Posted tagged ‘discipline’

The 200 Mile Club

May 29, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       May 29, 2018

                                      

It was an idea that sounded good, like toilet-papering the principal’s car on the last day of school or eating Captain Crunch cereal every meal for an entire summer, as did a college classmate of mine!

An idea that sounded like a challenge!

Coach Schneiderman, 6th Grade Math teacher, offered it up before he did the math. 

“What if we challenged the cross-country kids to run 200 miles during the summer? We could give some kind of prize or shirt to those who do it?”

“That’s a great idea, Coach! Maybe get shirts that say Timberview Cross-Country 200 Mile Club!”

A few minutes later Coach Schneiderman offered a scaled down figure. “Maybe 150 miles!”

I, however, had already penciled in the number 200! There are about eleven weeks in vacation summer. Two hundred split amongst seventy-seven days is about two and a half miles a day…if a person runs every day!

Sold! I presented the idea to the students who came to a brief cross-country meeting the last week of school. Some looked at me like I was a crazed coach and others were inspired by the challenge.

And then I decided to take up the challenge myself! What??????

Perhaps it came from memories of long distance runs that I used to take: running along the top of the flood walls of Ironton, Ohio; running the roads of Oxford, Ohio; running, along with 3 other Judson College teammates, 25 miles for charity once time; and running up Barr Trail in Colorado Springs as I trained for the Pike’s Peak Ascent.

But that’s been a few years, and I haven’t been getting any younger! In fact, Carol says I should have my cell phone with me when I run in case something happens. I inferred from that remark that the “something” was a heart attack, not that I stumbled and twisted my ankle. Sixty-four year olds may be one three mile run away from eternity!

So I’ve started. Six days in and I’m at 18 miles. My knees seem more like 180 miles. My body screams at me in unkind ways. 

Perseverance and determination, that’s what keeps me going. So far I’ve only been running laps around the Timberview track. It brings back memories of running around the Ironton Junior High School track I lived about a half mile from. In those days I’d run 24 laps, six miles, around the cinder oval. This summer I’ll begin to widen my circle and run some trails and streets close by. 

18 miles in, only 182 to go! After today I’ll be more than 10% towards the goal…barely!

In August I look forward to celebrating with the other runners who took up and met the challenge.

I’m also hoping to be about twenty pounds lighter by then, a pound for every ten miles! When I graduated from Ironton High School in 1972 I weighed 110 pounds. Now my right leg weighs about that much!

And when an eighth grader whines to me that 200 miles was too hard I’ll show him/her my running chart and say, “Your 64 year old coach did it!” 

“Oh!”

Middle School Lunch Detention

May 9, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May, 9, 2018

                      

It’s the card that you hold in your teaching hands that has the power to raise a student’s eyebrows, the corrector of the uncorrectable…the threat of lunch detention!

For most students it holds the same level of dread as being grounded for a day, or having to write “I will not act like a fool ever again!” fifty times on a sheet of notebook paper. Only the threat of execution or taking the student’s cell phone away holds more power.

Last week I used the trump card three times. For one student I could see the fear of God in his eyes when I hinted that the consequence was close at hand. He would have run through fire to avoid it. For the other two students, however, their intelligent responses had taken siestas and left them unprotected from momentary stupidity.

After pronouncing sentence the first convicted thirteen year old tried to convince me of my unreasonableness. Too late, my man! Since you gave me a bunch of baloney, you’ll be eating your baloney sandwich at that desk!

The second charged, tried, and convicted was like a repeat offender. When the threat of detention revealed its ugly head he acted like it was a good thing…kind of like wearing a pair of “tighty whitie” underwear that’s a size too small! That’s never a good thing! His insolence caused me to propose two days of lunch detention. He still mistook cockiness for courage.

“Would you like a whole week of lunch detention?” He gave me a thumbs up.

“Okay! You’ll have it all next week.”

He is the exception. 99% of middle school students, if given a choice, would choose taking a shower after P.E. class- a place in the locker room that collects cobwebs because of how often it gets used- rather than lunch detention.

When the consequences were rendered there were gasps throughout the classroom. It was seventh grade newsworthy! Word would spread through the other seventh grade classrooms as quickly as a spring thunderstorm cloud burst.

The young man who is serving “the five” saw me in the library yesterday. He looked at me and said, “I’m still mad at you!”

“Understandable! When you stop being mad at me and start being mad at yourself you will have taken a step towards maturity.”

One of his eyebrows raised as if he was thinking about it. If nothing else I got him to that point…thinking!

Sixth Grade Apology Letters

March 20, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         March 20, 2018

                                  

They walked into the classroom, three boys looking like they were headed to the gallows. Their math teacher led the procession of the condemned, faces downcast inspecting the carpet design. One of the three had visible body tremors.

They had committed the unforgivable sixth grade math class sin; they had detoured off the road of the teacher’s behavioral requirements for a substitute teacher and done some off-road free wheelin’ stupid stuff. Warnings, changing seats, and more warnings had not brought them back to the right path and so my end of the day written report to the teacher included their three names.

