Friday, May 17, 2013

Bits & Pieces: Looking behind the story

Sometimes a story is so good, it leaves you inspired—and it makes you want to keep talking about it to anyone who will listen.

Such is the case this week of the story of Nelson and Ivy Pendergrass of Kansas, Okla.

Hopefully you saw their feature in Tuesday’s issue of The Grove Sun. In it, I told how the couple has spent the last 55 years raising four children of their own and well over 200 foster children.

Did you catch that—55 years. Amazing. While they started out caring for boys (for a boys’ home) and then boys and girls (in the foster-care system); in 1982 they learned of a need for safe places for teenaged girls.

From that moment on, their home has been a haven for girls between 13 and 18.

Sitting in their living room, I experienced the sheer joy of being in the presence of two people who truly love children.

Oh, they will tell you it hasn’t always been easy. In 55 years life hasn’t been rainbows raining Skittles or all unicorns and ponies.

But it has been real, and it has been rich. Maybe not the riches you can take to the bank, but yet in some ways, I don’t think that mattered to the Pendergrasses.

It’s easy to see, as you listen to them talk about their children, to realize how special Ivy and Nelson are, and to see how they have made an amazing difference in the lives of countless students.

I asked them how they started their decades of parenting. After some reflection, both said their faith in God not only sustained them over the years, but also helped them take the first step towards being foster parents.

Early in their marriage, they attended a church service where the pastor said, “if you want to do what God wants you to do, stand up.”

Both joked they really didn’t know what they were getting into when they stood up. But they did, and because they were willing to serve, God gave them a life-changing task.

Here’s the deal. The Pendergrasses not only recognized a calling to be a safe place for children in need, but they also strove to tell those same children every day how they are valuable and precious to the world.

I am amazed at their endurance for the call and their passion for the task they have undertaken all these years.

This week, on the eve of their “graduation” from parenting, others recognized the Pendergrasses for their achievements. My assumption is the couple accepted those accolades with a quiet humbleness.

When I talked with them, they really didn’t understand why I would want to write a story about their time as foster parents. To them, they were just taking care of, and loving on children. Period. They were just being parents.

That alone, makes them awesome. Ivy and Nelson, thank you for standing up for children. Thank you for being a place of refuge. Thank you for saying yes.

May your story challenge others to stand up and become foster or adoptive parents, because the need is bigger than any of us truly realize.

Want to know more about foster parenting? Contact the OKDHS Bridge Family Resource Center at 1-800-376-9729.


Have you started taking and hashtagging your graduation photos with #grovegrad13?

I hope so. We’ve set up a special section for all things graduation (look for the “graduation coverage” tag on the home page.)

As you take pictures tonight, during graduation or project grad afterwards, tag away. Think of this as the community coverage of graduation.

Coming soon: #iamgroveok

Yes, the Grove Sun loves hashtags. This summer we’re going to launch a new social networking party designed to show the world just what it means to be from Grove, Okla.

We’re quite excited about this project. Frankly, I’m hoping you’ll use it to show the newbie editor the best and the brightest that Grove has to offer!

I’ll tell you more about it next week, but soon you’ll start to see ads that showcase #iamgroveok using some of our staff as a jumping off point.

So that’s the bits and pieces this week. Congrats to everyone graduating in DelCo. It’s an amazing and exciting time in your life. I’ll leave the grads with this challenge: Trust in God with all of your heart – even when you might not understand everything ahead of you. Know that God has a plan for your life – you just need to take the first step.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the May 17, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun

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