Life lessons from preschool

3 life lessons from preschool

When I was little, my mom saw an ad in the local paper about a new preschool starting at Willow Road Baptist Church. Mom believed it was time for me to start my preschool career, so she picked up our rotary phone and called the church office. Mom talked to the preacher’s wife, who was directing this new endeavor, and signed me up for preschool. Apparently, I was the first child to enroll with the preschool at Willow Road Baptist Church. Ever.

I don’t remember many details about the other students who were in that inaugural preschool class. I remember one boy. His name was Toby. I think. He liked pretending he was the Hulk. And whenever he was the Hulk, I would pretend to be Spider-Man. He would do his “Hulk smash” thing and I’d be busy shooting pretend spider webs from my wrists, keeping the girls and their cooties away.

Me and Vader
I think I’m a little older than preschool here, but you get the idea. I was adorable.

While I don’t remember many details, I do remember some key life lessons from my preschool experience. This wasn’t a preschool like many are today. You know the ones I”m talking about. They’re meant to prepare a child for the rigors of elementary school. That wasn’t the purpose of this preschool. The caring adults at the preschool at Willow Road Baptist Church helped me be a kid. They helped me learn how to have healthy relationships with adults, other children, and the Divine.

Everything I needed to know…?

A few decades ago, the book Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten made a big splash. I get the premise behind it, but my education about life didn’t start with Kindergarten (it didn’t end there, either, but that’s another post for another day). It started in preschool. And while I certainly didn’t learn everything I needed to know about life while I was in preschool, I certainly learned some valuable life lessons.

preschool supplies

Now, some 35+ years later, I look back fondly on my experience at Willow Road Baptist Church Preschool. The preschool is no more. The congregation has dissolved, too. A new church has sprung up in its place. If you know anything about my longtime desire to see new churches doing new things in my hometown, you know this makes me very happy. Although Willow Road Baptist Church is no longer here, I can tell you that I’m still living by some of the lessons I learned in that tiny community.

3 Life Lessons From Preschool

1.) It’s possible to resolve conflict peacefully.

Our indoor play area was relatively small. And although our preschool class was also relatively small (there might have been eight of us – I honestly don’t remember), preschoolers can get wound up pretty quickly. Inevitably, two kids were going to want to play with the same toy.

You know, like a green truck. One that I really loved. That’s what my mom has told me, anyway.

As a preschool aged kid, what would my reaction be if I was playing with this favorite green truck and someone like Toby came over and tried to take that toy because he wanted to do his whole Hulk Smash thing with it?

Hypothetically, of course.

There would naturally be much shouting. Weeping. Gnashing of teeth. There’d be an endless cycle of “Mine!” “No! Mine!” shouted on repetitive repeat over and over and over again. There’d be pulling and pushing and shoving and hair pulling and more shouting and crying. Oh, the crying. Things would just spiral out of control from there, leading to hurt feelings, a bruised ego or two, and maybe a few handfuls of hair scattered throughout the room. And did I mention the tears?

It's a preschool fight

It doesn’t have to be this way, though.

You can share. You can take turns. Shoot, you can even consider playing together. Disagreements don’t always have to end in violence. It is possible to disagree without trying to hurt the other person. I know. In the age of hyperpartisanship, parent shaming, and cyberbullying. We live in an age when a simple comment on a facebook post can lead to a person getting doxxed. But it really doesn’t have to be this way.

Imagine what would happen if you chose to show a little bit of kindness instead of firing off that nasty tweet about someone who hurt you. What would happen if you chose not to give in to your selfish impulses and actually shared something instead of hoarding it? Imagine what would happen if we could have a passionate debate about something, laying out all the facts and actually listening to the other side without getting nasty and personal.

It’s possible to resolve conflict peacefully. Choose kindness, friends. It’s hard to do sometimes. But it helps make the world a little bit less harsh. We don’t have to fight all the time.

Be kind, y’all.

2.) Keep your hands to yourself.

If we’re going to be kind to one another, that means we’re going to have to keep our hands to ourselves. No hitting. No unwelcome touching. Hair pulling? Nope. And no pinching, either. I can’t believe I have to say this, but no groping or any other type of grabbing other people’s body parts. And you can’t just walk up to people and kiss them, either.

It’s not OK.

