Category Archives: Education

In Which I Make a Fool of Myself for a Good Cause

Tomorrow is it. With all my crazy health problems of late, I haven’t done anywhere close to the fundraising I hoped to do, but regardless — tomorrow I’ll be golfing 50 holes. Again due to the health stuff, I haven’t been to a driving range, so my first golf swing attempt will be on the course tomorrow. Yikes. 🙂

What am I golfing for exactly? I’m glad you asked, even if you really didn’t. Hehehhe.

  • Harbor Light Christian Schools is an independent, non-denominational school. It shares a name and building with a church, but is not actually a church ministry. It’s completely separate.
  • I’ve seen HLCS transform my kids. In a good way. Yes, it provides a Christian education as one would expect, but it does so much more that I honestly never expected:
    • It’s given my kids a safe place to learn who they are. No bullying. No ostracizing for being “weird”. No judgement based on background.
    • Even with a district size of under 100 students (K-12!), my girls have all played multiple sports, competing successfully with schools 10 times their size. Heck, Lizzie (a 7th grader) made a double play the other day on the varsity softball team against a school at LEAST 10 times their size.
    • The student/teacher ratio is such that teachers form a personal, sincere, and direct relationship with the kids. This means students can’t get away with fluffing off, because the teacher will follow through with contacting parents and arranging extra help if needed.
    • It’s also shocking for me to see families of drastically different Christian denominations not only exist together, but excel in making each other better Christians, and better people. In fact, the differences at Harbor Light are one of the biggest strengths. When we learn to get along and agree on commonalities, it helps everyone relate to the rest of the world better. Getting rid of the “us/them” mindset is so healthy, and it happens every day.

 

But tuition is so, so expensive for a private school. Even in our economically depressed area of northern Michigan, it’s not uncommon for tuition prices for Christian schools to hover around the $10,000 per year range. While in other parts of the country that is a paltry amount to pay for tuition at a private school, up here, it makes it unreachable for the majority of families.

And so, golf.

Harbor Light does an incredible amount of fundraising. So much so, that for a top notch, parochial education, the base tuition is reduced to around $5,600 per student. PLUS, there are incentives (half off for the first year, things like that), scholarships, and tuition forgiveness that takes place every year. No one gets rich educating students at Harbor Light Christian School, but student’s lives are enriched beyond measure.

I could go on and on about the specific things HLCS does to benefit the community and world, but I’ll save that for another day. Giving families the ability to provide their children with a top notch academic education, while at the same time teaching them to exist peacefully and productively around others of differing world views is priceless. So, I agreed to participate in this golf marathon. My goal is/was to raise $1,500 to offset tuition prices next year. Again, due to my recent health concerns, I haven’t been able to beat the bushes for support, which is very unfortunate. If you’d like to contribute, even a small amount, I would be grateful. If you’re unable to contribute financially, please either pray for HLCS, or at the very least ponder how amazing it is to raise a generation of young Christians who understand how to get along with people of varying faith systems.

Here’s a link to my contribution page if you’re interested in donating. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Asthma: The Secret I Didn’t Know

I’ve had asthma most of my life. When I was younger, the doctor never diagnosed it, so unfortunately my lungs are full of scar tissue from a childhood full of wheezing and gasping. (My mom feels really bad about this, BTW, but it’s not even a little bit her fault — the doctor should have figured it out. My mom has since become a nurse, I suspect partially due to that feeling of helplessness regarding my childhood, but who knows.)

Anyway, the doctors measure my lung capacity at 70-80% what it should be, plus I still have exercise induced asthma attacks. Thus, running has always, ALWAYS sucked. And I mean sucked. If you’re a runner, I urge you to try running while wearing a snorkel filled with cotton. Your body is tired and your muscles ache due to lack of oxygen. And your lungs? Oh God your lungs. “Burn” doesn’t really describe the feeling, it’s more like trying to breathe honey through a straw which is filled with angry, stinging bees.

Running sucked.

