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Good Father, Bad Father A NOVELLA

Daniel Whyte III with Meriqua Whyte


Good Father, Bad Father, by Daniel Whyte III Copyright 2014. Torch Legacy Publications. All Rights Reserved. First Printing, 2014 No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner, except for brief quotations included in a review of the book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Acknowledgments I want to thank God for giving me the joy and privilege to serve Him, over these past thirty years. It has been an exciting ride that I cannot even begin to express in words. I also want to thank my wife, Meriqua Whyte, for assisting me in this field of writing fiction—a field that I have grown to find very effective in getting the Gospel and biblical truth to people who will not hear it any other way, except in a story. Thanks also goes to all of my children: Danni, Daniel IV, Danita, Danae, Daniqua, Danyel Ezekiel, and Danyelle Elizabeth, for assisting me in every aspect of my ministry and in all of my writing endeavours. Also, I say thank you to all of those who have bought, borrowed, shared, and given copies of my books as gifts to others. Your kind words and support mean the world. --Daniel Whyte III


1 Tyson McKenzie called it a day just before the twelve noon lunch hour. After making sure his employees were clear on their responsibilities for the rest of the day, he hurried home to have a quick lunch with his wife, Dorothy, and his daughter, Rose, showered, and then took off for the golf course with them. Today was the big day. His twenty-year-old son, Dexter, would be playing in the Michigan PGA Golf Championship on the Saturday before Father's Day. “I am so proud of you,” he had told his son that morning before he left for work. ---------Tyson McKenzie owned and operated his own mechanic’s shop — McKenzie's Christian Auto Repair (McCAR) — in Detroit, Michigan, where he resided with his family, and had been operating that business for the past fifteen years. Before making the decision to become an entrepreneur by creating his own business, he was putting his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering to work at the Ford Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, the auto capital of the world. “Are you sure you don't want to reconsider? I hate to see you go,” his boss, Mr. George Gregory, said to him. “If it's more money, we'll gladly arrange for an increase in your salary. I mean it's no problem. You've been a great asset to our company.”


“No, money's not the problem, Mr. Gregory,” Tyson explained. “The company is paying me well. If you continue paying me as much as you are, and if I keep saving it up, I'll be a millionaire in a few years.” Both men chuckled. “We need more workers like you,” his boss said. “You're a person of integrity, honesty, and faithfulness. I can trust you to do the job and do it right when I'm not around. Just between us, we're going to have to fire some of these people because they are slacking up on the job. They seem to only want to work when I'm breathing down their necks.” “I don't mean to preach to you, but my dad shared two verses with me throughout my high school and college years that have helped me in my work ethic to this day. Those verses say I am to work with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, not doing it for eyeservice just to please man, but to please God.” “You can tell that to these slackers we have working here,” Mr. Gregory laughed. “By the way, the invitation to my church still stands,” Tyson said. “I haven't forgotten. I'll be visiting soon. But tell me, why are you really leaving now?” “This is a great company and I love working here, but I feel the Lord leading me to do this. My children are young: my son is six and my daughter is three, and I just feel like I need to be home more for them during these years. My wife is doing a great job, but she


needs help raising the children, especially my son. He is proving to be more than a handful—if you know what I mean.” Mr. Gregory nodded. “I sure do. I have two boys, one eleven and the other seven. They are both a handful. Right now, I call them the 7-11 team!” Tyson continued, “I'm putting in fifty hours here, six days a week. Sometimes while I'm here I'm thinking about how I could be spending some of this time with my kids. I don't even have enough time to take my little boy to his golf practice myself.” “What are you going to do? I trust you already have a new job lined up?” Mr. Gregory asked. “I spent this past year making plans to open my own mechanic’s shop. I’ve got the building and a bank loan secured. I may not bring in as much money as I am making now, but any sacrifice is worth it to be with my kids and to help set them on the right path.” “So you were conspiring all along,” Mr. Gregory said with a chuckle. “On a serious note though, I do know where you're coming from. Family is what it is all about, and I respect you greatly for that. We need more fathers and mothers to put their children ahead of themselves. I once heard a great leader say that a parents' first responsibility is to be there for their children.” “I completely agree with that,” Tyson said. Mr. Gregory gave Tyson a firm handshake. “All the best, and if I can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to call me.” ----------


As Tyson, his wife, and seventeen-year-old daughter headed for the golf course, Tyson said, “I need to get in touch with Michael Norwood from California. He was the one who first gave me advice on how to raise you, Rose, and your brother. I’m sure he will be proud to hear how you guys have turned out. He and his wife are the couple who have twelve children—well, ten when I visited them.” “How are they doing?” his wife asked. “I lost contact with them. I'll give my brother a call and ask about them.” Looking through the rear view mirror, he asked his daughter, “How would you like to have ten brothers and sisters, Rose?” “Maybe ten sisters, but no more brothers; one is enough,” Rose said laughing. “Rose, let me tell you something that happened when I visited your Uncle Ethan and went to his church with him. Dexter was three years old then. Your mother was pregnant with you so she didn’t make the trip. Anyway, Mr. Norwood and his wife attended that church and he invited me over to his house for dinner the next Monday. Your uncle told me more than once I was in for a surprise. Boy, was I!”


2 “Tyson, you are going to be in for a surprise,” Ethan said after Brother Norwood invited him over for dinner. Brother Norwood picked Tyson up and they fellowshipped for a while after they got to the Norwood's residence before Mrs. Norwood called them to the dinner table. Quite a bit of food for just three people, Tyson thought as he took a seat at the table, which he noticed had eleven other places set with dinner plates, forks, spoons, and drinking glasses. As soon as Brother Norwood and Tyson sat down, Mrs. Norwood left the room. He heard her say, “Kids, it's time to eat.” As she took her place at the table, nine children filed into the dining room and took their places. Tyson sat amazed. “Children, this is Mr. McKenzie,” Brother Norwood said, then proceeded to introduce each child giving their age. They also had a baby who was asleep. Tyson, although engaged in conversation with Brother Norwood, noticed how orderly and polite the children were. Even though they engaged in conversation, the children showed the utmost respect for him and for their parents. “Brother Norwood, I must say this: If you did not have your children to come and eat with us, I would have left thinking you and your wife did not have any children,” Tyson said to Brother Norwood after the children asked to be excused from the dinner table.


Mrs. Norwood was about to go into the kitchen, but the children declared it their duty to clean up since they had a guest. Mrs. Norwood then joined her husband and Tyson in the living room. “My wife and I only have one child; she's pregnant with our second. Our son is three years old, and he is not as orderly as your little son,” Tyson said. “I hate to say this, but he is a bit out of control—more times than I would like to admit. From seeing how orderly your children are, I know I am doing something wrong. How did you get them to behave like that?” Before Brother Norwood could answer, one of the oldest girls stopped just in the entrance of the living room. “Excuse me, Mom, but Candace is awake. Would you like for me to get her?” Mrs. Norwood excused herself to tend to Candace as Michael answered Tyson’s question. “I was where you are when we had our first three children. It took an older couple from Scandinavia to sit me and my wife down and tell us how to train our children after they misbehaved during a train ride we were taking. The couple were also on the train and were vacationing here in California. We talked for over an hour. At first we weren't going to do what they shared with us, but we got desperate after my oldest boy almost drove me crazy. “Having these many children has taught me that our job as parents is to train them up in the right way so they can be used by God to be a blessing to Him and to others.” “Please tell me what I am doing wrong,” Tyson said. “I tell my three year old to say things like, 'thank you,' 'please,' 'yes, sir,' and he says it when he feels like it. We sit him down with a book to read


and tell him not to get up, but he throws the book, says, 'no,' and begins running all over the house making noise. I just don't believe the house has to be so chaotic.” “It's all in how you discipline them. Consistency is the secret,” Brother Norwood said as he got his Bible from the side table. “A lot of parents begin well and they discipline their children starting out, but they fail to do it consistently; they do it when they feel like doing it; some only try to discipline their children when they get in public. That is certainly not the time to do it. Child training is not easy because they are sinners just as we are. Many parents get fooled into thinking that their children are little angels who are incapable of doing any wrong; and while they are exerting their little wills, we parents sit back clapping and praising them in their wrongdoing, saying things like, 'Oh, that is so cute. Doesn't she look cute with her mouth poked out like that!' Too many parents make a game out of the child's rebelliousness.” “That's right,” Tyson said laughing. Brother Norwood opened his Bible. “The Bible gives us the solution to child training. It says in Proverbs 22:15 that 'foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.' Foolishness is stubbornness, disobedience, a bad attitude, and outright defiance.” “At what age do you begin to discipline them?” Tyson asked as he watched Brother Norwood's four-year-old twin sons playing together on the floor.


“As soon as they can fully understand and respond to your voice, that's the time to begin being firm with them if they refuse to,” Brother Norwood said. “Many parents get deceived into thinking children do not know what is going on. Sometimes that causes them to not discipline them until their teen years and it's a little too late then. You have to begin earlier.” Mrs. Norwood had returned to the living room with Candace, and sat down in her chair. “This little girl,” Brother Norwood said referring to the baby, “is not quite two years old yet, but she knows how and when to manipulate and throw a tantrum. She used to cry and whine for no reason. We knew nothing was wrong with her because her diaper was dry and she had been fed; she had her toys, and on top of that her sisters would be trying to play with her; yet, she'd still whine and whimper.” “How did you handle that?” Tyson asked. “Because that is where we are with my son, Dexter. My wife is sometimes at her wit’s end trying to appease him when he does that. Sometimes she is exhausted and frustrated by the time he is settled down.” Brother Norwood chuckled. “Yes, but then is not the time to give in though. Then is the time to look your son in the eye—and you make him look at you—tell him 'no' firmly without smiling. If he does not listen to your voice, you have God's permission to chastise him. You do that every time he acts up and after a while he'll straighten up. Do that for every act of disobedience.” “Now, I've given him a few swats on his butt with my hands —”


“No, no, don't do that. Don't ever hit them with your hands for three reasons: One, the Bible says to use a rod. In chapter twentythree of Proverbs and verses thirteen and fourteen, it says, to 'withhold not correction from the child: for if you chastise him with the rod, he shall not die; and you are delivering his soul from hell,'” Brother Norwood said. “The second reason is, you want your children to associate your hands with hugs and love—not with pain. This way, they will have no problems with you hugging them or holding them or giving them a pat on the back or even coming near them. But if you constantly hit them with your hands, especially hard enough to cause pain, they will associate your hand with pain and will shy away or stiffen when you touch them. Let them associate the rod with pain and your hands with hugs.” “That makes sense,” Tyson said. “You pray and ask God to give you wisdom in training your children,” Brother Norwood said. “The third reason is the hand might work when they are under two years old, but a few swats on the behind is not going to work for a six-year-old, nor a ten-year-old, and definitely not for a teenager. And before you chastise your child, make sure you are calm, because if you do it out of frustration and anger then you might end up using more force than you should. If you want to chastise your children, then you should not be doing it. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you stay prayed up and apply the discipline as soon as the wrong act occurs. And do it because you love them.” “That I fully agree with,” Tyson said.


“One other thing: you and your wife have to be together in training your children. You can't say 'no' to something and she turns around and says 'yes.' Like I said, children are smart and they will pick up on that and begin to play one parent against the other. But as the head, you must set the pace.�


3 Tyson returned home to Michigan intent on applying his newly acquired knowledge. “I wish you could have been with me. You could have heard a pin drop in that house the whole time I was there,” he told his wife, Dorothy. “And I was with them for about four hours. And guess what? Mrs. Norwood did not look stressed out at all.” “Tyson, I believe in disciplining children. My parents' disciplining me and my siblings was what kept us in line most of the time, so I have no problems with that. I do have a problem disciplining them at the age of three and younger. They hardly know what is going on,” Dorothy said. “They may not know what they are doing, but they do know what they want—whether it is good for them or not,” Tyson said. “At least that's what I have noticed with Dexter, and it is up to us to decide what's good for him when he is this young.” Dorothy taught at the elementary school, first grade and sometimes K-5, before she decided it would be best for her to stay home at least while her children were young. She knew and understood the importance of maintaining proper classroom management to produce an environment conducive to learning and for the safety of all. “Anyway, as I was saying, we are going to have to be more consistent in disciplining Dexter. We can't get frustrated and just give in to what he wants because we do not want to be bothered. That's


defeating the purpose. After a while he is not going to listen to us at all,” her husband said. “Okay,” Dorothy agreed. “Another thing,” her husband said, “We have another child on the way and that's going to add to your stress level—” “Tyson, don’t worry. I’ve already spoken with the principal about quitting at least until our kids are older,” Dorothy said. “I appreciate that,” Tyson said, “I wasn’t going to advise you to quit altogether, just maybe take a leave of absence. I know it will be a sacrifice staying home, but in the long run, I’m sure it will be worth it.” It had been a hard decision for her. Dorothy was not too thrilled with it starting out, but after a while she was glad she did. Not having to deal with the stress of hurrying in the mornings to get her children ready to take to the daycare center, then hurrying back in the evenings to pick them up, fighting traffic, rushing to have dinner prepared on time for her husband when he came home, getting caught up in household chores in the evenings and on weekends, dealing with other people's children who came to the classroom with all kinds of baggage, were rewards enough. One concern still hung over her head. “Tyson, how are we going to make ends meet? That is quite a bit of money we will be losing each month. It would be nice to have the same breathing room when it comes to our finances.” “We'll manage,” her husband said confidently. “We will just have to cut back where we need to.”


