Monday, March 26, 2012

disability ministry weekly round-up {3-26-12}

7 Scripture Texts About Evangelism: A great article by Tim Challies that calls me back to the reason why we serve in disability ministry. It isn't merely so that people with disabilities will be included in church; it's so that they may hear the gospel and know Christ.

Our adoption silent auction: We had a HUGE adoption fundraising extravaganza last week, thus the silence on this blog. The silent auction - with gift cards, artsy items, and more! - continues online until March 27 at midnight, and anything that isn't Raleigh-specific can be shipped. 100% of silent auction funds go toward our adoption.

My Autistic Son's Life: Not Less Valuable This isn't written as a Christian article, but nonetheless it affirms what the Bible teaches about the value of ALL people.

How Global Christians Build Bridges Around Down Syndrome Amy Julia Becker does a fine job of pointing out some global efforts that transcend both borders and abilities in the name of Christ. There are other stories and organization I would add to those she mentions, so I'll be posting about that later this week.

How to Serve the Family of Divorce Divorce affects all families (and not necessarily any more often for families affected by disability). Many of these tips will be helpful for families you serve who are dealing with separation or divorce, but some tips are helpful fr any child struggling with uncertain circumstances, which is the experience of many kids with special needs.

New for Orange Conference 2012: Special Needs Focused Breakout Track Amy Fenton Lee and others have been working hard on this, and the sessions look like they'll be incredibly helpful!

And, finally, y'all know I'm a sucker for cute kids, special needs, and adoption. And this video has all in heaping measures. (Tissue warning for you cryers!) In it, you'll hear Ace explain her love for her brother with Down syndrome who was adopted through Reece's Rainbow.

Monday, March 19, 2012

disability ministry weekly round-up {3-19-12}

Let me start with a head's up: I'll probably be quiet over here this week. We have a huge adoption fundraising night this Thursday (if you're in Raleigh, come on out!), and I'm prepping the silent auction and other details. I'll be back in full force next week, though!

The Includers: "It can be easy to get caught up in a group of peers and be comfortable without even noticing those on the outside." {How can we help kids and adults - with and without special needs - include their peers at church?}

What I'd like you to say to my kid with special needs: "I want you both to treat my son with special needs the same you you treat his sister, or any kid." {How can we do that well in ministry settings?}

Tending the Weeds in Your Ministry Relationships: "You don't have to be afraid of examining your ministry community, no matter how weedy it may be, because God meets you in your difficulty with his amazing grace." {When's the last time you examined your ministry area or your life to determine where weeds need to be pulled so that healthy growth can occur?}

Perhaps you should sue God: I'm not going to quote from this post, a letter from a mom of a beautiful child with Down syndrome directed to the parents who sued medical professionals for the "wrongful birth" of their daughter with the same diagnosis. Just go read it.

Special treatment for kids with special needs (and the fine line we walk as their parents): "I want my child to be treated like every other child. I want my child to get special accommodations for his disabilities. These two things may seem contradictory. Actually, they're not." {Do you struggle with figuring out where to modify and where not to for kids with special needs at your church? In those struggles, do you engage parents as allies in figuring that out?}

Young Life hosts day camp for special-needs children and adults: "A lot of folks just assume that because our friends have mental disabilities, they can't grasp the Gospel, but that's not true. I think our friends grasp it better sometimes than we do." {What are you doing to not just open the doors of your church to people with disabilities but to share the Gospel with them?}

Joni Eareckson Tada on Wilberforce Award, "Better Off Dead Than Disabled" Mentality: "Most of all, it's been my heart's desire to see the church carry out the mandate from the Gospel of Luke, the 14th chapter where Jesus says to go out and find the disabled and bring them in. My life goal is to see the world's one billion people with disabilities embraced and encouraged by the church." {Is this your heart's desire? Is your church helping to reach Joni's goal or not?}

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the hope in wrongful birth cases

Yesterday, John Knight did a beautiful job of pointing out the good news in wrongful birth cases like the one that awarded parents nearly $3million in Oregon recently.
The recent decision to award an Oregon couple $2.9 million from a ‘wrongful birth’ lawsuit has left me feeling like there’s actually some good news embedded in this story.

Four years ago a little girl was born with Down syndrome. Her mother had received testing and would have aborted her little girl if the results had shown evidence of Down syndrome. But somebody made a mistake with the test, the mother was told her baby was fine, and the little girl was allowed to live.

