I always loved sports. A parent at Burger King kept telling me about the poorest grade school in our town needing a little league baseball coach during the summer months. She told me they weren’t very good and that this particular group of boys had never won a game. I thought about this and after the season was only two weeks away and they still didn’t have a coach, I decided that I would volunteer. I knew nothing about coaching, but I did know baseball.
I had never worked with kids and never thought about working with kids. I made good money managing fast food places; liked it; and it gave me a good life. I started my first practice with the group of eleven and twelve year olds one night. We practiced for about an hour and a half and we were through. I was satisfied that things had gone well and I really enjoyed it. It was fun playing the sport I loved again and teaching these kids how to play. I also learned coaching began to be more than just playing a game; it mirrored life. So, I found opportunities to teach these kids some life lessons through the game of baseball. That intrigued me. That wasn’t the life changing event I was talking about though; it happened at the end of the first practice that first night.
After practice was over and all the kids were leaving, I felt a little boys hand grab mine from behind. I turned around and this tiny little black kid said “coach, can I play for your team”? I don’t know what it was; looking back I believe it was the way he looked at me. He looked at me with empty eyes; like he was asking me to do more than just coach him; that he needed me to do more for him than teach him a game. I just knew something happened; I couldn’t explain it. None of the other kids struck me like that; although I would later see they came from many different lives. Some happy, some tragic, and some just running wild. This little boy did something to me. He struck a cord in me that had never been struck before. I didn’t understand then what that meant, but I would find out after the first ball game. Suspense again; don’t you just love it! How long do you think I should make you wait until I tell you what happened? Should I write another chapter or two; no you’ll get bored and then go pick-up another book instead of mine. Alright, I will go ahead with the first ball game. Nothing happens in between anyway.
We just practiced for two weeks, this boy got on the team, and he was pretty good. This boy was very animated, very charismatic, and had personality I could only dream of. He over exaggerated every event on the field. It was fun watching him. All the kids were fun. They accepted me and we had a good time. I’ll always remember that first year I coached. There were no expectations; there is that stupid word again. I told that writer not to use it anymore; wait a minute, that’s me. Well, hopefully, you will learn one thing from my book; expectations will get you into a lot of trouble. Be careful what you expect. Disappointment often follows.
The first ball game was an utter disaster. I knew baseball; what I didn’t know was managing baseball. I had way too many kids and I did not do a very good job managing how much time each needed to play to give each boy a shot on the field to make him happy. One boy didn’t get into the game at all and his dad was not happy about it. You know how I know he wasn’t happy? I think it was about the 50th “bastard” that gave me that impression that I might not be on his Christmas card list this year. He was drunk of course. He never came to another game, and his boy apologized and told me not to worry, he didn’t want to play anyway. He only played to get out of the house. The kid turned out to be pretty good with some practice.
A nice kid he was. I was feeling pretty low and pretty guilty. He took all the pressure off me. I got the feeling he had some experience with being low and feeling guilty from the looks of his dad and the boys’ sensitivity to my needs. I’ll always remember what he did for me that night. But, that still was not the life changing event that I was talking about. The boy; the one who grabbed my hand; the one who struck a cord in my heart forever; do you remember him. The games that night ran real long. Ours was the last game and it was after midnight. All the other kids were gone, but me and this boy. I asked him how he was getting home? He said he usually walked home. At that time of night and the craziness that can go on; I said no! I will take you home. He got into my car; he didn’t say a word. I drove him to his house and it was pitch dark. No lights were on at his house. I asked if anyone would be home any time soon? He said; no! I asked him if he had a key to get in the house? He said; No! I asked then what will you do; where will you sleep? He said usually he slept outside until somebody got home. I asked when was that usually? He said sometimes not until the next day; if then!