Tyson remained at his job at the Ford Rouge plant for another two years. He had thought occasionally about quitting and going into business for himself. What took place one Wednesday night at prayer meeting helped him to make the solid decision toward that end. “Dorothy, that was just embarrassing. Here I am in the adjoining room praying with the men and you should have been praying with the women, and we hear nothing but screaming and running and all kinds of chaos coming from the auditorium. It sounded like Indians on a warpath. It was that bad,” Tyson said to his wife on the way home after prayer meeting. “I knew it was Dexter and Rose, but I pretended that I did not know it was them. I do not ever want to hear my children behave like that again. You have no control over these children at all.” “They just won’t listen. I do not know what got into them,” Dorothy said her face burning with embarrassment. “You are their mother and you have been with them all day, and you do not know what got into them?” Tyson said. “I told you, you are going to have to learn to control these children or they are going to embarrass you big time, and the embarrassment is going to get bigger and worse as they grow older.”


4 They had reached home now, but sat in the garage still talking about the embarrassing situation. “I walk into the auditorium and I see my three-year-old, the chief Indian, using the auditorium like a running track with two others running behind him shouting at the top of their lungs. And my six-month-old is screaming her head off. Can you explain to me what was going on?” “She was not screaming; she was just a little fussy,” Dorothy said defending herself. “Screaming, whining, fussy—it makes no difference,” her husband said. “They should have been sitting down quietly beside you. The problem I have with all that is you sat there oblivious to their behavior. Your attitude was 'they are not my children.' Why didn't you take them outside or at least to another room rather than let them disturb the prayer time?” “I grabbed Dexter's hand, but he kept pulling away. I could not hold him and Rose at the same time,” Dorothy argued. “You had better learn to hold on to both of them at the same time. When you get to a busy intersection, what are you going to do if he's pulling away from you? Just let him dash out into the busy street? Come on now; and what are you about ready to cry for?” Taking on a more quieter tone, Tyson said, “Look, Dorothy, you can't keep depending on me to bail you out every time they act up. You're going to have to step up to the plate and gain control and


garner their respect for yourself. I have been telling you that for quite a while now. You have to let them know you are not going to take their foolishness and that begins at home. You cannot let them run wild at the house and suddenly expect them to sit still out in public.” “Well, didn't you say we're supposed to work together,” Dorothy said as she swiped at a falling tear. “Where I am weak, aren’t you supposed to step in?” Tyson shook his head as he took her in his arms. “Look, Dorothy, yes, we are supposed to work together. But you can't expect me to come out of prayer meeting, or to leave my job, or leave whatever I am engaged in to come and settle the children down. That is something you have to do for yourself when I am not around. I come home in the evenings and Dexter is running wild, Rose is whining, and there is constant chaos. There isn't any peace until I step in.” Realizing that his wife did not have the mental and physical strength and fortitude to sustain at the daily task of training their children, Tyson saw that he needed to be home as much as he could to help set his children on the right path. “You're going to have to try much harder. Whenever I am away, please do not let them get away with anything, especially Rose at her young age. Dexter is four years old. You cannot let him get away with anything either. If it gets close to my coming home, say within an hour, you can tell him you are going to tell me what he has done wrong and I will discipline him when I get in. But you have to make sure you do tell me or he will begin to see you as bluffing and continue his foolish behavior.”


“Okay,” Dorothy said. “It’s important that you do it. I saw a sign of resignation and defeat on your face tonight. Remember that verse in Proverbs where it says 'a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.' If this continues, they are going to weigh you down with grief.” “You're right,” Dorothy said. “It's just so hard for me to chastise them every time.” “I know. It's hard for me too, but we can't let our feelings get in the way. We have to look out for their future,” Tyson said giving her a kiss. “I'm still studying the book of Proverbs, and one verse says to ‘correct thy son’, and that means our daughter too, ‘and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.’ Right now you get a little antsy when you have to take them with you anywhere hoping they behave themselves.” Dorothy could not deny that last statement. “Another verse says, 'the rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.' I don't know about you, but I do not want any of our children to bring us to shame.” Even though her husband's words hit her to the core, Dorothy had to agree with him. As young as the children were, she often wished she could go to the grocery store or other places without them—not because she hated her children, but because she knew they could act up at any given moment, and she had not yet mastered the art of controlling them with her voice.


5 Tyson pulled into the gas station to fill up on his way to the golf course in Highland, Michigan. As he stepped out to pump the gas, he noticed a good friend of the family, Dr. Alfred Thomas, at the next pump. Dr. Thomas was not just a friend of the family, he was also Tyson's doctor. “Dr. Al, what's been happening? I haven't seen you in a while,” Tyson greeted him. “How's the family doing?” “Everyone's in good health,” Alfred said. Both men laughed. Alfred always answered that question with the same statement: Everyone's in good health. Dr. Alfred Thomas was a practicing physician at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit. He did rounds at the hospital four days out of the week and was on call as well. In addition, he had his own private practice. He was well known and loved by all who knew him. Patients even came from out of the city to the Sinai-Grace Hospital just to be under his care. A co-worker had recommended Dr. Thomas to Tyson when Tyson was looking for a personal physician some years back. Alfred and his wife, Judy, had two children, Alex and Angela, around the same age as the McKenzies’ children, so that served as an instant connection. “How's your son doing?” Alfred asked. “I saw him on the news yesterday. He's making a big name for himself in golf. I'm proud of him.”


“Oh, yes. I'm proud of him too. In fact, we're headed to the golf course to watch him play,” Tyson said. “How's your son doing?” Alfred's eyes clouded over as he placed the gas hose back on its holder. He took the few steps over to where Tyson stood. “He's not doing so well at all. They are talking about possibly giving him twenty years in prison, and that's pending on good behavior.” “I'm sorry to hear that. I really am. I'll continue to pray for him,” Tyson said. “I wish there was something I could do.” “You've done all a friend could do and more. You gave him a job at your auto shop; you've shared life principles with him. I provided him with a place to stay after he decided he wanted to move out. I was even willing to help him pay rent on the place — even though for some reason he never invited his mother or me to visit him there. I gave him a brand new car even before he graduated from high school. Me or my wife were home every evening. I was a father who stayed. I never ran off on my children. I was not out there running women or getting drunk. I did all I could for my family. I just don't know where I went wrong, Tyson. I just do not know where I went wrong.” Tyson could see the utter grief shadowing his friend’s face. Tyson wanted to tell him that he failed to discipline his son with tough love, but he held back. “I'll continue to pray for the family and especially for your son,” he said instead. “God will bring him around. There are some things that only God can fix.”


“Thank you. You and your family have been a great encouragement to us,” Alfred said. “Well, don't let me hold you up anymore with my troubles. I need to head on to the hospital myself. I have to perform a heart operation in an hour. You be sure to tell Dexter I will be rooting for him.” Alfred waved to Dorothy and Rose and then took off in his BMW. Tyson's heart went out to him. He had not been aware of the problems Alfred was having with his son until the police came by his auto shop to arrest Alex. ---------Tyson sat in his office going over the work order for a customer's Volkswagen when one of his employees knocked on the door. “Come in,” Tyson said looking up. His employee, John, stuck his head inside the office door. There were two police officers behind him. “Mr. McKenzie, Officer Paul and Officer Saures are here to see you,” John said. “Okay,” Tyson said slowly. He could not imagine why the police wanted to see him. He stood up as the officers came in. “We have a court order to arrest Alex Thomas. We were informed he is an employee of yours,” Officer Paul said as he showed Tyson the warrant. “We were unable to get him at the residence address given to us, so our next stop was here, his place of employment.”


“Well, he is one of my employees,” Tyson said. “If you don't mind my asking, what is this all about?” “He is being charged with having sex with a minor and assaulting the minor's father after he got caught,” Officer Paul said. Tyson could not believe what he was hearing. “If you gentlemen will wait here, I'll have him come to the office,” he said. “What kind of a worker is he?” Officer Saures asked. “I haven't had any problems out of him. He's been working here for a little over a year. He's a hard worker, always on time, treats me with respect...but you never know.” He pressed the button and called Alex over the intercom. When Alex entered the office, he took a few step back and did a half turn as if getting ready to dart back into the shop. “I would not do that, son,” Officer Saures said firmly as both officers seized either of his arms. Officer Paul started to state his rights. “Stay calm,” Tyson told Alex. Although he could see fear in his eyes, he also saw a sign of relief as Officer Saures placed the handcuffs on his wrists. “I'll be down to see you as soon as I close up shop, Alex,” Tyson said. “I'll get in touch with your father as well.” Alex nodded.


6 The officers escorted Alex out of the office and into the police car. Tyson let out a deep sigh as he placed a call to Alfred's office. Alex is nothing but a child himself and already headed for jail for at least five years. On top of that, he compounded the situation by getting in a fight with the girl's father. What was he thinking? “I'm sorry, but Dr. Thomas had to go to the hospital for emergency surgery,” the receptionist informed him. “He's been gone for a few hours now; he may not return to the office today.” Tyson tried to reach him at the hospital but was unsuccessful. He called his office once again and left a message. “Lord, all I can do is ask You to intervene in this situation. You know better than I do what has and is taking place in that home,” he prayed. After working for another three hours, Tyson headed downtown to the city jail. Alex was no longer in the holding cell, but was in a cell with another inmate. If the charges were true, he would have to register as a sex offender. Fortunately, Tyson arrived ten minutes earlier than the scheduled visitation hours. He placed a call to his wife to let her know where he was, asking her to pray for the Thomas family. “Hey, Mr. McKenzie,” Alex said as he took his seat behind the glass partition. “Hey, Alex,” Tyson said. Alex's attempt at a smile could not hide the defeat and worry in his eyes.


Tyson prayed with Alex, then asked, “Alex, what's going on?” Alex remained silent. “Come on. You can tell me,” Tyson said. “Mr. McKenzie, you don't need to worry about it. It's not your problem. Did you get in touch with my Dad?” “Alex, I'm your boss, and not only that, but a friend of your father. The police come to pick you up at the job and you're telling me I don't need to worry about it? You may as well tell me because the police already told me everything—at least what you are being charged with.” “Oh, man!” Alex said hanging his head. “Did you get my Dad?” “No, I did not get him. Now tell me what happened.” Alex sighed. “See, Mr. McKenzie, I was at my girlfriend's house, just visiting. Her father came and saw me and blew our relationship out of proportion. He told me not to ever come to his house and to leave his daughter alone. I thought he was going to beat me up. I had to defend myself.” Tyson looked at Alex askance, long enough to make him feel uncomfortable. “Look, Alex, like I said, the police already told me what happened. They are not going to arrest you just for that, and from talking with the officer at the desk, you will be in here for a few years if you are found guilty. I cannot help you if you don't tell me the whole truth.” Alex took a couple deep breaths. “I've been seeing this girl for about a year now. We've been seeing each other behind her father's back.”


“How old is she?” “Sixteen.” “Why were you seeing her in secret?” “She told me her father did not want her to have a boyfriend and not to let a boy in the house without him being there.” “Then why were you at her house?” “Well, she called me and begged me to come over. She said her father was away and it would be another three hours before he would return.” “Why did you go knowing her father did not want you talking with her and certainly did not want you over at his house? Weren't you at least afraid of being caught?” Tyson asked. “Man, the thrill of getting over on him made me go,” Alex said. “Is that why you had sex with her also even though you knew she was a minor?” Alex nodded. “She started it.” “What else?” “When I got to her house, she had it all set up.��� ---------“Come in quick,” Jenny said pulling Alex into the house. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. “Are you sure it's safe?” Alex asked. “I wouldn't put you in danger, baby. Of course it's safe.”


Alex and Jenny ended up in her bedroom where they engaged in a few minutes of pleasure until Jenny said, “We have about an hour before my dad comes. You're welcome to take a shower if you want to...and of course I'll join you.” While in the shower, Jenny's father, Beau Burton, came home unexpectedly. Nothing looked suspicious to him as Alex had parked his car across the street and two houses up. Beau banged on the bathroom door. “Jenny, I'm home! I've been home for the past five minutes. Come on out the shower now. We have things to do, honey.” Jenny's eyes opened wide. “Get dressed quietly and stay here,” she whispered to Alex. “My clothes are in your room.” Jenny got out the shower and pulled the curtain closed. She wrapped an oversized towel around her. She stuck her head through the door before hurrying to her room where she quickly slipped on her clothes. She wrapped Alex's clothes in the towel and headed back to the bathroom. “Are you going back in there again?” her father said coming out of his bedroom. “Make it quick. We have to go pick your mother up. She had to take her car to the shop. She mentioned something about getting you a pair of sneakers from the store.” “Oh, yes, Dad, but it can wait until she gets her car back. I'm not in a hurry,” Jenny said hoping he would change his mind about taking her with him. She cut the water on once she got into the bathroom. Handing Alex his clothes, she whispered to him, “As soon as we


leave—give us about ten minutes—then you can leave. Just stay in here until then. He has his own bathroom so he won't come in here.” Jenny stayed long enough for Alex to get dressed. The thrill of getting over on Jenny's father caused his heart to beat wildly. Jenny flushed the toilet, then giving him a kiss, she headed out the door. “I'm ready, Dad!” she shouted. “I'm in the kitchen,” her father said. They both walked out the front door. Beau slammed the door shut and then slapped his forehead, “Oh, I forgot my keys. Hold on a minute.” “Dad, I can get them for you,” Jenny said quickly. “No need, I’ve got it.” Beau went back inside and headed down the hallway, but was shocked to see a man halfway outside the bathroom door. Jenny held her breath. “What the hell—? What are you doing in my bathroom? What are you doing in my house? Who the hell are you? Jenny, get in here now!” Jenny pretended not to hear. Alex took two steps toward Jenny's father hoping he would step aside and let him go. “No! You stay right there 'cause I wanna know who on God’s green earth you are and what in the hell you are doing in my bathroom and with my daughter!” Beau yelled. “Jenny, get in here now!”


