain.  There are times when I want the companionship of others but a glass of ice tea or a beer and a good book that makes me think while I am reading on the door step in the fall air can be quite nice.
Lately I have really thought about technology.  I know there are lots of things out there that I don't understand about technology and it can make much of our lives easier.  I just recently tried this bill-pay thing and it looks really slick.  No more giving out my account numbers or anything and that means more secure.  I like that.
In a world of twitter, facebook, and instant gratification though I have lately found myself shying away from technology.  I don't take as much pleasure from the fastest of speeds and instant updates.  I am not even playing video games as much.
Yes, I realize the irony of the fact that I am online blogging on my laptop computer as I write this!
I have friends that can't go a day without their phone.  They are always on it.  I have colleagues that check facebook during their lunch break because they love the site that much.  I have friends that use twitter religiously.  I am not saying that any of these people are bad people or wrong for what they are doing.  There is nothing wrong with any of that.
I am just saying that it might not be for me right now.
For all the "stuff" I have in my life I take pleasure from a good Donald Miller book and something to drink while I read it.  It is those times I am not worried about being socially acceptable, about having the right computer, the right car, the acceptable body type, about being good looking, or even being showered.  I just have a time to enjoy nature and my thoughts and God's messages to me.  I love it.
I know that people are going to say this is just a phase and they are probably right.  Isn't being human about wanting more?  It seems that we are hardwired that way so we will always want what we see that is shiny and new or fancy.
But for now I just seem to want the simplicity.  Maybe I should have been a hippie for a while....... lol
I can go through life right now enjoying beauty, love, and God's majesty and right now it is enough.
p.s. - Grandma Johns, I love you and hope you are enjoying heaven.  We will miss you but we know you are in a better place.
RIP Grandma 1920-2011.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Santa Jesus knows EVERYTHING!

Good morning blog.  It is 7:30 am on Labor Day and I have been up reading for half an hour.
2 thoughts and I tied them together for a title that I get a kick out of.  I am usually not good at titles; when I write my stories I never have titles to them or they are really bad.  I am not good at that type of thing.
Thought 1:
God knows everything.  I always knew this.  You learn it when you are just a kid in Sunday School.  It is one of those things that you go "wow" and then you move on with your life.  But I really stopped and thought about that this morning for a minute (or 4).  Everything.  That is a lot of stuff.  I know there are the verses about knowing every hair on your head and all that good stuff and that is wonderful but it has never really gotten me like it did today.  I guess if I wanted I could go and pull out all the hairs on my head and count them too and then I would know that.  Boring?  Yes.  Time consuming?  Yes.  Pointless?  Yes.  Would I really do it?  No.
But it isn't just that.  He always sees us.  No matter what we are doing.  Kind of like Santa Claus (that will be thought 2 and I am not really comparing God to Santa Claus so don't get all nuts right now).
When you are told about Santa as a kid you are told he is always watching and he knows if you have been naughty or nice.  You won't get anything in your stocking or presents if Santa sees you doing all the bad stuff. So be good!
The scary part is while this is a bit of a big deal about God it still doesn't sum up what I felt and learned this morning.  I always knew this stuff too.  God hears you when you swear or knows when you want to punch someone or have sex or when you do those things too.  Well, so do I because it is me and I am doing them no matter how ashamed I might feel later.
No.  God knows Everything.  EVERYTHING.
I know I am not dumb.  I have the capacity to learn a lot and I have.  There are many things I know and a lot of random trivia I can have fun coming up with.  (I love those trivia games at the bars and restaurants!)
But while I have the brain capacity to know a lot of stuff there are things that human-kind doesn't understand and probably never will.  Like how the brain works.  Or Why stem cells grow into what they need to be when they are basically like other cells that only can grow into one thing.  Or love and how it really works.  Or how the female mind works!  (just kidding although most guys would know what I am saying)
These are things that not only do we not understand; we may never understand them.  We as people have been studying this stuff for years and the top brains in the world just don't get a lot of it.  Yet God not only created it; He knows how it all works too.  Perhaps you see where I went with this; perhaps not.
I just know that as I sat there this morning and thought about God knowing Everything I was kind of blown away with the thought.  Everything is a lot of stuff and we can't just stop with what we know and what our neighbor knows.  God knows more than all of us put together and He knows stuff that we will probably never figure out.
Thought 2:
I referenced Santa Claus earlier and this thought really isn't mine but it really got to me anyways.  Santa Jesus.
When we think of God are we thinking of God or Santa Claus?  Who is Santa?  A big guy that is jolly and kind and watches us every day and knows what we are doing and if we have been good or bad that we can make a list of stuff we want and give it to him and then he brings us those things (but only if we are good!)
Wow, that is a cool dude when you are a kid.
Who is God?  Do you think of Him as the guy that watches over you every day, knows if you are naughty or nice, is kind, and when you pray you can ask Him for stuff and if you have been good He will give it to you?
Wait, this sounds vaguely familiar...........
While I don't think of God as this way it seems to me that sometimes I do.  Or we do.  Or maybe it is just me.
Sometimes when I am frustrated in life or with life I throw up that prayer saying "God, can you just give me a hand here?  I have no money and I want stuff!  Can you help me out?"  Notice, it never works haha.  I still don't have my credit cards all paid off and I am not eating lobster for dinner today.  I haven't been to Disney World or seen Yankee Stadium yet either.
I really thought this morning about how God wants a relationship with us; a personal one.  Yes He knows everything we do.  He is like that.  Yes, he wants us to be nice.  He is like that too.  But I want people to be nice to each other and I am not a deity.  So that doesn't fly in many ways.
God knows those things and it embarrasses Him and upsets Him I think when you do those things; just like when you are with a group of friends and one of the people does something stupid you are upset and embarrassed because you are associated with the group.  God has associated himself with the group called me  And He wants to be a part of my group; He desperately has gone to great lengths to be in my life.  He sent His son to die on the cross to be a part of my life.  So naturally He is upset when I do dumb things; just like other people with me would be too.
Instead of looking at God like Santa; I want to look at God like God.  Someone who is a part of my group and wants to stay with my group.  The best friend in my life.  And someone who knows everything.  and I mean Everything.
Thank you Santa Jesus, but we don't need you anymore; I would rather have Jesus the Son of God.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

