Thursday, May 18, 2017

A broken heart

My heart is broken tonight. I have read and heard daily this past week or so about some things that just simply break my heart. All of the incidents I speak of are about 1 specific topic, bullying. It is a word that to some is overused, to others it is just the "flavor of the month," and to others it is a word that strikes them to their core. It is everywhere these days. You hear about it everywhere you turn. The local paper had coverage of a protest that took place at a local high school, I had a lengthy conversation with a friend earlier about her child's ongoing battle with it, it has been brought up in conversation with my colleagues. It troubles me deeply that it is so prevalent in our daily lives. I won't pretend to know exactly why, because I don't know, but I suspect the plethora of social media outlets we have at our fingertips makes it seem to be everywhere all the time. Well it is everywhere and in my opinion it is getting worse. I think part of the problem is that we have a generation of young people who have this sense of entitlement that whatever they want they should get and they should get it when they want it. They think the rules don't apply to them and in a lot of cases their parents enable this misguided thinking. The other problem is that as a society we have drifted away from a commandment that if we were to follow it would solve the majority of our problems. We all know the phrase, we have even named it, but we don't follow it. Now before you get upset I am speaking in generalities here. I know a lot of the people reading it still believe in and practice the Golden Rule but as a society we do it less and less I believe. We are a me first society not a we first. We see it in our capital city, we see it in our work places, we see it in our schools, and we see it in our homes. I believe it is an epidemic. Matthew 7:12 says "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you..." Jesus was basically summing up the Law of Moses in this one sentence. He was able to wrap up the entire law in one sentence. Think about that for a minute. One sentence. I am not a lawyer and I have no idea how many laws we have in this nation but I think Jesus was on to something in this one sentence. It really is as simple as this one sentence. If everybody really took this one sentence to heart and thought about it before speaking or acting we would be living in a much more peaceful time with less turmoil and more love. Isn't that what we all really crave anyway? Deep down we all have a desire to be loved. So if that is what we really want, and need, then let's apply that to our Golden Rule. Let's love others so that in turn we will be loved.  Is it really a cool thing to go on social media, in a pretty anonymous way, and post some profanity laden tirade about how people protesting (their Constitutional right) to try and draw attention to a bullying problem are "stupid" and "f-ing babies" and they should just "grow up?" I am sorry, but using vulgar language and calling names to prove a point is pretty immature and shows a lack of intelligence, in my opinion. I am not perfect, and I will be the 1st one to admit that, but I strive everyday to do my best to love the people around me regardless of who they are. My passions are teaching and coaching and I tell my kids, whether they are biological, adopted, educationally, or athletically mine, that I love them. Not to make them feel good but because I do. They are all my kids. I met a person a short time ago and we got talking about our kids. He asked me how many kids I had and I said well give me a second and I proceeded to add up in my head 6 plus 17 plus 14 plus ... and his eyes got big and he looked at me with a quizzical awe. Before he could say anything, I told him I have a lot. I am a teacher and a coach as well as a father. I have 6 kids that the law considers mine, 17 students in my classroom, and 14 girls on the softball team I coach. That is not counting the foster kids I have had in my home, former students and players, and friends of my children that call me dad. We continued to talk and he said you must really be blessed. I agreed and then I told him, it is because I choose to love them that I am blessed. If you have read this far I want you to get one thing from my ramblings. That one thing is this love each other. You don't have to like others or what they do or stand for, but love them. Love them because they are human beings just like you are. Love them because they need to be loved. Love them because you need to be loved. If we all did a better job of this then bullying would not be an issue, it would be history.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

That smile....

As a coach and teacher I get to develop relationships with a ton of kids. Many years ago I met a young man who had a smile that never ended. I can only remember a handful of times, usually in the locker room, where he wasn't smiling. Being around him you couldn't help but smile too. His smile was infectious. Eddie I can't begin to know what your mind and heart were dealing with but know that you are loved both in life and in death. I know that God has a plan for this because he tells us that he works good in all things (Romans 8:28). I pray that you are at peace Eddie. I pray that through this tragedy others will not hide behind their smile or other mask that they put on. You're spirit will live on in this small, Michigan city through the lives of all the people that you touched. I love you and will miss you brother! Rest in peace Eddie! I was blessed to know you, coach you, and call you a friend.

For anyone who reads this and are dealing with some unseen issue don't hide it. Reach out to those around you. Everyone is a treasure of God, no matter what wrongs you have done, no matter what it is that troubles you or haunts you there is peace in the Father. "Let the little children come to me....for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matthew 19:14. All of us are like these children, Jesus wants us to come to him. Seek him. Seek out those who love you and share your pain, those who love you will not mind, I promise you. Talk to someone, a friend, a parent, a sibling, a minister, a teacher, someone, anyone don't keep it inside. That which you hide away will only fester and boil to the point of breaking you.