Jenny walked slowly down the hallway and stopped a couple feet from the bathroom door where her father was standing. Both his hands were folded in two tight fists.


7 “Begin speaking,” Beau said looking his daughter in the eye. “Mr. Burton, I—” “Shut the hell up! I did not ask you anything! Don't you worry. Your turn will come,” he said to Alex. “Who is this nut in my bathroom, Jenny?” “He's a friend.” “Okay. So I come home, I hear the shower going, you are in the bathroom taking a shower, I presume, and this nutcase is in the bathroom with you—taking a shower with you or watching you take a shower—cause I did not see him in the living room where he should have been since you brought him in the house against my rule. Which is it?” Jenny could see her father's chest rising up and down. She threw a quick glance at Alex, then looked back at her father. “He came to fix something for me. I could not get you—” “Mr. Burton, Jenny and I have known each other for a while. She asked me to come over. I came knowing you were not here, and —” “And you had sex with her, didn't you?” “Dad!” Jenny shouted. “Shut up, Jenny! Answer me, you nutcase. You had sex with my daughter, didn't you? That's the only reason you would be in the shower with her.” Alex braced himself for whatever was going to happen next.


“You had sex with my sixteen-year-old daughter! Jenny, get in your room. I'll deal with you later.” Jenny did not move. “I said get in your room now!” Beau yelled. Jenny hurried to her room, but stood by the door listening. Beau grabbed Alex by the shoulders and slammed him against the wall. “You do not mess with my daughter! And you do not trespass on my property. You are headed for jail big time and for a long time. Do you hear me?” “Mr. Burton, I can—” “Mr. Burton, I can nothing!” “Ow!” Jenny opened the door slightly to see Alex pinned against the wall and her father slapping him across his face several times. Beau tried to hit him in the stomach, but Alex managed to block the punch. Alex then threw a punch toward Beau's face; it landed on his right eye. “Oh, you gonna pay!” Beau said with his fist folded ready to deliver another blow. “Dad, leave him alone!” Jenny shouted. “Stop it! Just stop hitting him!” Beau ignored his daughter and punched Alex in the stomach. Alex doubled over and fell to the ground as Beau released his hold on him. “Get out of my house before I kill you!” Beau said kicking him. “The police will be looking for you,” he shouted as Alex stumbled out the door.


Jenny called Alex later that evening to let him know her father had reported him to the police. ---------Alex hung his head as he talked with Tyson. “She wouldn't tell me what, if anything, her Dad did to her. I had been hanging out at a friend’s house.” “Didn't you know you would go to jail if you got caught having sex with a minor?” Tyson said. “Yes, Mr. McKenzie, but I didn't care then—” “I hope you care now.” Alex did not answer. “What are your parents going to think? Did they know you were even seeing this girl?” Tyson asked. “Look, my parents don't care what I do.” “That's not true,” Tyson said. “I know your parents both love you and they do care what you do.” “They have a weird way of showing it.” Tyson waited for Alex to go on. “Ten minutes before visiting hours are over,” the warden called. “Do you know what it's like to have a father in the house but at the same time not in the house? You know—present in the body, but not in spirit? He has never been around when I needed him, and I don't need him now. He is always at that stupid hospital or at his office; and when he comes home in the evenings, he is either asleep


or resting—too tired to do anything with me. That's how it's always been.” Tyson sensed frustration, anger, and bitterness in Alex’s voice. “Whenever he spoke, it was do this or do that. He always had an excuse for not coming to my games, so I fixed him. I dropped out of baseball and basketball.” Tyson swallowed hard. Here was a young man searching for direction in his life and hoping that his father would help set him on the right path and keep him on the right path, but like so many others, in his eyes, his father failed him as well. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps to be a doctor, but I told myself if being a doctor means taking time away from your son, then I say, to hell with it! Excuse the language, Mr. McKenzie, but to hell with it! His patients mean more to him than me or my sister. I don't know why he had us if he wasn’t going to spend time with us.” “Stop thinking like that, Alex. Your father loves you very much and you know it,” Tyson said. “No. He loves his patients and other people. If he loved me he would never leave me to myself,” Alex said. “Mr. McKenzie, I heard you get on your son over the phone one evening about a week after I started working for you, and at first I thought you were being too hard on him, after all, he was nineteen years old. But the more I thought about it, the more I wished my father would get on me and stay on me. I probably would not have gotten into some of the trouble I have gotten into. I probably would not be here right now.”


“Do you want me to tell your father what you just told me?” Tyson asked. Alex shrugged his shoulders. “You can do what you want. I don't know if that would make any difference now.” As Tyson rose from his seat to leave, Alex said to him. “Mr. McKenzie, I'm curious, if Dexter had committed the same crime I just did, would you pay to get him out?” “Alex, as much time and energy as I have invested in training him in the good and godly way so he would stay out of trouble, I would hope he would know better than to go and do something as dumb as that. No. I would not bail him out. If he did the crime knowing what he was doing and not being ignorant of the consequences, he would have to do the time.” “You be sure to tell him to keep hitting those golf balls, then,” Alex said. “I sure will, Alex.” “Visiting hours are over,” the warden said. “I must ask everyone to leave.” Tyson headed for the exit, but turned back long enough to have one last look at Alex. He watched with grief as he was escorted back to his cell.


8 Tyson placed another call to Alfred's office. “He's filling in in the operating room for Dr. Rajik, but I'll tell him you called twice,” the receptionist said. Alex's tragedy served as an incentive for Tyson to hurry home and spend more time with his children—instructing them, training them, and praying with and for them. Twenty-year-old, Dexter, was home early from classes at Wayne State University where he was studying Criminal Justice in addition to playing golf. Seventeen-yearold Rose was also home when Tyson got there. He shared with the family all that took place at the auto shop. “It's sad his life has ended up in ruins. Just wasted,” Tyson said. Turning to his son he added, “Dexter, if I had not been here for you, you might be in jail just like him. When you were younger, you wanted to run the streets with him and 'your boys'. Didn't you also tell me that one of them dropped out of school?” Dexter nodded his head. Although it was an unfortunate situation Alex was in, he could not help but to smile as he remembered some of the conflicts he had with his father. It was no smiling matter then, but now as he looked back on them he was glad his father had not given in to his desires. ----------


From the time Dexter could walk, he would find some kind of stick, or a plastic hanger, or his mother's wooden mixing spoon, and would hit his rubber Nerf balls around in the house. When they went to the park, he would rather find a stick and hit a pebble or something across the grass than climb on the monkey bars. It was then that his father decided to enroll him in golf training at the nearest golf course, the Royal Oak Golf Center, as soon as he got of age. They would watch as much golf as they could on television. Tyson and his wife took both of their children to the miniature PuttPutt golf course many times when they were young. “He’s a natural,” Tyson told his wife. “Let him putt-putt around the house as much as he wants to during his free time.” Tyson sacrificed his free hours and enrolled in a beginner's golf course to learn the basics so he could play with his son starting out. He and his wife read books on the game of golf so they could talk with Dexter about the game. “I'm going to be his personal coach,” Tyson said. “I used to think this was a boring game, but now I see its benefits. It teaches focus, concentration, and it takes discipline to learn the game. It's not a game for quitters. It is a game for self-motivators, and I want my children to be self-motivated.” Dexter learned the game fast, but his father noticed a cockiness developing in him around the age of twelve. First, Tyson noticed that Dexter was not practicing as hard as he used to. “Dad, I don't need to practice as hard or as much; I am already scoring in first or second place every time I play. Plus, I want to spend more time with my friends. They are always going off to the pool or


spending time at each other's houses and having fun. I have to always be at the golf course. I need a break.” “You do have enough breaks, but I have been noticing some pride developing in you and I don’t like that. You have developed an 'I’m the best' attitude. That’s the real reason why you don’t think you need to practice as hard. That kind of attitude is not going to get you anywhere. It will only turn people away from you, including your friends that you are complaining about not spending enough time with,” Tyson said. Dexter frowned as he listened to his father. “You have a long way to go before you can stop practicing. All the great sports figures practice until the day of their retirement, so who are you to think you do not need to practice, son.” “It's not that I don't need to practice; I just don't think I need to practice as much,” Dexter said. “Tell you what? You don’t have to practice for this upcoming week, and we'll see how you do at the mini-competition on Saturday. Is that fair?” Just as his father predicted, Dexter was not his best at the mini-competition. He finished ninth out of twenty competitors. “Dexter, always remember whatever talent you have, God gave it to you, and God wants you to develop your skills, but with a humble spirit. In your case, He wants you to practice at every opportunity and He wants you to play as though you were playing for Him. Paul told the young Timothy to 'study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.' That type of studying goes not just


for the Word of God, but for anything you are engaged in. Whenever you begin thinking you can play and win your games by yourself and without God's help or any human help, be careful because as the Bible says, 'Pride goes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction.' Many successful people, including talented sports figures, have ended their life unsuccessfully because their song has been 'I did it my way.’” Dexter did not like this tough rebuke. All of my free time is about golf, I probably won’t make it if I don’t spend more time with my friends, he thought. “There's no need to get an attitude about it either,” his father said. Tyson had similar talks with his son on other occasions. He pulled Dexter out of one of the tournaments and sat him down for a whole season because of his cocky attitude and not listening to his coaches as he should. “I am not going to have that. You show them the utmost respect at all times and listen to their instructions,” Tyson told him. “But, Dad, he's just my teacher. I don’t always have to do what he says,” Dexter protested, “and you can't just pull me out for a whole season.” “I just did. And lest you have forgotten, I am your father and your first teacher. If it was not for me, you would not be playing golf and making a name for yourself at such an early age, and don't you ever forget that. What have I taught you from the Bible in Ephesians?”


“To obey, honor, and show respect to you and Mom always,” Dexter finally said after hesitating. “Speak up so we can all hear you.” This talk took place during one of their family devotional periods. Tyson used this time to teach his children life principles from the Word of God. “And, Rose, don't you let that spirit of pride develop in you. Pride was what got Satan thrown out of Heaven from his prestigious position serving God as music director. He led all the angels in singing praises to God up in Heaven. If God threw Satan out of Heaven because of pride, then rest assured, God will throw you from your pedestal if you allow pride to develop in you.” “Yes, sir,” Rose said. ---------As the McKenzie family prayed for the Thomas family, Dexter thought of his father's words: If I had not been here for you, you might be in jail just like him. He now appreciated even more his father being tough on him. Another incident came to his mind.


9 One evening after classes were over with, Dexter allowed Alex to talk him into going to the burger joint with a few of their classmates. They were in the tenth grade then. Alex had a charismatic personality that attracted others. He was the leader among the group and the reigning class clown. That group was known to skip a class every now and then. Dexter knew better, but wanting to please his friends, he went along with them. Dexter called his mother who was supposed to pick him and his sister up from school. “Mom, can you please give me an extra twenty minutes. I need to go over some things with one of my classmates?” “Sure,” his mother said without any questions. Dexter sighed with relief. He was glad his parents could trust him. Twenty minutes should give me time to gulp down a burger and have a little fun, he thought as he hurried to join his friends in their waiting vehicle. “Hey, guys, Dexter keeps looking at his watch and out the window,” Alex joked. “Momma's boy may need to go home soon.” Dexter was embarrassed. I'll show them I am no Momma's boy, he thought as he feigned laughter. Bobby, who sometimes used his mother's car, said to them, “Let's take Dexter for a joy ride. I'm sure he's never been on one before.” As they piled into Bobby's mother's car—all six of them— Dexter saw his mother pulling up on to the school property heading


for the main entrance where Dexter normally waited for her along with his sister. He quickly climbed into the back seat between Drue and Alvin. “Let's go!” Alex said. “Let's show Dexter the time of his life.” Although Dexter was laughing at the antics of his friends, he had an unsettled feeling deep within. He knew he was going against everything his parents had been teaching him about avoiding bad company, about staying away from the foolish behaviour of others, and about not succumbing to peer pressure no matter how innocent it may seem. Dexter knew the joy ride was not only foolish; it was dangerous. His phone rang. It was his mother. “Aren't you going to answer it?” Drue asked. Dexter shook his head no. About five minutes later his phone rang again. This time it was his father. His heart fell as his guilt increased. “That's my Dad,” he told his friends who after the fourth ring encouraged him to answer it. “Yeah, Dad?” Dexter said trying to sound cool. “Yeah, Dad?” his father questioned. Dexter swallowed. “Hello, Dad.” “That's much better,” his father said. “Now, where in the world are you? Your mother told me you asked for an extra twenty minutes to go over some homework; it's been at least thirty minutes now.” “I...I'm...with my friends,” Dexter said.


