Wednesday, November 27, 2013


By the time I finish this post it will officially be Thanksgiving so I thought it would be appropriate to talk about my feelings on Thanksgiving.

Now anyone that knows me really well knows that I am not a big holiday person. I tend to be a little "bah humbug" no matter what the holiday is. The reason for this is that holidays have just become commercialized days that bring big profits to retailers. Family takes on less and less significance as retailers open earlier each year, to the point now that it seems more are opening on Thanksgiving night than are waiting till Friday morning. I prefer to stay home and do nothing on holidays. On Thanksgiving, I want to sit in front of my tv and watch the Lions (always hoping for a win, but usually disappointed) and eat a bunch of food with my family. Those are the only two things that really matter to me. I don't think Thanksgiving is really that different from any other day. I don't know about you but I am thankful everyday. A day doesn't go by that I am not thankful for something. I don't need to wait till November and then post each day something I am thankful for, and there is nothing wrong with that. Those of you who have done that and are doing that, good for you, I enjoy reading them, but it isn't for me. I want to be sure that I am thankful everyday. I am thankful for the ability to get out of my bed, no matter how painful it is. I am thankful for my wife, who as much as I am a sarcastic jerk to her some days, I could not live without. I am thankful for my kids, who make my life something new everyday. I am thankful for my entire family, without whom I would not be the man I am. I am thankful for my vehicles, my home, my clothes, and my possessions. Most of these things I could survive without if necessary, but they make life a lot easier than if I didn't have them. I am thankful that I live in the United States of America, the freedoms that we have should never be taken for granted. I am thankful for a lot of other things too, but most of all I am thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that he made for me.

We should be thankful everyday. I try to remember to thank the Lord everyday for his blessings, but sometimes I forget, which reminds me I am thankful that God is a forgiving god. What I fail to do is thank those people around me as much as I should, especially my wife and kids. I need to do a better job of showing and telling them my gratitude each day. So I want to challenge all of my readers to be more conscientious over this next year to show and tell your gratitude to others each and everyday. It doesn't have to be anymore than just saying thank you more often. It really isn't anything difficult. Let's not wait till next November to be thankful.

Philippians 4:5-7

New International Version (NIV)
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

retrieved from

Saturday, November 23, 2013

This isn't good-bye, it's just a see you later.

This week has been emotional. Monday was the official start of basketball here in Michigan as we had our first practice of the year. This is one of my favorite days of the year. Then I got the news that my Grandma Catherine had had a stroke. Then on Wednesday the word came that she had passed from this life. With this news came great sadness, some regret and some guilt. Earlier this year I had contemplated the idea of making the trip to Indianapolis to see my Grandpa and Grandma Catherine but decided against it and truthfully I am not sure why I didn't go. I remember thinking that I would see them at Christmas so that probably weighed in my decision to not go. Wednesday afternoon I must have mulled that decision over in my mind a 100 times. Catherine was a special woman. She was not my biological grandma, but that didn't really matter to me and I don't think it mattered to her either. She met my grandfather in 1994 and they were married that year. Nicole and I were dating at that time and she accompanied me to Indiana for the wedding. I remember meeting all of her family and thinking either this woman was crazy or something special. Who has 9 children? Catherine did. Well, that thinking may have been a little telling of my family's future, since we have 6 kids and have had as many as 14 or 15 here at the house on any given summer day. Turns out she really wasn't crazy but she was definitely special. Catherine was always excited to see Nicole and I and our many different kids over the years. We never got down as much as we wanted but we always felt loved when we were there. We love Catherine. She has been a part of our lives for 19 years and we will always cherish the times we spent with them. The Christmas Eve party, our Memorial Day trips, and the various other times we were able to visit with Catherine will not be forgotten.

Today, we laid her to rest. The service was wonderful. I was honored to have had a small part in the service. That meant a lot to me. So thank you to all of Catherine's family for that. Thank you also to the family for sharing Catherine with us these past 19 years. She was an amazing example of faith and love. I only wish I could have had more time with her. But it isn't good-bye, for we know that one day all of us that believe and follow Christ will be reunited. So until then Grandma Catherine, see you later. We love you.

