Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Recently, we had the privilege of attending a benefit dinner called, “Dancing with the All Stars” at Joe Louis Arena. The dinner was a fundraiser benefiting Jack’s Place for Autism, which was started by Jim and Lisa Price. Jim is the color commentator for the Detroit Tigers Radio Network. Their son, Jack, has autism. Jack’s place was started to help families affected by autism to provide resources, training and long-term plans for residential living. We heard many of the Detroit Tiger players were going to be attending the event, with some of them participating in the dance. Two weeks earlier we had been invited down onto the field at Comerica Park to meet with Ana Sanchez, wife of pitcher Anibel Sanchez, and Erica May, fiancé of pitcher Max Scherzer. My wife, Becky, shared with them how Jack’s Place had impacted our family, the dream Jim and Lisa Price have for Jack’s Place and how their dream gives us hope for our children when our time is done. I never know what to expect when I meet celebrities. On the one hand, they become celebrities by doing something many believe to be extraordinary. On the other hand, they are people who get up in the morning, go to work, sleep and eat like everybody else does. I typically do not like to approach celebrities. Too often they have swarms of people wanting to touch them, get an autograph or picture taken when they just want to go buy a couple groceries or get to where they are going. However, this day was different. They were here for a reason. This reason was very close to my heart. We first ran into outfielder Torii Hunter. Torii was very approachable by everyone. He is a natural with people. I introduced myself, Becky and my daughter, Hannah to him and thanked him for supporting autism. I shared how both our children have autism and how thankful we were for his support. He shared that his godson has autism and it is very close to his heart as well. When talking with Jim Price, he told us, “All the players are here because they want to be here. They did not get free tickets. They paid like everybody else.” There were many other players we had the privilege of meeting. I said to Prince Fielder, “Mr. Fielder, my name is Jon and this is my daughter Hannah. She has autism and so does my son. Thank you for supporting Jack’s Place!” Prince, a little quieter than Torii, smiled shook my hand and said, “Your welcome! It’s nice to meet you!” We sat at the table that included the parents of Shannon Hogan of Fox Sports Detroit. Upon meeting Shannon, she took an interest in Hannah. While talking, Mr. Hogan said, “Hannah, is there any Tiger you would like to meet?” A little stunned, she said, “Uhhhh…!” Becky rephrased the question by asking, “Hannah, who’s your Tiger?” She said, “Miguel Cabrera!” Shannon asked her if she would like to meet him. She said, “Yes! Can my dad come too?” Shannon escorted us to where the Tigers were dining. We first met Ramon Santiago. Ramon is a close friend of Detroit Tiger Chaplain, Jeff Totten, who is also one of the teaching pastors at our church. Because of this, I had an interest in meeting Ramon. Like Torii, who also knows Jeff Totten, he was very warm and kind-hearted. We thanked him for his support for Jack’s Place for Autism. Then we met Miguel Cabrera. Just like on TV, he had a glowing smile. He reached his hand out to shake mine and very willingly agreed to have his picture taken with Hannah. I thanked him for his support for Autism and Jack’s Place. The program was outstanding. The video they showed was tear-jerking. We heard testimonies of families sharing their concern for their children. There was a strong emphasis on what will happen to our children when we pass away. Who will care for them? Jim Price shared from his heart and had difficulty controlling his emotions while talking about his son, Jack. The dance competition was very entertaining. Torii Hunter was one of the emcees and his personality fit the role like a glove. After the competition, Hannah wanted to see Ana Sanchez and Erica May, who participated in the dance competition. Upon finding Erica, she yelled her name, ran up and embraced her. We chatted for a few minutes, until her fiancé, Max Scherzer approached us. Hannah said to Max, who is in the running for the American League Cy Young Award, “Are you Erica’s fiancé?” It made her day. We thanked both of them for their support for Jack’s Place. Hannah then found Ana. She asked if she remembered her. Ana said, “Of Course I remember you!” Then she turned to me and said, “Where are your son and your wife?” I explained that this would have been too much for Jacob and pointed out where Becky was. She introduced us to Anibel and explained to him that we were the family she had met a couple weeks ago. She immediately went to where Becky was and greeted her enthusiastically. At one point, just before we left, I saw Tiger General Manager, Dave Dombrowski. During the program, Jim Price made a point to mention that it took Dave only two days after moving to Detroit to be a supporter for Jack’s Place. I approached him, introduced myself, told him about my family and thanked him for his support. He said, “We really feel for your family! It’s a pleasure to meet you!” I reassured him it is an honor to have children with autism, but it does have challenges. I was a Detroit Tiger fan long before I attended the “Dancing with the All Stars” event. Afterward, I became a fan of the Tiger players, families and staff. They were more than just All Stars and Champions. They are people who care. I must rephrase this. They are a family who cares about all people. They understand that life is more about winning championships and becoming all-stars. They believe in making life better for families affected by autism. They are passionate for helping people with autism have opportunities they normally would not otherwise have. I would love to see the Tiger’s bring home their first World Series banner in almost 30 years. It would energize the city and bring excitement. Regardless of what happens this October, these Detroit Tigers are already champions in ways many will never know and in a way that goes beyond what anyone will ever understand! As the old saying goes from 1984, “Bless you Boys!”

