Effort > Success

swim1He slapped at the water and flailed his way across the length of the pool. Kasen tried out for the Lake Jackson Swim Team back in May and didn’t make it. He just couldn’t breathe properly and struggled with swimming the required 25yd distance without a few dog paddles. It was the first time he didn’t immediately excel in a sport. He cried and didn’t understand why he didn’t make the team. He talked about quitting and giving up.

Miranda and I didn’t really mind the fact that he didn’t make it and I sort of thought, “Well, our summer won’t be consumed by swim meets.” However, when Kasen responded this way something inside me felt differently. I don’t want my kids to think it’s OK to just give up or quit when something is difficult. As a matter of fact, I really believe just the opposite. When something is hard and they have to work at it, I will be even more proud of them. Sometimes effort is more impressive than success. Success may be a result of effort, but the effort/struggle is what grows us and strengthens our character. I don’t want kids who are just successful. I want kids who know how to work and earn their success. Kids who understand that pushing themselves makes them stronger – makes them grow.

For the next 2 weeks, I drove Kasen to the pool every day after school. We hired another swim coach to work with him. (Thanks Andy!) We set goals and worked toward them. Some days went well. Others didn’t.

swim2After two weeks, he tried out again. He made the team. At the first meet in his very first race, he placed 1st in backstroke and got 1st place on his freestyle that day too! For the rest of the regular season, he was never beaten in backstroke. He didn’t have his best race, but still got 6th in the final State meet! For a kid who couldn’t swim the length of the pool only a few weeks earlier, I was really proud. Proud of his effort, not his success. Happy for success, but proud of effort.

Romans 5:3-4 – We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient.  And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.” – The Message

PRAYER:
LORD, May this lesson follow Kasen throughout his life. Help him to remember to persevere. Help me to be an example to him of a hard worker, and as a man who doesn’t give up on things that are important, even when they are hard. Give us strength (physical, mental, and spiritual) to endure. Help us to recognize your presence with us and teach us to trust in your strength when we don’t feel like we can go on.

PS – This is why everyone loves the movie, “Rudy.” He was admired by his teammates for his effort – not his success. They were willing to sit out and make sacrifices for him because he was such a hard worker.

Legacy

Me and grandma 1983
Me and grandma 1983

My grandma died last year at the age of 97 and she never snow skiied. She traveled all over the country and did all kinds of things, but she never went on a ski trip. Well…….. maybe she did……. just last week. She was there. I saw her almost everywhere I looked. When I broke open mom’s haystack candy, I saw grandma nibbling on one of her own. When the kids had a snowball fight, I saw grandma throwing one off the deck at me accompanied by her laugh and smile which both hit me harder than her snowball. When we played board games at the table, I watched her nimble hands slide the exact card into place to win the game. One morning

There's that smile I saw last week. 1982
There’s that smile I saw last week. 1982

we had cinnamon rolls and they got burned because ovens cook differently in high altitudes, but I couldn’t help but see grandma’s cinnamon rolls sitting on that countertop. When I looked around the room at all my family, grandma’s influence was evident. She didn’t put up with arguing, and you know what? I don’t think we had any. We learned that from her. She loved spending time with family and so do all of us. She laughed often and it just hung in the room there like it was a permanent fixture.

 

 

When grandma’s estate was divided, my mom used some of her portion to take us on this trip. There were 17 of us: Mom, Me, Miranda, Kasen, Kesleigh, Roger, Kathy, Tyler, Betsy, Tucker, Tanner, Brenda, Schonn, Brianna, Ethan, Jaycee, and Tristian.

Grandma took all of us skiing…………. but we also took her. And we will take her everywhere we go.

Grandma left some things behind for us, but the most important things aren’t things at all. She left her mark on us. We have her in us. We became at least partly who she influenced us to become. Influence – that’s grandma’s greatest gift and the greatest inheritance anyone can leave for their loved ones. Love you Grandma! Miss you!

Thank you Mom for passing this precious gift along to us. Love you.

Here are a few pics. If you want more, check out facebook, shutterfly, or google+ sm - 01sm - 02IMG_1448IMG_1425 (3)

Compass or Map

compassThe goal of teaching is to enable and empower students to navigate this world with a compass, but I’ve been teaching them with maps. Here’s what I mean: As a teacher, I work very hard show my students the steps it takes to accomplish a task. The problem is that if they follow those steps they get the task done.