no money and Searching for God Knows What and Reality is like fine wine.

The last few days, few weeks lately I have been opining to various friends of mine how I really disklike not having money.  I sit there and complain about how I wish I had the money to go out and enjoy better food, or a chance to travel or go on vacation, or do the things in life my other friends do.
First, I know that part of this is my fault.  Well, most of it.  I was the one who ran up the credit card bills so I don't have a lot of credit right now.  I know some of it wasn't my fault per se in that I didn't know I was going to have hospital bills up the you know what or that my computer would die on me right before my last year of college when I was going to need it most and then had to purchase a new one on credit so all those nifty papers I had to write and all those lesson plans I had to print out could be done.  But some of those late night pizzas and trips to Blue Bricks or BWs with my friends didn't have to happen either.  Or I could have had water instead of beer or even pop.  But I did because I was young and foolish and that is that.  That being said I should have been an engineer like Josh or a lawyer like Ben and I would be making much more money than I am as a teacher but once again I chose my path.  This time I have no regrets because I do love teaching and I love music and I don't mind being a servant to others because I feel that helping people become wholesome people is more important than having a mustang and a latptop and a couple guitars.....wait, I guess I got those anyways :D.
So back to the original story.
I have bemoaning the fact that I have no money lately to some friends and I am sure they are getting sick of it. I have wondered why I couldn't just win the lottery (I don't really play it is just a dream) or have some random prize sent to me for being the 1 billionth person to walk into Shopko or something.  Actually, I don't need that much money that I am one of those rich people even (is what I tell my friends).  I just want enough that my credit cards are at 0 and I can take the hard earned money that I make every pay check and save some and find a place to live with a garage and have cable tv so I can watch the Twins instead of following them online.  Then I would save and I could do my vacations and I could go out to eat once a week to a restaurant that doesn't have greasy floors and the word "fast" attached to their food.
So I am reading Donald Miller again.  He really is my favorite author in many ways.  If you haven't read his books I highly recommend them.  The one I started is called "Searching for God Knows What".  I have read "Blue Like Jazz" dozens of times and I have given a couple of my own copies away (and yes I had to buy new ones for myself and yes they went on those credit cards again but I don't regret it).
Quote from Chapter 1 which I started last night when I was feeling a little hermit-like and tired.  "But the facts of reality stink," I told him. "Reality is like a fine wine," he said to me.  "It will not appeal to children."
Once again God is so wonderful because He took something that was on my mind and showed me something that made me think. And He even gave me the brains to allow me to think!
I was so struck by those words I read them right before I turned out the light last night and when I woke up this morning I read them again right away.
I started thinking of how I could take my reality and start treating it like fine wine rather than a lousy beer I was just drinking to be a good guest.  How I could savor it.  How could I treat it like it was something special?
I started to think of all those people that have whatever they want because they have money.  I started to even think of those stereotypical snob kids from movies when you see them and how bratty they are.  And I realized that reality is like a fine wine.  And it won't appeal to children.  Donald Miller was right.  As kids we want the dream, the happily ever after.  We want everything handed to us on a platter.  We want the opportunity to but it all.  And our parents even teach us that is ok to want that. (not a knock on parents, I know they want the best for their kids as I would want the best for mine too.)
I sit this morning and think of my reality and how it is special that not everyone can experience it in the same way I do.  How it is special when I get to have steak or lobster or other seafood and how I savor it and it is special in my mind.  (people who can have it whenever they want just see it as food).  The fact that I still catch myself staring at my car and mentally pinching myself that it isn't a dream and yes I own a mustang and it looks that cool to me. (people who can buy 4 cars don't see them like that they just are collectibles).  The excitement when I can afford new strings on my guitar and how I love the way they feel and sound for those first few days (some people change them once a week just to change them and it is just the normal feel to them).  The blessed relief of breaking down and turning my air conditioning on during the hottest of days and then I wait half an hour for my room to cool down before walking in to feel it. (if you have always had central air you don't know the bliss of that first walk in moment!).
How much do I experience in my life that I love that others take for granted because they can afford it in the first place?  I love my couple vacations I get and when I do go out to eat and all the other little things that others can't because they are a normal part of their lives.
So in a way, I experience more wonder and special times in my life because the every day things in others lives become my high points.  And it is not like I am doing without.  I just have less.
I start to feel sorry for some of my friends that make so much money they can do what they want when they want and they always go out and buy new things or own more things.  Are they trying to buy happiness?  I don't think that is possible a lot of the time and all you end up with is stuff.  Stuff that clutters your house and makes you need to have garage sales or to throw it out.  And it doesn't bring you happiness.  A gun, a boat, a suburban, a camper, and so many other things my friends have purchased recently.  I am happy for them.  I don't wish they hadn't gotten them.  And I don't reprimand them for buying things because I like to buy things too.  But my reality doesn't have them in that and I am going to try and treat my reality like a fine wine from now on.  Savoring My life the way it is and enjoying My ways in the world.
More later I am sure; I realize Donald Miller can get me to think deep thoughts like no other author~

