The Day I Stole my Mom’s Identity

In 2016, my mom suffered a debilitating stroke. I was the one tasked with handling her affairs. I sold her condo, packed away many of her things and found a place where she would live after her rehab. It was a daunting and exhausting task!

Little tasks that should have been simple and easy to handle became complex because of how afraid people are. For example, I called to cancel my mom’s cable tv subscription. Here is how the conversation went…

CC=Cable company . ME=me, good-looking Italian boy

(20 minutes on hold)
(finally!)
CC: Hi, Always Broken cable company…how may I help?

ME: Hi, this is James Divine. I’m handling my mom’s affairs. She recently had a stroke, has moved out of her condo, and now I need to cancel her cable service.

CC: Can you please give me her name, last 20 addresses, as well as the date when she sacrificed her firstborn?

ME: Sure, here it is
(3,200 account numbers and birthdates later)

CC: I’m sorry, we will need to speak directly to her. You are not authorized on her account to make changes.

ME: I realize that, but she almost died and is in rehab. She’s not well enough to talk.
(at this point I’m starting to get frustrated….there are 100 more urgent things I need to get done for my mom)

CC: I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.

ME: Can I speak to your manager please?

CC: I’m sorry, we don’t have a manager. I’m located remotely on an ice cap near the south pole, in exile and forced to work a job I hate, but it pays the bills.

ME: Surely you have faced this situation before and have a procedure to deal with it.

CC: I’m sorry, I’m not able to help you with your request. Would you like to be transferred to our north pole office?

ME: No thanks. I’d rather eat a plate of raw maggots then listen to more on hold music.

CC: Would you like me to transfer you to our maggot department?

ME: I thought that’s who I was talking to.

I hung up the phone. I was really frustrated. Since I was also handling her bills, I thought “Maybe I just won’t pay the bill” but I knew in the long term that would end up hurting my mom. I decided to try a different approach…

(20 minutes on hold)
(finally!)
CC: Hi, Always Broken cable company…how may I help?

ME: Hi, I’d like to cancel my cable service.

CC: Can you please give me your name, last 20 addresses, as well as the date when you sacrificed each of your children?

ME: Sure, my name is Rita and the account info you need is 1846dhfdku467253745be759403934565h3nyru5u5rhfyuj4m4neuemtn5ueiuwju666

CC: Is this really Rita?

ME: Yes.

CC: Sorry you will be leaving us. Thank you. I have closed your account.

I didn’t disguise my voice or anything! It was so easy that it was a little scary. I think the reason it worked is that I had the secret number…  1846dhfdku467253745be759403934565h3nyru5u5rhfyuj4m4neuemtn5ueiuwju666

I don’t recommend stealing your mom’s identity, but drastic circumstance call for drastic measures. As soon as I post this article, I will be moving. I expect the FBI to knock down my door at any moment.

***James is a teacher, musician, speaker and author in Colorado Springs. He wrote the book A Stroke of Bad Luck: A Survival Guide for When Someone You Know has a Stroke. Purchase it immediately on amazon:

It was recommended that we abort one of our kids

We received the news of all of our kids arrivals with joy and anticipation. Children are a gift from God.

With one of our children, the doctor was a little concerned with some things he saw on our required test results. We were told that there was a good chance the baby would be born with one or more physical handicaps. It was recommended that we abort.

My wife and I believe in the worth of every human – even those unborn. This was not an option we were willing to consider. It did cause great consternation on our part. How could we handle this? What were we to expect? Where could we go for help? We knew that our love for our child would go a long way. We prepared for the worst and prayed for the best.

Our third child was born in 1995 completely healthy and normal! He did have one tiny scar on his little tummy. We like to think that is where God performed surgery.

Tests are never 100% accurate. And even if they were, how can we be the ones to decide whether a child should live or die? That “recommended abortion” is now a grown man. I can’t imagine life without him. He has a purpose. He has a calling.

I Was a 7th Grade Bully

Throughout my childhood, I was often picked on and bullied. I was somewhat of a momma’s boy. I was not close to my father. I had a high emotional IQ and cried easily…the men in my life pounded into me (sometimes literally) that men don’t cry.

One day in 7th grade things turned around…

Red headed Patrick – tall and mean and someone who had bullied me all school year – pursued me into the hallway of the apartment building where my family lived. As he grabbed me and tormented me with his words and shoves, something in me snapped. I was sick and tired of the years of unrelenting bullying. I was done with being picked on. I detested the feeling of fear in the pit of my stomach.

I grabbed Patrick’s shirt and shoved him forcefully against the wall.

