The Solid Rock opened paths for me
Pulling down statue of Robert E Lee--foolish?
Quinceanera: a celebration as adulthood nears
Baby Ellery’s surgery dodged Murphy’s Law, we didn't
Property valuation increases--where will end?
A salute to two special fathers
Self-esteem? Excellence? Let's get both into our kids
Graduation is a big accomplishment
Sounds of silence--I can still hear them in Kearney
Kearney police officer on trial--for what?
Finding Worthy Role Models
In the midst of chaos is nature--and hope
Program about courts not all Bull
People make a difference when disaster strikes
When cold hits, remember Spring
Small Actions Add up to Big Differences
With the transition at the Solid Rock, it is hard to imagine when it wasn’t part of the downtown businesses. It seems
it has been around forever. Now that owners Bill and Illa Ballou have decided to retire and move to Chicago to be closer to
family, memories surface. But they don’t start with The Solid Rock store filled with Christian books and gifts.
In college I became acquainted with the location not as The Solid Rock, but as Lydia’s Books & Crafts, a Christian bookstore.
My mom and I shopped Lydia’s, for both books and for crafts, getting to know the owner in the process. Mom loved creating
crafts for gifts. When I took a class on advertising for my degree in journalism, we had to approach a local business about
advertising in the college paper.
I got snickers when I chose Lydia’s as my business. I was told that every student who’d tried to get Lydia to
place an ad failed. Umm. I considered how she might appeal to college students and approached her with that in mind. I succeeded.
Lydia ran an ad the rest of that year. Didn’t hurt my grade in the class!
But Lydia was older and wanted to retire and move on. That’s when Bill and Illa heard about her wish to sell and, in
1974, bought the business. They moved to Kearney and the rest is history. Before everything was as computerized as it is these
days, I often helped with inventory. They’d put me on a stool counting bookmarks and name cards, anything they could
put in front of me. I counted until I was blurry-eyed. But I ended up with some money with which to purchase Christmas gifts.
Bill was a big supporter of my desire to be a published author. He encouraged me, told stories of authors and editors and
gave me helpful tips. He was almost as excited as I was when my first book was published and he could sell it in the store.
Later, he sent other would-be authors my way to assist them in their journey.
Bill also got me started in the review site I ran for 15 years plus. It started with a book galley he’d been sent. He
passed it on to me, asking me to read it and write a review for the publisher. That led to creating a monthly book review
newsletter for The Solid Rock for the next couple of years. Eventually, I was receiving too many books from authors and publishers
to fit into a two-page monthly newsletter and created a website, Author’s Choice Reviews, with reviews geared to readers
and publishers. I usually had two to four reviewers working for me at any given time. Toward the end, I was even doing reviews
once a month or so for NTV. After a good run, it was time to move on. But I never would have even delved into book reviewing
if not for Bill.
The Solid Rock has been more than a store, it has been a place of creativity, encouragement and finding faith in action--not
only in the books, but also in the lives of Bill and Illa. This couple gave so much of themselves to family, friends, church,
customers and community. I am glad, however, the store will continue under the management of Dick Reiter as Operations Manager
and Carlie Nelson as Floor Manager.
Hearing about the demolishing of the Robert E Lee statue had me shaking my head. The South seems bent on seeking to remove
all signs of their own history. But, trying rewrite history does not change it.
While removing outward signs of that history may be warranted, in some cases, such wholesale removal of all signs of a certain
period or events of history is a shallow response. Such a response trivializes the very reasons for the Civil War. My guess
is, most American believe the Civil War or one of the Southern designations--the War Between the States--was about slavery.
They would be correct, but only in part. Believing slavery was the only reason for the Civil War shows a lack of knowledge
about this important event that split family, states and the nation.
The War was not all about slavery. The idea that everyone in the South had slaves, is false. Many families did not own slaves
and many others actually despised, hated the practice and/or fought against slavery in one way or the other. Many a Southerner
helped runaway slaves through the Underground Railroad at the risk of their own lives. Robert E Lee was one of these who hated
There were also other reasons for the war. One had to do with the clash of economic philosophies. The South was primarily
an agrarian society, while the North focused on manufacturing--a more city economy. That led to clashes. A big reason for
the war was states rights. The South didn’t believe the Federal Government had the right to tell them what to do and
were willing to fight to keep those rights.
There were other reasons also, but one is often missed. Many in the South, including Lee, fought for his home. In fact, many
who fought for the South were not evil people, they felt they were defending their homes--totally apart from issues such as
slavery. Lee was highly regarded in both North and South. Lincoln offered him troops for the North. Lee was a man of integrity
who simply did what he thought was right. For him, that meant fighting for his home. Even after the War, Robert E Lee was
highly regarded by those in both North and South. So why tear down a monument to a good person--simply because he fought with
the South? How many in government today trace their line back to family who fought for the South? Should they not be able
to serve now, because of past affiliations with the South?