Friday, May 10, 2013

He Was Like A Dad To Me!

In 1994, Becky and I had moved to Denver, Colorado. We lived in an apartment complex with other graduate school students. We were able to become pretty good freinds with some of our neighbors. One of our friends had graduated from the same college as Becky in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was 6'10 and had played college basketball there. I had played against their college in a tournament in Hawaii, although he had not played on that team. I had heard many stories about his coach. I did not share them with him, because they were not very encouraging. The stories I heard was that his coach could recruit talent like no other. They would always do well, but could never win the big game. One day I asked my friend, "How did you like your coach?" I will never forget his response. I expected him to give a long story about how it was frustrating to never win "The Big One" and how it always felt like the seasons dragged on. His response was awesome! He said, "I know there were many people who felt like he could recruit talent but never win anything big. However, what I remember was the impact he made in my life. My father was absent for most of my life. My coach was like a dad to me!" It was in that moment that I felt ashamed. Why? Because I had been guilty of trading character in for success. I had believed winning was more important than building character. Yet, it was an important lesson I learned. There are so many more important things in life. Too often we value a coach by his wins and losses. Coaches like Tubby Smith at Minnesota and Ben Howland at UCLA were recently fired by their schools. They were able to get to the NCAA Tournament. But, the standard of those schools are championships over character building. I do not pay as much attention to the PAC 12 Conference, so I do not know as much about Ben Howland. I have met people who have interacted with Tubby Smith on the recruiting trail. They said he had an engaging personality. He had a Bible on his desk in his office. While coaching at Kentucky, a recruit had been shot and killed. While being interviewed, Tubby's eyes were filled with tears and he was beginning to choke up. It was not because he lost a recruit. It was because he felt bad for a young person who had his whole life ahead of him, only to be caught in the line of fire. Are there coaches who can win and have great character? Yes! However, there are only so many Tom Izzo's to go around. (You can tell which team I root for.) Even so, Tom Izzo has indicated many times that there will be a day when he will be asked to step down. I believe this shows the immaturity of our culture. We see this in our schools and at graduations, when our academically elite get the spotlight. We see this in the work force, people celebrating 60 hours of work as a strong work ethic and dedication when it should be looked at as workaholism and insecurity. I have also seen employers let go of good, honest and hard workers because they are "not a fit" for the company. I have lost contact with my friend. But, I will never forget his story. It has helped re-shape my thinking. I hope it helps others too.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TO CAUSE TO LEARN: How standardized tests are keeping students from learning

Recently, our family took a vacation to South Carolina. We visited Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired upon, and Fort Moultrie, where the first shots of the civil war were first fired. We also visited downtown Charleston. We spent 3 days in downtown visiting the many historical districts and marveling over the history represented there. We walked through cemeteries that had tombstones that dated back to the 1700’s. We stood at the place where South Carolina officially became the first State to succeed the Union. We witnessed historical sites from both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. On our way home, we took a detour and stopped by Murfreesboro, Tennessee, home of the Stones River National Battlefield. This place has such great significance for both me and my wife Becky because we both have ancestors who fought in that battle. As we walked through the Visitors Center and listened to one of the park rangers discuss the battle, we were able to learn more about what our ancestors experienced. This was a battle that was nearly dominated by the Confederates, to the point where General Bragg sent word to Confederate President Jefferson Davis that they had won the battle. However, General Rosecrans sent a message to Colonel William Sheridan to hold the Confederates just for one more day, then he would have the Canons lined up to fire. To make a long story short, as Sheridan’s men retreated, the Confederates, thinking they were conquering the Union soldiers, ran right into canon fire, which helped lead the Union to victory. President Abraham Lincoln told General Rosecrans it would have been difficulty to win the war without winning the Battle of Stones River. Why do I share this story? In such a short time, we learned so much. In