Liberalism: The Bible was originally written by a bunch of primitive, misogynist, violent, greedy, superstitious, Jewish slave-owning men who wrote about an awful, bloodthirsty, tribal god who requires ritual killing because people displease him. Conservatism: We agree! (We don’t actually know we agree, but that actually sounds pretty good.) Liberalism: Therefore the only parts that […]
via I am a pallet
Source: The mind of a bird
I was once That man who knew, Being certain of what is, How it happened, And what should be. I spoke with authority About things I had Never studied. I espoused with certitude Beliefs which had no …
Source: Truth and sandcastles
Special event Sundays, as a children’s minister, were always the most daunting. It was a steeple chase of greeting visitors, gathering extra supplies, resourcing volunteers, and (let’s not forget) sharing the Good News. But for me, what I dreaded the most was knowing that Noah would be completely overwhelmed by the entire project. And, completely selfishly, if there was a kid in the building that I wanted to be touched by the message it was my own.
But new clothes for special occasions are itchy. More visitors mean more noise and chaos. Special events mean special programming and a deviation from the “normal schedule.” At Easter there were beautiful lilies that lined the walls of our sanctuary but you could smell them on our hallway and it drove Noah insane. Then the whole lesson was about death (which was scary) and resurrection (which was so abstract). The entire day was a nightmare. I remember planting my forehead on my keyboard and sighing, “he is risen…this is good” over and over again.
Even if you “don’t have special needs kids,” consider reading this great information from Barb Newman and CLC Network. Implementing these ideas is simple and will enhance the worship service for most visitors and all typical children. And then, just in case you encounter a PURE family this Resurrection Sunday you’ll be ready.
I was reminded today of how lost Noah and I would be if it weren’t for the people who have come alongside us and forged relationships despite the difficulties our autism presents. This conversation with Marie Kuck from Nathaniel’s Hope really expresses the simplicity of deciding to be a buddy to someone affected by disability.
I was packing my well-worn suitcase for a speaking engagement at yet another conference. Always remembering to rehearse Noah’s weekly schedule in my absence, I called him into my room as I packed. We went over which members of our church were providing respite for us each afternoon, what he could have for snack, and other essential items on the week’s agenda. After reciting the plans, Noah asked what I was going to be doing. He knows that I teach about “people like him” and how to include them in church and school. He understands that I tell stories about our life together and how autism impacted our life. But he surprised me when he asked, “Mom, you won’t forget me when you are gone will you?”
I chuckled as I placed more clothes and books in my suitcase. The idea that Noah is ever off my mind for more than five minutes is ludicrous. My entire life has become about telling our story so that others can find hope. I smiled and casually quipped, “Noah all I do is talk about you everyday in lectures while I am gone. How in this world could I forget you while I was gone – even if I wanted to? For heaven’s sake Noah, if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t even have a job.”
I turned to continue my task but was brought to full attention as Noah came around the bed and placed his hands on my shoulders. Looking me full in the face and straight in the eye, Noah imparted a wisdom that I can only see as more of our autism gospel.
“Oh, Mom. You say you wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for me, but I think you wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for you because you were the one who always believed.”
Walking away satisfied, Noah went back to his room to continue building Legos. Completely humbled, I sat on the floor at my bedside and wept. I wept for all the days that I left therapy completely defeated because he wouldn’t cooperate with the therapist. I wept for the day I was told he was being moved to a behavioral unit at school because he was incapable of cognitive processes. I wept for all the times I came upon him sitting in the hallway outside a Sunday school classroom because the commotion and excitement of the lesson frightened him. I wept for all the moments over all these years when I had perceived that we had failed.
And I wept not because we have proved people wrong or in gratitude that we have come so far, but because Noah recognized all of those moments not as monuments to failure but rather as milestones in a journey of belief. Mainly, I think I believed because my other option was so dismal. I could either choose hope or desolation. I could continue to work on small, manageable solutions to our difficulties, or I could just stop and accept despair. Mostly, I just hoped there was more to us than it appeared.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
Noah sees our story as one of hope through a series of seeming defeats where someone chose to believe against all odds. Perhaps we should all take a page out of this autism gospel and choose to believe in the unseen in light of eternity. I think that is where we could find hope and peace. I know that Noah has.
The gospel of this autism moment tells us that someone needs you to believe in an unseen hope. There is probably someone who needs you to see past the defeat and unmet expectations. Believing in Noah didn’t look like tons of new therapy techniques or another medical solution to our crisis. Believing didn’t involve continual work to meet his IEP goals. We did those things, but that wasn’t the act of believing. Believing didn’t require me to have an immediate solution. Believing asked me to have hope in spite of the fact that I didn’t have a solution.
I offer no magic solutions on this Autism Awareness Day. I only propose that we choose to believe that all of us are more than our deficits. Noah taught me the value of just believing in the potential of what we cannot see. Maybe soon we’ll have Autism Acceptance Day where we celebrate how different and unalike we are.
But until then, just believe.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 2 Co 4:16–18.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about tomorrow’s show with special guest, Barbara Dittrich. We are continuing a series of conversations about how to support the parent of a child with special needs. These shows were designed to meet the needs I hear ministry leaders expressing when they ask: How can I communicate with this special needs mom/dad? Why aren’t they more forthcoming about their struggles? What are their emotional and spiritual needs?
This show is going to go a long way to answering those very questions.
Ministering to the emotional, spiritual, & physical needs of anyone is a tall order. When special needs parents are those people they can appear, in the words of our guest Barb Dittrich, like a “big ol’ bundle of need.” Join us as we discuss practical, yet meaningful ministry to these parents.
Barbara Dittrich is a nationally published author and speaker with a special heart for those raising children with chronic disorders, diff-abilities, and special needs. Wife to her beloved Steve for over 20 years, they raise their three children in beautiful Southeastern Wisconsin. With diagnoses including hemophilia, severe allergies, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder in the household, Barbara faces life’s challenges with humor and compassion. Foundress of Snappin’ Ministries Inc, she energetically shares with others what God has hidden in her heart as she walks in devotion and obedience to Him.
If you can’t join us live, be sure to listen later to this or other Shaping Special Heartsshows in the archive at www.blogtalkradio.com/cmconnect.
Join Vangie and special guest Kelli Anderson as they discuss “Sticking with Special Needs Parents.” Hear an insider’s perspective about what can make parents of children with special needs lack trust in people – even the people they desperately want to trust! Hear strategies for meaningful communication, key elements in ministry to parents, and what every pastor should know about ministry to this growing population.
A lifelong Christian and mother of three children (two with Asperger’s Syndrome), Kelli has also published her first book about her experience in Divine Duct Tape and is a regularly featured writer for an award-winning daily blog for special needs parents, Not Alone. She also produces a weekly podcast, Divine Duct Tape, and works in special needs ministry through her online forum and Masterpiece Ministries at First Baptist Church of Geneva.