So the couple sued, stating they now needed significant financial resources to care for a girl who they otherwise would not have wanted before she was born. A jury agreed.

Here’s the good news from that article: “These are parents who love this little girl very, very much,” Miller said (their attorney). “Their mission since the beginning was to provide for her and that’s what this is all about.”

I don’t know if ‘that’s what this is all about’ or not. Comments and blogs have vilified these parents for their openness about wanting to abort. Yes, I find their initial thinking about abortion to be horrifying as well.

But somewhere along the way they learned to love this child. She went from being unknown to being known. She entered a family and was given a name. And today she is loved.

Abortion is an act of violence against a small human being who cannot defend herself; that is reason enough to be against it. But it is also a final act – that small human being will never be known.

Those of us who have already decided against abortion are frequently dismissed as deluded or guided strictly by manufactured sentiment – of course we’ll see value in and love a child with disabilities.

But this couple was willing and preparing to abort if disability was found – yet love their child today. They cannot be dismissed by abortion proponents so easily.
To read the rest of John's thoughts, go here.

We also saw the same change in the wrongful birth case in south Florida last summer, in which the parents were awarded $4.5million because the ultrasound technicians and doctor denied them the opportunity to abort their son by not diagnosing his missing arm and leg prior to birth. In that case, the mother was asked, "Does his life have value?"

Her response? "Yes, a lot of value. Great value."

While I disagree with a lot in these cases, I can't disagree with that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

that baby girl in Taiwan still needs a family - please pray!

I posted about a month ago about Li-Ru. She's eight months old now. She has some special needs, though her prognosis is unknown right now other than "developmental delays" and "schizencephaly." She's in Taiwan. She doesn't have a family. She will be transferred to an institution soon - probably within a week or two - if she doesn't have a family to adopt her.


 The costs are less than I previously shared: $10,000 for all the in-country costs in Taiwan. Additional costs include US paperwork expenses and travel, which for us will be about $7,000 ($1,400 for our home study, $890 for US CIS paperwork and fingerprinting, $3,500-4,000 for travel and lodging in Taiwan, and ~$900 for post-adoption paperwork and court fees in the US). That brings the total estimated cost for Li-Ru's adoption to $17,000.


Please spread the word. Please do what you can to help us find Li-Ru a family. No, her needs aren't known, but she loves her caregivers and she is making progress, albeit at a different rate than other babies. And she would thrive much more in a family than an institution.


I have a picture and a video and some medical records I can share with anyone who is interested. Just email me at shannon@theworksofgoddisplayed.com.


~+~
 Today I began posting at Support for Special Needs about our adoption journey. I'll be sharing over there once or twice a month about the whole process of adopting a child with special needs, and I'm thankful that they were willing to add me to the line-up!

Monday, March 12, 2012

disability ministry weekly round-up {3-12-12}

A Disabled Adult Child, and an Always Uncertain Future "Reality has hit hard now that our older child has moved out of the nest but our youngest one never will. There is meaning in all of this when I let myself see it, but that can be hard when I’m changing a diaper or giving my 22-year-old daughter a shower. I struggle, nearly every day." {If this mother was in your congregation, how would you encourage her?}


Our Church Needs Brody "It is beautiful when you see children look past disability. There is something touching when you realize that they are not affected by the prejudice of our society. Brody is just Brody, and they too, were proud of him." {Does your church realize that Brody, who has cerebral palsy, is needed in your community?}


Darla, Cade, and the Boy at the Aquarium "We characterize people with Down syndrome by their challenges—much like we portray people in poverty by their problems. I’m so glad I’m not identified by what ails me. Chris? He’s the guy that is overly concerned by what other people think of him. Or, Chris? Oh, he’s a “considers-his-own-needs-above-all-others type of guy. Thankfully, I’m just Chris." {Do you talk about people with disabilities at your church by using their diagnosis or by using their name?}


20 Years Old Living with Russell-Silver Syndrome "I made it, but my father didn’t. I was in my mom’s womb trying to grow when the doctors saw that I was having trouble. “Failure to thrive” was written on my chart and there was concern. Ultimately, I was born a month and a half early at 2 pounds, 6 ounces, but my father was long gone by then. He didn’t want to have anything to do with a deformed kid." {Another dad, John Knight, has been transparent on his blog about the tough time he had when his son was born blind. Is your church a safe place for a dad to battle through the emotions - even the ugly ones - they might face when his child is diagnosed with a disability?}