only one week, we inhaled so much history, some new to us, some relearned and some re-living what we already knew but never had experienced. With the many adolescent clients I have had over the years, one of the most common problems I have encountered is the struggle to academically perform to a level acceptable, not for honors cords, rather for a diploma. With new laws passed by Government over the years, there has been a push to cram more information into the minds of our teenagers. The problem is, as Government continues to raise the standards, our students are not increasing their intelligence. One time I was meeting with a client, who had struggled in school and stated that he hated going to history class. I thought he had a problem with history. Yet, when I shared with him some information I had learned about history while on a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, he began to ask more questions. As we discussed, he took notes, without any prompting and asked if I could print off some pictures of the sites we talked about for a report he was going to do in class. It was then that I realized, this young man loves history. What he hates is the way it is taught. I would argue his teacher is likely to agree with us too. Why? With all the government regulations regarding standardized testing, teachers are required to teach to pass tests and exams rather than to learn. I was once at a seminar listening to a well-known professor talk about learning. He had done a word study to find out the original meaning for the word “teach” using the ancient Hebrew language. He found the word used for “teach” was the same word used for “learn”. The only difference in the use of their words was the context. For the word “teach”, it meant “to cause to learn” rather than just “learn”. Back in the ancient days of the Hebrews, there was no printing press. Therefore, they were required to memorize. They would memorize the 5 books of the Torah. However, they spent the rest of their time living out what they learned. They talked about it often. They kept memorials to help them remember. They rehearsed it everywhere they went. It was not just memorization, it was a lifestyle. They enjoyed it because they experienced it firsthand. The problem today is we have so many laws passed by government officials who went to Ivy League schools, or their equivalent, like Stanford, Northwestern, etc… Both President Bush’s went to Yale. Bill Clinton went to Georgetown for undergraduate and Yale for law school. JFK went to Princeton and Harvard. Barak Obama went to Harvard Law. These are the most primary influences on the direction our education in the United States. None of our Presidents should ever apologize for their higher education. Yet, we must take an honest look at the people who are creating our education laws and determining the level of difficulty of our standardized tests. The controversial “No Child Left Behind” bill was a bi-partisan creation by George W. Bush, a republican, and Senator Ted Kennedy, a democrat. Ted Kennedy is an alumnus of Harvard. Even here in the State of Michigan, there have been talks about dropping Algebra 2 and foreign language from graduate requirements for our high school students. The reason is the large number of students who do not understand Algebra 2 and only a few future engineers will need it in their careers. Foreign language has also become a road block for those who struggle to learn and memorize new words and sentence structures. This prohibits some from graduating and causing much anxiety for others. The chairman of the board of education, John Austin, a democrat, is against it. Where did he get his education? Harvard’s Kennedy Graduate School of Business. Personally, our schools should require our students to learn a foreign language. However, it should be provided in elementary school. That is what they have done in Europe and we are hard pressed to find a person in Europe who is not bi-lingual. Childhood development has taught us our minds are more susceptible to learn new languages during the early years of development, not adolescents. The problem is we have people with Ivy League educations making decisions based on their experience. As I said, they do not need to apologize for their higher education at prestigious schools. However, they have failed in believing that every young student is cut from the same mold as them and learns exactly the same as they do. It reminds me of the cartoon with a number of animals being tested by an owl, including an elephant, bird, giraffe, grizzly bear, turtle and a fish swimming in a pond. The owl says to them, “You only need to complete one exercise to pass the test. However, if you do not accomplish this, you will fail and not live a productive life. To pass the test, you all need to climb to the top of the tree.” Point being, we all learn different. God did not create us the same, for which I am glad. Today, there is too much anxiety for students. I have seen this in my office from those who struggle to pass difficult courses such as Algebra 2, to those who are overwhelmed