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

can't we all just get along?

It isn't even 2012 and we are already in full swing into politics.  We see it everywhere.  On tv, in the newspaper, on the radio, etc.  And I find it sad that quite a few of them seem to take great relish in bashing each other.
I have friends that are straight, I have friends that are homosexual, and I have friends that are bisexual.  I have friends that are catholic, protestant, mormon, jewish, muslim, atheist, buddhist, agnostic, and even wiccan.  I have friends that are vegans, vegetarians, omnivores (it feels like literally because they will stuff anything into their mouths lol), and almost carnivores because they pretty much eat meat and not much else.  And I have friends that are liberal, conservative, tea party, republican, democrat, independent, green party, and a mix of 2 or more.
Everyone has their values, everyone has their opinions.  If you value something different than me I respect the fact that you value something different than me.  If you believe that your way is best that is up to you.  But why must we insist on bashing those that don't agree with us?  Why do we feel we have to spit on the ones we want to blame on our problems?  p.s. - I think that in politics especially there isn't a "right" side and the people that always have to blame the other wing on every problem no matter what need to take a look at how both sides have messed up but that is a completely other post.
Wouldn't it be better to get along and try and do what is best for the country rather than continually play the blame game?  How are people of different values sniping at each other going to make this country a better place to live?  Wouldn't it be better to stop the fighting and try and do what is right even if that means you have to accept some blame yourself and be a little humble about it?  Then perhaps we could get down to what we need to do to help our country in this time of not so great economy.

cheater sometimes prosper?