Now they stood before me. They had already been sentenced to make the trip to the seventh grade classroom I was guest teaching in that day. Their punishment, handed down to them by their six foot four inch teacher, was to write apology letters to the afflicted party…me!…come to my classroom, read them, hand them to me, and shake my hand.

They tried their best to be sincere, but how sincere can sixth grade boys be about never, ever, ever straying from what they know is appropriate. Sincerity is a momentary commitment that gets forgotten as easily as the jackets and water bottles left behind as they hurry out of a classroom. “Staying focused” is a higher learning skill safely untouched by the male members of this class.

“Mr. Wolfe, I am sorry for making inappropriate noises during your class. I am very sorry for causing the whole class to be distracted…Next time you substitute in my class I will listen at my best!”

I controlled the chuckling that was bubbling up inside me. The forlorn looks would surely be replaced with sighs of relief within thirty seconds of leaving my classroom.

I remember being in sixth grade! I had so much energy, or as we said “ants in my pants”, that I couldn’t sit still. School was hard, recess was easy! My teacher, however, was Mr. Cooper, an imposing giant of a man who was not hesitant about using a paddle on your behind. Witnessing a couple of classroom criminals receiving their judgments early in the school year caused most of us to quiver in our seats. And…except for music and physical education, Mr. Cooper taught ALL of my classes! He was the shepherd of our class herd for the whole school day…everyday! The fact that his younger brother was a classmate of my older brother at Williamstown High School did not buy me an ounce of grace. I learned out of fear that whole year.

A couple of days after the three “wiser” boys came to me I passed one of them in the hallway. He saw me coming and instantly started inspecting the hallway tile he was about to step on.

“Good morning!” I greeted him, also using his first name.

He looked up, a bit startled. “Good morning, Mr. Wolfe!”

It was a moment of grace in a school hallway, a peace offering towards one who had already made restitution. Perhaps…just perhaps, he will realize that he has not been judged and labeled for life, but rather understands that he is seen as valued regardless of his slip-ups.

After all, he is still in sixth grade!

No Grow and No Go

May 7, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May 7, 2017

                                     

Recently a pastor friend of mine was sharing his church’s “simplified plan.” Our ministry support group of five people was sitting in a restaurant having lunch together. The noise and my aged hearing caused me to misinterpret what he was saying. His congregation’s simplified plan is “Know. Grow. Go.”

I, however, heard him say “No grow and go!” I thought to myself, “That’s an unusual plan…no grow and no go!’ I asked for clarification and my friend corrected my understanding when I told him what I had heard. All five of us got a good chuckle out of it, but then I thought about it a bit more. “No Grow and No Go!” might better define many churches of various flavors around the country.

There are many reasons why a number of churches don’t desire to grow as disciples and go and make disciples of others. First of all, growing requires commitment to something and surrender of part of my agenda. “Growing” is a marathon race and the church is crowded with sprinters and jumpers. In sports there are “fair weather fans”, and in churches there are “fair weather attenders.”

Growing requires change and, whereas we are fluid in many areas of our lives when it comes to change, we are also entrenched in other ways. For example, I need a new pair of jeans but I love the pair I’ve been wearing for about a decade. The pocket that I’ve carried my wallet in has a hole in it that resembles a woodpecker’s carving. I’ve tried changing pockets, but then I feel like I walk funny. I’m considering the option of not carrying my wallet with me rather than buy a new pair of jeans that I have to get used to. That’s how we are in various areas of our lives. I drink my morning juice out of a certain plastic cup, but I drink my dinner milk from a glass. I write my blog from a certain stool at a certain Starbucks. To vary that always gives me the feeling that the quality of the writing has diminished…unless I’m visiting my dad in southern Ohio, and then it’s okay to write from the Starbucks across the river in Huntington, West Virginia.

On the other side of the equation are churches that have a hard time figuring out what that “growing” element looks like. Our recent history shows the jumping around of churches trying to nail the discipleship block. But growing followers of Christ is not easily contained in a program or a curriculum, and that’s a hard truth for many of us professional church leaders to admit. It’s not that programs and curriculums are bad or unnecessary, but rather that we often put all of our eggs in one basket and there’s, so to speak, a growing number of spiritual egg-haters!

Moving on to the “go” part we’re often unmovable! Jesus’ Great Commission too often is the great omission in congregations. To sum it up, most of a typical church’s budget goes for what happens inside the walls, and what is designated as the mission budget is what gets sent outside the walls to support people not from the church in mission work. When the budget gets evaluated each year the mission budget lies there like a clay pigeon ready to be shot at. Want proof? Just notice how many people in your church come to a potluck dinner, and compare that to how many people participate in a community service or ministry project!

“No grow and no go!” symbolizes the “standing firm congregation.” We’ve mis-translated that great hymn “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” a bit! Jesus didn’t intend for us to be stationary and anchored to what has always been, protective of our resources and unsympathetic towards a broken world around us.

