The Big Game

Last spring, my mom and I came to Sarah’s school to see her be a cheerleader at the last basketball game of the year.  Unfortunately, Sarah did not want to participate and screamed and cried the entire time.  I felt bad for her that she wasn’t able to enjoy the festivities but my eyes were drawn to the court and I was transfixed to what I witnessed.

The city’s public high school varsity basketball team was our opponent for this last game.  It was a big game.   The stands were packed with parents from both teams.  Our cheerleaders were lined up on one side of the court, the public high school varsity cheerleaders were on the other.  Then the game started and it quickly became apparent what was happening and my heart melted.

The varsity players with all their talent showed such kindness to our autistic teens.  They did not play with full intensity, but instead made it possible for our team to compete.  One time our player stole the ball from their point guard and ran down the court with it…literally.  In his excitement, he forgot to dribble the ball!  The players on this varsity team could have easily dunked the ball or shot 3 pointers over and over again to drive up the score (and a few times they did make an amazing dunk or a far out 3 point shot, much to our kids’ delight), but mostly they came to play with the mindset of letting our players shine.

During the game my mom leaned over and jokingly whispered, “Wow, this varsity team isn’t very good!”

I laughed but I could not help the tears welling up in my eyes as I watched the game.  What these young men were good at was making our kids feel like superstars.  These 16-18 year old young men got it.  In a day and age where selfishness is the norm, these high school students learned an important life lesson.  It wasn’t about competition, but compassion.  It wasn’t about trying to impress the crowd with their amazing ability, but making a lasting impression on kids who looked up to them.  It was about giving joy to others and seeking nothing in return.  I will never forget the look of pure happiness on our kids’ faces when they received high fives from these players, their heroes, when they scored a basket.

All throughout the game both cheerleaders were yelling out their cheers.  When our autistic kids scored a basket, I saw the other team’s varsity cheerleaders wildly celebrate.  Curious, I then listened to them cheer and realized they were cheering “Go Broncos!” in all their cheers.

That isn’t their school’s mascot…it’s ours.

I have been told that in all of these years of this big match up between our two schools, the varsity team has yet to win a game against us.  I find that hard to believe because they are all winners to me!

Ephesians 4:32a, “Be kind and compassionate to one another.”

Our Little Houdini

“I have to admit, the girl’s got talent!”

Sarah, age 4 at the time, had stripped off her clothes…again.  The only problem with this is that she had also pooped in her diaper.  She would then take her poopy diaper and smear the contents all over herself, her bed, her toys, and the walls.  Hardest part is she would do it on purpose.  As an act of defiance or a sensory issue, the moment she went to take her nap, she would poop, strip and begin smearing it everywhere.  We tried countless ways to stop her, cut off the feet to her footed pajamas and have her wear it backwards.  She got out of it.  We then safety pinned the zipper to the backward pajamas; piece of cake for her to take off.  We then duct taped (our answer to anything!) the pinned zipper on the backward pajamas, but that only gave us a few weeks before she figured how to maneuver out of it.  Our little Houdini took on any challenge we gave her and beat us.  I was going head to head with an autistic 4 year old and getting beat each time!

One day, once again, I opened the door to the stench.  I gagged as I saw her covered in her own feces.  The smell was putrid and vile.  Her poop was everywhere: in her hair, face and body.  I had to strip her down trying not to get it on anything else and scrub her clean.  My clean-up job wasn’t over just yet.  I then had to disinfect the bathtub, her room, throw out items in her room that could not be salvage and do yet another load of wash.  Nap time, the time when the kids rested and I could get a moment of peace was gone.

I was angry.  I was exhausted.  I had reached my limit.

I slumped down at the dining room table feeling totally defeated with tears streaming down my face.  I put my head on the table and whispered, “Lord, I need a break from this!  I truly don’t know how much more I can take!  I know You are always with me, but right now I feel so alone. Remind me that You are here!!”

With this feeling of loneliness, I reminded myself of Isaiah 49:15-16 and read it out loud:

“I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of My Hands.”

I needed that!!  I imaged myself crawling into the lap of my loving Heavenly Father and asking Him to show me where my name was; to let me touch and feel my name in His Hand.  This thought brought such comfort for I was reminded I was never alone, but I was always on His mind and in His Hand all along!

I was telling my friend, Debbie, about this verse back when this happened and how it encouraged me on that really low day.  A few weeks later she gave me a drawing of open hands with this verse on it.  She wrote Sarah’s name on the palm of one of the hands and framed it.  I love and treasure it!!  It sits on my window sill as a constant reminder that Sarah’s name is on His palm, too!  He is ever mindful of my girl!  What a blessing to know!

Maybe you, too, are feeling alone and forgotten.  Or, you are not quite sure how much more you can take in life and have reached your limit.  What a reassurance and comfort to know as believers that our Lord is ever mindful of us and has our name in the palm of His Hand!  He has not forgotten you!!

Thank you for remembering Sarah in your prayers!  What a precious gift!


***(We are very grateful that someone bought us a jumpsuit specially designed for children stripping out of their clothes about the time this story happened.  There is a website for this kind of thing; who knew?!?!   It was quite the contraption with a zipper in the back covered by a flap held secure with a snap.  That combination worked for our little Houdini!  Thankfully she no longer smears at age 14.)