Forgiveness for Moms who Fail "In my twenty-five years of pastoral ministry, I don’t think I have met a mom, including a preschool mom, who feels like she has done a good enough job." {While not special-needs specific, this article highlights a battle for moms, myself included. Is your church an affirming and encouraging place for moms struggling with these feelings?}


Ending the R-Word: Ban it or understand it? "Every time Ellen Seidman hears the word "retarded," she worries for her 9-year-old son, Max, who has cerebral palsy. She wonders if people will ever respect him, or see him as an equal, if they associate that word with people like him, who have intellectual disabilities. {I know we don't want youth and college students - from whom I hear the r-word more than other groups - to see Christianity all about rules, but are you willing to point out the de-valuing of God's creation every time someone who knows Christ throws around the word "retard" like it's nothing? I mean, you wouldn't be okay with other taboo words - you know, the ones we replace with #*&!$.}


Church helps with religious rites for special needs children "Most religious institutions today provide assistance for families with special needs children to be included in their services. The best thing for a family is to talk to their pastor about their own needs." {How will your church respond when parents whose children have disabilities talk to the pastor or another church leader about their needs?}


The Most Unlikely of Heroes "Emma forces each one us to see life through a different lens. She reminds us daily of what is truly important in life. It has been an incredible time for each one of us to learn to trust in God’s wisdom and sovereignty, especially during the times of suffering Emma has gone through." {This family adopted a daughter with Down syndrome. What does your church do to support families who adopt, keeping in mind that children who are adopted have higher rates of special needs?}


Autism - Don't Look Now, I'm Trying to Think "Children with autism look away from faces when thinking, especially about challenging material, according to new research from Northumbria University." {Do you usually gauge student attentiveness by eye contact? Should you reconsider that for kids with autism or with autistic traits?}


Very special worship "'Nathan's general view of the world is that it is unpredictable, challenging, and scary,' says his father, Seth Horwitz, 'and this provides a really comforting, secure moment.'" {This dad is talking about a Jewish service for kids with disabilities. What can your church do to create a comforting, secure environment for kids whose disabilities might make life unpredictable, challenging, and scary?}


Ministry brings families 'back to church' "'For a lot of families with special-needs children, they just stop coming to church because it gets too hard,' Morgan said, 'and this ministry is kind of something that helps bring people back to the church … and creating a place kids can share the gospel.'" {Where is that place in your church? If you don't have one yet, what would be the first step to creating one?}


Portland-area couple sues Legacy Health for $3 million for 'wrongful birth' after child is born with Down syndrome "The Levys filed suit against Legacy Health, claiming that Deborah Levy would have aborted her pregnancy had she known her daughter had the chromosomal abnormality." {How are you standing up for the lives God created?}

Friday, March 9, 2012

merry blogiversary! top posts from the past year
{the works of God displayed turns ONE today!}

1 year
248 posts (249 if you count this one!)
1692 tweets
Visits from 84 countries

I love the community and connections I've made through this blog, and I can promise you that I have been the one blessed the most by it. Thank you for your comments, your questions, and your encouragement.

I have three posts waiting to go live, including a follow-up to Wednesday's post about children with disabilities in church, a post about international considerations for disability ministry (because we need a global perspective and because 10% of my readers are outside of the US), and a post answering a question I received via Twitter about starting a disability ministry. But those will wait until next week.

Today I'd like to take a look back at the ten most popular posts in the past year:

1. Michael W. Smith and a star-struck teenage girl 

2. "After-birth abortion" should be allowed because some disabilities aren't diagnosed prior to birth?

3. No partiality {James 2:1-13}

4. The biblical basis for special needs ministry

5. Wonderfully, fearfully knit together {Psalm 139:13-16}

6. Kudos to Target. Now, church, it's your turn.

7. every story has two sides but.

8. Fridays from the Families: Ministering to people with autism

9. In a church setting, how can you support a parent who might be in denial about their child's special needs?

10. Only sharing the gospel with 5/6 of our children? Not an option

Can I just say that I love that two of the top ten posts are Bible verses with no commentary from me? If my blog is bringing people to read from God's Word, then that will change lives and churches far more than anything I write.

Here are a few more posts - honorable mentions, if yo will - that are on my list of favorites, even though they don't make the top 10 as defined by visits:
As I move into the second year of this blog, what topics would you like to know more about so that you and others may be equipped to include people with disabilities in your churches and your lives?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Children {with disabilities} being welcome in worship

Yesterday one of my favorite blogs featured a guest post titled Children In Worship - Let's Bring It Back The author writes, "As the church, let’s be open to the idea of inviting our children into worship again. Let’s be patient, deliberate, and wise, but let’s encourage families to have their children in worship as soon as they are able."

