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20 Years Later…Red Wings Rocked The Joe

My husband just showed me a Facebook video (I’m Not on Facebook!) post of the amazing Detroit Red Wings vs Colorado Avalanche fight from March of 1997 at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.  What awesome hockey back in the day.  We still miss those Red Wings champions (and the ability to watch them on regular broadcast TV)…Here’s a version of that fight as posted on YouTube.com.  Enjoy!

Our oldest son just stopped by and mentioned that this fight gets posted to Facebook pretty regularly so apparently a lot of people enjoy reminiscing about that brawl…

We also found a great write up about this momentous event here, it’s worth the time:

http://www.freep.com/story/sports/nhl/red-wings/2017/03/23/red-wings-avalanche-fights/99495676/

I ended up reading the above Detroit Free Press article aloud to my husband and during the reading our son, Josiah, & his Respite Worker came home & started listening in too.  Ultimately the Freep recounting of events sparked an interesting conversation amongst the guys about Detroit Sports and some of the many changes (mostly not for the better) in the modern era.  It’s great to see my Autistic Spectrum son participate in a lively interaction with other guys in a domain so many love!

Josiah had found a documentary on Netflix about the Detroit Pistons in the Bad Boy era and some of the clips in that “flick” basically amazed our kids…and not just because of the pretty outrageous outfits!  Netflix can be such an eye opener when it allows glimpses into a past where masculinity was allowed freer & fuller expression in our society.  Sports have become “safer” now in many respects, at least perhaps physically…but certainly not “safe” in terms of the ability of people to communicate freely about their viewpoints without sometimes extreme consequences.

Some commentators that I enjoy reading &/or listening to refer to the “Arena of Ideas” in regards to social/political thought & commentary and how it used to be understood that it could be a knockdown, drag out, free for all.  Doing genealogical/historical research in old newspapers can be a real eye opener when you see how the Left/Right divide was clearly on display and openly advocated for by a particular “rag”; now virtually only the left side is on display, but presented as middle of the road…but I digress. Seeing that historical brawl in the hockey “arena” gives us a tangible representation of what a free-for-all of Ideas in the Arena could/should look like.  Have an opinion, take a stand, take on all comers, protect your teammates, defend your honor, don’t go down without swinging, don’t deliver nor tolerate the cheap shots, respect your opponents while doing your best to defeat them, never give up, never surrender (in Churchill’s voice, of course), when knocked down get back up again, stay in the game, go the distance…

There are several scriptures that speak to this process as well, at least for me:

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Excerpt from BibleGateway.com

Of course, this presumes that you are doing things that the Lord would approve…

Proverbs 24:11 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

— 24 — 11 If you see someone on their way to death or in danger of being killed, you must do something to save them. 12 You cannot say, “It’s none of my business.” The Lord knows everything, and he knows why you do things. He watches you, and he will pay you back for what you do.

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International; Excerpt from BibleGateway.com

I believe this passage is one that supports the Right to Life position of protecting all innocent human life during the entire lifespan…

 

Ephesians 4:26 New International Version (NIV)

26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

Footnotes:

  1. Ephesians 4:26 Psalm 4:4 (see Septuagint)

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Excerpt from BibleGateway.com

I reference this particular passage periodically with others in relation to the fact that anger in and of itself isn’t wrong…otherwise Christ himself, the only sinless human, would not have displayed it.  Where we get into trouble is in what we Do with our anger.  Having “Righteous Anger” is not an oxymoron!  However, we all need the Lord’s wisdom to act upon such anger in a manner that is pleasing to Him, and productive to the situation.

Ephesians 6:12 King James Version (KJV)

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

King James Version (KJV)Public Domain

Excerpt from BibleGateway.com

This scriptural passage reminds us that the true battle is a spiritual one.  It is Always Light vs Darkness, Good vs Evil.  We, as believers, need to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, follow His lead, His Will, and… 

James 4:6-8 New International Version (NIV)

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”[a]

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Footnotes:

  1. James 4:6 Prov. 3:34

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.  Excerpt from BibleGateway.com

Submission to the Lord is the key here.  We need to be surrendered to Him.  At that point those battles we face should be handled in obedience to His Will.  It means that we conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to Him, even as we enter the fray.

