Defender of the Defenseless

We are overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness regarding Sarah’s ‘Night to Shine’ event! What a dramatic difference than what we received when Sarah went shopping for her dress!

Back in January a flyer came home from Sarah’s school inviting her to ‘Night to Shine’. I read the flyer to the family and asked Sarah if she wanted to go to Prom. She looked at the flyer and then went to grab her coat. I guess that meant she was in! I had to tell her it wasn’t that night but it was coming soon.

Sarah needed a dress for this event. We have a Salvation Army store by our house that has prom dresses and I thought we would try there first. We might be pleasantly surprised! Kendall wanted to come with us and so the three of us ventured out around 7pm on a Saturday night to the Salvation Army store. A Gregory Girls’ Night Out!

I told Sarah what we were doing and she was so excited. In the parking lot Sarah made a dash for the store. Thankfully, Kendall caught her by her hand.  As we walked in I did a quick scan of the store and saw that it wasn’t too busy.

“Good.” I thought. While Sarah is getting better in public and not crying as much, I still am very hesitant about taking her out. We never know if she will start to cry loudly.

We made our way to the prom dresses section and there were so many to choose from! There were short and long ones, sparkly sequins to smooth satin in all sizes and colors. We picked a few we thought might fit and Kendall wanted to help Sarah get changed in the dressing room. I stood outside the dressing room door and would return dresses that didn’t fit and went back to the racks looking for other options for her to try on.

We found the red velvet dress that Sarah did eventually choose for ‘Night to Shine’. Only $10.99! Gotta love the price! Yet, we were not quite sure if this was ‘THE’ one. Sarah still had several more dresses to try on. There was one that I thought might also be a winner. It had hot pink sequins that covered the entire bodice. It screamed Sarah! When Sarah went to try it on, it turned out to be a pant suit. Sarah thought this was hilarious.

“Funky! I look funky!” Sarah squealed.

Not sure where she heard that word before. I opened the door to see Sarah spreading her legs apart and she bent down to show that it was a pant suit.


Kendall and I laughed and I told her to be quiet. That did it. She began to yell,


Kendall put her hand over Sarah’s mouth, but again, that just fueled her more.

‘FUNKY! I LOOK FUNKY!’ she yelled louder.

I told Kendall to get her changed and told Sarah once more to be quiet.

Kendall turned to me and asked what shoes Sarah would wear to Prom. Good question! She doesn’t have any nice dress shoes. I decided to look at the shoe section that was right next to the changing rooms.

‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could find sparkly shoes for Sarah?’ I thought as I looked on the shelves.

“Funky!” was continued to be yelled with a hysterical laugh as Sarah couldn’t contain her excitement. The dressing rooms had no ceilings and her yell and giggle echoed throughout the store.

It continued to get louder and I went back once again to tell her to be quiet.

Then it happened.


I looked over to see a woman hissing at me in disgust. I just barely saw her head and it seemed to be that she was hiding behind the rack of clothes.

“I am so sorry! She has severe autism.”  I apologized.

“WELL I DIDN’T KNOW! GOOD GRIEF! SHE IS SO LOUD!” Her tone was sarcastic and unkind.

I said it again apologetically, “I’m so sorry! She has severe autism.” My face became red as I felt horrible. I felt the stares of people shopping around me.


Then I heard her speaking to whomever she was with about how terrible I am and how I can’t control my child.

I didn’t say a word back to the woman. It was pointless. I knocked on the door and told Kendall to please hurry. Tears flooded my eyes and I put my head down as I stood outside the dressing room door.

“Lord, I can’t even take her to the Salvation Army store.” Tears came down my face and I did my best to stay composed.

The door slowly opened and Kendall’s eyes met mine. My eyes were filled with tears and hers were white with anger!

“Where is she?” Kendall looked out the door to get a view of the store. She opened the door more and Sarah stood there head down and quiet.

“Mom, how could she say that?”

I turned around to see that the woman was now close enough to see that Kendall was in the room with Sarah and with that she walked away.

“Kendall, do you think this is the first time someone has yelled at me about Sarah? It’s not the first, nor will it be the last.”

Kendall’s hands were shaking.

“I am so MAD!!! This is a special day for Sarah and how could she say something like that? Where is she?!”

“Kendall, no, let’s just go. It won’t solve anything. Are you almost done? I just want to go home.” I just wanted this night to end. I could not leave the store fast enough.

“We need to try on two more dresses.”

“Please hurry. I want to go home.”  I couldn’t stop the tears and the stares from the few people in the store were falling heavily on me.

We decided on the red velvet dress and Kendall insisted that Sarah carry it out.

