Tag Archives: special needs families

Pray With Me, Please

praying-hands-by-unsplash-com

Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness. (Psalm 143:1 NRS)

Yesterday my son started an internship.  A recent graduate in a slow job market, we were all very excited when he got a ten-week opportunity for a job in his major. Knowing well Houston pre-dawn gridlock, I suggested he leave a bit before 6am.  I pulled on my running shoes at 5:45 planning to have a few moments together before he left.

I found my husband alone in the kitchen reading the paper, “Where’s Craig?”

“He left a while ago.”

My heart sank. “He left?!”

“He woke up early and wanted to get a jump on the traffic. What’s wrong?”

“It’s okay. I just wanted to pray with him before his first day.”

Disappointed, I headed out for five miles. Well, I could pray FOR him even if I couldn’t pray WITH him.  While dodging bats hunting mosquitos by streetlight I prayed about his commute, about his first day nerves, about his co-workers. As a bat swooped a bit close for my liking I also prayed about the various critters he would encounter on his day of environmental field work. I prayed for him throughout the miles, but somehow it just wasn’t the same as praying with him.

We’d had a tradition back in elementary school and beyond that we would pray together each day as he left for school. Maybe it was about a test, or a busy day, or any of the thousand things important to him. It was just part of the rhythm of the morning. So much so that when I started seminary many years ago he came running down the stairs as I was leaving, “Mom! You can’t leave for school until we pray!”

That connection is the biggest difference between “praying for” and “praying with.” God is faithful and hears our prayers either way. Still, when we pray together it forms us, it weaves into the fabric of our relationships. It’s a blessing to hear aloud the prayers that others offer on our behalf. It shapes our own prayers when we are not even sure what we should be praying for. It reminds us again that we are not alone.

He got home in the late afternoon tired and excited, eager to share with me everything he’d done that day.

“I’m so glad it all went well! I prayed for you today.”

“I know, Mom. I know.”

Faithful God, Our prayers are wishes of our souls that we whisper to you. Help us to teach our children how to nurture that inner voice that longs to be heard by you. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Image Praying Hands courtesy of unsplash.com via Pexels

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Take Ten. Really, It’s Okay!

numbers-time-watch-white

“O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” (Psalm 55:6 NRS)

One of the greatest gifts of back-to-school is that parents have just a bit more time for themselves.  Gone are the long days of summer, which may be pretty empty for families with special needs.  All of that time and creative energy put into filling a child’s day can leave Mom and Dad with little time for themselves.

Yes, we are all still busy this time of year, but everyone can find ten minutes a day for a bit of self-care.  But can ten minutes really make any difference?

Yes!

Ten minutes a day in meditation can improve sleep, increase willpower and reduce anxiety according to health psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal of Stanford University.

Ten minutes a day of exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and reduces stress, per Dr. Timothy Church, director of the Laboratory of Preventative Research.

Ten minutes a day invested in talking with your spouse improves satisfaction with your relationship per American Psychological Association.

Clutter driving you crazy? Setting aside just ten minutes for some quick organization can go a long way in reducing perceived chaos, which in turn can improve mood, sleep and health, per Darby E. Saxbe and Rena Repetti in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Ten minutes engaged in a favorite hobby relieves stress and nurtures creativity, with the added benefit of reduced blood pressure and lower levels of depression, per a study by National Center for Biotechnology Information. Plus another study shows it helps improve problem solving, a skill we all need when dealing with challenges.

What is the power of ten minutes? How about a better marriage, better sleep, less stress, better organization, and improved mental and physical health.

Be intentional and find ten minutes for yourself.  I’d love to hear back what you did and how it helped in the comments.

Restoring God, thank you for the gift of renewal. Even as we care for others, remind us to care for ourselves.

Rev Doc Lorna

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com via Pexels

Be Still? During Back to School?

pier-1209549_1920

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NRS)

Be still.  Familiar words, yes, but oh so difficult to follow.  In our multi-tasking world, being still is challenging enough for grown-ups, let alone children. Stillness may be all but impossible for children on various spectrums. Be still, you say?  Ha!

