We first met N (our son) at a group home in Camarillo, CA. That day began with drama. The group home was on lockdown because someone entered the campus with a knife. Fun.
But then he entered our room with a social worker. He sauntered over to us with a shirt and pants two sizes too big. But yet, that unbreakable smile (that captured my heart from day 1 and continues to shine today) was beaming from his face. He probably had no idea what was going on. And to be honest, I had no idea what was going on either (and I say “I” because I don’t want to speak on behalf of my wife — she’ll tell you her experiences if you ask her 😀).
It took us nearly 4 hours to get all the medication from different places he required before making the 45 minute drive home. At the final pharmacy stop, there was a Foster’s Freeze next to it. He had to be hungry. I think we were too. So we got him a kids meal of chicken tenders with ranch dipping.
He took a chicken tender, dipped it in the ranch, and sucked off just the ranch dressing. In between dips and sucks, he’d take a little bite of the chicken tender. He literally was having ranch with chicken tenders on the side.
The County told us that his language skills were limited. He came to us with 5 or so words, one of them being “beer.”
Even being noobies at this parenting thing — we knew that this wasn’t a language development issue. He wasn’t… typical.
So then began the journey with the County to get N assessed for autism so that he can get the services he needed. That was a 9 month ordeal that I don’t care to rehash at this moment.
Then we entered a year long journey of discernment over his adoption.
Followed by 6 months of paperwork and court trial delays before we were finalized the adoption.
Emotional rollercoaster is mildly (and a cliché-ish way of) putting it. We’ve really come a long way. He’s come a long way. We still got a lot of road and a lot of fight ahead of us, though.
I’ve been nostalgic all week.
There was a moment within the first three months of our time together where I was overwhelmingly frustrated with him. I can’t remember over what but I do remember walking outside of the house and sitting on the driveway to breathe. He sashayed up to me, sat down, and put his arms around me. He didn’t have the words to articulate the situation, but his spirit must’ve felt my inner desire to parentally strangle him and his response was putting his arms around me and smiling. His charm diffused the tension within me.
And he’s always been charming. He goes around telling random baristas, waitresses and strangers, “You’re cute” which is awkwardly embarrassing — especially if it’s just me and him. I worry that someone, someday is going to think I’m coaching him to say those things. I. Am. Not. It’s all him.
We also want to curb this behavior because I ain’t raising no cat-caller.
I guess parenthood is feeling love; pride; frustration; anger; hope; fear; joy; grace; desire to kill; desire to coddle; embarrassment; and a buffet more of emotions streaming all at once at all times.
I’m feeling nostalgic because this post is simply to say that N (short for Kristaps PorziNgis) is getting baptized on Easter Sunday.
He’s so excited, it’s contagious. He’s been telling anyone and everyone that he’s getting baptized. He’s been going up to my senior pastor and saying “You baptize me!” He’s been telling church members, “I get baptized! Water on my head!” and pointing to the area in the chancel where he’ll get baptized.
We went to buy his Easter clothes and he told the cashier, “I get baptized!” We’ll get coffee (I’ll get coffee; he his cakepop) and he’ll tell the barista “I get baptized!” Of course that’s after telling her that she’s cute (Lord, help us).
Can I say that even though Easter is always special that Easter 2017 will be really special?
However, I’ve been really struggling putting together an Easter sermon. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s part of the stress that comes with the process of closing on a house and tax season — both coming with unanticipated hiccups. Maybe it’s because of missiles and bombs.
Maybe a lot of it is ego and the pressure to not screw up the powerful and simple message of Easter — and instead of getting out of my way, I’m creating a traffic jam by getting in the way.
But I’ve re-written this damn sermon (… perhaps those two words don’t — and shouldn’t — go together…?) so many times I feel like I’m stuck somewhere in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Or Saturday.
But there’s a phrase ringing in my head and heart over and over and over.
To me, Mary’s testimony has always been more powerful and meaningful than the traditional call & response of He is Risen. He is Risen indeed: I have seen the Lord!
And I have been looking for the Lord in all aspects of my life this week. And there’s a picture that I keep coming back to.
I don’t like sharing pictures of N on Twitter or this blog for various reasons, one of them being (honestly) paranoia.
The picture was taken by a parishioner during the processional on Palm Sunday.
I’ve looked at this picture at least once a day during Holy Week.
The joy. I mean, it just emanates from his entire being. And it’s just waving palms.
I see the Lord in the joy that flows out of the picture.
I’m simply reminded that joy is not situational and contextual like happiness is — especially if God is the source of my joy.
I’m also reminded that a lot of my struggles this week is that I’m not looking for the Lord, but I’m looking within myself.
For reasons I can’t really explain, this Palm Sunday picture just simply reminds me of Mary’s testimony: I have seen the Lord.
It brings me hope, joy, and a smile on my face. And a different perspective.
Kids often help give you a different perspective on life… and that different perspective — that reminder of I have seen the Lord got the (spiritual) ball moving.
I look forward celebrating Easter with you all — whether we go to the same church or not.
And I can’t wait to share the two themes that have been imprinted in my heart all this week:
I get baptized!
I have seen the Lord!