Sunday, February 27, 2011
The church we attend, Hillcrest Congregational United Church of Christ, is a gift in a million ways, but one of the ways that was most important on this special day was that our son at 12 years old could stand up front and lead his congregation in worship to the best of his ability, feeling certain he was loved and respected for who he was. There was no fear of private ridicule as he tried on this new role, he felt safe and secure to step out and not worry about if every word came out correctly, or if he made a mistake in other ways. He knew he would be supported in the effort and that, as our pastor has often emphasized and rightly so, this was NOT a performance, this is worship, and that negates the need to feel pressured to be perfect.
Did he make mistakes? Sure, a couple. Did he stumble a little? Yes, but just a bit. Overall, Kenny exuded a confidence and maturity that surprised even me, and he walked away standing just a little bit taller and recognizing that his contributions to the life of our church are just as important as anyone else's. And no less than 3 people shared with me privately that they were in tears seeing him up there, realizing all he has to struggle with and has also overcome. Many know of his academic challenges and his speech issues are obvious. But this little guy has gumption, and he IS going to make it in this world. It will not be all his parents' doing either, Kenny and all our kids have a little piece of so many other wonderful, loving people inside of them. Do they have challenges beyond what other children might face? In reality I acknowledge that is true. But those challenges are being lifted up and cared for by a community of folks who, in big and small ways, are contributing to them overcoming them. Those folks with tears in their eyes today care about our kids too, and I am humbled by that knowledge and recognize it for what it is, the long reach of God's arms.
And as Kenny sat side by side with our pastor in the front pew, her arm gently resting on around his shoulders, I realized God's arms are multiplied by all of us...we ALL are God's arms, if only we elect to use them in ways that are love affirming.
We all volunteered and helped clean up at church on Saturday morning, which was a lot of fun. Matthew in particular really showed how he has grown in size as he helped muscle furniture down staircases and broke down old counters. All the kids worked very hard, but it is still unsettling to me to see this big, hulking body with the deep voice who is supposed to be my kid but looks and sounds nothing like he did a year ago. He is only 11 but lately folks are mistaking him for 13 or so, and I can see why. I need to remind myself that despite his bigger size, he is still very much a boy inside that body and needs to be allowed to BE a boy for as long as he needs to.
I have been surprised how much our kids enjoy Explorers. They are the eldest there, and yet they are really getting a lot out of it and chatter all the way home about what we did that night as they look forward to the next one. Here is a picture of 4 of the 5 during our awards ceremony. We have kept the costs inexpensive so that everyone can afford it. Our club shirts were tie dyed and made by the kids, and our awards sashes were kindly made by the grandma of one of our Explorers. I think the kids look great!
We ended the weekend with a lovely meal with our adopted Grandpa, who beat me at Scrabble again, much to the kids' delight. We caught up as we hadn't visited in a couple of months and a lot has happened in each of our lives.
Now I sit here trying to catch up on input of hours for the kids for school, trying to write a proposal to be presented at a meeting tomorrow also for school, and running through a mental list of things to get done before leaving town for Mom's Great Homeschool Convention Adventure on Thursday. I am starting to get a little excited, but still have a ton to do before then and wishing I was further ahead on laundry and other chores. Somehow I'll manage, but I need to get in gear.
Off to read a little before falling asleep and facing a busy new day!