As he acknowledges that each family will approach this with different timetables, he provides clear reasons for why it is beneficial to include children in worship. I've pasted that section below.

But first, consider this as you read them: you can replace "children" with "people with disabilities," and it still remains true. As you read the rationale below and make the mental replacement, I think it will become clear why the inclusion of individuals with special needs matters.
Why should children attend the worship service?
  1. Our children are members of the covenant community (the church):Corporate Worship on Sunday morning is the primary activity the covenant community engages in together (Acts 2:42Hebrews 10:24-25). Therefore, our children as members of this community should be included in this crucial aspect of covenantal life.
  2. Our children will be present in the midst of the means of grace: Our children benefit by being where the Word is preached (Romans 10:14), the sacraments are administered (Matthew 28:19-20), and corporate prayer is practiced (Acts 2:42-47). These are the chief means by which God pours out grace upon His people. Why knowingly rob our children of this blessing?!
  3. Our children will be present in the midst of the entire congregation:Our children benefit greatly by being in the presence of Christians of various ages. They are able to see that the faith of their parents is not a faith that they own alone, but is a faith that is important to all of these people who are gathered around them on Sunday morning. This only reinforces what Mom and Dad are modeling and teaching when they see this incredible gathering of people reading the Word together, praying together, confessing together, and singing together (Deuteronomy 31:9-13). They need to see the body in action.
  4. Our children will be present with their parents: Worshipping together as a family helps to counter the current trend in our society  of fragmenting our families. If our children join us in worship from four years of age until they are eighteen they will worship with their parents in 780 Sunday morning worship services! Think about the cumulative effect of a family worshipping together, in the midst of the means of grace, meeting with God for 780 Sundays in a row.
  5. Our children will witness their parents worshipping: It is the Biblical role of parents to disciple their children in the faith (Deut. 6; Psalm 78; Eph. 6). What a benefit there is when children witnesses their mother or father singing with conviction, praying in reverence, listening intently to the sermon, or receiving the Lord’s Supper in joy. In these moments a child witnesses the importance of faith and worship. There are few greater encouragements to a child’s faith then seeing their parents worship God with reverence and joy. (Exodus 12:1-28Deut. 4:9-11; Deut. 6; Psalm 78; Ezra 10:1Nehemiah 12:43Joel 2:12-17Acts 16:33).
  6. Our children will learn the rhythms of church life: Teenagers in our culture often balk at attending corporate worship. But how many of our teenagers have we setup for this reaction, because we did not consistently include them in worship until they were a teenager? If attending church for years has always meant coloring Bible pictures, singing songs to a cd, playing games, and doing crafts—then we should not be surprised that our young people find worship to be odd, uncomfortable, and even boring. I love good children’s songs—they ring through my house. I love good children’s Christian crafts—they decorate my study. But if this alone is the rhythm of church life we have set up for our children week in and week out, we have done them a great disservice. They must see, know, and learn that the singing of the great hymns of the faith, the preaching of the Word, reading of confessions, corporate prayers, etc. is anything but boring. It is the gathered life of the community of faith. It is our weekly rhythm—appointed by God, designed by Him, established for the ages—this is what we want them to know, because we want them to know and worship Him.
In today's post at the same blog, the author will be offering tips for including children in the worship service, and some of those will work for individuals with disabilities too. I'll be writing a follow-up post once his goes live.

As we ponder this, I want to suggest that becoming a church that welcomes kids in worship is taking a vital first step to welcoming people with disabilities. How? Consider a church that accepts children in worship, knowing that they might make noises at odd times or demonstrate other "atypical" church behaviors. As this becomes part of their church's culture, those behaviors will become "typical" as the congregation becomes patient and understand toward those who are learning to worship and who may express their praise in different ways. As that happens, these churches often become places that are more likely to welcome people with disabilities and any "atypical" church behaviors they might bring.

And then the definition of "typical" changes once again, as the church's culture will change to consider those individuals with special needs to be vital members of their body, embracing the words below:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
{1 Corinthians 12:12-26}

Let those words be true of our churches.

 Amen.