The reading that I read at the mass was from Job 19, I wanted to share that with all of my readers tonight. Now this isn't the exact translation that I read, because I don't know what translation that was but the meaning is all the same. The are 2 verses that  I really like, verse 25 and 27.

23“Oh, that my words could be recorded.
Oh, that they could be inscribed on a monument,
24carved with an iron chisel and filled with lead,
engraved forever in the rock.
25“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
26And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
27I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
                                     Job 19:23-27 (NLT)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Person of Interest

Okay, so it has been a few days since I have posted. I don't want to bore you with excuses but I have been fighting this crud and sleep (or at least attempts at sleep) have taken precedence. 

Just finished watching the latest episode of what has probably become my favorite television show, Person of Interest. I am not a conspiracy theorist by any means but I am intrigued by that sort of thing a little. I often wonder if "Big Brother" is watching. (side note - I have read 1984 twice) Anyway, when I think about the government or some other agency spying on me or just the public in general I don't get to worked up about it. I like to believe that for the most part I am not doing anything that I would be ashamed of or would get in some kind of trouble for. I was raised that someone far more important than the government was seeing everything I did both in public and in private. Beyond that, I was raised to believe that He would know my thoughts. From a very young age this was made evident to me. See my mom had this knack of knowing what I had been up to even before I got home from being out with friends. I remind you this is back in the 80s when basically no one in Vestaburg had cell phones or used the internet. I think she had her own spy network set up and they were all world record speed dialers (on rotary dial phones at that). I couldn't get away with anything. She took pleasure in interrogating me and getting me to fess up to things without me knowing I was confessing anything. She was subtle that way. I eventually learned it wasn't worth trying to hide anything from mom, she always found out, always. Between my healthy fear of my mother and my belief in an omniscient, omnipresent God I don't fear a government spying on me. I strongly believe that we have a right to our privacy and I don't want them spying on what goes on inside my home, but I don't really have anything to hide. In public, I don't even think about whether they are spying on me or not, I don't go out of my way to avoid security cameras, I am not worried about those here on Earth that may want to spy on me (I don't really have anything that fascinating going on in my life anyway) I worry about what my Creator sees, hears and knows. I know that I am a Person of Interest to Him and I am perfectly okay with that.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lasting relationships

One of the reasons I decided to keep doing this blogging thing is that I thought that there would be times that I could encourage others using my own experiences. Today I got some of the greatest hugs ever. I got to see the person that is my closest friend that isn't my wife, my friend Melissa. Usually we go quite a while between visits due to our crazy schedules and the fact that we live over an hour and a half apart. Melissa and I have known each other for 20-some years. We met in the summer of 1990 or 1991 I believe on the campus of what is now Kentucky Christian University. (It was KCC back then.) We haven't seen each other a ton over the 20 plus years but we have stayed in touch and talked about a lot of personal things over the years. She is always the one that tells me I am being a jerk to my wife and I better knock it off. She is one of the nicest, most generous people you will ever meet. (She even took me to lunch today.) Even though I just saw her a couple of weeks ago it is always great to get a hug from her when I see her.

Then this evening, Nicole, the kids, and I went to a birthday party for Shaun-Thomas and Leo, two of our former foster children. These boys have a real special place in our heart. I believe I mentioned them in my blog last night but too bad you are gonna hear about them again. We had the pleasure of having them live with us for somewhere around 15 months I believe. We always treated them like they were our own flesh and blood, just like all of our foster/adopted kids. But it was really tough to have them leave us. Fortunately, they have a great mom and she has allowed us to remain a part of their lives. We love her and her family and their willingness to include us in the lives of the boys. Their birthdays are 1 day apart and so the family throws a big party for them each year and tonight was the night. When we walked in their faces were beaming, not sure if it was us or just the excitement of the party, but I am going to go with us. Regardless, the hugs I got from those boys tonight were special. They are growing up so fast and are doing so well. I can't wait till December 21st when I get to see them again. Their mom is so awesome that she lets us bring the boys to our house for a couple of days for our family Christmas celebrations. The boys love coming and we love having them. So tonight, Stephanie, I don't know if you read my blog's or not but I want you to know how much Nicole and I appreciate you letting us be a part of Shaun's and Leo's lives. We love all of you! Thank you.