How many thousands, even millions, of dollars are being spent in eradicating all vestiges of those who fought with the South
in the War? Why not, instead, turn historical monuments into teaching the true history of the times and the war? Why not share
the truth about the men and women of the South and the complex issues involved.
Talk about heroines like Harriet Tubman who escaped into freedom and continued to return to the South to bring out other slaves.
She worked as a spy in the war and nursed soldiers--of both sides.
Instead of obscuring the truth, teach the good and bad about the culture and its people. Most of all, whether then or now,
teach how a culture becomes self-destructive when it embraces a great evil and when it dehumanizes any aspect of humanity.
This includes slavery in whatever form, Jews in Nazi Germany (with a resurgence today of violence against them), to considering
pre-born babies less than human. Hatred is now turned toward anything having to do with a period of history. It is hate aimed
at symbols of that time and anyone who doesn't wish monuments defaced or destroyed. Such hate is dangerous and destructive.
Spend money not to destroy history, but on making sure we do not repeat the pattern of evil. Not repeating such hated will
only happen if we teach true history and stop seeking to erase the truth of our past--good or bad--but learn from it.
Recently Keith and I attended a Quinceanera. Actually it was the second such celebration to which we’d been invited
and attended. The first one was the celebration for Lucy’s older sister. Now it was time to celebrate Lucy’s coming-of-age
celebration with her Quinceanera.
Such celebrations take place for the fifteenth birthday and are an acknowledgement a girl is becoming a young woman. A Quinceanera
is much more than a birthday party with cake and ice cream. This is an elaborate celebration the family spends months planning
and girls look forward to.
The ones we’ve attended have had two parts to them. We arrived at the church early. Not many had arrived before us.
That turned out to be a good thing. The Pastor asked Keith to run the overhead and sound as he usually does on Sunday. Once
the family arrived sometime later, you could hear the awed sigh as Lucy entered the sanctuary. She was dressed in an elegant
creation of red and gold that would have made Cinderella jealous.
I stared at the change in the girl I once taught in Sunday School. This was a confident, if somewhat nervous, young women.
Her mother in a long formal gown and father in a white suit escorted her up the aisle to where our pastor waited. Pastor Dave
shared and then took her through a commitment to her faith and to herself. She was presented with both a Bible and a purity
ring before her brother, also in a white suit, escorted her back down the aisle to the entrance where she received due congratulations.
Later, we joined a much larger crowd at Ramada Inn for music, fellowship and food, lots of food. (With the Quinceanera as
well a wedding reception being held, the parking lot was bursting at the seams. I’ve never seen the parking lot so full.)
Inside, the gift table held a doll with a copy of Lucy’s gown. What a special keepsake of her celebration. Red roses
both at the church and at Ramada Inn dominated the decorations. I laughed at the kids running around, the boys needing to
move and the little girls in their cute dresses trying to follow.
Adulthood brings pain, decisions and many challenges. It is important to anchor good and precious memories in our hearts and
minds for when those times come. The Quinceanera is one such memory for Lucy. I am thankful we were a small part of her celebration
and wish all that is good in her life as, in years to come, she becomes the woman I know she can become with God’s help.
Published by Kearney Hub 7/31/2017 as Disenfranchising voters through Electoral College
(c) 2017 Carolyn R Scheidies
A couple of months ago, there were letters/articles in the Hub that reveal confusion as to what this country even is, much
less the place of the Electoral College. One person wrote how he contacted the Sasse about whether or not we’re a democracy,
expecting the office staff to say say, “Yes, of course.”
America is not a democracy, nor has it ever been a true democracy. Our founders did not set up the United States of America
as a democracy, but as a democratic republic. That difference means something. Those who desire to do away with the Electoral
College in favor of counting the vote of each person without some limitations do not know for what they wish.
Should this happen, California and New York and maybe a couple of other populous states, would decide every election and every
issue. Most states, like Nebraska, would have no voice at all. This concern led our founders to protect the states with smaller
populations by allotting each state two senators and by establishing the Electoral College. This system enables even a less
populated state like Nebraska to have a real voice in the governing process.
But this process can be short-circuited. It amazed me how after Republicans were targeted by a gunman who shot, among others,
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La), how Democrats and some more liberal minded Republicans tried to minimize the horror
of such targeting by claiming threats to themselves for one reason or another. One of these was a person who served as an
Elector in the Electoral College from Nebraska.