If you haven't heard lately, there has been a news story about a kid that made a crazy hockey shot to win $50,000.  If you already know the story feel free to jump to the next paragraph right now.  If you don't what happened is this.  This insurance company has a contest/raffle at a charity hockey game that they offer $50,000 to a kid if they can shoot a hockey puck from center ice and put it through a hole that is literally only 1/2 inch larger than the puck.  They draw this kid's name (Nick Smith).  He makes it and wins the money!  Only it wasn't him.  It was his twin brother.  Nick went home so Nate took the shot.  The next day the dad comes clean that he sent the twin up there and he returns the money.  There is a debate on if he did this of his own free will or if he came clean because some people in this town knew it was the wrong kid and were going to spill the beans anyways if he didn't.
The thing is that now there is controversy that the insurance company should?/will?/might need to?/might want to? pay the kid anyways for making the shot.
While I am not denying the shot was fantastic (you can find it by googling it if you haven't seen it) I don't like where this is going.  I don't mind if the kid gets some kudos for the shot; it was fun and he did a good job.
But are we teaching everyone that if you cheat and win money that you should be able to keep the money?
What are we teaching our kids?  If the dad truly did return the money on his own you could say good job to him but what in the world was he cheating for in the first place?  Didn't he just show his kid that if you find a chance to win money you should go for it even if you aren't being honest?  And if you win that money you should take it and run and hopefully you return it later because your conscience is bothering you?  And then since you were so "honest" by returning it that it is right that the money should be given to you anyways?
How in the world did this ever become a debate?  Why are we teaching our kids that this is in any way ok?
Do we really want to go down this road?  Have we already gone down this road by doing this?
I am disturbed that our society holds honesty and integrity in such low esteem that this has ever become an issue.  We should be teaching our children and neighbors to do what is right and what is honest the first time, not as a secondary consideration.
Perhaps this is a big reason why the world is in the shape it is today; perhaps this is what has driven the world to be in the shape it is today.  While there are good people out there, we have a few too many of this type of thing going on.  We should really get back to honor and integrity and honesty before we are the end of ourselves as people.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

saying goodbye

I have felt very different these last few weeks and I haven't been able to figure out what it is.  I haven't felt I have been connecting with anyone or much of anything and I hate feeling like this.  It is like there is a big hole in my heart and soul and I don't know how to fill it.
As I sit here tonight I reflect and think about the things that make me feel whole.  It was a good day today.  I got to see friends that I haven't gotten to see a lot lately and we had a ton of fun.  It went fast as it always does when you find yourself in good company doing things you love and there lies the rub of what I have been feeling lately.
As most of my friends know I blew out both knees in the championship game of the softball tournament this year.  I have been limping around for quite a while now and I know that my knees aren't getting better.  While this isn't the first time I have injured a knee it is the first time I have blown out both at the same time.
I look back at the moment it happened with pride because I stuck with it and I gave everything I could to help my team.  I never gave up and I always gave everything I had for them.  Getting carried off the field after diving the the base to be safe knowing I had done in both knees wasn't a bad way to go.  While I feel sorry for those that had to carry me off I am glad I  left it all on the field.
I think the loneliness I have felt here is knowing I have no fall softball league to look forward to and possibly next summer as well.
Unlike times before when I hurt a knee and was able to support myself with the other while it healed I have no recourse this time but to limp around equally on both knowing that neither is getting any rest.  And with school coming up next week I will not get any rest there either for them.
I also have to face the fact that they aren't healing.  That is difficult for me to say but I can write it here and say it again.  My knees aren't healing this time.  Neither one.  They feel just as bad as they did when they went out.
How do you say goodbye to your love?  It feels to me that very few people understand the depth of my soul that is carried by playing a game I truly love.  A game that I would play every day for the rest of my life and I would be happy doing it.  I have friends that love the game but they love other stuff too.
Softball has been the thing in my life so long that I don't even worry about the other stuff as much anymore.  It has become that much a part of me.
How do I say goodbye and how do I know if this is the time to say goodbye?
All the elements are in place.  My body is wrecked.  If I play next year I need new batting gloves and new spikes.  I know people that would buy my bats.  And I have the opportunity to help coach softball next year which would interfere if I play.
How do you say goodbye?
Is it time to say goodbye?
My friends in Mankato remind me I am getting old.  They remind me that the healing time is going to be longer.  That to play the game nightly will become a harder thing to do.  It was hard 3 years ago when I really started having serious knee problems.  They can joke all they want but taking tons of pain meds before every game to get through it without worrying about it has probably worn on my body as well.
Is it time to say goodbye?
How do you say goodbye?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

