Sunday, October 30, 2011


14 Times.  Yes, that's right 14 times  That's the number of times one brave soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer Bryan Domeij deployed to fight for our country.  I can't fathom 14.  I know hard it was to go through one and that was a parent.  Tragically, he lost his life last Saturday.  And most likely, you never even heard about it.  In the following paragraphs, I've provided a couple of snapshots from the story and a video of the escort of Sgt 1st Class Domeij.  Here is your information update.

"As right-wing pundits decry the end of one U.S. war and the conduct of another, they'd do well to consider the case of Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer Bryan Domeij. The 10-year veteran of the elite Army Rangers was killed, along with two of his comrades, in an IED attack in Afghanistan on October 22. But Domeij's situation was special: He perished  on his 14th war deployment since 2002.

Domeij's commanding officer, Col. Mark Odom,   called him "the prototypical special operations" leader whose special skills—he was one of the first soldiers qualified to coordinate Air Force and Navy air attacks from his ground position—made him a hot commodity in the war zones. Domeij, he said, was a "veteran of a decade of deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of combat missions."

Besides being loved by his colleagues, the San Diego-born Domeij was also the married father of two daughters.  Assuming an average deployment length of seven months—Army deployments are seldom shorter than that, and usually much longer—he probably spent at least 8 of his 29 years overseas, waging America's wars".

The video below depicts the escort of Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer Domeij.  Leading the escort is the Patriot Guard Riders.

How much would you give for your country?  14 times?  Is that beyond comprehension that someone would sacrifice so much so many, many times?   Remember the name, Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer Domeij.  He is the one that allows you to sleep peacefully at night....and the one that enables you to demonstrate your freedom each and every day.



Thursday, October 27, 2011


"I'm back home.  At least that's what I keep telling myself.  I'm out of that God-forsaken place called Afghanistan.  I'm home, but I don't feel like I'm home.  It's just not the same it was....and I'm afraid it won't ever be again", said a young soldier I met recently. 

Those thoughts might be common to each of the 2,800 Iowa National Guard troops that returned home from their year deployment to Afghanistan this past summer.  Then again, maybe not.  Those who worked outside the wire saw far more than others.  Images that will stay with them for the rest of the lives.  And some of those images are not the ones you want to reflect on.  At least not over and over and over. 

The words you are about to read are from PV2 Pete (a name we've chosen for confidentiality).  These will be his words. ....his feelings.....his dealings.....his sufferings.  Pete was stationed in the northeast part of Afghanistan.  He was part of an infantry company that performed over 100 missions during their nine months on foreign soil.

"I experienced so much", he would say .  "Some of it was good and some, not so good.  It's the not so good that I'm having a hard time dealing with.  The first time I go shot at was a rush for sure.  My mind and heart were racing unbelievably fast.  I'll never, ever forget that.  There were  so many "firsts" that happened to me there.

 Death comes in so many ways.  It can be ugly, really ugly.  I think nowadays about the lives I've altered.  That's my thoughts now.  But when we were in Afghanistan, it was heads up and staying focused at all times. When you are in battle things happen that are reflex action   We're taught to act a certain way that in essence will keep us alive.  It's after the fight, when your mind starts working.  Do I have guilty feelings?.....for sure", he added.

When I spoke to Support Chaplain Gary Selof of the Iowa National Guard last week, he  mentioned the "guilt" aspect some soldiers hang onto.  Selof said that guilt is a difficult issue for soldiers to deal with.  "Each person handles it differently.  No matter if your religious or not, each has to answer to their maker in their own way", he said.

And that guilt is a big portion of what PV2 Pete is dealing with these days.  That and trying to reintegrate into a norm that feels "right".   Pete recalls some of the briefings that took place at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin when they returned to the states.  "I remember some things.  But frankly, my mind wasn't there.  At times it was back in Afghanistan and at other times it was at home.  They told us about things we'd do and things we'd experience, but not alot stuck between my ears", he mentioned.  "I went and bought a motorcycle....and soon thereafter I went and bought a gun.  The motorcycle helps replace the adrenalin rush that I had while in battle and the gun gives me a feeling of safety".