Now these were just a couple of incidents of hugs today, I had more, but I could go on all night. Hugs are a gift from God. Hugs can do so many different things, from comforting and supporting, to loving and encouraging and everything in between. I love hugs from my students, my friends, my loved ones, but most of all I love them from my kids. And I don't care what any of you think or say, my kids give the best hugs!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

4 days...

Tomorrow many of my friends will be sitting in the great outdoors waiting patiently for an unsuspecting deer to come close enough that they can shoot it. I must say I am a little jealous. I used to hunt myself but when I started working in the newspaper industry I was too busy to get out into the woods much. I hunted a couple of times during my newspaper years but never with any success. I have often thought that I should get back in the woods but just have never found the time to do so. I loved being in nature, having time to meditate and think as I enjoyed all that God had to offer through his wilderness. Maybe next year I will get back out there but until then I wish the best of luck to all the hunters and be safe.

On another note, we often go through life doing things that we love and a lot of the time we don't know if we are having an impact or not. So when we get some validation that our hard work is paying dividends it really is rewarding. One of the things that I have always loved about coaching and now teaching, is hearing players or parents say that I have had a positive influence on them or their child. It makes the long hours and hard work and sacrifices that I and my family have made worth it. That may sound a little selfish or egotistical but I think we all like to get that "stamp of approval" from others. I had one such incident tonight. It actually caught me off guard a little. I ran into a parent of one of my students and struck up a conversation with them. As we were talking about how their child was doing in school and how much I enjoyed having her in class the mother of my student says "she loves having you for a teacher." She went on to say that her daughter, in past years hasn't always been excited about going to school but this year she wants to go to school. I have to admit, it made my day. Today was a bit of a rough day at school. A few of my students just didn't want to follow directions and work together in groups and were really making the day a not so pleasant one. We plugged away and got through the day, but it was exhausting. Then, in the parking lot of a gas station, in a small moment of time, my day was redeemed by one mother's story of her child's desire to come to school every day. What a rush that story gave me. It makes me almost wish we had school tomorrow. But, I will take the day off.

I am excited for my day off tomorrow, though I am going to be pretty busy. My day will probably start in my classroom (I can get a lot of work done in an hour or two when I don't have any kids) before heading to Pinckney for a Turkey Bowl wrap-up meeting. I will get a "small dose" of my friends and then I will head back to Lansing/Okemos area to do some shopping for a couple of cool little buds of mine. Then on to their birthday party. Leo and Shaun are two special kids. They were foster kids of ours for almost a year and a half. Their mom has been great about keeping us involved in their lives since they went back home and I am forever grateful to her for it. It is awesome to see how those two boys have grown and matured since they lived with us. It is a true success story of foster care.

So, despite the fact that I feel like crap tonight with this head cold, I am feeling extremely blessed. I have a great job in a good school, with an awesome group of coworkers, and 19 wonderful students. I have an amazing family and the best extended family through all of the foster care connections we have made. I am loving life and it's only 4 days till basketball season! God is good!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