Keep your hands to yourself in preschool

It’s not OK in preschool. And it’s not OK for adults, either. “Boys will be boys” is not acceptable. “It was meant to be a joke” is not an excuse. How hard is this concept? Keep your hands to yourself. I don’t care how powerful you are.

Wait. I take that back.

do care about how powerful you are. Because it matters how we treat people in private. And this is especially true when it comes to people in power. How you treat people who are less powerful than you reveals a whole lot about your character. Please. Use your power for good, not to abuse people who can’t do anything about it.

Keep your hands to yourself. Is it really that hard? If so, maybe you need to spend some time in the corner.

3.) Keep your clothes on.

Seriously. Is it really that difficult? Nobody needs to see that. Not even scary monsters.

screaming preschool monsters

Seriously.

These lessons I learned in preschool are pretty basic. You can basically boil them down to one main rule:

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

I didn’t think this lesson was that hard to learn. But watching the news makes me think it’s a lot more difficult of a lesson to learn than I thought.

Or maybe it’s a sign that a lot of people just need to go back to preschool.

 

 

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Life in the Fishbowl’s 2017 Wish List

This post about Christmas wishlists contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.

Life in the FIshbowl's 2017 Christmas Wish List

When I was younger, I remember poring over the toy sections of our family’s Sears Wish Book and Service Merchandise catalog during the weeks and days leading up to that magical Christmas morning. As “low-church Protestants” this, coupled with preparation for our church’s children’s Christmas musical, was as close our family got to an Advent-type ritual.

While I was tempted to circle every single toy in our family’s catalogs (except maybe the WWF WWE action figures, but that’s probably another post altogether), I would eventually take time to finely craft my Christmas Wish List, emphasizing the items that I really really REALLY wanted, instead of the ones that I merely really wanted. I’m not gonna lie. It was stressful. Being a kid in the 80’s was hard, y’all. With the Star Wars and the GI JOE and the Transformers and the LEGO and the Voltron and the Masters of the Universe and all things, it was a great time to be alive. And with all that awesomeness, it was almost impossible to narrow down my list to something manageable and realistic. But I did it.

If I was able to go back in time and talk to late-80’s me, I’d probably encourage him to push harder for the USS FLAG playset because…well…that thing was HUGE. And full of awesomeness.

As soon as our Thanksgiving feast was complete, our youngest began feverishly curating her wish list so she could put it in a letter for Santa Claus. She didn’t bring her letter when she got to visit Santa, but we’re dropping it in the mail very soon.

Someone was a little star struck when she met Santa. Wouldn’t say a word. #ILikeSanta

A post shared by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

So it’s in this spirit that I’ve searched the Internet for some pretty cool stuff. And without further delay, I present to you the Life in the Fishbowl 2017 Christmas wish list. Enjoy.  Continue reading Life in the Fishbowl’s 2017 Wish List

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The fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever made [Recipe]

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #DunkinatGiantEagle #CollectiveBias

The fluffiest pancakes I've ever made #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Can I be honest here for a second?

I dread school mornings.

OK. “Dread” is a bit strong. But when left to their own devices, school mornings can be close to dreadful. Thankfully, Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee and this buttermilk pancake recipe can help make these rough mornings go a whole lot more smoothly. It’s the perfect combination because Dunkin’ Donuts helps every day people who help keep America running keep themselves running every day. And the new bottled Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffees provides refreshment with a smooth, flavorful coffee taste. It helps me keep going throughout the day, helping to provide the boost I need to survive the mornings.

And the pancakes? I promise you. You want to try this recipe. It makes the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever cooked. And I’ve cooked a lot of pancakes over the years.

Why do I dislike school mornings?

You see, even though I’m the last person to leave the house, I’m the first person to get up in the morning. Since there’s no rush for me to get to work, I wind up serving as some kind of morning coordinator, making sure our high schoolers are up, dressed, fed, and out the door by 6:30 in the morning. That’s right. The bus picks them up at 6:30 in the morning. It’s ungodly.

The bus gets here way too early in the morning #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Then, while Mom is getting ready, I get our youngest ready for her school day. Because of some special circumstances, she requires a little extra assistance in getting ready. I love getting to have some extra one-on-one time with her in the morning, but it takes some extra energy in the morning. I’ve managed to create a manageable routine for her, but it still takes time.

When it comes down to it, school mornings are probably best described as organized chaos. And that’s on a good day.