Both the motorcycle and gun were on a list supplied by military personnel of things soldiers purchase when they return home.   Pete has ridden his motorcycle over 120 miles per hour on more than one occasion.  "Probably pretty stupid, huh?", he'd ask of me.   He admitted some of his rides lacked in safety for his life and others as well.  With winter fast approaching, the motorcycle is about to go into storage.  Pete's undecided if he'll ride it again or sell it.  "Just have to wait and see", he softly added.  "The gun's another thing.  I might buy another one.  I'm not for sure yet....but I might.  It's my silent partner.  I keep my pistol close at hand.  You can't help but feel attached to a gun when you've had one with you night and day for over a year.  As crazy as these times are, I feel safer with one".  

The hardest part of the return has been employment, or perhaps I should say, lack of employment.  Pete mentioned it's been frustrating finding a job that will occupy his mind and one that he will find challenging.  "I haven't landed anything yet".  People don't realize the work ethic of a soldier enough.  After being responsible for millions of dollars worth of equipment, it's kind of humbling and disrespectful to think one of us wouldn't be a valued addition to any company.  If something doesn't break job-wise, I might redeploy.  I've thought about it.  The money would be good.......but".

"Are you talking to people?", I asked.  Do you have someone that you can share your thoughts with?  Someone that will understand where you are and what you're going through?  Not surprisingly, his answer was "not really".  "Most of my buddies are scattered across the state and we don't talk much", he said.  "They've got their own lives and I'm trying to find mine.  It's been about 90 days since I've been back and I thought things would slowly settle back into a rhythm.  But it hasn't.  At least, not yet.   I know I need to reach out to someone for help, but it's hard.  I've been trained to be tough and right now I feel less than that.  I might go and talk to someone.  I just might".....

As you can see, PV2 Pete has a number of "mights" that he lists off.....things he may or may not do.  As we concluded our week of talks, he shared several uplifting thoughts.  First, he'd took a gigantic first step.....he reached out to his pastor for help.  And he was glad he did.   And secondly, he memorized the Lord's Prayer for the first time in his life.
"Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever."

I wish I may, I wish I MIGHT.............

Pete talked of his "might" do's.  When he said that word time and again I thought of the old quote, "I wish I may I wish I MIGHT have the wish I wish tonight".  For the many soldiers who are experiencing what Pete is going through, know that there is a MIGHT that provides comfort.  The battle is not all yours.  Up Next:  PV2 Pete shares his "help" journey.

FYI...."My Father's Voice" celebrated a one anniversary this past week.  In that time,  we've had visitors from 118 countries.  I am in awe of you all for coming and reading and hopefully taking something away from our past year's experiences.  If you have any stories you'd like to share either openly or confidentially, please email me at




Saturday, October 22, 2011


They're walking among us and most likely, you don't even recognize that fact.  Most likely because they've done a fair job of blending into our Iowa communities.  But they're there.  Some are at work......others are spending time with family.....some are at the unemployment office and some are holed up in their homes shutting out the outside world.  They are all sizes and shapes.  Some are men and some are women.  Some are white, some black, some latino and there is a a handful of other ethnic groups.  They are the returning 2,800 Iowa National Guard troops that returned from a year long deployment to Afghanistan a little over three months ago.

If you weren't close to the situation, the year was no doubt a blur.  If you had a family member or a close friend who deployed, it might have been the longest year of your life.  And toughest.  Maybe it was.  Maybe.  Or it might just be beginning....for you and me and the 2,800. 

As I mentioned in my last writing, three months is the time line typically associated with outward signs of combat stress.  Have you had a hard time connecting with a soldier you know?  Don't understand why your loved one is acting strange?   Many people face these problems every day after their loved one returns home. They don't know how to deal with the issues, and sometimes the soldier is pushed away and left feeling alone to add to the stress from combat.

Soldiers who are in combat have a battle ready mind frame, and this mind frame is what will keep them alive during their combat related deployment. They live a certain way of life for nine to twelve months, to return home and are thrown back into a civilized society.  The shock of being home and doing things that they used to do, would not seem like it would affect soldiers.  Truth is it can affect them in a big way, and the people they love.

