Monthly Archives: October 2011
Bud started high school in August 2008. He was excited to turn a new leaf, since his father, older brother and I had all told him how much more fun high school was then middle school. Unfortunately, along with a new school came some of the old problems. The boy Bud had fought in middle school was also at his new high school and had gathered a bigger group of followers. He immediately started threatening Bud and demanding a rematch. Bud refused and the boy again threatened to jump Bud on his way home from school. This time Bud told me what was going on and I agreed to pick him up every day after school so he didn’t have to be constantly looking over his shoulder every day. After a few months Bud got tired of dodging the other boy and agreed to fight. Again he took the other boy down. Soon after the boy was expelled and moved out of town to live with his grandmother.
But it wasn’t over. Now Bud had a reputation as being the boy who took down ____. Soon another boy wanted to fight Bud. Bud had never even met this child before and couldn’t understand why the boy wanted to fight. Again he agreed to meet and again he took the other boy down. The next day at school both boys were called into the principal’s office but the other boy denied the fight, saying he had tripped and hurt himself. Later, Bud asked him why he had challenged Bud to fight when they didn’t even know each other. The other boy responded, “I heard you were a good kid to fight.”
Bud came home visibly distraught. He grew more and more resistant to getting up in the mornings. Somehow, he made it through that school year, and over the summer calmed down considerably. We had convinced him to go back in the fall, but only 2 weeks into his sophomore year he as again threatened. He was tired of “proving” himself. Fighting wasn’t getting him any peace.
For many reasons, including Bud’s safety, my husband and I finally agreed to let him come home and enroll in cyberschool. It’s not my recommendation for everyone, but it worked for us. Bud could still see his friends, but he had distance from the kids who caused trouble. Or so we thought…
Next up: Cyberbullying – A Mother’s Story
Eighth grade was a better year for Bud. He breezed through the first semester with good grades, a girlfriend and no troubles.
Then, on a Saturday in January 2008, Bud and a group of friends (boys and girls) were hanging out, talking, on the soccer field at their middle school. One of Bud’s former friends, approached the group with his “gang”. The “gang” started harassing one of the girls in Bud’s group. Bud stood up to the gang and told them to leave the girl alone. The gang threatened Bud and started to chase him and his group, but they ran to a nearby house, which frightened the bullies away.
The next week, this former friend challenged Bud to a fight off-grounds after school. Bud refused. He is trained in taekwondo, but had always been taught to only use his skills in self-defense. The bully told Bud that if he didn’t fight, the bully and his gang would “jump” Bud one day on his way home from school. Bud didn’t tell us any of what had happened, but having been jumped the previous year (see Part 1 of this series) he finally agreed to the fight.
They met at an abandoned lot about a half mile from the school the following week. Of course, the news had spread like wildfire amongst the middle school population, so there was a large crowd of teenagers there, many with cell phone cameras. Bud allowed the bully to throw the first punch and immediately threw the other boy off balance and took him to the ground. The bully didn’t even land one hit.
The next day I received a call at work from the principal’s office telling me that Bud and the other boy were both being suspended for 5 days for fighting. I found out the details behind the story (they had Bud in the principal’s office when they called me) and then proceeded to ask how he was being suspended when a) he had felt he had no choice but to fight and b) the fight was not on school property. I was told that the school considered that if the fight occured on the children’s “way home” from school then it was still a school fight and the school had a “zero-tolerance” policy on fighting. The vice-principal suggested that if Bud had informed the school office of the threats against him, he would have been protected. I told her there was no way they could have protected him off-grounds.
Fortunately, Bud’s teachers were extremely understanding of the circumstances, as he was a good student and well-liked and the other boy was a known troublemaker. Bud was allowed to make up all his schoolwork and we were so proud to watch his 8th grade promotion and have the teachers praise him for his academics and pleasant attitude.
We thought high school would only be better…
Look for Part 3 of the series on Friday, October 28
This is a picture of my youngest son, Bud. We homeschooled Bud until the 7th grade. He finished both 5th and 6th grades together so he could skip up and enter 7th grade at a public middle school with his friends.
Bud loved 7th grade. He is an attractive and pleasant boy and made lots of new friends. The problem was that some of the boys he knew from the neighborhood were jealous that Bud was getting so much positive attention when he was so new to the school.
One day, about two months in to the school year, Bud was walking his bike home from school so he could talk to a couple of his walking friends. They had only got as far as the sidewalk in front of the athletic fields when Bud was knocked off his bike from behind. An 8th grader, who had knocked him down, jumped on Bud and started punching him in the face and ribs. Fortunately, Bud’s friends started screaming for help and a neighbor across the street from the school came out and scared the bullies away.
For some reason, Bud decided to finish walking home – about a mile away. When he got home he told me what had happened. I immediately took some pictures and called the police who sent an officer out for an “informational report.” I have since found out that an “informational report” usually means the police are not taking you seriously. The officer also told me I should contact the police officer assigned to the school. I called but had to leave a message as it was after school hours.
The next day my husband and I drove Bud to school and asked for an immediate meeting with the principal. We relayed the story of what had happened. The principal questioned both my son and the older boy separately and fortunately the older boy confessed. The principal notified us that the boy had been suspended for five days, but apparently if he had not confessed there was nothing the school could do.
