Earlier this week, I mentioned to Larry since he was scheduled to work this weekend that I would take a lovely jaunt to Albemarle and take Adam to Pine Grove United Methodist Church where he visits. As the week progressed, events began to unfold that made me wonder if this trip was being orchestrated by someone other than me.
“Facebook Land” connected me with Kathy, the Stanly County Special Olympics Director, who is a member of Pine Grove UMC. She was with a group of Special Olympic athletes competing in the 2015 Summer Games in Raleigh for the weekend and would not be there Sunday. Amid everything that Kathy was doing in Raleigh, she texted Jay Belk, Pine Grove’s Pastor, to let him know that Adam and I would be there Sunday. Kathy also coordinated with Kim, another member of Pine Grove, for Adam to play the piano since this Sunday would be the church’s Fifth Sunday Song Service.
I had no idea what was about to unfold as Adam and I sat in this lovely sanctuary.
Kim, a lovely-spirited soloist sang “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” and these words resonated in my heart and mind: “You are the One that we praise, You are the One we adore, You give the healing and grace our hearts always hunger for, our hearts always hunger for.” Over 26 years ago, I prayed “God, if it’s meant for us to have a child with special needs, you’ll give us the grace”. But there were many times through the years I felt like these words penned by Sandra McCracken were a lifeline to my doubts, fears and questions: “Like a flashlight in a dark room, God’s faithfulness is the illumination that comes in and brings a mysterious relief when I am brave enough to say my fears out loud.” His faithfulness is the lovely in the unlovely moments of my life.
I had asked Kathy to be praying with me that Adam and I would choose the song that he was to play. All I could think of was “Holy, Holy, Holy” and Adam gave that hymn a thumbs-up during our Saturday FaceTime session. When it was announced at the beginning of the service that today was Trinity Sunday, I thought of the words in the last verse of this timeless hymn: “Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty! All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea. Holy! Holy! Holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” Lovely words.
Prior to Adam’s part in the service, I shared a very brief overview of our journey stating that Adam’s voice–the piano–is one way that God affirms to our family that He is in control of the universe. Adam played with the same heartfelt confidence that he always plays with and God got a standing ovation. I expect the founder of this church was rejoicing that the legacy of transforming lovely lives continues today.
As we exited the church, we were stopped by a husband and wife who asked if Adam had ever attended Camp Royall, the camp in North Carolina for children and adults with autism. “He sure has”, I replied. “Did he ever attend Camp New Hope?”, the gentleman asked. Camp New Hope is located in Chapel Hill, NC and the Autism Society of North Carolina utilized these facilities prior to building Camp Royall. “Wow”, I replied. “That was the first camp for children with autism that Adam attended. “I worked with him at Camp New Hope”, the man replied, “and that is where I met my wife.” Lovely, just lovely, God.
A trip to Albemarle to visit Adam is not complete without a visit to either Office Max or Dollar Tree. If he’s running low on name badge supplies, the former store wins out. Since he was sporting two name tags when I arrived this morning and his supply looked good, Dollar Tree was the winner today. After getting some pool toys for a scheduled jaunt later this afternoon to the YMCA pool, Adam picked up a magnet that he wanted to purchase. The magnet read:
“LOL! LOTS OF LOVELY!”
It wasn’t until I was driving home in silence admiring the billowing clouds in the sky that my sermon for the day came through the quietness. It is so easy to allow the to-do list, the mundane tasks and the deadlines to scream at me, but every day also has some “LOL! Lots of lovely!” and as Adam looks at that magnet every day on the shelf about his piano, I, too, need to seek out the daily dose of lots of lovely waiting for me.
Pastor Jay Belk