Thursday, June 28, 2012


Gotta be honest. I don't really feel one bit like writing anything, but I do want to record...for later...what all is going on with us.

We now own two homes.

Let me rephrase that: our banks now own two homes. In our names.

Just reading that line makes me very tired.

If this sounds like I'm complaining, then it's coming across wrong. We are so blessed. I know many who've had to move out of their homes, due to the economic conditions and various financial set-backs...and many who have NEVER owned a home.

Okay...just so we're clear.

I'm just very tired.

So, this week, Joshua and I have been running back and forth to Conway. We've taken boxes to unpack, and also things like painting supplies. I specifically chose boxes that would keep Joshua occupied and make him feel productive as he that I could concentrate on painting. I really wanted to get Clark's room painted before he gets home from Beach Camp...and I finished it up yesterday. YAY! Joshua unloaded several boxes of his stuff into his closet, and also unpacked about 800 VHS tapes. WHY...I don't know. I guess because they were in the boxes I gave him.

We really need to get a machine that plays the VHS tapes...or we need to get rid of all of them.

Jim said we could "take them to Hot Springs." That is his solution for everything..."take it to Hot Springs." His poor parents have more stuff than they know what to do with NOW...they do not need anymore from US!

So, we decided to take the day off Wednesday and not go to Conway. I had a doctor's appointment, anyway. It was such a relief not to have to get up and get out of the house early. I cleaned the kitchen, my bedroom, did some laundry, vacuumed. This house really needed some attention! AND, they are wanting to have an Open House on Sunday...further motivation to get some things done early!

Holly and Aaron came in on Wednesday night. Aaron surprised Holly with tickets to the Lady Antebellum concert for their 1 year anniversary. They spent the night here, and then Aaron went back home this morning. He will be back after work on Friday. I am excited to have Holly here...she is a big help to me.

Today, Holly and I painted Joshua's room. I think we can get by with one coat on all the walls but one. One wall had chalkboard paint on it and that will probably take 2 coats. It was great to have Holly's help today. It's the first time she's seen the house. She agreed with me that there is a lot of potential there...which will require a lot of work. And money.

So...after painting nearly every room in THIS house...I will need to paint nearly every room in the NEW house. My arms are so tired!

I think Clark is having a good time at Beach Camp. I hope so, anyway. I have prayed over him daily. I can't wait to see him tomorrow night. They aren't allowed to use their phones except for 15 minutes at night. So far, the only text I've received is a "thumbs up" to a message I sent HIM. I hope and pray that God is doing a great work in all of their week is back to football in Conway for Clark, and maybe even staying some nights with Jim at the new house.

Change is hard. I am thankful for a GOD Who never changes.

"For I, the LORD, do not change..." (Malachi 3:6)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kanakuk Update

We picked Clark up from Kanakuk on Saturday. I was SO HAPPY to see that boy! A week is a long time. We had debated on bringing Joshua with us. He does travel well...but the roads to Kamp are pretty curvy and he does NOT do curvy well. Anyway, Holly was at her home in Fay and I didn't want to ask her to come down again and keep him (she had just been here the week before). I thought about taking him to stay with his grandparents for the day...but Clark was only gonna have about 24 hours at home, and I knew Joshua would want to see him. Plus, I didn't want to spend one minute of those 24 hours traveling down to get him. And Logan had plans so he couldn't keep him. So, we brought Joshua with us.

We had to get up a little after 3 on Saturday morning...opening ceremonies start at 7:30 a.m. Most NORMAL people will go up the night before and spend the night. Not the Garland's. No, ma'am. Not spending $89 on a motel room for 8 hours of sleep. Oh, no!  Thankfully, Joshua is a real trooper. It helps that he's a morning person! We decided to stop for breakfast on the road.


We finally found a McDonald's that was open around 5:30, and went thru the drive-thru. I decided to give Joshua a Dramamine. Or, as a younger Joshua called it, "drama-queen." I knew the curviest roads were ahead and so I didn't want him to feel bad. I even let him move up to the front seat for the rest of the trip.



Jim said, "NOTE TO SELF: drama queen doesn't work for everyone."

I get out the box and start reading the label. I tell says "take 1-2 every 4 hours." (of course, it also said, "MAY CAUSE MARKED DROWSINESS"...but THAT didn't seem to be true). At lunch, an hour from Kamp, I decide to give him another drama queen. I mean, it had been 2 hours at that point.