My heart was breaking. I thought my dad was bad and my childhood experience was the worst ever. I could not leave this boy outside fending for himself. He said “that is alright; I always do it”. I told him that I didn’t care what he always did; that he was with me and I could not leave him outside alone at night. I told him that he was going home with me and he could sleep on my couch until tomorrow. I told him then I would bring him back over here and explain to his mother where he was and what happened. He said there was no need in doing that; that no one cared where he was. I told him that I cared where he was and that he was not staying by himself outside. He didn’t know it because it was dark (at least I don’t think he knew it), tears were flowing down my face all the way home.
Do you see where this is going? I’m white; he is an eleven year old black boy from the poor side of town. I smell trouble on the horizon. I would have never described myself or my parents as racist or prejudiced at all. I was about to learn a lot about black and white, a man and a little boy, and what my parents were capable of; especially my dad. He amazed me; but one thing at a time please! I only have one computer. I also only have one life. My cat has nine. Oh how I envy her. She gets nine chances to get things right. I only get one! I got him home and put him on the couch. He fell asleep quickly. I didn’t. I had been blindsided by this
whole thing. Despite what you might be thinking, I wasn’t thinking about black and white or anything else. I really didn’t think about black and white or the man and boy thing until much later when other people made sure I had to think about it. They gave us no choice. I only saw a lonely little boy who needed someone to care where he was at one AM in the morning. My boys later on made me feel guilty that I cared where they were, what they were doing, and who they were with. They tried to let me know that I had no right to ask these questions.
This boy did something to me that I was neither ready to face nor was I wanting to deal with it. There were kids out there that had no one that cared about them and what was I going to do about this one. How could I just send him home now and not make sure he was safe. I didn’t sleep; I prayed for guidance. I had no idea what journey God would take me down this time.
These journeys are getting to be a pain. He is always taking me on a new journey. I always have to learn something or be shown something; or he wants me to grow a little bit. Sounds like a loving parent who wants his child to grow up and be happy and help others do the same. It’s not much fun sometimes though. But I do like the end results. God always ends it just the right way and at the right time. Not the way I would have done it, but that is probably a good thing. I tend to mess things up pretty good when I am in control. You’ll figure that out more as we go along on yet another journey. God is always right on time. It seems throughout my journeys he works things out just when they need to be. I get anxious. I get impatient, but God teaches us we need to learn to wait on him. It’s all part of learning to trust him; to put our faith in him. Faith that he loves us enough to do it at just the right time; not the time we think is appropriate. Waiting, trusting, and the faith in him to give us what we need and when we need it. Whether it be a white Maltese dog in the middle of the night or a baseball coach at your house at one AM in the morning. He adopted me by my parents at just the right time. He adopted me into His kingdom at age nine at just the right time. He had my dad get the keys to my bike at just the right time. He had me coach an obscure little boys baseball team at just the right time. I knew this boy needed me. What I didn’t know is what this little boy would teach me. God also sent his Son to us on Earth at just the right time, born of a woman, but born with the mighty power and authority of God. It was just what we needed and at just the right time.
At Just The Right Time
At just the right time, God sent his Son to us.
Born with the power of God; under the law as a man.
Made of God, but born out of a woman.
Tempted by his earthly needs as a man
Made perfect by his Godly nature as divine.
Having a human nature, He desired to avoid the cross.
Being divine he carried it for our sake anyway.
Limited by his earthly body he bled and died.
Not limited by His Divine nature, He arose again.
Being of flesh and bone, He did thirst.
Being the perfect lamb, we thirst no more.
As the Son of Man, He took our place.
As the Son of God, He holds all things together.
As a carpenter’s son, He grew to be a man.
As God’s only begotten Son he grows us
To be son’s of the only one true living God.
He revealed himself to us by becoming a man.
He reconciled us with his father in Heaven
When He returned to be with Him in Paradise.
Making the way possible for us to follow Him.
The next morning was an experience. I never thought what having a little black boy on my couch would do to my parents who evidently never had much contact with black people. I played ball with a lot of kids; black, white, Hispanic, and even Asian. But I had a lot to learn about what problems race cause people; I was very naďve. This boy taught me so much. I believe that I learned far more from him than he ever learned from me. I had no idea what I was doing. He probably knew that. I guess he didn’t care because he stayed around a lot over the next eight to ten years.