When you are at war, there are certain aspects of who you become that keep you alive.  You must maintain and keep track of all your belongings and personal gear. A weapon will go with you where ever you go, day and night.  Noise from battle may become a regular event, and you will train your body to react to loud noise. A bond between you and the soldiers standing beside you will be created very fast, after a certain amount of time that bond may be stronger than with the one's you love back home. You will remain aware of your surroundings at all times, and be weary of anyone you see who looks suspicious. All these are things that will form who you become during combat, and may directly reflect upon your actions once returning home.

Chaplains can be a great source of help on and off the battlefield

Chaplain Gary Selof has seen every imaginable reaction and response from deployment.  "Many soldiers feel isolated when they return home.  They've come from a situation where they've had great respect and in some cases handled millions of dollars worth of equipment.  Often times when they reintegrate, they're put in situations where they're made to feel inadequate.  And that's a tough thing for them to deal with", said the Chaplain. 

One combat veteran gave me some advise which frankly hits the mark.  These words are not from a doctor or psychiatrist or other professional.  It comes from someone who has been there and knows what he and others like him need.   "I advise that if you know someone who is experiencing combat stress, that you notify their chain of command and seek counseling.  Do not ask a solider about their experience in combat, as this will only make things worse.  Instead work on building your relationship with them from the ground up, and start over.  Give them the space they need to work out their problems, do not go touching their belongings without their permission. If they want to carry a gun, explain to them that they are safe here and that it may lead to them being arrested if they carry a weapon without a permit.  If they don't have as much patience as they used to, instead of jumping on their case about it just give them some time.  When they hear a loud noise and jump for cover, don't laugh at them but simply state that they are OK.  Try not to take them to crowded places if they seem uncomfortable, ask them if they would like to leave.  If you eat in a restaurant try getting a table in the corner where they can eat with their back to a wall, and have sight of the entire dining area.  Be patient with them".

"A key is asking for help", said Chaplain Selof.  "Most of the interaction we are having right now is from concerned family members not soldiers.   Our troops are trained to be tough, so it's hard for them to seek assistance.  It's especially hard for a woman as they don't want to have themselves associated with  weakness.   Soldiers have to be the ones to stand up and raise their hands and ask for help.  It's just that simple", said Selof.     

The Soldier's Prayer offers some great direction, not only in preparing for battle....while in battle..... and also after the battle has concluded..........

Up Next....A visit with a soldier who returned from Afghanistan....his thoughts.....where he is conflicted.....and what dreams he has for the future.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Back on August 1st, I wrote about the 2,800 Iowa National Guard troops returning home from their deployment to Afghanistan.  The first of those companies began arriving around July 16th and the last in early August.  Three months ago in most cases.  So much has happened in 90 days.  Just ask the families if you think there hasn't been changes in their lives.  As we head into November and the Holiday Season there will be more change, for sure. 

Over the course of the next couple of blogs,  I will be reaching out to people to help offer some thoughts, direction and or realizations of what might be necessary to smooth waters for the soldier and their families. Many have suggested that 90 days seems to be a water mark to some extent and that it's then that you begin seeing issues come to the surface.  Is your soldier struggling.....does he or she seem disconnected....not really in tune?  Below you'll find the thoughts I had on August 1st.....and how they remain foremost on my mind today.  Let's go back three months ago.    

As the 2,800 Iowa National Guard soldiers and their families begin their post-deployment lives we need to become active in our thoughts and actions in ways our communities can come alongside and provide support.  Today, I'm not quite sure what that will look like, but I do know we need to now, more than ever, pray for the road we are about to embark on.

"Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.  The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind.  From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth-- he who fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds.  A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.  The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.  Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine".-Psalm 33:12-19

This past week has provided me an opportunity to see God at work.  I've seen people with little association with the National Guard wanting to come alongside and help.  If I haven't told you before, our church, Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines is bringing a satellite church to the Johnston-Grimes, Iowa area.  The "start-up" missions team of the church feels a calling to support Camp Dodge and the soldiers which is right down the street.  Ironic, huh?  Now realize, the church is not even scheduled to open its doors until early Fall.....but God has placed the need of these soldiers and families at their feet and they are moving.  In the coming weeks, the Johnston-Grimes group is hopeful of sharing some pretty special things....stay tuned.   