College basketball

I love watching college basketball. Tonight was a great night for college basketball. Four of the top teams in the nation are in action against each other. I watched the entire Michigan St./Kentucky game and have been watching bits and pieces of the Duke/Kansas game. It almost feels like March. The talent on the floor in Chicago tonight has been impressive. I think the big difference in the MSU/Kentucky game was the experience of Michigan St.. They played a very good game from start to finish. They never went on a sustained drought and were able to fend off or answer the runs of Kentucky. Izzo has this team already in midseason form. I liked the fact that they were running the floor every chance they got. The first few minutes of the game State's experience was evident and Kentucky's inexperience was probably even more evident. Regardless of what school you root for one thing is certain, the Big Ten is going to be the best league in the nation this year and the battle for the Big Ten Championship is going to be a great one. MSU, UM, Ohio St., Indiana and Wisconsin are all going to be good teams I think. The eventual champion may end up with 4 or 5 losses. Then when it comes to the Big Dance in March it is even going to get better. Kentucky is only going to get better, as will Kansas. Both of those teams are so young right now. This year's college basketball season is here and it is going to be a great one!

And, closer to home, high school girls basketball started yesterday and Monday boys season starts. I can't wait for practice to start. I love coaching and I am ready to go. It's going to be a good year!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. A day we recognize all of those that have sacrificed of themselves to protect this wonderful country that we live in. All of the men and women in the history of this great nation that have enlisted in the armed services, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, have put our freedom ahead of their own. They weren't free to go and see their loved ones whenever they wanted to, they weren't free to do what they wanted to. They sacrificed so that we could see our loved ones and do the things we want to do. We all owe them a thank you that can't be expressed in mere words. Our government has set aside this day to remember and honor all of them but they deserve more than a day. A day is not enough. So I want everyone that reads this to join me in being more intentional about thinking of all these men and women whenever we hear the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance. Don't just sing or say the words out of habit or some sort of sense of obligation. Do it to honor those that have served and those that currently serve. Do it with a grateful heart. Lastly, never forget that their sacrifice was for you.

To all the veterans I want to extend my deepest, heartfelt gratitude to you for the sacrifice's that you have made so that I can continue to live free. I can never express with words how much your sacrifice means to me.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Impressed and thankful

I was extremely impressed today with the turnout for the sports boosters apple pie making event. The middle school was swarming with workers like it was a beehive. Everyone doing there small part to make something like 2500 apple pies in what had to be world record time. It was amazing. There were volunteers of all different ages and even some that really didn't have much of a connection to our school or sports programs. My son Logan and I even helped out for a little while. I must say I think I was getting pretty good at rolling out dough balls to make the crust. The first one took me a little while but I got the hang of it. Logan was running around helping with what he could too. It was a fun. What a great organization! The people behind this event, some who I am sure I am not even aware of, should be commended for what they do. I am sure I would miss some if I tried to mention them by name so I won't try. I do want to thank all of them though for all of their hard work to help support all of our athletic programs here in St. Louis.

Thank you St. Louis Sports Boosters!

Go Sharks!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Overwhelmed and the organizational guru

How often do you feel overwhelmed? What do you do when you are overwhelmed? What does it even mean to be overwhelmed?

These questions seem to be coming up a bit lately. Some days, I admit, I feel overwhelmed. I get home from school and realize, there is work to be done in the house, in the yard, in the garage, and so on. Then there is the assignment(s) due for my masters class, is there a meeting or class I need to go to, what are the kids doing, do they need to be somewhere...... It just keeps going. Life has a way of bogging us down before we realize what is happening. But where do you cut back, what is gonna give? That is the tough question. Many people ask my wife and I how we do all the things we do. It all comes down to one word:


My wife is the organizational guru in our family. She keeps us all in line as to where we need to go, what needs to be done, and all that stuff rich guys pay personal assistants to do for them. My wife is way underpaid, because I am not one of those rich guys. And I definitely don't make it easy for her. But she still makes things work. I wonder if she thinks I just throw stuff at her to see if she can handle it. That is not the way it is, I just tend to forget what I have told her and what I haven't. (I am getting better though.)