Seeing my child off for his first day of school, and the many that follow, being still is the last thing on my mind. There is much to do while he is away.  Plus I have all that worrying to do about him making friends, remembering homework, following rules. If I am going to be still it has to be in a very limited window of time.

Be still and know that I am God.

Besides, do I really need to be still in order to know that God is God? I mean, God is still God no matter how hectic things are for me, right? Isn’t it enough to pause and recognize the glory and wonder that is God and then go back to the hectic and the worry?

Maybe I ought to take just a second to read the beginning of the Psalm. Where does the story begin that later ends with being still and knowing that God is God?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1 NRS)

Trouble, you say? We know a thing or two about that. Refuge and strength? Sign me up! But how am I to be still? It feels like I need to be DOING something, anything.

Hebrew is an interesting language.  One word can mean so many things. That familiar command to be still may better translate as “let go,” “slacken” or “abandon.”

Well that changes things just a bit.  What if I trusted God in the midst of turmoil and accepted refuge and strength? What if I let go of the worry? What if allowed that taut muscle in my neck slacken? What if I abandoned the sense that I need to be in control and gave it over to God?

Perhaps I will take a moment be still and think about the different possibilities that exist in a school year like that.

 

God of our refuge and strength. Remind us that we can let go.  Thank you for catching us when we do. Amen

 

Rev Doc Lorna

Photo “Pier” courtesy of unsplash at Pixabay.com

How to Reduce Back-to-School Anxiety

Back to School

When I was a child, back to school came with lots of excitement and the good kind of anticipation. For my son, it was a very different experience.   Early on, we didn’t have anything close to a smooth transition when the school doors flung wide, welcoming all the little people who had become somewhat bigger people over the summer. As the first few years got off to bumpy starts, I found he grew anxious about the start of the school year. I started to worry too. Would my son have a teacher who was a good fit for his needs?  Would he be able to cope with the social strain? Would he handle all the new material he needed to learn? Would he be safe from bullies? Would he make just one friend that year?

Dear God, is it asking too much for the answer to all of those questions to be “yes?”

For both of us, the sense of anxiety about back to school had much to do with the unknown. What happened to the “fun” part of back-to-school that I had known?  I was determined to help him have some happy memories by making what felt unknown become familiar instead.  Here are a few strategies that worked well for my family:

  • Brush up on academic skills. Math skills were always a challenge and hard-won gains eroded quickly over the summer. We found a math tutor who did a two-week intensive, meeting one-on-one an hour a day.
  • Review lists of back to school supplies with your child’s therapists. Check for alternate suggestions that best suit your child’s needs and motor skill abilities. Also, schedule ongoing after school therapy appointments. Therapist’s schedules fill quickly in those coveted afterschool hours. Booking early will help reserve the time slot that best fits the rhythm of your family and minimize disruption.
  • Make a “First Day Plan.” Navigating crowded hallways can be overwhelming to children with sensory issues, especially if he or she already has anxiety about a new routine. Introduce your child to their “go to” people, such as the school nurse, cafeteria monitor, and so forth. We used to arrange a time before school began, apart from the hectic “meet your teacher” night, and find the route to classroom, library, cafeteria, nurse’s office, and restrooms.
  • Avoid unnecessary embarrassment by having a spare change of clothes and underwear tucked away at school, just in case.
  • Help your child connect with other children he or she already knows who will be in the classroom. A familiar face on the first day of school can help alleviate anxiety.
  • Get in the groove ahead of time. Adjust bedtime and waking time to match the back-to-school schedule during the week before school. Experiment with lunch. The first day goes so much better if a picky eater is willing to eat what is packed in their lunchbox. What they ate happily a few months ago may suddenly be less appealing. Try doing a full dress rehearsal of getting ready for the first day and keep it fun rather than rushed.
  • Plan to something simple, but special to your child after the first day. It may take a few weeks to get into a settled routine and that is alright. Celebrate even small victories along the way.
  • Pray for your child each day and give over to God all that is outside of your control.

