Monday, July 23, 2012


At Lutheran Church of Hope this past weekend, our pastor Mike Housholder, talked about living life as God meant for you and not what others say you should be, or in fact, can't be. He spoke about the need to be "free" to discern what God has in store for us.  Not others.  While he continued with his message, I couldn't get that thought out of my mind.  And here's why...

Several weeks I saw the movie, "The Help".  If you've already caught it you know what I'm talking about.  If you haven't seen it yet, you need to, because it certainly will impact you.  Much like it did me.  Here is the general theme of the movie:  "An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960's decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis".

Frankly, hardships is a word that comes up short in its definition.  It was shocking to see how a  person (white folk) would treat another person (black folk) without any form of compassion.  Utter intolerance might be a better description.  At the conclusion of the movie I was left with overwhelming feelings of shame and disgust of my fellow man.  "How could a person be so evil?", I thought.  "Why would someone bully a person to that degree?"  And that's what I couldn't shake.  The word, B-U-L-L-Y.  A word that we've all come to know if one form or another.  Either as the deliverer or receiver.  Take your pick.  You know your qualities better than I do.

As I said in the beginning of the post, the remarks from Pastor Housholder challenged me.  But I wasn't certain where and in what form.  Today, it has become crystal clear. In the coming weeks and months, we are going to explore the ugly five letter word, bully.  First, we'll explore some of the findings of bullying and then, you'll get an opportunity to hear from some people who have experienced it.  And perhaps we'll hear from those who dished it out, earlier in their lives......and have come full circle in their remorse.

A bully comes in all shapes an sizes

The title I've given this project is "Address Bullyville".  If you think about it, it really has two entirely different meanings.  There is the word address in this manner:  "to speak or write to someone on a particular topic, to treat or deal with"......and then there is "the location at which an organization or person or town may be found or reached".   The numbers I'm about to show you are from Ambassadors 4 Kids Club and focus on our nation's schoolchildren:

1 out of 4 kids are Bullied

77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally and physically.  Cyberbullying statistics are rapidly approaching similar numbers with 43% experiencing cyberbullying.

Of the 77% of students that said they had been bullied, 14% of those who were bullied said they experienced severe (bad) reactions to the abuse.

1 in 5 students admit to being a bully, or doing some "Bullying."

Each day 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied.

43% of kids fear harassment in the bathroom at school.

100,000 students carry a gun to school.

28% of youths who carry weapons have witnessed violence at home.

282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.

More youth violence occurs on school grounds as opposed to on the way to school.

Playground school bullying statistics - Every 7 minutes a child is bullied. Adult intervention - 4%. Peer intervention - 11%. No intervention - 85%.

If that doesn't say enough about our society and what takes place in our school systems, then let's take it a step further to the workplace.  It's not any safer there.  Here are some numbers to digest:  A 2007 WBI-Zogby survey shows that 13% of the U.S. Employees report being bullied currently, 24% say they have been bullied in the past and an additional 12% say they have witnessed workplace bullying.  Nearly half of all American workers (49%) report that they have been affected by workplace bullying, either being a target themselves or having witnessed abusive behavior against a co-worker.  If you consider the numbers from the survey, they are now five years old.  Imagine how different they would likely appear today!!

Workplace bullying can include such tactics as verbal, non-verbal, psychological, physical abuse and humiliation.  This type of aggression is particularly difficult to distinguish because, unlike the typical forms of school bullying, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization and their society.  So you can see bullying has no boundaries.  It's in our schools, the workplace, church and in our military.

 Now that we've laid a little groundwork, I'll throw out another message.  In its early early years, BULLY, first meant, lover or sweetheart, then fine fellow, then blusterer, then "person who harms or threatens weaker people".  If that's not confusing enough!!!!

If you've ever been bullied, what did you do?  Were you ashamed, angry, hurt or did you just want to put a shell over you and seek protection?  Hopefully by seeing these words, you'll want to talk about it with others that have experienced the same thing.  Use the comment section of this blog to speak your mind.  Most importantly, I want you to know that I'm here to help you write YOUR story about Bullyville wherever that might be.....Des Moines, Iowa, Laredo, Texas and perhaps even in Aurora, Colorado.  