by the outrageous amount of homework required to complete, and even to those who are intelligent, but struggle in their perfectionism to live up to higher standards that sucks the life out of them causing them to miss out on their childhood. I have heard all the arguments. My favorite one is how we do not want to “dumb down” the curriculum. Yet, as mentioned earlier, the increase of homework is not resulting in increased intelligence. “Our government is trying to help us keep up with foreign countries who are way ahead of us.” Again, the higher standards and increased homework is not the answer. Yet, on the flip side, there are many young students who are not able to graduate today who would have had the chance 25 years ago. And, there are many people who graduated from high school 20 years ago who would not today. Why? Because government officials from Ivy League schools have determined we all need to be like them. The only people I have met who like “No Child Left Behind” and the higher standards, and the only people who are adamant that Algebra 2 should remain on the diploma tract are people who were high achievers themselves and graduated with honors, or they have children who are high achievers and will graduate with honors. The reason I made this statement is not to put down the “high achievers”. Rather, it is that they may consider sitting in the desk of the person who is struggling to make the grade and is fearful of wondering if they will ever graduate, go to college and have a “real job”. Not everyone is cut out to be President of the United States. Oh, speaking of U.S. Presidents. There were two who did not go to college. Their names were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Oh, and…I forgot to mention something. Abraham Lincoln was uneducated. Resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kennedy#Early_life.2C_education.2C_and_military_service http://www.mlive.com/education/index.ssf/2013/04/michigan_high_school_graduatio_1.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States_by_education http://alfiekohn.com/stdtest.htm http://www.alfiekohn.org/standards/strategies.htm Seven Laws of the Learner, by Bruce Wilkerson (Hebrew meaning of the word “teach”)

Monday, March 4, 2013


Social Networking can often bring a number of personal views to the surface. I have found it is easy for us to flex our opinionated muscles behind the keyboard of our computer devices. Lately, I have noticed many comments on social networking sites, predominately Facebook, taking stabs at teenagers today. Some have made bold statements suggesting “when I was a teenager, I would have never gotten away with this or that”. It reminded me of a time when I was teaching a parent education class for one of my employers. Prior to class starting, I heard many of my parents complaining about teenagers. One said, “Teenagers expect to get everything handed to them on a silver platter.” Another said, “Teenagers are so entitled. It was never that way for me.” I let them talk for about five minutes and patiently waited. When they finished talking I spoke of a time when I picked my daughter up from her middle school. There were two lanes for pick up, both with traffic going in the same direction. The right lane was the line designated for picking up our children. The left lane was for us to drive in after our children had safely entered our car so we could leave. During the many times I picked our children up from school, a hurried parent would always be driving in the left lane to cut in front of the other parents to pick up their children. Why? It seems obvious they were in more of a hurry than anyone else. Am I right? Or, is it possible they felt they were entitled? After sharing this story, the room was quiet. I do not believe it was an awkward silence. I had a good relationship with this group. It seemed more of a thought processing silence. Then I asked them the question, “If teenagers are really entitled, where do you believe they learned it from?” They all nodded their heads and said, “Us!” Please understand when I have a teenager in my office who presents an attitude of entitlement, I do not allow them to blame their parents. Blaming does not help anyone or anything. I help them process through their thoughts, emotions, patterns and behaviors before helping them to take responsibility for their own choices and actions. However, they are a product of us. Truthfully, some of my favorite people are teenagers. They are often the most authentic and compassionate people I know. Go to any church and make an announcement that you need some work done or provide the opportunity to serve someone in need. Who would likely be the first to respond? My guess would be teenagers. So, if we really believe teenagers are entitled, how about we find one or two to mentor and help along? What about going to the local school and suggesting we participate in a tutoring program? I believe this would help more than flexing our “social networking muscles” via posting critical statements of a generation that needs guidance and love, like all of us do.