Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Oh Happy Day!

Another winter season has passed and it is now spring!  Easter has come and gone and we are eagerly anticipating the upcoming summer.  This past year has brought about so much change, sorrow, and joy in our lives and I can honestly say it has been one of the biggest roller coaster rides of our lives.  But now God is leading our family into a new season.  A season of daddy being home, the boys feeling as though all is right with the world once again, and a sense of adventure as we wait on the Lord to lead us into the next season of ministry.

As we wait, however, Eric and I have begun to volunteer in our church's Love Department.  For those of you not familiar with First Baptist Church of Inverness they have a wonderful ministry for adults with special needs.  These amazing individuals are also part of the county's Key Training Center, a nationally known organization that helps provide wonderful opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities.  The Love Department is the very reason Eric and I chose to worship at First Baptist and it is through being around such special people that I personally have found healing for my hurting heart.  I mean really, how can one feel pain and sorrow when sitting with such a fantastic group of people week after week?  Not only that but these special individuals have also played a key role in the lives of Sammy and Dima.  When Eric was gone week after week and I was left to get the boys to church on my own it was difficult.  Jeremiah and Elijah would happily go off with their friends and sit with them during the service whereas Sammy and Dima needed me and refused to sit with Children's Church.  We sat with the Love Department and week after week and my special friends would help me with the boys.  If I had to take one to the bathroom someone would gladly take over for me and watch after the one I had to leave behind.  Sometimes Sammy would get restless and his buddy, Troy, would be patient and encourage him that Pastor Donnie was almost done (but would call out, "Keep preachin'!" in the next breath!).  One week Dima wanted prayer after the service and he boldly approached his buddy, Aaron, who also has Down Syndrome.  Aaron passionately and lovingly prayed for Dima and has been a "big brother" of sorts to Dima ever since.  Whenever we see our special friends around town it makes our entire day and it brings so much joy to our day.  Spending time with them has also brought about a new perspective and hope with raising Dima.  I see adults with Down Syndrome reading, writing, holding down decent jobs, volunteering in the church, and overall leading very productive lives.  Never once did I actually doubt that Dima would have any of this in his future, but when you are doing the day to day care and dealing with the various hiccups that come along with having a child with Down Syndrome, it can become quite easy to loose sight of the bigger picture.  Our family is so grateful to the Love Department.

This past Sunday, Easter Sunday, Eric and I had the most joyful day celebrating with our friends.  Everyone was dressed up, excited, and really into worship.  In the main service we sang "O Happy Day" which I think is one of their favorite songs.  Then we headed to Sunday School after the service and worshipped some more.  It also happened to be Doughnut Sunday so that only added to the festive mood.

Dima and his buddy, Aaron.

Dima and sweet Miss Caroline.  As you can see, Dima was in rare form (BEFORE CANDY!).

Dima and Miss Barbara.

Sunday School worship.

It was fantastic!

I only met this sweet woman for the first time on Sunday.  She is one of the most adorable people I have ever met!  

A little bit of ASL.

Miss Ruth dancing before the Lord!

This is my special friend, Lisa, and I.  We sit together on Sundays and sometimes on Wednesday evenings at supper. She likes to sit with Sammy and sometimes she holds him in her lap during the service.  She loves my boys.

More amazing worship.  The beautiful lady in the blue dress, Mary Jude, is a lobby manager at a McDonald's!  

Each week I walk away from church wondering why more churches do not reach out to the special needs community.  Eric and I are beginning to see that is is imperative that those with special needs have the opportunity to be fed spiritually and worship with fellow believers.  Eric and I are supposed to be teaching them but little do they know that are actually teaching us!

In the meantime I just finished reading a book authored by a friend of mine:  The Ignored, Overlooked and Often Forgotten Souls:  Church + Special Needs Families = Joshua's QuestThis book discusses the dire need for a special needs ministry to be in place in churches and how to go about doing so.  I can speak from first-hand experience in that families that have individuals with special needs NEED to be in church!  Church is where we get fed, uplifted, encouraged, etc...  When I had to miss church while Eric was on the road due to Dima's needs, it was very depressing and detrimental to not only me, but the boys as well.  In the book the author addresses the Scriptural basis for having a special needs ministry in the local church.

In the meantime as Eric and I wait for the next chapter of our lives to unfold we will enjoy worshipping our Lord with some amazing individuals who teach us so much about life each week.  We are so grateful to be in a church where life is valued.  What a blessing to our family!


Rochelle said...

Awesome. What a great program. I wish every church was like this.

Anonymous said...

i could not agree with you more... the difficulty would be getting the church to see that point and (here's the important part) take action... praying for you & your wonderful family & your amazing church... hoping & praying my church would step up too...

Anonymous said...

i could not agree with you more... the difficulty would be getting the church to see that point and (here's the important part) take action... praying for you & your wonderful family & your amazing church... hoping & praying my church would step up too... could i quote you for my own future blogpost?

Erin said...

Hi Jenny! My name is Erin and I grew up in Inverness...attended First Baptist actually! :) My Mom still attends! I have always loved the Key group being in worship and a part of the church. So awesome. I grew up to become a special education teacher and I hold a special place in my heart for people with Down syndrome. I am currently at home with my two little girls but I love Reeces Rainbow ministry and my prayer is that we will be able to adopt a child with special needs one day. The next time we visit Inverness i'd love to meet you! (We live in Nashville now. :) Take care!