She can

God is funny.

Ten days ago I wrote this post. One of my little desires has been for Rhema to have the opportunity to participate in ‘after school sports.’

Last week Heather, the head coach of the Special Olympics gymnastics team, sent me an email about the new season starting up. And it was like a voice bellowed from the sky: Team sport, did you say? Here you go. She can. She can.

And just like that I was driving her to the first practice of the season.

We actually tried gymnastics a couple years ago, and while she had a great time running circles around the gym, I got the sense that she wasn’t quite ready for it. So we sat out for a while.

Some long time readers of this blog may remember just how meaningful her involvement with Special Olympics and gymnastics is to me. (Click here and here for the back story).

As soon as we got to gym the excitement spilled out of Rhema like a jelly donut. The coaches were genuinely happy to see her again as she whizzed by the group of girls already warming up.

Heather’s brother Justin remarked, “She’s gotten so tall!” Then he ran after her. And Hope ran after him… snapping pictures on the iPod like the paparazzi. Justin tried to get Rhema to come to the circle and stretch with the rest of the team, but she couldn’t stop running and jumping and shrieking with joy. While the other parents chatted in the lobby, I couldn’t leave the gym – partly because I didn’t want to miss a thing, and partly because I didn’t want to miss a thing.

Just about every emotion bubbled through me. I couldn’t help smiling and laughing at Rhema’s abandon and happy sounds. I felt a hint of disappointment because I’d hoped by now she would be able to participate with the group and follow instructions. Clearly she still needed one coach dedicated solely to her with the task of staying beside her as she ran her loops. I loved Hope for being so excited for her sister; she was the cutest thing, running after Rhema, capturing every moment in snapshot.

And I was absolute mush when it came to Coach Justin and his kindness and patience with Rhema. I watched him as he jumped with her on the trampoline and tried to show her new moves. I watched as he tried to get her to walk on the balance beam when all she wanted to do was sit on it. I watched as he helped her up to the bar and eventually got her to hold on for half a second. I watched as he helped her swing on a rope, bounce on a ball. She rarely gave any indication that she was listening to him, but he talked to her all the while. Around and around they went, trying, trying, trying.

My heart filled with gratitude for people who care so much and help make programs like this possible for our children. Rhema’s gymnastics program for is run by volunteer coaches and is completely funded by donations. The gym space is also donated. It truly is a gift.

I’m so hopeful for Rhema that she will learn and have fun this season. I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful people God puts in her life to help her along. I know anything is possible.

At the end of the practice Heather pulled out the parachute. With Justin’s help, Rhema came over and joined in the fun! Granted, she was more interested in jumping on top of it or running under it.

But no doubt, she was part of the team.

Some of Hope’s pics:

17 thoughts on “She can

  1. Oh, this is too precious! How awesome for her to be able to be part of something like this, even if she mostly runs around in circles :). Thank God, so much, for people like this, who love to work with our kids and bless them in such ways. I am so grateful for them.

  2. Oh there is such joy in my heart, looking at these wonderful pictures. Your writing tells us there is such joy in Rhema’s heart, just 100% so happy to be there, to run, to be a part.

  3. LOVE this! (and Love that hope is turning into quite the photographer–what a wonderful way for her to express herself and she got some great shots of her sister!)

  4. Oh, Jeneil, this is absolutely beautiful! What a true blessing to have places like this where our children are welcome exactly where they’re at and have people who genuinely care about them and will not give up on teaching them. Fantastic. ♥ you have me smiling with tears of joy welled up in my eyes.

  5. So great! I love that Rhema’s joy was just so uncontainable. And Hope, that little dolly slays me every time.

    “I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful people God puts in her life to help her along.” Yes, yes, yes.

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