Tagged: Dan Courtine

The Circle of Life

Collins Dictionary says the circle of life is, “Nature’s way of taking and giving back life to earth. It symbolizes the universe being sacred and divine. It represents the infinite nature of energy, meaning if something dies it gives new life to another”

With a little flexibility on the definition, I believe that life presents numerous opportunities for life to come full circle. As we grow and learn we continually have parts of our life die while having new life be born from the lessons of the old life. Some of these lessons are small, but most of us go through phases with major life lessons.

I believe I have successfully made it through a mid-life crisis.

As I progressed through my teaching career I was very successful. I was financially sound. I earned multiple school and county awards. I was being praised left and right. I was set in my ways. I knew everything. I was always right. I had a great wife. I had two wonderful sons. I was attending church. I was serving. I was doing so many good things. And you may notice that all of these things revolved around one thing, “I.”

I didn’t need any help. Everything was going well without help. I worked hard and earned my success.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

Boy was I wrong. Everything came crashing down on me. My attitude was too much. It was hurting me. And more importantly I was hurting other people. This selfishness was hurting my marriage. It was hurting my boys. It was negatively influencing friendships. It was destroying my career. And it brought me to the lowest point of my life when I decided to leave teaching.

Fast forward three years (and feel free to fill in some blanks by reading my last post)…I am happy. Better yet, There is actually some joy, just pure joy, in certain areas of my life. My focus is on serving my wife, and connecting with my boys as I lead them. An awareness of the plights of others is much more prevalent in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I am still selfish. I am still impatient. I still have many issues. But things are much better than they were a few years ago.

What changed? Simply put, God has made himself known to me. But wait. He did that before, so how is it different now? The difference is that now I accept Him. There is no other way for me than to accept his love. I am a prime example of how messed up things can get when we do things on our own. Only in accepting His love, studying and learning about Him and His ways, and working to implement these lessons in my life can I improve.

How do I know God exists? Simply, faith. It took years for me to accept this. I still don’t have all the answers. I still have many questions about science that I am working on answering. But there are just too many things that could have just happened.

How has this growth impacted and changed me? It’s helped me grow up. I truly believe the last four years have brought me through a mid-life crisis, and successfully out the other side as a better person, a better man. It has brought me full circle in that I am back teaching. This has allowed me to repair some relationships that I damaged before. It has allowed me to repair my reputation. It has given me a new chance to impact others positively. It’s a new life that gives me a fresh start. My past is still there. I can only ask for forgiveness from people who I have have hurt or angered. I can only try to improve each day.

Coming through the crisis, I have a new outlook on life, and a new mission. Serve others. What does that look like? It looks like leading my family, not in an authoritarian way, but in a servant way. It means serving my church. It means connecting with others to hear their struggles and try to help them. Perhaps I’ll have some success and change some lives along the way.

 

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Slow and Steady

Sometimes, often times, life is confusing. It’s also crystal clear if you can humble yourself enough to look deeply at your own character, beliefs, actions and words.

My journey of the last four years has taken me to some highs and some lows. It has not taken me where I expected though.

A year and a half ago, Erica and I tried to have our son transferred from his assigned school to a school that is one of the most respected schools in the county. We knew the transfer was unlikely due to the popularity of the school, and it was in fact rejected. We were disappointed, but not surprised.

That June I received an e-mail from a fellow technology teacher. She wrote to inform me of a part time technology opening at her school. And you may have already guessed, it was the school we tried to get our son into. Why does that matter? Our school system allows the children of employees to attend the same school. If I took this part time position, our son would go to the school we wanted him to attend.

WOW! After 2 1/2 years of being out of teaching, was I really being led right back into teaching? I didn’t necessarily want to go, but I did want to go. I was worried about returning to the career. Would the old frustrations reappear? Would the old issues still push me to the breaking point? Would I still be miserable daily?

OR

Would reflecting on the break I had, and what I learned from the break be helpful for me to move on with life? Would I be able to reignite a passion I have: teaching and making a difference for kids.

