Surprised By Life’s Simplicities


In the spring of 2005 I was a clueless undergraduate.

I was about to finish degrees in Spanish and International Service at Valparaiso University. It appeared that my best prospects were to work at an NGO somewhere in Latin America. As a 22-year-old person at the time, that seemed a bit daunting and ambiguous. So what does any lost undergrad do at moments like this? The answer: Go back to school!

So that’s what I did, and it turned out to be a good decision. I went on to complete the LEAPS Program (also at Valpo), which was basically another form of Teach for America. This not only gave me a useful set of skills, but it helped me discover that one of my gifts was teaching. After two years of teaching in Cleveland, my wife and I moved to Hong Kong, and I taught at the International Christian School (ICS) for four years.

Unfortunately, I let my teaching license expire two years into my time at ICS. Since ICS never asked any questions about it, I simply ignored the problem! (Yes, I realize how ridiculous this is now that I’m typing it) I continued to ignore this fact for two years and seven months.


Recently, Kristin suggested I begin the process of renewing my teaching license. My first response was less than mature. I knew how difficult this process can be, and I dreaded the amount of paperwork to complete and the hoops I would have to jump through. However, I realized that I’m trying to be a better and more responsible man, so I set forth on this process, most of my grumbling set aside.

I logged on to the Indiana Department of Education’s website, and it was quite daunting. Form upon form and endless links and potential tasks laid out in typical governmental officialdom, lacking all aesthetic appeal. [grumble, grumble]

I settled upon one form that seemed like the best place to start, filled it out, and submitted it. Message: “Your form will not be read until you pay a fee of US$35.” [grumble, grumble]


I’ve learned that when lost, it’s a good idea to ask questions. I sent an email to explaining my situation, asking for logical help. Someone responded in one day! Unheard of in the civil service! Maybe it’s because I mentioned that I already paid the form fee. Ha!

Wrapping up this story, after a few emails and submitting a letter of recommendation from the ICS middle school principal (a rock star btw), I not only renewed my teaching license, but I was also upgraded to a five-year license!!! It was one of the quickest, most painless processes I’ve ever experienced in education circles. Praise God for such a good surprise!

I wonder what this means for my future… [feelings of content, feelings of content]


Too Quick to Say “Sorry!”

Have you ever said sorry without actually feeling sorry? Or you say it just to appease the other person’s anger, hoping that it will abate sooner than later? Sometimes I do this, and it really bothers me. It just pops out from time to time, and my brain doesn’t seem to catch up until later. This is most definitely one habit that I would like to break, especially since I too frequently interact and pray to God in a similar manner.

How can I be more genuine?

'July 24 - See No / Hear No / Speak No Evil' photo (c) 2006, Rob Gallop - license: way I think this might be able to happen is by applying the advice of a university Spanish professor named Ochoa. She and her husband said they only had one rule for their kids: THINK. At least this is what they told me. I asked for some elaboration, and they said so many bad decisions can be avoided if one were to pause, take a moment to think about the consequences for themselves and others, and only follow through if a good outcome could be seen.

The only problem I see with applying the THINK rule is that it requires self-discipline to enable – the very thing that I am lacking so often!

Nevertheless, what I can’t do, God can. Where I come short, Jesus steps in and perseveres. When I am weak, He is strong.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, SELF-CONTROL; against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23