The Short Bus

So, most of my friends and family know that I drive a school bus for our local public school district.  I have enjoyed that job, off and on, for more than 30 years.  I am Commercial licensed and like to drive all sorts of buses and RV coaches for churches, for tourists, for entertainers.  I am a wandering spirit, so I love to “go”, and especially enjoy the drive.

I am a Substitute Driver which means I “sub” for regular route drivers who call in sick, or take vacation or personal days off.  This week I drove the “short bus”, as we once called it during my school days.  Today we call it the SPED (Special Education) bus.  These select buses are specially equipped with seat belts, anchor straps for wheelchairs, and hydraulic lifts for wheel chairs.  Plus a few other small safety features and dashboard buttons to remember as a driver.

The students assigned to these buses range from learning disabilities to physical and emotional limitations.  Most of these students in our district are beautifully gifted children who show extravagant love towards their caregivers, teachers, and transportation helpers.

My helper this week — Bus Monitor (by title) — is Ms. Ann.  The students on my bus love Ms. Ann.  And she loves them.  They have a very special bond because she has watched many of them grow up from babies to elementary, middle, and now high school age.  Ms. Ann knows most of their families, and the various challenges they face.  Ms. Ann might as well be Mother Teresa in their little minds, because she loves and cares for every one of them unconditionally.  And, when necessary, she can ‘draw the line’ so that they know what is appropriate behavior, and what is not.  We all love Ms. Ann.

I know some of the stories of these students and their families as well.  I look into the eyes of parents and grandparents of these students every morning at dawn and in the afternoons.  I see the sleepless nights, the weary wondering, the tiredness in their faces.  I feel the ache in their tired voices and in their bones as they slowly, but methodically help their little loved ones onto and off the bus every day.

But, I see Love. I see the unconditional, never-ending love for God’s gift to them. These beautiful boys and girls who will not get the education, the nurture, and the chance they deserve, if not for the love of these champions called mama, daddy, teacher, coach, principal, bus monitor, bus driver, and caregiver.

I also see Jesus.

I see Him when I watch the way the mamas and daddies carefully and gently hug, affirm, and speak gentle, yet firm instructions and guidance to their special babies.  I see Him when I look into their sleepy eyes every morning, as I wonder what they are thinking about with yet another ‘new day’ to live and learn and dream.  I see Him when these babies recognize their mamas and daddies at the end of the day.  I see Him when they sing along to Ms. Ann’s fun songs and laugh at her funny stories.  I see Him when they tell me, “good morning”, or “bye-bye”, each day.

I see Jesus on the short bus. I see Jesus in Ms. Ann.  I see Jesus in the eyes of educators and coaches and principals.  I see Jesus in my coworkers and administrators in the Pascagoula-Gautier School District.

I love driving the “short bus”.  Thank you God, for letting me see Jesus this week … on the “short bus”.

College at 55 … and 1/2

Six months ago, I blogged that I was venturing [back] into the journey of college — at age 55. Here’s what’s up today.

So, college is a privilege to begin with. Not everyone who wishes to attend college or university is afforded that luxury. Even, in America. With that said, I am extremely grateful that I am even afforded the option of returning to college having given it my ‘shot’ at 18 years of age the first go ’round.

My friend Luke Gambill, as I have mentioned before, is an extremely talented and gifted musician. Much smarter than me. And, an excellent educator. We reconnected a few years back and began keeping up with one another’s careers and ministries. Long story short — Luke compelled me to consider completing my college education as he was transitioning towards completion of his doctoral studies. I took him up on the offer.

Dr. Wes Dykes began to guide me towards admissions and the rigors of course selections, I got started, and … six months later … I have completed two trimesters of study as a #CareyMusic student in the Winters School of Music and Ministry Studies.

I really did not think I could pull this off. I’ve enjoyed the journey, but it’s been a challenge. It’s thrilling, no doubt! But, a challenge.

My sweet wife Sheryl has become my greatest cheerleader, all over again. She has always stood by me, through the horrors of our darkest days of pain and loss, through the craziness of raising three amazing kids [now adults], and through the joys of mountaintops and accomplishments in life and ministry together. But — this is a new adventure, for the both of us. We literally feel like teenagers again!

So, I dive in to my next trimester at #Carey next week.

As I observe these ‘kids’ around me at #Carey who are fast becoming the Worship Leaders and Worship Pastors of today’s church — I must tell you — I am amazed! These kids “get” it.

They are wise beyond their years. They are consumed with Jesus. They love pleasing the audience of One. They love the local church. They love tradition. They love creativity. They love excellence. They love diversity. They love others. They love themselves. They work hard. They produce amazing results.

I highly recommend you follow our websites and social media sites as the music departments and ministries at #Carey are growing and developing. I am honored to be part of this movement of Music Education, Worship, and Church Growth in south Mississippi!

Hang on … the best is yet to come! #OneGoalOnePassion #CareyMusic