Patrick’s demeanor changed…

“Whoa James…calm down…I was only joking, “ he proclaimed.

“Yeah, right. Only joking for the last SIX-MONTHS, “ is what I thought to myself.

I let Patrick go. He told everyone at school that I beat him up. I had never laid a fist on him (besides the shirt grabbing). Patrick’s actions caused me to have a revelation…I was a big guy…I had size to my advantage…I didn’t need to let bullies torment me anymore.

Unfortunately I became a bully. I felt powerful. I felt strong. I liked this feeling.

I chose Bill Gates as my first victim. It wasn’t the real Bill Gates, but imagine what a 7th grade Bill Gates might look like. Spectacles. Skinny. High water pants. Future billionaire. I don’t remember this poor guy’s name, but we’ll call him “Bill.”

Every time I saw Bill, I tormented him. I spoke harshly to him. I acted like I was going to hit him (but I never did). Most of the time he bolted as soon as he saw me.

After a few months of this, I felt terrible! This was not who I was! I was a kind person. I had been through a lot in my short life, but was that reason for me to bully? I remembered how much I hated it when I was picked on. Why was I doing the same thing to others? I decided to quit.

One day shortly after this I saw Bill at the bus stop. Bill took off as fast as his skinny legs allowed. I started running after him! He ran faster. I ran faster. He ran even faster. I ran even faster.

What a sight it must have been, especially when I called out to him…

“Wait, wait. I want to be your friend.”

Amazingly he stopped running! Poor Bill. What would you think if you were being chased by a bully now saying he wants to be your friend?

I apologized. He accepted.

From that moment forward, when someone attempted to take advantage of Bill, I was there by his side using my newly discovered size to help him. It was my penance.

I became a bully because I enjoyed that feeling of power, but using physical size over others is just plain wrong! I’m glad it was just a 3-month portion of my life. My bullying days were over.

And the Bill I bullied?…he’s probably making millions leading a tech company he founded.

Get A First Down

In an interview of Lou Holtz – famous college football coach and analyst – he was asked what type of goals did he inspire his award winning teams to achieve. Was it to win the game? Score a certain number of touchdowns? Block passes?

No.

Lou instructed his teams to “Get a first down.” If you can continue to get first downs, you will win the game! The first down is the smallest component of goal setting in football.

In our own lives, we need to “Get a first down.”

Want to write a book…write the first paragraph.

Music teachers need to…Get that first chord in tune.

Want to lose weight…Put that chocolate down.

Family time important…Schedule an evening just for family.

What can you do to “Get A First Down” today?

The First (and only) Time I Picked up a Prostitute

The first (and only) time i picked up a prostitute

It was October of 2000, one of those rare, grey drizzly days we sometimes get in Colorado. I was on Nevada Avenue – the main drag through downtown Colorado Springs –  when I saw her. I pulled my van to the side of the road and picked her up.

Flashback to earlier that week…

It was my third year of teaching band at The Colorado Springs School. I had found my true calling as a teacher. Not only do I teach music, but I teach life. Emotional connections were made with students and their families. The mom of one of my students – I’ll call the student April – had passed away unexpectedly. Now April would be without a mom. Now April’s dad would be a widower. It was such a sad time for that family and the entire school community.

The viewing was on that cold drizzly day. At the viewing, we – faculty, students and other families from The Colorado Springs School – came together around April’s family like extended family. We were sharing stories about April, about her dad and about her mom. I could feel the presence of God strongly in the viewing room. I left and hopped in my van.

As I was heading down Nevada Ave., I saw a short, hunched over, dressed-in-rags woman in the drizzly rain. She wasn’t much to look at, maybe in her 30s but she had the look of someone who had a rough life and looked more to be in her 50s.  She had her thumb stuck out to hitchhike. I don’t usually pick up hitchhikers and don’t recommend it to you, but as I approached her, I distinctly felt God was telling me to pick her up.

It wasn’t an audible voice…

“James….pick this lady up.”

It was more of a voice within my spirit.

I obeyed the voice and stopped to pick her up. She told me she was headed to work and mentioned a location about two miles away. As we were headed there, we made some small talk. I asked her “Where do you work?” She hesitated, squirmed a little, and then answered, “I’m working the streets.”

By now, we were at her destination. I looked at her and said, “Honey, I think God has something better for you than that.” Tears began to flow down her face as she exited my van and shut the door. Tears streamed down my face as I realized that God had put me in that spot, that moment, that day to minister to a sheep that had strayed from the fold. God’s compassion on her flowed through me and my words to touch her spirit.