There are some things I’ve been able to do to streamline the school morning process. One thing I’ve started doing is making breakfast ahead of time. I know. I have three high school students. They should probably be fixing their own breakfast. But if I left it up to them, they’d probably grab a handful of jellybeans as they head out the door, calling it a filling breakfast. I have a fundamental disagreement with skipping a good breakfast before school. So I make sure they have something. It’s easy to do if you do the heavy lifting ahead of time. That’s why I love this pancake recipe.

Give me some buttermilk pancakes and Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee!

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

The recipe is simple enough. It calls for basic ingredients that you can get at any Giant Eagle or Market District store. And while you’re there, you can grab a few bottles of Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee. The 13.75 ounce bottles are available in four flavors:

  • Original
  • Mocha
  • Espresso
  • French Vanilla

I found these ice cold bottles of goodness in a refrigerated section by the checkout lanes. They were conveniently located so I could get in, grab what I needed, and get out quickly.

Giant Eagle Collage #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Don’t misunderstand me here. The Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee isn’t for anyone else but me. It’s more like my special reward for surviving the mad rush of getting everyone out the door.

OK. I do share them with Christy from time to time. If she’s lucky.

Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffes at Giant Eagle stores #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

She’s a big Mocha fan.

With a bottle of Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee and these fluffy buttermilk pancakes that I’ve made ahead of time, school mornings are a whole lot easier than they used to be.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancake Recipe

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes with Syrup #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Here’s what you’ll need

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ Cups of Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of White Vinegar
  • 2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons of White Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons of melted Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of  Imitation Vanilla Extract
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray

Utensils

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Medium Mixing Bowl
  • Griddle
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups

Here’s what you’ll do

Step 1
Combine Milk and Vinegar in Medium Mixing Bowl and set aside for at least 5 minutes, allowing the milk to “sour.”

Step 2
Melt Butter in microwave safe dish. Allow to cool.

Step 3
Combine dry ingredients (Flour, Sugar, Salt, Baking Powder, Baking Soda) in Large Mixing Bowl.

Step 3
Whisk Eggs, melted Butter, and Vanilla Extract into the “soured” Milk.

Step 4
Pour milk mixture into the Large Mixing Bowl. Whisk until combined. Set mixture aside, allowing batter to rest for 5 minutes.

Step 5
While batter is resting, preheat griddle to 350°.

Step 6
Once the griddle is hot, coat with Nonstick Cooking Spray. Pour ¼ cupfuls of batter onto the griddle. Cook until bubbles pop (approximately 4 minutes). Flip pancakes and cook other side until golden brown.

Golden brown fluffy buttermilk pancakes #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Step 7
Set cooked pancakes aside on a plate.

Step 8
Repeat Steps 6 and 7 until batter is gone.

If you are going to eat these right away, which is tempting, serve these fluffy stacks of goodness with syrup and eat them while they’re hot. If you’re going to use them throughout the week, allow them to cool and store them in the refrigerator in food storage bags. I like to put three in a sandwich bag so it’s easy to grab in the morning.

To Reheat
Place pancakes on microwave-safe dish. Microwave for 30 seconds at 80% power. Serve with syrup or your favorite toppings.

The key to a less stressful morning

Making these amazingly fluffy and flavorful pancakes ahead of time is a key to a great morning. I can make sure my kids are well fed before school. And then after everyone is sufficiently on their way, it gives me the opportunity to enjoy my few minutes of peace and quiet with a tasty breakfast and my Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee.

A great breakfast combination #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

What’s your favorite breakfast for a hectic morning?

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3 things they don’t tell you about getting older

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TryTENAMEN #CollectiveBias

Be sure to check out all of the ways TENA® MENhelps you face getting older with comfort and confidence by hovering over the image below.

Time sure does fly by, doesn’t it?

One minute, you’re scrambling in a store, trying to find the right bag of candy. The next minute, you’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of your engagement. It seems like yesterday that I was cradling our firstborn in my arms, welcoming him to our world. Now we’re talking about career choices, making college visits, and preparing for life after high school.

They warned me about this. They probably warned you about this, too.

Don't blink. It'll all go too fast #TryTENAMEN #ad

“Don’t blink,” they said. “It’ll all go by too quickly.”

