Sunday, January 31, 2021

Winter Wonderland Weather: A Gift From God

When I was nine, the license plate on our family car said: "Water-Winter Wonderland," and I was sure it had something to do with the song we sang at Christmas. My mom went along with it, but decades later I learned that the song was written some thirty years before the Michigan slogan was adopted. In fact, the lyricist was describing the city park in his home town of Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Nonetheless, to me, that song and my state were inseparable throughout my childhood. I must admit that I had forgotten that feeling since the Covid thing hit. That is... I'd forgotten until this past Thursday.

The week before this video was made was supposed to be Homecoming Week at school, a January tradition going back more than twenty years. Such events are part of the rhythms of school like holidays and the change of seasons, and when they don't happen, an inexplicable void gets everybody out of step. It's not just the fun that is needed, it's the marker in time. You see, Homecoming brings "spirit days" (where the kids dress according to fun themes like super-hero day, etc.). Then there's the big pep rally, lib synch and poster contests, the big game, "Fifth Quarter" Pizza Party for alumnni afterwards, and then the banquet on Saturday. None of that happened, however, due to the shut-down of sports, social distancing, and no banquet facility being available. Then the teams learned that their basketball seasons were delayed another month. School spirit was noticeably low. I'm glad we were having school in person at the building, because we were able to see just how sullen the high schoolers were (since Homecoming Week affects them most).

What do you do when you know your students need some wind in their sails? Well, in anticipation of these doldrums, we made made arrangements for an afternoon at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex just 20 minutes away. We originally had it booked for Friday, but changed it to Thursday so we could have the entire place mostly to ourselves. That was important to our Covid cohort protocols. It was fantastic!

I cannot describe what happened to two bus loads of kids saw this Winter Wonderland! They began being risk takers who laughed at their mistakes. They defined the word PLAY. The three hours can be summed up in three words that applied everyone (including my wife and me). These three words brought hope in a time when we all need hope. I thought they might do the same for you:

"Being kids again!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Good News in Hard Times

There is an encouraging brief video at the end of this post.

Our "12 Days of Giving" was launched this past December to help bridge the GAP between our annual operational costs and regular income. The need was especially great due to the challenges of these difficult times (e.g. no Fall Fund-Raising Banquet). Our total fiscal year (July 1-June 30) "GAP" need is just over $200,000, but our stated goal for December (year-end) was an ambitious $120,000 ($10,000 for each day though giving continued to the end of the month).  

[click on images to enlarge]
After processing all of the year-end gifts, WE ARE THRILLED ANNOUNCE THAT WE EXCEEDED THE $120,000 GOAL--a new record by far! This essential help puts  the budget of this educational ministry on firm ground as we continue to raise the remainder between now and June. 

The response was so good that a third "Leaving a Legacy" tree has been ordered for the extra gifts and continued participation from our school family. ($500=bronze, $2,500=silver, and $5,000=gold). The display above was installed in the State Flag Foyer last week.

[click on images to enlarge and read]

Speaking of donors, during the recent Covid-19 shutdown, a CCS donor gifted us with a steel flag engraved with "Pledge of Allegiance.". It arrived over Christmas Break and we hung it this week.  Today, our First Grade, made it official. In times when we see others burning the symbol of this nation under God, it is encouraging to see tender hearts looking up to an indelible reminder of God's gift of LIBERTY. 

(Encouragement in 90 Seconds from CCS First Grade.) 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

In 2021: We're in God's Hands in All States

 Dear CCS Family,

[Click on Bible references in this post]
As you remember, the year 2020 was the 40th Anniversary of Calvary Christian Schools. The student body printed “spirit shirts” that spoke of “20-20 Vision,” we had a great banquet in the fall of last school year, an unforgettable outdoor Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020 complete with an impressive fireworks display. In many ways, it was a great year, and we have so much for which to be thankful. For instance, our donors provided over $65,000 in essential Covid-reopen funds last August, and an additional $110,000 in needed year-end gifts came in December. Thank you, donors, for your generous support.

Let’s admit it, however… most of us were ready to stick a fork in 2020 a week ago tonight. Many of my friends didn’t even stay up to watch the ball drop that night. Who can blame them? The year 2020 for some was a time of sorrow and for others a parody of living. Those four digits became an adjective: If something was inexplicably senseless or defied all odds, people said: “That’s so 2020!” 

Like many of you, I hoped 2021 would somehow change the trajectory of the previous year God brought us through together.

The unexpected turn of events yesterday afternoon, January 6th, in the Capital Building in Washington DC was troubling at many levels. Though many facts remain to be learned, the difference between the peaceful assembling (in the morning) and what a smaller group of instigators later did inside the capital building is an important distinction.  I know of no one who is not disheartened by the images being flashed on TV and social media from yesterday's late afternoon events. 

The reality is this: we live in a broken world and the snippets being looped by networks are echoes of similar events through the centuries (and other events this past summer). What was true in the last days of Christ remains true in the last days of man: whenever human nature reaches a boiling point and is driven by fear rather than faith, it is most in need of our Savior’s words: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

So when people of faith are understandably anxious about political and social upheaval, they should take heart in the words of Psalm 112:7 addressed to believers: “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” The Psalmist doesn’t deny that bad news is bad. He rather implies we can expect it in the midst of sin, evil and brokenness. So whether the bad news is a troubling diagnosis, a lost job, the death of a loved one, or bad behavior of people, our focus and hope cannot be in men—“Our HOPE is in the Lord.”

Why can we trust the Lord? He is good (Psalm 106:1). He is our help (Psalm 115:9). He reigns (Psalm 96:10). He is sovereign (Psalm135:6). He is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8). He is near in the midst of trouble (Psalm 46:1). He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). He loves you and His love never ends (Romans 8:38-39). Take a few moments to look up these comforting verses. Think on them. Rest in them.

Simply put, we can trust the Lord for He is supremely trustworthy, unlike our circumstances, our health, our relationships, our politicians or our finances.

So, what is God’s will for us today?  While much more could be written, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 certainly gives us a great place to begin: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We're in God's Hands in all states.

It is a joy to be a part of the CCS Family.

Tom Kapanka

Note: I would like to thank my dear friend Pastor Stephen Schultze who shared the encouraging words and references at the end of this post in a letter this morning.