While death threats should never be tolerated, nor encouraged, as too many in Hollywood and the media are promoting these
days, the anger against the Nebraska Elector is understandable. When this individual became an elector, by his acceptance,
he took on a serious responsibility to serve the voters of this state. He knew the field of candidates. He knew the possibilities
of those who might become the party’s nominees. At that time, if he could not vote for the party’s choice, chosen
by the people, he should have declined being an elector. Instead, he became an elector and then decided he could not vote
In essence, what this elector did was to negate the whole reason for the Electoral College. The Electoral College was created
to give voters in states like a Nebraska a vote, a say, in the process. We vote expecting our votes to count. What this elector
did by his arrogance in refusing to vote for the nominee of the people of this state was to wipe out our votes. Our votes
for Trump did not count for anything, because he thought he had the right to decide who should be president regardless of
the will of the citizens of his state. Of course, there was anger.
High time, electors understand their responsibility and their mandate. How this might be accomplished, I do not know. But
next time I vote I want my vote to count, not dismissed by a elector who thinks he has a right to make his choice against
the will of the citizens he agreed to serve.
Friday, June 23 our five-month-old granddaughter Ellery had surgery in Omaha. Soon after she was born at 37 weeks, Cassie
and Kurt knew their daughter would need the surgery. The doctors wanted to give her time to grow and get strong. That time
We arrived the next Tuesday to spell Mom and Dad who were exhausted. Tough seeing our baby granddaughter with a tube down
her nose, her hand all bandaged to protect the IV and, of course, the tube at the other end. Once she was off the painkillers,
she struggled to get free of the blankets swaddled around her to keep her hands away from the nose tube.
Once we arrived, Mom and Dad could get a break. It was exhausting to keep Ellery distracted, and to keep those hands tucked
away from that tube. She did manage to pull out the nose tube and fought and screamed as the nurses tried to reinsert it.
They got it done, though they had to insert it twice. We were ready for bed each night when we headed back to our motel. Next
morning started early, but we were glad to be able to take our turn with baby Ellery.
The surgery was a success and by Thursday, Ellery was much happier after getting rid of most of the tubes. Friday June 30th,
one week after the surgery, we helped Cassie pack up and take Ellery home to finish recovering.
Since we were headed home to Kearney, we made plans to stop in Lincoln and take Chris and his kids--17, 15, 13 (our grandkids)
out to lunch. Chris had to take time off work. The boys (the older two) had commitments and work. That meant our time was
I wasn’t very happy when we took a wrong turn leaving Cassie’s and Murphy stepped in. We were headed back to Omaha,
not to Lincoln. We got on a road that intersected with I-80. But the exit was closed. We got lost. Stopped. Turned on the
GPS and managed to get out of Omaha.
I had the directions for the Lincoln restaurant, but they also got us turned around. (Lost was the word of the day. Murphy
at work?) Called Chris who patiently got us headed the right direction. We arrived a bit late, but we got there and got to
spend a little time with our son and grandkids. We hoped Murphy was finished with us.
After lunch and after some maneuvering, we finally headed out of town. Needed to stop for gas. Only the car decided it didn’t
want to go any further. (Murphy again?) Thankfully, a jump did the trick.
We were not about to stop again until we arrived home. We figured home and sleep would chase Murphy away. The next morning,
he was gone, leaving the good feelings of knowing our baby granddaughter was on the road to recovery, and, lost or not, we
also got to spend time with our other grandkids. Even a run in with Murphy was worth the trip.
For years, Kearney properties were undervalued. A few years ago, when our home valuation increased significantly, I knew why.
It was an attempt to get valuations into balance. The valuation increase wasn’t as hard to deal with as the increase
in the taxes we had to pay on our property that includes our house and the lot it stands on. At the time, I shuddered, gulped
and moved on.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. In fact, it turned out to be only the beginning. To my surprise the next year
there was another significant increase in the valuation. That made me wrinkle my forehead. I thought the property valuations
had already been updated. Why then another increase in valuation--and in taxes? Those taxes were starting to get burdensome.
When it happened again last year, and certainly not only to us, I downloaded the form, took pictures, gathered my information,
and protested. I expected and was ready with my evidence to fight for a less burdensome increase in the valuation. Keith and
I arrived at the set time and waited quietly in the chairs at the courthouse. I waited for the summons. When I was called
up, I didn’t even need my folder. Those behind the high, imposing bench had my information in front of them and agreed
with my assessment. To my shock, we won our case without scarcely any word at all. Relief.
That lasted until we received our valuation for this year. Really! There it was, a huge increase in valuation. Did last year’s
finding mean nothing at all? Again, I’m not the only one with a similar story. I figured it was time to call the assessor’s
office for some explanations. I called and was handed over to a knowledgeable individual who very kindly explained how valuations
worked. She was patient and clear. I learned resetting the valuation, as we did last year with our protest, only lasted one
She explained the formula comes from the state and cities can be penalized for not meeting the valuation targets as set by
the state formula. What it boiled down to for me was that protests are a short-term solution to the long-term problem--the
way property is valued. As it is now, the valuations of property can increase--because of sales of other properties in an
area considered in a particular district--to the point the average homeowner struggles to pay taxes.
