Monday, December 13, 2010

All You Need is Love

I've always had a soft spot for children.

I knew I wanted to be an elementary school teacher by the time I was 8 years old.

Of course, at that young age, I thought more about how fun it would be to decorate cute bulletin boards and grade papers with that lovely red pencil than actually teaching but I knew I wanted to be in the classroom.

Even as an adult, I still find it easier to speak in front of a group of children rather than grown-ups.

But there has always been a special place in my heart for the underdog.  The forgotten.  The left-out girl. The made fun of boy.

During my high school years, it bothered me that there were people coming to school everyday who hated to be there.  People who knew that each day was going to be a day of ridicule, loneliness, and hostility.

And while I could've done more, I did try to reach out, call them by name, say hello, and smile.  I spoke up when someone was being teased by others.  I did not want to be someone who contributed to the ugliness.

I've tried my best to teach my girls compassion for others.  And nothing makes me prouder than when they choose to love someone who is hard to love.

Having Lily Bird in the family has made all of us much more aware of an enormous population that goes largely unnoticed.

The special needs population.

It's embarrassing to admit, but until Lily joined us, I never really gave much thought as to how special needs families get through the day.  Or how they get to church.

In fact, most of them simply don't go to church.

Some have been told by church staff that they're not equipped to handle their child.

Some end up sitting in the foyer because their child is too loud for the service so they miss out on the sermon and fellowship.

Some don't feel like church is a safe place for them.

Our church started a special needs ministry for children almost two years ago.

We provide Sunday morning "buddies" for each special needs child.  We have a monthly special needs parent support group.  And we have occasional respite nights where mom and dad can go do something fun while the kiddos have a blast doing special activities just for them.

While this is a fairly new addition, one thing our church has had for almost forever is something called The Friends Class.  This is a weekly gathering of special needs adults; a Sunday School class geared just for them.

So it's never been unusual to see adults with special needs walking around the campus and interacting with others.  It's something I've always loved about our church.

But remember, I'm the one who's more comfortable around the little kids, right?

So of course, there's one sweet special needs lady (whose name I'll omit) who always seems to find me.

And I'm always bothered by the fact that I can't seem to have a conversation with her.

I try and some attempts are more successful than others but many times, she simply talks "at" me, I respond with some nods and comments, then she walks off and I'm left feeling frustrated and with a longing to understand her.

But yesterday went a little differently.

I was visiting in the Missions Center of our church when she approached me.  I smiled at her and tried to follow the conversation, wishing I could do more.

Then it happened.

She laid her head on my shoulder and let me hug her.

And let me tell you... the world stopped for just a moment.  In that one sweet moment, our hearts connected and I melted.

She broke contact and quickly walked away without another word.  More than likely, she didn't think more about it.

But I did.

My whole day was better because of that one hug.

And you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be looking for her next Sunday, hoping for another one.

What Do You Eat in a GFCF House???

Overnight Oatmeal

Rice Vegetable Twists Pasta


*especially delicious item

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