If you’re familiar with my story as told in FINDING HOME, you know my dad did a lot of things wrong. Dad had an ongoing struggle with alcohol, gambling and horse betting. His poor choices damaged my parents’ marriage to the point where he and Mom divorced when I was five. After the divorce, he didn’t provide any child support so Mom had to work three jobs just to keep the lights on and food on the table.
The last time I went to a NASCAR race, I was something like 14 years old. That’s back when NASCAR legend Richard “The King” Petty was burning up the tracks. Ten days ago, I was invited by Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) to witness the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race XXIV at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.. I had no idea I’d get to watch the 100 laps of heart-stopping action from the best seat in the house–on the infield!
I have some very sad news to report.
Ten days ago, Maria Sue Chapman, the youngest child of Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, was blowing out five candles on her birthday cake. Last night, Maria died in a tragic auto accident in Franklin, Tennessee. What makes this loss especially difficult is the fact that she was accidentally killed by an older brother driving one of the family vehicles in the Chapman’s driveway.
At the time, the entire family was home celebrating the recent engagement of their oldest daughter Emily as well as the high school graduation of son Caleb.
I never met the man. I didn’t even know him. But his last act has touched my life in a profound way. Here’s what happened four days ago.
With visions of Happy Meals dancing in her head, four-year-old Kaniyah and her dad, Joseph Richardson, left a Chicago apartment for dinner last Monday night. Walking several short blocks to the nearby McDonald’s was one of the simple pleasures she shared with her father, a 39-year-old musician and choir director.
I’m not sure if you saw this news story. In October 2007, the Portland, Maine School Committee voted in favor of a plan to dish out birth control patches and pills to students as young as sixth grade at King Middle School. That’s the same school that had been dispensing condoms to kids as young as eleven-years-old since 2002. Eleven?
Did I mention that parental consent isn’t required?
Actually, it’s against the law in Maine.
Schools in Maine – and in many other states – will not inform parents of how their children are treated at a school clinic if they’ve signed a waver for treatment in case of injury, illness, or other emergencies.
I’m in Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings this week as well as to participate in the National Day of Prayer. Tomorrow’s activities include brunch at White House which is a real honor. My wife Jean and the boys are with me and, with an eye on the National Day of Prayer, I can’t help but reflect and give thanks to the Lord for the joy that my family brings me.
One of the things I love about my wife, for example, is her incredible nurturing heart.
If this has happened once, it’s happened dozens of times. Whether I’ve been introduced to a new couple or I’m visiting with old friends, eventually I like to bring the conversation around to their children. I’ll ask, “So, how are your kids doing these days?”
With broad smiles and glowing faces, they’re eager to report the good things going on with several of their kids. So-and-so is “doing great in school” . . . “made honors English” .
I came across a news story several months back that I’ve been meaning to comment on. Here’s The New York Post headline that originally caught my eye: Arrests Soar For Young & Ruthless. In their report the Post documented an alarming trend in crimes committed by youth in New York City. No question, the facts are disturbing: 52,936 youth (ages 13-18) had been arrested during 2006. Don’t rush too quickly past that figure.
That’s more than half the population of Albany, the state’s capital.
Jean and I were at a birthday party last week. While we dined with the adults, the boys were in another room with their peers enjoying kid-friendly food and games. One of the after dinner activities for the children was playing with a Wii (pronounced “We”). That’s the hot new video game console offered by Nintendo. As I learned, what sets Wii apart from other video games is a wireless controller that senses motion. This allows the gamers’ hand movements to interact with the on-screen action.
I don’t know her name. I’ve never met her. But her story captured my heart. With trembling hands, she held the test results hoping against hope there was some mistake. Although too young to drive a car, a pair of blue lines indicated she was old enough to get pregnant.
The reality rocked her world. Now what? Fear overwhelmed her to the point of tears. She was afraid to involve her parents. She didn’t want to be pregnant, yet she was scared of having an abortion.