The Softest Soil

So I worked remotely today, which is code for “I went to Starbucks for a few hours with my laptop.” Ordered a “grande sugar-free cinnamon-dulce with-room americano” (because I’m on a “diet”) and topped it off with half-and-half.

Got a call from the wife who wanted to take the boys out to the mall for a bit and then maybe meet up at church. At 8 years old and 3 years old, I love that BOTH my boys love going to church, love being at church, and never want to leave. They see it as a blessing instead of a chore. Usually.

So I pulled up into the parking lot at church. Found Mommy’s car. Still on. Idling. Apparently for a while. Both boys still in their seats. Mommy still in the driver’s seat. You know that’s never good.

Jonah was not happy. Just not in a good mood. Actually, Jonny was having a rough time too… and that put Mommy in a …mood. You know, the mood where Mommy took them to the mall and Jojo wanted to run around but older brother wanted to play in the arcade, so older brother melts down when younger brother starts running away and Mommy forces older brother to leave the arcade because she has to chase younger brother instead of watching older brother in the arcade.

Then, older brother starts scolding younger brother, who starts hitting mommy because younger brother is Ausome and everything is Mommy’s fault and she therefore must be punished.

And to top it off, mall security comes and also starts scolding Jojo for hitting Mommy (thinking it would help?) which actually does the OPPOSITE of help and Jonah becomes more obstinate (so thanks for that, mall cop)… Mommy ends up dragging both screaming boys into the car.

That mood.

I got out of my car and went to get Jonah out of his carseat, but he pushed my hand away. He wouldn’t have it.

So we compromised and Jonny stayed at church with Daddy and Mommy got to take Jonah home. (We took 2 vehicles).
Jonny was happy, Jonah went home.

But, it turns out, when Jonah got home, he must have remembered that he actually LIKES church and he wanted to go BACK. He grabbed Mama by the hand and led her to the car door to open it. So off they went.

When Jojo and Mama got there, half-an hour late, Mama was sure she would have to sit in with the 3-year-old childcare to make sure Jojo behaved. He was on the tail end of a melt-down and he also has a habit of *not* behaving in classroom-type environments.

But, surprisingly, Jojo was happy as a clam in class with the other kids (3-5yo) even being the youngest. Mama didn’t even need to sit with him and got to go to service.

It is so great when you are surprised in a good way with your kids. So many times, especially with kids with special needs surprises are a bad thing.

And can I just say that I love that our children’s ministry is so accommodating for Jojo and that they let him go at his own pace and work with him at his level. And I love that he likes being there with all those kids! I know a lot of churches are not like that. We feel very blessed.

And after the service was done, they served dinner (yummy tacos tonight!) complete with 2 bouncy houses for the kids and lots of fellowship for the adults. They do this after EVERY service.

Not that Mama and Daddy get to chat much with the other adults. We are either scarfing down dinner in the 2 minutes and 38 seconds we have to eat while the boys are motionless and obedient or we are chasing Jonah around the church.

Jonah loves running at church after service. Through the gym, through the foyer, downstairs, you name it, even up and down the aisles in the sanctuary. He’s only made it into the parking lot once…. Which is why he will always have to be chased and redirected.

After dinner, we were planning on going home, but there was another service, this one, a water baptism service.

Jonny has been wanting to be baptized for the past several YEARS but has not been old enough (according to criteria) to do it.

This boy Jonny has been to 3 different baptism services at his own request and sat through all of them (over 2 hours a piece), without a tablet, coloring book or any distractions, and one of them he didn’t even know anyone being baptized.

Jonny asked to be baptized at church but was told he has to wait until he turns 9. He asked me why.

Me: “well bud, they want to make sure you understand what it is your doing and WHY you are doing it.”
Me: “Do you know what it means to be baptized?”
Jonny: “yes. ”
Me: “what does it mean to you? Why do you want to be baptized?”
Jonny: “because I want to follow Jesus.”

That’s my boy.

I got a call yesterday from one of our youth pastors saying that if Jonny really wanted to be baptized, he doesn’t have to wait until he is 9. He can do it now if he wants. I love that our children’s ministry can recognize his heart!

But “NOW” meant like “today.”

So Jonny wants to get baptized but Daddy wants the family to be there too.

The next service is in March. We will shoot for then.

But Jonny found out there is a baptism service tonight and wanted to go to it anyways, even if he isn’t being baptized himself. Jonny just wants to be there.

When I wouldn’t let Jojo run up and down the aisles in the sanctuary during the service, Jojo started crying, so I just had to take him home.

Jonny sat through the entire service and he again, didn’t even know anyone being baptized. They got home after bedtime.

I love that Jonny can feel God calling him at such a young age. Sometimes I just sit and marvel at the person Jonny is becoming and how LITTLE we as parents have to do with it. Oh sure, we can train them, discipline, provide for them, (etc) but we can’t give them a caring heart. We can’t teach them to WANT to share with others without getting anything in return. Or to want to pray for those who are sick, or volunteer to pray for Christmas dinner in front of everyone, or get up and pray for the entire church on kids weekend in front of the whole congregation.

I mean, what 7 or 8 year old WANTS to go to a baptism service? Let alone 3 or 4 services?

I pray that Jonah will one day feel the same pull, but for now, I am grateful that he even likes being at church. I know so many other people on the spectrum just CAN’T do church so I do feel blessed. I know that Jonah’s path will not be Jonny’s path. But I know that God has a plan for EACH one of my kids’ lives and I am so thankful and eager to find out where God takes them and who they will reach.

I’m also thankful for our church family and the Children’s Department who take the time each week to plant seeds and cultivate a real relationship with God week in and week out in the softest soil in the church.

Thank you for all you do!

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (9) and Jonah (4) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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