The Last Point.
by Stephanie Hayes Swindell (Notes) on Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 7:29pm
The Last Point
I am at work this beautiful Saturday morning working a full day without much sleep after arriving home at 3 AM this morning from an out-of-town football game. I am overcome with emotion today as I was all night last night.
This was my son’s first year to play football at Arbor Christian. It was his first year to play football since 8th grade actually and this year he is a senior.
He is the kicker for the team and plays defense.
When he played football at Bonham the coach there seemed to be unfair and only concerned with politics. Needless to say, Shelby started to lose faith in adults and what we had taught him about fairness. He then wrestled his freshman year at Amarillo High School, but because he couldn’t keep his grades up, his coach told him that he was off the team and to come back if he could get his priorities straight. The coach didn’t have time to help a struggling student and he needed to focus on winning matches. We were active in the booster club and had worked on the fundraiser and dedicated our time to helping already yet the coach never discussed the situation with us. This broke some of Shelby’s spirit and he started to lose confidence in who he was. He sort of gave up at that point. He was falling through the cracks. He struggled to find where he belonged. He was lost in many ways, he didn’t know what his goals were, he wasn’t involved in any sport for the first time since he was three and he was slowly fading away. I felt like I was losing him. I cried out to God and soon he answered my prayer.
Once I decided to take him out of public school… I was finally led by the Holy Spirit to call Arbor. Several months before, I had read an article in the paper about Arbor Christian and the name change and another school. I had cut out the article and held on to it for months. I was sure why at the time, but I know why now. The Lord was already at work. After talking to the superintendent of one of the other private schools, I was feeling hopeless. He steered me away from his school and even steered me away from Arbor. Based on what I had told him about Shelby and his grades, he said that Shelby was going to be too far behind to succeed at his school. I asked him about Arbor and he said I don’t think Shelby would be “a good fit” at Arbor either… he directed me to a few small “unaccredited” schools. I was distraught. I literally lifted my hands to Jesus and cried “please Lord, Guide me.” I then sat there quite for a few minutes and decided, I’m going to call Arbor anyways, the worst they can do is turn us away. So I called. I spoke to Renee Whitaker who immediately made me comfortable. I spoke briefly of the situation, and she said, “come on down anytime, I will show you around and answer any questions you have, if you decide you’re interested you can set up a time to speak to our principal Jennifer Wilkerson.” I said “we are on our way!”
After speaking with Jennifer we felt the welcoming atmosphere immediately. We found our school home.
Last night was our last football game of the season. We had lost all but one game all season. We lost our game last night too. Shelby kicked the last point of the last game of the season, and for Shelby the last point of the last game of organized football he will most likely ever play.
For some parents and fans it was an end to a losing season….better luck next year.
For some senior parents it was the last game their child will play football.
Last night for me it was one of those rare moments in time that you wish you could stop time. Last night I absorbed and soaked it all in. For me it was not just the end of Shelby’s last game it was a moment in time that God gave me the privilege to witness and be apart of.
Our team always prays together after every game. They did so again as they always do, but then after the other players headed off to the locker room for showers, the small group of senior players, huddled together an even smaller group of the 8 senior players… they all had their arms around each other with tears in some of their eyes, took a turn and prayed aloud for each other and thanked God for their season together, I came close to take a picture of the beautiful sight and overheard my son closing his prayer and looking up to his team mates and saying “I love you guys”.
I no longer could hold back my tears…my heart swelled with pride for these young men… this team had not been defeated…no one was mad at anyone or blamed anyone for a bad play or season … they saw so much more in their football season… they had come together and played as a team and they were glorifying God.
Even more so for me, it was a moment in time that I will remember always. There are moments as a parent you make decisions you question, then there are the moments you almost hear God’s voice say, “see Stephanie, I led you and you followed. You were patient and allowed me to do my work, and I am doing it. See! Enjoy child… soak it up.”
Shelby has grown so very much. He is a different young man now than he was one year ago when we first transferred him to Arbor from public high school. With guidance and respect for him as an individual, Arbor has allowed him to grow into the Christian young man who God wants Shelby to be. His strengths are glorified and his weaknesses are strengthened. Coach Rives has become a mentor to him. He admires him and discusses his decisions and problems with him. I am so thankful Coach Rives is in Shelby’s life. All of the coaches are that way. They are incredible men. Because of the strong personal relationships Shelby has with the teachers, staff and coaches at Arbor, he has learned to handle things more maturely and realized that adults can be your friends too. He has made plans for his future and he is really happy for the first time in a long time. The past three months have been the best time I have had with Shelby since he reached puberty.
He still is a teenager 100 % and needs guidance on many things, but God has provided him with the exact person in each situation and experience, each time to help him along the way. God has shown Shelby a way of a better life and because of that he makes better decisions now than he would have a year ago. Shelby still struggles some with his grades, but with grace and respect he is held accountable and given opportunities to learn in different learning styles and is not shoved into a mold that he can not possibly feel successful in. The teachers are amazing.
As I reread this I want to say, there is nothing wrong with public schools. My husband and I are both Amarillo High graduates. (once a Sandie always a Sandie) Every child is different, every situation is different. Our daughter also goes to Arbor now. Where she has blossomed, feels safe being herself, and doesn’t feel like a number.
This isn’t about private school versus public school.No school is without flaw. I know this. This is about answered prayer and letting God take control of your life and the lives of your children. This is about faith, grace and love. This is about growth and about how amazing God is and can be in your life if once you pray for something and continue to be prayerful, you actually let go and let God do his work.
God is good.