By the time we get to Kamp, Joshua is a zombie. A ZOM-BIE. Not even kidding. I am holding his hand as we walk, and we are walking SLOWLY. Jim keeps looking back at us. I am keeping pace with Joshua because of the terrain...and because his steps are unsteady. Joshua looks like a drunk.

Clark had a great time during the week. Right before the teepee awards, a Dad came up to me and introduced himself. He said he had "been told by others" that Clark was a special friend and great encourager to his son. He told me that his son has Autism...and how much he appreciated Clark looking out for him and being his friend. When he saw Joshua with us, he said, "well, now it's obvious why Clark has such a compassionate heart." That blessed me so much because when all 3 of the boys are home, it's not exactly a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. There's yelling and rough-housing and and lots of LOUDNESS and stink. And sometimes, I just don't think they "get" much I want them to all love each other and all of that (or, as Joshua says, "allvadat"). But then...God sends me a little reminder, thru the comments of this Dad...that maybe things ARE getting into those thick heads of theirs. Love me some God.

Clark was also awarded the "I AM THIRD" award during Base Kamp, and I couldn't be more proud of him for that. It was named after a pilot who sacrificed his own life in a plane crash. Instead of bailing out and saving himself...ensuring that the plane would crash in a neighborhood, likely killing many...he chose to crash-land his plane in the only vacant spot around. He did not survive, but there were no other casualties. He valued other lives as more important than his own. "I AM THIRD."

In the end, there are some "surprises" from Joshua that I don't want to even put in the blog. I don't think I'll ever forget. Eeek! But Joshua was SO excited to see Clark and I am glad we brought him...but, next year...might see if there's another option. I wish there was a straight road to get to the kamp.

We ended up meeting the ALL the Sanders' for dinner at US Pizza in NLR on Saturday night. It was so great to see them. I love them all so much.

"Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man." (Proverbs 3:3-4)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A long week...'s been one long week...and it's only Wednesday. 

Jim and I took Clark to Kanakuk on Saturday. It's his 9th year to go and he loves it. He was SO hoping to get into Super Deal this year, but he was back in teepee 13. He was a little sad b/c the guys in there seem a little on the young side...but he will be fine. I'm sure he would've preferred being around the guys who were his age and a little older...he really likes hanging out with Logan and his friends. But I told Jim that I believe God had a purpose in putting Clark in that exact teepee again this year. One of his counselors is a "first year," and when Clark said it was his 9th year to go, the counselor goes, "well, hello ASSISTANT COUNSELOR!" Ha! Not really, but Jim and I talked about it on the way home. Clark has expressed a desire to help with youth and middle-school youth as he goes thru high school and college, if he's able. We think this week will be good for him in many ways...not only giving him that little booster-shot-in-the-arm we sometimes need in our spiritual lives...but also helping to hone the skills he will need to mentor others. 

(Of course, that was just our interpretation of how WE THINK the week COULD go, based on what we observed...and after talking about specific things we had prayed for for Clark this week)

(And seeing him in some pictures on-line...he looks SO HAPPY! So things must be good!) 

(His spiritual growth is more important to us than anything else!)

One of the Bible passages I have prayed for over Clark this week (especially verse 3): "and he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he prospers." Psalms 1:1-3 (soli deo gloria)

Can't wait to see what Clark learned and experienced.

I sure miss him. SOOOO much.

Then, I talked to my friend, Stacy. Her daughter, Sarah Grace, is spending a month working in an orphanage in Haiti. A MONTH. Sarah has been very sick, but is getting better, thank God. It doesn't matter how old your kids are...when they are sick, you want to be there. My child is in another state. If I need to, I can be by his side in less than 5 hours. My friend's daughter is in another country...where travel is difficult...and medical facilities are less than ideal for something serious.

THE SAME GOD is watching over Clark in Missouri...and Sarah Grace in Haiti.

Clark will stay at Kanakuk all week. We go to pick him up early on Saturday morning...and then on Sunday, he is leaving for 5 days at Beach Camp in Alabama. 

Not gonna's gonna be reallllly hard to let him go on Sunday.

On another's been a long week. Maybe I said that already. My mind is in a constant state of motion, but I can't seem to get my body to follow. SO much to do with preparing for the move...but I just want to curl up in a ball until it's over.