As the person I talked with said, our senators keep talking about the problem, but never do anything about it. Time we contact
our state senators and put their feet to the fire of our outcry. Want valuation relief? Write your senator in Lincoln, call
and write letters to the editor. Let your opinion be heard. Maybe, just maybe, our senators will start listening.
All my life, I looked up to my father--Reverend William Fredrickson. He was a medic in World War II who became a pastor once
he got back to the states after the war ended. He cared about people both their physical bodies (he was into the health scene
long before it became a popular trend) and their spiritual well-being. He lived, every day, the faith he preached about on
When he pastored a small church in Wyoming, he’d often travel deep into ranch country to visit ranchers who never made
it all the way to town on Sundays, or, when they did, it was infrequent. I had been so excited to move to Wyoming. I loved
everything about the west, ranches and horses. I loved it when dad took me with him on some of these visits. We forded creeks
that had never seen a bridge and spent the whole day away. Dad cared.
He cared about his family as well. He took time and listened to his daughter who liked to question everything. If I was quiet,
I could sit in his office while he prepared his sermons. He even allowed me to peck out stories on his typewriter. He was
a quiet man who, nevertheless, was not ashamed nor afraid to stand up for his faith. Then he was bold and strong.
He helped me see what God and faith were all about and I appreciated my father--even the times he had to discipline his headstrong,
independent daughter. He’s been gone for many years. I will think of him and miss him this Father’s Day.
But God put another father into my life as well. I look up to my father-in-law Lavern (Jiggs) Scheidies. He, too, was in World
War II. He returned home, married and started his family. He farmed, but farming did not define him. He clerked sales and
had other enterprises along the way. He’s a man of principle and faith who worked hard, but did not neglect his family.
Along with his wife, my mother-in-law Roberta, whom we lost a year ago last Spring, he raised five strong, independent children
who have children of their own. In fact, at our recent Spring Scheidies gathering, Jiggs got to meet his newest great-granddaughter,
our daughter Cassie’s 2 ½ month old daughter.
Those of us who’ve married into the family know Jiggs cares about his family. He’s accomplished much in his life
and I admire him so much. When we celebrate Father’s Day, I am thankful when I lost my dad, God gave me another special
man in his place.
Even though this will be published after Father’s Day, I salute these two fathers in my life. Happy Father’s Day!
Our public schools claim they strive for excellence. However, too often, another factor works directly opposite this idea
of excellence worth striving for and goals worth achieving. Everything in the schools and in the culture seems geared to building
up the self-esteem of our kids, without considering whether or not the methods used are good for the children.
While many schools do a credible job, all are hampered by a cultural attitude that one student should not excel over another.
This attitude started way back when I was in grade school.
At a 4-H fair, everyone who didn’t receive a red, blue or yellow ribbon got a white. I knew that the white ribbon signified
nothing. It wasn’t for achievement. It was so I wouldn’t feel bad. It only made me feel worse. I would rather
have received nothing.
Instead of building self-esteem, we actually reinforce the idea that a child is a loser who is given a reward not earned or
deserved. Kids know exactly what adults are doing. It also creates children who have to be rewarded simply for showing up,
rather than for something done or achieved. (This is now reflected in college students, many who act more like hothouse fragile
flowers than young adults.)
Schools were created to educate children on the basics of reading, writing and math--skills that help them achieve success.
Schools fail when they are afraid to tell Jane and Johnny that they flunked a test, haven’t learned the material and
are in danger of not moving on with their classmates. Parents can be part of the problem if they pressure schools to not let
their kids ever fail.
Some advocate that teachers not use red ink because the red denotes failure and may make the child feel bad. The grading system
of the Omaha schools was changed a few years ago, making it more difficult for the achievers to receive the grades needed
to get into the college of their choice. Some schools no longer honor those who work hard and maintain good grades. Other
grading systems are merely pass/fail. The problem with this scenario is that those who do well end up being penalized. Why
try when hard work is not rewarded? Why try when everyone is rewarded equally regardless of effort? This philosophy promotes
the very opposite of self-esteem.
Self-esteem and self-confidence aren’t built through artificial rewards or by keeping high achievers from receiving
what they’ve earned. Long-term confidence and esteem comes from accomplishments--regardless of how small or large and
from the satisfaction of a job well done.
Encouraging and rewarding anything less creates either an artificial ego that will be dashed by reality or a sense that a
person is being rewarded because he/she is not considered good enough, smart enough or talented enough to achieve anything
on her/his own. Coddling kids is not the same as motivating them, undermining the natural desire to achieve produces weak,
vulnerable individuals. .