I wish I knew what happened to this lady. I wish I could say she left that life, went to college and became successful, helping others who had been through what she had, but that was the last time I saw her. I do know that I was supposed to pick her up and tell her God had something better for her. 

When you hear that small voice telling your spirit something, do what it says.

James Divine is a teacher, speaker, author, and musician. He is learning to hear that still, small voice more each day. This story was excerpted from The Saxophone Diaries: Stories and tips from my 30+ years in music. Get your copy at the store at www.jamesdivine.net or on amazon.

The 5 Band Directors You Meet In Heaven

When I first started teaching band in 1998, I was VERY isolated. I didn’t even know very many band directors in my local area. I was only part time, showing up on campus right before my 1st class and leaving right after my 2nd class…I had kids to pick up from daycare. Most of my music contacts were in the performance sector.

By 2000, my third year of teaching, I became full time. As I participated in events like solo and ensemble and all-city band, I got to know many of the directors. But my kids were still small. This was a time when I needed a mentor the most but when I had one the least.

In 2005, I moved to a suburban high school. In some ways it was like starting over. At the local events, it was a different group of directors. But they seemed to have one thing in common…they all seemed old to me (maybe older is a better word).

Fast forward to now…

When I look around at band director gatherings now, I am one of the oldest. How did I get here? Are people looking up to me like I looked up to others? I’m just realizing how little I know!

I have the opportunity to mentor and encourage others now. One of the ways I do that is through my podcast for music teachers.  As I reflect on 5 decades of life and over two decades in teaching – I fondly recall some of my greatest mentors and what made them great.

The 5 Band Directors You Meet In Heaven

 Ed Cannava

 I first had the chance to meet Ed in 2000 at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, where he brought his Dry Creek Dixie Dawgs to perform. I was performing with the Rough Riders Dixieland Band. We did a few selections with Ed’s group and was able to mentor and encourage them. At the same time I found a teaching colleague who became a mentor and a friend.

I was immediately impressed with Ed, first with the quality of his student performing groups and then with Ed the person. He is humble, works hard and willing to give a listening ear to a young director needing advice. Even now, every time I speak with Ed, I walk away feeling like I’m a better teacher and person. Ed offers advice and encouragement, and he does it in a way that doesn’t allow you to rest on past accomplishments. One must always strive to the next level.

The great thing about Ed is that he realizes it’s a journey. Every band program is different, and although sometimes he has disagreed, he has been able to see why I might do things differently. We share an Italian heritage and a love for emotional – not just technical – conducting. The best conductors I know are at least part Italian.

During trying times at school, Ed offered a ton of encouragement. It helped me make the decision to stay. Longevity is a huge factor in developing a great program. Although it’s not the only factor, it is one we often miss the importance of. Ed had been at his school for over 20 years. Although he is retired, he is still active in many areas of music.

Dale Crockett

 I have only gotten to know Dale in the last 8 years or so, and more closely in the last 3-4, but I remember hearing his name as early as 1993, when I was still in the Army band at Fort Carson.

Dale is the most down to earth, humble person I know. Sometimes at local music meetings, you can see someone’s ego attached to their shoulder, like a little elf. Why would someone want to carry that dead weight around all the time? Dale carries no such weight. He stands tall – literally – and you can see he is proud of his students and proud of his work, but it’s the pride in a job well done, not due to ego.

Although Dale is “retired”, he still works “half-time” at a 5A school where he is the only band teacher. I would venture to say that it’s a full time job with half time pay, especially during marching season. It’s obvious when talking to Dale that he loves his students and that he loves his fellow directors. He is always willing to take time for a cup of coffee to talk shop or just talk about life. Did you know Dale has been a pastor at various times in his life? Ask him about it, and about his faith.

Joe Brice

 Many of you know him as the guy who heads up the Regional Concert Band Festival in Colorado. The festival is always well organized and smooth running with great clinicians and adjudicators. This is because Joe takes pride in his work. His wife Carol is often with him at music events. She is like a mom to so many of us. She does a lot of the behind the scenes work too. She greets everyone with a hug. This is more important than you might realize.

I got to know Joe through a mentorship program that one of the music programs in our state was offering…free mentors to come and work with your band. Did I mention they were free? Many directors do not take the organization up on this offer.

Joe was at my school for a clinic. He mentioned the fact that I did not have a tuba player in that particular group. I replied with “I just don’t have anyone playing tuba.” He wouldn’t let me fall back on that. He said, “Have you asked anyone?” I admitted that I hadn’t. The next week in class I asked for volunteers who were interested in learning tuba. I immediately got several people who wanted to try. This has also worked in my current middle school!