I’ve heard this quite a bit over the years. And it’s probably wise to heed that warning because it’s true. Time really has flown by. I’ve talked about it before. And I’m sure I’ll talk about it again. I haven’t gotten old. But I’ve definitely gotten older. And I don’t think I’m as prepared as I should be.

I wish, however, that people would have also warned me about some other more practical issues that come with getting older. Don’t get me wrong. My family, teachers, mentors, and other important adults in my life did a great job of preparing me for adulthood. I just wish they would have warned me about other issues that come up when you get older. I’m not talking about the high-level, philosophical things like making the most out of each day or seizing the moment or anything like that. No, these are nitty-gritty, ground level, practical things that people forget to tell you about getting older. As a public service, I’m passing along three things people don’t warn you about growing older.

3 Things They Don't Tell You About Getting Older #TryTEVAMEN #ad

3 things about getting older that they don’t prepare you for:

1.) Crazy hair. Everywhere. It’s inevitable.

My uncle used to have black hair when he was young. By the time he was in his early twenties, his hair had turned a silvery gray. I guess I should have taken that as a warning sign that my hair color could turn. But I didn’t. Until one day I realized that my sandy-brown hair had turned a white form of gray. Although I could have and maybe should have paid attention to the signs, no one really did anything to prepare me for the emotional toll that occurs when your hair starts to turn gray.

I know. I know. Some have referred to having gray hair as being a “crown of glory” and is a sign of a good life. But when you first notice that streak of gray in your hair, it’s rather jarring.

Gray hair #TryTENAMEN #ad

Some of my friends don’t have that problem. That’s because they’ve lost all of their hair. I’ll be honest. Discovering gray hair was earth-shattering. I’m not sure how I would take it if I wound up bald, too.

I realize the whole hair on top of your head (or lack thereof) situation really comes down to two choices: fight it by dyeing it. Or accept it. I’ve chosen to accept it. I’ve come to grips with it. And that’s OK.

But that’s not the craziest hair I deal with!

Nose hair!

It’s the worst. And it just keeps growing. And if you couple that with the hair that keeps growing out of your ears?

Insanity.

No mentor of mine ever mentioned anything about how to cope with the forest that keeps growing from your ears and nose. So I guess it’s time to find some nose hair clippers. I know there’s a scientific reason for the continual growth of nose hair. But I don’t think I’m quite to the level of acceptance for such a bizarre and annoying event that never stops.

Ever.

2.) Leakage

It’s time to get real for a minute. Y’all OK with that? Good. Because this is important.

Did you know that, according to TENA® MEN™, 3.4 million men suffer from Unexpected Leak™? That’s something nobody ever mentioned when they talked about what happens when you get older. And if you’re a man who is experiencing this unexpected event, you are not alone.

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During the week of October 22, if you buy one TENA® MEN product, you can get a second at 50% off. This deal is available both in-store and online. If you’ve ever dealt with this uncomfortable situation, why not give TENA® MEN Protective Shield a try? Just hover over the photo below to make your purchase. It’s really that easy.

You’ve got nothing to lose and comfort, security, and confidence to gain.

3.) Hearing your favorite band on the Classic Rock radio station.

Classic Rock radio. That’s a station reserved for the likes of the Greats from the 60s and 70s. Right?

That’s what I’ve always thought. And it makes sense. That’s what was considered “classic” rock when I was growing up.

But what happens when that radio station plays a song from a band you used to listen to when you were in elementary school? It’s such a strange feeling. And it’s one that nobody prepared me for. It still only seems like yesterday that my friends and I were rocking out to our favorite songs in my family’s basement. And now these same songs are in heavy rotation on Classic Rock radio stations.

It seems to me that there are two options when this happens. You can change the radio station and pretend you didn’t hear anything. After all, it was probably just some type of glitch. That song that you listened to can’t possibly belong on an oldies station like that. Right? It hasn’t been that long ago. In other words, you could simply choose to life in denial for the rest of your life. The other option is to just accept it. You grew up listening to some legends and their music is still amazing some 30 years later. Go ahead.

Rock out anyway #TryTENAMen #ad

Rock out anyway.

I mean, since nobody prepared us for this, we’re kind of making it up as we go along, anyway. Right? So why not have a little fun in the process?