These are a few ways that my family made back-to-school fun again.  I’d love to hear what works for your family.

Rev Doc Lorna

Photo “Back to School” by Nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Blog republished from 8/12/15

 

 

Twelve Tips for Special Needs and the Long, Long Summer

“Blank Calendar Shows Plan Appointment Schedule Or Event” by Stuart Miles from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter. (Psalms 74:17 NRS)

I told a lie. I didn’t mean to, but it just happened. I suppose I wanted to fit in with the other moms. Peer pressure is a powerful force, even for parents.

I was picking my son up from school toward the end of the year in second grade.  He walked home with me each day.  The school bus was too frustrating. The carpool line was long and caused anxiety as he waited to see my car.  So day after day I sweated in the late afternoon Texas heat with a handful of other moms outside the second grade hallway.

One mom gushed about her upcoming summer. “I can’t wait for school to get out. We’ve got swim team coming up. Then a trip to see grandparents. Then the kids are heading to my sister’s with their cousins so my husband and I can get away. After that we have vacation Bible school and then I’m sending them off to a week of camp for the first time.  We are going to try to fit in a trip to Disney if we can, but our summer is so packed it may have to wait until next year.”

Another piped up, “Same here.  I think we signed up for every single activity at the YMCA. Family is coming for a visit. It’s just crazy-busy all summer long.”

That’s when I lied. “Us too!” The second part wasn’t a lie, “It will be a relief when summer is over.”

All I could think of was the painfully blank calendar of non-existent summer activities.  Play dates? Kind of hard when your child has no friends.  Swim team? Ha! The noise, the chaos, that blaring horn and shrill whistle – not for my son on the autism spectrum. Vacation Bible school? I tried that once and, honestly, there were parents in that program who stopped speaking to me because I dared to enroll my son after the lead pastor encouraged me to do so. No way was I trying that again! The team activities at the YMCA? Those were a real challenge and more frustrating than fun to my son. He could have a full-blown meltdown playing BINGO. Siblings extending invitations to give us respite? Nope. We did have a couple of weeks planned to go visit grandparents, but two weeks out of twelve is a drop in the bucket.

This magical and marvelous summer the other moms described was not my world, though I desperately wished that it could be. So I lied and said, “Us too!” and set about erasing that lie by finding things to fill the days.

Here are a few strategies that worked for me:

  • Support groups. Other parents are likely to have kids in need of friends too. Ours was not the only family staring down the barrel of a long and boring summer.
  • “Special needs friendly” events. These were non-existent back when my son was young, but are becoming more and more popular. Check with local children museums, movie theaters, sports stadiums and performing arts venues.  For example, the Houston Ballet Company recently offered their first autism friendly performance, complete with interaction between performers and children afterwards.
  • Congregations with special needs ministries. Faith communities are much more aware and inclusive in summer camp and vacation Bible school. Find a program that fits your family and talk to the staff ahead of time so that they are prepared with volunteers who match the needs of your child. If budget is tight, volunteer your own time to help defray cost.
  • Summer camp for special needs children. There are more and more opportunities for children with special needs to experience summer camp. Some are child specific and some accommodate the whole family.  These often fill early so research registration dates and mark them on your calendar.
  • Check the calendar at local disability friendly non-profits. For example, in the Houston area, Family to Family Network and Easter Seals offer or have information about a variety activities and respite care. There is also Mikey’s Guide, a local publication to a broad variety of local disability friendly services and events.
  • Keep a routine. For many of our kids, structure is key. Set a routine for meals, errands, play time, family chores. Routine helps remove boredom.
  • Focus on therapy and acquiring new skills. Fitting in therapies during the school year can be a real challenge. Take advantage of available time to focus on areas for growth. Consider finding a tutor for challenging subjects to help keep your child from losing hard-won skills in math and reading.
  • Enjoy a less hectic pace for a while. While we live in a culture that glorifies “busy,” it is okay to step off the merry-go-round and enjoy a pace that is slower than the world around you.
  • Explore the outdoors. Children are inside for hours each day at school. Take advantage of summer as a time to get outside and explore parks, beaches, and walking trails. State and local parks in your area may have summer programs, such as guided trail tours, that suit a child’s interest and focus. If mobility is a challenge consider a tag along trailer for a bike. Check your own yard for bird nests and enjoy watching the new family grow.
  • Check out programs at the local library. Libraries are a treasure trove of child friendly activities and resources. The best part? They are free!
  • Water is wonderful in the summer heat. If the community pool is overwhelming, go at off times. No pool in your area? Create your own backyard water fun with sprinklers or an inexpensive wading pool.
  • Remember self-care. Parenting becomes 24/7 when children are home from school. With high needs children this can be especially tiring to the caregiver. Tag team with your spouse or other adult when you need a break. Schedule a night out as often as you can in order to nurture your most important relationships. Take time to do things you enjoy.