Well, it wasn’t my intention to go off on that battle tangent, but I guess in my heart I’m some type of Warrior.  It ties into the many battles engaged in the Special Needs domains while attempting to champion my son’s rights & needs.  God equips us to do what we must, sometimes only giving us that fortitude once we are in that arena and there is no turning back.  I guess that Bloody Battle at the Joe was more of a meaningful metaphor than I’d realized when posting this message…hmm.

 

May the Lord Bless & Equip YOU for the battles you face as you seek His Face, surrender to His Will, and submit yourself to His guidance & presence in your life!

Your Fellow Warrior in the Kingdom,

Valerie

Here’s a final thought…be inspired by what the Lord can do in and through you…and be encouraged by the music & message here!

 

War in the Heavenlies

Uploaded on Aug 16, 2011

WORSHIP LEADER: RON KENOLY

ALBUM: JESUS IS ALIVE

HMD036

Lyrics:

Making war
In the heavenlies
Tearing down principalities
Standing firm
In Jesus’ victory
Making war
In the heavenlies
Casting down
Every high thing
That exalts
Itself against
The knowledge
Of Christ
(Repeat)

We do not
Bow our knee
To the prince
Of the air
For we know
The truth
Has set us free
And under our feet
He will shortly
Be crushed
And having done all
We’ll stand
In victory

(Repeat Chorus)

Our hearts
Are set apart
For the courts
Of the Lord
And we will not be
Bought or sold (Valerie ammended this line only slightly)
By His Spirit
In us
We will overcome
Pulling down
Every stronghold

(Repeat Chorus)

That exalts
Itself against
The knowledge
Of Christ
That exalts
Itself against
The knowledge
Of Christ!

 

  • License

    • Standard YouTube License
  • Music

    • “Making War In the Heavenlies” by Ron Kenoly

Both the video clip and the lyrics above are copied from YouTube.com

My special son, Josiah, will often blast the above song on his CD player and it reverberates throughout the house and our souls, encouraging us all to not give up, even in the midst of the fray…Josiah is an amazing warrior in the Kingdom of God!

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Rocking Detroit for Jesus!

My husband’s band, Harken, has a couple of music videos posted on YouTube, but they were hard to find via the search engine so I’m posting them below for easy access.  Both videos were recorded at the same event, Hosanna Palooza, an outdoor Christian music and craft festival that apparently occurs the same day as the Telegraph Dream Cruise (we ate at a restaurant after the concert along the Cruise route & had awesome views of some of the Motor City’s great Classic Cars that evening…what a treat!)

image from this page: http://jobbiecrew.com/6th-annual-tele-car-cruise/

The day this concert happened temps got up over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the guys were at the music festival for several hours before playing.  It was truly by God’s grace that none of us suffered any heat exhaustion.  This was a special day for our family for it was the first time All of our kids were able to see their dad’s band play with their new lead singer.  This was such a God honoring event and a privilege to participate as a support to our family’s version of a “Motor City Mad Man”–my husband, Michael, the bass player.

He is an amazing man who has lived a life of sacrificial love before our family, friends, and colleagues.  God has gifted him in so many ways yet he remains humble, joyful, and playful as he lives out his faith daily in the crucible that Special Needs Parenting (& Marriage) can be.  Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with a Godly man to love, laugh with, and live this crazy, amazing life alongside!  “A three-strand cord is not easily broken”– that would be a husband, wife, & the Lord in the center of their marriage!

VOICE  Ecclesiastes 4:12
And if one person is vulnerable to attack, two can drive the attacker away. As the saying goes, “A rope made of three strands is not quickly broken.” Biblegateway.com

Image result for enjoy life scripture ecclesiastes 9:9

(the above image comes from a Google Images search for “Ecclesiastes 9:9)

 

 

The info is from the given youtube pages–note the chorus for “Your Will” is taken directly from scripture, a personal favorite aspect of many Christian songs of impact!

Psalm 40:8

New International Version (NIV)

I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

from BibleGateway.com

Published on Jul 24, 2016

Our original song Your Will recorded at Hosanna Palooza on July 23, 2016 in Redford, Michigan.

Published on Jul 23, 2016

Our original song Dose Of The Ghost recorded at Hosanna Palooza, July 23, 2016 in Redford, Michigan.

Finally, here is a link to their ReverbNation page with more band info, & audio for 6 songs.