I love my wife and I really don't think I could survive without her. We joke about that a lot but it is weeks like this week that make me realize it is a fact. Heaven forbid anything were to happen to her, my kids and I would probably be in a world of hurt. So honey, if you're reading this, and I am sure you are, I love you and thank you for keeping me in line and headed to where I need to be going.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


One thing that I have struggled with since starting this blogging thing is remembering what I have already blogged about. When I am deciding what to write about, I sometimes feel like I have already written about whatever it is that I am contemplating. I am too lazy to look back through most nights and that is the case tonight. I don't know if I have talked about the finality of adoption before tonight or not but if so, then I am sorry, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

Today I read, with great joy, that some friends of mine had their adoption finalized. It takes me back to when Nicole and I stood before Judge Arnold in Ithaca and Aggie and Gwen became official, legal members of our family. What a joyful and exciting day. I can imagine how Lori and Jean feel today as they reached that finality in the adoption process. I love the definition of finality that I found when I was checking the spelling. The definition on Google was "the fact or impression of being an irreversible ending." Irreversible, they are officially family. Though they were family from the minute they came into our homes, there is an overwhelming joy that comes over an adoptive parent when it comes to that irreversible ending. I know, I cried a lot that day in the courtroom. I celebrate with you tonight Lori and Jean, congratulations.

There is another feeling that is weighing on me tonight though. It is for the families that are waiting for their adoptions to be finalized. We are there ourselves. We kind of know the timeline for ours, as others do, and that makes it easier. But there are others who have no idea when finality will be reached. For some, they wait, not even knowing when they will see their kids. Government red tape, regulations, and bureaucracy stand in the way. Even though all of these things are preventing the joyous occasion they wait patiently, trusting that God is in control and His plan is unfolding in His time. I pray for them and their children.

Adoption is a wonderful experience and I encourage everyone who knows someone going through adoption or that has recently adopted, lift them up in prayer. Encourage them when you see them, it isn't always easy. And probably most importantly, welcome the newest family members the way you would a biological member of the family, because as far as the adoptive parent is concerned, they are biological.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Writing is therapy.

"Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation." - Graham Greene

I found this quote and thought it was fitting for this past month or so. That said, I am going to sit tonight out. I am exhausted, and I hear my bed calling my name.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Beaner and Louie

My youngest two sisters might try to kill me for this post but I think I can still take them.

Beaner and Louie are my youngest sisters. When we were younger I gave all 4 of my sisters nicknames. They may not really like them but they are stuck with them, at least for as long as I can remember what they are, Beaner and Louie are twins and I don't get to see much of them together. Beaner, better known as Anna Lee, lives in Illinois and doesn't get home too often. Louie, aka Lois, lives a lot closer, (about 15-20 minutes away) and I see her quite often. Well Anna's work involves a lot of traveling throughout the country and it just so happened that she had to come to Michigan for work this week. So tonight, the two of them, Lois's kids, and my parents all came over for dinner. In the great Koutz tradition it was pizza and chips for dinner. Then a challenging game of Apples to Apples. Challenging due to little ones interrupting, wanting to play, and just making it difficult to hear each other. But that is pretty much the norm when we get together. I love having my family over. It is always a good time. We joke, and kid, and harass each other about anything and everything, but above all there is just an abundance of love when we are all together. I am so blessed to have a great family. So I would never be forgiven if I didn't mention the missing members Festus and Zit. For those of you who don't know, that would be Sarah and Elizabeth. We missed you tonight but look forward to Christmas when we will all be together.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

An open conversation with God.

Prayer has been a big topic lately in many areas of my life. This past summer we had a sermon series on prayer at my church. Very good one too. Then I came across an article earlier this fall about prayer. Today the minister at my church started another series on prayer. Unfortunately I missed it. I went to church with my friends in Pinckney and probably not by chance the sermon was on prayer. I will be very open, my prayer life is not what it should be, but I imagine a lot of us can say that. I see a lot of requests for prayer on Facebook, the passing of loved ones, illnesses, injuries, and life decisions. I will usually pray for this specific thing right away and post a quick comment to let that person know I am thinking about them. But then I go about my day or night and sometimes I forget about it. I try not to but it happens and I apologize for that. I do get reminded though when someone else posts and I get an alert on my phone. I try to say a little prayer for that situation again. These prayers are all good and I am sure they help but that isn't enough. I am not really being intimate with my maker. The minister I heard this morning talked about praying the Psalms. It is a really great idea. I think I may try to do this occasionally. I am also going to try and be more intentional in my prayer life. Praying for wisdom, praying for my wife and kids, praying for all of the things that I have been neglecting in my prayer life for far too long. Most importantly though praying for and working at a more open conversation with God. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Turkey Bowl 2013

What a great day!