If we want our students to have the self-confidence to achieve great things, we need to allow kids to learn from failure as
well as from achievement. Don’t insult the intelligence of our students through unmerited praise and reward. Celebrate
good work and achievements. Self-confidence will follow.
Then maybe we’ll build up confident, self-reliant young people, willing to work hard, sacrifice and make a difference
in their world.
There are years when graduations take center stage. These often happen when our own children are graduating because most of
their friends are also graduating. It is hard to figure out how to have a reception and go to all the receptions for which
invitations have been received.
As the children leave home and move on to college, it seems those invitations slow with each year. College graduations never
seem to have the same mass impact as high school graduations. Though, since we have a university in Kearney, there have been
a few years when we’ve known two or three of the graduates. That, too, has all but disappeared over the years.
Some years, Keith and I have no graduations to celebrate at all. Other years, we receive an invitation for one or two. This
year caught us by surprise. Yes, we knew of a couple of graduations, but we tend to lose track of where some young people
we know are in school. Yet, we’ve are celebrating with more graduates this year than we have in many years.
I knew our nephew’s oldest son was graduating. He’d already been taking college classes. We wouldn’t be
making the trip to Kansas, so I ordered a gift and had it sent to my sister who’ll make sure the graduate receives the
gift. We also had a niece graduating from college in theater. She’s gone through a lot to get this far and we’re
proud of her. It is exciting to think where life and work will take her now.
Closer to home we received invitations from several Kearney High graduates. These ranged from children of church friends to
one of Keith’s co-workers to one young man we pick up, along with his two siblings, each Sunday morning for church.
Along with birthdays and anniversaries, graduations from high school and college should be celebrated and applauded. It isn’t
easy these days to navigate all the ins and outs of our education system and come through it with that coveted certificate
We celebrate because we know what it takes to make it through. We celebrate because we see graduation as a right of passage
to the next step to maturity. We celebrate positives in our lives and this is a good one. Parents, relatives and friends are
happy be part of the affirmation, cheering on the person for a job well done.
Graduation is a big step to into life. Graduation releases the graduate to work toward dreams and goals, not just hope for
them. Graduation releases our graduates to light their fire and move forward into adulthood.
Let’s affirm them with celebration and encouragement.
I awoke to silence. Yes, in Kearney, NE, I woke up to silence. I like silence. I can think and dream and doze without screams,
loud music or the roars of vehicles whose owners think our street by the park is a race track. I know this won’t last.
The weather warms, which brings kids and families outside and to the park. During the summer--despite posts as to when the
park is open--middle school kids and teens can be found at the park at all hours. I hear the laughter, the music. Even so,
while sounds from the park are loud and sometimes overwhelming during daylight hours--especially during baseball games, even
if some linger in the park, at night the sounds become low, muted.
Still most days, as the day ends, traffic slows and by morning, for a time, all is silent. This in a town that bustles with
activity most of the time.
When I grew up, our family often travelled to Minneapolis, MN. My parents actually grew up in the twin cities of Minneapolis/St.
Paul. They met and married in the city. My mother celebrated the end of World War II with those thronging the streets when
they heard the news. Of course, Mom and her friends celebrated. Their husbands were coming home. Even then, the city was never
Years later, our family of five stayed with Gramma and Mom’s half sister, my Aunt Esther who lived together in first
large apartments and, finally, in a house Esther purchased. I remember one of those apartments, an large old Victorian house,
restructured to create apartments on each floor. It was late at night. My sister Karin was asleep. I couldn’t sleep.
Instead, I got up and sat by the window. From the second story bedroom, I gazed down upon a light show of cars, a never-ending
stream of cars, moving below, I heard honks and the growl of engines interspersed with sirens. I found it fascinating, but
the constant sounds did not soothe me to sleep. Eventually, I lay back down in bed and slept with the background noises of
the city filling my dreams.
Kearney is growing, sometimes it seems, at a much-too-fast rate. Often, Keith and I will be driving in Kearney, look out and
then at each other. “What is going up there?” or “When did that go up?” or simply “What is that?”
Kearney is a much different place than the town I moved to with my family so I could go to college in the early 1970s. Though
Kearney is no longer a sleepy little town and is growing into a small city, some things haven’t changed.
Most who live here like living in Kearney, they are hardworking individuals and families who care and reach out to friends,
neighbors and even strangers. Most of all, Kearney hasn’t forgotten to slow down. I am glad that in a bustling, growing
community, I can still wake up to silence. In a world of busy schedules and technology, we need to encourage in ourselves,
our children and others times of silence to watch clouds, ponder and dream.
As I wake in the silence on a morning in Kearney, my response is thankfulness.
I am gratified Derek Payton was acquitted at his trial. What bothers me is that he was brought to trial at all. From what
I've read, heard and seen, Derek is a good and conscientious man and cop. He was well trained and not given to going off half-cocked.