If you have any ideas that you'd like to share on the subject of support feel free to connect with me at   Maybe you'd like to put something together for your community and you are inquisitive...that would be cool. I mentioned in the headline, "The Battle Lines Are Redrawn".  It's time to earnestly pray for the soldiers, their families and God's direction in providing HOPE.

A job????  Many don't have one to return to.

Three months ago, there were celebrations in the HOMECOMING, that is now a distant memory to most.  Real life issues have replaced many of those warm and fuzzies.  Returning to normal, finding employment and relationship issues are but a few of what is taking place in those 2,800 minds.  Being aware and being there to HELP, in any way, shape or form is what is needed next.  We'll hear from some of those people who have seen and walked and talked these experiences in the coming days.



Monday, October 10, 2011


I'll have to admit, men are the absolute worst when it comes to asking for help.  Think of the number of times you can recall a man getting lost, but refuse to stop and get driving directions.  For those stubborn "many", navigating aimlessly around a neighborhood is far better than pulling over and admitting defeat.  It becomes a principle thing.  Headstrong, hellbent and yes, stupid. 

Now, let's put this thought to everyday life.  Think men are very much different here?  Let's say you've lost your job.....your family is facing some big medical  bills.....or your marriage is headed to divorce court.  How likely are you to ask for help?  Oh, you might throw a line out to someone hoping they hear your cry for help...but how did that work?  Did they even understand your situation......or were they so wrapped up in their own troubles, it went right over their head.  Any attempt at asking for assistance that is rejected  or ignored ultimately causes deeper frustration and resentment.   

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a conversation between a couple of men who were discussing suicide.  As I listened, I became more and more "in-tune" with their talk and what their final summation on the subject might be.  Both concluded, that when all else fails.....ask for help.  Where that might be a good idea in theory, I'm convinced HELP needs to come from the other side. We all know people that need help but WON'T come right out and ask.  We see their struggles, we know how they must be hurting inside....yet we amble on down the road immersed in our own battles.  Now, might be a good time to think....if I help save one many more lives will they help save?  For many, the only Bible some might know, is you and how you conduct your life and serve others. 

A good friend of mine, always ask the question....what does that look like?  Help me to see it clearer.  Through a little guy named, Stevie.  Here's your visual.....

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie.  His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy.  But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one.  I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie.

He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Down Syndrome.  I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meat loaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.  The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop germ"; the pairs of white shirted businessmen on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with.  I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks. 

I shouldn't have worried.  After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.  After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him.  He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties.  Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.  Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished.  He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty.  Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table with a practiced flourish of his rag.  If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration.  He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow, who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer.  They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop.  The Social Worker, which stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks.  Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home.  That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work. 

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart.  His social worker said that people with Down Syndrome often had heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.  A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine.  Frannie, my head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news.  Belle Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of the 50-year old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table. 

Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look.  He grinned.  "OK, Frannie, what was that all about?"  he asked.  "We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay."  "I was wondering where he was.  I had a new joke to tell him.  What was the surgery about?"  Frannie quickly told Belle Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed.  "Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be okay," she said.  "But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills.  From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is."  Belle ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. 

Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busy bussing their own tables that day until we decided what to do.  After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office.  She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.  "What's up?"  I asked.  "I didn't get that table where Belle Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off."  she said.  "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup."

She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it.  On the outside, in big bold letters, was printed "Something for Stevie."  "Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this."

She handed me another napkin that had "Something for Stevie" scrawled on its outside.  Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds.  Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply "truckers."

That was three months ago.  Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work.  His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter that it was a holiday.  He called ten times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy. 

I arranged to have his mother bring him to work, met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back.  Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and bussing cart were waiting.  

"Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast," I said.  I took him and his mother by their arms.  "Work can wait for a minute.  To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me."  I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room.  I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind me as we marched through the dining room.  Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession.  We stopped in front of a big table.  It's surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins.

