Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy “π”-Mazing Birthday, "Baby" Duke


Happy Pi Day to all the

        math nerds,

pie lovers                                                                

     and keepers of the irrational and transcendent.

Today also marks the 13th birthday of our "Baby" Duke! It is a mind blowing reality to fathom we now have four Kirby teenagers: 19, 16, 14, and 13. 
Where did the time go? 
"Baby" Duke is most definitely PI-Mazing! Perhaps I'm a tad bit biased, but my love for him borders on the irrational. The absurd. The Transcendent.
In so many ways he has been given... let's just call them: "exceptions." I've heard of this concept from old timers that their "baby" is often treated like a grand child. 
Guilty as charged.
I feel sure the older Kirby kids would testify to this "unfair" reality. We've loosened a whole host of Kirby House Rules for this kid. Silly things like: Sodas as a little person. And more TV time. Extra "help" with keeping his things in order. The older siblings are obviously the first to point out: "You would have never allowed US to do that. It's just NOT FAIR." Perhaps they are suffering from Older Son syndrome: See Luke 15:11-32. 
Or perhaps it is "not fair." 
I could make all kinds of excuses, but I won't. There's just something about that baby...With his intoxicating spunk for life, his "fresh" style, enchantment with the outdoors, fierce love of family, willingness to snuggle on the couch and watch "girl-y" shows with his mama, and Lord help me: he is the cutest thing ever! 
I simply can't  help myself. 
And throughout the years, Duke's teachers couldn't help themselves either. I won't call any names, but year after year I get the same phone call: "Good evening, Ms. Kirby. I'm having a little trouble with Duke. Wiggly. Talking too much. He is just all boy. A bundle of energy. He cracks me up, but it's a bit disruptive to the class." 
I apologize, say we will talk to him about this. Say I'm sorry if this has been disrespectful to you in any way. We will take care of it... 
"Oh, no. He is the sweetest, cutest thing ever. I barely can tell him no! It's really not that big of a deal..." 
Weeks later I learn things like: Duke is allowed to stand during math class. Just because he can't sit still. What?! 
Duke is allowed to draw during reading time. Why?!
And, so, perhaps on a simple level you can see why or how a Mama Bear might give "exception" when a little Baby Bear is breaking minor Kirby House Rules.
But these exceptions for this exceptional kid are also tempered with the excruciating reality that Duke's story is exceptionally difficult. 
7 years old is just too little to bury your big brother. 
12 years old is too young to be told your "DeDe" took her life. 
Permanently etched in my memory were his words through sobs and groans too deep to comprehend: "No! No! No! Not MY DeDe." 
Duke has grown up too fast. Come face to face with gut wrenching questions that a tiny mind should not be forced to grapple with.
Like last year, when Duke wrestled with whether or not he was ready to be confirmed. He told his mentor, and our dear family friend, he just didn't know if he could "trust God." And if he didn't trust God maybe he should not take the confirmation vows. His mentor felt that this was EXACTLY the kind of thing that would suggest he is ready to be confirmed: Acknowledging we all bring our doubts, fears, and lack of faith to the altar. 
You can read more about that here ---> Theodicy, It's Elementary My Dear.
Fast forward about a year later, and there's a much different picture. A few weeks ago at the Mississippi Annual Conference Youth Event, "The Gathering" Stuart Hall, gifted communicator, poised the question: "Are you ready to give your life over to God?" Duke and a band of brothers accepted the challenge and stood up. 
I gathered our little chicks out in the foyer and we prayed with them and begin to process the feelings and thoughts that led them to make a stand. As we went around the circle these tiny men and sweet young lady shared. When it was Duke's turned, through tears he commented: "I think I can trust God...again." Eureka! 
Not only is Duke my baby, but more importantly he is God's "baby." And the irrational, "baby" love I have for him is no match for the eternal, transcendent, lay your life down, kind of crazy love that Christ has for not just Duke, but all people, everywhere. Truly PI-Mazing!
It's that kind of PI-Mazing Love I hope to shower on "baby" Duke today! His 13th birthday! And every day we are gifted with his spunky fun self! 

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