The incident for which he was on trial was little different--an incident in which he used both his training and best judgement.
I don’t begin to know what went into the decision to try Derek for doing his job, but that decision continues to make
me question those who did so. From my understanding, he did his job. He pursued the suspect. He followed protocol. He gave
ample warning and did not shoot to kill. Yet while the person of interest got off with little more than a slap on the wrist,
a good cop was dragged into court and faced a possible 20 years--yes, twenty years--in prison. For what? For doing his job
to the best of his abilities and training.
There are some cops around this country that are not what we want them to be. Some cops are bullies, are prejudiced and are
not persons of integrity or honor. None of those definitions seem to define Derek Payton. Still he was put on trial for seeking
to stop persons who refused to stop, refused to listen, refused to heed rational orders, and who possibly put the lives of
citizens Derek had sworn to protect in harm’s way.
With the turtle speed of our court system, Derek had to wait months for his trial. The stress of that alone on Derek and his
family had to be difficult enough, but the realization you are on trial for doing your job has to take its toll.
Why should a cop put his life on the line when a good cop, even in a conservative city and state, can lose everything if his
actions are called into question? Trials such as this one had a positive outcome, but such outcomes are certainly not guaranteed.
Why would anyone even want to become a cop at a time when cops are viewed with more disfavor by the persecuting agencies than
the criminals thumbing their noses at the law?
As for me, I am ticked my taxes went to pay for a trial I don't believe should have happened.
The outcome showed common sense. The trial did not. Time to take a look at those who made it happen and put in place restrictions
so it doesn’t happen to another good cop doing his job.
Who are today's role models? Are they police or firefighters, doctors who've saved lives or other men and women who value
and stand for life? Are they individuals who live life to the fullest with honesty and integrity and who keep their word and
When I grew up my parents wanted us kids to grow up with role models that lived out the values, principles and life-styles
they wanted for us. One of those was Jim Elliot, a Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while attempting to reach
the Huaorani people of Ecuador. I was even more intrigued by his wife, Elisabeth Elliot, who went down to that tribe, after
they murdered her husband and four other men, loved them and helped them to know a life with Christ that did not include murder
and fear. She modeled integrity, incredible love rather than revenge, and made a difference in the lives of so many.
How do today's role models compare to Jesus Christ? Not very well. So many of today's "heroes" are little more than shallow
"fluff." Adults and many, many young people are caught up in the world of celebrity. Role models are not men and women of
integrity, intelligence, honesty and caring, but musicians, actors and other celebrities of one sort or the other who are
not leading us to be better versions of ourselves or better people. In fact, many celebrities promote drug or alcohol use,
and sexual expression without boundaries of caring, faithfulness even within marriage.
Other celebrities take up causes about with they are abysmally ignorant and drag followers down their particular rabbit hole.
Yet, even some government officials take them seriously because, well, they played a role in a movie. As though that provides
Who do you or your children look up to and wish to listen to, imitate and follow? Make a list. Do these individuals stand
for your values and do you want to imitate their words, lifestyle? What about your children? Who are they following? This
includes those in the music industry whose lyrics are like a siren call to the young? Do you know what the lyrics contain?
Do you approve?
If you want to be the best you can be and want that even more for your children, find role models worthy of being followed.
Look beyond the shallow pretensions of the media and explore what a true hero is, who might fit that role and help your children--and
yourself--find good role models. What you do matters as you also provide a role model to your children.
The Bible in Philippians 4:8 states, "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and
if there be any praise, think on these things."
Those who strive for these things are true role models worth following. Of course, the best role model of all is Jesus Christ.
What better time to study who He is and start following His example than at Easter when we celebrate His resurrection and
Even in Kearney here, I look across the street and see the park. Every season brings a new view from the colorful gold, yellow
and brown leaves of fall to the beautiful ice sculptures created by winter cold on tall trees pointing high into the sky.
Spring thaw offers greening grass, unfurling leaves and flowers. Summer is greener and more colorful.
I’d rather do my writing and work at the dining room table where I can look out across the street, than stuffed up in
my office where windows look out on the neighbor’s house and makes me feel cramped and claustrophobic. I like being
able to stare out the window whether the weather is sunny and bright, overcast, windy or snowing. There is something calming
about nature even in an artificially created park.
We can visualize magnificent scenes of majestic mountains rising high, often covered in snow as though to point our gaze upward.
There is something about the mountains that speak of strength. Scenes of rivers and streams meandering through grassy meadows
filled with red, pink, and yellow flowers entices us to sit and rest a spell from our cares. The oceans rise and fall in foamy
waves, powerful and enduring, drawing us in. Nature bursts with an amazing color array of a variety of plants of all heights
and shapes. Birds chirp and sing, small animals rustle through the underbrush, large animals rut and roar. All add to the
depth and wonder of nature.