An interesting bit of trivia… Joe was Ed’s mentor, who became my mentor. I in turn am mentoring people too. What you do today has an effect for many generations!

Orlando Otis

 You’ll never meet someone as hard working and dedicated as Orlando, yet he is down to earth, friendly and humble. Orlando has achieved success in his program, yet he still finds time to give a word of encouragement and support to those who need it. He also puts on a terrific jazz and marching festival. His booster parents know how to take care of directors.

Orlando and I are in a competition for best-looking band director and band that has the most fun. I definitely have him beat on the former, but he is a very close second on the latter.

When I was a “new” band director, new to high school but I really had been teaching for 7 years and was approaching age 40, I brought my jazz band to his festival. My drummer didn’t make it to the bus that morning. This drummer was hot (I’m lying, he just thought he was hot). Orlando’s son filled in for us and did 3x better than our regular drummer. It was an eye opener for the jazz band. They could see where the band could go if we had a great drummer instead of just one who was ok. That drummer didn’t last to the next semester, but the memories of the jazz band did.

Jess Girardi

 Anyone who has taught in Colorado for any length of time knows Jess Girardi. He retired from Englewood HS, where he had a very successful program. Jess has remained active well into retirement encouraging young directors and teaching adjudication sessions. If you sit down with him in conversation for 10 minutes, you feel like you walk away with an encyclopedia’s worth of information. He’s smart, likable, friendly, and lends a listening ear, plus he’s Italian.

Jess has a quiet faith that is important to him. I believe it guides him and makes him the person he is. There is no guile in Jess. What you see is what you get.

Hosea Haynes

 When Hosea finally “retired”, he had 40+ years teaching experience. The only reason he retired is that he found out at a retirement workshop that he was working for just 10% of his pay (with retirement he earned almost 90% of his salary). He retired, but continued to substitute the maximum number of days he was allowed to and also worked for Meeker Music. He earned more in retirement than he did working full time.

Hosea became a mentor and then a friend. I had been teaching for 6 years at a private school. I had no teaching license. I began a program that allowed me to earn my license. I needed to find a band teacher with a master’s degree who would mentor me. Ken at Meeker Music suggested Hosea, and that started our friendship.

Hosea met with me for more than the required amounts of time mandated by the college. I know he wasn’t paid much, but he didn’t do it for the money anyway. When the year through the college was over, we continued to meet regularly. Hosea always had advice and encouragement for me. He always had a positive attitude. Illness took him from this earth much too soon, so that’s why he is number 6 on this list of 5 directors. Hosea has already preceded us to heaven and is conducting the community band that will welcome the rest of us.

No out of tune players

Instruments work perfectly all the time

Reeds never squeak

Valves never break

There are no poor attitudes

Tuba players move in all the time

I’m looking forward to sitting in the sax section (wait, are there saxes in heaven).

Find a mentor TODAY!

***James is a band and orchestra teacher at a Title 1 middle school.  He is the author of Forgive: One man’s story of being molested, and 40 Ways to Make Money as a Musician. He hosts The Music Ed Podcast. James also is a motivational youth speaker sharing a message of “Your Past Doesn’t Define Your Future.”  Find out more about James at www.jamesdivine.net.

Get Started Writing a Book

Go to Udemy to enroll in the course. Udemy offers a 30 day money back guarantee.

I think that EVERYONE has a book inside of them, but maybe they just don’t know how to get started writing it. In this course, I teach you the steps I used to create my own six books. You won’t become a millionaire, but you can get your message out there and sell hundreds of books (if you are persistent). I cover…
– brainstorming and organizing your ideas
– getting started writing
– setting goals and deadlines for yourself
– editing/revising
– self-publishing to kindle
– selling and promoting your book

Go to Udemy to enroll in the course. Udemy offers a 30 day money back guarantee.

Episode 154 – 8 Tips to Add Spice to Your Rehearsal

We can always make our rehearsals more interesting by adding some spiciness to them! What makes Italian food delicious is having the right spices in the right amounts. Check out these eight ideas. Incorporate some or all of them over several weeks, and if you like the podcast, consider supporting us at www.patreon.com/themusicedpodcast.

7 Ways Christians Can Serve During the Coronavirus

Christians have been the people who have stepped in to serve with the love of Christ in many disasters in the past, and the coronavirus is no different. But what can we do? Here are seven ideas to help you think of ways you can serve.