lack of consideration

I was driving along today and here comes an ambulance up behind me with the lights on.  I do what I am supposed to do and I swing over to the side of the road to let him go through.  While it isn't the funnest thing to do it is considerate and also the law.  The main reason it isn't fun to do is that I didn't have a lot of room to pull over and they have to bumps on the side of the road to warn you if you are falling asleep and running yourself into the ditch.  (I don't know what those bumps are called but I am sure you all know what I am talking about.  They make you feel like you are killing the tires of your car with every rotation).
Well up ahead as I start to pull back onto the road I see a car coming from the opposite way and wow, he doesn't pull over at all.  He slows down just a tiny bit (it looks like) and kind of drives toward the outside line but he definitely never stops and he isn't even over the yellow line.
It really struck me just then that we have a huge lack of consideration for certain things when they "disrupt" our lives and that is really sad.  I can think of 3 or 4 times in the last year alone that I have seen something like this happen for either a firetruck or an ambulance.
These people are not speeding down the highway for fun or because it is a thrill; they are doing their best to serve us by risking their own lives and well-being in order to save others.  You can make this argument for the armed forces as well although it has been said many times over and while I feel it is very justified I don't need to rant about something that you can see once a week on a facebook post, a editorial, or on tv.
I realize that there are times when you don't see the emergency vehicle coming; I will admit that I didn't catch on to the fact that there was an ambulance coming up behind me until the last 100 yards or so and I figured it out because I saw some cars pulling over and as I drove by them I checked them in my rear view mirror.  But as soon as I saw those flashing lights I hit the side of the road as fast as I could safely do.  But this car was coming toward the ambulance.  That means that he could see him coming right at him and he still did nothing.  (Unless of course he wasn't watching forward and then I don't want to think of what might happen.)
So the ambulance slows down as it passes this guy and when you are going 90+ and trying to weave in and out of traffic I am sure that isn't the safest of things to do even on a sunny dry day like today.  Meanwhile I am sure whoever is in the back of that thing isn't feeling well and every swerve is probably making it harder for the medics in the back to do their job too.
Have we ever stopped to think of things like this in our every day lives or do we continually go on our way "blissfully" unaware of what we might be doing to others?  Worst case scenario the person dies in the back of that ambulance because of the swerving and the lack of speed they are able to make to the hospital.  Scary thought - what if the person that didn't pull over knows and loves the person in the back of that ambulance?  They just helped kill someone they care for.
Best case scenario you still gave the driver of the ambulance a mild heart attack because they are trying their best to get to the hospital while not crashing and driving at speeds that allow for insta-injury if something like a deer runs into the road.
The same could be said for fire engines.  I see people all the time not pull over for fire engines yet these guys are in a huge (and I mean huge) vehicle trying to swing in and out of traffic and around corners meant for 15 mph not 50 while doing their best to save and rescue their fellow human beings and all the things that we hold dear to ourselves in possessions.  Yet people don't feel they need to get out of the way.  You might feel a little different if you realize later that they were rushing to your home to rescue your stuff wouldn't you?
It seems to me that while most people are considerate that there are still some out there that need to get a clue.  Since when did we become so self-centered that we have no consideration for things like this?  A little consideration can go a long way in helping things in the world and we want to be considerate now because you never know when you might be counting on the consideration of others to help you along in life.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Street Lawyer

I love John Grisham books.  I just read one I hadn't before called "The Street Lawyer".  I am going to buy it I loved it so much.  It really spoke to me at a time when I was thinking a lot about the topic of it but was unable to articulate it.
The Street Lawyer (I don't want to spoil it for you but want to give a general idea) is a novel about a young lawyer on a fast track to partnership in a major law firm.  He is involved in a hostage situation and his life is forever changed.  He quits the big firm, walking away from millions of dollars and all aspects of his old life to become a poverty lawyer, or someone who works as a pro bono (free of charge) lawyer for the homeless.  It is an amazing story of someone who realizes that there is more out there than grabbing as much money as you can and thinking that society seems to somehow benefit from you making as much as you can.  (These aren't actually my words, they are in the book but it is so fitting and accurate of how we sometimes think!)
I know that us teachers don't go into our profession for money, we all say it and it is very true.  After all, us teachers under 40 are never going to make a huge sum and most of us will probably stay under 40,000 a year for the rest of our lives.  I know that is a lot or a little depending on who you are but considering that we all have to go to college for at least 4 years to be a teacher as well as every 5 years needing to get licensure renewal and continuing education hours it really isn't like we are raking in the big dough.  We aren't engineers or doctors or lawyers and we would never see the 80,000 that they do (or more).
You know, the more I look at my life and the more I think about what I just read in the book, I realize that I don't mind scraping by the rest of my life in some ways.  I mean, I wouldn't mind a bit more money.  It would be nice to not be in so much debt and to constantly live paycheck to paycheck and not be able to go out with friends as much as I would like.  But more important than that is coming home to my apartment each day (and I don't forsee a day in the near future that I am not renting) knowing that I am doing what I can to make society better.  To help people and to think of more than how much money I can pull in.  I will never be able to afford nice vacations, or a boat, or anything like that but you know what?  That is ok.  I am serving mankind and I think that is more important than making money.
I can relate to the main character in the story in many ways.  In many ways, I want to relate to him even more.  He made a difference and he walked away from money but washed his soul clean with every day he went in to work.  It must be nice to be so clean.
It would be nice if more people out there considered things like this on a regular basis.  Maybe we would have less problems in the world if we did.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We are giving millions to who?!?!?