Harken rocks Hosanna Palooza, July 23, 2016

this picture is from the band’s Facebook page here:

As an extra treat, here is the “tribute page” of his previous band, Binding Faith where their whole CD can be heard and there is video footage of another outdoor Michigan festival where this band was blessed to play, filmed by their drummer’s son…

“Chaoticness!”

Harken Bass Player, Michael Curren, at Rocktoberfest 2013

from the band’s Facebook page here:

Michael Curren & Valerie Stoddard engaged, Christmas 1991…What a Gift!

Photo from my husband’s Facebook page, our informal engagement pic from December 1991…“it’s not the years, it’s the mileage,” Indiana Jones.  Here’s what Michael said there on Facebook about this picture, approaching our 20th Anniversary:

I love her twice as much as the day I met her, and I would do it all again. Bring on the next 20 years!

 

Curren family at Skyline Cafe, U of M Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan, November 2014              (left to right) Nathaniel, Brandon, Clarissa, Michael, Valerie, & Josiah

Our family 2 years ago at the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital, “Skyline Cafe”, following a day of genetic testing to attempt to pinpoint diagnoses our special son, Josiah (foreground, right) might have…usually just J & I do the hospital runs…

Well, there’s lots of personal info in this posting so I’m going to be checking back here to review pictures & sounds whenever I might need just this kind of a pick-me-up.

Blessings to All,

Valerie

Steampunk-esque Music Video Discovery

So I’m not exactly fluent in the current or even relatively recent American music culture.  In fact, given my husband’s decade of Rocking for Jesus in several classic rock style Christian Rock Bands, this song & video never crossed paths with my personal interest trajectory.  It made it onto another writer’s top songs list–check the original post here:

https://pjmedia.com/davidsteinberg/seven-songs-that-make-you-see-g-d/?singlepage=true

–and I can neither confirm or deny his perspective, picks, or persuasion that those musical offerings could lead someone closer to God.  I will, however, acknowledge that this particular music video represents a fun, fantastical, retro-futuristic journey and gives a creative Steampunk spin to its tale-telling!

 

Christianity & Judaism–“One in the Olive Tree!”

I recently read a provocative posting about the conversion of a well known atheistic Jew to Christianity…a criticism of the book bearing the testimony of this faith discovery written by a learned Rabbi, who periodically writes for PJMedia.com.  Within the the lively and unfortunately contentious comments section was the below gem…worth further pondering, in my opinion…

I believe this is an historical symbol used by Jewish believers in Jesus…image is from:

http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/29231/Default.aspx

This person’s analysis and perspective on the early genesis (excuse the pun!) of Christianity is well thought out and respectfully presented.  I do not have direct personal knowledge of many of the “facts” presented here but I share this person’s writings so that further dialogue, research, and introspection could follow on from this.

As such, to briefly state my current perspective on this topic, I think the very best version of a faith heritage would (likely) be someone who was raised in the traditional Jewish faith and later on came to the “completed” knowledge of Jesus and their personal Lord. Savior, AND Messiah!  I guess even better would be to be raised in a Messianic Jewish household replete with the beauty of the Historical Traditions of Judaism and the fullness of the knowledge of the completeness of the work of the Cross by our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  It is truly an extreme historical irony that the early leaders of “The Way”–which later became known as Christianity–argued amongst themselves as to whether or not one had to first become a Jew before becoming a Christian…as in being a Christian (in their minds) actually required someone to be a Jew first.  Now the opposite distortion seems to be in play, in order to accept that Jesus is the (Jewish) Messiah you cannot be a Jew, for such a belief negates your very Jewishness–Wow!

In my personal history there is a loose degree of connection to this topic, at least from a theoretical perspective; my own mother was adopted as an infant and the desire to learn about that unknown heritage was (and continues to be) a key motivating factor in my initial interest in Genealogy (before this pastime’s unique additive tendencies took over!).  It is still my hope that eventually my genealogical endeavors will unearth factual Jewish blood in my background (among many other as yet uncovered inherited enhancements of genetic/cultural/historical/racial/geographical etc facets)…even if I never am blessed with that overt cultural biological heritage.  I am so thankful to have been “grafted” into the vine and to be a child of Abraham, by virtue of Faith, if not also by flesh…

I have on several occasions enjoyed teachings by Messianic Rabbis both on the radio and in person.  The richness of the cultural heritage of the Jews is something many of us raised in the Gentile Christian faith cannot really come close to fathoming.  I’ve even said on a number of occasions that it would be amazing for someone as a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) to be able to be fully immersed in some aspects of Jewish cultural tradition, like Hebrew school.  Having attended a Seder (Passover) event hosted by Messianic Jews I found the experience incredibly faith enriching…especially as the host was unashamed to draw our attention to the clear parallels/foreshadowing of traditional Christian beliefs hidden within so many aspects of this treasured historical and traditional observance.

