Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

All the Same

While you, dear reader, may not be able to tell, I usually spend considerable time thinking, researching, and sharing my ideas with Susie, before I sit down to write. I’ve found, for the most part, this keeps me from running off on some half-wit tangent. Susie says this also makes it easier for her to converse with her friends, because she doesn’t have to spend hours defending my posts.

I think she means it as a compliment.

This post is somewhat different, because while I have given it a lot of thought, I haven’t done much research and I’ve kept my comments to Susie to a minimum. So I hope this post doesn’t cause much distress the next time her friends and her get together. This one comes more from the gut.

Let me start with a story.

Several years ago I was asked by a friend’s wife if I would be interested in mentoring at risk and behaviorally challenged children in the public school system. Although they were wanting to reach children of all ages, I would be working specifically with elementary students. After she answered several questions for me I thought the idea had merit and agreed to become a mentor to twins of a single mother. The twins had a slew of issues and while I am no trained child psychologist my biggest contribution would be as an in-room monitor who would work with each of them to keep them focused during the school day.

I enjoyed the work and kept meticulous notes as to what worked and what didn’t during various situations. I shared these notes with others who were involved in the program. The program became a company and the company started to grow. New mentors where hired. Programming directors, financial analysts, therapists, and others were added to the payroll. Strict rules were put into place. The roll with what is happening and go with the flow was eliminated. Structure and order became the only way. Owners and management began to dream about earning substantial money. They began to curry political and corporate favor. The ideas others and I had become part of a program that was touted as having an incredible success rate. Metrics were put in place. We were all coached on how to write our reports so Medicare would pay. Students graduated from the program reportedly cured of their issues.

Except there was only one problem.

The kids weren’t healed. They were better. They were making progress. They could function for longer periods of time without having a physical outburst, but they were a long way from being what anyone would call healed. It wasn’t that they were bad kids. Or even that they were mentally deficient. They simply had been born into horrible situations. Their only guidance in life had been through the TV they were set in front of from birth, because the changing patterns on the screen kept them from crying or they imitated what they saw when they left the living room for the streets. They yelled, screamed, cussed, and fought just like they saw the gangs do, except they were in the third grade.

But it didn’t matter. In order to keep the money flowing in they were diagnosed with a DSM Code by a staff child psychologist, then pronounced healed when they got near the end of time that federal funding would pay for their care.  One size fit all, except we weren’t talking about clothing, we were talking about children with feelings, emotions, and in need of real, true, honest love.

I bent and broke all the rules. I went home with the kids I worked with and talked to their parents, when I could find them, and whoever else I could find when the parents weren’t anywhere around. I prayed with my kids. I took them places like museums, libraries, art galleries, backstage at theaters, and anywhere else I could think of, to expose them to a bigger world. I paid for everything out of my own pocket.

Then I got caught. I was warned. I didn’t change I kept on doing everything. I got caught again. I was told to change. I said no. They said my services were no longer warranted. They sent two large men to escort me out of the school. They told the principal I was under investigation for wrong doing.

When we find something that works, people want to turn it into a program. They want to monetize it. They want to streamline it. They want one size to fit all. They want to make it all the same.

Well I don’t want to. My experiences with the children is only one example. In my life, and in yours, there are hundreds of examples. This is one of the reasons why I love the blog world. Each blog is different. The content is our own. We aren’t constrained in what we say and how we say it. I’m not given to using lots of provocative or foul language, but I’ll always defend your right to, even if I am hoping you won’t.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, it isn’t well researched, nor have the words been carefully chosen, they just rolled out of my heart, and hopefully into yours.

Be encouraged!

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33 thoughts on “All the Same

  1. OneHotMess on said:

    I love what you have written. I dislike what you have described. I have seen it happen all to often to great programs that get ruined by the pursuit of…what? I am not entirely sure. Yes, money and “results,” but the results would be so much better without the money, and with lots more hearts like yours.

    • I’ve given a lot of thought to my experiences…I’ve thought about starting some type of organization that would carefully screen individuals then allow those who qualify to enter schools and just be there to love on the kids, have a kind word, a hug, a smile, talk with those who want to talk, pray for those who don’t, encourage, and just model what being a loving decent person looks like.