I learned that filling the summer isn’t about keeping up with what everyone else is doing.  Rather, it is about finding the pace and activities that best suits my family and flourishing there.

God of all seasons, Let there be renewal of spirit and foundations for friendships that last for all. May the bounty growing in the fields of summer also grow within the hearts and minds of nurturing communities of acceptance. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

“Blank Calendar Shows Plan Appointment Schedule Or Event” by Stuart Miles from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Put on Some Red Lipstick and Face the World

Candle-flame-and-reflection

Waiting was never my strong suit as a child. Brightly wrapped packages appeared under the Christmas tree sporadically throughout December. I would flop on the floor by the tree each morning. Shaking the packages, I would ask my Mom, “What did Santa bring?” She always replied with a smile, “Time will tell.”

Nothing makes time go more slowly than when you are waiting for something with great anticipation.

December may feel like the season of hurry, but it is meant to be the season of waiting and anticipation. Advent celebrates the time of waiting for the Christ child. Waiting with the keen sense of urgent anticipation like I had as a child, yearning for all of the answers to be revealed.

I thought I had outgrown that keen sense of yearning, but then I became a mother of a child on the autism spectrum. I found a whole different level of yearning for all of the answers to be revealed as I contemplated an unknown future.  I experience that daily with the parents in my support groups. “When will he …?” “How can I help her …?” “What if they…?” We yearn for answers to calm our fears. The unknown is so much more frightening than the known. Just give it a name, please.

How are we meant to wait? We are meant to wait with hope.  The Apostle Paul wrote the Romans, “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:24-25 NRS)

Long with hope and wait with patience. I tell that to my inner child who still eagerly shakes the metaphorical package and asks, “Why can’t you just tell me now?” At times Paul’s advice is easier said than done.

Today as I collected prayer concerns from parents after a group meeting one mom shared an update.  We’d been praying for her son to conquer four words. After many weeks her therapist offered a possible new diagnosis, apraxia. A real kick in the gut. We all shared her tears and felt her sense of anxiety about an unknown future.

Ultimately, it was her Mom who gave the best advice of all long distance from the UK. How can a mother maintain hope and wait with patience? “Put on some red lipstick and go face the world!”

There are days that are tough, days with news that takes our breath away, days for Kleenex after Kleenex. But all of those days can be defeated by hope. One of my favorite hymns that celebrates the birth of Christ praises what God has done, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” There is hope in Christ in all things, in life, and in death, and even in apraxia. And so while I wait, longing with hope, I am digging through my desk drawer looking for that red lipstick.

God of Hope, thank you for the gift of Christ that fills us with hope. Rekindle the true spirit of the season to help us calm that inner voice of fear and anxiety and instead wait with patience for the glorious future you will one day reveal. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Image Candle and Flame Reflection by Richard W.M. Jones (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rhythms of Grace

Rhythms of Grace

When a mom came up to me after worship with tears in her eyes, my first reaction was, “Oh no! What happened?” Far too often I hear stories of worship failures for kids with special needs, but this was different.  We were at Rhythms of Grace, a worship service for families with special needs.  I expected that day to be a big success for everyone and I was not disappointed.

