Over 15% of children in the United States live with special needs. These amazing children are in our schools, families, neighborhoods, and churches. We can grow in our understanding about their unique needs and learn how to love them well.
One of our very own ministry wives, Susie Melnick, has a wonderful daughter with special needs. Susie shares with us this week about how her and husband, Mike, have journeyed with their daughter and how the church can better serve those in similar situations. Thank you, Susie, for sharing with us.
An Unexpected Journey ~ Raising a church and child with special needs.
Written by Susie Melnick
Brooklyn was 9 months old when we got the long-awaited call from the geneticist. I remember the day so clearly, because it was also my oldest daughter’s very first day of kindergarten. Life is like that, isn’t it? Layered with joy, wonder, new experiences, disappointment, and loss – all in one breath. On that day as we celebrated with our 5-year-old and her new accomplishments, we also mourned as we discovered our third and youngest little girl would be forever impacted by a disease that, up until that moment, we had never heard of.
HOW DO YOU COPE IN MINISTRY WHILE RAISING A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?
We don’t claim to be experts, but here are a few things my husband and I have learned over the past ten years.
way to do that! Brooklyn is non-verbal, so we encourage lots of high fives. Sometimes she returns them and sometimes she doesn’t, but it gives our church a way to interact with her in a meaningful way.
Over the years, Brooklyn has attended church:
For us personally, in this season, Brooklyns’ needs are too challenging for a volunteer to handle. So, she either stays home with a paid caregiver, or comes to church with her caregiver. Brooklyn is 100% my ministry and my life during the week. For the few hours we are at church, these creative options allow us to focus on the task at hand. This might not be the case for you but be free to find creative solutions for the season you are in with your family and church. Remember your family is important, AND your church is important. I believe God will give you the wisdom to balance both, if that’s what you are called to!
If you need a listening ear and don’t know who to turn to, I will return every text, phone call, or email I receive at firstname.lastname@example.org, 765-430-6095. You are not alone!