What? That doesn’t sound like a problem.

Well, I guess it’s not a problem if your goal is the simple task, however a teacher’s goal is larger. I want my students to understand the content well enough that they can interact and navigate around completely on their own. By following the steps (my map), my students haven’t discovered the landscape around the task. Many haven’t even looked up from the map to notice the landscape. They haven’t made mistakes which would teach them how to navigate towards their goal. A compass is a much better instrument for students. It forces them to learn the landscape and to get a real grasp of the content. When they get off course, they will need to find their way back and will discover that missing a few steps is not failure. They might even discover a better way to get somewhere. A compass allows a student more freedom and room for personal expression than a map – as long as they are within the boundaries they can go anywhere they’d like. If students had this kind of freedom, they might be a bit more motivated. Compass work forces deeper thought and requires higher order thinking skills.

Let me be clear. To create a “compass” lesson is much more difficult for the teacher. It requires more flexibility and will most likely bring some chaos. The “compass” teacher/student relationship probably looks more like an apprenticeship. There needs to be more one on one time. More exploration time. There should probably be more mistakes and disasters as well. As a matter of fact, I’d say that if there aren’t many mistakes, then students aren’t learning. As hard is these ideas might be, I believe our students are worth the efforts.  

Here’s my biggest question: In this type of classroom, students must have some sort of self motivation. A teacher who works with students individually like this can’t possibly watch everyone else simultaneously. How can a teacher like this keep everyone on task? How can a teacher motivate those students who simply don’t care? Of course the answer is to give them something they care about, but the truth is that there is no course/content/class that can motivate everyone. Ideas? Thoughts? Please leave some comments, I’d really like to know your thoughts.

Falling is not Failing

Kesleigh BikeKesleigh and I went on a bike ride the other day. She’s 4 (almost 5) and is still a little wobbly on her “new bike.” (She got it for Christmas.) Our neighbor, Peyton (7yrs) joined us for the ride. We rode around the neighborhood a while but then I got a little bored and decided to take them off road. We found a little trail that led us to a ditch. (maybe 20ft deep) The sides were a little steep and I could see a little trepidation on both their faces when I suggested that we ride down and then back up the other side.

Kesleigh spoke first, “Daddy, you go first.” I did. I rode down the smooth part of the hill thinking they would follow me.

When I reached the other side and motioned for them to come on over, Peyton jumped off his bike and walked it down the hill. Kesleigh (I love this girl) just looked at him and jumped on her bike and started down the hill. She trusted me and the direction I had pointed her in.

No fear. Fully committed. I could see the concentration on her face. She wobbled a little, but made it to the bottom, hit a bump, and bounced off the bike and onto the ground. By the time she realized what had happened, she heard daddy’s cheers showering down from above. “You were awesome Kesleigh! Good job! That was cool!”

Her first words? “Daddy, I made it to the bottom.” No tears. Just a positive outlook.

She fell, but she didn’t fail. I was so proud to see her commitment and determination. She didn’t hesitate.  Fear didn’t have time to speak. She just went for it! She was all in! Her focus was perfect and even her attitude about falling was great. Daddy is proud!

That’s my girl!!!!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Kesleigh. She’s a precious gift. Lord, help me to train her up so that she will grow in her understanding and love for You – so that she will give her life to You and serve you wholeheartedly. Lord, I also ask that You teach me to be like her – trusting the directions you point me in – not allowing fear to have a voice – having a great attitude about falling – being committed and focused – going for it and being all in when it comes to the things You’ve called me to. AMEN.

 

Who Moved My Cheese?