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I am one of those people who do not mind listening to Christmas music early. As soon as Halloween is past, I have the radio in my car set to the stations that play non-stop Christmas music until the day after Christmas. It is a holiday that has been very meaningful and sacred to our family. This Christmas has become one I will never forget. Early in November, while driving in my car and listening to some of our traditional carols, I turned down the music and began praying. I asked God to make this Christmas a special one, one like no other Christmas we have ever had. I did not want it to be just another holiday season of family traditions. I wanted it to be more. I wanted it to be life-changing for all of us. Well, I do not know how many times I have heard people say, “Be careful what you ask God for. He may give it to you. Fast forward to Tuesday, December 18th. I happen to be at home. I was doing some needed chores around the house that morning. I saw my phone ring. I did not recognize the number, so I did not answer. A couple minutes later my phone was ringing, I saw it was Becky. Upon answering, I heard screaming on the phone, “Jon, the school called. Jacob had a seizure. The paramedics are at the school. They are going to take him to a hospital but I do not know which one.” I left for the school expecting to find Jacob worn out, groaning and crying. When I arrived at the school, I found the ambulance by the gym and pool entrance. I thought that was odd. Jacob has autism and spends most of his day in the ASD classroom. I was then directed to the pool area. There were many thoughts that went through my head, including whether or not Jacob’s seizure happened in the water. When I saw Jacob, instead of seeing him worn out and groaning, he was unresponsive. He had a tube in his mouth. I tried talking to him. “Hey Bubba! Daddy’s here!” I found Becky crying. When the paramedics took him into the ambulance, I told Becky she could ride in the ambulance and I would follow behind. While in the car, I was trying to call all the people I could to inform them of what was happening. It was when we were going down Square Lake Rd that Becky called me from the ambulance. She told me the driver said I still needed to follow the traffic laws and I could get pulled over or hurt in an accident. At the time, being slightly irrational, I was thinking to myself, “What traffic laws? Who cares? I want to be with my son.” However, I did comply. The last thing we needed was to have another crisis on our hands. Upon arriving at the hospital, Jacob had been moved into the trauma unit. It is much different than on television, especially when you hear one of the docs say, “This does not look good.” After what seemed like eternity, they finished a few X-Rays and moved him into a room for a few more tests. I was standing in the Hallway of the Emergency Unit, trying to be strong for Becky and help her while at the same time feeling helpless and weak. I thought of the words to a song from a long time ago, “The Warrior is a Child”. That is how I felt. How could I “be strong” for Becky when I was trying to make sense of it myself. I was wondering if I would ever speak to my son again. I was longing to hear one of his funny sayings, such as “Jacob did spit his chicken out in South Dakota, mommy was mad”. I wondered if I would ever feel the “not so gentle” hit on my back every morning. If he did survive, how much functioning would he have? Will he be able to speak at all? After all, if he had water in his lungs, that could change his ability to function. I began to think of how our life would change if Jacob didn’t make it. We began to fear the worse. I was praying, “God, don’t take him!” We have so many happy memories. Jacob is well-liked by all. At church he walks around and greets all his favorite people. Many of his peers, at church and at school, love him. At Clarkston High School, they have a link program where they match up a peer with each of the students with autism. I remember once suggesting to one of his peers whom I knew really well, that he be Jacob’s link because of his heart for people. He said he would, except that “everybody wants to be Jacob’s link”. You see, life would not only be different for us. It would also be different for the many people who have the privilege of knowing him and being his friend. Jacob has a sense of humor that can rival just about anyone. He can imitate others like that of famous imitator, Rich Little. This is especially true in the autism classroom, where people can witness many different sayings and sounds of those who are blessed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Yes, I did say that. This is not an error. I am a parent who initially had to work through the acceptance of having children with autism. I have often said, if someone finds a “cure” for autism, I would not want our children to have it. I believe God made them who they are and in His eyes they are how He made them to be. I am offended by all the “cure autism” bumper stickers. What do they need to be “cured” of? Is