      If you have any ideas or connections with those who have ideas please send them my way.

      Be encouraged!

      • OneHotMess on said:

        We want to do the same thing, only I want to work with incarcerated women, starting while they are in, and following them out, with the hope of community support to mentor simple life skills, and most of all, let them know they are loved, supported, and that someone is proud of them. Same exact thing, different population. I am going to the area churches first for support. I pray for their support. I will pray for your dream, too! Xoxoxo

      • You are now on our prayer list as well…please keep us posted on your progress…and may God bless.

        Be encouraged!

      • OneHotMess on said:

        God bless you, as well. Thank you so much for adding me to your payer list!

  2. Sigh. I wish I had answers. When I get tired from thinking of all the barriers to ensuring people can reach their full potential in safe, environmentally sustainable world, I remind myself of what my younger son says, “one step at a time.” Meanwhile, glad to see your post, Steve.

  3. Oh my gosh, Stephen! You and I had the same job! I worked in a behavior disorder classroom for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in Lawrence, Kansas. I LOVED those kids. I didn’t have the ability or means to take them out and do all those fun things but I would have, if I could have. (I was newly married, pregnant and we were pretty impoverished. My husband and I were just limping by.)
    I ran a little group in the morning where they could talk positively about one another and their experiences. I helped them with their school work, I ate with them and played with them out on recess. We had a lot of laughs. My style was like yours, open, patient and loving. I knew when these kids went home at night they were watching their parents drink and take drugs and fight, etc. Whatever dose of kindness I could give them during the day was usually unraveled by the time they came in the next morning.
    I can only imagine the impression you made on those children. That short time you spent in their lives was precious to them. I have no doubt that somewhere in their heart you left a permanent mark of comfort, joy, laughter, wonder, kindness, and on and on. Again, they were in your life for a reason and you in theirs. It’s so sad that everything has to be turned into a monetary measurement or a test or something standardized, etc. It’s all about money and never really about the worth of a human soul. Kids respond and grow in love, not in testing and conforming, especially not those kind of troubled kids.
    After I read this I thought, well, I’ll be… Stephen and I are really and truly made of the same stuff. I think we see the world very similarly if not exactly the same way : )
    You continue to validate me. It’s amazing! Thanks for this!

    • You know Lisa, this comes as no big surprise to me that we actually use to have the same type of job…it is just one more link in the long chain of similarities that people who have the same spirit encounter. From the first time I read your blog I told Susie I thought we would become good friends. It’s weird that although it has only been via the internet I know we would help you and your family in any way possible and we believe the feeling is mutual. We are grateful that although having never met we feel such a close bond.

      Susie and I thank you for all you are doing (except for the cashier at the diner) to make this world a better place. 🙂

      Blessings to you and yours.

      Be encouraged!

      • haha! That darn cashier!

        The feelings, you so beautifully expressed are mutual. I feel confident that I know your heart and you, mine. Isn’t that ultimately what we strive for in this world — To be known for who we really are and to be loved.
        Hope you and Susie have a glorious weekend!!
        Lisa xoxoxo

      • Thanks Lisa, and it is EXACTLY we and everyone else ultimately wants…to be loved for who we are.

        Blessings to you and yours…and same back to ya re: weekend!

        Be encouraged!

  4. This post is a perfect example of how ‘the god of this world’ constantly pollutes the work of the truly Godly.
    I worked with children for many years as a children’s entertainer and in childcare, I am known as ‘Aunty’ to many many more children than are my actually nieces and nephews and I am compelled to do more to encourage the youth of today and their parents. (Mother’s especially)
    After my car accident and nervous breakdown, I tried to get back into work and spent one day as a volunteer in a Christian Schools Behavioral Management Classroom. I was so heartbroken and defeated that I left in tears and slept for 4 hours as soon as got home. I wanted to take them all home and give them the love, faith, hope and support they deserved. I couldn’t believe how unkind some of the teachers were towards them and I felt like a tsunami of oppression was washing over them and me. I felt completely useless. These days I try to follow the steps God gives me one at a time and not take on the ‘whole world’ at once, and so I began writing. Hopefully one day be able to speak as well, perhaps in schools and spend some small amount of time with as many children as possible. Perhaps with mother’s? That is up to God.
    God bless you for your dedication to the youth of today, I applaud every word you have written here, and if you ever get that program up and running and need a contact to branch out down under, then I am your girl.
    Blessings to you Steve, and prayers for all the children who have fallen into these infuriating circumstances. My heart goes out to all of them.