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This happened 20 years ago today

Back when I was in high school – or maybe even middle school, I can’t remember the exact year – my uncle told me the grand plans he had for the Christmas gifts he was planning on giving his then-girlfriend. She had a habit of trying to figure out what all of her Christmas presents were before the Big Day. You might remember that I don’t like doing that. At all. Because I don’t like pretending that I’m surprised. Especially on Christmas. But that’s neither here nor there. She really liked figuring out her presents.

So my uncle decided to play a little trick on her. He had several packages of all different sizes wrapped in all different ways. And he had them out waaaay before Christmas. I don’t remember most of the presents. And I don’t remember if he had a “real” present to be revealed after unwrapping all of the other presents. But I do remember one of the diversionary gifts. It was a Hershey’s Kiss that was placed in a ring box and wrapped quite elegantly. Any outsider, including the recipient, who had been inspecting this gift for weeks, would easily think the box contained a ring.

I don’t know how this ruse played out with my not-yet aunt and uncle. They weren’t engaged at the time. They eventually did get engaged. And married. And they still are. So even if he juked her out with that gift, all was eventually right with the world.

Fast forward a few years…

Christy and I were celebrating our first Christmas as a couple. Of course, we had exchanged gifts the previous Christmas but neither one of us was willing to admit that we might have “those” kind of feelings for each other yet (and it took another five to six months for that to actually happen). So Christmas of ’96 was our first Christmas together. I had a few thoughtful gifts for her. But I also had an extra special gift. One that was inspired by my uncle.

So I placed a Hersey Kiss in a ring box and tried to wrap it as nicely as I could. I really didn’t think anyone would really think I was giving her an engagement ring. I mean, we’d only been dating since May. And I was out of town for half of that time. I thought it might have just been a funny little joke and that nobody – especially Christy – would think I was a real ring.

I was wrong.

We look back on it now and laugh. In fact, I started wrapping a Hershey Kiss in a ring box every Christmas after that. But it was no laughing matter when it happened. “That was mean,” she told me.

And it was mean.

OK. Maybe not mean mean. I had no ill-intent or malignant motive. I was just a bit…oh…tone deaf. And maybe even a bit myopic. It was not my finest moment.

Redemption?

On October 23, 1997, revisionist history would say that I redeemed myself. Or maybe revisionist history would say that I had the whole thing planned all along. A revisionist historian would argue that I knew what I was doing when I wrapped that Hershey Kiss in a ring box and made it look like I was going to pop the question that Christmas of 96.

Nope.

I lucked out. Couldn’t find the candy I wanted. Settled for Kisses instead. And thanks to a bag of bread that went along with  my bag of Kisses, we were able to have the perfect engagement on the perfect day with the perfect weather.

And that was 20 years ago today.

 

 

 

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Did you see the new trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

This post about The Last Jedi contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.

Friends, we are getting so close to the release of Episode VIII, The Last Jedi. I can almost taste it! Tickets are available now at Fandango, so don’t wait around and miss out on what’s going to be a huge opening weekend!

Star Wars The Last Jedi Episode VIII movie poster

As you probably know from previous Star Wars related posts, I’m not a fan of spoilers. At all. I think the idea of trying to figure out the movie before the movie is actually released minimizes the filmgoing experience. It’s all supposed to be revealed onscreen for the first time, not on twitter, facebook, or any other form of social media. That’s my opinion, anyway.

And I’m sticking to it.

So you can imagine my consternation when Episode VIII director, Rian Johnson, suggested that the newest trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi had the potential of being a spoiler-rich environment. I’ll be honest. There was weeping. There was gnashing of teeth. All night long, I wrestled with whether I should watch the trailer or not. In retrospect, it was a much more difficult decision than it should have been. But that shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise.

Because Star Wars is a big deal.

A big, stinkin’ deal. And I’m not going to allow some spoiler-crazed nutjob to ruin my Star Wars experience. Even if the nutjob works for Lucasfilm and personally put the trailer together him/herself. No way. No how. Uh-uh.

So I thought much longer and harder than I really should have and finally came to the conclusion that unless they showed something like Supreme Leader Snoke telling Rey that he is her father or Rey and Kylo Ren passionately swapping spit, or a lightsaber going through Luke’s back, or something earth-shattering like that, I wouldn’t really know if it was a spoiler or not. So I decided to watch the trailer.

And it was worth it.

So worth it.