I know who moved my cheese. God did. 2 weeks ago today, my church decided to make all full-time positions “part-time.” The Administrative Board may very well have been the instrument He used, but God moved my cheese. I believe He has greater plans for Miranda and I. I believe He is leading us into an amazing future. Sometimes, it’s been tough. We’ve had our ups and downs over these past 2 weeks, but I believe God will use this whole thing to bless us eventually. We’ve just gotta keep moving so we can make it there. I’ve caught myself saying, we’re just between blessings right now. We’re not sure where we’ll end up, but we know who’s hands we’re in and we will choose to trust Him.

who movedIt seems to come up quite often, but I keep telling Miranda we’ve just gotta be mice right now. I asked her to read the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” so we could be on the same page here, but since many of you haven’t read it, I’ll  explain. This is an awesome book that describes the best way to handle big changes. It’s a modern parable about a maze, some cheese, and 4 characters: Sniff and Scurry are mice and Hem & Haw are little people who all live inside the maze. Each day the four of them go to one section of the maze to find their cheese, but then one day they discover that it’s been moved. Hem and Haw wonder what happened and hang around for a while waiting for it to return. They argue a bit about it and blame all kinds of things. Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry just keep their noses to the ground and continue through the maze looking for more cheese. Sniff and Scurry are the first to find new cheese.

That’s why we’ve gotta be mice. There’s no point in complaining about our situation or blaming people or the economy or whatever. We could sit around and be upset or we could just go look for more cheese. It’s sort of like the quote from Shawshank Redemption – “Get busy living or get busy dying.” We will choose to live. We will choose to be mice and keep our noses to the ground. Besides, God is in control. He moved our cheese. We may not know where, but we do know that He knew what he was doing. He must want us somewhere else now. We will find out where soon enough – in His timing.

Please pray for us. We are searching through this maze and probably still have a few hurdles and pitfalls ahead of us. I even sang about this on a song I wrote for our Wedding Day – Just Wanna Be With You clip

We’re hanging on to this verse.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Simon Says

Whoa!! I came home from a rough day @ church last night and found the most amazing e-mail awaiting me.

Simon - back when I knew him.
Simon - back when I knew him.

Simon was a “hard headed punk kid that had it all figured out.” Those are his words but I’d say they’re pretty accurate. I was the leader for a youth ministry skating outreach program called “The Wave.” In those days, we typically had between 70 and 150 youth, but every one of my volunteers knew Simon. He was loud. He was disrespectful. He did whatever he could to be the center of attention – even if the attention was negative. The volunteers and I prayed for Simon pretty regularly and discussed how we could keep being witnesses to him without letting him railroad us. He was tough. We didn’t have very many answers – just prayers.

I think it’s been about 7 years. Anyway, here are some pieces of what he wrote to me:

Steve,

It’s Simon Holloway from Tomball. How are you doing brother?

Wait. . . .Did he just call me “brother?”

I was thinking about you today and the influence you had in my life, when I was younger. . . I sincerely want to thank you for showing me grace and spreading the word with me. . . About 2 months ago I was saved and for the first time had a better understanding about Him and Jesus. After that happened I thought about you many times and you inspired me. I knew it was all real because I had proof from another source, and that was you. It’s all because I think of an old time at The Wave when I was cussin at you and just being a pain in the rear for everyone up there, I was thinking you were coming to rip me a new one when you came and talked to me and gave me grace. It’s almost like in the Bible when they bring the woman who is caught for adultery and they’re expecting Jesus to get mad. Instead Jesus gives grace like he always does and I now see that in you, today.

Whoa! I sure don’t remember that incident. All I really remember is wondering how I could try to be Jesus to him when I really wanted to “rip him a new one” – Had I done it, I would have done exactly what he expected and I would have lost any influence I had with him. Wow! Only by God’s grace did I do the right thing – the thing that he remembered and that made the difference in his life. Had I reacted on my own emotional influences, I would have played right into his misconceptions of God. I guess in some ways, this whole thing sounds sort of like I’m bragging, but what I’m trying to say is that I know how close I was to doing the wrong thing and that God’s power. . . His Spirit is the only thing that made a difference. I want to brag for sure, but on God, not on me. God is amazing!!

Well Steve, I just wanted to thank you a lot and let it be known what you did for me when I was younger and now. . . . I will definitely be praying for you bro and I know God will show you grace in the situation!

Talk to you soon.

Simon

God got a hold of Simon!!!!! Whoa. That’s an e-mail I would have never imagined receiving. If Saul could become Paul, I guess Simon could become a Christian too, but. . .well, sometimes those ministry days seemed unfruitful. They were hard. We kept trying, but it just didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere. I can look back now and see that’s true. We weren’t getting anywhere – BUT GOD WAS!! He used those times and used us in spite of our ignorance. In spite of ourselves.

