Since the boys go to a Christian school, they attend chapel once a week. Every month, instead of a lesson, they have an awards ceremony to honor the kids for their hard work and achievements. Today was the last Awards Chapel of Ryder’s first grade year. His amazing teacher came up with awards beginning with the first letter of the acronym “Mrs. Nickerson’s First Graders” and Ryder’s award was the “N.”His certificate says “Presented to Ryder Barr for Never complaining. You honor the Lord with your positive attitude in all situations.” Oh, how grateful I am for Mrs. Nickerson, and all the other staff at school! They have truly been the hands and feet of Jesus for me. They have gone above and beyond to help make my precious boy feel safe, and successful, and normal. And they’ve done it all with extraordinary patience and love, and without an ounce of hesitation or complaining. They deserve awards too!
That photo appears relatively unassuming. But the longer I stare at it, the more victories I find.
The certificate says it all… this kid has hardly skipped a beat since returning to school. He has had moments of despair and frustration, but they are few and far between. He hasn’t given up.
See that awesome faux-hawk? He styled it himself. About a week ago, he decided I wasn’t doing it quite the way he liked it. He asked me to squirt some gel into his hand so he could “fix it” and just like everything else he’s attempted, he knocked it out of the park.
Check out his tank top. He chose this shirt so he could show off his muscles. He literally walks around flexing his biceps in every mirror or window we pass. Under normal circumstances, this is just a silly boy thing to do. But as a mama with some body image issues, I admire his confidence. He knows his right shoulder and arm look different, but he doesn’t want to cover it up and hide it from anyone. He doesn’t have to wear his heart on his sleeve… he wears no sleeves to show the strength of his heart.
Speaking of his heart… you can’t see it in this photo, but anyone who walks within ten feet of Ryder knows just how big his is. And God, who’s bigger than this terrible virus that damaged our mighty warrior’s body, lives inside of him. And he knows it. Just the other night, after we’d finished praying together, Ryder told us that God talked to him. He explained that God told him he’d heal Ryder’s arm on his 7th birthday, which is only four months away. A later conversation revealed that he understands that God may or may not choose to heal him exactly on that day. But He is healing him, slowly but surely, and growing his heart in the process.
The lighting is awful (since I’m totally a professional – NOT!), so you may not have noticed his tan face and slightly sunburned shoulders (from the tank top, of course). Being sun-kissed is a totally normal thing on the surface. But for Ryder, “normal” is a pretty incredible thing to be. He has been riding his bike a lot more lately – with TWO HANDS! His grip strength is so great now that it’s no big deal to ride his bike without a sling. This is a triumph, and also a form of therapy. See, the longer you squeeze really hard, the more muscles you activate in your arm. So while he’s zooming around with pride, he’s also working out and gaining strength in some of those areas of his arm that aren’t quite working yet.Despite some very long days (and nights!), this year has really flown by. I can’t believe first grade is coming to a close, and I’m sad and excited all at the same time. There are some exciting things on the horizon, I just know it. Meanwhile, we continue to #prayforryder.
**Edited to add… He also got an award for “Excellent Physical Fitness” which means he successfully completed the shuttle run, 1/4 mile dash, sit-ups, and v-sit in the 50% percentile. (His awesome PE teacher excused him from the push-ups portion, although one day he hopes to master the one-armed push-up.) Apparently only 1/3 of the students achieve this award, and our boy is among them. 🙂