Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer. I, for one, am not quite ready to say goodbye to the sights and sounds of the baseball games, backyard cookouts, and camping trips I’ve enjoyed under the watchful eye of the hot summer sun. I know, I know. The kids are settling back into the routine of school while the retailers around here are ramping up for Halloween. Still, a part of me is in no hurry to close the books on summer.
Those who knew Chandler Grafner described him as a sweet and thoughtful little guy. He was shy, yet tender in spirit. The kind of boy who would pick flowers for his babysitter.
Which is amazing considering how Chandler’s brief life was nothing short of a living hell. By the time he reached age seven, Chandler’s home life was nothing more than a revolving door of unconventional living situations. His mother, Christina, bounced around between a number of men, including a stint with boyfriend Jon Phillips with whom she bore another son, Dominick.
I heard a story that still breaks my heart. Joann Condie is a state-licensed counselor and member of our staff who speaks with those who call us with various needs. She shared the story of a mother whose eleven-year-old boy had been using porn on the home internet for quite some time. When this mom found out, she wisely and carefully dug a little deeper.
That’s when she learned that an eleven-year-old neighbor friend had introduced her boy to pornography on the computer.
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.
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.
There are nice beaches – and then there are really nice beaches.
During spring break my family and I discovered one of the most beautiful slices of sand and surf in the country – thanks to an extremely generous friend who gave us the gift of saying at their beach house. It’s a picturesque town called Seaside, located on the Florida panhandle halfway between Panama City and Pensacola. Forgive me if I sound like a travel agent, but Seaside will take your breath away.
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” .
When I wrote my first book, Finding Home, I collaborated with Bob DeMoss. Bob and I have a friendship that goes back some twenty years. Last week, Bob’s world was turned upside-down with a family medical emergency. Yesterday he sent me an email with the details. He’s agreed with my request to share the story with you.
The phone rang unusually early for a Monday morning. My sister Becky called from Philly to inform me that my brother Steve (age 49) woke up feeling numbness throughout his right arm and leg.
I was scheduled to be in Ireland for several days of meetings last week. I packed, kissed the family goodbye, tossed my bags in the trunk, and headed to Denver – alone. While I enjoy traveling and working with our partners around the world, I sure miss my family. Upon arriving at the Denver International Airport, I was in for a surprise. The United Airlines representative informed me that my flight was delayed.
Translation: I’d miss my connection to London and, in turn, wouldn’t make it to Ireland in time for several key meetings.