"First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess," I said.  I tried to sound stern.  Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins.  It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside.  As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.  Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peering from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. 

I turned to his mother.  "There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems.  Happy Thanksgiving."

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears as well.. but you know what's funny?  While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face was busy cleaning all the cups and dishes from the table.  Best worker I ever hired!

Which one of you needs help...can give HELP?
Who is your Stevie?  What person, what family, ...who is it?  You saw in the story what person after person did.....they offered HELP in any number of ways.  Can you imagine the hearts of Stevie and his mother after receiving the $10,000?   

I heard a quotation one day that has stuck with me.  "Either you are going into a the situation.....or coming out of a situation.  Where are you right now?....and what does your HELP picture look like?

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."  -1 John 3:18  



Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Have you ever wanted to be a friend to someone but not sure what that looks like?  Have you ever wanted someone to come alongside you and lift you up through thick and thin?  These two examples are at opposite ends of the spectrum, for sure, but both require a commitment....a matter of accountability.  To understand what that means, we need to define what it IS to be accountable. 

As a term related to governance, accountability has been difficult to define.  It is frequently described as an account-giving relationship between individuals, for example, "A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A's (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case
of eventual misconduct".

But could misconduct take place on both sides of the relationship?  Could B be only "half-in"?  Here is a story that can provide a visual image, albeit one that hits home all too often...... 

Denver was the first to break the silence.  "What's your name again?"


"And what's your wife's name?"


"Mr. Ron and Miss Debbie,"  he said, allowing a smile to escape.  "I'll try to remember."

Then his smile faded into seriousness, as if he'd had a rare light moment then someone had closed the blinds.  He stared down at the steam rolling up from his coffee cup.  "I been thinkin a lot about what you asked me."

I had no idea what he was talking about.  "What did I ask you?"

"Bout bein your friend."

My jaw dropped an inch.  I'd forgotten that when I told him at the Cactus Flower Cafe that all I wanted from him was his friendship, he'd said he'd think about it.  Now, I was shocked that anyone would spend a week pondering such a question.  While the whole conversation had slipped my mind, Denver had clearly spent serious time preparing his answer.

He looked up from his coffee, fixing me with one eye, the other squinted like Clint Eastwood.  "There's somethin I heard 'bout white folks that bothers me, and it has to do with fishin."
He was serious and I didn't dare laugh, but I did try to lighten the mood a bit.  "I don't know if I'll be able to help you," I said smiling.  "I don't even own a tackle box."

Denver scowled, not amused.  "I think you can."

He spoke slowly and deliberately, keeping me pinned with that eyeball, ignoring the Starbuck's groupies coming and going on the patio around us.  "I heard that when white folks go fishin they do somethin called 'catch and release.' "

 Catch and release?  I nodded solemnly, suddenly nervous and curious at the same time.

"That really bothers me," Denver went on.  "I just can't figure it out. 'Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that'll look.  Then we eat what we other words, we use it to sustain us.  So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water."

He paused again, and the silence between us stretched a full minute.  Then:  "Did you hear what I said?"

I nodded, afraid to speak, afraid to offend.

Denver looked away, searching the blue autumn sky, then locked onto me again with that drill-bit stare.  "So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me:  If you is fishin for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend."

The world seemed to halt in midstride and fall silent around us like one of those freeze-frame scenes on TV.  I could hear my heart pounding and imagined Denver could see it popping my breast pocket up and down.  I returned Denver's gaze with what I hoped was a receptive expression and hung on.

Suddenly his eyes gentled and he spoke more softly than before:  "But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I'll be one.  Forever."  - From "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

Let me ask you a question today.  How many friends do you have?  Real friends.  And how many people are you a real friend to? If you are honest with yourself, the answer will be, not many.  Are the vast majority of us "catchers and releasers"?

I'm not going to go any further into this right now.  I just want you to stop and reflect and ask yourself a couple more questions.  What;s a friend?  Am I a good friend?  Who would turn to me for help if they needed......and who could I turn to if I need it? 

Seems to me Denver went right to the heart of the matter.  "If you is fishing for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend.  But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I'll be one.  Forever".