I had finally half-way nodded off by early morning. I was awakened totally by the sound of my dad’s voice. I heard my dad say from their bedroom that was just across the hall from mine “Murt (that’s my mother), do you have any idea what is on our couch”? My mother replies “what”? My dad replies “there is a little black boy on our couch” and he asks “how did he get there”? My mom said “I think you better ask our son, I bet he had something to do with it”. It was a process for all of us. We all had to learn some valuable lessons. This boy became a part of our family. It was also my first experience being somewhat responsible for a child; a black child to boot. We all got up and ate breakfast. Not much was said. We were all checking each other out to see what kind of responses we were going to get. I imagined it was much like when I was adopted. No one knew what to expect. There is that word again. I’m now getting fined every time it is used in this book. I told that guy it wasn’t allowed anymore! That writer; he doesn’t listen very well. I may have to get a new one!
I never thought when I brought him home what response I might get from my parents. It never occurred to me to think about that when I brought him home. DHS, on the other hand later would always accuse me of having some ulterior motive and when I would say that I never thought of that; they would always say yea, right! I don’t want you to get confused. DHS was never involved in me and this boy. DHS wasn’t to be in my life for many years and many journeys later. I just like pointing out the gutter mentality some have when they ask you what your intentions were when you did a certain thing and how now days, it seems everybody has an agenda, and when you find someone that doesn’t have one or they have righteous motives, no body, especially DHS can deal with that. You must have an agenda! It’s required! You cannot do things just because it is right; you have to have a motive. Most of my fights with DHS were about that; them trying to tell me why I did something and me saying no, I never thought about that. Yeah Right! Well, let’s quit rambling again.
Well, we finished breakfast. By the end of it, we were talking and laughing like we had been a family for a long time. Edgar was the main reason for that. After the initial checking each other out and wondering where this was going, he began telling us about himself. We all go to know him and him us. My parents liked him and he seemed to like us. It was a good day! Someone knew had come into my life and turned it upside down. That was a good thing. Our lives now had some color in it; get it! Way over used joke, but it fits. Edgar would change forever how I viewed life from my white middle class sheltered experience. In many ways, he brought life into our family. There was a child in the home again; and a very different child.
Most of these things I would not think about until later. At the time, I was just experiencing all these new discoveries. My life did, though, begin to go in a whole new direction. A good direction and Edgar was going to take me there.
I took this boy back home that day and talked to his mom. She was happy that I had taken him home and supported me in everything I did with him in the future. She was always supportive. I admired her. She had a large family; husband gone years before and trying to raise all these kids. Most of her kids were into drugs or in prison. She wanted this boy to succeed. She welcomed my help and together we raised him the best we could. He went back and forth all the way through high school.
I took him to Dallas Cowboy games, Texas Ranger games, church, and family trips. It was a fun time when we were together. He was a good boy and has done well as a man. His daughter just graduated from high school with honors. He wasn’t perfect. He got in some trouble, but did not follow the path of his brothers. He always struggled with the two worlds he was in; the street and my house. If others would have left us alone, the choice would have been easy for him; but they wouldn’t. I had to rescue him many times from things that would happen at his house
I left for college in a couple of years, so I was in and out. But my parents, they surprised me. They took over when I left for college. In some ways he became the son my dad never had. He taught Edgar out in the work shop. My mom rescued him, as did I, many times when his brothers beat him up or a party broke out and he wanted to get out of there.