1. Pray

We are told in the Bible to “pray without ceasing.” What does this mean? Should it feel like someone is interrupting our time with God whenever they speak to us? I don’t think so. But we can take time to pray and reflect regularly throughout the day. Ask God for worldwide healing in the name of Jesus. When you hear an ambulance, say a quick prayer, either silent or out loud. And when someone shares a need with you – rather than say “I’ll pray about that,” and then forget like I do, ask them if it’s ok to pray for them right then and there.

2. Share

Hoarding is never encouraged in the Bible. We are told often to share. In Luke 3:11 it says, ​”Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” When you see a need – if you have the means to fill it, do so. I remember the panic that set in with some people prior to Y2K. There were people who were buying guns and a one year supply of food for their family. What were they going to do? Shoot people who needed food? I hope not. Just like God fed His people in the wilderness with manna, He could do the same for us today.

3. Care

Maybe it’s not food that people need, but someone to pick up their medicine, or a babysitter, or a place to live. I’m fortunate in that my income as a teacher has not stopped during this difficult time. The families of my students mostly work in the service and construction industries. I feel for them. I don’t know how this is going to affect them. I pray and weep for them, and as I am able I’ll care for them. There are MANY industries and small businesses that will suffer during this time. Care for those people.

4. Improvise

God has called me to be a teacher. With about 12 hours notice, that role changed dramatically, and who knows how long it will be like this. But that doesn’t mean I’m no longer a teacher. I am using this time to write articles, create online courses, and to learn how to be a better teacher. Think creatively about how you can use the extra time you have.

One lady I know is really taking her new role as a home-schooling mom seriously. She has her kids working on their assignments and is taking them on hikes for their PE classes. Maybe she will find out she really enjoys teaching and want to pursue it more!

If you find yourself with extra time, think of how you can use the gifts you have to serve others. Maybe you are great at cooking cheap meals. Post some videos showing others how to do it.

5. Fear Not

Perfect love drives out fear. The reality is that none of us is guaranteed another minute. We don’t know when our life will end. We don’t know when we might lose a job – or a house – or a fortune. We can do our best to prevent these things, but we must continually put our trust in God our Provider.

When my four kids were little, we often took road trips from Colorado to Virginia to visit our families. To save money, we packed sandwiches, water, and snacks (and probably tissue and toilet paper too). Although sometimes a child worried about their special toy making it onto our caravan, not once were my kids worried about whether there would be enough food. They knew and trusted Mom and Dad would take care of that. We have a Daddy who loves His kids even more than I love mine.

6. Be Ready with an Answer

Not an answer to why the coronavirus happened, but an answer to “How do you keep so calm in the face of this pandemic?” The answer is “peace that passes understanding” that comes from faith and trust in Jesus. This is why #5 is so important. When others are hoarding and you are sharing, people may ask what makes you different. Why do you care when others don’t?

Make sure this sharing comes naturally and is not forced. Nobody likes to have faith thrown upon them like a multi-level marketing spiel. Let the Holy Spirit do His work.

7. Don’t demonize

It can be so easy to blame what is happening on sin in the world. Truth be told, we are ALL guilty of sin. If I am ever standing near someone who prays, “God, give me what I deserve,” I am going to RUN! We all deserve judgment for what we have done, but to read judgment into every bad thing that happens is a dangerous line to tread (but one that is “normal” for humans). In Jesus’ day, handicaps and disasters were often looked at as some type of judgment from God. Upon seeing a blind man, Jesus’ disciples asked Him who had sinned – the man or his parents – to cause him to be blind. Jesus answered neither. The man was born blind so God’s healing power could be displayed.

James Divine is a full time music teacher and part-time pastor. He believes we are all called into full time ministry, some within the walls of the church, others in business and government. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife of 33 years. They have four grown children and 6 grandchildren. He can be found spending time with his wife wiping down the world with wipes, hiking, biking, and SUPing (just kidding about the first one). Find out more at www.jamesdivine.net.

Papa Jimmy Is Running for President

Papa Jimmy is running for President on the meatball ticket. You can support his campaign by purchasing his grandson’s book I Cannoli Imagine: My Italian life. All proceeds will go directly to Papa Jimmy’s campaign – or to meatball purchases, depending on his mood.

A Love Letter to my Fellow Title I Teachers

Dear Fellow Title I Teacher:

Don’t compare yourself to other teachers. You are amazing. You work hard. Even if they don’t tell you, your students appreciate and love you! You may be one of the few stable things in their life! When you look at where your students are “on the charts”, often they fall behind their peers from better funded schools with intact families. But when you look at how far they have come, you can be proud because you helped them get there.