“What friends? I don't recall giving you permission to be anywhere with your friends,” his father said. “And what is all that noise in the background?” Dexter swallowed before responding. “You know Alex, Dad. Dr. Thomas' son.” At the sound of Alex's name everyone in the car fell silent. Bobby turned the music off. “And who else?” his father asked. “Drue, Bobby, Levin, and Alvin,” Dexter said then quickly added, “Drue goes to church with us.” “Oh, boy,” his father said. Most of the people at the church knew Drue was a trouble-maker. “What are you boys doing?” “Just driving around—” “Just driving around and looking for trouble is more like it,” his father said. “This is what you're going to do: you have exactly ten minutes to get in the house. All doors will be locked in exactly ten minutes.” “Ten minutes? I'm sure I'll need more time,” Dexter protested. “The seconds are ticking away, son,” Tyson said as he hung up the phone. “Guys, I have to get home, pronto,” Dexter said sheepishly. “My Dad's giving me ten minutes.” “Well, let's roll then,” Bobby said doing a quick U-turn. “Don't worry, we'll make it. No loving father would lock his son out


of the house. You ought to ask for your own keys. You're a man now,” he said jingling his own keys. You don't know my Dad, Dexter thought. Bobby screeched to a stop in front of Dexter's house. Dexter scrambled out the car, then sprinted up the short pathway to his front door. Bobby blew the car horn and then drove off. Dexter desperately turned the doorknob ringing the doorbell simultaneously. He saw the curtain move and his mother glanced out the window for a second. She let the curtain fall back in its place. “Mom! It's me, Dexter. Mom!” No answer. Dexter looked at his watch. He was five minutes late. He paced the front porch, then walked around to the back door. It was locked also. He returned to the front porch and sat down. His friends were nowhere to be seen. Dexter called his mother's cell number, but got her voicemail. Dexter called his father's cell number, but got his voicemail. He tried calling Bobby and Alex, but received no answer. He knocked on the door as darkness began to fall. Oh, man, what am I going to do? he thought as the lights went out one by one in the house. He tried his father's and his mother's car doors just in case they forgot to lock them. But no such luck. Children, obey your parents, kept passing through his mind. He thought of all the people he could call, but changed his mind, as he was caught in a rather embarrassing situation. Man, if I had just not listened to my friends. Dexter made himself as comfortable as he could on the swinging bench and went to sleep. It was a warm night out


and he knew the neighborhood was safe. He also knew his father well enough to know he was a man who did not speak idle words. “Are you really going to let him spend the night outside?” Dorothy asked her husband. “Sure,” Tyson replied. “He'll be all right. I pray for his safety each day, and God knows I am not trying to hurt him. This is just tough love. I’m teaching him a lesson.” Around two in the morning, after tossing and turning, Dorothy climbed out of bed. She had been worried about her son and planned to go let him in after her husband fell off to sleep. I can't let him do this to Dexter; that is just cold-hearted. After slipping her robe around her, she was about ready to leave the bedroom, when her husband turned the bedside lamp on. “Where are you going?” he asked his wife. Dorothy sighed. “I thought I heard a noise downstairs. I was just going to check and see.” “I'm sure you did,” Tyson said with a smile. “I'll check it out. Get back in bed, and don't you worry, I'll peek out the window to make sure Dexter is all right.” By six the next morning, Tyson and Dorothy were awake and getting started on their day. “You can go let him in now,” he told his wife. “Tell him to sit at the table.” Both parents joined their son after they finished their morning routines. “Good morning, son. I trust you had a restful night,” his father said as he sipped on his coffee while awaiting breakfast.


Dexter nodded. “Good morning, Dad.” After some silence, his father said, “Don't you think you should begin talking?” Dexter blurted out an apology. “Now, you know there's no excuse for outright disobedience and lying,” Tyson said. What did you hope to gain by that? All you had to do was ask if you could go have a burger with your friends. I would have said ‘yes’ because your behavior has been good. What were you thinking?” Dexter hesitated. “Dad, what's wrong with me going out with my friends? We didn't do anything wrong.” “You still call them your friends? Let me tell you what a friend would have done. A true friend would not have pressured you to disobey your parents. A true friend would wait around to see whether or not you were able to get in your house and not have to spend the night outside. A true friend would take you home with him and would come and apologize to us with you. Your so-called friends left you out on the porch to face the consequences alone. I bet they laughed at you as they were driving away.” “I don't believe that,” Dexter said. “I have explained to you I do not want you going out with friends without my permission; they have to meet my approval. You know the Bible says that ‘evil communications corrupt good manners,’” his father said. Dexter knew better, but felt a compulsion to respond to his father's words. “Dad, I think you need to lighten up. My friends didn’t mean any harm.”


“If they meant you well, like I just said, they would have at least hung around to see whether or not you got in for the night.” “I know them better than you, Dad,” Dexter said. Dorothy left to go awaken Rose, then proceeded to place breakfast on the table. “Don't touch that food yet. I am talking to you right now,” Tyson said to Dexter who was reaching for his fork. “Tough love does not let you have your own way. Tough love holds you accountable all the time. And tough love sometimes metes out chastisement. As I shared with you, as long as you are living in my house, you abide by the rules I set, and when you get to the point where you feel you can no longer obey and honor what I say, then you can leave.” Looking Dexter in the eyes, Tyson asked, “Do you understand, son?” Dexter nodded his head. On the way home that evening, Dexter apologized once again to his father and later to his mother. “You know, Dad, Bobby told me that he and the others got in a car accident after they dropped me off. Drue had to go to the hospital for stitches, but no one else was seriously hurt. Bobby’s mom, however, was furious about the damage to her car.” “Need I say more?” his father asked, happy to see that his son had gotten the point.


10 Dr. Alfred Thomas pulled away from the gas station envious of the good relationship Tyson had with his now successful son, but happy for them nonetheless. Alfred’s son, by contrast, never stuck to anything and did not have a disciplined spirit. He was constantly bouncing from one interest to another. First baseball, then basketball, and then, just hanging out with friends. And now he was in jail. Alfred reflected on his family life, particularly with his children. There were some good times, for sure; but there were more disappointing times. ---------Alex had been born a whiner. “Honey,” his wife, Judy, said to him as she burst into the den where he was resting. “I do not know what to do with him; he is constantly whining for something, then when he gets it, he'll play with it for a few minutes then begin whining for something else. He is never satisfied.” Alex was only two years old then. “Well, let him have whatever he wants as long as he is not going to hurt himself,” Alfred said. “I've had a long day at the hospital and I'd like to have some peace and quiet. Just keep him quiet.” “Whoever coined the phrase 'terrible twos' hit it right on the head,” Judy said walking out the room.


Judy worked as a lawyer with Hemingway Law Firm. Rather than hire a babysitter to watch their two children, Alex and Angela, Judy enrolled them in a daycare center—the most well known in the area. Once, the Thomas' accepted the McKenzies' invitation to visit their church—Peace Valley Baptist. Dr. and Mrs. Thomas were blessed and they enjoyed the services tremendously. “I could have enjoyed it better if my children did not act up,” Judy shared with Dorothy. “How do you keep both your children sitting so quiet and still in church?” “It took me a while to get them to do that,” Dorothy answered. Dorothy shared with Judy some of the trying times she had with her children while they were young. “But there is hope.” Dorothy and Tyson gave the Thomases a crash course on how to get control of their children from an early age. “Consistency is the key,” they emphasized. Judy came home one Saturday all frustrated. Her and her husband went out to eat at a five-star restaurant. They took the children, then eight and three, with them. Alfred and his wife were having a pleasant conversation while the children looked around curiously. “Here you go,” Alfred said splitting a buttered dinner roll between the children as they waited on their meal. Alex took one bite off his half and tossed the remainder across the table at Alfred. It bounced off his father’s head and Alex yelled, “Ball!” Judy watched him, aghast. Angela crumbled hers in her hands, making a mess on the table.


“No, children. Put it in your mouth,” their father said quietly but firmly. Alex looked at his father and bit into the new half he gave him. “Thank God,” Judy sighed as the waitress brought them their food. Alfred had steak with vegetables and a baked potato. As soon as the waitress set his plate down, Alex grabbed for the baked potato. “No, Alex!” Alfred exclaimed slapping his hand. Realizing people in close proximity were eying them, he said. “Hot, Alex, hot. Wait and I'll cut you a piece.” “Here you go, sweetie,” the waitress said handing Alex his kid's meal of chicken nuggets, French fries and sweet peas. Judy shared her meatloaf and mashed potatoes with Angela, who was not too thrilled and wanted to feed herself from her own plate—with her hands, of course. “No, Angela,” Judy said serving her a piece of meatloaf from the fork. Angela slapped it aside. Judy tried feeding her some mashed potatoes. Angela grabbed it off the fork and stuffed it in her mouth. “More! More!” she kept repeating. Judy hardly ate a bite and neither did she enjoy her meal. At every attempt she made to put something in her mouth, Angela yelled, “Mine! Mine!” Alex had gotten tired of building with his sweet peas and had moved on to having a party of his own throwing “sweet peas confetti” across the table. Judy pretended not to notice. “Alex, put the peas in your mouth,” his father said in a firm voice.


“Why don’t we go?” Judy quietly said, more as a command than a suggestion, after a period of unsuccessfully trying to get their kids to behave themselves. Alfred stood in agreement, grabbing Alex from his chair who began kicking his legs in protest. A middle-aged woman stopped them just outside the restaurant door. “Excuse me. Please forgive me for interfering, but I've been where you are. I have four children. They used to act up whenever we went out, especially when we went out to eat. What you need to do is train them at home around your dinner table, then they will act right in public. These children may need a few spankings,” she said pointing at Alex and Angela. “But don’t feel bad, my children needed some as well.” “Thank you,” Alfred said shaking the lady's hand. “Well, there's your solution,” Alfred said as he strapped the children in their car seats. “I don't know,” Judy said. “I can't see myself spanking them. You're their father; you do it.” “Whatever, next time we go out, just hire a babysitter,” her husband said.


11 One afternoon, Tyson and his son stopped by the department store to pick up a couple of polo shirts for Dexter along with a few pairs of socks. “At the rate you're growing you'll be taller than me soon,” Tyson said giving his son a slap on the back as they strolled into the store. “As long as Mom keeps cooking those tasty meals that will not be a problem,” Dexter said with a grin. “Let me pick up a white shirt for Sunday,” Tyson said after Dexter picked out his shirts and socks. As they rounded the corner to where the men's dress shirts were, they overheard a son arguing with his mother. “But this is what I want,” her son insisted. “All my friends are wearing this and I do not want to be the only one that is different.” “That might be what your friends are wearing, and it might be what you want, but this is not what you will be getting,” the mother replied. “Haven't you learned by now that I do not care what your friends are wearing? And if your friends were my children, they would not be wearing that.” The son shoved his hands into his pockets with an intense look on his face. Tyson and Dexter discreetly looked over the shirts. “You can either have the white one or the dark blue one,” the mother said.


“I don’t want either of them,” the son said turning to walk off. “Hey!” the mother said placing the shirts back on the rack. “Not only are you not going to get a new shirt, but if you walk out of this store you'll be walking home, and might I remind you, it's a long walk. On top of that, if you don't get that nasty attitude of yours straightened out now, your daddy will have something for you when you get home. Now try me and see if I am playing.” “That's love right there,” Tyson said to his son as they made their way to their car. “A lot of people believe love is letting you have your way and with a bad attitude on top of that. I hate to say this, but that's the problem with Dr. Thomas and his family. He is a loving person, but too loving.” “How can a person be too loving?” Dexter asked. “In a sense, I am mistaken, it is not being too loving, it is not being loving enough. When Alex lets his kids have their way; when he does not say anything about their wrong doings just to keep the peace; when being their friend means more than risking the friendship by correcting them; when he is always bailing them out of situations they have gotten themselves into because of disobedience and foolishness — that is not love at all,” his father replied. “The Bible says ‘open rebuke is better than secret love.’” Tyson continued, “Now be honest with me, would you rather I tell you your faults and rebuke you about them so that hopefully you'll take heed and stay out of more trouble? Or would you rather I say nothing at all and you end up destroying yourself?”


“In all honesty, Dad, I'd rather you tell me my faults so hopefully I'll change and not get into more trouble,” Dexter said. “That's the problem with a lot of these criminals in our jail system: they grew up getting away with their evil deeds, and then when they become adults they commit crimes thinking they can get away with them as well. But then they meet up with the law, and the law will not bend for them, and they end up in jail.” After thinking about their conversation some more, Dexter said, “It's kind of like the time we went over to Dr. Thomas' house for dinner.” ---------The McKenzies and the Thomases were gathered around the dinner table at the Thomas' house except for Alex. “Alex,” his father called to him for the third time. “You're holding up dinne.” “Don't mind him,” Judy told the McKenzies. “He is in a bad mood because we told him he could not go out with his friends while we have dinner guests.” Alex came down from his room and took his seat without hardly a greeting to the McKenzie family. “Where's your manners, son?” his father said. “Hey, Alex,” Tyson said in an attempt to break the icy vibes Alex had brought into the room with him. “How's everything going?” “Okay, I guess,” Alex said slouching and without looking up.


“How's school?” Tyson asked. “Okay, I guess.” “Now that everyone's here, thanks to Alex, let's go ahead and eat,” Alfred said. Alex rolled his eyes. “If you don't mind, I'd like to say the blessing,” Tyson offered. After the blessing, everyone started filling up their plates except for Alex. “Do you want me to fix your plate, Alex?” his mother offered. “I'm not hungry,” he said. Everyone was conversing and having a good time, except for Alex. “Son, you don't know what you're missing,” Alfred said to his son in an attempt to cheer him up by bringing him into the conversation. “Go ahead and try this roast. Your mother outdid herself.” Turning to Tyson he said, “I tell you, this boy of mine made some excellent grades in his science and math classes. I believe we have another doctor in the family.” He glanced at Alex as he spoke. “That's great, Alex!” Tyson said. “So do you think you will follow in your father's footsteps?” Alex shrugged. “It won't offend me if you don't,” Alfred said. “May I be excused?” Alex said sliding his chair back.


“Don't you want any dessert? I made your favorite: pineapple-coconut-pecan cream pie,” his mother asked rising to cut him a slice. “Why don't you take Dexter up to your room and you both play around on the Wii or do something on the computer?” his father suggested. “Here, Dexter, you can take your dessert up to the room,” Judy said. “Are you sure you don't want a slice, Alex?” Alex was already halfway up the stairs. Dexter hurried after him. By the time Dexter got into the room Alex was on the phone with a girl, Dexter concluded from the side of the conversation he heard. While talking, Alex hooked up the Wii and also pointed to the computer for Dexter to entertain himself. Dexter played golf on the Wii, unmoved by Alex's inhospitality. His father had taught him since he was a young boy to never look to others to entertain him, “and never let another person's bad attitude affect your spirit.” “Alex, Dexter, the McKenzies are ready to leave,” Alfred called up the stairs about an hour later. Dexter came down immediately. “I apologize for my son's behavior,” Alfred said to the McKenzies. “No need to,” Tyson said. “He's responsible for his own attitude.” As the McKenzies were pulling out of the driveway, a small red car pulled up and the driver tooted the horn. Alex came hurrying out the house and entered the car.