    • Thank you so much for your gracious and kind words. Finding our “right” spot to contribute can be difficult at times. I’m like you, I tend to jump in with both feet then sort of figure it out as I go.

      I think the idea of introducing “elders” into the school system has incredible merit. The “elders” would simply walk around, in and out of classrooms and give hugs and needed words of encouragement. If the children wanted to talk one-on-one then they could schedule a time that would work with the teachers so the class flow wouldn’t be interpreted.

      Someday, hopefully we will see something like this in place. Susie and I would like to start a foundation to support it. We when we are gone from this world< I think this is where our money will go.

      Be encouraged!

  5. Now this is a great post! Before my daughter was diagnosed with dyspraxia and dyslexia one school told me she couldn’t have any help because she wasn’t as bad as the other children. We moved area and school and the second said – she is not as bad as she could be because of all your hard work with her. When the school and i had meetings my daughter came along too, she was 8-11 at the time. She knew she wasn’t has bad as some but she also knew she was different. She is not at University.

    • Your daughter is where she is today, because she had a Mom that loved her, prayed for her, gave her self-esteem, and constantly went to bat for her so she could/would get what she needed to grow as child ought to.

      So thank you Mom, you did a great job…now if we can only get a few more like you.

      Be encouraged!

  6. Stephen, thank you for a great story that shows an universal problem that I believe exist all over the world. Why do we keep expecting that one size fit all? It doesn’t work when it comes to shoe sizes so why would it work when it comes to our feelings, behaviour and emotions? I’ve said before and I say it again; we need more ideas, more compassion and lot more common sense. Not rigid rules. And we need a lot more people like you, people who dare to stand up for those who need help! Stephen, you’re true inspiration – thank you!

    • Thanks for all those gracious words, Marianne. Susie and I have had several long conversations about how to turn our dream of having “elders” in the school system. Men and women who would love on, show compassion, and listen to the children. I think they should have rooms that instead of being called offices they would be called Love Rooms. In the Love Room there wouldn’t be any office furniture like chairs or desks. There would just be bean bags, comfy sofa, and overstuffed chairs that kids could hang out on while they talked or played non-violent games…like chess. When I worked with kids I taught them all chess…even the one in the second grade who I was told was mentally deficient and they were just passing him along in school, because the very best that would ever happen to him would be life in a group home. Except here he was learning the intricacies of chess. No one had ever taken any time with him. Was he a slow learner…yes…but he learned.

      Oh my!…once again I’ve ranted on far too long…I apologize Marianne, but this is a subject that is very close to my heart.

      We love you…thanks again for all the kind words…be encouraged!

      • Stephen, I love to read your posts – they can never be to long for me, :). Your idea about having “elders” in the school system is a brilliant idea. I can see how the two of you influence people (young and old) with your kindness and love. I am sure that all the kids still remember you. By the way, I’ve never managed to learn to play chess, a few have tried but failed and I’ve now set my hopes to you, :). Good night from Europe… //Marianne

      • Within a couple of lessons you will be a chess master…or at least a chess something or other… 🙂 …be encouraged!

  7. Great post, Stephen (even without Susie’s help)! This is so true, and prevalent in the world. I see this in the world of politics. To me, this is the problem with expecting the government whether Democrat or Republican to cure and heal all the ills of society. It seems that many people believe there is some magical cure that will come from their side being in office or that all good in the world is being impeded by the other side. If it only it were that simple.

    It sounds like you did some wonderful work with children. I’ve done some work with green businesses, but I saw like you did that the work is never really done. Healing is a process that doesn’t get solved with any one program or project.