Most of my fellow teachers don’t know what it’s like to have a student SUDDENLY not be in your class anymore – with no warning or pre-planning. When you try to call or email – maybe to get an instrument back or just ask how they are –  you find everything has been disconnected. You know what it’s like!

Most of my fellow teachers don’t know what it’s like to have the $20 yearly instrument fee seem impossible for some parents to pay. Many struggle with just paying the rent and buying food. You know what it’s like – and I bet you spend some of your own money just on the supplies you need to teach!

Most of my fellow teachers don’t know what it’s like to have a student share their “good news”. And what is the good news? My uncle’s prison sentence was reduced from 5 years to 3 years. Although you would never ask it yourself, a student inevitably asks “what is your uncle in prison for?” The answer is armed robbery. You know what it’s like.

Most of my fellow teachers have never had a former student murdered in a gang fight on the school’s track over the summer. Most don’t know the heart-wrenching torment of examining oneself and thinking – sometimes out loud sometimes to themselves – “could I have done more for that student when he was in my class four years ago.” Self-reflection is good, but you probably did all you could. You know what it’s like.

Stop comparing yourself to the suburban teacher where the families are all making a decent income and are able to support what their students are doing. You DO make a difference. Love the students under your care. Make sure you take time for yourself. The emotional stress can sap the life out of you. Decide what time you are leaving school each day and follow through with that. Have a hobby. Read a book. Exercise. Eat well. We need you to be around for a long time!

With Love and Respect,
James Divine

* James is in his 22nd year of teaching band and orchestra. He has taught at an exclusive private school, a suburban high school, and now teaches at a Title I school in Colorado Springs. James’ single mom was on welfare and food stamps for part of his growing up years. For about a year the family was also homeless (by today’s definition). Even though they weren’t called that at the time, James attended several Title I schools in the 1970s and early 1980s. James believes that the teachers he had SAVED HIS LIFE. He understands where his current students are coming from. James hosts The Music Ed Podcast, which you can find on iTunes or at www.jamesdivine.net.    

Episode 152 – How Music Saved My Life; James’ story

This episode is a little different. In this podcast, I’m sharing a presentation I made on The Story Project, a show similar to The Moth for those who have heard that on NPR. In the presentation, I use my 100 year old saxophone to tell the story of how music saved my life (specifically teachers).

Playing the saxophone was life-changing for me!

Listen all the way to the end and you can get the code to receive a free digital copy of my book that tells my story in more depth. You can also see the live video of the Story Project by visiting www.jamesdivine.net.

What you do as teachers makes a difference!

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Guest Post by a Dog who is a friend of mine. He prefers to stay anonymous.

Man’s Best Friend. Faithful. Loyal. These are just some of the ways dogs have been described.

Not many dogs have undertaken the task of writing about life. It’s important for you – the human – to understand what it is we see in life as dogs. Dogs were designed by God to be special, to be a companion, to love without condition. He also created some of our weirder quirks, like eating our own poop and drinking out of the toilet bowl. Each gift we have also has a drawback, but these things are all meant to teach you, the observant human, how to become better and how to find your place in heaven.

All dogs go to heaven.

Well almost all. There are a few that have either become pure evil or had it bred into them by evil humans. These are the dogs that attack children, that strain against their thick chains to try and kill, and that kill for no reason except for their desire to do so. This constitutes less than 1% of all dogs. Don’t hold this against the other 99%.

The rest of us go to heaven, but it’s not the same as it is for humans. You see, not all humans go to heaven. Oh, there are a lot of them that are “good” but they are judged on a different level than we dogs.

Humans can go to redemptive heaven. If they choose not to go, well they go to another place that I don’t want to even think of. This is the same place a large percentage of cats go to. Cats can’t help it. They were born with a very selfish personality (but not all cats go there).

I wish this wasn’t so. I wish everyone was a dog and could go to dog heaven, but that would mean you would be born without a soul. Having a soul and a choice whether to go to heaven is best in the long run.

You’ll notice dogs don’t hold it against each other if we are different breeds. Some of us are black, some white. Some are big, some are small. Some are handsome while some are downright ugly (but these seem to be the most popular at times). Some stink more than others, and some are stuffy and dignified. It doesn’t matter to us. When we meet, we greet each other with our own “handshake,” (you’ve seen this…we approach each other cautiously and get a good whiff of the other’s butt. It may not always seem like it, but hygiene is very important to us). We can tell a lot about a dog or a person within the first two minutes of meeting them, and we won’t fake it if we don’t like you!

John Wayne had some dog in him. I was watching a John Wayne movie when the following interchange took place.

Cowboy: We’ve been corralling cattle together for ten years, and during that time you’ve hardly spoken to me. 