We live in a world of unrest, tragedy, chaos and danger. Many worry what tomorrow will bring. Others drown themselves in games,
activities, work--anything to silence the fear factor in the world. But the more we focus on the bad things, the less we remember
the good. Such a focus makes us forget that this is a world of beauty and hope.
When the world clamors and fear rises, why not search for the good, the beautiful in God’s creation? Find a place of
nature and walk, canoe, ride. Watch nature movies or thumb through pictures. Let nature soothe that restlessness within. Force
back fears and hopelessness by filling your mind and soul with the calming natural beauty all around us.
About creation, King David, the Psalmist, said it best in Psalm 19:1-4 (GW), "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the
sky displays what his hands have made. One day tells a story to the next. One night shares knowledge with the next without
talking, without words, without their voices being heard. Yet, their sound has gone out into the entire world, their message
to the ends of the earth."
I watch the new TV series on CBS with a mixture of intrigue, fascination and with a sinking feeling in my stomach. The series
has drama, with the good guys winning. This series is derived from the actual early career of Dr. Phil McGraw as a trial consultant.
The main character, Bull, influences the outcome of trials with a mixture of psychology, technology, experience and intuition.
Lawyers become merely puppets following his lead as he and his team wade into the very recesses of the minds and behavior
of the jurists. Their research helps them to tailor what is said and done to impact the outcomes in favor of their client.
That is what is frightening about this show.
Members of the jury are supposed to be the most impartial individuals that can be found who will decide a case not on prejudice,
but on the merits of the case. Jury consultants turn this whole idea on its head. These consultants spend much time and effort
figuring out what makes the members of the jury tick and then uses those factors to swing the jury in their favor. How?
What the person on trial wears matters, how they act, sit, etc. matters. They are coached. What the lawyers wears, says or
does matters as good lawyers have known for many, many years. A jury consultant knows the jury hot buttons, knows favorite
colors, places, values and can weave those into the lawyer’s presentation of the case until the facts become little
more than the background for show and tell, emotion and manipulation.
While in the TV show, Bull is on the side of the angels, for the most part, jury consultants are hired by either side--guilty
or not guilty. Income, not the guilt or innocence of the defendant, is what matters when this isn’t a crusade for justice,
but a career path. What this boils down to is if you have enough money to hire a jury consultant, and they don’t come
cheap, you gain the means to, very likely, alter the outcome of the trial. What’s more, the jurors never know they’ve
been had. They’ve been manipulated.
Our system of trial by jury has been inspected, investigated, and manipulated into a travesty of what an American trial is
all about--a fair and impartial jury. Do jurists come with their own set of views? Of course, but for those with the means,
the system now has another component our founders never considered--a means to game the system by using a juror’s own
likes, dislikes and values against him/her. While I am intrigued by the show, the reality is less satisfying. I have no answers,
just a sense that in this world of jury consultants, once more, the little guy, the average American loses.
Before Christmas we had trouble with our phones. Time to buy a new system. Our microwave decided it was tired of heating,
so a we shopped for both a new microwave and new phones. Close to Christmas, we called them our gifts to each other.
By the time Christmas arrived, our kitchen stove also decided to quit. The burners still worked, but the oven didn’t
heat. We bought the stove when we moved into our house in 1979--a house built specific to my needs. Since then the heating
element had been replaced twice. This time we needed a new oven. We managed without an oven until after Christmas.
One business couldn’t help this time, but offered great suggestions where to find what we needed, because not any stove
would do. It had to have the controls in the front and a oven door lightweight enough for me to open and close. Finding one
took some time and effort, since I needed to actually see and check it out before purchasing. I looked online and talked to
several business. All tried to be helpful. Finally, we found what we needed and had it delivered. We were set. Or so we thought.
The same week as we installed the stove, we woke up to a very cool house. Too cool for comfort. Turning up the heat made no
difference. Only air came out of the vents. I called Fiddelke. They had someone out very quickly. The young repairman checked
out the furnace and got it going again. The heat felt so good.
Later that day we discovered we had no hot water. Another call. Again a repairman was quickly sent to our house. This repairman
had been here before maintaining the furnace and AC and was acquainted with our system. He got the hot water heater going,
but noted another problem. He told us both had gone off at the same time. He checked the gas meter, saying it was the oldest
one he’d seen. Yup! It was also original to the house. He said if this happened again to call the gas company. It happened
and we did. On a Sunday. They dispatched a repairman. (We even had to wait in the car until the house was checked for any
gas leak. There wasn’t any.) We did get a new gas meter and the furnace was once more in operation.
Still the hot water heater wasn’t working. But later that afternoon, beyond the call of duty, a sympathetic repair person
fixed it as well. We now have heat and hot water along with new phones, new stove and a new microwave.
