A father of children with special needs can easily overlook providing one of life’s essential components – spirituality. You can get so busy with the educational, social and medical needs that feeding their souls can take a backseat. If I’m honest, I neglect the same need in my own life.
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
Deuteronomy 6:6, 7
Ultimately, I believe God knew exactly what He was doing when forming my children. He intended a very special gift for my wife and me. A gift that shows joy even in hard times, success through perseverance and love despite circumstances. Our children teach us the things that Jesus lived in His life, so it only makes sense for us to nurture these in theirs.
We are fortunate to attend a church that partners with us in this endeavor. Each Sunday, a group of volunteers runs a program for children and young adults with special needs. Lessons are adapted to cognitive abilities, music and videos inspire dancing and singing and the love poured upon each child by their individual “buddies” produces an inner peace that is not easily understood.
My wife and I also benefit by being able to attend to our spiritual needs and sustenance without distraction or concern. It is an hour of freedom we both desperately need! Life with our gang is rewarding but it does take a toll. The time we get to spend in church reflecting on God’s love and help is often the very thing that gets us through our week (Seven days without God does make one weak!)
Recently, hospitalization and other life events have kept us from our Sunday ritual; this didn’t go unnoticed by the leader of the special needs ministry. Instead of judging our absenteeism, she looked for a way to meet us right in our place of need. Last Sunday, she and two volunteers took the 30 minute trip to our home and brought Sunday School into our living room – it was a Palm Sunday Spectacular!
Here are some pictures:
Additionally, Sunday dinner with all the fixings including the creative and delightful dessert below was provided. The restoration of mind, body and soul by these wonderful people led me to reflect on their reason for serving us.
It’s found in Jesus’ final direction to his disciples during his last meal with them:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:34, 35
Wow! People knowing Jesus not by what He hated, what He’d never do or where He’d never be found but instead, He is seen when lived in the actions of others — like those of our dear friends ministering to our children. As Easter approaches, it is easy for this dad to claim – Jesus certainly does live!