Early on in our relationship, it was just doing things together. Later, the real world crept in and let us know we were not alone. I began to get phone calls threatening my life if I went into that part of town again. Telling me, and my mom, that black people didn’t need white folk coming over to help them out. They liked to call my mom when I wasn’t there. They would tell her stuff like, do you know your son likes little black boys and do you want to know what your son is doing with that little black boy right now. They would proceed to tell her in detail. He had some rough times as well. His friends would make fun of him saying where is your white daddy today or you gonna have sex with your white daddy today. It just made it harder on him. I never thought about Edgar in that way or any other kid I ever parented, or worked with. I did have my secret sin, though, the one I held onto for forty-two years. You will have to wait for that one. I told you; I don’t want it to interfere with the rest of my story. It will be revealed, my confession, and the consequences that ensued. Be patient. Don’t expect too much; too soon. Well, there is another fine. Know any good writers!
As he and I went on, I thought, I expected that the problems would come from the white folk having a problem with it. I never got a comment from any family, friends , or neighbors. It was black folk that had the biggest problem with it; at least they were the vocal ones. I guess this is the only way they could express it. Well, it never really caused me and my parents any real problems. Nothing ever happened. The threats were just that; threats. The problem came with what it did to him. As he got older, he came around less. There were times he spent a lot of time with me and then times I would not see him for a long time. If he had trouble though, he always came and I was glad to see him. Now I only see him about once a year. He is growing his family and providing in another city in Oklahoma.
I am proud of you kid and I thank you for what you taught me. Color doesn’t matter, a man and a boy can have a father/son like relationship without it being abusive. Although this would not be last time that I would be accused of being a “boy lover”. It later would be what caused me to lose my Greatest gift, lead to my confession, and cause me many consequences. Love has no racial, cultural, or age boundaries, and he showed me what God wanted me to do with my life career wise. I devoted myself to children for thirty-one years, but after what I have gone through, I’m done! Now I just write about it. This poem is for Edgar who was truly born into my heart that day he looked up at me and said “coach; can I play for your team”? It changed my life and he taught me so much about life, race, and what God wanted me to do with my life. Thank you Edgar for loving me like a dad, believing in me come what may, and just for being Edgar! By-the-way, that book about your life we talked about writing; I really believe it is a story that needs to be told. People can learn from your life! I certainly have.
Born Into My Heart
You entered my life
On one very special day.
I knew when I saw you,
Things would never be the same.
That look in your eyes.
The way you held my hand.
I knew that God had more
Than Baseball in his plans.
So unsuspecting was I then
That God would would bring us together when.
I was looking for nothing, but a win.
You were looking much deeper within.
You were searching for someone to care
Where a little boy was at 1 AM.
You taught me to believe
In someone other than me.
You taught me how to love.
You taught me about Race.
You gave me a purpose.
God showed me through your face.
Our color meant nothing.
God’s love made the way.
You gave me the greatest treasure
I will never throw away.
You became a part of me.
In my heart you will always lay.
I’ll never forget the day you found me.
I thank God for you every day.
Though you were born to someone else,
You were born in my heart that very special day.
I told you that I was proud of him. He was the first child of his mother’s to finish high school. He was starting running back on the high school football team for two years. He did a stint in
the Navy. He took a bus up to where I lived at the time for a week and studied his brains out to get into the Navy. He worked so hard to get it. I was like the proudest papa around. That was the last time I got to spend any real time with him. After he got out of the Navy, he was taking care of his family and we just never have gotten together for any real length of time. I treasure my memories of him and things I learned through my experiences with him. Every time he comes to see me, he tells me thank you so much for all you did and I owe it all to you. I always tell him. You did far more for me than I ever could have done for you.
I wish that I had a better understanding then of what he was going through living in two worlds, the racial issues, and children growing up without fathers. I could have helped him more. I thank God he brought that little black boy to that practice and had him ask me the question I will never forget as long as I live “coach, can I play for your team”. I heard, hey man, I need a friend, someone who will be like a dad to me, someone who will care where I am at one AM in the morning; you up for it? Yea! I was up for it. I didn’t do everything right, but I did the best I could. God gave me a very special relationship with a very special boy. He taught me so much in the process, taught my parents so much, and gave me someone to care about. He cared about me. What more can you ask for in this world than to have someone to love and someone to love you. Why do people have to make it into something it’s not and lay so many extra burdens on you to overcome.
