Joy From Ashes

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20141207_112309Beneath the instruction to develop a sentence was a line that read: I like mouse. I gaped in awe.

This three-word sentence in mix upper and lower case letters was conceptualized and penned solely by my youngest on his assignment sheet.

For the first time since he attended Kindergarten, he did not ask me to read an instruction or spell a word while working on an assignment.

Like his big brother, my youngest would always take charge in completing his homework. He would ask question once in a while, but he would work on an assignment on his own.

In an unusual turn of events, my boy did not use his ask-a-mom lifeline. And so the mother hen in me raided his bag and checked if he was indeed done with his assignment. And he was.

I stared at the sentence for a long time.

Last night, after I became panicky due to my youngest’s continuous scratching of his gum, my firstborn delivered a line that made me chuckle. I never thought he has been contemplating on the same issue I have been grappling with for the last three years.

“Why did God give us this boy? I know kids are gift from God, but it feels like this God’s gift to our family is not working right.”

My firstborn is a natural thinker. Even if he were just 13 months older than his little brother, he would always manage to pull off observations that are both hilarious and surprising.

I gave my youngest a dose of the remaining acyclovir his pediatrician has prescribed following the swelling of his inner cheek when he had his silver teeth for the first time.

My boy functions on a routine. Anything that disrupts that routine makes him anxious. He has yet to learn how to deal with changes – the introduction of the silver teeth for this matter.

After tucking him into bed, I went back to the living room where my firstborn was reviewing a word list.

“What was your question, earlier?” I hugged him and started tickling his belly.

“Why did God give Theo to us.” He hugged me back.

“What do you think is the purpose?” I looked at him straight in the eyes.

“To take care of him?”

“Partly. But I think God wants us to have a special kind of joy – the joy that only comes from the littlest and simplest of things. Pure joy. Joy from ashes.”

My youngest is performing pretty well in academics especially those areas that deal with numbers and creative expression. But language has been a challenge for him. His deficits boil down to emergent language and communication skills. It took a while for him to verbalize a sentence. And it was double the trouble for the written form.

And that afternoon, while flipping the pages of my youngest’s assignment sheet, I discovered how it is to be really joyful. It was a fulfilling, unwavering type of joy – a joy that I thought I would have if I found myself on top of my career game. Surprisingly, the joy was triggered by a three-word, sloppily written sentence. Indeed, there is joy from ashes.

 

“...He sent me to give them flowers

in place of their sorrow,

olive oil in place of tears,

and joyous praise

in place of broken hearts.

They will be called

“Trees of Justice,”

planted by the Lord

to honor his name.” –Isaiah 61:3 CEV

 

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