In an ideal world All believers in the One True God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob as well as Moses, David, Solomon, Job, and the Biblical Prophets would recognize the Way, the Truth, and the Life that is available for ALL in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

So enjoy the comment below…and feel free to check out the original article (at the link below) too…The comment was copied in its entirety with no editing on my part…and please if anyone chooses to comment here on this posting be considerate of others in how your phrase things since this is an obviously complex & controversial topic…

https://pjmedia.com/faith/2016/09/21/andrew-klavans-great-good-thing/?singlepage=true

Rabbi Zarmi,

Respectfully, one ought not say that “Christianity is based upon the three synoptic gospels.” That is very much like saying that “Judaism is based upon Leviticus.”

Christianity is based upon the teaching given by Jesus to those “apostles” upon whom Jesus conferred authority, divine assistance, and an explicit mission, to:

1. spread his teaching; and,
2. welcome persons of every nation and tribe into his “kingdom”

To “The Twelve” (with a companion named Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot who betrayed him after the latter died), Jesus promised divine assistance, such that “what [they] bound on earth was bound in heaven, and what they loosed on earth was loosed in heaven.”

He also gave them a liturgical act to be performed as a kind of Temple service parallel to that of priests serving in the Temple. The early Jewish Christians called it the todah or Thanksgiving Offering; the later Greek Christians translated this as “Eucharist.” This act was, all at once, supposed to be Jesus’ reworking of the pascha and a todah and even the korbanot ofYom Kippur and Sukkot, remodeled into a single sacrifice in which the death of Jesus himself was to be endlessly re-encountered through the ages “in an unbloody way.”

In creating this liturgical act, Jesus washed the feet of Simon Peter and the others that they might “have a share in [him],” after the fashion of the Levites whose “share” is G_d. And Jesus commanded them to do this sacrifice “in remembrance” (Gk: anamnesis; Hb: azkarah/zikkaron). In this way Jesus intended to culminate all the sacrificial life of Israel in himself, and to make it the center of the life of the Messianic Kingdom.

Furthermore, although Jesus claimed that he came for “the lost sheep of Israel” (not, mind you, merely Judah; but all Israel), he then told his authorized teachers (the Twelve and the Seventy Two) that he had made them judges in his expanding “tribe of G_d” and royal stewards for his “kingdom of G_d” and told them: “Go into all the world making disciples of all the nations, teaching them whatever I have commanded you, and baptizing them” — the latter being his selected “adoption rite” for entering the covenant people of G_d, parallel to circumcision for the Jew.

Now, none of that involved writing anything down.

Christians call the body of teaching which Jesus gave to those whom he sent out (“apostles”) the “Apostolic Deposit of Faith.”

The 27 books which early Christians called “the memoirs of the apostles” and modern Christians call “the New Testament” are, for Christians, writings which bear witness to the life of Jesus and the initial giving of the Apostolic Deposit of Faith.

I apologize for the length of this (I’m almost done!).

I offer you this clarifying information, Rabbi Zarmi, because I think you and I have corresponded previously here in the comboxes on PJmedia, and I remember you as someone willing to make an effort to not mis-characterize things.

For Christians, Christianity is the Apostolic Deposit of Faith. When Christians divide amongst themselves and disagree on religious matters it is because one group is asking, “Is Doctrine XYZ really part of the deposit of faith?” and another is saying, “Yes” and then the two are disagreeing about who, if anyone, has authority to say that it is or isn’t.

Serious, “orthodox” Christians all hold that Paul of Tarsus and Matthew and Luke and John and James and Peter were allteaching exactly the same deposit, whether by spoken witness or in writing. But all their writings differ in flavor because they were written…
(a.) by different persons,
(b.) in different genres,
(c.) for different audiences,
(d.) to address different needs and topics.