For those of us who are friends, loved ones, or trusted individuals of others (that is all of us) be vigilant, keep your eyes and ears open to those around you. Sometimes the cries for help are barely audible, almost silent. Look past the facade, past the masks. Have compassion and empathy, be willing to be the shoulder to cry on, the arms to comfort, and the ears to listen. It could save a life!

In closing, I want to share my favorite song right now. As you listen to it read the lyrics, it's very powerful.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Unanswerable Question

So many times we encounter a question that we just can't find an answer too. As I lay in bed tonight, starting to dose off, I was stirred by my teenage daughter. She had came to inform me that one of her friends, a daughter to one of my friends and former coworker, had passed away in an automobile accident. My heart sank to depths I can't describe. H was one of the most talented and beautiful young ladies that I have ever met. She always had a smile on her face when I saw her. Her beauty showed from deep within. The loss of someone always brings about the question of why. I have always found this question to be the most difficult to answer. I think it is unanswerable. No matter what someone's response is the words are never enough, there isn't anything any human being can say that is going to make it all make sense. I typically am never at a loss for words but I can't seem to find any tonight. So I decided to get up and write, since it has been so long since I did so, and it always seems to help me when I am struggling. To my friend J, my heart aches for you and your family. Your loss is greater than anything a person should ever have to deal with. Know that you are not alone. You are surrounded by friends and family that love you, and your girls, and are going to be there to hold you up, to wrap their arms around you, and give you their shoulders to cry on. H, you will be missed by many but your memory will live on forever.

I hugged my daughter a little extra hard tonight and I am sure the next time she sets out on her own in one of our vehicles I will worry a little more than usual. If you are reading this, hug your kids tight, let them know you love them no matter what. Life is too short and you never know what tomorrow holds. Be safe my friends.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Senior Night/Parent Night

Today is Senior Night/Parent Night. For the seniors tonight will be the last time that they take to their home court to play the game they love. It is always with mixed emotions that I prepare for the final regular season game and today is no different. The 7 girls that I have had on Varsity and the 3 that played down so we could have a JV will always have a special place in my heart. They are 10 of the girls that helped me start my career as a Varsity Girls Basketball coach. I have gotten to know most of these girls pretty well and love each of them as if they were my own kids. Tonight will be emotional for me but especially for them. Whether we win or lose I know that these girls are going to give it their all tonight and will be able to walk off the court proud of all that they have accomplished. They are a very unique and special group. I am going to miss them. They have come so far this year and I wish I had them all for at least one more year. Now a little message for the Lady Wolverines:

Ladies - leave it all on the court tonight, no excuses, no regrets!

It has been my privilege and honor to be your coach this year and you will all have a special place in my heart forever. Tonight ends a chapter for us but tomorrow we start the next chapter and prepare for the tournament. I want you to know how proud I am of each and every one of you. 

We are 1!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I can't sleep! Insomnia?'s just basketball season and tomorrow is our 1st scrimmage.  This week has been filled with emotional ups and downs.  It had been a long week but it culminates in our first test tomorrow.  I am anxious, excited, and though I don't want to admit it probably nervous too. I feel good about the progress we have made since our 1st practice. I love my girls. They work hard and they are getting better each and every day. I told them earlier tonight that tomorrow is the first step in our journey. It is a journey that we really don't know what the end will be. The future is unclear. Regardless, I couldn't be more excited to be taking this journey with these young ladies. Here's to a season filled with more ups than downs, a lot of growth and even more memories.  We are Vestaburg!  We are ONE!

Friday, November 7, 2014

I love my wife!