So what does God say about bullying?  "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"-Romans 2 1-4



P.S.  If you would like to connect with me on any form of bullying that you've experienced or seen, please feel free to reach me at Any conversation we have will be held in strict confidence.  I would be extremely grateful to anyone who wants to help this project move forward.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I thought I had put a part of the Afghan War behind me once our oldest son returned home in late July of last year.  At least I thought I had.  I'd moved onto to other things even though I stayed up with current events of the War.  But this past week has been brutal.  And it looks like it won't get better any time soon.

This was the news from the Associated Press.  The Taliban took responsibility Monday for a bomb blast in Afghanistan that killed six American troops, while other militants launched suicide attacks on two police headquarters that left 20 people dead, according to officials.  German Brig Gen. Gunter Katz, a sposeman for the U.S.-led coalition, said the six Americans were killed on Sunday when their armored vehicle struck a bomb planted in eastern Afghanistan.  He said a seventh American soldier was killed in a seperate insurgent attack in the south.  The deadly attacks on a particularly violent day showed the militants' resilience, though the target date of NATO's handover of security responsibility to local forces is less than 18 months away.

And more.....the site of a suicide attack on Sunday

The horrific news (above) of six American deaths came after Iowans received news in late June of the state's  21st casualty in Afghanistan.  U.S. Army Sgt. James “Jamie” Skalberg, Jr., 25, of Emerson was killed on June 27 in Wardak province, Afghanistan.  He died when the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle he was driving was attacked by an improvised explosive device.  Funeral arrangements were set several days ago. Skalberg's visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Red Oak.  The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the church with burial to follow at the Emerson Cemetery.

Several days ago I received a message from the wife of a soldier killed in Afghanistan last year.  She mentioned she had been up late night, unable to sleep and was searching the internet for some news.  News about her husband, partner and father of her children.  She came across a blog post I had written about her husband.  She dropped me a note to thank me and show her belated appreciation.  As I write this post, I'm convinced more than ever, the young wife's note was my prompt to continue lifting up our soldiers and their families.

And to think I thought I had put this War behind me, so to speak. Right.  Now more than ever, let me repeat that one more more than ever, our soldiers need your support and love.  In the coming months they will lose air support as part of the pullback of our troops and equipment.

Let me try to put that into perspective.  Crudely that is.  It would be like a football coach telling his team that they would not be passing the ball any more, only running.  Think the opponent won't know what's up and take advantage of it.  Wouldn't it be typical of your enemy to put out an all out blitz knowing you were severely hampered in protection?  Of course they would.  Now, let's go back to War.  And we.....the mightiest army in all the world are going to let it happen.    
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold-Psalm 18:2



Wednesday, July 4, 2012


The fourth of July has such a diverse meaning to America's inhabitants.  Are you a war veteran or a pacifist?  Did your ancestors come over on the Mayflower or are you a recent immigrant?  Are you part of the one-percent or the 99 percent?  Will you be voting for Romney, Obama or someone else?

What does the Fourth of July mean to you?  Parades?  Fireworks?  A day off from school or work?  Unfortunately, many of you know very little about the true meaning of the birthday of our country.  On July 4th, 1776, John Hancock, who was president of the Continental Congress and Charles Thompson, who was the Secretary, signed the Declaration of Independence, a document that stated we were no longer willing to be ruled by the British.  Have you ever wondered what happened to those who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.  Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.  Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.  Nine of the 56 fought and died from their wounds or the hardships of the Revolutionary War.

What kind of men were they?  Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated.  But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.  They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.  Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader,  saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy.  He sold his home and properties to pay this debts and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.  He served in Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding.  His possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers, or both looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walten, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge and Middleton.  At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis, had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters.  The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire, which was done.  The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.  Francis Lewis had his home and his properties destroyed.  The enemy jailed his wife and she died within a few months.  John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying.  Their 13 children fled for their lives.  His field and his grist mill were laid to waste.  For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home after the war to find his wife dead and his children gone.  A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.  Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

These are the people that enabled us to live the lives we do today.  Were they a lucky lot due to their stance and pledge.  How fortunate are we that they did?  And who can show us the true meaning of such fortune?  One of the most recognizable fourth's was 1939.  It was a day where New York Yankee great Lou Gehrig addressed the crowd at Yankee stadium with his famous speech.

Was Gehrig any luckier than the rest of us?  I think not.  The only difference is, Gehrig knew it.  How about you?