it possible that those of us who are “neuro-typical” need to adjust or thinking? Then again, who of us is “neuro-typical”? While the doctors were doing the tests on Jacob, I told Becky I was going to step out for a bit. I wanted to send a message on Facebook, asking our friends to pray. We are a family that believes in prayer. We believe God is present and hears our requests. As I stepped out, Becky began praying out loud, “Jesus, please don’t take him!” During that time, a person in the hallway approached Becky and said, “God is going to take care of Jacob. He is going to be okay!” Becky had never seen this woman before, nor did she see her again. Could it have been an angel telling her Jacob was going to be fine? Following my return, one of the medical professionals told us Jacob was going to be moved to PICU. We could meet him there. We were told the tests look negative and as far as they can see, there was no water in the lungs from the pool. The brain looked good, but he was going to need more tests. They also said Jacob would have a breathing tube for at least 24 hours. He would likely be at the hospital through the rest of the week and possibly on Christmas. Upon checking my Facebook account, we had received a plethora of messages from friends and family saying they were praying for us. Even a pastor friend of mine from the West side of Michigan, with whom I had been on many Bike Trips, mentioned they prayed for Jacob during their board meeting. Can we “feel” the prayers of people? It may not go along with some of the more fundamental doctrines and/or theologies. However, I do not know how else to explain the “peace that passes understanding” we felt. Not too long after Jacob’s arrival in the ICU, he woke up, complaining as best as he could without being able to speak, about the tube in his mouth. We looked at the nurse. She said, it’s not like he is not able to breathe on his own.” They took the tube out of his mouth. About an hour later, he was trying to move his restrained arms to take out his IV and a horribly uncomfortable neck brace. He was talking and saying, “Time to go home! Somebody else’s turn to stay at the hospital.” We were thrilled out of our minds to hear him talk, even if he had “an attitude”. By this time, I was telling the nurses, “He will sleep and feel better if you take that brace off his neck.” With his autism, Jacob cannot always communicate for himself. They took his IV out and removed his neck brace. Jacob rolled over and with a sigh of relief, went back to sleep. About an hour later he woke up and looked at me. I said, “How are you doing Bubba?” He responded by saying, “Good!” I said, “Becky, he responded to my question!” One of the big highlights for me was at about 4am, laying on the hospital room futon (Becky and I were alternating between the futon and the chair). I woke up to Jacob’s face being only a foot above mine while saying “Lay down with daddy!” He was up and walking around. By 6am Jacob was yelling at the nurses and doctors, “Time to go home! Hey Lady?” Two day’s prior, we would have been upset with Jacob for his obnoxious behavior. On that morning, we were thrilled. I will never forget that morning in early November while driving my car on the way to work, praying that this would be the most special Christmas ever. I remember praying that the birth of Christ would be ever more real to us than any other season in the past. Through this, we have learned so much about God’s love for us and his goodness. We are thankful for the many people who were praying for a recovery to be quick and complete. We did not expect Jacob to be home so soon. In speaking with so many people, we heard the phrase, “You got an early Christmas present!” I began to think about all the things people believe are so important. It was like on the movie “Titanic”, while the great ship was sinking, money was flying everywhere, but nobody cared. They were running for their lives. As I reflected, I began to think of how unimportant so many things in life are. While Jacob was lying on bed in the trauma unit, I did not care about any sports team, what I was getting for Christmas, what bills we had to pay, when my student loans would be paid off or how many clients I needed to see this week at my private practice. It all seemed insignificant. I just wanted to be with Jacob, talking with him, laughing with him and going places with him. On Thursday afternoon, Becky and my daughter Hannah went to meet with the Lifeguards who were present and performed the chest compressions on Jacob. Becky heard one say she could not find a pulse at one point with Jacob. All of them had tears in their eyes and were so happy and shocked to hear how well Jacob was doing. We thank God for their timing and effective response. Yes, this will be a Christmas we will never forget. Over 2,000 years ago, God brought hope into the world by sending his son to be a sacrificial gift for us. He sent him into our violent neighborhood, knowing he would experience pain, hurt, rejection, death and resurrection. I have said before, I would not give Jacob up for the world, even if the world deserved it. Yet, God sent Jesus Christ into our world, for us, even though we do not deserve it. It is in times like this that we can get more of a glimpse of God’s love and goodness. Looking back at that early November drive to work, I probably would not have asked God to make this Christmas “so special”, if I had known all that we were going to go through with Jacob. However, I do not regret it. I am thankful for what we have learned through this. May God bless all of you and have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The First Game He Ever Saw Me Play