“I tell you what,” Tyson said, “Alex is thinking his having an attitude before us would let his parents give in to what he wants. Either he walked out despite their protest, or they just let him go out of frustration. That is where a lot of parents lose the battle in training their children: they give up too easily.”


12 The McKenzies continued on their way to the golf course. “Do we have time to pick up some Gatorade?” Dorothy asked. “I meant to pick some up at the convenience store when we stopped by the gas station. It’s so hot I think we are going to need it.” Tyson glanced at his watch. “Sure, we have time. I'll stop at the grocery store up ahead.” Dorothy and Rose hurried into the store to purchase the drinks. As they were making their way to the check-out, they ran into Judy Thomas. “It's so good to see you again,” Dorothy said giving her a hug. “How have you been doing?” “Good and not so good,” Judy said. “Why, what's wrong?” “It's Angela,” Judy said with a grim look on her face. “But, I don't want to burden you with my problems—” “Oh, don't ever say that. That's what friends are for,” Dorothy said. ---------Judy and her daughter, Angela, were sitting in the family room watching television. They were waiting for Alfred to come home so they could have dinner. Judy noticed that Angela kept looking at her every few minutes.


“Is there something on your mind, Angie?” Judy asked her daughter. Angela shook her head, no. “Are you sure everything is all right? You're shaking your head ‘no’, but I don't believe you mean that.” After some seconds of silence, Angela spoke. “Mom, if I tell you something really bad would you get mad with me?” “It depends on what it is. I can't really say until I hear what it is,” Judy said. Angela started to wring her hands. “Mom, I'm pregnant.” Judy was so surprised she could not respond right away. “Are you sure?” she finally said. “Yes,” Angela said. “I did the home test twice and both times it was positive.” “You're only sixteen. I've been warning you to be careful around boys,” Judy said facing her daughter. “I don't know how it happened—” “Angela, I'm a lawyer. That excuse is not going to work with me. You know exactly what happened. Do you know who the father is?” “I...I...don't know,” Angela said sitting back in defeat. “Are you telling me you had sex with more than one person?” Judy said in disbelief. Angela didn’t look at her mother. Judy sighed. “What was going on in your head? I always looked forward to being a grandmother, but not like this. Not this soon. Just wait until your father gets in. We’ll see how he takes this.”


Alfred was surprised and then angry when his wife shared with him the disappointing news of his daughter's pregnancy. Angela moped about the house for the next week. Surprisingly, she was home earlier from school that week than she normally had been coming home. “Look, Angie,” her mother said, “I am not going to have you sulking about the house affecting everyone with your sad, depressed spirit. Your father is devastated. Is there anything else we need to know?” Judy almost hit the roof at her daughter's next words. “What? I can not believe this. Don’t you know what you have just done? Your father is going to go to an early grave after I tell him what you just told me.” That night while Alfred and Judy lay in the bed, Judy told him what Angela had told her. “I hate to have to tell you this, but this is not the first time our daughter has been pregnant.” Alfred, who was lying on his back with his palms resting on his chest, kept staring up at the ceiling waiting for his wife to continue. “She told me, today, that she got pregnant two years ago, and that the baby's father, who was also under-age, had his sister to drive her down to the clinic and sign for her to get an abortion.” “So you're telling me that for two years our daughter has been carrying this secret around,” her husband finally said. “Why didn't she just come and tell us?”


“She told me she did not want to be a bother and that she did not feel comfortable telling us,” Judy said. “I have failed, Judy,” Alfred said quietly. “I have failed as a father. I have a son who does not respect me; he does not listen to anything I say.. And then, I have a daughter whom I have neglected, and on top of that, she was pregnant at fourteen years old and she hid it from me for years. Basically, my child had a child.” “You did the best you could,” Judy said softly trying to console him even though she felt she had not lived up to her role as a mother. “No, Judy, I have failed. I have not been a good father. I had high dreams and expectations for my children as I assume all parents do—not this.” Judy remained silent. “I remember when we took the children with us to the restaurant when they were little and how they misbehaved. This lady stopped us just outside the restaurant and advised us to train them in the right way and spank them if necessary. I didn’t take that seriously, in fact, I thought their antics kind of cute after the embarrassment faded.” Swallowing, he continued, “I wonder what would have happened if we had done what she advised us to do. Would my daughter be pregnant now? Would we have a son who defies our every word?” Judy spoke up, “I remember when we first visited the McKenzies’ church with the children and Dorothy shared with me that we have to begin controlling them at an early age. I never followed through.”


13 Long after Judy fell off to sleep, Alfred was up thinking over his years as a parent. “Dad, can you please come to my baseball game tomorrow? You said you would when you missed the last game,” Alex said to his father. “Sure, son. What time it is? “At six in the evening,” Alex said. “I'll be there. In fact, I'll be home early enough to take you there myself,” Alfred said. Alex waited as long as he could for his father to come pick him up. He ended up calling him. “Sorry, Alex. I won't be able to make it.” “He could have at least called,” Alex told his mother as she rushed him to the game. “This is not the first time he's done that, Mom. He's always promising to come to my practice sessions and never turns up. The one time he did come, he left early.” “Honey, your father's extremely busy trying to bring people back to good health.” “Makes no difference. Just as he fills in for other doctors, he can have another doctor to fill in for him,” Alex mumbled as he got out the car and ran out to the playing field.


“When's your next game?” his father asked when he arrived home. “There won't be any more games, Dad. I quit the team. I don't even know why you are asking; you're never at any of my games anyway.” I should have shown more interest, Alfred thought. I did not even encourage him to stay on the team. I did the same thing when he tried out for basketball. His friends became more important to him than me, his own father. ---------“Where's your sister?” Alfred asked his son after being home for two hours and seeing no sign of his daughter. “And please turn that music down. You're going to shatter your eardrums.” “I don't know where she is, Dad.” “Didn't you both come home together? I've instructed you to watch out for your little sister.” “Dad, Angie’s not little. She is fifteen years old. She can take care of herself,” Alex said. “But if you have to know, she said something about going over to Mishelle's house.” “Who's Mishelle?” “One of her classmates. She lives across from the school.” Alfred and his wife drove over to Mishelle's house. “Must be a party going on in there,” Judy said as her husband knocked on the front door. Angela was surprised to see her parents and reluctantly left with them.


“I don't recall giving you permission to stop over there after school,” her father said. “We were just having fun, Dad.” “And you didn’t even let us know where you'd be?” “Dad, I lost track of the time,” Angela said. “Is anything wrong with that?” “I don't like the flippant way you are answering. What if something had happened to you? We would have had no idea where you were. That's not showing respect for me or for your mother. I want you home by the time I say for the next seven days, and I'll be keeping your phone for that long. You don't need it if you won't answer it,” her father said. “Alfred,” his wife said, “let her be; she was just having some fun. No harm was done. You can keep your phone, Angie. Just call us next time.” I should have gone ahead and followed through with that punishment, Alfred thought. I should have taken her phone from her and not listened to my wife. She was home as she was told, but she spent all evening for the whole seven days on the phone with her friends. ---------At seventeen, Alfred enrolled Alex in Driver's Ed classes offered by the high school. “Now, you're only allowed to use the car with my permission,” Alfred told his son when he took him out to purchase a vehicle.


After Alex's third evening out with his car, Alfred confronted his wife. “Judy, I do not want Alex out every evening like that. He has nowhere to go; he does not have a job yet. On top of that, he's coming in all different hours, and I know nothing of his using the car ahead of time.” “Well, why don’t you tell him that?” Judy said. That following Saturday, Alex was all dressed when he came to ask his dad if he could borrow the car. “No, son. This is your fourth time wanting to use the car in one week. You don't have a job, so where are you going so much?” “I'm just going to visit some friends and drive around the city. Maybe see a movie, you know.” “No, I do not know,” his father said. Judy who had overheard the conversation blurted out, “Aw, let him go, Alfred. You can use the car, Alex.” “Thanks, Mom,” Alex said hurrying off to get the keys and then hurrying out the front door. “Stop, Alex!” his father shouted after him. The only response was the door slamming shut. “I can't believe you did that,” Alfred said to his wife. “You heard me tell him, no, and you went against what I said. Judy, we're supposed to be working together in raising our children. This is not the first time you've gone against my instructions to them.” I should have been much firmer with Alex, and even with my wife, Alfred thought now. I do not think I even dealt with him once he got back in.


I have spent so many nights worrying sick about that child. Here I am a doctor and I have to be treated for stress related illnesses.


14 Dorothy, Rose, and Judy passed through the express lane and walked outside together. “How's Alex doing?” Dorothy asked. “He's doing well, considering,” Judy said. “He wants me to represent him in court, but of course, I can’t. Besides, I am so angry at him for what he did. It makes no difference that it was consensual from his testimony; he should have never allowed himself to get into that situation. I guess he is going to plead not guilty.” Dorothy reached out to give Judy a hug. “We'll be praying for your family,” she said. “I know that prayer changes things. I wish I didn't have to rush, but we're headed for the golf course to watch Dexter play. I'll give you a call once we get back, if it's not too late. Why don't you and Alfred plan on coming to church with us on tomorrow; it's been awhile since you last visited, plus it's Father's Day.” “You know, that's where I need to be,” Judy said. “We'll be there for sure, and thanks for everything.” Dorothy told her husband all that Judy shared with her in the store. “What!” Tyson said. “Rose, do you see now why I do not let you hang around with Angela and some of her friends?” “Yes, Dad,” his daughter replied. “And I did this not because I think our family is better than other families, but for various reasons, and that is one of the reasons.


Girls your age have no business fooling around with boys. If I let you hang around those girls, most of them who have nothing to do once school is over but go to each other’s houses, you probably would be pregnant already, and that I can assure you that will not be happening while you are living in my house.” As they stopped at the traffic light, they noticed a mother pulling her little child who apparently did not want to cross the street. “Look at that,” Tyson said shaking his head. “If she had control over that child, she would not have to be pulling him like that and in such a dangerous place, too.” “Judy was telling me how distraught her husband was over Alex and now Angela's situation,” Dorothy said. “He keeps blaming himself and is wondering where he went wrong as a father.” “I'll tell you where he went wrong as a father,” her husband said. “He did not discipline them. He always let them get away with things and have their way.” Tyson turned left at the light. “Children will try you and try you to see how much you are going to take from them; they will drive you to the edge and over the edge if they think they can get away with something. Don't let their cherubic faces fool you; they are little adults.” Glancing at his daughter in the rear view mirror, he continued, “Rose, I remembered once you got mad and threw a temper tantrum because I would not let your mother buy you an outfit like Sandria's.” Rose chuckled. She had only been thirteen years old then.


---------“Mom, did you see that outfit Sandria had on? It was out of this world,” Rose said to her mother after they dropped Sandria off at her home. Sandria was one of Rose's classmates and had visited Rose one evening. “Yes,” her mother said. “May I please have one? Please?” “Now you know your father is not going to let you have one,” her mother said. “And if you want to know why: it's too low cut, it's way above her knees, it has two openings in the stomach area, and it clings to her.” “But, Mom, she had leotards under it, and it was just at her knees.” “Are you sure she had leotards on? It did not look like it.” “That's because it was skin tone,” Rose said. “Mom, that's the style. We were looking in a fashion magazine she brought to school and a lot of girls are wearing clothes like that this summer.” “You can ask your father, if you really want it; but if I were you, I would not waste my time,” her mother said. “Guess what? Her mother has one similar to it.” “That's wonderful.” Rose did not like it that her mother did not honor her request. She called Sandria up on the phone and asked her if her could mother buy one for her. “My mother will pay her back,” Rose told her.


Two days later, Rose had the dress in her possession. She put it on the next day for school. “Ooh, girl, turn around and let me see what you got on,” her mother said to her when she came swinging into the kitchen. With a big smile on her face, Rose turned around like a model. “Do you like it? It fits perfectly. Sandria's mother bought it for me.” “That was nice of her. I tell you that is some dress. I didn't know it would look like that on you. Did you forget the leotards?” her mother said. “Oh, no, Sandria and I decided not to wear the leotards today. She's going to bring me a red one and then we'll match the next time we wear it.” Rose turned around again and posed with hands on her hips just as she saw the models do on television. “That's thoughtful of her,” Dorothy said. “Now, if I were you, I'd play smart and run on to my room before your father comes to the table and switch into something your father and I bought you.” “You had better do what Mom says,” Dexter said. He had walked into the kitchen to join the family for breakfast. “Dad does not like any mess, and that is mess you have on.” “Oh, be quiet, Dexter. You know nothing about girls' fashion. Mom, you're not surprised I got it?” Rose asked her mother. “No,” her mother said. “I was thirteen once.” “Here comes Dad,” Dexter whispered. “This is going to be mighty interesting.” Rose cut her eyes at him as she quickly sat down at the table.


After Tyson came to the table and thanked God for the food, he said to Rose, “Is that a new dress you have on, Rose? Stand up and let me see it.” Rose moved slowly out of her seat and stood at the corner of the table. “I am not going to ask any questions,” her father said after looking her over, “but I am going to tell you what you are going to do. You are going to go upstairs, take that thing off, and put on one of the dresses that your mother and I bought you. Give your mother what you have on now.” “But Dad, this is what all the girls at school are wearing,” Rose whined. “It's in the magazine Sandria brought to school. We were all looking at it. Sandria has one. All the other girls in my class say they are getting one.”. “Well, you are my daughter and as my daughter you represent God and the McKenzie family, and I will not have my daughter dressed like that.” “What's wrong with it, Dad?” “Rose, it is too short, it is too tight, and it is low cut, and it looks to me like your stomach is showing. Now run on upstairs to your room and change into something else,” her father said turning his attention to the food before him. Rose did not move. “Hurry on up so you won't be late for school,” her father said.