Man, I love these kinds of stories. We serve an incredible God!!! He is amazing! His power is ultimate and intimate and infinite! He can and does move people’s hearts. (Both Simon’s and mine that day.) He gives us the strength to follow Him even when we don’t feel like it. He can take a hard headed punk and turn him into a humble servant. He is over all and above all and through all. He is God. He is Yahweh! He is our strength, our redeemer, our salvation, our joy, our light, our love. He is love! He gives love! His character is love!

Prayer:Lord, thank you for Simon. Guide him deeper into your presence. Hold him close to You and draw him close to other believers who will truly disciple him. Use him for Your eternal works and for Your glory! Thank you God for sending this message to me. As You know, it was perfect timing. I needed it. Thank You for choosing me for that time and place in ministry. It was an honor to have been a part of such amazing blessings and to have worked with so many incredible volunteers and students. Lord, hold me close and guide me deeper into your presence. I love You and truly can’t imagine this life without You. I need You.You’re are amazing and it’s not just me that thinks so. . . “Simon says” too! AMEN!

PS – Simon gave me permission to repost his e-mail. He even said, “Never know, it could make an impact on someone else life.”

Sleeping Giggles

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I had my 40th birthday Friday and then Monday (yesterday) was told that my full-time ministry position would become part-time in January. They were clear that it was not performance related and this decision was also for all the other full-time programming people too. They said, “It’s the economy”. . . blah. . .blah. . . (After the original blow, I’m not sure I heard much more.) In the end, none of their reasoning (and by the way, I believe they have the best intentions) changes the situation my family is in. Bottom line: I would need to find another way to support my family by January.

So last night I couldn’t sleep. There were too many feelings, thoughts, prayers, and junk rolling around in my head. I just fiddled with the computer from about 3am ’til morning. Around 4am, Kasen (almost 2yrs) woke up and I heard him down the hall. He walked into our room to crawl into bed with Miranda and I. I wasn’t there. I was in the loving room “thinking.” I tracked him down and tried to put him back in his bed. He fought me on it and I was in no mood to fight back, so I brought him into the living room and laid down on the couch with him. He went back to sleep in my arms almost immediately. Then it happened. Was that a giggle? There it was again. Yep, it was a giggle. I can’t believe it. He’s giggling in his sleep.

My son was so comfortable in my arms that he could sleep deeply enough to giggle in his dreams.

Prayer:
God, You are my Father. I know I’m safe in your arms. But I’m also feeling pretty vulnerable and insecure. Help me to trust in Your providential hands enough to sleep and giggle again. AMEN.

Job Search

family 02smOur church has struggled through this rough economy. Every full-time programming staff position is being made “part-time” in January. They have been very intentional about communicating that this is not a “performance related” decision. Here’s a letter drafted by the SPRC chairman describing the circumstance: Clarification Letter Anyway, I have until January to find another way to support my family.

In spite of the title of this post, I’m NOT looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one in which I can bring Jesus glory and make a difference in the world. This might be another church position, a teaching position, or any number of endless possibilities.

Over the years in youth ministry, I have developed many skills and believe I can be an asset to almost any setting.

I have experience in:

Speaking
Teaching
Writing
Discipleship
Small Groups
Missions
Leading contemporary worship
Multimedia and film Production

I love dreaming, leading, casting vision, and chasing after God’s preferred future.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership from the College of Biblical Studies. You can get some ideas about my philosophies and ideas about ministry from these articles:

Leadership:
Bottom Leaders
Change
Changing a Culture
Follow the Servant Leader
Lions and Leadership
Little Shovel
Man, Movement, Machine, & Monuments
Wizard of Oz Leadership
Church Thoughts & Ideas:
Harvest
Planting a “Practice”
Social Media and the Church
Welcoming or Welcomed?
Worship by Sweat

I have also written a couple of articles that were published by smallgrouptrader.com. These are the direct links:

