After reading Joni Eareckson Tada’s booklet titled Christianity With Its Sleeves Rolled Up some years ago, it clicked with me how we have been blessed over the years by the body of Christ, each member ministering to us through their own spiritual giftings. Still in the Thanksgiving spirit, it’s a good exercise for me to rehearse the many ways our Christian family has helped and encouraged us as we deal with the many ups and downs of disability.
As I list a few of those times from our early parenting days almost 30 years ago, perhaps it will click with you, too. Now is a great time to be grateful to God for his blessings. Perhaps it will also help you to think of various ways to use your own spiritual gift to help minster to the special needs families God has brought into your life.
I still am touched and blessed by these people who reached out to us, using their spiritual gifts in unique ways, just as God intended for the church body to function.
Here are just a few of them:
- Dwayne and Brigitte, who would show up at our son Bryce’s hospital bedside not saying a word, but would push some cash into our hands before they left.
- Jean, who would make sure Bryce was dressed in cute baby outfits his first year, which was mostly spent in the hospital. She also saw to it that I was taken care of, remembering special times like my birthday or other holidays, celebrating in little ways like bringing in meals or flowers or treats just for me.
- Grace and Dorothy, my two prayer warriors. I could call Grace and her husband Chuck day or night, and they would be there to pray with us.
- Jean and Roberto, who would show up at the hospital after church with a bag of hamburgers so we could share a meal together.
- Janice, a nurse at the hospital, would spend her lunch break watching Bryce so we could run down to the cafeteria and grab some food for ourselves. She also cleaned our house for us twice a month for over two years.
- Hertha, who would hold Bryce during church so I could participate in worship, playing my flute or singing in the choir.
- Mike and Candy, who would bring board games up to Bryce’s hospital room so we could fellowship together and have a bit of distraction.
- Debbie, who gave Bryce a teddy bear before he was born, even though he only had a slim chance at survival, giving us the gift of hope by her show of faith. She also invited us over to her house for dinner, special equipment and all.
I could go on forever, it seems, remembering the wonderful ways our church family supported us through those early years of parenting a medically fragile and severely disabled child. They cared for us in such very practical ways, showing us that God still loved and cared about us during some of our most difficult days. I will never forget their lovingkindness and generosity that demonstrated sound theology better than any sermon I’ve ever heard – Christianity with its sleeves rolled up, for sure!