Instead of focusing on how much went wrong over the holidays, I now recall the positives of good people who were there when
we needed it. I am thankful for businesses who immediately sent out help and repair persons who went the extra mile with help,
repairs and suggestions.
I heard predictions of a bad winter. I hoped we didn’t have anything approximating the ice winter a few years ago that
blacked out heat and electricity in much of the region. Many didn’t have electricity for days, weeks, even months. North
Kearney seemed harder hit than South Kearney. In fact, we only lost power for a few short periods over the period of time
that ice and cold reigned supreme.
We’d been given a powerful lantern that ran on batteries, which we loaned to Jeff and Gloria, friends in North Kearney.
That Winter, missionary friends returned for a furlong from a much warmer climate. We sat around the diningroom table of our
friends Jeff and Gloria with our missionary friends, Al and Dee, who we’d known since college days. We ate, played games,
and listened as our friends talked about their work.
In the center of the table sat our lantern, powerful enough to light up the table. Keith and I were able to help out friends
by providing light. It was a good evening with long-term friends.
One never knew during that time when the lights might go out. One time, Keith and I were looking for something. I do not remember
what, but it was something for the house. We drove north to a business we thought would have the item. The building was huge
and lit only with electricity. There were no windows, except across the front of the store.
We were in the far reaches of the building when the lights blinked once, twice… Suddenly everything went dark. I knew
there was no danger, but the darkness was scary nonetheless. The glow from the front windows guided us back to the front.
Cash registers didn’t work so the clerk had to find paper and pen and do everything the old fashion way--by hand. When
we drove away, we noticed most of North Kearney had gone dark--in the middle of the afternoon.
Many during that time bought home generators they used to ensure their homes had both heat and light. Some, with fireplaces,
kept them going day and night and, pretty much, camped out in front of them. Others packed up and moved in with friends or
For all the inconveniences and hardships inside, outside was a wonderland. Ice crystals covered branches and leaves and stalks
still in the field. All was a frozen wonderland, taking away the breath with the intricate patterns of ice. Eventually, the
temperatures rose and the ice melted. Electricity returned to homes and businesses, leaving but memories behind.
Once the weather turned cold this Winter, I’ve heard comments and complaints. I don’t care to go out in cold either.
Yet I try to keep things in perspective. We’ve had a mild winter with little snow until mid-December. What do I reply
to the comments about the cold? “Be thankful.”
Sometimes, when things aren’t the way we like, we need to remember--both during bad weather and during bad times in
life that there is still good, God is still near and tomorrow will come. And so will Spring.
Often we believe that what we do doesn't matter. Only those with money and power or those with incredible skills or talent
can make a real difference. Not true. Each of us can make a difference. Sometimes we don't even realize how one small action
or word brightens up the life of another bringing joy, encouragement or might challenge someone to keep going, keep persevering.
At church my sister-in-law noticed my eyes light up when I checked out her pen/stylus. With a grin, she pulled out another
and handed it to me. I love paper and pens. As a child, I was thrilled when given notebooks and journals along with pens to
write out my thoughts, experiences, poems and stories. Even now, I still love pens. This pen was not only a pen and a stylus,
it was also a pen with my brother's business text on it. Such a small thing. Yet it brought a smile. With one small gift,
she brightened up my day.
With my limitations, I am more concerned how practical the clothing, rather than how fashionable. In the Winter, I wear
a hat to warm my head. These have small, soft brims. Not many hats fill my requirements. That Sunday I sported a new white/black
hat I'd purchased.
When the black knit hat I'd worn for years needed replacing, my friend Gloria found me a similar, but blue hat which I've
been wearing the last couple of winters. On a shopping trip, she saw that hat and thought of me. I was humbled. A simple hat
showed the heart of my friend.
My new hat would be kept for more dress up situations and when the blue hat wouldn't go with what I chose to wear. While
some of us talked, another church member joined our group. She glanced at my hat and told me that I carried hats well. That
never occurred to me. For me, hats were merely practical. Her comment really made me feel good inside. A compliment may seem
like a small thing, but reaps benefits for both the one who offers and who receives it.
Husker football is a Nebraska obsession. But for all the competitiveness of the fans, they are known as fans who treat
the other team with respect. Husker fans cheer when an injured player on the opposing team is able to get up and saddened
when one is hauled off the field.
What I've seen in many Husker games, even those we lost, were Husker players that did not start taking out their frustration
on the other team. More than once I watched a Husker reach out a hand to help up a player from the other team.
Small things really do matter, whether with a gift, a compliment or a hand up. Peace in the world doesn't start with treaties.
Peace starts with you and me caring enough to reach out with decency and respect to those around us.
How about starting the New Year with a commitment to, even in small ways, lift up those around us through our attitudes,
our words and going that second mile to brighten up someone's day?