Thirty Days Writing Challenge

June 1, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                       June 1, 2015

                                       

I’m taking a challenge once again to write a blog post each day during the month of June. Some of these posts will be “head scratchers.” Others will cause you to ponder and consider. Some will be about as deep as mustard on a hot dog (I have no clue what that means but it had some flow to it when you say it to yourself.); while others will be so deep you may need to read it out loud to understand it.

What I hope happens in the midst of this is, first of all, a renewed commitment to writing on a steady basis. In the rush of life it is easy to push it to the side and focus on something else…like Dukes of Hazard reruns and such.

Second, I hope that if you’re reading it that you’ll pass it on to someone else, or recommend it to someone. Each year for the past five years the readership of my blog has increased. Sone have suggested that I write more. When a writer sees that he’s not just shooting blanks out there, but has some written words that are touching a nerve, healing a hurt, causing a chuckle, or resurrecting a memory…it’s encouraging, and causes an increase in attention and efforts.

So do me a favor…and read it! Respond to it! Even give me an idea of something you’d like for me to write about.

Thirty days begins now!

Pop Fast Hump Day

May 20, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     May 20, 2014

 

                                      

 

It’s the fourth day of my week-long fasting from drinking soda pop. I’m still alive! In fact, my body did not ache when I woke up this morning. I doubt that I can give credit to my unsoda-ed life for that. It may just be the one day this month when my knees and joints did’t feel like The Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz when I woke up. Whatever…I’ll take it!

The past three days I’ve also cut down on the amount of sugar I’ve put in my coffee. Since I drank it without doing Larry from the Three Stooges facial contortions I’m going to keep limiting the sugar packets.

Why am I doing this? I’ve asked myself that question several times during the past few days, especially as I’m passing a Pepsi vending machine. I’m trying to be strong! I did have a dream last night about a Coke being poured into an ice-filled glass, hearing the fizz, and seeing myself floating on one of the ice cubes with sunglasses on.

I thought if I blogged about it once more it would make things easier, but now I’m thinking about an A&W frosty mug in my hand.

Pray that the images of an orange being crushed won’t await me in my sleep tonight.

I need to go by and see my dentist soon to pay off our balance, but I’m afraid I’ll call her Dr. Pepper if I see her this week…so I think I’ll wait!

I’ve learned that eliminating elevated amounts of sugared beverages if a little tough, but today is “hump day.” I assume that I’ll be sliding towards the celebration of a fluid finish line.

But “hump day” could also mean that I’m about to plummet to a sugar-depleted depression!

Optimistically I’m choosing the first option!

The Last Sprint

June 30, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  June 30, 2013

 

The Last Sprint”

 

Back in high school and college I was a distance runner…one mile, two mile, and the hardest race of all the half-mile. As a miler I had a very good kick at the end of the face. If I could be close to the other runner, or even ahead, with 300 yards to go I knew I had a good chance to win. The last sprint had the finish line in sight and I was usually able to put it in a different gear.

This last month I’ve written a “Words From W.W.” each day. June 1 started with the challenge, filled with anticipation, but also a little anxiety…kind of like the beginning of the mile run. It proceeded through the first week. I established a kind of  “expected pace.” If I needed to write a post in the evening the TV was off and the headphones on. There were a few days where the energy level was low…and as a result, probably the quality of the writing.

But I stayed with it. Some of you gave me ideas for blog postings. Some had questions that they wanted some words of wisdom about, or at least, words from WW.

The last week of the month was spent in the Dominican Republic as part of a mission team. Usually the biggest hurdle in terms of that was to try to take one happening from the day and write about it. I could write a book about the experience…literally!

And now today is Day 30 of 30, the final sprint.

Some people ask me why I do it, why I write? After all, people are more visual now. Newsweek bit the dust in terms of hard copy. The Gazette newspaper is almost small enough to be a newsletter now. So, why write?

It’s a hard question for me to answer. I think I write because it makes me think and ponder. In terms of my spiritual journey, without sounding arrogant, I grow the most as I write. My blog might be my version of journaling, although I never really liked doing that in the usual way people think of. As I write I slow down to meet God. I hope…I pray…that his hand is guiding my fingers over the keys of my laptop, that when I’m struggling for a word he draws it out of me. That when something doesn’t feel right he takes me to the delete key and begins me again.

So now I come to the end of a month. Perhaps someone has heard some words in a way that has made them think, or laugh, or even cry. I think of the Apostle Paul as he was closing his second letter to his young charge Timothy. He wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

The last sprint.

I’m not seeing this as a final post, but it is the final stretching for the finish of this race. As July enters I’ll look to write more, perhaps more than one day in a row, but I’ll also give the reading eyes of those who have taken the time to ponder brief breaks from the “Words.”

Thanks to all who have encouraged and told me to keep pressing on. Time to cross the line and take a warm-down lap.