I read an article today that said that another pro-football player got in trouble with the law.  Something about how without football he had nothing better to do and he ended up getting arrested.  He is number 10 this offseason.  Wait, what?!?
These guys are asking for millions of dollars and complaining about it.  I realize that everyone wants money and I am not going to say no to a million dollars if someone offers me it but that is 10 people getting arrested in a matter of a couple months while they are asking for a lot of money.  Do we really want to give that much money to people like this?  Wouldn't it be better to use that money for the good of mankind rather than people who are so bored only a couple months after the season is over that they are getting arrested left and right?
With or without a million dollars, I somehow doubt that most friends of mine would manage to have this happen to them in the same sort of circumstances.  Is this a sign of how enabled we have made these people?  Perhaps this isn't the best thing.  And it certainly isn't people I want as role models for my kids!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

No Football

I keep hearing about the possible football strike.  It is all over the sports news nowdays.  I like football; I enjoy most all sports and most of my friends are well aware of that fact.  And I really do like sitting down on a Sunday afternoon and watching the Vikings, for better or for worse.
But I am kind of in favor of the strike right now and for a reason that isn't what most other people are thinking.
Right now it seems that the owners and the players and even some fans are way up in arms over the football season and how the 9 billion dollars gets divided up and etc.  But why are we so involved in a game this way?  Aren't there more important things in life?  I realize that this is a job for hundreds of people every year and it is entertainment for millions of viewers but aren't our priorities a bit messed up when people are starting to get too involved in this?
Perhaps a strike would be best for everybody in the nation at this point.  I realize there is a long time until football  season but right now I can see quite a bit of good that a strike would do.
1.  The owners and players both might see that the world doesn't need football.  Yes, I said it.  The world does not NEED football.  We love it and I do too but it isn't necessary.  The people involved seem to think that the world will end if football doesn't happen.  It doesn't help that the media seems to feel this way too and are pushing the same idea.  There are sports writers out there begging the owners and players to compromise and play.  But they are saying it for the wrong reason.  The writers need a job and I am sure they want football so they have a job and I understand where they are coming from but the world doesn't have to have pro-football to survive.  Perhaps instead some of these football players may realize that their lack of education has left them a bit behind in the world in other matters and they may see that it is a good thing that they go to college instead of just playing football and being self-centered.  And the owners might stop feeding their own massive egos and talking about winning and go back to making the country a better place in the way they earned their millions in the first place and the economy might improve.
2.  We don't need football as fans.  I realize I am probably going to be blasted by many of my own friends for this statement but we really don't.  I said before I love watching but if I don't have football to watch I can easily find other productive things to do for 3 hours of my Sunday.  And so can other people.  In fact, we do it every Sunday that there isn't football in the offseason.  We might just do more of other things that involve friends and family and interaction and that isn't a bad thing.  And who knows, we might do things that help this country more than sit in front of a television for 3 hours getting fat because we are eating and drinking while we stare at a tv.
3.  The economy.  The economy isn't exactly great right now.  How much money do we spend on football?  Seats go for hundreds of dollars.  Season tickets go for thousands of dollars.  Hey, what can we be spending that money on instead?  How about paying off debts?  How about helping the poor?  How about making the world a better place to live?  There are lots of things that we could spend football ticket money on instead that would be much better for everyone involved.  Instead we toss this money during the season at people who really don't need it.  If the NFL is trying to split up 9 BILLION dollars and we are responsible for that as fans then we are obviously spending a ton on a leisure situation.  With that money we could wipe out a lot of debt in the United States.  Not all of it and not at a national level but our own state economies sure could use a good chunk of that if we used it wisely.
4.  Amateur sports.  Just because pro-football would die doesn't mean football dies.  What about high school, college, and other leagues?  You know, football played by athletes who play the game for love of the game?  As a high school teacher I get to experience first hand during the fall a group of student-athletes who don't play because they are going to make the NFL but play because they truly love the game.  They realize that very few if any of them are going to play in college and even less will make it to the pros but they play nonetheless because the sport appeals to them.  Just like the softball appeals to me every summer even though my body gets trashed and I spend money instead of make money on the sport.  But isn't that the best way to see the sport sometimes?  Played by those who aren't in it for a paycheck and fancy cars, houses and women but for those who bring dreams of a fun play and a win?  Isn't that an ideal we can all aspire too?  Not to mention the positive aspects of team work, integrity, and discipline which sometimes seem to take a back seat at the pro level.
These are just a few quick thoughts on the strike.  I love watching football and I really enjoy playing it with my friends.  But perhaps the strike isn't a bad thing after all.  Not only for football but for all professional sports even.  This country has enough stuff going on that a squabble over money by massive egos who bring little intellectual and sensible compassion to the table is really undesired right now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Hobbit like path and a hard heart