I prayed and trusted the doors that God was opening (Psalm 37:5). I received wise counsel (Proverbs 15:22) from numerous people. And I committed myself to applying what I’d learned the last 2 1/2 years. I took the job.

Getting our son into our top choice of school made the decision much easier. Even if I wasn’t sure about the professional move, I was prepared to sacrifice my own contentment for my son’s education and happiness.  There was certainly more to it though. I wanted to take the opportunity of a second chance to see what I had learned; the importance of humility, of relationships and of loving and serving others.

This 2 1/2 year break I’d been on had humbled me and made me realize that most of the “problems” I have faced are due to my own actions. It’s so easy to blame others for our mistakes. However, an honest look in the mirror, as difficult as it is, will reveal many things. This realization of my own faults has opened my eyes to the need to serve others, fully. I’ve always served others, usually my friends, in small doses. But our mission on Earth is more important than serving only a few close friends. Yes a career is important. Yes I need to support my family. But most important is leading my family and teaching my boys the importance of faith and of self-sacrifice. As I have returned to education, I have been able to apply these new realizations and to build much better relationships based on me loving and serving others. How I react to situations is completely different. How talk to others is completely different.  I am a better role model for my family and my students.

I believe firmly that God has allowed me to suffer through the obstacles of my old career in order to humble me and help me realize how much love I needed to give to others. I have been humbled, and will carry that humility to bigger things by leading my family and friends to change the world. The journey continues…and my next post will explain how my departure from teaching has now come full circle.

Here is my story…

It Takes a Village

Hello everyone. I appreciate you checking this out. I have been an elementary school teacher for 17 years, and a dad for seven. I have seen a lot in those years. I have seen the impact good parenting can have in a child’s success. I have seen the impact bad or absent parenting can have in a child’s struggles or failures. I have seen the resiliency of kids who have overcome obstacles. Before I had kids, I had a lot of opinions about what I felt parents should do. My experience as a teacher formed these opinions. Since I’ve been a father, I have even stronger opinions. Some lean the same way as they always have. Others have shifted to the other end.

The last few years have led me on a new mission. My mission is to use my experiences and my knowledge (granted, it is self-perceived) to help equip myself and other fathers with tools that will help us all accomplish one goal: to raise our children to be responsible adults that show strong character, work hard, selflessly serve others and make their own positive impact on the world.

I need your help. I hope I will say something that will interest you, cause you to act with your own family, and send it to someone else you know. I need your stories, your ideas, your suggestions, your successes, your failures, and anything else you want to give me. I would love to post some “guest posts” from all of you. Obviously I don’t know everything and don’t have all the answers (although some might think I act that way). I don’t want to do all the talking. I want to share my thoughts to help you grow, and I want to hear your thoughts so I can continue to grow. To change the world and help our kids, we need to all come together. It’s going to take a huge team effort to make an impact. Would you join me? This isn’t a place where everything is bright and cheery. We will celebrate successes, but also work through failures.

What do you say? Will you sign up to follow this blog?

What do you say? Will you send it to your friends?

What do you say? Will you share your comments for others to see?

What do you say? Do you want to change the world?

THEN JOIN ME. What are you waiting for?

I look forward to this journey, and I hope it lasts longer than one post. Leave me a comment letting me know you are on board.

The Same Journey, But A Different Starting Point

As a 42 year old man who has a strong, supportive and loving wife, two incredibly thoughtful and responsible sons, a job, a great home, decent health, a lot of toys, and authentic relationships, many people would imagine that I’d feel like I have it all. Despite all these awesome blessings though, I still feel like something is missing. What is it? It’s purpose. I thought I had a purpose for years, but discovered that this purpose was not the right one. The right purpose is bigger. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than us. It’s bigger than the world. I won’t bore you with all the details of my journey the last few years, but I do want to continue reflecting as I work to fully discover and implement my true purpose. I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me. I hope you’ll help me grow. Thank you for being here by my side.