Edgar came back into my life recently after all that happened with my greatest gift. That is yet to come. Hold on to your attorney’s for that one. He showed up to help me and my mom move to Mississippi. We talked a lot. I found out a lot about those days that I did not know or that I wondered about. I learned he was hurt when I went to college. He thought I ran out on him. He has had recent struggles; so have I. But I see him trying to do what is right and struggling to find God’s will in his life. I see what he writes in websites. It warms my heart to know he is spreading the good news, learning from what he is going through, and is truly an inspiration to me. Now we call often, e-mail a lot, and talk about God and how to walk this life filled with trials. He teaches me; I teach him. He knows me like no other. He has seen me in bad times and in good. He knows who I am and what I believe in. I believe in him. I believe in a God who brought him to me when he needed it and when I needed it. God continues to use us both for each other in ways neither of us could have understood when that eleven year old boy grabbed a hold of my hand. I treasure his love for me, his belief in me, and his friendship to me.
Edgar grabbed a hold of my hand at age eleven wanting someone to love him and care for him. Now he holds my hand while I go through the most difficult trials of my life. He has stuck by me when most left me long ago. Even with my confession, he is still around. That is the true test of love and friendship. What a God we serve. One who knows what we will need Thirty years from now and starts the wheels moving getting ready to help us long before anything happens. He knows; He cares; He sees; and He shares all He has with us who believe in His Son Jesus Christ. God knew the moment Edgar took hold of my hand, that I would need him all these years later. God does have a plan for your life. Trust in Him; He knows you like no other; He loves you like no other; and He died for you like no other!
Edgar! He is truly one of the many joys and blessings God has given to me. Keep going Edgar; make your momma and my momma proud! I already am. Your momma is watching; my momma keeps praying. And me, well, I just thank God I get to call you my friend, my son without a color, and a child of the King. That ain’t me by the way! If I were a king, I would be called the king of fools or the king of ramblers or the king of “how many times does God have to hit you over the head with a hammer, before you get the message”. I know! I would be the king of “expectations”. Well, there is another fine. Where’s that ghost writer I hired? I am a stubborn king. I had to give up my throne though. Gave it up to someone who could hold the crown on His head. It became too heavy for me. As big as my head was, you think I could have supported it. Big heads weigh a lot I guess. I think that just added to the weight of the problems. Are we talking about crowns here or my life. You figure it out; I’m tired! I’ll write more later; if Christ doesn’t return and save me the trouble!
The rest of the book will probably clear some of this up anyway; especially if you and Jimmi Hendrix are having an Experience in the Twilight Zone partying together hallucinating about the events that will happen in my life that will eventually drive me close to death or considering going postal on myself or DHS. Was that the longest sentence ever put in a novel. Probably not. You’ll get it better later. Read the rest of my book, unless you get bored, and then come back and read this paragraph. It will all make sense. You will think you are hallucinating with Jimmi!
God put us here to bring him glory, love one another, and bring comfort to one another. He wants us to love him and show that love to others so they can benefit from his loving mercy and grace. If you’re not doing that, how sad! You are no doubt unhappy, have no peace, alone, and blaming everybody else for it. I did! How sad it is for me and you if we live our lives only for ourselves and don’t reach out to those who need to hear we love them and that there is a God above who loved us enough to send his only Son down here to get to know us in a very personal way.
You can find many religions that will make you feel good and they may even help you when you need it. But, unless you have a personal relationship with a God, the Creator of the universe, who loves you like no other and has the power to overcome any obstacle this world can throw at you. He is bigger than anything in this world. He is certainly bigger than me. How sad for me if I don’t learn to get to know more about this loving Father that pursues me so hard just to get know me, love me, take care of me, grow me, nurture me, correct me, and save me from myself and my sinful nature. Yea Edgar! You taught me a lot. I bet you didn’t know you knew all that. You were a good teacher. One of the best I ever had. It is only through his grace that I have attained anything in this world. Though I deserve all the bad things that can happen to me; yes, I even deserve to die on that cross instead of Him because of my sin. It is because of His endless and matchless grace that I can call Him my Savior, my Friend, and my Adopted Father.