It’s important to note the past tense in that last sentence, however. About a year ago I was at the doctor for something routine, and asked for a refill on my Albuterol inhaler. He asked me how well the inhaler was working, and I told him that I was still alive, so I called it a win. He recommended I use my inhaler 20-30 minutes BEFORE exercising, rather than as a reaction to an asthma attack, to see if it might prevent the attack from starting in the first place. Oh. My. Word. He changed my life. Seriously. So I said all that to say this:

If you have asthma, and you never knew to use your inhaler before exercising, DO IT!

I can run now. I’m slow, I’m fat, my joints ache, and I get short of breath — but that’s like a walk in a meadow of flowers compared to how it used to be. Now, the more I run, the better I get. It has NEVER been like that before. I wish I could tell my old self to do that simple preemptive couple of puffs. But if even one person reads this and learns that thing I never knew, it will be totally worth it.

Breathing is awesome. 🙂

In Which Shawn Clarifies His Opinion of Westboro Baptist Church

Perhaps it’s naïveté, perhaps it’s absentmindedness, or perhaps it’s just that people don’t know me as well as I think they do — but yesterday I tweeted something that confused about half the folks who read it:

The problem is that I assumed everyone would KNOW I was being completely sarcastic in regards to “thanking” Westboro. I thought my tweet made it clear that in my family discussion, I used the comparison that “Westboro is to Christians as Al Qaeda is to Muslims.”

I wanted my kids to realize that by assuming all Muslims are evil like Al Qaeda, they’re using the same logic that all Christians are as hateful and evil as Westboro Baptist Church. Unfortunately, not everyone understood what I meant. This includes one of the crazy whackjobs from that “church” as well, since I was retweeted by one of the Phelps guys. (And not the cool Phelps, who swims really fast)

So when I started getting nasty (concerned) emails and facebook messages, I clarified on twitter:

But still, the thought that I’d be associated with WBC in any way other than disgust and disapproval was so reprehensible, I felt a blog post was appropriate. And a shower. And a nice long vomit.

I’ll leave you with a little bit of encouragement in regards to WBC, which I originally read on John Scalzi’s website. It posits that the entire WBC “thing” is nothing more than a money-making scam. That at least makes sense, as I can accept people being scamming scumbags. Human beings actually believing the stuff they say? That’s harder to comprehend.

It’s Official. And a Bit Scary.

Many folks already know, but it only recently became official. I’ve accepted a position at Cornerstone University as “Assistant Director of Database Services”, which is just a wordy way of saying I’ll be working with a team of database folks much smarter than me, doing new and exciting things pertaining to databases. You want more details? Well, ask me in a couple months. 🙂

This means I’ll no longer be the Technology Director for Inland Lakes Schools, and will be leaving an amazing bunch of folks that have been like a family to me for the past 12 years. This is actually tougher than I thought it would be. Like any family, there have been some rough times at Inland Lakes, but at the end of the day it’s a place I care for a great deal. My only hope is that my leaving might be a catalyst for awesome change. Still, leaving sorta rips my heart out.

The switch also means relocating. While I certainly like a good commute, driving 4 hours one way doesn’t seem like a very good idea. My family found a rental place on the south side of Grand Rapids that is small and charming, but with a great big fenced in backyard for our furry friends. Here it is, right out of the 1950s:

Also, if anyone wants to buy a fairly new 4 bedroom home in Indian River with a partially finished basement and an awesome office, I know a guy selling. Just saying.

So Grand Rapids? Prepare for the Powers family. Soon, we will be in you. Cornerstone University? You’re about to get a little sillier, but I think that was clear in my interviews. You have no one to blame but yourself. And Indian River friends, family, church, school, community… We already miss you, and we’re still here for another month.

Sometimes I Preach (Dec 11th)

This was my sermon from today. My normal disclaimer applies: If you don’t want to hear me preach a Christian sermon from Sunday morning, I won’t be offended. I’m not a professional, etc, etc, etc. Nonetheless, lots of people asked for these, so here ya go. 🙂

December 11, 2011
Title: “I’ve got this job for you…”
Verses: Matthew 1:18-25

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(NOTE: The recording quality isn’t great on this, my apologies)