We closed on the new house on Monday. We went early and did a walk-thru of the house with the homeowners. It was the first time I had been in the house since we made the offer...and that was, like, for 10 minutes. I wasn't sure Jim would feel the same way about it, but he seems just as thrilled. Joshua was with us. I took him thru the home and pointed out the 3 available bedrooms...and told him he could have the first pick. As expected, he picked the one I thought he would pick. I asked him if he was excited about it, and he looked at me very seriously and said, "how fast can you paint?"

(Did I mention the room is PINK?)

Yeah...lots of work here...and then lots of work THERE...before we even move in.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!" Isaiah 26:3

Friday, June 15, 2012

More Than A Brother...

I thought I'd better write about what has gone on with Joshua the last couples of that the one or two people who read this blog don't think it's all fun and games all the time around here. It's real life, people. Joshua has the same moods that we all have. What he may lack is the communication skills to tell us what is wrong or how he's feeling. I'm thinking even HE doesn't really know, at times.

(Of course, I have 3 other children who have great communication skills, but don't always choose to use them when it comes to me...and I guess I do the same. We all pick and choose the ones we share our deepest, truest emotions with)


(Okay, now I'm thinking of that "Raymond" episode when Ray is giving a speech to the school board and he tries not to end a sentence with a preposition)

Anyway, notthepoint...

We have loved having Logan home this summer. And we love having Holly and Aaron here when they come home...but any variance in the dynamics of our home affects Joshua in one way or another. I know it...I think we all know it. (I believe I've mentioned a time or three that Joshua is a fan of routine. HIS routine)

Logan has been home since the first part of May. His job didn't start until June 11, so that has given him plenty of time to rest or see his friends or hang out here at home with the boys. I guess Joshua had gotten used to him being here. So, Monday came and Logan went to work, and we went to Conway to pick up Clark. Logan came home that evening...and all was well.

Tuesday...same thing. Logan left, we went to go get Clark and we came home. Logan came in after work and saw Joshua sitting outside.

They kind of have a "thing" where anytime Logan goes out there and sits beside him...they will have a heart-to-heart talk. Meaning Joshua talks, and Logan listens. This day, Logan went out there, ready to sit down and visit...and Joshua GLARED at him, mumbled under his breath, got up and came inside.


Logan tried to ask him what was wrong, and Joshua said he didn't want to talk about it. None of us had a clue what happened. It was obvious that Joshua was mad, and it was obvious that he was mad at Logan.

We didn't know if it was abandonment issues, upset that Logan has left (him) and gone to work...or if he was jealous b/c HE was not the one going to work...or WHAT. He was sitting outside with Clark when Logan first came out there, and so maybe he thought Logan was intruding on his "bruh (brother) time" with Clark.

We'll probably never know.

All I DO know is that a lot of things that happen with Joshua..his actions and his reactions...are not logical. To most people. And so trying to solve the problem, or talk to him...using logic...ain't gonna work.

Example: Jim takes Joshua to the gym probably 3 or 4 times a week. Joshua runs on the treadmill, uses the elliptical or the bike...and then uses the weight machines. He also uses some free weights and does bench press and dead lift with Jim as his spotter. He's done this every week in the 5 years that we've lived here. This week, Jim said he noticed some people around him looking down in Joshua's general direction. Jim looked and Joshua had gotten off the treadmill, taken off his shoes and socks, and was running on the treadmill with his bare feet. BARE FEET. In 5 years, that has never happened. EVER. Jim walked over and told Joshua that being barefoot on the treadmill wasn't allowed, and Joshua goes, "okay," and puts his socks and shoes back on. Later, when Jim asked Joshua why he did that, Joshua said, "I just wanted to see what it felt like."

Logical? Not so much.

And today, Joshua said something about "Dad's not too thrilled with me at the gym right now," and something about "running 80 miles an hour" and "trying to walk backwards." I have NO idea what that's about.

I tried talking to Joshua about the Logan thing, and he started bringing up everything and their Mommas...stuff from the past, stuff he makes up, etc. He brings people into the conversation that have NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on the issue. It's really hard to keep him focused. I'm usually pretty good about getting to the root of things...I have to go thru the backdoor and weave my way around all the added "stuff" he's talking try and get to the bottom of it. 