The Sound of Grace
Grace so amazing.
What is that sound
That sounds so sweet
To those who receive it?
To the woman accused of adultery:
It sounded like rocks falling to the ground.
To the deaf man:
Like the world coming alive for the first time.
Like drops of rain falling from Heaven.
Like the mighty waves of the Red Sea parting.
Like the cock crowing never again.
Like the trumpets of God.
To the thief on the cross:
Like Jesus saying “tonight, you will be with me”.
Like the voice of a mother I never had.
To all of us:
Like nails being driven in the hands of Christ.
instead of ours.
So, listen to the sound.
The sweet sound of Amazing Grace.
God has a different design on how things work and how success is achieved. He was beginning to teach me what his design was. The world has a much different design. We have seen it well down through the years with slogans like “if it feels good, do it”. My generation is called the “Me” generation. We truly started to focus on ourselves instead of others for sure. We are taught now to look out for number one. Seeking our own pleasure and our own success is how we are raised. We see it in the media. We see it everywhere. We are raising more and more children who have no idea about how God designed things to work and that seeking our own pleasure will leave us empty.
The things of this world will not satisfy us. They will leave us dissatisfied, depressed, and lonely. Seeking only to please ourselves will leave us with just that; ourselves. God has a design to not only bless us with his unending riches, but the bible says if we place him before all others, he will give us the desires of our heart. I won’t go into that last one in this book. It would take way too long to explain what “desires of our heart” means and it would start a theological discussion that would never end. So, bottom line is this. Let me just say that as we become more like Christ; our wants and desires become like His. Our wants and desires change. What we once thought we couldn’t live without, all of a sudden, aren’t quite as important. So, don’t think if we have Christ in our heart that the Mercedez will be in the driveway tomorrow.
We have a choice. We can follow the world’s design or we can follow God’s. You will see in the coming pages where following the world’s design got me. I wish that I had learned my lesson the first time. God had much to teach me. Here is God’s design as I understand it from the bible. Following that poem is another titled “Promises to Remember”. I wanted to share it with you because it shares some of the promises of God found in the Bible. Promises we all need to know or need to be reminded of. I know that I had to keep reminding myself of these truths throughout my journey. It was these promises that kept me hoping and believing that all things would work out to my good, if I loved the Lord.
If we want to come in first,
We must put ourselves last.
In order to win the fight,
We must surrender to Him.
For us to truly live,
We must die to self.
To prosper and recieve,
We must first give all we have.
If we are to rise above it all,
We must first fall on our face.
For us to go forward in victory,
We must look back at the Cross.
To give someone our love,
We must first receive His love.
If we are to find ourselves,
He must first find us.
For us to be strong,
We must admit we are weak.
To find forgiveness,
We must forgive others.
If we want a new beginning,
We must first come to our end.
In order to be healed,
We must first suffer.
To be able to stand,
We must not fall for just anything
We must fall for Christ; He is the only way!
Promises To Remember
You will run and not be weary.
Though you will stumble,
You will not fall.
In view of the future glories God has for you,
Your present struggles are insignificant.
The Lord is good to those who wait for him.
God’s strength makes up for our weaknesses.
Blessed are those who hear and obey him.
God will never forsake you
And will never leave you.
Happy are those who God corrects.
God fulfills the desires of those who fear him.
Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
Nothing is too difficult for him.
In him are all things held together.
God blesses the lowly and gentle.
God will avenge.
Never avenge yourself.
If God is for us,
Who can be against us.
God gives life to the penitent.
God always provides for his own.
He rewards self-control.
He will wipe away all your tears.
In God we live,
In God we move,
And in God we exist!
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