“This is her day and she is carrying her dress!”

As we walked to the cashier, the stares followed us. Kendall held her head up high and confidently marched to the cashier. I walked quietly trying not to make eye contact.

I am proud of Kendall for being so protective of Sarah. I could not ask for a better sister for her! God has given me a girl with such spunk and I love how she is ready to defend the defenseless.

To be honest, I have struggled with this situation and poured my heart out to God about it. I asked the Lord if I should have said something, but I truly think confronting this woman would not have changed anything. There are times I have said something, but I could tell this woman’s heart was hard as stone and it would have been pointless. This woman had no clue what our lives are like and how important this day was to us. If she lived my life for one day, she would be laughing at Sarah saying ‘Funky’, too, and joining us in her joy. Instead, I find myself chuckling that Sarah single handedly ‘ruined her shopping experience’ at the local Salvation Army store on a Saturday night. Wow.

This morning in my quiet time, I read about King Hezekiah who was being threatened by the King of Assyria (2 Kings 19). This king was ruthless and was conquering kingdoms left and right and now found himself on King Hezekiah’s door. Judah was outnumbered by a massive war machine. The Assyrian king taunted Hezekiah and mocked him for trusting in God. Hezekiah did not reply back. Instead, he went to the temple and spread the letter that the king of Assyria sent before the Lord and he prayed. The prophet Isaiah came to Hezekiah and told him the Lord will fight the battle. And He did! An angel went out and wiped out 185,000 of the army. The army fled back home without Judah even lifting a sword.

What a great example of how God truly is the Defender of the defenseless! Now there are times in the Bible the Lord tells Israel to fight, but no matter what, He was with them. I know, too, He is with me no matter what battles I face.

No, this was not the first time I have had someone make comments to me about Sarah, telling me to make her be quiet or behave, and it certainly won’t be the last. (Trust me, if I could make her, I would.) There are times it is best to be quiet and there are times the Lord tells me to speak up. And when those times to speak up come….I know I will not be alone for not only is God with me, but also He gave me a feisty daughter who is ready to stand in Sarah’s defense!

11 thoughts on “Defender of the Defenseless

  1. Angela

    That is absolutely beautiful! I loved the pictures of Sarah having such a wonderful time st Night to Shine and am so happy she had such a wonderful experience! So sorry about the time shopping – but so proud of both you and Kendall. Love her spunk!!! And love your beautiful hear that keeps seeking the Lord in every hard experience. You are such an example. Your beautiful is what so many, many people live and cherish about you. Rather than becoming bitter you become more yielded to God, to trusting Him and you share your words of wisdom gleaned in hard times with the rest of us in a way that is so meaningful. Love you!! ❤️❤️

  2. Karla Watson

    Praising God for your family! This story of what happened caused me to praise Him and thank Him for His love and grace and purpose shines through you all! Also caused me to pray for His strength and encouragement and perseverance and presence in your lives. Keep sharing – He is using you mightily for His glory and purpose! It’s hard – keep your eyes on Him and the joy set before us- I’m praying for you all!

  3. Roger Palms

    We always appreciate your praying for Sarah blogs but seldom rply. However this one is so moving we just have to say thank you for telling about this experience. Kendall is so perceptive and loving in her defense and understanding of her sister instead of being embarrassed by her. That is really a gift from God. With much love from Andrea and Uncle Roger.

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Thank you Uncle Roger and Aunt Andrea! Kendall is a gift! Thank you!! Love you both! Looking forward to you coming up here soon and I can give you both a big hug!! I am so deeply thankful for your love and support! ❤

  4. Maggie Cytacki

    Your stories always touch my heart and this one was so moving! Both of your daughters are a gift from God. I can’t help but wonder what happened in that unkind woman’s past that made her so intollerant and mean-spirited! It was wonderful to see Sarah having such a special experience at her prom! Kendall is a terrific sister and friend to Sarah. You and David are doing a great job raising your family! Thanks for sharing your adventures. You are always in our prayers!

    1. I agree! Talk about an unhappy lady! Thank you sweet friend for your prayers! If only I saved our macaroni shoe, Margo! Then I would not have had to look at the shoes. 😉 Love my friend! ❤

  5. Pat Vess

    Your words are priceless and giving us all insight why judging is never allowed because understanding of another’s plight may not be clear in what we see and hear. May every precious Mom who needs words of compassion and a warm embrace of understanding receive both even today beginning with Jill.

    Thank you for always touching our hearts so deeply through your precious Sarah.

  6. Pingback: Night to Shine 2019 – Praying for Sarah G

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