Bus Driver Journal – May 2017

I returned to Bus Driver world for the past year in our local public school district.  It has been an adventure for sure!  And … truly an eye opener.
school-bus photo
Sheryl and I have lived and worked in Pascagoula, Mississippi for a cumulative 40-plus years.  We married here, left our sleepy-little-town-of-Pascagoula in the early 90s for ministry vocation and business pursuits, and returned in 2004 … just in time for the nightmare that was #Katrina.
So here we are 12 years into Recovery, Rebuild, and Restart.  Sheryl has taught in the PGSD since we returned to Pascagoula and I have served several local churches as Worship Pastor or Worship Leader.  I currently serve as a ‘Creative Arts Pastor’ — which is code for ‘multi-tasking guy’ or ‘utility guy’.  Just put him where he best fits, which is … Lord knows where!  For an adult ADHD creative artistic guy who’s brain never stops running … well, you can imagine what my pastor deals with.  Oh what crowns HE will receive in heaven!  LOL!!
Bus Driving has been a natural skill for me since I was 14-years of age.  My little Gospel-singing family band traveled thousands of miles per year in the 70s, up and down the highways and country roads of the Southeastern and Midwestern states.  I drove my first church bus when I was 15-yrs old right here in Pascagoula.  I drove professionally for the Pascagoula School District when I turned 18-yrs of age.  I have driven private coaches and commercial equipment hauling trucks all my adult life.
Much has changed in 40-plus years of bus driving.  Mostly for good.  Modernized school buses with AC, for one! (( thank ya LAWD ))   Million-dollar houses-on-wheels that we call ‘motorhomes’.  (( posh, I’m tellin ya! ))  It’s a whole new world for bus drivers.
But, it’s a crazy mixed up world for children.  And, we the adults in their little worlds have created most of the crazy that their little minds have to deal with and process.  God help us.
This year of bus driving has revealed what I have always sensed in my heart was the constant gut-wrenching truth about our hometown(s), and ultimately our nation and our world.   Not all children are wanted.  Not all are loved.  Not all are truly cared for.  And, it’s on me.  And, it’s on you.  It’s on US … to want them, to love them, and to care for them.
No, [we] can’t fix all their family problems.  No, [we] can’t rescue them all.  No, [we] can’t change the emotional DNA that they might face daily.  But, WE CAN … make a difference.
I CAN … smile and say “good morning …”.
I CAN … pray a quick prayer as a drive them to school and home again.
I CAN … wave a friendly wave at mama, daddy, or grandparents, or guardians as I proceed.
I CAN … interact respectfully with their teachers and principals.
I CAN … treat all children with respect and dignity.
I CAN … be firm with gentle but corrective discipline when necessary.
I CAN … calmly explain ‘why’ the child is suspended from bus riding privileges due to misconduct.
I CAN … reinforce ‘best’ behavior with a gentle spirit … the ‘daily grind’ and constant challenge for EVERY school bus driver.
In whatever capacity you find yourself with children in your life.
WE CANwant them, love them, care for them.
That’s what Jesus did.  That’s what I will do.
” … but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven’ … “. – Matthew 19:14 ESV

If Two Agree

“I also tell you this:  If two of DISC[2]_600pxyou agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in Heaven will do it for you.” – Matthew 18:19 NLT

Amen. I agree. That’s right. Go ahead. I’m IN. Let’s do this.
Agreement:   a) harmony of opinion, action, or character;  b) the act or fact of agreeing  (ref. Merriam-Webster)
Disclaimer:  I am writing this particular blog with the prerequisite understanding that most people in my immediate circle of friends, family, neighbors, and community function at a base level of human dignity, honor, and respect for one another.  Just for context.
I am a highly opinionated person.  I display strong emotions about certain topics, beliefs, and personal convictions.  You probably do too.  My DISC Personality Profile typically computes me as an “I/D” – Influencer/Dominance – type of person.  I highly recommend the DISC Assessment.  You will learn much about yourself and others, and your communication skills will increase dramatically as you choose to ‘deal with’ the weaknesses in your own personality.  You will also learn to embrace differences in others.  If you choose.
You’ve probably heard the smirkish comment, “Opinions are like bellybuttons, everybody’s got one”.   And, it’s true.  I often feel strongly about certain things in my life, just as you do.  So, how do we find a way to agree, and therefore, hopefully get along as we go along?
Based on my DISC Profile, I am discovering about myself that the more I choose to LISTEN, the better my chances of getting along with people.  Listening more, enhances my marriage, affects my parenting, deepens my personal faith, and typically increases my influence with people.  The choice to listen more than speak seems to always make the conversation more pleasant, more significant, and more memorable.
As you might imagine, with my HIGH I/D personality, this requires of me an incredibly intense daily self-discipline.  It is very difficult for me to simply … listen.  I have words!  My wife pokes fun at me when she quotes the pop-pychology motto that suggests, ” … if women have 40-50,000 words a day, and men have 10-15,000 words a day … Robby usually takes all my words!”   Guilty as charged.  LOL!
So, how about you? How does your personality cause you to generally get along with people?  Or, not?  Do most people consider you an easy-going person?  Are you fairly easy to get along with?  Or are you ‘that guy’ or  ‘that girl’ that no one wants to chat with?  In fact, you notice that people quickly smile and detour when they see you coming?  They might even ‘Un-Friend’ you on social media!  GOD forbid!!   (( HA ))
Here’s a tip:  I am doing my level best to simply listen … more.  It’s tough!  But with much grace and self-discipline (and, good therapy … and, meds!! HA) …  I think I can … I think I can … I think I can.
In my church ministry we call it doing life together.  This doesn’t mean we will universally agree on every single topic, idea, and/or methodology.  Our hopes and dreams might even look very different!  But we find a common ground with Biblical spiritual foundational faith concepts, beliefs, morals, and life-giving communication.  We find a way to get along as we go along.
In our careers and jobs, agreement is necessary for productivity.  We can disagree from time to time.  But eventually, the organization must have unifying leaders who can rally the producers, the creatives, the taskers, and the consumers.
God loves agreement, according to Jesus’ words in Matthew 18. God created each one of us.  He knows our differences. He uniquely designed each of us for individual God-sized purposes.  I believe that the tapestry of our differences, woven together with agreement, becomes a powerful force for Good in the earth.  This power of agreement can change lives.  Even, save lives!
One of my favorite Amy Grant songs from the 1980s says, ” … Love will find a way …”.  I agree. Let’s agree … and disagree … and find a way.
Let’s Love … and let Love help us … find a way.
#agree #cometogether #community