This issue is not a huge deal in the big scheme of life. Logan is older and understands more than he did when he was younger. He tried not to take it personally, but, not gonna IS unsettling for Joshua to be so upset, and not be able to put a finger on why. Perhaps the uncertain nature of our lives right now...with the move and so many things keeping him more agitated than any of us realize.

It's not for the faint-hearted...parenting, that is. It's tough, in many different ways. In this case, with Joshua, there are things that we may never know, or understand, or figure out...this side of Heaven...but we just do our best with God's help to try and work through them. It takes lots of prayer...because there are situations, like this one, that may require some sort of discipline. Joshua is a man, a 26 year old a man's body...with a child-like mind. What am I gonna do? Spank him? Put him in time-out? It's tough...and when you are the parent of a child with special-needs, you will be met with a ton of resistance from well-meaning family and friends when it comes to disciplining your child. "Aww...he doesn't know what he's doing..." or "he didn't mean it" are two that I have gotten a LOT.

So, yeah.

In this case, I took away his phone and ipod. As Dr. Phil says, that's his "currency." It's what he loves, and what he likes to do. Unfortunately, it's also his connection to the all family and friends. Now, he got them both back last night, after he made things right with Logan, but don't kid's all gonna HIT THE FAN when he tells his grandparents that his Mom took his phone away...just sayin'...

It won't be the first time...

In the end, Joshua's conscience got the better of I knew that it would. It typically takes him a day or two to come out of it, once he gets in a funk. After Logan got home from work, Joshua asked him to come talk in his bedroom. They were in there for a long time. Logan said Joshua apologized, and...of course, he forgave him. Then he asked Joshua, "why were you mad at me?" Joshua never could really say. I don't think he knows...but the words he left Logan with were precious and deep...

"You're more than my brother,'re my best friend."

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" Psalms 133:1

Monday, June 11, 2012



It's not much I ever thought about until a few years ago, when we had to uproot our family and move to a different city. Then, there was a new church, new grocery store, new people. New everything.

It was HARD.

We had lived in the same community for 15 years. We pretty much raised our children's the only "home" they remember. We loved our friends, our house, our church. I loved how I saw people I knew or recognized everywhere I went. Even at our local "Wal-Marks," I would see people I didn't really know...but they were familiar-looking. Even the crazy people (you know what I'm talking about) was like I had seen them before. I felt comfortable. And safe. With all my crazy people.

I didn't realize how set in my ways much I loved the continuity of my days until we had to move and everything changed. I found out real quick that I LIKE THE PREDICTABLE. When you have a bunch of kids, surprises are not your friend. I had things down to a science...dash here, pick up this child, drop this one here, run home, start dinner, etc. I had friends who had kids in the same activities, and we tried to help each other out by carpooling, but was a balance. A del-i-cate balance. Much like the guy at the circus who balances all those sticks with the spinning plates on top of them, it works...even works well. And, to the outside world, it might even LOOK well, but like with the plates, one wrong move or unexpected event will send the whole thing crashing down. 

Even in our church...we had our 'place,' you know? Pre-school choir leader? Did it. AWANA leader? Check. Sunday School teacher? You know it! 

But churches are the worst about change, or they can be. They either never want to change ANYTHING, and so they become stagnant...OR, they want to change everything, which gives the appearance that they are still trying to "find" themselves.  

We've been in both types of churches. 

And it's not the "church" that resists's the people IN the church. Them. Us. ME.

When Jim and I first married and went to our very first Sunday School class, we were put into the "Young Adult I" Department. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER, we were STILL in that same Department. When it came time to "promote" to the next class, guess what? No one would move! The Minister of Education would come to our department a couple of times each year, and would talk to us about the purpose of Sunday School; about his vision of forming small groups of people who would get to know each other, and show God's love by caring for each other...and for others. The purpose of mixing the groups to contain 'different' people, who weren't all naturally best friends, was to bring new people into the group...and grow the group...and eventually to separate into two smaller groups. Like a cell. And by doing this over and over, year after would grow your church...because studies have shown people are more likely to connect through a Sunday School (well, now we call them LIFE-GROUPS) class, because there are fewer people. You could have activities in your home, and the "non-churched" people, or the new people in town...would feel more comfortable coming to your home...or to the park, or the bowling alley, for a fun night with a few people they didn't know...than maybe they would if they had to go into a church filled with lots of people they didn't know. 

