Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hallelujah Hallow

On the porch...listening to his "hallow"
Charley stayed home from his Day program today. Our plan was to do some work around the house. But when it came time to dig in, well, a certain someone I know and love planted himself on the couch.
So I begged. Pleaded. Bribed. Moaned. Pleeeease, Charley. You promised you would help.
Think it did any good? Well, not exactly.
I folded clothes. He danced to High School Musical.
"Son," I said. "Turn off that radio. Stop that dancing. We've got chores to do. Get busy."
I scrubbed the sink. He played with the cat.
I cleaned out the closet. He went to the fridge and sprawled out on the couch to eat. And eat. And, EAT.
I did what I suspect most Mom's do. I threatened.
If you don't get off your rear, this will happen...
You're gonna to be sorry, because that will happen...
I'm gonna tell Dad...and anything can and will happen...
Finally, out of sheer frustration I sat down and cried. I don't know why, exactly. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
What did he do? He continued to eat. And luxuriate on the couch. And eat.

"Stop crying Mom."

Stop crying? Sounded good. But how? I just kept at him. Yap. Yap. Yap. As if he would get the message that he was being an inconsiderate jerk. My hissy fit was of no use to me. Even I could see that.
And then something happened. I shut up. I just sat there and cut him off from all conversation.
He doesn't like that. Let me rephrase that...he can't. stand. it.
He tried, believe me.
Mom, what doin?
Mom, I tired.
Mom, work is hard.
Still, no comment from me. Let me tell you what, Buster, I am NOT talking to YOU.

I admit it. I felt sorry for myself. Why should I have to do all the work? I've got an able-bodied 24 year old. He can do the grunt work. Lift the heavy stuff. Help a little.

Somewhere between my no-talking and his please-talk-to-me stand-off, he turned the dial on the radio to the middle of a sermon on repentance.
The preacher talked about taking responsibility for your life, and having the guts to apologize when you've been wrong. But not just saying you are sorry, he said you have to change your behavior or the repentance doesn't count. He said that we all sometimes make poor choices, and that if we want to really be happy in this life, we have to be responsible for our own happiness, and that includes how we treat others.
What happened next should have surprised me, but it didn't. Because I know Charley.
There, standing in front of me, was my son, holding out his hand, helping me up. He looked me in the eye and said, "Mommy, God said we-pen-dance. On da hallow (that's what Charley calls his radio). I listened."
I said, "God was on the radio?"
He said, "Yep. He said we-pen-dance."
"Yeah, Mom. We-pen-dance. I sorry, Mom. What do?"
And there went my frown, right out the window. And why not? I couldn't help smiling as he explained that the voice on the radio belonged to God. Hallelujah.
So there he was, apologizing. Repenting. Asking me what I wanted him to do. Changing his behavior. Doing the right thing.
Here was this young man with special needs, who some might think of as marginal, or simple, taking responsibility, asking for some assignment, telling me, "I work now. "

And with that, he went to the dryer and pulled the laundry out, and loaded the washer. Then he proceeded out to the end of the driveway and pulled the garbage can back up to the house (and put it where it is supposed to go). Next, he assisted as I cleaned off the Baker's cabinet. And this time, not one complaint.

"See?" he said. "I make you pappy."
And it did. It made me so happy I cried again.
Charley was not the least bit amused.
"Mom, you no cry," he said. "You listen, you we-pen-dance. God said." Then he headed to the porch with his "hallow" to do a little dance. Right out there where all the neighbors could see. Strutting his stuff.
And you know what? That made me laugh. Not that he was trying to be funny, but when your kid hears the word repentance and then dances a little jig on the porch, what's a Mom to do?

You do a little jig, that's what. You park your marching orders at the door. You lay your burdens down. You look into the face of your child who says he's listened to God, and you do a little we-pen-dance. And you listen to the wisdom of that extra chromosome called Down syndrome. 
And if you're not careful, you just might laugh a little more . You just might see the world in a different way. You might hear something worth dancing about on that Hallelujah Hollow.


Thank you for reading my blog! Please come back soon!
Sherry McCaulley Palmer is the author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption, published by Zharmae Publishing Press, available on
You can read the first two chapters free, here:
Please visit Charley on his Facebook page at: Life with Charley - And Down Syndrome:



Friday, May 15, 2015

Heart Warriors

So pleased to announce that my guest blog is featured today In Blog Z...

In my book, Life with Charley, I have a chapter titled “Everyone’s Arena.” It’s all about the Special Olympics.

Now. You may think the focus is on the athletes. And it is, as it should be. It’s their time. But there’s something else. I want to talk about coaches. And peer tutors. And volunteers. And heart. And smiles. And those who make it possible for our athletes to shine.

It’s heart that leaves a family and boards the bus with around 60 athletes, 20 coaches, and 20 peer tutors (and that’s just the bus from our area) seeing to their every need, both physically and emotionally.

It’s heart that guides and directs the athletes from event to event, pushing wheelchairs, monitoring, seeing to it that medications are taken on time, making sure they get their snacks, stay hydrated, wear sunscreen.

