Monday, August 28, 2017

A BETTER KIND OF GRADUATION

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
    Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.   

Psalm 139: 13-16, NLT

Let’s be honest.

Once our loved one’s name is called out during a graduation ceremony and we cheer our hearts out, wouldn’t it be nice to sneak out and not sit through 700 more names being called? Especially when your last name is Abbs? Makes a lot of B-Z names to come after that!

I’m not someone who enjoys getting dressed up to attend the ceremony either. Fancy isn’t my fashion. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal.

But I was excited to be going to my son, Luke’s, 6th grade graduation. He was moving up to junior high! I also had the typical terror of wondering how he would do. Would his senses get overloaded and that lead to a meltdown? Would he stand still for a picture? Keep the cap on his head?

Besides these normal autism mama concerns this ceremony was so different and delightful. Only 12 children were in the ceremony for one thing. Each child had a video made with pictures of them at Giant Steps (his school—shout out to elementary E!) or on outings. You could tell on Luke’s face how proud he was. And he even walked down the aisle with his cap on his head! Then it came off but so what?

It truly was a celebration of each graduate and reminds me of some of the well-known verses in Psalm 139 that David wrote. He knit each of the 12 graduates together. He made them wonderfully complex and knows every day of their lives. Ours too.

The end of the ceremony was fantastically unscripted! While the elementary principal, Becky Kaufman, was giving closing remarks one of the graduates took the microphone and gave an ending spiel of his own and thanked us for coming. Even better, Becky, and the rest of us had a big smile on our faces while he did it. Being a school made up of those on the autism spectrum from kindergarten through age 21, (plus services for those who are older) staff there know how to be flexible.

And have I mentioned we didn’t need to dress up?

It’s easy to focus on all the difficult things that come with the special needs, chronic illness or mental health diagnosis. But the Lord says each of us is made in His image. So it was wonderful to be reminded there is also a fun, upside if we take the time to notice.

Prayer: Lord, thank you so much for the unexpected fun that comes with our children’s diagnosis and for the times they make us proud! Help us to notice the good stuff more often.

By Deb Abbs

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