I was sitting at my desk when I was overcome with this bizarre desire to help someone. The strange thing was, I didn’t know who or what. So, I started to randomly reach out to people in my life . . . my spouse, a friend, a co-worker, no one needed me. Then I reached out to my pastor’s wife. To my surprise, she was just praying about a special needs program for our Sunday School. I was blown away with God’s timing and how very specific His message was to me. For years, I had been volunteering with my local Autism Group, raising money for Social Skills programs and coordinating the annual Autism Walk – but it never seemed to be enough.
It’s great to be able to provide much need therapy programs or respite for parents – but none of that compares to being able to give parents the opportunity to sit and listen to an amazing pastor teach God’s word. And having the confidence of knowing that your child is attending a Sunday School class, with teachers and aids that are equipped to handle their special needs – that’s priceless.
When the triplets were young, we tried several times to attend church. Packing diaper bags full of snacks, juice boxes and toys to keep them entertained, while we tried to pay attention. But, sitting in the “baby room” was just that . . . a room filled with babies. The distractions were endless. No matter how hard we tried, we always walked away feeling more frustrated and never being “filled.” Often times, we left feeling more frustrated than when we arrived.
Mike and I were both raised Roman Catholic. Our oldest had just made his Holy Communion and that’s when it dawned on us . . . how on earth were the boys going to be able to attend CCD? With the amount of services listed in their IEPs, we knew that a traditional CCD class would not work for our boys. That was one of the many reasons, we decided to start looking for other churches. After “test driving” many churches, we found our home at Calvary Chapel in Bellmawr (now Calvary Chapel of South Jersey).
A sound bible based teaching, Sunday school classes that were age appropriate, and now we are going to offer a special needs program. It’s perfect. I’m so blessed to be a part of this church and this new program. I’m not a special needs teacher, I don’t have any experience in behavioral therapy. In fact, the only degree I have is in Marketing. So, what makes God think I’m qualified to raise not one, but two special needs children?
After one extremely challenging ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) melt down, I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed. I pleaded to God and cried out, “What am I supposed to do? I don’t know how to do this? I’m not qualified to do this!” I wasn’t expecting what happened next . . . . He said, “Just love him.”
So, now matter what type of meltdown or crisis you’re dealing with right now. Remember the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples:
John 13:34-35New International Version (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”