Therefore, it would be an error to (for example) hold that John’s gospel was teaching a different thing from those of Matthew, Mark or Luke; or that Paul’s writings teach a different thing from the gospels; or that the letter of James represented some kind of contrary teaching to Paul.

And consequently one can’t really say Christianity is “based on” a subset of these books, or even all of them together. For the Christian, those books are “based on” the person of Jesus and the teaching he wanted transmitted.

I think the dialogue between Rabbi Jacob Neusner and the Catholic Josef Ratzinger who became Pope (now Pope Emeritus) Benedict XVI is the most instructive on this topic.

See: http://chiesa.espresso.repubbl…

Hopefully I”ll be able to locate the lyrics and music to a very appropriate song…

Jew and Gentile
by Joel Chernoff

Album: The Restoration of Israel
by Joel Chernoff


Jew and Gentile, one in Messiah,
One in Yeshua, one in the olive tree.
Jew and Gentile, one in Messiah,
One in Yeshua’s love.

Help us Father, to love one another,
With humble hearts, Forgiving each other,
Heal our wounds, bind us together,
So the world might believe.

One in Yeshua’s love,
One in Yeshua’s love,
One in Yeshua’s love,
Sing it all together.

These lyrics are from this site (we have this song on a CD “The Road to Jerusalem”):

http://www.invubu.com/music/show/song/Joel-Chernoff/Jew-and-Gentile.html

and this should lead to the music on youtube, hopefully…Enjoy!

Special Needs & Church

I just read the post at the below site about the challenges one family faced surrounding church attendance…that seemed to be generated, in particular, by one church staff person being inflexible and unaccepting of their child’s unique quirkiness…

http://supportforspecialneeds.com/2016/02/10/when-church-special-needs-do-no-mix/  “…we were so tired of fighting for the kids that our hearts weren’t in it to fight for this place; a place we should feel welcome no matter what. It’s exhausting fighting educationally, medically, mentally and socially and top that …We just couldn’t fight to stay in church. It shouldn’t have been, nor should it be that hard. As their parent, I take full responsibility for giving up that fight. I just couldn’t do it.”

I agree with the exhaustion statement above .  Families facing complex special needs scenarios can be overwhelmed and even burned out because of the day-in and day-out battles they face on multiple fronts.  Church should (theoretically) be a place where we can go and be accepted “warts and all” and where our children can be especially embraced in spite of, or even because of, their differences.

But, oftentimes church can be a battleground.  There are a couple of posts at SpecialNeedsParenting.net that outline a pretty ideal scenario of love and acceptance of a very unique autistic young man in a church.  Please see this story at these two links:  http://specialneedsparenting.net/autism-church/  http://specialneedsparenting.net/autism-church-its-a-good-thing-part-ii/

Our family’s experience has been a bit more uneven than this.  When our son with special needs was born we lived in Northern Michigan, about 3 1/2 hours North of the birth hospital.  At that time I was staying with my parents in Metro Detroit with our just 2 year old son after having seen a high risk pregnancy doctor and being told of my twin pregnancy “we’ve got to get the little guy out before he dies” on a Friday, and being scheduled for a premature delivery on the Monday following.  Both twins were needing to stay in the NICU before coming home.  The basically “normal” baby (Brandon) came “home” (to my parents’ home) after 10 days in the NICU, but Josiah remained there for about 2 months before being transferred to the University of Michigan Hospital for Open Heart surgery.

My husband and I had been quite involved in our Northern Michigan church before becoming parents.  We had been the youth leaders/pastors for a period of time and also both very active in the worship ministry.  When it became known that Josiah would be having heart surgery both pastors traveled South to visit with him (and me) in his birth hospital.  It was a fairly awkward visit as the senior pastor was visibly uncomfortable in the presence of this very small (about 4 pounds then, having been 2# 6oz at birth, a condition called IUGR–Intra-Uterine Growth Retardation, very small for gestational age) and sickly premature infant.  They did ask how they could help our family and offered to stay with us at U of M during Josiah’s upcoming heart surgery, but I did not feel “safe” in their presence so declined this “service”.  I suggested that they could have some families in the church either provide meals for my husband, or invite him over for a meal as he was living alone (in order to work) and coming downstate to be with his family each weekend.  This resulted in one dinner invitation for my husband during that extended time of extreme stress and isolation.

