"Look who made the front page!" said Maride Tillman, Maleyciah's mom, as Uncle Pete walked through the front door from the icy cold. The Tillmans have lived in the same home in Southeast Denton for over 20 years. Yesterday I became "part of the family."
I dropped by to deliver a stack of newspapers, the front page of the Feb. 10 issue of the North Texas Daily emblazoned with a photo of Maleyciah in an orange football jersey, holding hands with her teammate from Calhoun Middle School. The inner-city school, as it is often regarded, carries a comradery that is unique to Denton as a minority-majority school. For many students and teachers, strength is found in the struggle, as 70 percent of students are from poverty. The story and photo essay were part of a Fall 2014 project in Professor Mark Donald's feature writing class, where I produced a blog on the PECAN neighborhood in Denton.
And with the publication I became eligible to represent UNT in the Hearst Journalism Awards Program.
But there are few things more rewarding than seeing the humble raised up for all to see.
When I last saw the family, shortly before winter break in December, Maleyciah was wrapped in a blanket on the couch as her younger sister, Hadassa, teased her. They hadn't been able to afford a mattress yet, and the small heater puttered out every ten minutes.
Yesterday, everyone was excited to tell me news about what God had done in their lives since we last saw each other. The new building that The Bridge church is moving into overshadowed the new mattress, the new carpet, the new heater.
It was a new feeling for me, watching as the family poured over the paper together, naming off everyone they were going to give a copy to. It was pride of a different kind. I was proud of Maleyciah.
"Make sure and drop by!" said Maride as I stepped out the door. I'll be back, to watch Maleyciah tryout for high school football, and to rejoice with them as we see all the things God does in their lives.
View the multimedia slideshow, or find "Calhoun's Courage" here on the stories page.