“I'm not going to change, Dad. Sandria's mother bought it for me and you're always telling us to show appreciation for what people do for us.” “Do you want me to take it off you, or are you going to do it willingly?” her father said. Rose looked at her mother, then back at her father. She then stormed off to her room. The rest of the family continued eating. “Go check on her,” Tyson told his wife after they had given her some time to change. Dorothy found her in her room still undressed. “Do as your father says and put your flowery dress on, and don't go downstairs with an attitude and things will go a lot better for you.” “It's too hot in that dress,” Rose complained as she pulled the dress out of the closet. “Well, you should have thought about that,” her mother said. Later that evening, Tyson disciplined his daughter. “I was only going to let your punishment be wearing that hot dress, but when I found out that you instigated this whole thing by asking Sandria to ask her mother to buy you a similar dress telling her that your mother would pay her back, you left me no choice but to deal with you for lying and deceiving us all. I am very surprised at you, Rose, especially after all the teachings we have given you on telling the truth,” her father said. “Right now, you will get on the phone and tell Sandria's mother what you did, and apologize to her for lying to her. Whatever you wear in my house must meet mine or your mother's approval.”


15 “Now do you see why I never allowed you to sleep over at your friends' houses?” Rose's father said to her. “Nothing bad may happen, but I could not take a chance. I've always had your friends to come over in a more controlled situation because I did not want them to influence you; if anything, you were going to influence them for good. I know we are not a perfect family, but as long as we're following God, we are on the right path, and since that's the case, I would rather we lead than follow. Is that alright?” “Yes, sir,” Rose said. “You may not now understand why I am being so hard on you, but trust me, you'll understand and appreciate it in years to come,” her father said. “Right now, as long as you are in school, you focus on your studies and on getting good grades.” “Yes, sir,” Rose said. “Now would you like to have been pregnant at sixteen?” “No, sir,” Rose answered. She thought on her father's words. He was against her having a boyfriend or even her brother having a girlfriend. “You ought not to even entertain that thought until after you finish college with a degree. As a teenager or even in your early twenties, you're not mature enough to handle intimate relationships with the opposite sex.” “There are men out there who mean you no good, Rose. Some make it a game to see how many girls they can conquer,


meaning, how many girls they can have sex with without the constraints of marriage. And it is even a greater thrill if they get you pregnant. You carry yourself in a chaste manner. Don't go around looking at boys or men; don't let them say anything out of the way to you. Demand their respect and you will get that respect by how you carry yourself. Do not have sex with them until they put a ring on your finger followed by ‘I do’ in a church wedding with God, me, your mother, and other people as witnesses.” Turning to Dexter, he said, “The same goes for you, Dexter. Some girls are treacherous and will do anything to get you to go to bed with them. But don't let them sweet-talk you into doing that. You pray and ask God to send you a sweet, pleasant, virtuous virgin girl for you to marry. After you marry her then you can tell me you got her pregnant; but until then, I do not want to hear you say you got a girl pregnant. Once you say that, you will have to leave my house and live in your own house with your new family.” Tyson monitored his children’s friends closely. “I want you to be leaders. You influence others. Most people, including teenagers, do not know what they want out of life, and so they meander around waiting for someone to tell them what to do. The sad thing about it is, sometimes they follow someone who is leading them down the wrong path. Know what you want to do and do it with all your might; do it like there is no tomorrow.” Tyson and his wife kept their children busy. Even when at home they were not allowed to sit idly. “The Bible says to ‘redeem the time’ or to make good use of whatever time is given to you


‘because the days are evil.’ Think about what you can do to be a help and blessing to others. Most teenagers think only about themselves and so they live through their teenage years unfulfilled. When Jesus walked on this earth, He was always doing for others. He had a servant's heart and He wants us to have the same heart. If you begin thinking about others, and what you can do for others, and actually begin doing things for others expecting nothing in return, your teen years will be fulfilling. You serve God when you serve others.” To help teach his children to have an others first mentality and to have a thankful heart, the entire family joined their church family each year in putting together food baskets and Christmas stockings and helped deliver those gifts to needy families. Once a month, Dorothy and Rose visited an old folks home and prayed with, read to, or just talked with the men and women there. Not only did Dexter help out at his father's auto shop, but as he got older, he helped the neighbors with their yard work during the summer and shoveled a few driveways during the winter. Once Dexter learned to drive, under his mother's supervision, he started his own business — running errands for others, especially the elderly. Rose sometimes helped him and he promised he would turn the business over to her once he finished college. The main thing Tyson taught his children was the importance of not just reading the Word of God, but being obedient to the Word of God. He also taught them the importance of not relying on their feelings, but on the never changing Word of God.


16 Not only was Tyson constantly teaching life lessons to his children, but he also saw to their spiritual growth. They were in church every Sunday and most Wednesdays as a family. One Sunday morning just before heading out to church, Tyson said to his children during their morning family devotions, “Dexter, you are ten years old now, and Rose, you are seven. You two are old enough to make the choice as to what you are going to do with Jesus: Are you going to accept Him as your Savior, or are you going to reject Him? I want you to think about it throughout this week.” A few Sundays later, Pastor Smallings’ sermon was titled, “What Will You Do With Jesus?” “Will you reject Him as Judas did? Judas walked with Jesus for three years. He saw the miracles Jesus performed. Not only did He know about Jesus, but he knew Jesus personally, yet, he rejected Jesus and died without having accepted Jesus into his heart,” Pastor Smallings said. Remembering their father's words, Dexter and Rose listened intently. “Are you going to be like the scribes and the Pharisees who knew the law and the prophecies about the promised Messiah, yet they rejected Jesus. Many reviled Him while He was on the cross saying, 'He claims to save others; let Him save Himself.'


“Or, are you going to be like Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night, and asked, 'Good master, what must I do to be saved?' Jesus said, 'You must be born again.' “The Ethiopian eunuch told Philip, 'I believe and here is water. Because I believe surely I can be baptized.' “The Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' Paul told him, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.' “On the day of Pentecost over 3,000 people got saved because Peter preached, 'Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.' “Paul, in his letter to the Romans said, 'For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' “Folks, understand that you are a sinner and that you have disobeyed God’s laws. Because Jesus came and died on the cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is believe on Him and pray and ask Him to save you today. Is there anyone who wants to say yes to Jesus before you leave today? If so, just come on up to the front.” Dexter and Rose both looked at each other, then excusing themselves, they walked up to the front to join others who were already there. “If you are serious about asking Jesus to save you, then pray this prayer with me: “Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have sinned against you. For Jesus Christ’s sake, please forgive me of all of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again for me. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart,


save my soul, change my life, and fill me with your Holy Spirit today and forever. Amen.�


17 The McKenzies continued on their way to the golf course. “I hate to say this, Dorothy, but Alfred loved too much.” His wife looked at him with a puzzled expression. “What I mean is, he does not know how to balance showing love through both discipline and having fun. He leans more toward the latter. Now, don't get me wrong, he is a likeable person. Everyone loves him; he just has that loveable personality. His fault is, like many fathers and mothers, he desires so much for everyone in his family to live at peace and to get along that he somehow thinks the way to achieve that is to let everyone in the family have their own way, and to let them get away with their wrong doings. That is not the way to go. That will bring more unrest than anything. You cannot have true peace unless you do things God's way.” Dorothy nodded. “Makes sense.” “He was telling me once that he uses time-out on his children. He said that he would rather talk to them than discipline them. I hate to say it, but that is showing up in his children now. I would venture to say, and I do not have any statistics on this, but because we are all born sinners, there are not too many people we can just talk to starting out about their wrongdoings, and expect them to listen and change.” “Excuse me, Dad, but did you ever use time-out on me and Dexter?” Rose asked.


“Time-out for what? Time-out for you to sit long enough to think what new devilment you could come up with?” her father said with a chuckle. “I believe in time-out, but time-out after I've applied the rod.” Rose laughed. “Time-out is for parents who have lost control of their children and who are being controlled by their children. Children are smart and they know when and how to manipulate you. Rose, I remember the first time you decided to rebel. You weren't but two years old. You would always run to me eagerly whenever I called you, but this one evening you decided not to come when I called you.” ---------Tyson sat on the couch with his wife watching the evening news. Rose was parading back and forth with her little purse on her arm and a book in her hand acting as though she was reading. “Rose, come and give me a hug,” Tyson said. Rose looked at her father, but laughed and continued parading back and forth across the living room. He called her twice more, but got the same response. It was then that Brother Norwood's advice to break a child’s will at an early age came to his mind. The Bible verse to 'train up a child in the way he should go' also came to his mind. Tyson knew his daughter understood quite well the simple request he asked of her because she had carried out that request many times before.


“Rose, come here,” Tyson said again. Still, Rose didn’t come. Tyson went and picked up his daughter, spanked her on her bottom, set her back down, then resumed his position on the couch beside his wife. He then repeated the request. Again his request was met with a negative response. He spanked her again. Over the next few days, this scenario was repeated several times before Rose responded positively and came to her father whenever he called her. Dorothy grabbed her husband's arm after the third spanking, but he simply said, “I know what I am doing. She is being rebellious. She wants to walk around and come when she wants to. She has to learn to obey our every command whether she feels like it or not. If I give in now, then she will think she has won and it will get worse as she gets older. She will always test our authority to see what she can get away with.” Dorothy did not like to see her precious baby being dealt with like that, but she understood what was taking place. I have to look to her future, she thought. ---------“I bet you don't even remember that, do you, Rose?” her father asked. Rose laughed as she shook her head, no. “Your mother was upset and she wanted me to stop, but I knew what needed to be done. And God deals with us the same way. He will chastise us if we continue in our disobedience and will not stop until we conform to His will.”


“Your father is right, Rose. I did not like it at all, but that was what broke you, and we have not had any major problems out of you since then,” her mother said. “The 'terrible twos'? We had that with Dexter, but none of that with you,” her father said. “Many parents don't realize that the 'terrible twos' period is the time to stand sure-footed and not give in at all. At that age, children are only doing what comes natural, and that is to be disobedient. The disobedience that is cute at two years old won't be cute at twelve, fifteen or eighteen years old. It certainly won't be cute when they disobey the law thinking they can get away with it because they got away with disobedience at home, and then they end up in jail.” “The only other time this scenario was repeated but in a different form was when you were fifteen,” Dorothy said. “I was in my room relaxing and you were in your room reading and relaxing as well. Your brother was at the golf course and your father was at the auto shop. Anyway, I called you twice. You did answer, but you did not come. I got up from my reading, barged through your bedroom door and jacked you up by the collar. I never saw such fear in your eyes before.” ---------“Didn't you just hear me call you twice? Why didn't you come and see what I wanted?” Dorothy said. “Mom, I answered you both times.”


“Is that all you're supposed to do? Now you know whenever we call you, you get up from what you are doing and come see what we want. Isn't that correct?” “Yes, ma'am,” Rose answered. Dorothy released her hold on her daughter, returned to her bedroom, and resumed her original position. “Rose,” she called. ---------“You were in my room before you even finished with the 'yes, ma'am,' which you said loud and clear,” her mother said laughing. “I remember that,” Rose said. “That was the second time that I decided I was just going to be obedient, not only because I did not want to be embarrassed, but because it was the right thing to do.” “That's the mature route to go,” her mother said. “The Bible does say to obey your parents for this is right and it will be well with you and you will live long upon the earth.” “When was the other time you decided to just be obedient?” her father asked. Rose giggled. “It was when our dog, Pupsy, had her five puppies. I was ten years old then, and I begged you and Mom to let me keep them and I promised over and over that I would take care of them and clean their kennel every day. It was a huge kennel too.” Rose took a sip of her Gatorade.


“I was faithful in keeping the kennel clean every day for about two weeks. Then I started to neglect my duties. Mom had supervised me for those first two weeks, then she would only check in on me every now and then. The third week she verbally asked me if I was keeping the kennel clean. Of course, I said, yes, knowing I had missed some days. Anyway, that same week my friend, Pinkie, and her mother stopped by to visit. ---------“Mom, can me and Pinkie go play with the puppies?” Rose asked. “Sure. If the kennel's clean.” “It is. Come on, Pinkie,” Rose said hurrying out to the backyard where the puppies were. She lifted the puppies out one by one so Pinkie could pet them. Dorothy and Pinkie's mother stepped outside to watch the children play. “What is that smell?” Dorothy asked as they approached the kennel. “I thought you told me you cleaned the kennel out, Rose. And you have Pinkie playing with the dirty puppies. Why did you lie when you could have just told me the truth?” Turning to Pinkie and her mother, Dorothy said, “Mrs. Claudia and Pinkie, you both excuse us while I take care of this. You can wait on the back porch.” Dorothy took Rose into the house and chastised her. “I just chastised you for lying and for neglecting to do your job. That is


irresponsible. If we can't trust you to do your job in keeping the kennel and the puppies clean especially after you promised us that you would, then I won't be able to trust you with other things. I was not going to punish you, but when you lied to me, I had no choice but to deal with you about it.” Upon returning to the back porch, Dorothy made Rose apologize to Pinkie and Mrs. Claudia. Pinkie offered to help Rose clean out the kennel, but Dorothy would not let her. “No, Pinkie. This is her job. She's going to do it all by herself. In the meantime, you're going to take a quick shower and put on one of her dresses; you two are about the same size.” ---------“Mom, I was so embarrassed I could not even look Pinkie in the eyes. It was then I decided I was just going to do my job, if, for no other reason, than to save myself from being embarrassed before my friends.” “And I must say you have been faithful as far as completing whatever job we have given you to do,” her mother said. “And, Dad, I really appreciate the talk you gave me on being responsible and remaining faithful to a task until it is finished no matter how long it takes and no matter how many times I have to do that task. It has helped me a lot in my classes,” Rose said. “I'll always remember the simple but powerful verse you shared with me and Dexter that evening: 'A faithful man [or woman] who can find?' That was when I decided I wanted to be faithful.”