“My son just took Communion for the first time! I never felt I could take him before, but he did it. I’m so proud of him!”

Wow! The tangible presence of God’s grace in the elements of bread and wine with no barriers or road blocks. What a gift!

Celebrating First Communion

Mabel 2 (1)

Rhythms of Grace is an inclusive service that is the shared vision of Lisa Puccio, Coordinator for Special Needs Worship and Rector Jimmy Grace. The two launched the service in November of 2010 at Christ Cathedral Episcopal Church with the vision that it would move among four churches on alternating Sundays. As partner churches left over time, the service was simply held monthly. With a vision for a weekly service in one location, when Rector Jimmy Grace was appointed to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in The Heights in Houston, that vision became a reality. With a strategic mission grant from the archdiocese and enthusiastic support by the local congregation, Lisa made the move to St. Andrew’s as well and the Rhythms of Grace launched weekly on February 1, 2015.

I enjoyed attending on a Sunday afternoon with parents and children from a support group that I lead. Numbers vary from ten up into the forties, with a strong volunteer base to help direct the energy of participants. As worship began with music and story time, one boy got up and pounded on the stair rail. Another felt overwhelmed and moved to the back of the room wearing his ear defenders to reduce sensory input, another got the giggles and scooted in spiraling circles in the middle of the floor among the other worshipers.  No one was bothered by behavior. No one was shushed.  We’d all been there. There was space for all of that energy without sideways glances. How refreshing!

The service flowed from our time gathered in a circle on the floor to a variety of activity stations set up around the room. Painting, coloring, sorting were among several activities that children could choose, selecting activities that matched their strengths and interests.  Each activity tied to the scripture lesson of the day. At the end of the time of exploration we gathered again for music and Communion. Watching Rev. Jimmy Grace go around to each family one by one and offer Communion was a visible reminder that God’s grace is freely given and open to all. We do nothing to earn it, but rather we simply need to accept it.

Rhythms of grace 3

Rhythms of Grace is well-named, matching the worship style to the rhythms of the lives of the participants, all the while celebrating God’s unconditional love for all people. While a few participants are members of St. Andrew’s, this unique style of worship has brought in many people from outside the congregation. It has created an outreach opportunity for what is the most basic of gifts a congregation has to offer, a place to belong while experience God’s unconditional  love in connection with others.

If you would like to learn more about this unique service, visit their website here and get in touch with Lisa Puccio for more information.

Gracious God, thank you for the vision of Lisa and Rev. Grace for offering this unique worship opportunity. Continue to guide their vision for opening the church to families with unique circumstances so that all can be part of a nurturing and supporting community. Thank you for surprising gift of a first Communion that was uniquely times to your rhythm of grace. I pray that all families looking to know you and be part of a faith community find a home as full of blessing as St. Andrew’s. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Review: Every Child Welcome

Philo Weatherbee

Last week I shared with my readers an interview with Jolene Philo, co-author with Katie Wetherbee of the new book Every Child Welcome: A Ministry Handbook for Including Kids with Special Needs. This truly is a wonderful new resource for any children’s ministry team that wants to create an inclusive welcome to families with special needs, while at the same time equipping ministry leaders to be confident in their ability open the doors to all of God’s children.

Like expert guides, Jolene Philo and Katie Wetherbee gently lead the reader along the pathway to creating an inclusive ministry for children. From casting a vision for ministry all the way down to detailed strategies in the classroom, Every Child Welcome sets out a clear and easy to follow process for staff and volunteers alike.  The writing is clear, accessible and engaging with years of expertise in the field apparent on every page.  Any church with a goal to welcome all children and their families will be blessed by the abundance of wisdom contained within the pages.

