Straight Up with Sherri

Friday, November 26, 2004

Every Day, Every Play

Today I am throwing out all the hard hitting facts, and writing straight from the gut. I will probably never do another post like this one, but with the Holidays among us, I thought this would be appropriate. I want to hang up the politics for a day, and just speak to the fiber of what I think is destroying our society as a whole. It has to do with our priorities. Where we say they are, and where they really are. In particular, I am speaking of parenting. There are many different scenarios of parenting gone wrong, form moms and dads working or staying at home, parents buying lots of things but never spending quality time with their kids, or moms and dads just walking out on their kids. I have made many mistakes in this area, and I am sure I will make many more. But for what it is worth, here's my take on how we actually treat each other, and how we should.

I hear the phrase all the time. “Raising children is the most important job there is.” What I see is a society that has mastered lip service. I know that most Americans truly value this job, yet everything in our society rejects it. Have you ever been in the line at a grocery store, seen a woman with 3 kids acting like monkeys, and as she begins to pay for her food with food stamps, you start to hear the voice of judgment?

Hearts with No Home

Let me tell you about a boy I know, we will call him “Dale.” Dale’s earliest years were much like the years I am going to tell you about, but I am going to begin the story with his year as a 3rd grader. His biological father had left his mother when she became pregnant. He always paid child support, ($38/week), but never visited or called. They had no contact. His father wasn’t a terrible guy. He was a senior in high school and just too young and way too scared to be a father. Dale’s mom was a woman with a free spirit. She was loyal to a fault, and trusted people, always thinking the best of them. She was smart but naïve, hardworking but without focus.

At the start of 3rd grade, Dales mother had just divorced her first husband and now she was shacking up with a guy she had known for a couple of years. Only 3 weeks into the school year, they all 3 moved 450 miles away to live with this guys parents in another state. After a few months there, they moved again into a trailer in a nearby town. One day Dale took the pocket- knife his mom had gotten him for fishing to school with him. When his teacher caught him with it, the “no tolerance” rules on weapons landed him in an alternative school. Luckily the teacher in this new school recognized right away that Dale did not belong there. He was smart, polite and hard working. She did notice however, that Dale had a hard time dealing with his anger and frustration. He would hit himself or bang his head against a wall or the desk. She met with his mom and about this, and Dale made great strides. Dale was quickly back at his old school just in time to move once again.

This new trailer was worse than the first. Dale slept on a couch in his room, he had no bed. He was scared to sleep due to finding snakes in his room that had crawled in through the holes in the trailer. They had no car, no phone, and his mom was now pregnant. When summer had started, a little boy who also lived in the same trailer park invited him Vacation Bible School. It was a great week for him. Mom was more than happy to have a Church van come pick him up and take him off her hands for a couple of hours each night. The following Saturday morning there was a knock on the door. Dale’s mother stumbled to the door kicking beer cans out of the way wondering who on earth was coming at 9:00 in the morning. When she opened the door, she saw an old man with white hair, holding a Bible, wearing a suit and a great big smile. He wanted to come in and talk.

Dale’s mother explained that they had been in bed and asked him to come back in an hour. What an hour that was. They had never cleaned so much, so quickly. The man returned in an hour and came in to talk. Mother, boyfriend, and Pastor Wilbur sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and talking about Dale. The pastor explained that Dale had accepted Christ as his savior, and wanted to be baptized, but wanted to be sure they had permission. Dale’s mom was excited. She not only gave permission, she wanted to be there.

Don’t be mistaken. Dale’s mom had grown up going to church. She had babysat for the Pastor’s kids, gone on youth trips, and even knew quite a few praise songs. She even still had the leather Bible that was given to her the week before Dale was born. She had come from a good, upper middle class family that lived in a rather affluent neighborhood. She never planned on living the way she was living now. The next morning Dale and his mother went to church together.

The pastor’s sermon was about how we try and clean up our house when company is coming over. We want to be sure our house is fit for company before we allow them in. Dale’s mom thought about her trailer, and how ashamed she was of it. Then the pastor explained that God already knew what our house looked like, and he still wanted to come home with us. Dale watched as his mother’s eyes welled up. “Bring Jesus home with me?” She had gone to church her whole childhood and had never once considered to bringing God home with her. She then began to shine. Her face beamed with joy. She wasn’t ashamed to bring God home with her. She knew that He knew her heart, and He was the ONLY one she trusted to come home with her and not judge her. Her life changed that day.

The rest of the day Dale’s mom didn’t stop smiling. Her boyfriend noticed something was up and started asking questions. She would just smile and say she was just happy. She was more at peace than she had ever been. He decided he wanted whatever it was she had, and started attending church with them. Dale’s mom changed instantly. The foul language she had used just disappeared. She still drank a beer from time to time, but was never drunk any more. In September she was baptized with her boyfriend, and the church gave them a wedding in November.

Dale’s little sister was born in February, and things seemed to be going very well. Soon this would change. His new stepfather just wouldn’t hold down a job and began stealing things. Finally his mother was able to work, and things started to get better. She had started up her own business cleaning offices and homes, and then his stepfather started picking up odd jobs mowing lawns and doing light maintenance work through her company. One day his mother had gotten a call from the Landlord and found out that the rent had not been paid in over 3 months. His stepfather had been keeping the money, and then even stole a check from his mother’s checkbook and forged it. None of the deposits he was supposed to be making were deposited, and the check had bounced. His mother got in the car and drove to a friends house, only to find out that her friend had gotten a call that informed her that the car they were driving had been was stolen.