It didn’t feel spoilery at all. But then again, I don’t know the storyline because I’ve tried to avoid all things The Last Jedi for the past six months. I guess there’s a chance that this trailer was filled with spoilers. But I won’t really know that until I watch the movie.

Spoilers? Maybe not. Cliffhangers? Absolutely.

There’s certainly a different feel to this trailer compared with other trailers. Much like The Empire Strikes Back (my favorite Star Wars movie, by the way), it appears that things are not going to go well for our heroes in this installment of the Skywalker saga. I think I remember someone, possibly Mark Hamill, once say that everything that could go wrong for the good guys does go wrong in this episode. That leaves a huge cliffhanger for the final installment. Just like the cliffhanger at the end of this trailer.

I won’t lie. My mouth silently shot open when I watched it happen. It took my breath away. And I stood in front of my TV, frozen for several seconds (although it felt like hours). What is going to happen? I guess we’ll find out in about two months. Won’t we?

Now is the time to remind you that if you haven’t bought your tickets to The Last Jedi, you can buy them here. Yes. It’s an affiliate link. No, it doesn’t increase the price. So why not help a guy out? AmIright?

The Last Jedi is coming December 15.

What do you think about the trailer?

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At least Collin Kaepernick listened. Are you listening?

Statue of kneeling football player - not Collin Kaepernick

Before we get into this discussion, I want to make something very clear:

I disagreed with Collin Kaepernick when he wore socks with pigs dressed like cops on them.

He also lost me when he showed up at a press conference wearing a shirt with Fidel Castro on it. I have a hard time listening to your protest of perceived systemic abuse by our own government when you’re wearing a shirt that honors a man who systemically abused his own people. Not only do I disagree with that message, but you really can’t give your critics ammunition like that. It gives people an excuse not to listen to you.

A similar thing happened when he sat down during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner during a preseason game in 2016. There was backlash. A social media firestorm was unleashed. People didn’t bother to listen.

And his message – the hard truth about racial inequality in America – really has to be addressed. It needs to be tackled head-on. It is important to bring it into the light. Collin Kaepernick was certainly tone-deaf in these situations and wound up turning off the very people to whom he was attempting to communicate.

Something changed

Collin Kaepernick met with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret. Together, they came up with an alternative way to continue shining the light on the issue at hand, but in a more respectful manner. He could have chosen to remain seated. He could have chosen to turn his back on the flag, or hold up a newspaper, or pretend to sleep, much like a student section might when the opposing team is introduced at the beginning of a ballgame.

Because those student sections can be pretty crazy.

Student section - Cameron Crazies
Image via Wikimedia Commons

He could have done a number of things to intentionally disrespect the flag, our veterans, and our families. But he didn’t. He kneeled.

Because he listened to someone, he kneeled.

Now, we can go round and round about the appropriateness of kneeling versus standing. But I don’t think I had ever heard anyone say that kneeling is a sign of disrespect.

Ever.

No. This is not Collin Kaepernick kneeling

Until 2016.

That’s when a tattooed man with big hair and darker skin chose to take a knee. And people lost their collective minds, refusing to even consider that someone might have an opposing viewpoint that is appropriate and needs to be said. Nobody wants to listen to the other “side” anymore. Everyone is making assumptions about everything regarding the entire #TakeAKnee movement. I wish people would just listen for once, instead of merely hearing what they assume they hear.

If we would simply slow down, be quiet, and really listen to what is being said, maybe we could actually work towards getting something accomplished that would actually work towards bringing us together instead of driving us further apart.

That probably makes me a dreamer. As my brother recently reminded me, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel described our current situation quite perfectly in the song The Boxer: “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” And when we do that, we build our walls a little thicker. We dig our trenches a little deeper. And these “United” States of America become anything but.

I don’t want to say that the Great American Experiment has died. I don’t think we’re there yet. But we’re sure getting closer. As Abraham Lincoln wisely observed while quoting Jesus:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

"A house divided against itself cannot stand" Abraham Lincoln

We are divided, friends. And our house feels a whole lot like a house of cards teetering on the edge of collapse. It’s like we’re waiting for that small, yet firm, breeze to come by and just wipe us out.

As my band director once reminded us, there’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth. So can we please sit down, shut up, and listen to the real concerns that are drowning in all of the excess superfluous noise?