John Wayne: Yup.

Cowboy: Why is that? Did I do something wrong to you?

John Wayne: Nope. I just don’t like you.

He had nothing to hide. That’s the way we dogs are. We can usually tell the people who are liars and cheats and we just don’t like them.

Having been born without the benefit of an opposable thumb, typing is very difficult for me. I’d like to thank James for transcribing my thoughts and ideas onto the written page.

MORNINGS FOR DOGS

You humans have it easy. All day long you get to make choices about how you use your time, yet I see so many humans waste time. You all get the same 168 hours in a week (dogs have 168×7 hours in a week, but each hour is shorter…it does make it a little easier to manage our time). Choose wisely how you will spend that time.

My owner thinks I have a lot of energy in the morning. He seems to need coffee to get going. What is really happening is that I woke up two hours before him needing to pee and I have been patiently waiting for him to let me out to do my thing. Meanwhile, he is moving at a sloth’s pace getting his coffee ready when I just NEED TO PEE. This happens every morning! Here’s our typical exchange.

Me: Woof! Woof!

Owner: Hey boy. You sure have a lot of energy for it being so early in the morning.

Me: Woof!

Owner: I wish I had that energy. I gotta let this coffee take effect before I can get anything done.

Me: Woof woof woof!

Owner: Yeah boy, I’m excited for the day also.

Me: WOOF WOOF WOOF!!!!!!

Owner; Oh you need to go outside. Sorry about that.

Me: Woof

There are little nuances in those woofs. If you could tell what we were saying, you would realize that this is the actual conversation.

Me: Good morning. Gotta pee!

Owner: Hey boy. You sure have a lot of energy for it being so early in the morning.

Me: Just open the door!

Owner: I wish I had that energy. I gotta let this coffee take effect before I can get anything done.

Me: Forget the coffee, open the door, I’ve gotta pee.

Owner: Yeah boy, I’m excited for the day also.

Me: OPEN THE DOOR!!!!!

Owner; Oh you need to go outside. Sorry about that.

Me: Thank you.

This is why we are known as man’s best friend. Your actual friend would kill you if you did this to him. We take our pee break and then come in and show you gratitude. Those of you with a doggie door, God bless you.

11 THINGS A DOG NEVER COMPLAINS ABOUT

  • Stinky people
  • Stale food and water (we’re grateful to have it)
  • Bad breath
  • Race, gender, nationality, religion (we love everyone as long as they are truthful and kind to us)
  • Long car rides (anytime we get outside is a joy)
  • People petting us
  • Exercise
  • The length of time our owners are gone
  • Messy rooms (filth is another matter)
  • Other pets (as long as they give us space)
  • Table scraps

8 THINGS A DOG CAN’T TOLERATE

  • Cats
  • Abuse
  • Dishonest people
  • Soap and water when mixed together (we love water and for some reason we love to eat things like soap). I know men feel the same way. When you’re hanging out with your significant other at Bath and Body Works, and you take a whiff of the “Mango, tropical, peach drenched sunrise dew” body gel, you KNOW you want to take a sip and drink it down, especially after smelling it)
  • Dog carriers
  • Postmen (they’re messing with our property which we have been called to protect)
  • People not petting us
  • Grooming (there are a few exceptions)

THE BEST INVENTION HUMANS EVER MADE BEFORE SLICED BREAD

Do you know what I think the coolest invention is in the house? The flush toilet. With one simple push of a button, the yellow, stinky urine and brown, disgusting fecal matter are instantly swept away and a nice bowl of cool, fresh water arrives in its place to fulfill the parched sensation on my dry lips. Someone needs to invent one for dogs.

We would be happy to use the same one as you, but if you haven’t noticed, our bodies are shaped differently. It is almost physically impossible for me to sit properly on a human toilet, at least not without needing chiropractic treatment.

Many owners take us on long walks where we can find a spot that hasn’t been pooped on to do our thing. The most conscientious owners pick up the poop afterwards and dispose of it (but not usually in the cool flushing mechanism). These walks are enjoyable and allow us to spend quality time with our owner.

Some owners put up fences in their backyards and let us out to poop in those. This is very convenient. However, we are always trying to find a clear spot. When an owner doesn’t clean up the mess, we find ourselves spreading little snapshots all over the yard to try and avoid going in the same place twice. If it has been several weeks, this becomes increasingly difficult. Please be kind…pick up what we leave behind.

And be more like a Dog.