“You're showing the marks of a wise child, Rose,” her father said. “Proverbs 13:1 says, ‘a wise son [or daughter] heareth his father's [or mother's] instruction; but a scorner heareth not rebuke.’”


18 But a scorner heareth not rebuke, Rose thought as they turned off the highway in to a quiet neighborhood in Highland, Michigan. “Look at those two dummies,” Tyson said hitting the brakes. The car jerked to a stop. “This is how people get killed.” Two boys on bicycles sped across the street right at the intersection without checking to see whether or not it was safe to do so. “I think we better pray for protection,” Tyson said. After prayer, he said, “I hope you brought your sun visors; it seems like it's going to be hotter than the weatherman predicted. How do you think your brother's going to do in today's tournament, Rose?” No answer. “Rose, are you all right?” her father asked glancing over his shoulder as her mother reached over to shake her. “Oh, yes, Dad. I was just thinking,” she replied. “About what?” “You know the end of that verse says, 'but a scorner heareth not rebuke.' I wonder if I was being a scorner that day you pulled me out of the dance club.” “Refresh my memory,” her Dad said. “I had snuck and joined the dance club without your permission and went to rehearsals two days out of the week having you to believe I had actually joined the drama club. “What made you do that again?”


“I was just following my friends,” Rose said. “You've always told us, God will lead parents to check on their children at the most unexpected times, but I did not believe that. I was a month into the dance club and we were getting ready for a live performance when you decided to pick me up. Mom was running late from a doctor's appointment. She had called and told me to wait by the side entrance closest to the theater where we rehearsed. She never told me you were coming to pick me up. When you turned up, I was nowhere in sight.” ---------“Excuse me, I am looking for my daughter, Rose McKenzie; she has drama practice. Can you direct me to where she may be?” Tyson asked the students standing by the entrance. “Yes, I know her,” one of the students said, “Only we do not have drama practice. This evening is dance practice.” “Dance practice?” “Yes, she's our best dancer in the club. Go through that door, sir, and go immediately to your left. She should be on stage.” Tyson entered the semi-dark theater and observed the practice session for about five minutes. He saw both girls and boys on stage doing their thing. What kind of clothing do these people have on? Tyson thought. I do not want my daughter dressed like this even for practice. And what kind of moves are these?


Tyson quickly made his way to where the director was standing and introduced himself. “Sorry to disturb you, but I am Rose McKenzie's father. I came to pick her up.” “Can you give us about ten minutes, Mr. McKenzie?” the director asked. “I'm sorry, but we have to leave right now.” Rose was summoned. She was shocked to see her father standing next to the director. “Great job, Rose. You can call it a day.” Rose sheepishly waved goodbye to her friends. Why did he have to come? Things have been going so well. Why couldn't he have called me on the phone from outside like Mom always does? Rose walked quietly beside her father to the car. They rode home in silence. Rose retired to her room as soon as she entered the house and was not seen until her mother called her down for supper. “Your mother is here so tell us both how you have been spending your Tuesday and Thursday evenings after school,” her father said. “I have already told her, so you might as well begin speaking.” “Dad, it is not as bad as you are probably making Mom think it is.” “Oh, it isn't?” her father said. “Picture this: I stop by the school to pick up my fourteen-year-old daughter, who is a Christian by the way, from dance practice and not drama practice as she has been leading us to believe. I watch the rehearsal for about five minutes and I see my daughter skimpily dressed, swinging her behind


to some rag-time music in a way that was questionable to me, so I pull her out.” “Dad!” “Dad, nothing. I'm talking. I gave you a chance to talk. We never knew you were a part of the dance club. We thought you were into drama, you know, acting. So what's going on?” “Dad, I joined the dance club because that is what I really want to do,” Rose said. “Well, why didn't you just ask us or tell us?” her father said. “I might have let you try it.” “Yeah, right.” “Deep down you knew I would not let you join a dance club, right? When you do things behind our backs that just lets me know you are trying to hide something you know you should not be doing in the first place. It just lets me know you already knew what our answer would be and you are not in agreement with our answer so you go behind our backs and do it anyway. That is outright disobedience and is also a form of lying and deceit.” “Dad!” “All I need to hear from you right now is 'yes sir.'” her father said. Rose looked to her mother for support, but received none. “Mom, you know there is nothing wrong with dancing. Please tell Dad that,” Rose insisted. “You're right. There is nothing wrong with dancing,” her father said. “The only dancing I want you to do is praise dancing to God thanking Him for all He has blessed you with. I do not want


you in a dance club. That was just a foolish thing you did. Now finish eating and go back up to your room. If I were you, I'd spend the rest of the evening thinking about the deceit you've been pulling.” “May I please be excused?” Rose asked after she was finished with her meal. “You may as soon as you apologize for being deceitful, and after you ask with a better tone and attitude,” her father said. “By the way, I'll be taking you to school in the morning. You'll need to apologize to your dance teacher for lying to her as well.” Rose stormed off to her room after reeling off an apology, which she had to do twice because the first was done with a snappish attitude. ---------“When I went to my room, I was upset,” Rose said. “I did not want to hear it. I got on the phone with my friend, and we talked about it, and how unfair you were and how that I did not need to apologize, and you were just being mean and trying to keep me from having fun. It seems like I was being a scorner because I did not want to hear your rebuke.” Her parents chuckled. “You could say that.”


19 “As I was saying,” Tyson said, “Alfred loves his children to a fault, and did not balance that love with consistent discipline. He gave those children every material thing they could dream of. He gave Alex a brand new car at the age of seventeen. What is a seventeen-year-old doing with a new car? He let his son come and go at will. He did not even know the friends he ran with. From what he told me on one occasion, his wife would sometimes give the children permission to do something even after he had said no..” ---------Tyson stopped by Alfred's office for his annual check-up. While in one of the examination rooms with Alfred, Judy called. “Hold on, Tyson, let me get this. That's my wife.” “Sure, go ahead,” Tyson said. “I'm in no hurry.” “Hello,” Alfred said. “What!...and you did what?...I told him I did not want him taking the new car I just bought him to go joyriding with his friends, and you heard me tell him that. Before he got a car, how did he get around?...Judy, I paid a lot of money for that car...Do you have any idea where he is?...What? He's been gone for over an hour.” Tyson could tell Alfred was more frustrated than angry. Here was a father who desired to see his children become successful, make wise decisions, and make their parents proud of them, but he became


frustrated each day because of their disobedience and his wife’s compliance. “I'm curious, where is Angela?...You believe she went with her brother! So my son is riding around town with his friends and my daughter is with them.” Now, Alfred sounded angry. Tyson, out of respect, indicated with his hands to Alfred, do you want me to leave the room? Alfred shook his head, no. “Judy, I told you that you're not helping any when you oppose what I tell the children as they will see us as not being together. Can't you see what Alex is doing? He's trying to pit us against each other and play us to his advantage...I have a patient right now, so I'll see about it once I get home.” Shaking his head he added, “You're a lawyer; you're suppose to be able to see through these things.” Alfred hung up the phone. “Tyson, I admit I have not been as firm as I should have been on my children, but one thing I am disappointed in, and that is that my wife, every now and then, goes against what I say and lets them do what she knows I do not want them to do. Now she does not know where my two children are.” Tyson did not say what was really on his mind. Instead he said, “You're right, that is not going to work; the children have to see you two as one, especially when it comes to their training. My wife and I had a few conflicts during our children's young years because she kept catering to their every whining moment and then when they would not listen to her, she expected me to get them in line for her.”


Tyson related to Alfred the Wednesday night prayer meeting scenario his wife experienced with the children. “They embarrassed her so much she was forced to make a solid decision to be firm with her children on a consistent basis.” “That's been one of our issues,” Alfred said. “She babies those children, especially Alex. He has become nothing but a spoiled child. I am doing the best I can, but where am I going wrong? I feel I am to be blamed for how they are turning out. They're bringing my grey hairs out.” ---------“I wanted to tell him, 'you are certainly to be blamed for not being firmer with them,'” Tyson said. “But I refrained from saying that. I simply told him that God knows of his family situation and all we can do is pray for Alex and Angela.” Tyson slowed down as traffic going to the golf course had backed up. “I can't believe this many people are going to watch our son play another winning game,” Dorothy said. “I'm so proud of him.” “That's because of God giving us wisdom and insight into the biblical way of training our children, and His allowing the right people to cross our path,” her husband said. “Do you think we will be able to get a parking spot close by?” Rose asked. “I hope so,” her father answered. “As I was saying, God has given us specifics on how to properly raise our children so they won't


cause us heartache. But some parents devise their own rules to training their children, and their children give them hell because of it. As the Bible simply says, if you beat him with the rod you will deliver his soul from hell—hell here on earth and hopefully hell in the eternal life to come.�


20 Tyson uncapped one of the Gatorade bottles and took a big gulp. “Proverbs 29:15 says, 'The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,'” Tyson continued. “I'm putting everything I can into training you and your brother in the biblical way, Rose, because if either of you go out into the world and begin to act the fool, at least I can live in peace knowing that I did my job.” Turning to his wife he continued, “It takes some sacrifice, and it hasn't always been pretty or easy, but the results are well worth the sacrifice. We would not be here watching our son make a name for himself in the world of golf. And you, Rose, are on the road to success in the world of fashion. If you both continue in the way the Lord is leading us to lead you, both of you will have successful lives.” Dorothy nodded. “I believe it is in the same chapter where it states, 'correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest: yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.' Right now, neither Alfred nor his wife have any rest when it comes to their children. His son is in jail for having sex with a minor and his daughter is pregnant at the age of seventeen when she's nothing but a baby herself. Did I ever tell you about the visit his father and I made down to the jail the very next morning after the police picked him up? Here he is in a precarious position and he still would not listen to his father.”


---------“Hi, Alex. How are you doing?” Albert said. “Do you want to tell me what happened? Tyson and the police already informed me as to what took place.” “Well, then, why do you need to hear from me again? You can't do nothing about it,” Alex said. “How well did you know the girl?” Alfred asked ignoring his son's response. “What difference would that have made? It's not going to get me out of here, now is it?” “Listen, Alex, if I were in your position, I would be talking much more humbly,” his father said. “After I leave here, I am headed to the girl's house to talk with her father. You have been charged with trespassing and assault. That was just stupid of you.” “Well, he hit me first,” Alex said. “It makes no difference who hit first. You should have taken the few hits and gotten out of there. What were you trying to prove?” his father said. “Look, Dad, I am a grown man and, by law, I have been for the past two years. I can make my own decisions and do for myself.” “Guess what? By law if you have sex with a minor, no matter who instigated it, you go to jail. By the law, if you are caught trespassing on another's property you get put in jail or you pay a fine. Andd guess what, I will not bend a finger to help you.” “Mom will help me,” Alex mumbled.


“I have instructed your mother not to get entangled with your mess—” “Like she listens to you anyway,” Alex said under his breath. “As I was saying,” Alfred continued, “yes, you are grown— age-wise—but you are still immature. Grown, mature folks do not run away from trouble or try to wheedle their way out of trouble and neither do they pass their responsibilities on to others. Your mother is so hurt she refused to come down here with me. And the hurt is so deep, I would not count on her representing you in court. I started not to come down here myself.” “Then why did you come then? I didn't tell nobody to call you.” His father, nor Tyson could believe how arrogantly Alex was talking. “I came here because I love you, Alex. It was love that made me do all I have done for you since you have been born, but this conversation just showed me how ungrateful you are. You're on your own.” Tyson spoke with Alex as Alex watched his father walk away. He could see the pain, hurt, and above all the confusion in Alex's face. “Alex, I am going to spare you another father-son talk, but I just wanted to share with you these verses from the Bible.” Tyson opened his Bible to the first verse which read: “He that being often reproved and hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy.”


“I don't think I need to explain that to you,” Tyson said. “The second verse reads as follows: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.' God loves you, Alex, and He wants the best for you, but—” “Then why did He put me in jail then?” “No, Alex, you put yourself in jail by choosing not to listen to your parents’ teaching,” Tyson said. “But as I was saying, God loves you and wants a good life for you. If you believe He loves you and that His Son died for you so that you could have everlasting life and thus a good life, then you just open up your heart and cry out to Him and He will listen and accept you. The choice is yours. Yes, you are a grown man, and grown responsible men make wise decisions. Don't be foolish, Alex. Make the decision to believe God loves you and begin trusting Him to deliver you out of this situation, or to at least help you through it.”


21 Tyson pulled into the first free parking space he saw. “I think I had better park right here. We may have to walk a little distance, but we'll make it in the nick of time,” he said glancing at his watch. He took out his phone and called his son. “We're here, Dexter. We'll be cheering for you.” The McKenzies proudly walked the entire golf course observing their son play. Tyson reflected on his son's spiritual and mental growth since birth. He had seen how he'd put away childish things as he matured in the faith, and as he took heed to his father's instructions from the Word of God. One of the things Tyson had required of his children from the time they got saved was that they read a chapter in the book of Proverbs each day and pray and ask God to give them godly wisdom. “Solomon was young when he became king and he asked God for wisdom. If you ask God for wisdom, He'll give it to you,” he shared with his children. “He even tells us in the book of James, the first chapter, that if any man lacks wisdom to let him ask God for it and God will give it to him.” Tyson had them memorize certain key verses such as Proverbs 10:1, Proverbs 13:1, Proverbs 17:25, Proverbs 29:1, and Proverbs 1:10.