I kind of want to re-read the hobbit.  I don't own it anymore.  I used to have a 4 pack set of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and I enjoyed it a lot.  I took it to school one day and then they disappeared.
The reason I really want to read the Hobbit again is because of one part that really seems to put into perspective life for me and others.
There is a part in there that has the dwarves and Bilbo walking down a path.  Gandalf has instructed them to stay on the path no matter what.  Of course, they end up hungry and thirsty because they haven't brought enough stuff and they are tempted by elves in the forest having feasts.  So they leave the path to go find these elves and get themselves in some trouble for it.  And that is when Bilbo starts to show his true colours and helps save his companions and so on and so on......
I think my life has been like this in many ways.  I know that is probably what Tolkien was driving at and that I am just now figuring it out and that makes me slower than the average but it was really driven home to me the other night for some reason.
You walk down the path of life and you get hungry and thirsty.  And you know you aren't supposed to take these detours away from what God wants you to do but it is like you can smell and almost touch the things that life has to offer if you are willing to step from that path.  But once you step away you get into trouble.
I think the best part of this is that it isn't Bilbo coming to save us from our willingness to stray (although yes I could make a reference here to Jesus and it has crossed my mind) but it is more to me like God has rebuilt the path so that even when I wander I end up back on the road I am supposed to be going on.  Yes, I get some help too.  But it is like when I look into the darkness and see something tempting; sometimes I am strong and sometimes not.  And when I am not, God is right there building a new path that leads in front of me so as I go along I can step back onto the path and keep going so I will eventually make my destination.  I hope that makes sense.
I guess that is rather simple but at the same time it really struck me as an apt reference the other night.  I think I like it; as messy and disorganized as the idea is.

I realize that when you get dumped on enough that you tend to get cynical and a little hard of heart.  But I am saddened of a situation that happened to me last month.  I was planning on attending a get together and due to circumstances beyond my control I didn't make it.  Unfortunately, the host of this little party has been rather standoffish to me ever since I missed this party.  I have been told that in the past there have been others that have skipped and I realize that the host spends quite a bit of money on this get together.  I emailed and also talked to the host in person and explained the situation but they still do not seem receptive to giving me any sign that they understand and forgive my absence.  I feel saddened by this fact.
I guess that sometimes when you get dumped on enough you are looking for excuses and when someone gives another you tend to not respond in the friendliest of manners.  I feel sad for the host that it has come to that.
I think the lesson there is that the way you look at life is the way you will see it.  If you see the world as full of people out to get you, then when something happens you will see them plotting.  If you see the world full of good people who make mistakes, it will be easier to forgive them when the unexpected happens.  Hopefully we can have more of the latter than the former but sometimes I worry because I see a more "me first" attitude as we go along and I hope that there are still people out there who see forgiveness, understanding, and compassion as some of the most important things in the world.  We will see where this develops.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Friends and Conversations

I was able to catch up with a ton of friends lately.  It has been really great; I miss people that I have shared my life with.  I have noticed lately that where you go and what you do really does have an impact on your conversation.  I realize that some of this is natural because the times you share in life really does dictate your conversation topics.  People tend to talk about common experiences because it helps them connect.
But more than that I  have noticed that some people just don't move past a certain point in their life.  Some of this is due to where they stopped their education, started raising a family, or started their career.  It seems to me that memories are often a product of how far we go in life.  If you experience tons of things and you keep striving to learn more and do more every day of your life then your experiences will be many and varied and as a result so will your memories.  Especially if you share those times with friends.  If you tend to clamp down and do the same thing every year and every time then your memories will still be there but they won't vary as much.  Then you have memories but it seems to me that sooner or later you just rehash the same things over and over again when you talk.
Now don't get me wrong; I have some great memories that we all love to talk about every time we get together because they are that much fun and I wouldn't want to trade those in for all the money in the world.  But at the same time being able to recall dozens of memories to me is much more fun that just one thing.