Years later we ended up discussing that early time and how uncomfortable we were with how the senior pastor, in particular, handled us and our situation.  There was something about things that never really sat right, though it was hard to pinpoint.  Our friends had also been attending our church during that time and were quite close with my husband in particular (he and our oldest son had both participated in their wedding).  They provided some needed perspective about how our “heart surgery baby” was being handled by our then pastor at that time.  According to them he would brag about the small sick baby from his congregation, kind of like a feather in his cap about how he/the church were doing so much to “meet our needs”.  Apart from that hospital visit (which was a significant drive and Not requested by us) and that one meal for my husband there was nothing done for us by our church…including during multiple surgeries and intensive home interventions from government program workers for about the next two years before we left the area.  I forgot, the Senior Pastor did visit me and the boys in our home at one point, I’m not sure when, and asked what I needed.  When I said that I could really use a friend he exclaimed (in seeming outrage) “I can’t get you friends!”, which wasn’t what I was actually saying.  Needless to say, talking to pastors about “issues” has never been very high on my priority list (and perhaps I’m too picky in this arena given my background in Christian Counseling)…

In the early days after the twins’ birth, when we were finally all back in our own home I heard a very moving story on the local Christian Radio Station.  There was a family that had given birth to a very medically fragile child and they had been surrounded by love and support from their natural and local church family.  This involvement rose to the level of round the clock shifts to provide extra assistance during the early weeks, and perhaps even months, of intensive neediness.  What was portrayed seemed so ideal and so far apart from our own experience that I was very saddened at that time by how unsupported we ended up feeling from our local church family (our natural family being hundreds of miles away and helping us with housing/babysitting during medically based visits).

Because of our son’s complex medical needs, which were all being treated and followed at U of M, a good 3 hours South of our then home, we began to explore the possibility of moving closer to this needed ongoing medical care.  Ultimately my husband went through a job change that allowed him to work downstate and live in my parents’ home for about a year, commuting to our home for the weekends, while I stayed North with our three sons so that we could sell our home ourselves (For Sale By Owner).  The boys and I would head South with their dad for any weeks where Josiah had medical appointments and return home the following weekend.  This situation was extremely stressful for all involved and for the most part we had no support from our local church.  I lived in extreme isolation during the weekdays, rarely leaving the house because of Josiah’s fragility and risk of infection, etc.  In fact I was shocked to find out that the woman I considered my closest friend from that church had been attending a weekly bible study a few houses from my own, but she had never stopped in to see me or the kids nor to check on why we attended church so sporadically, if at all.  That lack of attendance was due to the fact that Josiah contracted life-threatening RSV (Respiratory Synsichial Virus) and required lengthy hospitalizations for it twice in the first year of life–basically taking him out in public was risking his life.

When we finally accomplished moving the entire family downstate and got situated in our “new” home, we began searching for another church home.  As the twins were now toddlers (2), our oldest son 4, and our daughter an infant this was an extremely challenging process.  If we found a church that had sufficient nursery capacity they rarely, if ever, were able to handle the magnitude of Josiah’s behavioral or emotional needs for the duration of a worship service and either I or my husband would need to intervene with him, sometimes multiple times in one service (this was before we knew about “autism”, but even after such a diagnosis we had minimal autism treatment so it was more just an “ah ha” explanation for us about what was going on with him).  This really meant very sporadic church attendance overall as it was very difficult to “get anything” out of a service being so distracted by Josiah’s needs.  The magnitude of those needs was also a major reason why we sought the support and sustenance of a local church “family”, as a way to cope with the massive pressures of the special needs family’s life.

It was a number of years before we began attending our present church and we ultimately went there because it had a bit of a “comfortable old shoe” component to its ambiance for us.  During Clarissa’s infancy I had attended a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) program at that particular church and felt that it had a pretty welcoming atmosphere.  Because of that positive MOPS experience, and because the church was pretty local and seemed relatively welcoming we eventually began attending more and more frequently.

Since our children were then mostly in their elementary years we were no longer battling the nursery situation.  Also, this church has a fairly limited “Sunday School” type programming, so we often just kept Josiah with us during the service in order to minimize some of the upheaval.  Josiah has always had a true worshiper’s heart for the Lord!  This means that either in church or during times of spiritual meaningfulness (family devotions and/or communion, etc.) he was more attentive and/or more behaviorally appropriate than he might otherwise typically have been.  That meant that at least sometimes he was appropriate to attend the kid’s programming, and having him included in some musical kids productions was a definite blessing.