Monday, March 5, 2012

disability ministry weekly round-up {3-5-12}

The big news of last week was that all our adoption paperwork is in route to Taiwan, with a short stop for approval at an office in Atlanta. Yippee! {Update! Our paperwork has already been received in Taiwan, several days earlier than expected. Praise God!} We'll be bringing Zoe Amanda home sometime between late May and early August - praying it's sooner rather than later! :)

And in other news, I'm trying a slightly different approach to the round-up with a linked title, a quote from the link, and a question to ponder. Let me know who you like it - I'm thinking this might be how I do it from now on!

In Defense of Down Syndrome Children... Like My Son "Down syndrome children pose a different kind of threat to society -- the in-your-face reminder that our aspirations for "perfection" may be flawed. People like Cade disrupt normal." {What can we do to make sure that we're exalting God instead of the idol of human perfection?}

Don't Forget About Me... Being a Special Needs Sibling "She has always tried to understand his special needs, why he can't talk, why he needs extra time to accomplish little things so many others take for granted and why he was made just a little bit different than all her friend's brothers and sisters." {Are we teaching a biblical theology that helps our kids love and interact with those who are different, including in their own families?}

Tears of a special needs sib "Once again, he had to take the back seat to a kid with special needs, and once again his mom just assumed he'd suck it up, (and he's got his own issues going on with PANDAS and he's extra sensitive lately), and he simply could not take it anymore, always having to be the one who bends." {How can the church support and love these siblings who often take a back seat?}

A Special Needs Mom's Heartache: Not What You'd Expect "It isn’t the people inside my house that make life difficult. It’s the world outside." {How can we, as the people of God, make that world outside better for these families by sharing Christ instead of pity or hurt?} 

Prom held for special needs children at Wofford "'It started out as a church movement to incorporate special needs population into churches and when that started happening it just caught on fire, it's really gone out of control,' says co-organizer and Wofford student Callie Taylor." {How do you celebrate God's creation of every person, regardless of ability or disability?}

RELIGION: Fulfilling the spiritual needs of special-needs kids Okay, this one I can't just quote. You need to read the whole thing. It describes that amazing special needs ministry set-up at a church in San Bernardino. Just read it. {How can you excel in serving all members of families affected by disability on Sunday mornings?}

'Groundbreaking' new ministry caters to families with autistic families  "Karen and Paul Schmid know what it’s like to watch an autistic son struggle with sitting through a mass and they wonder about other families who avoid church altogether, because it’s just too hard." {What can your church do to make it easier for the Schmids and other families like them? And how can you reach out to the families who are already avoiding your church because they expect it to be too hard to come?}

Saturday, March 3, 2012

our Creator does not faint or grow weary, and neither will we {Isaiah 40:28-31}

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

{Isaiah 40:28-31}

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fridays from the Families: One church's pampering day for moms with husbands or children with special needs

Sandra Peoples is a pastor's wife, a mom, and an excellent writer, and I am thankful to know her. I featured her e-book, Speechless: Finding Grace in My Son's Autism, on this blog a few months ago. When I saw a post from her on Facebook about enjoying a day of pampering at a local church, I wanted to know more, and she graciously agreed to share. Read her guest post below, and visit the Facebook page for her book!

A special  needs mom's work is never done. We have to be "on" all the time. So a couple months ago when our son's behavioral therapist mentioned that her church was hosting a day of pampering for moms of kids with special needs and wives of husband with disabilities, I signed up!

I had never been to this church before, but as soon as I drove through the front entrance, a man greeted me by asking, "Good morning! Are you here to be pampered?" I told him I was and he told me where to park. When I got to the right lot, another man greeted me and asked if I would like the inside of my car detailed while I was being pampered. He handed me a baggie with a key ring and piece of paper (for the dashboard) with the number 3 on them.

When I walked through the doors I was greeted by ladies at the registration table. They took my keys with the numbered key ring. They handed me all the paper work for the day and I signed up for my choice of a table or chair massage, at the time that was best for me. One of the ladies walked me down the hall to the coffee area where there were light refreshments and drinks. The coffee area was across from the church library, which had books like Same Lake, Different Boat on display. I was impressed by their attention to detail! Even the books were specifically chosen for us!

At 10:00 we were led into the sanctuary for a time of worship. There was a "blessing of the hands" ceremony and a speaker who shared how her life changed when her son was injured and paralyzed at the age of 20.

After the service, the moms and wives headed to lunch in the gym. There were tables set up, each uniquely decorated by a hostess who ate with us. (The other volunteers and service providers ate in another room.) I enjoyed getting to know the women at my table. I was one of the youngest moms in attendance, and was in awe of the decades of love and compassion the women around me had invested into their children and husbands.