God is good! A simple statement but definitely one of the truest statements you could ever make. I have been blessed beyond measure in my just over four decades of life. Looking at where I am today, though I am not rich monetarily, I am doing well. I am teaching a great bunch of 3rd graders, on Monday my varsity coaching career officially begins, I have a great family, especially my 6 kids, but probably the biggest blessing I have is my wife Nicole. I could not be prouder of the woman who I married about 18 and a half years ago. She holds an associates, bachelors, and masters degree. She gets out of bed everyday (all 7 of them) before me to go to work. She does amazing work for the Veterans of Foreign War. She is my accountant. She keeps my house picked up, as much as you can with our kids. She fixes meals quite often. She helps with all the other stuff parents have to do. She is an amazing women. She always gives of herself and goes out of her way to help those who are in need. I love my wife. We may not always see eye to eye and we may not see each other a lot, especially during basketball season, but I wouldn't trade her for anything. (well....maybe we won't go there.....just kidding sweetheart) Okay so some of you may wonder why all of a sudden I am bragging about my wife. I know some of you are saying Matt must be in the dog house, but that is not the case at all. I have heard some negative things are being said and hinted at by others about my wife and that ticks me off. My wife does more in one day for our family than a lot of people do in a whole week. She has set some pretty lofty goals for her self professionally. She sacrifices her own needs to be sure that her kids and there needs are taken care of. She is probably the busiest lady I know but she always finds time to cuddle with the little ones or watch a movie with some of the kids or just hang out with them. My kids adore their mom and understand the significance of the things that she is doing with her life. In know way does my wife neglect her responsibilities as a mother and wife. Is my wife perfect, no. Do I wish she was home more, yes. But don't we all wish we could be home more? I think we all would love to be stay at home parents. It is not anyone else's place to tell us how to live our lives or how to raise our kids. I am proud of my kids and the things that they accomplish and I am proud of my wife and her willingness to honor her father, my grandfather, and all of the other men and women who have served our great nation. She is an amazing woman and she is my wife. I am one lucky guy to have her. If you have a problem with her and what she does or doesn't do you come talk to me, face to face, and I will tell you a handful of stories that will show you how amazing she is. So if you aren't willing to talk to me, keep your mouth shut and don't judge.

James 4:12 says "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you - who are you to judge your neighbor?"

Additionally in Ephesians 4:29 it says "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

I hope I haven't offended anyone in my post tonight but I will not tolerate negative comments made about my wife. She does not deserve it and they certainly are not warranted. God blessed me with her and I will honor her as God has instructed.

I love you Nicole!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey and some of my own

Do you remember the Deep Thoughts bit from Saturday Night Live? Definitely one of my favorite skits. The above quote of J. Handy is one of my favorites. It is actually probably believable for some kids. I know it would have been for me if my parents ever told me that as a kid. I got in trouble a lot.
Anyway, it came to mind tonight when I started to think about what I wanted to blog about. This wasn't the reason but I thought it was funny that it came to mind for some reason.

On to what I really wanted to write about. Coaching.

I love coaching, and it really doesn't matter what sport /activity it is. This past Saturday my son's 6th grade football season came to an end. I have been the head coach for his football team the last 3 years and I love it. Though I in no way do it alone. I have a great staff of coaches that really are the key to our success. Phil, Paul, Todd, and Tim have been a huge help and asset to our team. I love that we are all Christians and that we pray together before every game. But now football season has come to an end for us and it is on to the next sport.

For me, it is the start of something new. I was recently named the head coach for the Varsity Girls Basketball team at the school I graduated from, Vestaburg High School. I can't be more excited to be in this position. I lie awake at night thinking about what offenses I am going to teach the girls, what in-bounds plays I want to try, and what drills I will put them through. I dream about it, I wake up and within minutes my mind wanders to basketball. It is going to be a good season, I can feel it.

This fall has been filled with so many blessings. As the school year started I didn't have a job. Within a couple weeks or so I started filling a part-time teaching position in Vestaburg teaching math, reading, and writing to some great 3rd grade kids. I absolutely love my job. It was the perfect position at just the right time. I can't wait to get to school every morning. You know you are in a good spot with your job when you aren't dreading getting out of bed and heading to work. I am so appreciative of the administration at the school for allowing me to be a part of the great things that are going on at the school. The teachers and other staff are excellent and a pleasure to work with.

Blessings just abound, every where we look. So often we take them for granted but we need to stop and just take them in some time. Today when I got home from school and a coaches meeting I started working in the yard and Maddex and Ella (my youngest 2 kids) were hanging out and helping as much as they could. Soon the other kids started getting home and joined us. We were blowing and raking leaves, I did a little mowing, but most of all we were just having a good time. (well I am not sure how much fun they were having) A couple of times I just stopped and watched them as they were working and I felt such gratitude that they could be out there doing what we were doing. That they are basically healthy and overall they are really great kids. When we got done and took the last tarp load of leaves to the road the kids started jumping in the leaves. The joy in their faces was priceless. So, I grabbed my phone out of phone and took a couple quick pics of them in the leaves. It is a memory I will cherish forever.

(l to r) Ella, Taylor, Gwen, Logan, and Maddex

Aggie was not with us. She was inside getting cleaned up from a little incident she had while pumping gas for a fund raiser earlier in the evening. That's a story for another time. I love that girl but she certainly keeps us on our toes.

Do me a favor, hug your kids a little tighter the next time you hug them. Tell them you love them a couple extra times, and find a way to spend a few extra minutes with them this week. You won't regret it.