It went over like a lead-balloon. No one wanted to leave their class and their group of friends no matter HOW many new people it would bring in to the church. Of course, no one actually SAID those words...but our actions sure showed it! So, since no one would move, they changed the name to "Adult I." And then "Adult 1-A." And, as Joshua would say, "and-so-on-and-so-FOR."

And we kept the EXACT. SAME. PEOPLE...more or less. Year after year.


Well, I have to say...the view is a lot clearer now that I can look back, and isn't that usually the case with most things in life? Don't we become so much wiser with time? I didn't realize until AFTER we boring and complacent and lazy I'd become, not only in my life-life...but in my spiritual life. Before that? I thought things were GREAT!

When we moved here, it's like I had a complete systems crash! I felt like I was having to re-learn everything.  Getting around in town, or going to places that I had been my whole married life...I was suddenly having a brain-freeze on how to get there. I lost hair started falling out. I was a mess! I'm trying to make light of it, but it was realllllllly hard...for a long time.

Since the church community is a big part of our lives, as soon as we moved here, we made it a priority to find a church we could call "home."


And by saying "well," you can imagine that there is MUCH to this story that Jim and I cannot share with anyone, but you can just know that THINGS WERE NOT AT ALL WELL.


This church was different. Not at all what we were used wasn't a bad-different, just different. But God led us to that church and it didn't take long until I began to see that I was the one who was different. And NOT in a good way. I realized that I had held judgments or expectations about people based on who they were, where they worked, how they dressed or talked, or how long I'd known them.


And all of this was coming from the one who BRISTLES when people hold judgment or have expectations for my child who has Special Needs...when people don't take the time to look past his appearance or speech or get to know the beautiful, wonderful young man he is on the inside.


Moving away from my comfortable life, where everything was this new place, where everything was definitely NOT familiar...opened my eyes to how I want to live from here on out. I want to see others through the eyes of Christ, because that's how I want others to see ME. If they just see the me without seeing the ONE who rescued me from me...and my sin...depressed, discouraged, distressed...well, that's not a pretty sight. Once I let go of my preconceived ideas, and stripped away all the other nonsense that was going around in my head...I will have to say the past 3 years have been some of the most spiritually fruitful of my entire life. I have learned so much, and have met some AMAZING people here.

Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way.

Or maybe that's just me.

Things just can't stay the same.

Now...disclaimer: JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY and FOREVER (Hebrews 13:8). He never changes. He is...I AM. That's not at all what I'm talking about. 

I'm just saying that, no matter how much we want to, I don't think God wants us to become comfortable...or our earthly circumstances. I think He wants us to be constantly changing, growing, on the alert. When I could handle multiple things in my busy family on my own, then God, and my relationship with Him, took a back-seat. I'd get to THAT when I had more time. Even tho being independent is a valuable trait in our culture, in a Christian's life, just the opposite is needed. We need to be DEPENDENT...on God...for every need, for every struggle, every care. It sounds like it should be easy. Why do we fight it so much?

Or maybe that's just me.

All I know is that now that the thing which shall not be mentioned is happening to our family again...I'm not nearly as afraid as I was before. I'm sad about leaving here, don't get me wrong...but I am EXCITED for the new adventure that GOD has placed in front of us. I have seen God's faithfulness to our family, and I know He is going before us, preparing our way.

Help me, Lord, not to run ahead of you.

Deuteronomy 1:30 "The LORD your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you..."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Special Olympics (Part 2)

Joshua was competing on Friday afternoon, so we left here around give ourselves plenty of time. His weigh-in was at noon. We ate at Lenny'. Joshua really wanted a Sprite with his sandwich, but since he had a weigh-in coming up, he ordered water. After lunch, we headed to the field-house. Joshua weighed in at a whopping 119 lbs! I remarked to my family that it was amazing that Joshua and I weighed the EXACT SAME...and Jim rolled his eyes back into his head. Sheesh. Don't be a hater.

(and had we known Joshua only weighed 119#, he could've had that Sprite...and a cookie, too!)

As the bench press started, Joshua was excited to see friends who had come to watch. Cindy Scallion, Carla and AK (AK had just won her first GOLD medal in her wheelchair race and came straight over to watch Joshua). Dan Wilbourn. Holly and Aaron, Logan and Clark. Stacy, Aaron and Tori. Jenni Ann Hayes. Tonya and Peyton Wright. Mammaw Jack and Aunt June. I know I am forgetting someone. Each person blessed us so much.