Episode 151 – Making More Music by Managing Administrative Mayhem

In this episode, I interview Wendy Reeves, band director at Sells Middle School. Wendy shares tips with us on how to reduce the amount of time spent on paperwork, classroom management, equipment, travel, and more, so we can devote time to what we really enjoy – teaching music! You’ll find several tips you can immediately incorporate into your teaching right now.

Wendy has graciously shared her materials. Click HERE for a link to her website where you can get her entire 90 minute presentation on powerpoint, as well as downloads of handouts and more information.

Wendy is a member of the American School Band Director’s Association as well as Women Band Directors International.

Like the podcast? Share it with others and support us on patreon.

Be Nice

We have forgotten this one simple rule in society today – one that Mr. Rogers taught us as kids – Be Nice. You don’t have to agree with everyone on everything, but you CAN be nice to them.

Prayer Has Never Been Removed from Schools

I hear Christians lamenting all the time about two Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s that “removed prayer from schools”. This is a distortion of the facts. I decided it was time to set the record straight.

Those decisions did not remove prayer from schools, but removed state-sponsored prayer from public schools, and frankly I’m glad they did!

Christians have always been for the underdog, for the downtrodden, for those whose rights have been taken away, for those who are being abused. After all, it’s what Christ commanded us to do. And with our constitutional right to freedom of religion, this also includes the freedom to reject any religion. God has never forced anyone to follow Him. 

So why would we want to force people to pray? And what would happen if the majority of people were not Christian? Would they then have the right to force us to pray to their god? We should NOT have state-sponsored prayer in our schools, but neither should prayer be prohibited, and according to our constitution it’s not.

The dictionary defines prayer as a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship. Prayers can be out loud, or silent and in our minds. They can be made with eyes open or closed. While standing, sitting, or kneeling. The Supreme court decision in the 1960s did not ban prayer in schools. The constitution demands freedom of religion, which means you can pray whenever you want. 

Here’s why I think Christians have become dismayed over this subject…

Someone “in charge” at a school – a principal, board member, or teacher – has made a decision to “ban prayer.” Maybe the decision is made out of fear (many parents are ready to take every decision they disagree with immediately to the superintendent these days). Maybe the decision is due to lack of knowledge (many people misunderstand our freedoms – read the constitution please). Sometimes Christians have allowed themselves to be bullied in these situations. To be fair, the bully doesn’t always know he’s being one.

I pray daily at school – at my desk before I eat – in the hallway before students file in – while proctoring state testing – every Friday when I walk through the campus specifically praying for the school – and every week I pray for the leaders in my school district. 

Nobody stops me.

If a group of football players wants to get together before the game to pray – THEY ARE ALLOWED TO – and if some players don’t want to join in – they are allowed to refrain. If a group of students wants to meet early or stay late to study the bible – THEY ARE ALLOWED TO, unless the school prohibits all groups from meeting.

There are some things I’m not allowed to do…

  • I’m not allowed to use my music class time to proclaim the gospel
  • I’m not allowed to be disrespectful of other people’s beliefs that differ from mine

But what I’m allowed to do far exceeds that…

  • I’m allowed to pray whenever I want, silently during class or out loud when I’m alone
  • I’m allowed to talk to students about my faith when they ask me about it
  • I’m allowed to say Merry Christmas to students and staff 

You CAN pray in schools, for schools, for teachers, for administrators, and for parents and students. You CAN run for your local school board. When was the last time you prayed for our schools? Will you take a moment to do so now?

*** James Divine is in his 22nd year of teaching, which he believes is his calling. Today’s Christian teachers are on a difficult mission field, but they have the potential for tons of impact. Find out more about James at www.jamesdivine.net

Are you seeking an engaging, funny storyteller who will leave your audience wanting more? James Divine is a delightful speaker whose stories leave you feeling as if you’ve always known him. If he has his saxophone, expect a lovely bonus!

Michelle MrasAward Winning Inspirational TEDx Speaker, Coach, 2X Author and Podcast Personality
www.MichelleMras.com
www.YouTube.com/MichelleMras

James Divine is an amazing speaker. He is funny, humorous and quite a delight to watch! If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, do so! If you ever get a chance to hire him, grab the chance, you won’t be sorry!

James Divine was the lunchtime keynote speaker for my Be Authentically U event on September 7th 2019 and he did not disappoint! All eyes were on him, I did not see one person looking at their phone as he had captured their attention with his Italian stories and costumes weaving in various characters from his life. By the end of his speech our bellies were hurting from laughing so hard and our hearts were touched! 

Thank you James for being the speaker I knew you could bring to the table!

Trisha Trixie
Greenwood Village Colorado
Faith-based Empowerment Specialist
www.Trishatrixie.Com