Even though our current church home is relatively “special” friendly there are still glaring times of insensitivity that can be on display.  A couple years back our daughter was nearly moved to tears while at a youth event when she observed how her special brother was not at all appropriately included in a physical activity.  His processing challenges and  poor coordination meant that he was rather bowled over and disregarded during a sporting event.  Clarissa was very sad that the attending leaders were either unaware or unconcerned about how Josiah (and his sister) was being hurt by not being appropriately accommodated.  It would be great if either of them would have been assertive enough to speak up and seek help during such difficult experiences, but that is unlikely to happen.  That means that people in leadership need to develop increased observational skills and sensitivity and perhaps creativity in how they reach out to people and families that are “different” and who may need extra help, patience, or understanding…

Being able to reach out and embrace kids/adults with special needs and their families really should become a primary mission of virtually any local church.  The uniqueness of the needs represented would mean that staff and parishioners would need to be especially sensitive to where a given family was in multiple domains.  There could be great opportunities to reach out in service to such families who often face more than their “fair share” of crises and upheavals.  Having a ministry targeting special needs families could mean a much more vibrant style of community outreach and Christian witness.  The love and compassion, gentleness and patience, joy and peace, kindness and self-control that Should accompany the Christian life would be the ideal characteristics for people reaching out to special families to possess.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Lord would lay such a burden on the hearts of so many in ministry?

Until such a time as that ideal scenario presents itself, those of us who know the Lord need to allow Him to move in and through us in developing eyes, ears, and hearts of compassion toward one another…and especially to people and families that are often broken and hurting.  And if you come from a special needs family it is almost certain that you bear burdens and wounds and need the love and tender mercy of the Lord poured out into your life.  The author referenced at the beginning of this post took a long hiatus from church and didn’t really raise her kids much in the faith.  Although she herself is attempting a return to church now, it is unclear what spiritual relationship her kids have–and those losses are at least partially attributable to an incredibly insensitive church leader who by her demeanor may have inflicted permanent damage on a vulnerable family…How Tragic!

May the Lord give His wisdom to His people that they/we as individuals and as local church bodies may open their/our eyes to the many needs around them/us represented by special needs families.  May they/we choose to see and to give of themselves/ourselves in time, prayer, emotional support, or tangible means of assistance and so reach out to so many of the vulnerable, lonely, hurting, and fragile within our communities.  Consider the Randy Stonehill song () below which beautifully portrays the need for each of us to be Christ’s hands and feet to a hurting world…Blessings to All, Valerie

RANDY STONEHILL
Who Will Save The Children Lyrics

Cry for all the innocent ones
Born into a world that’s lost its heart
For those who never learn to dream
Because their hope is crushed before it can start
And we shake our fists at the air
And say “If God is love, how can this be fair?”

But we are his hands, we are his voice
We are the ones who must make the choice
And if it isn’t now, tell me when?
If it isn’t you, then tell me who
Will save the children?
Who will save the children?

We count our blessings one by one
Yet we have forgotten how to give
It seems that we don’t want to face
All the hungry and homeless who struggle to live
But heaven is watching tonight
Tugging at our hearts to do what’s right

And we are his hands, we are his voice
We are the ones who must make the choice
And if it isn’t now, tell me when?
If it isn’t you, then tell me who
Will save the children?
Who will save the children?

As we observe then through our T.V. screens
They seem so distant and unreal
But they bleed like we bleed
And they feel what we feel

Oh, save the children
Save the children
Save the children

Now we decide that nothing can change
And throw up our hands in numb despair
And we lose a piece of our souls
By teaching ourselves just how not to care
But Christ would have gone to the cross
Just to save one child from being lost

And we are his hands, we are his voice
We are the ones who must make the choice
And it must be now
There’s no time to waste
it must be you
No one can take your place
Can’t you see that only we
Can save the children
Save the children
Save the children
Please, save the children
Will save the children?
Who will save the children?

Lyrics taken from:   http://www.elyrics.net/read/r/randy-stonehill-lyrics/who-will-save-the-children-lyrics.html