Later in the school year Bud came home with the bruise you see in the picture above. An older boy, again one whom Bud had considered a friend approached Bud and his friends at lunch demanding money. When Bud refused, the boy punched Bud hard in the ribs and once in the face, then calmly walked away. Bud refused to report the incident as he was unsure anyone would support his claim for fear of retribution.
Last year I started a new tradition. At the beginning of the year, I picked a theme for personal growth. 2010 was my year of forgiveness. My husband, Art, and I went through a Lenten study on forgiveness at our church in March of 2010 and I was finally able to do something I thought would never be possible. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do; I forgave the man who murdered my biological father. The latter was finally achieved by understanding that justice is not mine, but God’s. It is not to my benefit to continue to harbor anger against someone, no matter what they have done to me.
Mind you, forgiveness doesn’t have to mean forgetting. The old adage, “Forgive and forget,” is just not fair. Forgetting about a heinous crime is not possible and forgetting that someone has perpetrated abuse on you could prove dangerous if the perpetrator chooses to repeat that abuse.
2011 is my year of “no fear.” I started the year reading A Course In Weight Loss
by Marianne Williamson. Lesson 1, titled “Tear Down the Wall” has an exercise in which we are asked to imagine that all our painful feelings are bricks in a wall that is keeping us from trusting and fully connecting with other people. We are to name our feelings, write them down on slips of paper and then attach names of people or events to each one. The emotion for me that had the most events and people attached to it was fear, but I also noticed that I had quite a few people still attached to anger. It was then I realized that sometimes, fear and lack of forgiveness go hand in hand. Our reluctance to forgive can cause a lack of trust towards people who have never hurt us.
Currently I am in a study focused on Renee Swope’s, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of Gods Promises. This book is all about losing our doubt and fear of failure and moving on to the life and goals that God has intended for us. An exercise Renee suggests is to make a timeline of painful moments in your life. Doing this exercise, I came to see I was again harboring some anger towards people from my past, including toward myself for things I had done to hurt others and myself. Fortunately, I watched Melissa Taylor‘s vlog from October 13, 2011, and learned another aspect of forgiveness. As Melissa says, “I have to keep reminding myself that I forgave that person.”
Renee Swope suggests that we pray over each event, asking God to “heal your heart and your hurts.” She also reminds us of another reason why forgetting about our past is not an option: “God could use my mistakes and hurts for His greatest purposes.” As an example, as a result of being rejected and teased by other children, I taught my children to reach out and friend those who others made fun of or ignored.
As Rose Sweet writes, in her book A Woman’s Guide to Healing the Heartbreak of Divorce
, “Forgiveness is a process, not an event.” I see that the year of forgiveness and the year of no fear may alternate on my calendar for the rest of my life.
I carried my youngest son on my hip until he was about 3. He weighed 30 or so pounds by then. I went to the doctor for what I thought was pleurisy. As it turned out, I had strained muscles from carrying around that much weight, not to mention displacing my hip that far for him to ride on. After that I made him walk on his own. I held his hand, but he had to walk on his own.
We all get to that point sometimes where we feel like the person in the “Footprints” poem, who says to God, “But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?” to which the Lord replied, “Those times when you see only one set of footprints, it is then that I carried you.”
Thank God for those carrying moments, but sometimes we want God to carry us even though we don’t NEED God to carry us. Like my 3 year old son.
I remember one time hiking up to Eagle Lake, near Lake Tahoe with my husband. I was pretty out of shape at the time and with my asthma, the elevation, at about 5600 feet was really getting to me. My husband kept encouraging me along, reminding me that it’s only a mile to the lake and it’s all downhill on the way back, but I finally just gave up. I sat down on a rock and refused to budge. Finally Art looked at me and said, “Well, I’m not going to carry you down. You can do this. Just take your time.” And I got up and held his hand and made it to the lake, which was a spectacular view and the walk back was completely downhill.
So sometimes I think we WANT to be done. We want God to pick us up and carry us until the rough part is over. But God knows what we can handle and He tells us we can do it – He will hold our hand and guide us, but we need to get through this on our own two feet. And think of how much stronger we are for having done it with God’s help, rather than having God do it for us.
…but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.
– Isaiah 40:31
In the time of Daniel (as in “and the lion’s den”), people who didn’t like Daniel convinced King Darius to issue a decree forbidding prayer to anyone or thing other than the king for the next 30 days. The punishment was to be thrown into – you guessed it – the lion’s den.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)
Daniel made a conscious choice to pray, and so do we – every day. It is important to set aside special time every day to consciously praise God for His wonderful works, thank God for everything we have been given, confess to God the things we have done wrong or left undone and ask God to meet our needs and the needs of our neighbors. The bravery Daniel showed by consciously praying at an open window during such a time is undeniable.
But there is another aspect of prayer – the breath prayer. As a wise woman once told me, “Prayer is like breathing: you don’t think about it; you just do it.” If we keep Scripture and Godly music in our hearts, then many times throughout the day as situations arise, a verse or song lyric may just pop in our heads and remind us of God’s love. That is also a prayer – the kind of prayer Paul talked about when he exhorted us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
“Think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues ‘without ceasing’; we are not even conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect oneness with God but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise; it is the life of the saint. Beware of anything that stops the offering up of prayer. Maintain the childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time.” Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest: Updated Edition)
I don’t know if I could be as brave as Daniel if faced with something as horrific as the lion’s den. But I like to think that my breath prayers would continue, as automatically as my breathing, no matter what the circumstances.