As the family observed Dexter with his shirt neatly tucked in and his pants held up by a belt, Tyson remembered the confrontation he had with Dexter when he was sixteen years old. He was reclining on the couch when Dexter came hurrying in from school making a beeline to his room. He had a bag tucked under his arm. “What do you have there, Dexter? And why are you in such a hurry?” “Oh, just some clothes and I have to get some serious studying in, Dad.” “Okay, go ahead.” The following morning, Dexter was late coming down for breakfast. His father had to call him twice. As Dexter hurried to take his seat around the table his father stopped him. “Whoa, son! What do you have on?” Dexter was wearing an oversized basketball jersey and baggy pants almost twice his size. “Are you sure you bought the right size? They seem to be hanging off you quite a bit. Turn around now,” his father said. Rose tried to stifle a laugh as her brother slowly turned around. “What's the purpose of the belt if you're not going to let it do its job?” his father said trying not to smile. “Dad, come on,” Dexter said confidently after noticing his Dad's smile. “It’s just some clothes.”


“I see. I didn't know you were a part of the new who-dun-it club. Did you, Dorothy?” Tyson asked his wife with a chuckle. “So do you like it, Dad?” Dexter said eagerly. “Sure I love it. It's good to put on when you're doing yard work. At least if your pants fall off you'd be in the privacy of your backyard. Aren't you scared they’re going to fall off?” “No, Dad. There's an art to walking in these pants where they won't fall off. So can I wear them to school today?” Dexter asked with much anticipation. “Sure, you can wear them as soon as your mother has them taken in.” his father said. “Or she can just take them back to the store and exchange them for a size that fits you better.” Tyson was trying hard not to burst out in laughter. “Dad, you don't understand,” Dexter said sitting down to eat. “Today is designated 'cool day' at school and I don't want to be, you know, uncool. I'll be laughed at if I wear my regular clothes. You don't want them to laugh at me, do you?” “No, I don't mind them laughing at you if you are being obedient,” his father said. “I have told you more than once you lead your friends. Do not let them lead you. Now hurry on to your room and put on something else that fits better. How did you get them anyway?” his father shouted at him. “Alex picked them up for me. I gave him the money from the money I make helping you at the auto shop. You told me I could spend it however I want to.” When Dexter returned, he had the clothes in a bag. “I don't have the receipt so I guess I'll have to keep it.”


Tyson chuckled. “Your mother will take care of it without the receipt. Eat up. We'll make it just in time for your first class.” “I can save Mom a trip to the store and just return it to Alex,” Dexter offered. “I'm sure the lady at the store will remember him.” “I am sure your mother won't mind returning it,” his father said. “Plus, something tells me you're not going to return them to Alex; you're going to change into them once you get to school and change back when it's time to come home. Remember, son, I was not born yesterday. I have tried just about all the tricks you are thinking of trying.” As Dexter and Rose headed to the car, Rose said laughing, “How could you even try to pull that trick on Dad? Don't you remember when I tried to get Sandria to buy me a dress like hers? It wasn't that long ago either.” “Yeah, but mine is different,” her brother answered. “You sure handled that smoothly,” Dorothy said to her husband. “He knows by now not to argue with me. He can try me, but just don't argue with me. Good bye,” he said giving his wife a kiss. “Don't forget to pray for me and the children.” ---------Tyson clapped as his son hit the ball clean into the next hole. They moved with the crowd to the next viewing area.


22 Tyson looked across at his daughter. She was genuinely happy for her brother. As he had taught them, “I want you to always look out for each other. Each other is all you'll have when your mother and I are long gone.” The dance club scenario with his daughter had worked out. She was upset and stayed upset for some days. He had to get in her face twice as she displayed a really nasty attitude about the whole matter. “Haven't you learned by now that having a nasty attitude over a decision I have made is not going to help you?” Tyson said. “If anything, it will only make me stand firmer in that decision and probably add further punishment for you. You are not going to go anywhere by having an attitude about things. You may rise to the top and be a success, but a bad attitude will bring you down.” Tyson made Rose apologize to the family for trying to use her attitude to make their family time miserable. Even though she apologized, she still did not change her attitude. “For your own good, you had better get a more pleasant attitude,” Tyson warned her again. When the family sat down to dinner after the third day of him talking with her about her attitude, he told her, “Rose, go to your room. Your mother and I will be up shortly.” When they returned, Rose had a better attitude—not the best —but better.


“You pray and ask God to help you to have and to maintain a pleasant attitude and spirit and to take your chastisement with a good spirit knowing it is for your own good. Before you go to bed, read Hebrews chapter twelve where it talks about chastisement. Verse eleven says, 'Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.' Always remember I chastise you because I love you.” Rose was back to her pleasant self when she awakened the next morning, and after maintaining that pleasant attitude for about a week, her father made a suggestion to her. “You are a natural in art and in designing things, why don't you put that talent which God has blessed you with into designing modest dance wear. I'll get your mother to help you find out all it would take to get such a business up and running. If you put your heart and soul into it, you could have a booming business within a few years.” “Thank you, Dad. I would love that.” “Just keep in mind that it will take prayer, hard work, and being faithful to the task. We'll be here to help you.”


23 It was a time of celebration for the McKenzie family. Dexter was playing an excellent game and was in the lead. Tyson reached out to hold his wife's hand when he noticed her smiling and shaking her head. “What are you smiling and shaking your head about? You don't want me to hold your hand?” “Oh, no. I was just thinking about when Dexter lost his first major competition.” Tyson smiled. ---------“Congratulations, you played a great game,” Tyson and Dorothy said to ten-year-old Dexter after a tough competition. “You were the greatest,” Rose said to him. “If I was the greatest why didn't I win!” Dexter snapped at her. He was silent on the ride home, and as soon as he entered the front door he marched to his room. His father found him laying across his bed. “Oh, so you're going to become an angry loser. I didn't train you this way,” his father said to him. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Tyson told his son to sit up. “One important lesson you are going to have to learn in life is to


have a good attitude even when you lose at something. You are not going to come out on top all the time.” “But, Dad, I play to win. I always play to win.” “And that is very important. We all should have that mentality, and that is what I want to see in you all the time—a winner's mentality. This goes not only for when you play golf, but in every aspect of your life. Study hard to win—to get good grades. Interact with people to win—to be an encouragement to them.” “I don't like losing, Dad, especially when I know I have practiced hard,” Dexter said. “Nobody likes to lose, but we can't all be winners all the time. I am sure the other boys wanted to win also. Sometimes God allows us to take second or third or even last place to teach us to be humble and to remind us that we can be replaced.” Dexter seemed to think about what his dad was saying to him. “The Bible says a just man falls down multiple times but he always gets up, dusts himself off, and keeps moving forward. That principle applies here: you lose a game, don't just get mad and give up. Take a step back, see where you made a mistake, learn what you can, refocus, and then get back in the game. Sometimes it is not so much that you win; but it is the kind of attitude that you have. Is it a cocky, proud attitude? Or is it a humble attitude?” Dexter thought on his father's words. “Also, what kind of losing attitude do you have? Is it an angry one like the one you have right now? Or are you going to be truly happy for the person who won? I saw you congratulate the winner,


but you still came away angry. You may want to ask God to forgive you for getting angry, and then congratulate the winner again.” Tyson left his son to think on his words. Dexter joined the family in the living room having a more positive attitude. He called up the winner and they chatted like old friends for a few minutes. ---------Dexter putted for an unforgettable birdie on the third-to-last hole to widen the gap between him and the second place player. It was a done game. He decided to forgo celebrating with the other golfers. “I'll just stay long enough to shake some hands, then I'll be home for some of Mom's oven-cooked hamburgers with lots of onions, green peppers, and bacon mixed in,” Dexter told his parents. “It will be ready by the time you get home,” his mother said giving him a hug. The family enjoyed a celebratory meal and a wonderful time of family fellowship ending in a prayer of thanksgiving to God. “Happy early Father's Day, Dad,” Dexter said to his father just before turning in for the night. “Thanks, son. I could not have asked for a better Father's Day gift.” The following evening, they were watching the playoffs on ESPN. The news reporter was able to get a hold of Dexter for a short interview:


“Dexter McKenzie, what or who do you attribute your success to? You held first place throughout the entire game and widened the gap dramatically on the third-to-last hole.” “I attribute my success first to God and Jesus Christ my Saviour. Then next to my parents and especially to my Dad who saw the talent in me and pushed me sometimes beyond my limits. He never accepted a lazy 'I-can't-do-it' mentality. Thank you, Dad, for staying with me and on me and for never giving up, not only in golf, but also in sacrificing your time and energy in training me in the right and godly way. Thank you, also, Mom, for standing with Dad. And a special thank you to my little sister, Rose, for being patient and encouraging all along the way, and for putting up with your big brother. I love you guys.”


24 The weather on Father's Day was much more pleasant than the heat of Saturday. The McKenzies were in place at the Peace Valley Baptist Church. Alfred and Judy Thomas were in church also. Pastor Smallings preached a simple, but touching message titled: “Is Your Load Too Heavy?” He started out with the words of the song, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” What a Friend we have in Jesus All our sins and griefs to bear; What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer. Are you weak and heavy-laden? Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Jesus still our refuge Take it to the Lord in prayer. “I know it's Father's Day and I want to encourage you fathers today. Some of you fathers have burdened hearts. You are walking around with a burden so heavy it's weighing you down. You've sought the advice of friends, but that did not help. You've gone to the psychologist and the psychiatrist, but that did not help. You've done everything you know to do to relieve you of that burden, but


nothing is helping. I'm here to tell you there's Someone left for you to try. Have you tried Jesus? “Have you tried taking your burdens to Jesus? He says in His Word to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us. “Have you tried Jesus? He's our burden bearer. “Have you tried Jesus? He's our physician in the operating room. “Have you tried Jesus? He's our lawyer in the courtroom. “Have you tried Jesus? He's our deliverer. “Fathers, you can't try Jesus unless you know Him. Do you know Him? Do you know Jesus? The song says, ‘Come to Jesus just now.’ Some of you don't want to come to Jesus, but you're at your wit's end. Your back is up against the wall and the road ahead is dark. So who are you going to turn to now that your wife has left you? “Who are you going to turn to now that your children have gone astray? “Who are you going to turn to now that you've been laid off and your money is running low? “Who are you going to turn to now that your friends have turned their backs on you? “Who are you going to turn to when you have no idea what the future holds? “I say, Jesus. Turn to Jesus. Here's how to turn to Jesus and to find Him and to keep Him with you forever and have a truly memorable Father's Day not just on this day, but in days to come. “God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to save us from our sins and to give us eternal life. Fathers, if you do not know


Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please listen up as I tell you how you can meet the Savior today: “One, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God's law. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, 'For there is not a just man upon the earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.' Romans 3:23 also says, 'For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.' “Two, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. Romans 6:23 says to us, 'For the wages of sin is death...' “Three, accept the fact that you are on the road to an eternal hell. Jesus, himself said in Matthew 10:28, 'And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.' “Four, accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself. In Ephesians 2:8 and 9 we read, 'For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.' “Five, accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. John 3:16 says, 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' “Having heard these words from the Word of God, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in Romans 10:9 and 13, 'That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God


hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' “Fathers, if you want to trust Jesus as your Savior, just pray this prayer with me and mean it. Mothers, if you want to trust Jesus as your Savior, just pray this prayer with me and mean it. Children, if you want to trust Jesus as your Savior, just pray this prayer with me and mean it: “Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have sinned against You. For Jesus Christ's sake, please forgive me of all of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for my sins. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul. Fill me now with Your Holy Spirit, and change my life. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.” Alfred and Judy made their way down to the front. They prayed and rededicated their hearts to Jesus Christ on that Father's Day. After seeking the advice of Pastor Smallings, they turned their family situation over to God. “Only God can speak to your son's heart and your daughter's heart once they get that old. All you can do is remain faithful in praying for them,” Pastor Smallings told them. ---------The McKenzie's had a tremendous Father's Day as Tyson, Dorothy, Dexter, and Rose gathered around the dinner table for a special meal. “You know, Dad,” Dexter said, “I did not understand all that you were doing as I was growing up. I used to think you were being


too hard on me and did not want me to have any fun. I thought you were trying to take away my childhood. But now as I look back, I see that you were only looking toward my future and helping me to prepare to have a successful life. I was only concerned about the here and now; you were concerned about where I'd be as an adult. Thank you, Dad, for not letting up on me. It was not pleasant then, but I do thank you for the sometimes severe chastisement you gave to me.” “Yes, Dad,” Rose piped in. “Thank you for holding me accountable for everything I did and for teaching me to accept responsibility for my actions and not to sidestep them. I sometimes look back and laugh at my foolish actions.” “We love you, Dad, and happy Father's Day,” both children said giving their father a hug. THE END


More Fiction by Daniel Whyte III …And

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…And Family Drama Just Won't Stop II No Time for Evil Shaking the Gates of Hell Charmaine The Unspoken Prayer Request (The Prayer Trilogy #1) I Need Someone to Pray With Me (The Prayer Trilogy #2) The Thanksgiving Letters I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas The Prophet, the President, and the Pastor The Cover-Up The Correction The Common Prayer Resurrection Sunday Good Mother, Bad Mother


CHILDREN'S FICTION A Miraculous Thanksgiving The Little Wise Girl Bug-a-Booh Learns to Give Booh's Christmas to Remember


Connect with Daniel Whyte III Visit Daniel Whyte III online at www.DanielWhyte3.com. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube RSS/Blog



Good Father, Bad Father