Years ago, after we got home from Clark's very first 9th grade football game, he casually mentioned that he didn't get a "treat bag" that day. I had just spent 3 years helping with the Mom Squad for the Varsity boys, and we made sure every player, manager and coach got a treat bag for every game.
The kids at the elementary schools would decorate the bags, and then we would fill the bags with peanut butter crackers, granola bars, cookies, candy, roll-ups, etc...things they could have for a quick snack after the game.
Clark said there were a few others who didn't get a bag that day, but that didn't make it okay with me. He said, "Mom, CHILL...don't make a thing about it."
Like I would.
He had overheard the conversation, and quietly slipped upstairs. Later, he came down with a big grin on his face. He was holding a white lunch bag that he had decorated for Clark. He whispered, "for his next game." Because, y'all...his brother was NOT going without a treat bag. No, ma'am.
Not on his watch.
So, for the rest of the season, Joshua would get a lunch bag out of our pantry, and he would go up to his room to decorate it. He started out writing things like, "we love you," or "go for a win." But, as time went on, he got more creative. He'd use quotes from football movies, like, "you blitz all night," "make sure they remember the night they played the Hornets," and "Stonewall defense" (whatever that is).
There was also our personal favorite, "spank them like a 4 year old at K-Mart."
Later, he'd bring the bag downstairs, I'd fill it with goodies...and we'd "hide" it in Clark's football bag. Every.single.week. Clark always knew it was in there.
I love that Joshua loves his brother...both of his brothers, and his sister. He's their biggest fan.
You know, people throw words around like "burden" and "quality of life" and they have NO IDEA about our lives...of the JOY this brown-eyed man-child has brought to our family...and how much our lives have been BLESSED (yep, I said it) by Down Syndrome, and the community of FRIENDS who support and encourage us on this walk.
I think that we, our family, have always thought that WE were the ones encouraging Joshua through life...but then he shows up, and encourages us right back.
You know, we all want a cheerleader in our lives. Someone who will tell us to keep going...who will pray for us, who will hold us up when we think we can't go on...who says, "hang in there...you can do it...I'm here for you."
Who cheers for you? Who do YOU cheer for?
I love the "faith" chapter of Hebrews. In Chapter 11, the author lists some men and women of the Bible, who lived out their faith during trying times in their lives. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham...Isaac, Jacob, Moses...Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, David...and more. If you're a Christian, this is your heritage of faith, too!
I can just picture them standing in Heaven, along with Jesus, God, the angels...and our family and friends who have gone before us...cheering us on. Isn't that awesome? It's like our very own treat bag from God!
And guess what?
No one is overlooked!
"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another." 1 Thessalonians 5:11