You probably think I’m simply talking to the “other” side and not yours. You’re wrong. We’ve spent too much time talking screaming past each other. And that hasn’t really worked, has it? So maybe we should try something else. Let’s try listening to each other for a change.

If Collin Kaepernick could do it, why can’t you? Why can’t I? Why can’t we?

You are welcome to share your opinion in the comments section. After all, the sharing of opinions is part of what has always made America great. That being said, any name calling or racist remarks will be deleted posthaste. 

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I’ve led many special events. This one might have taken the cake.

Cowan Christian Church

Over the years, I’ve put together all kinds of different events. During my youth ministry days, we hosted all kinds of major events. We had Super Bowl parties and Volunteer Appreciation Nights and almost everything in between. The “Saw You at the Pole” rallies were always fun. I put together big concert events, including a major grand opening of a firehouse-turned-teen-outreach center. We had hundreds of teens and adults at that event. We called the building the Fire Escape, from Jude 23.

Save others by snatching them from the fire Jude 23

That event was pretty stinkin’ cool.

When I was preaching in Muncie, we hosted a “safe alternative to door-to-door trick or treating” called Trunk or Treat. It was a huge hit. Kids and their parents looked forward to our Trunk or Treat every year. We were able to make it bigger and better every single year, in spite of the bitter wind that cut through our church’s front lawn during the Trunk or Treat. It became a big stinkin’ deal.

And it was pretty stinkin’ cool.

Of course, during those days as a pastor,  I planned many weekly worship services. I also helped execute special services like Candlelight Christmas Eve services and Maundy Thursday services. There were also Mother-Daughter Banquets and church Homecoming celebrations. From fun to contemplative  to everything else in between, I’ve done quite a bit of event planning and coordinating and execution. Continue reading I’ve led many special events. This one might have taken the cake.

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Rich Mullins and my personal Cloud of Witnesses

Rich Mullins "I hope that I would leave a legacy of joy, a legacy of real compassion"

I remember when I was given a copy of A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band for Christmas in 1993. I couldn’t wait to pop it into my cassette player. To be honest, I didn’t really know what a liturgy was. And I had no idea what a ragamuffin was. But I knew who Rich Mullins was. So I was pretty excited.

The album did not disappoint. The instruments were amazing. And the lyrics had a beauty and depth that was absent from so much music in the early 90s. I’ll readily admit that I didn’t exactly understand some of the songs like How to Grow Up Big and Strong at first. But entries like Hold Me Jesus, and Creed, and Land of My Sojourn – they spoke to me.

They still speak to me.

I mean, listen to these lyrics from Hold Me Jesus. Rich had a way of voicing what your heart was crying out.

I saw Rich Mullins in concert a few years later at the now-infamous “She’s not my girlfriend!” installment of the Ichthus Music Festival  of 1996. I don’t remember many details from the concert, other than a few “postcard memories”* He was barefoot. I remember being amazed at the sound that came out of his dulcimer as he played. He told engaging, sometimes funny, always poignant stories.** He sang Sing Your Praise to the Lord, which he wrote. It was originally made popular by Amy Grant, although Rich smirked and said that she had messed it up when she recorded it.

He sang the song because he had just made a new recording of the song for his greatest hits album called Songs. So, of course, he promoted this upcoming album while he was on stage at Ichthus. So this concert was a greatest hits concert. And that was pretty awesome.

Fast forward three months…

Continue reading Rich Mullins and my personal Cloud of Witnesses

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The NASCAR Acceleration Nation app makes races even more exciting!

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post about the new NASCAR Acceleration Nation app. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.

Me and Aiden at Bristol Motor Speedway NASCAR Acceleration Nation

I have a lot of fond memories from our time living in Upper East Tennessee. One of the best memories is the opportunities we had to attend NASCAR related festivities and races. Needless to say, living in the shadow of Bristol, the fastest half mile in the world, we had a pretty big NASCAR fan while we lived there.

Aiden in front of Bristol Motor Speedway NASCAR Acceleration Nation

Now NASCAR has created something I wish was around when we lived in the Tri-Cities: NASCAR Acceleration Nation! Available on Android, iPhone (click here to download), and the web, NASCAR Acceleration Nation has all kinds of great stuff for kids, including information about upcoming races, driver details, fun games, and learning materials about the science of racing!  Continue reading The NASCAR Acceleration Nation app makes races even more exciting!

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