In Articles, From the Vine

By Allison Gingras


Vacation Bible School—a glorious avenue of extending faith formation during the summer. Over 10 years ago, a friend convinced me our children needed this, and we were the ones to make it happen. It started slow with 50 kids and volunteers, and by time we left the program in new capable hands, the week’s enrollment toppled over 125! It was a divine week of singing and putting on skits (my role); outdoor games and yummy snacks (so not my role); coupled with my husband’s story telling (there is nothing like seeing your hubby in Roman period garb). We thrived as a family each summer during that week—praising, praying, preparing. It was perfect!

Then we changed parishes.

This parish offered Vacation Bible School, but I would not be directing or dancing, because I needed to interpret the week’s activities into American Sign Language for my daughter Faith, the newest addition of our family via adoption from China. My teenage sons were less-than-enthused about being “volun-told” for that summer’s VBS week. They made their displeasure known by dragging their feet and making us very late. We arrived after the opening music had already begun. The room was dimly lit (to better see the lyrics), people were packed in the doorway (it was a small room), and our unfamiliarity with the parish confused things further. The boys’ less-than-best behavior, the mounting heat, and the stress of trying to navigate and get registered triggered a major anxiety attack. Finally reaching the registration desk, the nice volunteer behind the table handed me a yellow shirt for my daughter Faith. I was expecting the blue one, indicating she was in the Kindergarten group verses the preschool group, and she nicely explained they were unable to accommodate a change to the “right” group.

And … then … it … happened.

Major meltdown. Not the kids but me!

I yanked the shirt from her and told her, “Fine,” we’d try it her way. I stormed off, leaving her startled with tears welling in her eyes. Furious, I dragged my daughter over to the music area, barked orders at my sons to stop sulking and find their groups, and angrily signed the words to the opening song about “love and joy.” Oh the irony!

We were shortly introduced to our groups and sent along our way to enjoy the day. The moment Faith and I walked into the colorfully decorated preschool room, saw the others campers including two other special needs little girls, and met her group leader (a special education teacher by trade), I instantly knew I had made a huge mistake! The Holy Spirit had guided us to the absolute perfect camp experience for Faith.

At that moment I contemplated two options: 1) Pretend my morning tantrum never happened and go along my merry little way, hoping the nice volunteer would forget it. Or 2) Gather my pride, find the kind woman, and beg for her forgiveness.

I went with Plan B, as we’d already changed churches twice before this, and I wasn’t interested in doing so again. When I finished apologizing, her eyes teared again! Oh man, now what did I say?! She took a breath and explained how I was not the first to treat her that way during registration, but I was the first to apologize. She graciously accepted my apology, showing me great mercy. Laure became my first friend at our new parish, and she remains one of my dearest to this day. She soon joined the small faith-sharing group I host at my home and has brought with her several wonderful women over the years. The ripple effect of that one apology being received with great grace and mercy has garnered incredible blessings!

Shortly after this episode, the Lord called me to conduct women’s retreats on forgiveness. This story has been a part of every single Peace of Forgiveness retreat. I received mercy, and went to not only do likewise, but encourage others to do the same.

About the Author:

AllisonGingrasPicAllison Gingras is founder of  Reconciled To You and host of A Seeking Heart on Breadbox Media weekdays at 10 a.m. ET. Allison blogs, writes and speaks about living an every-day life of faith. She created the “Words With” daily devotional app series, Words with Jesus, and offers presentations on forgiveness, trust, and lessons from the Blessed Mother.

Showing 5 comments
  • Melanie Rigney

    Absolutely love this reflection. It convicts and resonates. So humbling to summon up the faith to apologize… and what a beautiful moment resulted.

    • Allison Gingras

      Thank you Melanie – that ripple effect of mercy. It is huge. Way bigger than I think Laure and I will ever truly see or know! Cool side note — this came out right as VBS was beginning at our parish. We both giggled at the perfect timing!

  • Loraine

    Wonderful, I want to be in a group with you!! I can so relate to dragging feet and emotional overload! Raised 5 children and want to be involved with Catholic women who know themselves in their faith. Wine and addiction is part of my story too, sober long and daily life gives me opportunity to renew that desire often.

    • Allison Gingras

      Ha Loraine – I would love that ;)) Congrats on the sobriety that a remarkable challenge; what a blessing you’ve been able to embrace the grace of that. Have you sought out a community near you; or have you considered launching a WINE small group in your own parish? We have all the resources available to help you and some of your friends – do this!! You’ll be in my prayers!

  • Reply

    Sounds like a great book. I can well understand over re-acting to what you felt might be discrimination toward a newly adopted child. My adopted daughter has ichthyosis. We had never even heard of such until the doctor finally diagnosed it. I can remember holding her while watching her older brother’s swimming lesson and having a little boy come up and say, “Ugh! Your baby has dirty hands”. I really wanted to swat him (but didn’t).

    The next incident we had with this was when Annie was in kindergarten. The teacher called us in for a conference. She had noticed Annie’s hands and asked about them. Annie was embarrassed and said that she had burned them. Naturally the teacher was suspicious about possible child abuse. We explain about Ichthyosis, unfortunately the teacher felt she had to tell the whole class which humiliated Annie. Perhaps that explains why she became Dorothy in first grade and Heather Warnington in the 5th?

    In spite of her disability, if you call it that, Annastasia has become a confident and able young woman. Those hands may not be lovely to see, but she plays (piano, organ, accordion- even on trapeze) like an angel. She began composing at age 5. She has truly been a gift

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