It was so stinkin' hot in that fieldhouse. They had a couple of large box fans, but it's still a contained building and it was very hot. It didn't seem to bother the athletes. The main ones complaining were the "watchers," not the participants.

Joshua did GREAT...bench-pressed 185# and dead-lifted 205#. The best part...well, one of the best parts... besides seeing all the friends...was the jump he did after making the 205# weight. He randomly jumped up 5 feet in the air, kicked one leg out like a 'herky' and then nailed the landing. It was hilarious!

One of the other best parts was watching Joshua with Anna Katherine. He sat ON THE FLOOR right beside her wheelchair. We looked up to see Anna's hand resting on his shoulder...and we all took a picture. It was the sweetest thing. Everyone kept trying to get Joshua to sit in a chair. They had some metal chairs for the athletes. He would not leave Anna. I was really proud of him.

Another "proud Mom" moment happened during the awards ceremony. Joshua had one other boy in his weight class, but Joshua had lifted more in each event. When it came time for the medals, they gave Joshua a GOLD...and then a SILVER...and then another GOLD. I was so proud of Joshua. He knew it was wrong. He knew he was supposed to get 3 gold medals, but he accepted the silver medal graciously, and congratulated his friend, Wesley. Eventually, it was worked out, and Joshua came home with his 3 gold medals. I was really proud of him. Proud of him for his accomplishments, of course, but even more proud that he valued a friend and his feelings...more than an award.

I love Special Olympics! I love that it makes my child feel special. I love that each effort is rewarded.

"A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight. When pride comes, then comes dishonor; but with the humble is wisdom." (Prov 11:1-2)

Monday, June 4, 2012

"you can forget all here now..."

They left at 6:15 this morning...Jim and Clark. Clark started summer football practice with his new team today. I was about sick just thinking about it. I know Clark was nervous, even tho he said that he wasn't.

I had asked several people to pray for him. I had been up since around 5, praying. As much as I want to spare him from that sick-at-your-stomach feeling that comes from being the "new kid," I don't think there's really anything I can do besides pray. 

And, really, that is enough. Or, it should be.

But they left. Jim assured me that he would "get him settled" and stay around to make sure things were okay.

Yeah. About that...

Jim called to say, "well, I dropped him off!"


He said that a Black kid came up to Clark first thing and said, "where you from, mane?" Clark said, "Bryant." The kid said, "well, you can forget all here now."

Jim said that one of the coaches saw them walking in and came up to them, too. He remembered meeting Clark at a track meet in Fayetteville. Jim signed a form, turned in some papers...and LEFT.


He said, "Moose, what did you expect me to do? Stay there all morning and follow him around?"

Yes, that would be nice. Do that, please.

Jim said, "he did look a little lost as I was leaving." 

I could've gone all day without hearing that.

Special Olympics 2012 (Part 1)

It was that time of year again...Special Olympics. Joshua looks forward to it all year! Opening Ceremonies is always on the Thursday night before the competition, and so I brought Joshua and Clark with me up to Searcy. For the past 17 years, Special Olympics has been held at Harding University. It is a beautiful campus, and the community, and the town of Searcy, are always so welcoming to the athletes and their families. Clark took off with the Sanders' first thing, and I took Joshua to find his group.

How it works is that the state is divided up into "Areas." Each area has a leader/director of Special O, and each group has matching shirts and whatever other kinds of decorations they want to match their "theme." Each Area is announced over the speaker and the whole group walks behind their banner around the entire track. They start on the far side, but the best part is when they walk in front of the bleachers where the crowd is waving and cheering. I love it.

So, while we are on the way to Searcy, in the car, Joshua informs me that he does not want to walk with our Area. He wants to walk with Area 6, which is Searcy...where we used to live...the group he used to walk with when he was in school and we lived there. (sigh) Nothing against our Area...he has friends and he cheers for them. Who knows why he gets these things in his mind. He said, "I have more friends in Area 6." I said, ", you don't! Not anymore. Everyone has graduated and moved on...who are you going to walk with?" He said, "Anna Katherine and Carla."

Well, there ya go.