Chain Breaker

So … I’m a musician.  More specifically, I’m a Southern-bred musician from Small Town USA in South Mississippi.  Country.  Bluegrass.  Gospel.  Blues.  That’s all my jam.
I just discovered Zach Williams and The Reformation, a Memphis area band who make some really sweet rock-and-soul music.  His 2016 hit Chain Breaker is topping the Christian music charts and I recently performed the song with the Homes of Grace at their annual Homecoming celebration service.
The song is a simple catchy tune hooked to a very singable lyric.  I’ve been singing the tune in my daily routines ALL week.  I love it!  However, I am more intrigued by the story behind the song and the singer.  I’ve not yet met Zach Williams, but I have a gut feeling I very well may cross his path sometime soon.
Zach is a gifted musician who is overcoming the ugly sin of addiction.  Those of us who have admitted to our hangups, hurts, and bad habits will relate.  Addictions of every type have become epidemic in our world.  But, there IS hope.  And, of course, there is Healing.
One of King David’s musicians stated this, “He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains” – Psalm 107:16 NLT
If you’ve never felt chained to a hopeless situation which produced darkness and deepest gloom, you may not be able to relate to that scripture.  However, many of us can.  The darkness and gloom of addiction and depression can cause the best of us to believe that all Hope is gone.  But … GOD!
I hope for you today that you will discover Hope and Peace which only comes from a love relationship with God.  Jesus, our prison-shaking Savior, has provided the ultimate Healing through salvation.  And, he promises an abundant life for those who will walk in His Way, lean on His Word, and be filled with His Spirit.
I pray for you today … meet The Chain Breaker.

Pascagoula: It's TIME for Change — Again?!

Pascagoula is that “sleepy little town” located on the Mississippi Coast at the mouth of the Pascagoula River.
Home to Ingalls Shipbuiding and her massive riverfront facilities; Signal International operations; one of the largest Chevron refineries; and of course other spin-off industry contractors, large regional and medium-market banks, and thousands of small businesses operating from homes as well as brick-and-mortar commercial properties.
The town was originally an Indian village of ‘bread eaters’ who peacefully inhabited the river camps and murky water beachfronts.  Over time, industry boomed, city development expanded, and today — here we are, one of the most beloved small town bedroom communities along the Mississippi Coast, rich with cultural, political, and athletic legacies.
The post-Katrina era has caused every beachfront community to re-evaluate everything from zoning, to insurance regulations, to redevelopment, to grant funding.  The redevelopment questions for citizens and City leaders are many.  The solutions, thus far, have been complex.
One common theme recurs in nearly every conversation I have engaged in:  we must CHANGE.  Again.  And, no one likes change.
So — what will CHANGE look like in Pascagoula?  Again?
For much too long, we have stifled the folks in our town who love to Dream Big.
The Creative minds who think outside the box with limitless ideas and vision.  The Walt Disney’s.  The Mark Zuckerberg’s.  The Kevin Costner’s.  Like their critics, we simply don’t believe ‘in’ them.  They’re just too goofy for our logical and reasonable systems of thought.
We brush them off as “pipe dreamers”, flighty, unrealistic thinkers.  And, maybe so.  But, at least they’re thinking with Hope and positive aspirations rather than pessimism and negativity. We must give Dreamers a voice in Pascagoula.
Shark Tank ™ is one of the coolest popular new TV shows.
It is ‘staged’ — for the ratings, obviously.  But, the concept is simple.  Basically, a panel of multi-millionaire investors review business ideas and aggressively [or not] stew over who will buy into the business opportunity and make millions from those small time dreamers and developers who simply need raw Cash and Capital, and good guidance, to get their ideas off the ground.
If you have raw Cash and Capital — and Integrity driven guidance — we need YOU in Pascagoula!
A very simple observation of small towns across Mississippi and beyond reveals a new generation of Investors — even, ‘Sharks’ — who saw opportunities to ‘flip’ those small towns into destination towns and cities.
As ugly as that might get for the sweet little ole #Goula citizens we believe we represent, it might mean that we inevitably must ‘make deals’ with a few ‘Sharks’.  Hopefully, the ‘good guys’ with the goods.
If you are paying any attention to society and culture at all, you realize that Millennials, as a generation, are now empowered to lead our communities and ultimately — our nation.
They are the ‘next’ generation that we have decried for decades now as those who don’t know Who they are, don’t know What they want, don’t care about real work, etc.  Now, They are proving most of those opinions and perspectives completely absurd and false.
Simply put — They are smarter, They are more passionate, and They are more cause-driven than we imagined.  And — we need Them!
So … #Goula … can [we] change?  Again?!
I believe we can.  I pray that we do!  We had better decide.  And, if we will … the future has never looked brighter, in my opinion.  If we will not … LORD help us.
#MakeGoulaGreatAgain #VOTE #Change