In his book, “A Father, a Son and a Three Mile Run”, Keith Leenhouts tells a true story about an Ivy League football player who lacked talent, but was indeed a dedicated team player. He never missed a practice, but rarely played in any games. The coach noticed the boy had a rather tight relationship with his father. He often saw them walking arm in arm around campus. One day the player’s father died. He asked the coach if he could start in the upcoming game. It was the biggest game of the year. One small mistake could destroy the team’s chances of winning. Reluctantly, he agreed to start him. At the opening kickoff, the ball went sailing to the player. Coach held his breath, hoping he would not fumble or make a costly mistake. Instead the player ran it up to midfield. Sensing something good might be happening, coach left him in the game and designed a play for him. The player ran the ball for 20 yards. The next play, he ran it in the end zone for a touchdown. Throughout the game, coach had the player play offense and defense. He would tackle, knock passes down, intercept the ball and run with determination. The opposing team was confused by this mystery player. He was not on any of the scouting reports. They had not properly prepared for his game. When the game was over, the coach went over to the player sitting quietly in the corner with his head in his hands while everybody else was celebrating. The coach asked him, “What happened out there? You are not as good as you were tonight?” The player responded softly, “You see coach, my father was blind. This was the first game he ever saw me play!” Today, it seems as if fatherhood has become an endangered species. In wishing a Happy Father’s Day to the many father’s out there, I also hear the words of the Apostle Paul saying, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” Yes, I rejoice with many like myself who love being a dad and a husband, and also have been blessed with a great dad and had the honor of having a great father-in-law. Yet, I also mourn with those who have never known their father, or experienced abuse or hurt from their father. I also mourn with those like my wife, whose fathers have passed away. I mourn with fathers who have experienced the loss of a child through runaway or death. May God bless all fathers and the many who have taken the time to mentor those who have needed a dad. Happy Father’s Day!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I was recently asked by a parent what only a small minority of people could do to help stop bullying in our schools and communities. I have had others ask me if it is worth it to try to make a difference in our society. I have heard pastors ask the question, “If our churches ceased to exist, would our communities even notice. It reminded me of a story I once heard.

Almost 20 years ago, the late African-American Preacher from Los Angeles, Dr. E.V. Hill, spoke to a crowd of 20,000 at an event near Denver, Colorado. He told of the time when J. Edger Hoover had invited 200 people, including himself, to Washington D.C to talk about the problem New York City was having with the Black Panther Party. Mr. Hoover informed the group that the Black Panther Party was ruining New York City. They were causing stores to close at 4pm. Millions of people were leaving the city because of the disruption the Black Panther Party. Some stores were closing their doors for good. Central Park was no longer safe to walk in. Churches could not have services at night. Why? The Black Panther Party was intimidating and ruthless.

Dr. Hill raised his hand to ask an important question. He said, “Mr. Hoover, how many people are part of this Black Panther Party? How many people is it that are causing stores to close their doors? How many are chasing 4 million people out of the city?”

J. Edgar Hoover responded, saying “81!” Addressing the crowd, Dr. Hill repeated the words a few times over. “81! 81! 81 chasing 4 million people out of the city. 81 are causing stores to close and people to cease from walking through Central Park. Even though the activity of the Black Panther Party should be condemned, they should be applauded for their effectiveness.”

Then Dr. Hill looked to the audience of 20,000 people and said, “When I look out here, I see 81 all over the place.” He then went on to challenge the audience to not limit themselves as to what kind of impact they might be able to have on their families, communities and world.

With God’s help, anyone can make a difference.