    Thanks for this reminder!

    • Thanks Karen…years ago I more or less gave up on the whole Republican and democrat thing and just started hunting around for people to support that I felt would try to do the right thing without being squeezed by every special interest group. As the years went by it became more and more difficult, even on the local level…so now it is very rare that I actually support anyone with my money or my vote…but I keep hoping.

      Be encouraged!

  8. What you started out doing with the greatest intentions was indeed ‘foiled’ by wanting to enlarge the program and it’s a shame because it then lost what you tried to maintain…a personal touch or approach to these children…Diane

    • I learned one very valuable lesson from the experience I related here…when someone tells you “it’s all about the children” rest assured they are lying through their teeth and are only doing it for the money. Every time someone would utter that phrase I would make a mental note to follow their actions, without fail 100% of the people then proceeded to try to maximize the monetary rewards and completely disregarded the welfare of the children.

      It became our benchmark metric for deciding who to trust and not trust…we were never wrong.

      Be encouraged!

  9. Well done Stephen. I do understand that the rules are there as protection for both volunteers and the children. I too broke rules to take out the young daughter of a woman who was dying…I was a volunteer palliative care person visiting the dying person in their home and this little girl was left alone for the rest of the time with her dying single mother….so I took her out, just so could experience a life outside of her dying mother. I didn’t regret it but I could see the problems I could have caused and I did discuss what I’d done with my supervisor who was actually supportive. So often rules are there for eveyone’s protection, particularly in the counselling arena. Having said that, what you did was wonderful and such a loss that you were taken from them and as for the making of money off a community project with community benefits in mind….shame. Kind regards Leanne

    • I truly understand the need for rules…for the safety of everyone…but I’m afraid the rules I broke were not about safety…the rules I broke were the ones which limited the time and places we could take the children. This wasn’t about them trying to protect the children. This was about them placing the “needs” and profits of the corporation over the growth and well-being of the children. They wanted to cookie cutter the interaction so everyone could be controlled.

      The original idea was not adaptable to growth. Because growth meant bringing in people we did not know and therefore could not adequately trust.

      The rules were instituted for one purpose only…to drive profits.

      I want to apologize for my dogmatic response, but when children lose, they lose.

      Be encouraged!

  10. Brilliantly said. Its the same with the medical profession…we all have conditions that are unique to each individual, yet those conditions are calculated and shoved under some label so that we can start taking a whole lot of drugs that fit the label. Madness.

  11. Wow! So much that I want to say in response to this post. First, I am submitting you and your “elder” idea to TED for their annual million dollar idea contest(can’t remember the official name but you get the gist) . Second, I share so many of the same beliefs, experiences and ideals that you are advocating that I would love to find a way to work together. Third, as YAZ stated above the medical profession suffers from the same dis-ease but there are fringe groups with established credibility working to change the current cookie cutter paradigm. Finally, as a middle aged woman with my share of challenges looking to begin my second adulthood in the “real” world, I welcome any advice/guidance you and Susie could offer as to how to begin my re-entry. Keep on going.

    • …OMG!!!…now that I have crawled back up into my desk chair…if the Truth be told I am some what speechless…a TED talk you say…Oh my!!!…well this is about the best news I’ve received since Susie said yes to marrying me and the birth of our precious Grandson (who is the greatest child ever born in the history of the solar system, except for Christ, but he cheated by having better ancestry).

      You know id absolutely nothing ever comes of you nominating me, I will be forever grateful for you even considering the idea worthy of consideration. I believe our young children are the ones with the least power and voice, as a result they get shunted aside so the interests of others may prevail.

      I believe children are precious and holy. Their very being is a sacred trust we are to carry, nurture, and develop. To put it simply, I think we should just love on them. A child who is loved will grow and flourish, will love back, will love others, will be kinder, gentler, and as a result, I believe will be smarter, healthier, and pay forward what they have received.

      Please feel free to contact me at, or Susie at…we can never thank you enough…and hopefully a generation of children will be able to pay it forward as a result of kindness.

      Be encouraged!

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