Set in the metaphor of receiving guests for a dinner party, the authors create a comprehensive plan for welcoming children. Just as any good meal begins with planning and preparation, so too does creating an inclusive children’s ministry. Step by step, staff and volunteers are prepared with thoughtful consideration of how best to receive children by creating welcoming space and activities. With a clear understanding that not every volunteer has a background in special education, nor even in teaching, Philo and Wetherbee provide practical advice that is clear and concise. Their suggestions are both creative and adaptable to a variety of settings. This is a “go to” resource that I imagine children’s ministry teams referring to again and again.

Chapter topics include all parts needed for an inclusive welcome: preparing the space, preparing the children to learn, teaching the Bible, activities to enhance learning, ideas for holidays, and more. In addition to offering multiple strategies in each chapter, there are also suggested resources for children’s ministry teams who want to learn more. Readers can also connect to the author’s blogs for ongoing articles and tips on creating an inclusive ministry.

In other news…

I recently shared the story of Elizabeth who is new to long distance running and training to run the New York City Marathon this November.  I’m happy to let you know training is going well and she has already conquered a 16 mile long-run in the sweltering Houston heat and humidity. She is on target to be ready to cover 26.2 in November.  Also, she has already raised over $7,000 for Achilles International in honor of her children. And, I saved the best for last, her children with a rare genetic mitochondrial disorder are responding well to their new treatment and reaching new devlopmental milestones that used to seem impossible.  You can read more about Elizabeth’s inspiring story here: http://bit.ly/1I5odhg.

Gracious God, thank you for the gift of Jolene and Katie who inspire and equip others to reach out to families with special needs.  Guide ministry leaders to encourage their teams to create ways to include all children who come to be taught by them and to know you. Continue to guide and bless Elizabeth and her whole family on their journey of self-discovery of new abilities being revealed every member of the household. Amen

Blessings,

Rev Doc Lorna

Twelve Tips for Special Needs and the Long, Long Summer

“Blank Calendar Shows Plan Appointment Schedule Or Event” by Stuart Miles from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I told a lie. I didn’t mean to, but it just happened. I suppose I wanted to fit in with the other moms. Peer pressure is a powerful force, even for parents.

I was picking my son up from school toward the end of the year in second grade.  He walked home with me each day.  The school bus was too frustrating. The carpool line was long and caused anxiety as he waited to see my car.  So day after day I sweated in the late afternoon Texas heat with a handful of other moms outside the second grade hallway.

One mom gushed about her upcoming summer. “I can’t wait for school to get out. We’ve got swim team coming up. Then a trip to see grandparents. Then the kids are heading to my sister’s with their cousins so my husband and I can get away. After that we have vacation Bible school and then I’m sending them off to a week of camp for the first time.  We are going to try to fit in a trip to Disney if we can, but our summer is so packed it may have to wait until next year.”

Another piped up, “Same here.  I think we signed up for every single activity at the YMCA. Family is coming for a visit. It’s just crazy-busy all summer long.”

That’s when I lied. “Us too!” The second part wasn’t a lie, “It will be a relief when summer is over.”

All I could think of was the painfully blank calendar of non-existent summer activities.  Play dates? Kind of hard when your child has no friends.  Swim team? Ha! The noise, the chaos, that blaring horn and shrill whistle – not for my son on the autism spectrum. Vacation Bible school? I tried that once and, honestly, there were parents in that program who stopped speaking to me because I dared to enroll my son after the lead pastor encouraged me to do so. No way was I trying that again! The team activities at the YMCA? Those were a real challenge and more frustrating than fun to my son. He could have a full-blown meltdown playing BINGO. Siblings extending invitations to give us respite? Nope. We did have a couple weeks planned to go visit grandparents, but two weeks out of twelve is a drop in the bucket.

This magical and marvelous summer the other moms described was not my world, though I desperately wished that it could be. So I lied and said, “Us too!” and set about erasing that lie by finding things to fill the days.