It’s heart that stands on the sidelines, cheering, yelling, “You can do it!”

It’s heart that’s been on the go all day, yet finds the energy to be that dance partner for that athlete who otherwise might sit this one out.

It’s heart that sends my Charley home with a smile like no other.

You see, these aren’t just ordinary hearts. These are heart warriors. 
Warriors in charge of other hearts. Warriors that go out in search of smiles. Warriors that capture the very spirit of what it means to be a Special Olympian and the smiles that go with it.

Smiles like the one my son has when he arrives home.

Smiling is not unusual for him. It’s something that comes natural, like breathing. But this is a different smile.This is a smile that says, “I’ve got friends.”

Mike and Charley
Mike and Charley
“I belong.”
“I’m one of them.”
“I am somebody.”
Yeah. That smile.

It’s a smile of knowing acceptance. Of being a star. Of knowing you’ve made it to the finish line. Of standing shoulder to shoulder with your teammates. Posing for the picture.

It’s a smile that’s heard the thunder of applause, and knowing it’s meant for you.

Each time my Charley comes home from the Special Olympics, tired, happy, proud, I say a silent prayer of thanks. For the Special Olympics that puts that smile on my son’s face. For the hearts that give it freely. For those who do what few others would do, reaching into the hearts of those Special Olympians and pulling out those time of your life smiles.

Today my husband and I stood in the parking lot and watched as the bus drove away. The bus that would deliver the most important person in our lives to the one place that could help him find that smile.

So today I want to turn the spotlight on those who make it possible. 

Those who heart others.

Those who send our kids home with that smile.

I want these heart warriors to know that for those of us back home looking forward to that smile, rest assured. That smile belongs to them.
Sherry is holding a “Life with Charley Gratitude Giveaway.” To find out more about the contest, go to:
You can find out more about Sherry and Charley at:
Charley’s Facebook:
Twitter: @LifeWithCharley
Amazon Author Page:
Sherry Palmer is the author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption.
About the book:
Step into the world of special needs parenting and catch a heartwarming glimpse of unconditional love.
Charley is funny, ridiculous, ornery, and charismatic. He also has Down syndrome, and Sherry Palmer thanks her stars each and every night for the blessing that is Charley. Sherry knew that her life would change drastically when she and her husband decided to adopt a baby boy with Down syndrome, and she knew they would struggle at times with his developmental challenges, with other peoples’ perceptions, and with their own emotions. What she didn't know was just how amazing their world would become once Charley was in their lives—and in their hearts.
What the couple wants is to be parents. Little do they know that adopting a baby with Down syndrome breaks all the rules.
What the family wants is to talk them out of it. Thus begins a phone-calling campaign of do-gooders warning of the pitfalls. Surely this couple has no idea what they are doing. Surely they realize it’s a lifetime choice. What these well-intentioned people don’t know is that it’s the chance of a lifetime.
What the church wants is a typical pastor’s family (The handsome pastor. The thin, perfect pastor’s wife. The well-behaved, well-mannered preacher’s kid). What they get is the polar opposite, and what they find out is that sometimes even church life can have its challenges.

From the unlikeliest of sources comes a powerful message that the key to true happiness is in just being yourself.

Please visit! 

In the meantime, I'm excited to announce our Life With Charley Giveaway!

Announcing our "Life With Charley" Gratitude Giveaway!

Beginning today and ending May 30th you can enter to win one copy of "Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption," signed by Charley and me.

This Gratitude Giveaway is in honor of the teachers, coaches, peer tutors, and volunteers who have given so much of themselves to make my son happy. 

In fact, at the time of this posting, they are on a bus on their way to the Special Olympics in Nashville. Rather than spending the weekend with their families, they are taking Charley and roughly 60 others to compete in the state games. Folks such as Gina Legg, Mike Sowards,  Camryn Cupp, Nate Berryman,  Skylar Gilliam, and Gabriel Boninoma. And that's just this trip! A host of others have taken their turns as well, such as Gerry Williams, and Yvette Dinger-Bennett, Miranda Williams, Jordan Childress, and Karri Byrd.

I'm naming those I know of who have worked with Charley's group. I know there are others. If I have missed your name it was not on purpose. There's no way I could name them all, and that's the point. There are many who have been so good to Charley and all of the Special Olympians on the state and local level. There's nothing Charley likes more, and Brad and I are incredibly grateful that he is included.

I'm so excited to have this chance to celebrate the Special Olympics with this Gratitude Giveaway. 

I know our athletes are special, but this giveaway is all about gratitude for those who make the Special Olympics possible for our loved ones. Those who, as I write about in my book, make the Special Olympics "Everyone's Arena." 

As the Special Olympics motto says, "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." It is these service-oriented volunteers who create the arena where everyone is a winner.

On behalf of my Special Olympian: Thank you.

Here's the link to sign up for the giveaway on Goodreads:

I will be re-running this post over the next couple of weeks along with pictures of the Special Olympics. Please share so we can honor these volunteers properly. Thanks!