After lunch, the pampering began! I had signed up for a table massage first, so I headed down the hall to enjoy that treat. Then I went back into the gym, which was set up for hand scrubs, manicures, make-up application, facials, eyebrow waxing, satin lips, and hair cuts. I just started on one side of the room and worked my way around! Everyone was so friendly. Most started off the conversation by asking, "So, who do you care for?" They were sensitive and encouraging.

While we were being pampered. the coffee area was set up with gourmet teas and desserts. A trio of instrumentalists provided music through the afternoon. There were also volunteers available to pray with any of the women in attendance.

After getting as pampered as possible and enjoying dessert and tea with other moms, I was ready to head home. The inside of my car was spotless--even the cup holders! I felt encouraged, appreciated, and blessed by so many who took time to serve those of use who serve someone with special needs in our families. I can't wait for next year!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

In a church setting, how can you support a parent who could be in denial about their child's special needs?

I was 25. My daughter was nine months old. I was constantly in pain, exhausted, and easily irritable, but I was convinced it would get better because I was just adjusting to being a mom. And my husband called me out on my denial and told me it was time to go to the doctor.

That's the short story of how my two chronic health conditions were diagnosed. What I tried to explain away as "being a new mom" turned out to be "Hashimoto's thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis."

Why am I telling this story in a post about parents who are in denial about their child's special needs? Well, because we can learn from it.


My husband made careful observations before he said anything;
you need to observe the child on multiple days in as many settings as possible.

Lee was positioned well to have observed what was going on with me and acknowledge that something wasn't right. He realized that my issues were constantly occurring and not based on my circumstances.

Are you sure you haven't decided that a parent is in denial about special needs because your information is limited? Maybe you've only seen the child once or twice. Maybe the child has to wake up earlier on Sunday morning and is struggling with that. Maybe the personality or teaching style in that class isn't a good match to the child. Maybe the issue at hand is your assumption and not the child's special needs. Take time to figure that out.

If you still are seeing something different going on...


My husband needed to confront my denial because it was damaging my body and hurting our family;
you need to evaluate if that parent's denial even needs to be addressed.

Sometimes denial really hurts a family. Sometimes, though, it won't hurt to give them more time. If a child is in danger in any way, say something right away. If no danger is imminent, you might want to wait and build the relationship more.

Every kid is different. In a church setting, an undiagnosed special need can make teaching more challenging, but is it really a huge problem? Sure, you do want to be honest with parents if there are any troublesome behaviors, but do you want parents to dread seeing you because they never hear anything but bad reports? It is often better to adjust your approach to reach a child's heart rather than trying to fix their behavior to fit your expectations for typical development.


My husband could confront my denial because we had a relationship; 
you can't expect to help parents through their denial without first establishing a relationship.

It's the whole "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" principle. I was willing to hear my husband out because he knows me and I know him. Because he knows me well, his concerns were meaningful to me.

If you don't know the parents well, you haven't established the trust required to even suggest that their child might need extra support in a church setting.


My husband was willing to see us through the outcomes of any diagnosis;
you need to be willing, prepared, and available to support your families through their outcomes.

When I received a diagnosis, my husband didn't leave. He didn't get me to that point and then bail on me. He was in it for the long haul, showing that he cared with his actions. You need to realize that the outcome could wrap everything up nicely... or it could reveal ongoing needs. If the needs are ongoing, will the church be there? Will you be willing to provide support and/or make sure others in your church are mobilized to provide that support?

In other words, if you aren't able to assist with a solution, then you're not the right person to say anything.


My husband recognized that my denial meant I was grieving my old life;
you need to let parents grieve too if they need to.

This means letting them move through the stages of grief on their own timetable, not yours. Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them of the need to move on when His timing is right, and don't try to play God by enforcing your own timetable.

Be patient. Be willing to listen. And be there for them, even if and especially when they're struggling with guilt, despair, or denial.


My husband know he couldn't meet every need and was willing to let the experts do their jobs;
you need to be willing to help parents connect with other resources if necessary.

The church should work to include people with disabilities in the body of Christ. However, my role as special needs ministry coordinator doesn't mean that I have to offer speech therapy, medical consultations, and education consulting to every family. I'm not equipped or qualified for all of that.

Just as my husband was willing to concede that doctors would be more helpful to me in some areas than he could be, you need to realize that the church's primary mission isn't to fill every practical earthly need for our families.


My husband prayed and sought God's wisdom through every step of this process with me;
so should you.

Amen.