If you’ve reached the mid-pont of summer and have run out of activities, here are a few strategies that worked for me:

  • Support groups. Other parents are likely to have kids in need of friends too. Ours was not the only family staring down the barrel of a long and boring summer.
  • “Special needs friendly” events. These were non-existent back when my son was young, but are becoming more and more popular. Check with local children museums, movie theaters, sports stadiums and performing arts venues.  For example, the Houston Ballet Company recently offered their first autism friendly performance, complete with interaction between performers and children afterwards.
  • Congregations with special needs ministries. Faith communities are much more aware and inclusive in summer camp and vacation Bible school. Find a program that fits your family and talk to the staff ahead of time so that they are prepared with volunteers who match the needs of your child. If budget is tight, volunteer your own time to help defray cost.
  • Summer camp for special needs children. There are more and more opportunities for children with special needs to experience summer camp. Some are child specific and some accommodate the whole family.  These often fill early so research registration dates and mark them on your calendar.
  • Check the calendar at local disability friendly non-profits. For example, in the Houston area, Family to Family Network and Easter Seals offer or have information about a variety activities and respite care. There is also Mikey’s Guide, a local publication to a broad variety of local disability friendly services and events.
  • Keep a routine. For many of our kids, structure is key. Set a routine for meals, errands, play time, family chores. Routine helps remove boredom.
  • Focus on therapy and acquiring new skills. Fitting in therapies during the school year can be a real challenge. Take advantage of available time to focus on areas for growth. Consider finding a tutor for challenging subjects to help keep your child from losing hard-won skills in math and reading.
  • Enjoy a less hectic pace for a while. While we live in a culture that glorifies “busy,” it is okay to step off the merry-go-round and enjoy a pace that is slower than the world around you.
  • Explore the outdoors. Children are inside for hours each day at school. Take advantage of summer as a time to get outside and explore parks, beaches, and walking trails. State and local parks in your area may have summer programs, such as guided trail tours, that suit a child’s interest and focus. If mobility is a challenge consider a tagalong trailer for a bike. Check your own yard for bird nests and enjoy watching the new family grow.
  • Check out programs at the local library. Libraries are a treasure trove of child friendly activities and resources. The best part? They are free!
  • Water is wonderful in the summer heat. If the community pool is overwhelming, go at off times. No pool in your area? Create your own backyard water fun with sprinklers or an inexpensive wading pool.
  • Remember self-care. Parenting becomes 24/7 when children are home from school. With high needs children this can be especially tiring to the caregiver. Tag team with your spouse or other adult when you need a break. Schedule a night out as often as you can in order to nurture your most important relationships. Take time to do things you enjoy.

I learned that filling the summer isn’t about keeping up with what everyone else is doing.  Rather, it is about finding the pace and activities that best suits my family and flourishing there. I’d love to hear from parents other ideas for family fun.

You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter. (Psalm 74:17 NRS)

Renewing God, Thank you or the change of pace over the summer. Help us find refreshment and renewal rather than boredom in the midst of the gift of time. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

“Blank Calendar Shows Plan Appointment Schedule Or Event” by Stuart Miles from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One Motivation

Special Needs Parenting Cover

There is one motivation behind my ministry at Hope and Healing Institute.  That’s it.  Just one. Equipping families with special needs to remain resilient. That happens through providing tools and support to individuals facing any number of challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. Mine is just one of many support programs offered here in fulfilling our mission of building and restoring lives to health and wholeness. I am blessed to be part of this amazing non-profit that is changing lives for the better.

After writing Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving, the Hope and Healing Institute equipped me to pilot the material with five small groups. I led three of them in the Houston area, another online,  and another was led by Rev. Leslie Neugent at Wayzata Community Church in Minnesota. Leslie and I both experienced a sense of community, friendship and healing within our groups.

The most rewarding part? Hearing from people about how their lives have been enriched and changed for the better in the process. Mimi Patman, a participant in one of the groups that I led, shares insight into her parenting experience.From the shock of diagnosis to the power of hope found in scripture and community, Mimi opens a window into her private family life in hopes that it will encourage others as well through this brief video.

My prayer is that other parents looking for emotional and spiritual nurture will also be blessed through the book and that an increasing number of faith communities will offer support groups and pastoral care to families wishing to be included within the life of the congregation.

Rev Doc Lorna