Dale’s mother was devastated. His grandparents helped them get a u-haul and he, his mother, and his sister went back home and stayed with his grandmother. A month later, Dale’s mom found out she was pregnant again. His mother never lost faith, never stopped attending church, but walked around like a zombie for quite some time. Once Dale’s new sister was born and his mother was able, she started mowing lawns and scrubbing toilets to put her self through school. She kept a 4.0 GPA the whole way through school and was named GOAL Student (Student of the Year) of her school.

Dale has become a light to many. Dale always has all A’s and B’s in school. He never argues or talks back to his mother. He helps with his sisters weather it be baths, meals, or just babysitting. Dale is 15 years old, teaches Sunday school at his church, works, and is involved in community theater. He was on the Advisory Board at his school for Homecoming and even helps with reading bedtime stories to his sisters.

It has been over 3 years since his mother had left his stepfather, and they have seen him or heard form him since. He pays no support and makes no effort to contact them at all.

After his mother’s schooling, finding a job where she can be an effective mother has been difficult. She is determined to a better job at being there for his sisters than she was with him. She makes hard decisions everyday, but her children ALWAYS come first now. This keeps them poor financially, but rich in a home that is joyous and Christ-centered.

I know Dale will be a Godly man despite all the challenges he had to endure. I know this well, for he is my son. He is the greatest blessing and impressive example of grace and mercy I have ever known. I failed him miserably, but God’s hand was always on him. I know my Lord loves me and wanted me to find him, but I also know that Dale’s prayers are why I did. I know I will forever regret the pain my children have suffered by my own poor choices, but I will never put their biggest needs ahead of my wants and pride again. My hardest battle is not judging their fathers, but I know I cannot change them. I also know we are better off without the damage they would cause. Doing it alone is hard, but at least now, with God in our lives, our hearts have a home.

So the next time you are in the grocery line, and you see me there looking tired, and trying to hold back the disapproving glares, ask yourself if you may have seen their father. Maybe he just sold you a car, or you sat next to him at a ball game. If your son arrives to his football game and only half the team has shown up, what will you say to him when he is tired from playing offense and defense and special teams? What will you say if he loses? I hope you will pat him on the back and tell him how proud you are of him. He could’ve gone home too. But he didn’t. He stayed in there, battered and bruised. He did his best. Many parents are doing just that. They are there, every day, ever play.


  • - "We never give greater of ourselves, more in loving sacrifice, then to these, the blood of our bodies, and the children we all are of Jesus"...

    - I knew all along you were a beautiful person....Thank you for sharing this sweet gift...I truly understand...

    - Love .. Hunter and Sonny

    By Blogger - Hunter, at 2:35 AM  

  • tears, thank you

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:22 PM  

  • Dump the sob stories- stick to politics.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:35 PM  

  • Sob story? It was a story of pure will, determination and happiness. We have gotten so good at calling what is black, white and visa-versa, I don't get it.

    A sob story would have read; help me, my boyfriend left me and I can't make it on my own. I need someone else to take of me...

    This story was the opposite, you bed-wetter. Great work Sherri, I will be reading you regularly!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:58 PM  

  • I'm married with 2 children, and I barely have a moment to pee. How do you do it? My husband is helpful, but I am still so drained. I understand choosing the family over money, but why isn't someone doing something about dead-beat parents? This is one of the worst crimes I can think of. If a young girl leaves a child on a church doorstep, she is subject to severe legal action. But if a parent walks out and leaves their child with a parent, this is okay? So it seems where you abandone a child makes the difference. Or leaving a child totally in the system via church/foster care is bad, but leaving a child with the other parent is what? The fault of the parent who IS there? We spend time fighting over working mothers vs stay at homers- or public schools vs private vs home-schooling, and never bat an eye about the single parent forced to work, raise kids, keep them in public schools. I don't even want to touch on how this plays into the socialist agenda to destroy families and leave children at the mercy of public schools and tired parents while fathers run rampid creating more families of this nature. opps a rant. I am hitting the tip jar for you Sherri. May God bless you, I wnat to support you in spending your time with your kids, and getting the truth out to us here via your blog. I know Christmas must be hard. It is not much, but put a little something in their stocking from the Collier Family.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:25 PM  

  • Thank you. Wonderful story and my heart and kudos to Dale, you and your daughters.

    Hang in there ... your children will gather and praise you and your memories will highlight the golden times.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:12 PM  

  • I have had the privilege of spending time with Sherri and it is obvious to anyone who meets her that she is high energy and definitely not "shy" with her opinions. I was proud to call her a friend before I read this post, but now I am overwhelmed! Keep up the great work! P.S. - I would love to hear you on the radio... head to head with Ike Newkirk? (Ha! Like he would stand a chance against you!)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:06 AM  

  • Sherri, Thanks for sharing. That was a beautiful story. I wish you all the best. I'm sure your son will be a great man someday, having been through so many trials and tough situations. So many kids grow up in super-insulated environments where the worst thing that can happen is their batteries in the game-boy go dead just before winning. I like to say 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger' You are a strong person, and your children will be just fine. Take care and keep up the great work here and on LGF.

    Jim S in SE Michigan

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:20 AM  

  • Wow.

    Sherri, thanks for sharing Dale's story ... and yours. This is truly inspiring. All the best to you and your family.

    By Blogger Asher Abrams, at 10:25 AM  

  • Sherry,

    Just heard about your blog - opps, your website - on Drudge. I have one, too! Mind if I steal some fame? Love your site.

    By Anonymous donprocto, at 12:48 AM  

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