Wednesday, April 22, 2015

He's just a coach.....

I'd like to dedicate this blog to some of the greatest people I know. They are called coaches.

In the field of education, sometimes coaches get a bad rap. They are sometimes seen as lesser teachers, but I've got to give a shout out to some of the greatest teachers I know, and they go by the name "Coach".

This topic of "coaches" came up in a conversation just yesterday and I heard it put as well as I've ever heard it done. How many other people do we call by their job? Oh, there is Mr. President and Dr. So and So, but no one refers to me as Teacher Sumrall. You don't hear someone shout out, "Hey Secretary" or "Hi Engineer," but go out just about anywhere in town and when a young person (or one who at least ONCE was young) sees their coach, it's "Hey Coach!" It's a title of honor.

Think about it. Few other people have the impact on a young person's life as does their "coach." While they may have a lot of great teachers through the years, many will have one coach who imparts into their lives for 2, 3, 4, even 5 or more years. I know of at least one coach who has mentored my son for 4 years now, beginning in Jr. High when my son didn't really even know how to tackle. (He's learned since then!) That young man helped develop his talent and looked out for him, always steering my boy in the way he should go...even when he wasn't listening to his mom! Thank you Coach Aycock.

We even chose our current location based on a coach. (That might sound strange coming from a teacher.) I asked around and discovered that while a lot of area coaches were great men, his current coach was described in this way. "Now Coach Wheat, that man builds character in his boys." No more had to be said. I know that football is just a game, but I also know that lessons learned out there on the field can be so much more if used correctly. My son isn't just learning plays, he's learning how to look out for others and be a man of character. 

My daughter had a coach for the short time she played basketball in Jr. High and she still refers to her as "Coach." I daresay Coach Missy had no idea the impact she made in my girl's life, but recently I saw a bunch of her former "players" coming together to honor her for being their coach in high school. Every young woman a stronger and better person (and player) thanks to her leadership.

There have been so many over the years who have poured into the lives of my children. Coach Langham had a way of making my daughter believe she could do anything (and was able to put up with her sarcastic wit like few others.) He also coached my son and gave advice that we still use today.

There are so many on the team of coaches that help mentor my son today. These coaches mentor the young men both on and off the field. Coach Bryant has the "joy" of not only teaching Jr. High, but also serving as basketball coach and track coach, traveling miles and miles just to watch our kids run miles and miles. He uses all that time to offer guidance on life, respect, and honor along with the regular coaching duties. (As a mom, I appreciate this SO much!)

I know I'm about to get myself in trouble here by forgetting to mention someone like Coach Cluff or Coach Hankins or Coach Davis or Coach Hestor....all these men are shaping our future.

I had a "coach" in my own life as well. I wasn't very athletic, but when I was in high school, we had a coach who was in charge of FCA. I listened to his guidance over the years and his words shaped me more than he could have ever known. I still think about some of the lessons he taught and it has been almost 40 years since I sat in those lunch time meetings.

Then there is my more recent "coach"....Coach Becky. How can someone look at a 48 year old teacher coming out of the school at the end of the day as see potential? Or maybe it was just pity. Either way, I am so thankful that on that afternoon years ago she invited me to join them for a training run at the track. The inspiration she continues to give helps me keep trying and running has become a big part of my sanity and my connection to others. She helps so many of us see ourselves as more than what we are to what we might be...and helps us learn how to simply enjoy moving, no matter what our age or our speed.

So the next time I catch myself saying, "He's just a coach," I want to remember these individuals are making a difference that few others do. Good coaches are so much more than just a coach. They see our children (and us) at their best and at their worst - emotions are hard to hide when you are giving it all on the field or on the court. They inspire these kids to work as a TEAM, something our country could use more of.

I am so thankful for these men and women that give time away from their own families to pour life and character into mine. You make a difference. 

If you have been blessed by coach, feel free to share this post and "tag" them. I know I will.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

watch what you put in your mouth...

One afternoon last week I was outside on a beautiful spring day and I found a plastic egg that had been dropped by a child. Looking around, I saw this cute little curly haired blond blond playing beside her dad. I asked her dad if it was her egg before giving it back to her. I then handed her that plastic egg and "zoom", faster than her dad could object, she put it in straight into her mouth. All that got me to thinking.

Have you ever noticed that babies seem to put EVERYTHING into their mouths? It seems to be the way they check things out. Adults might look closely at something or sniff it, but for a baby, into the mouth it goes!

Since Matthew 18: 2-3 tells us to come as a child, "He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,"  all that got me to thinking... how does this apply to my life today? What is it about children putting things in their mouth that I need to learn?

Little ones "test" things by how they feel in their mouth. Are they bitter? Sweet? Hard? Soft? Worthy of leaving in there or should they spit them out?

