As I tucked the boys in tonight, we discussed all of the areas where they've grown over the summer.
Sports camps grew Zach in confidence and comfort on the field. The difference between soccer now and soccer last spring is remarkable. Not that he's suddenly a super star, but he plays with utter joy and excitement. We're seeing a hunger that we haven't seen in a long time, and he's wearing a smile again as he runs the field.
Luke moved very quickly from t-ball, to coach pitch, to machine pitch baseball between the spring and summer. For a group of boys who didn't know which direction to run to get to first base, we're thoroughly impressed with how they are now fielding the ball and consistently hitting. We are a team of kindergartners, playing 1st and 2nd graders in fall ball. These kids are a full head (or two) taller than most of our players, but we hold our own. And we couldn't be more proud of Luke, as he pays attention to the game and always gives his best effort.
Both boys were offered $25 if they would take the time to learn - and use - the free style stroke in the pool...all summer long. Zachary is the only one who actually used it consistently, so I'll be forking over the big bucks to him tomorrow. It beats paying for swim lessons, and I'm thrilled that at least one of my kids came out of this summer a strong swimmer. Luke is well on his way; he was just more concerned with hand stands and somersaults than he was with swimming this summer.
Diving was another hot pool pursuit. Luke's is still more of a belly flop, but Zach has turned into a good diver...even though diving is prohibited at every pool we've ever been to. (What's up with that?) I'm not sure that diving could be considered a necessary life skill, but it's fun. And, it seems to me that a belly flop hurts less from the side of the pool than from the diving board, so why not start at the side? (Yes, I did just justify breaking the rules....and I'm generally a lover and follower of all rules.)
And they both went off the high dive this summer! Luke only did it once, as he didn't really like it. But Zach loved it, and is now a lover of the diving boards. This was a paralyzing fear last summer. Poor Zach would try every time we went to the pool, but just couldn't talk himself into it. This year he took the leap of faith, and he's never looked back.
The boys grew a ton socially too, as both kids developed a lot of friendships over the summer. Zach discovered that a group of school friends lives just a couple of blocks away, so they are now taking frequent turns walking or biking to each others houses to play. And Luke met several neighborhood kindergarten boys over the summer through sports, and almost all of them are in his kindergarten class! It's nice to finally have "neighborhood kids".
And each of the boys has also found some really great friends through church. Many of these are kids who also go to school with them, but some are simply kids they see each week in Sunday school. It's taken a long time to start asking other kids what their names are and what they're interested in, but we are finally arriving at that place in their social lives.
And when a friend recently ditched Zach again for someone else, Zach didn't allow it to define him, but instead shrugged his shoulders and said, "I think that's just the way he is." He's beginning to understand who and whose he is, and is resisting the enemy's lies that every bad thing has something to do with him.
As we quickly rattled off half a dozen ways that each kid grew over the summer, I was awed by the work God has done in their lives. These are areas that we have prayed over....and sometimes shed tears and lost sleep over. And God has met them right where they were at, and given them just what they needed. I cannot even begin to imagine all that He will do in these next nine months of the school year, as we are partnered with outstanding school and Sunday school teachers. I'm excited and so full of hope. I won't wish these months away, but I do look forward to who my guys will grow into as a 3rd grader and kindergartner.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11