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It really wasn’t even a decision, really. It was more of a collective, family lightbulb moment.

Take Cathryn back to Annapolis Christian Academy.

Not “send” her back.

Not “let her go” back.

Take her back.

Through all of this mess with the church… the pain Ken and I have felt, the struggle to wrap our brains around the loss… she’s felt it too. It was a death to her, too. She lost a friend in Tricia, too. She saw someone she trusted do the wrong thing, and then ignore her. Her pastor, no less. It was a rough lesson to learn at a young age. Lesser kids might have abandoned their walk with God. She didn’t.

But slowly she became less and less herself. Less and less “Cat” – the sparkly, bubbly, energy-drink of a girl that everyone loves.  First it was grades. Then she broke up with her boyfriend for no good reason. She decided not to go to prom. She came home for lunch alone every single day. She was home every night, then every weekend. She cried for no reason. She argued about anything and everything. She dropped out of debate. She ditched tennis. She skipped basketball games. All of these one-by-one things were pieces of her that kept falling away like single leaves from a tree. Until she was just a little twig standing there in front of us.

We hoped that the group that came to our house on Wednesdays would give her purpose until things got better. She sang and worshipped as if her life depended on it sometimes. But she is the only girl, and these are kids still figuring out their faith. It wasn’t an anchor. But it was the best we could offer.

And then she got the note that she had been removed from the Presbyterian Mo Ranch Planning Team which was the last steady constant in her faith. Her last connection to who she was and what she was as a Presbyterian. Being an MPT was her last great joy – these kids were friends of faith that she played with, talked to, connected with – from all over the state. Now, this was gone, too.

CPC Port Aransas has “reported her” inactive in her Youth Group, and so she was ineligible. Without a word to us, a phone call or even an email.

I can honestly say, I’ve never – never – been angrier. In my whole life.

It’s one thing to strip us down as adults. It’s one thing to send a letter of rejection to an adult disguised as a termination of employment. You can “bless our hearts” and tell us you hope we’re well and go back to your little country club you call a church and forget all about those “sad little events.”

It’s quite another to ACTIVELY take down a child. What youth group is she “inactive” in? She’s not been INVITED to any events for the “new” program – and the “previous” program, and it’s youth director – WHOM SHE LIVES WITH – would check the box that she is quite ACTIVE as a Presbyterian. She leads kids each week in a study. She prays with them. She counsels them. She sings with them and eats with them and fellowships with them.

And yet someone – one guess who – has the audacity – the huevos, if you will – to check a box that blows up my kid’s world again.

I’m finding it harder and harder to turn the other cheek. And harder and harder to keep the secrets I know. Secrets that would demand a change in the pulpit, in fact.

But grace demands that I land on and stand on my knees. The mercy that has been shown me must be extended to those that don’t deserve it. Much as I don’t deserve it, in fact. It’s humbling, but true. I am a sinner, saved by grace. I sure do want to give Karma a list of people she’s missed sometimes. And some help. I pray instead.

And so.

She asks in a whisper to go back to Annapolis with tears streaming down her face. It is a hard thing to ask because I never wanted her to leave in the first place, and she is worried I will gloat, do the happy dance and tell her “I told you so!”

I do, a little.


But really, it is all I can do to keep from tucking her into a reed basket as if she were the tiny, football-sized-burrito-swaddled baby she once was and lay her on the doorstep of the school like an abandoned orphan with a note pinned to her saying, “please, help her” – knowing that the teachers there that have loved her, prayed for her, cried for her and fought for her will do just that.

Her headmaster was misty-eyed when we re-enrolled her. He said it was an answer to prayer. Her teachers rejoiced, and hugged her like a prodigal. Parents “liked” my Facebook status announcing our return.

ACA wasn’t perfect, it never will be perfect.

But real families never are.