Maybe I should pay more attention to what I put in my mouth. No, this is not a post about diet...although the analogies to be made there are vast. This is more about the WORDS I put in my mouth. There's an old saying about "putting words in my mouth." Most people object to others putting words in their mouth, but I have to wonder if we all do that more often than we know.I wonder if we don't actually put other people's words in our mouth ourselves.

We repeat gossip or news that we have heard. We put the "words" we hear in the news or facebook. I have students who actually sing songs with no clue of the words they are saying! (When I asked them about the lyrics, they were shocked about the words of the song. They had never actually paid attention to the words of the songs they hummed and danced to.) I think we are all guilty of doing this when we think about it. We put everything into our mouth without giving it a second thought.

I have also been thinking a lot about my own personal need to spend more time with the Word of God. There was a time when I sang scripture, memorized it, chewed on it throughout my day. Then over time, I spent less and less time making sure I was putting God's Word in my mouth. Oh, there was still plenty I was putting in my mouth...most of it harmless enough, but occasionally something that tasted "bitter" or "hard" and that I knew had no business being in my mouth in the first place.

I know, there is also a scripture that talks about what we put into our mouth is not what defiles, but what comes out. The thing is, words simply don't seem to be content to stay inside our mouths. Words want to find their way out. Just like children repeat what they hear, we listen and before we know it the words we've heard are coming from our own lips. They become the words of OUR mouth as well.

Over time, children start to recognize what things are "okay" to put into their mouth. If their parents help them, they learn to recognize what will taste sweet and feel good when they swallow it. Without guidance, they will lean toward junk food and things that may taste sweet at the moment but eventually lead to poor health or even death. Makes me wonder if, as an adult, I can learn too. 

Yep, what we put in our mouth really does make a difference...especially when it comes to words.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Monday, April 6, 2015

not my kids....

"Not my kids...." 

I have actually sat in meetings with parents where they have said those words. One parent went so far as to say her child does not lie. You can be proud of me. I successfully resisted the urge to go over and shake her hand and say I was so happy to finally meet the mother of Jesus....but I did think it! Yep, as a teacher, "not my kid" are words I really hate to hear come out of a parent's mouth, so rest assured, this blog will not take that direction.

Let me begin by saying I have loved being a parent.....well, most of the time. 

However, there is a period of time - usually around 16 or 17 - when parenting becomes NOT so pleasant. When your teens are convinced you are the stupidest parent on earth and everyone else has MUCH cooler parents and if you'd just step out of the way, their life would be SO much better. Needless to say, I am in the middle of those teen years. It is then that I am thankful I can say, "Not my kids." 

Since my children are adopted, you might take that phrase the wrong way. I am in no way saying these children aren't mine to love and, at times, endure. As a teacher, you already know I'm not living in denial that my children are somehow beyond reproach. Nope, this is a different way of looking at that is helping me hold on to my sanity.

With both my daughter (who has now circled round to having some common sense again) and now with my son, I have had to fully give them over to God. I can remember distinctly where my foot fell during a run when I turned my daughter over to Him and basically said, "that's it. I can't do this. She is Yours." I could almost hear the response. "That's what I've been waiting on all along."

I'd love to say things got better immediately, but they didn't. They did, however, get better. She is actually fun to be with now and on the eve of her moving out on her own, I find myself sad to see her go. I also feel confident that she will return for visits as not only my daughter, but my friend.

My son....well, let's just say I'm still in the teenage years with him!

The phrase "not my kids" actually refers to giving my children back to God. I dedicated both my children when they were babies, but as any parents know parenting is a continual process, sometimes a painful one.

The other day after a particularly stressful time with my son, I went for a run. (I have heard people say they run because punching people is frowned upon. Sometimes I feel like I run because I wouldn't look good in an orange jumpsuit!) Anyway, on this run I realized it was time once again to turn my child back over to God. That's when the phrase, "not my kid" came back to mind, only in a very different way. 

Now, when the enemy comes after my son, I am able to think about things more calmly. Not only is my child not mine, he is God's...and the enemy REALLY doesn't want to mess with God! God is not only able to keep my son, but He is more than able to squash anyone who comes after him. While the enemy might actually enjoy the idea of beating me up to get to my child, he's not quite as eager to take on God!

When God says, "not my kid..." it takes on a whole new meaning.  (Picture yourself hiding behind John Wayne or Clint Eastwood and they are staring at the bad guy and saying those words as in 'you better not mess with my kid'! And no doubt, God is MUCH tougher than both of them put together!)  

Nothing can separate my son from the love of Christ.

Parenting my son is still very difficult at times...but knowing that he's "not my kid" but belongs to God allows me to step back and trust that God is in control. He can handle it; I don't have to.

Why share this? Simply because somewhere out there, there is another parent who is raising a teenager and at their wits end. Or maybe they are looking at their own life and wondering how they'll make it through. We continue to pray and stand in the gap and then remember, they are "not mine."

We can look to our Father and know that He has got this. We are His and He is able....

Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)

17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.

1 Samuel 1:27-28 (NIV)

27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.