I’m not too proud. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. Miranda and I are confident in God’s hand of providence, but we will also need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Want to contact me?
Steve Corn
Dv84JC@yahoo.com
979-415-4522 (cell)

True Fear

KasenMiranda asked a simple question. “Where is Kasen?” I didn’t know. We had been home for a few hours from our vacation and were relaxing on the floor of the living room. Kasen had been right there with us just minutes before. We yelled for him. . . No answer or any noises from other parts of the house. We got up and started looking. There are only a couple of places he could be – the living room, the kitchen, his room, our room. (He can’t open doors yet and we keep the rest of them closed.) In a matter of seconds we had searched the whole house – panic was quick to follow. Miranda and I both were yelling his name. I checked behind the closed doors. And then the closets. Fear escalated. I remembered a story of a friend who had climbed in a trunk (Caylin Brashear) and I checked our trunk – then Kasen’s toybox. Miranda was screaming with a voice I had never heard. Shrieks. Her breathing had an unnerving “ohhh. . .” sound. She met me in the hall and screamed, “the pool.” Kasen loves the “poo” – maybe he could be there?.?. but logically, he couldn’t get the back door open. Could someone have come in the house and taken him? Could he have somehow gotten a door open? My mind raced. I was desperate. . .I ran outside slamming my face into the patio door. No. . .he wasn’t in the pool. . . Heart racing, I ran back inside.

Miranda was holding him and yelling to me that she found him. Evidently, he had been laying in his bed the whole time with his covers over his head. We had each been in his room multiple time during those moments. He likes to take Kesleigh’s binky and then run and hide getting his little oral fix ’cause he knows he’s not allowed to have one. Evidently, that’s what he had done and probably fallen asleep. Or maybe he didn’t answer our calls ’cause he was hiding.

Either way, it couldn’t have been more than 3 minutes total. But it was enough. Enough to realize how quickly things can go downhill. Enough to realize how great our love for our children is and how quickly it can turn into fear. This kind of experience changes a man.

As I look back on it I wonder, “Where was my faith during these moments? What happened to trusting in the Lord? Why did I panic so quickly?” I am a weak man. Sinful. Even at my best, I am still very frail. I need God.

Prayer: Lord, take care of my children. You have given them to me for a few years and I truly want to be a good steward. I want to be a great father and a good example. I want to protect them. I want to represent You to them. All of these things are noble thoughts, but the bottom line is that I can’t do any of these things near as well as You. Lord, cover them with Yourself. Protect them when I fail them. Hold them close and keep them safe. Lord, in the same moment that I pray for their protection, I also pray that You will ultimately use them in mighty ways. May they be arrows (Psalm 127) that break into enemy territory taking ground for Your kingdom. May they understand You and the strength they have in You so well that they are willing to follow You into situations that may even seem dangerous to others. May they be in Your hands at all times, with or without me, in every situation – that’s the safest place to be. AMEN.

Man, Movement, Machine, & Monuments

Leigh Anne, Trey, Steve, & Miranda
Leigh Anne, Trey, Steve, & Miranda

Miranda and I got to hang out with some friends who are missionaries a few weeks ago. Trey and Leigh Anne are some of the coolest people I know. Anyway, during our time together, Trey and I had a great conversation and he said something I wanted to share with you. I’ve caught myself sharing it in a few conversations since then already. (That means it’s something I really latched on to.) I can’t remember where he got the info, but I know it’s not original to him either. Anyway, here it is:

The changes that take place in most organizations over time can be defined by these stages:

1. A Man on a Mission – is how things get started.

2. A Movement – is formed as this man and his mission attract/involve other people who are passionate about the same things.

3. A Machine – is built as the movement grows. The loose organization of people decides to be strategic in planning and sets standards for how they will operate.

4. A Monument – is ultimately formed as people begin to expect certain behaviors/services from the machine. Unfortunately, machines break. Many times (if leadership is not careful and intentional) the maintenance of the machine begins to take precedence over the original mission. Financial resources which originally were intended for the mission are spent to support the machine. (85% of the average church budget is spent inwardly.)

In Trey’s description, he also said that the man who shared these ideas with him made it his goal to never become a machine. A movement of many men on mission can become a revolution, but a machine. . . .

These are ideas worth passing along.What do you guys think?