Please don't get me wrong; this isn't a reason to never do things every year.  Some passions should be done regularly and the more you do them the more memories you make.  Things like marching in drum corps every summer or playing softball are great because they are a passion and you love to do them.  But if you marched with the exact same people every year for 20 years and played the exact same shows at the exact same places then it would get a little boring.  Mixing it up is a great thing.
I love that I can keep experiencing different things every year and it seems that every summer something new comes along.  It is fun and I don't ever want to stop doing it.  And the more people I can do these new things with the more memories I can make.
Then I don't have to worry about 20 years of the same conversations about the same people doing the same things; I can talk about a wide variety wherever I go.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

on the radio, in the paper

I heard a DJ on the radio this morning talk about how he thought taking some classes in high school was useless because he had no interest in them and learned nothing useful.  His example was Chemistry.  After a commercial break he talked about he doesn't like stupid people like the ones he read about that had a fire and tried opening the windows to let smoke out which fed the fire oxygen.  Of course, the fire didn't go out and they ruined a lot of stuff.  What a minute, isn't that something you learn in Chemistry?!?!?!?!?!?

The paper talked about how MN education is falling behind the world in the sciences especially and how we should want to hire local people at 3M, Medtronic, and other science based businesses in MN.
With people on the radio talking about how useless science is, how are we supposed to give our children the right mindset about learning and help us with this problem?
The problem isn't education, the problem is people's attitude toward education.

If I ever have children, they will know growing up how important having an education is and how it is intelligent people that make the world go around, not professional athletes.  They may make money but they aren't helping the country in so many other ways that are crucial to the well being of the US and the world as a whole.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Real Friends?/Facebook "friends"

I am so thankful for real friends.  People who want you there even when you are not at your best.  I have some great friends who are always looking out for me.  I know in high school you make friends but most of those you don't keep if you go on to college.  Simply put, you go your separate ways and find your own lives.  And I know  you make friends in college and many more of those will last longer because you are in fields of work and careers that stay similar.  But they too will drift as they find jobs in different parts of the world and most will find a spouse and have kids and that leads to different phases of life depending on when you have them and what they are into.  But the friends you regularly work with and spend time with after college are the ones that you will be with the most and therefore if you can find good friends in that area of your life things go well.  (I think they are also more mature and that helps too that you don't have that young person's drama to deal with)
I have taken a long look lately at my "friends" and seen some things that I don't always like.  I have some very dear friends and then I know people that it seems they aren't my friend except when it suits them.  I am a friend of convenience rather than a friend of life through thick and thin.  I am not sure I like this.
As you go through life you need to know who you can trust and depend on and those people should be your friends.  If you can't trust and depend on them to be there for you then are they really a close friend?  That is really a question I can't answer because I think it isn't just a yes or a no but many different grey areas built in.
I think that it may be different for everybody but I know where I need it to be for myself.
I, who feel many times my close friends are few and far between, want to be a friend to my friends and if they aren't going to be be a friend to me I should make sure I know that.  Because if you can't trust someone to be there for you when you need it you aren't sure when they are ever there for you.  And when trust isn't there you don't want to have to depend on them and be let down in your greatest hour of need.
I hope my friends know they can count on me to be there as much as I can for them no matter what.  I want to be able to help them not because they may repay me but because that is what friends are for.  When they get into real trouble they can always call me.  Or they can call me to just to say what's up or I am bored or I am lonely.  I am there for them.

Facebook has become something I am starting to get annoyed with when it comes to friends.  All these people want to friend you and then they request it and you accept it and then..................nothing.  Why in the world did you friend that person if you have no reason to?  Do you want to look at your friend list and say look I have 8 billion friends?  Do you need to have someone on there so you can keep tabs on them?  Do you add those people you want to actually talk to or just is it a contest?  If we have no reason to keep being friends on facebook should I really keep you on as a friend?  If you really want me to be your friend on there wouldn't you like to say hi sometime?
I can understand some friendships.  I have softball players on there myself and contacting them for tournaments is what I do.  When I don't need to talk to them for softball we don't talk that often because we don't have that much else in common.  It isn't that they are bad people but we just have different walks of life. That is an understanding and that is fine.  But I have people that have sent me a friend request and then I never hear from them for any reason.  And if I comment on their wall or send them a message they don't return my messages anyways.  So why are we friends on facebook?  If you don't call, you don't email, and now you don't facebook is there a reason we need to see what each other are doing?  Do you really even go on my facebook page?  Am I just there so you can brag about your numbers?  Am I there so you can petition me for the latest game that you need to invite friends to get points for?  Why? Why? Why?

I have some friends that I talk to here and there and we don't keep contact a lot but we do enough that we know where each other are.  That is fine.  I don't mind that we are like that; we both often follow the same thread of logic about our lives and we happily communicate when we can or have a reason to.  Those people I know and trust for that very reason.  Others I am not so sure.

So are we friends?  Are we really?  Why are we?  Do you have me on facebook and if so why?
Just thinks me thoughts.