by Vicki Haydon

My joy story is found in my children.  These past three years have been extremely difficult for our sons.  Michael has worked tirelessly to become a certified teacher so he can fulfill his passion and calling as a coach.  Jon has endured unimaginable things as a law enforcement officer, and the current attitude by many about his profession has taken its toll.

We were able to meet Michael and his family in Arkadelphia on Homecoming weekend at Ouachita Baptist University.  We were sitting at a table in a popular local restaurant when Michael’s phone started blowing up.  He was receiving texts from players and students he had coached or taught three years ago when he was a substitute teacher and volunteer baseball coach for the high school team. Students heard he was in town and wanted to visit with him.  He talked with several there at the restaurant.  He has been at three different schools since moving to Texas.  Each time he comes in contact with any of his former students, they all want to hug him and talk with him.  This year he has one student that sees the school counselor regularly.  The counselor has encouraged that student to share her feelings with people who have impacted her in a positive way.  Michael recently received a note from that student – she wrote that he really cared when her cat died, and listened and gave her a hug; she ended the note with “Coach Haydon is my best friend”.

Jon’s stories are a little bit harder to summarize.  He knows many of the homeless people by name, and he does a lot to be of help and support to them, including taking them food when he has the opportunity.  He is very passionate about those with mental health issues.  He works to keep them out of prison, exhausting all efforts when they cause disturbances and the police are called.  He has an amazing ability to de-escalate volatile situations.  He has talked several out of committing suicide or causing harm to others.  Jon also has wonderful leadership skills and is an excellent resource to rookie officers.  Many of them contact him concerning the best way to handle situations they find themselves in at work.  

If you ask either of them, they would affirm that these last three years have been very challenging in so many ways.  Long hours at work have not only been hard on them, but on their families.  They have both experienced hardships in their jobs that are hard to put into words.  Both have experienced heartache associated with their professions. 

As their parents, we hurt with them.  And we wonder why they have had to endure such difficulties.  But we see the good they have done and are doing; impacting lives positively every day.  And that is joy.

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