I asked Sally Paine, the director of the Area 6 Special O., if he could walk in with their group. She said, "well, I don't know...I don't have a shirt for him." I said, "OH...he doesn't have to have a shirt...he will be fine in what he has on." She said, "No, he won't. He has to have a shirt. I have made a HUGE deal about all the athletes having matching shirts, because so many people want their siblings or other family members or friends to walk in with them on the track, and it's just not fair to the athletes on THEIR special day."

Not gonna lie. I was disappointed...but I totally understood. I talked to Joshua and he said he would be fine to go sit in the stands and watch them all walk in.


We walked allllllll the way back around and were just getting ready to walk up into the stands when Carla called and said, "get Joshua back over here...Sally has a shirt for him!"

WOW! Thank you, Lord!

Joshua was in ALL his glory. He loved walked with AK and Carla. He gets such a rush from the crowd. I'm convinced he thinks all the cheering is for him. :)

I watched him as he walked around the track. He is so cute. Cute little walk...big, ol' smile...his hat falling down on his little Downsy ears. Sometimes I think my heart is going to burst when I look at him. I love him so much. I love all my kids so much.

He saw Mr. Bob standing on the far side. I saw Joshua wave at him. As they rounded the turn and headed to the front of the stands, I watched him. His face was grinning from ear to ear. He had his hat off...waving. Periodically, he would do the "sign" for "I love you" or he would pump his right fist up in the air.

It was a great night. They played some great songs and I love seeing all the athletes dancing and happy. The motorcycles came in and it was amazing to see...over 400 bikes, lights on and engines revved to support the athletes. So cool! My favorite part is the torch run, and they did such a great job this year, celebrating 25 years of Special O in Arkansas. Loved seeing some friends. Got to see Bob White...Joshua just loves him half-to-death. And got to visit with the Featherston's and Carla, and that is always fun. Jerry, Stacy, Aaron and Tori were there...they are always so sweet to support Joshua. He was thrilled to see them.

And to quote Jim Garland, "A good time was had by all..."

"Do not let kindness and truth leave you..." (Proverbs 3:3a)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Special Olympics (The Man)

He was one of the first people I really saw.

There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of people at the Opening Ceremonies for Special Olympics. Most had visible challenges of one sort or another, but even among them...he stood out.

His motions were jerky, and he was unbalanced as he walked. I even commented to Clark, "that man looks like he is going to fall over." As I watched him walk, I was amazed that he could even stand up, much less walk...but he did.

When it came time for the athletes to parade around the track, there he was again. I was thinking, "why are they making him walk ALL the way around the track?"


But I looked at his face...really looked at it. He looked older. Every step he took made the lump in my throat grow larger. "How in the world can that poor man even walk?" I don't know if he could talk, but he was making sounds...and his face was swallowed up in a HUGE grin as his group came right in front of the stands. Everyone was waving and cheering. And then I got it. This was HIS TIME. His time to shine. 

We came back the next afternoon...our whole family. Joshua was competing in Powerlifting, something he fell in love with at the age of 16. He's small, but he's strong (I like to say, "small and mighty!). I watched the athletes listen for their names to be called, walk up to the front and attempt their lifts. One by one, they lifted what they could...and then sat down to cheers and applause. That's when I saw him...that same man! They called his name and he went up to wait his turn. His legs were were his arms. From the looks of it, only one of his hands even remotely worked, like, to grasp the bar. I watched the coach carefully place the man's hands on the bar in just the right position. The coach was speaking to him quietly before he stepped away. I heard the man make 3 sounds...the bar was placed in his hands.and he took it down to his chest...and waited. I heard the word, "PRESS" from the official. Slowly, and in one motion, he began to lift the bar...I could NOT believe it. He made all 3 of his bench presses.

Then, it was time for the dead-lift. This is where you have to bend over from a standing position and pick up the bar from the floor. NO WAY he can do this...he can barely even stand! The man was near the end of the group...he walked up and stood behind the bar. Once again, his coach was there to help him get set. The spotter stood behind him, ready...his hand up and legs braced, just in case. I was sure the man would not be able to do this. Even if he could manage to somehow lift the bar...he could never hold it steady.

Oh realllllly?

Because he did. Oh yes, he did! He dead-lifted about 300 pounds like it was nobody's business!

I'll never forget it.

"And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked Him, saying, 'Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?' Jesus answered, 'it was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.' " (John 9:1-3)