Today was Turkey Bowl 2013! For those of you who don't know the Turkey Bowl is a charity flag football tournament in Pinckney. They raise money and collect canned good to donate meals to needy families. I have helped with this tournament for 3 years. The first year I officiated, last year I did a lot of different things (I was coming off knee surgery and couldn't officiate), and this year I was the football coordinator. I am not sure why they asked me to do it but they did. I must have had sucker written across my head or something. So I had a lot of pressure this year to handle this since I live almost 2 hours from Pinckney and couldn't be at meetings or look at things in person. There were a lot of phone and email conversations the past couple of months and one meeting at a kids playscape place call the Treehouse before this week to try and get things organized and planned. Things were going good until we got the forecast for the week. Rain, rain and more rain was predicted. So, now we needed a plan B. Thanks to the athletic director at Pinckney High School, which won their first ever playoff came last night (Congratulations Pirates!), we were able to use their fabulous stadium and practice field instead of the soccer fields we have usually used. The rain was annoying all day but not terrible. It was cold and windy for the majority of the day too. In spite of the rain, cold, and wind the tournament went great. I think everyone had fun and there were only minor issues throughout the day and only minor injuries. The amazing thing today though was the 65 year old man playing with a bunch of guys that were basically his grand kids ages. He was their QB and he was actually really good. His team ended up finishing second in the adult male division. I give that man props for what he was doing today. He was unbelievable. We had a good turnout and I am very pleased with how things went. I do want to give a shout out to the two ladies who have got me involved in this, Melissa Bolen and Tricia Richardson. These two ladies have done so much with the Turkey Bowl and putting it on every year. They are a great team to work with. Tricia is the head honcho basically. She just does an amazing job running this event!! Thank you Tricia for letting me heave a part in this great event. And then there is Melissa. She is probably my best friend that I am not married to. We have known each other since high school, when we met at a summer camp program at Kentucky Christian College. We discovered we were both from Michigan and became friends and stayed in touch for all of these years. It was her idea for me to come down 2 years ago and help officiate the games. Little did I know that I would be getting roped into a yearly thing when I said okay. Of course, I don't think she did either. I love it though. I look forward now to coming down for the weekend and camping out on Melissa and her husband Ralph's couch, hanging out with them and their 2 sweet girls, and working the Turkey Bowl with a great team of volunteers. So Tricia and Melissa, props to you for your dedication to this awesome event and thank you for your letting me be a part of it and finally I would prefer larger doses, these small ones are just not enough! (inside joke)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Live from Pinckney, Michigan....this is 40!!

So I am now 40 years old. It really doesn't feel in different, but it certainly sounds different. I am not sure that I really like saying I am 40. I have had some pretty funny comments directed at me today, but the best one was my dad's. He posted this on Facebook:

"Happy birthday to my favorite son. So proud of who you've become. Just wish it hadn't taken you 40 years to get there."

Definitely the best comment I received so far today. I celebrated with my wife and kids with brunch at a local restaurant, after doing report cards in the morning. Then I traveled to my friend's house in Pinckney, where I am at now. This has become my home base the first weekend in November the past couple of years so that I can help out at the Turkey Bowl. The Turkey Bowl is a charity flag football tournament that raises money and collects can goods to supply needy families with a Thanksgiving meal. It is a lot of fun and the bonus is that I get to see my friend and her family. 

Keeping it short tonight so....

In closing, I want to thank everyone that has wished me well today. I am truly blessed with many wonderful friends and family.  

One last thing....