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Special Easters | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Special Easters

IMG_3249photo © 2010 Karen Frederick | more info (via: Wylio)
Church was crowded last night, and we sat behind friends of ours, a family with daughters, one of whom has special needs. Her parents sat on either side of her and helped her get through the service. Because the service didn’t follow our normal routine, it was more difficult for her. As we sat in the dark, quietly lighting candles, her turn came.

Originally, her parents were going to skip letting her have a candle. But she wanted one. Her dad helped her light it while her mother pulled her hair back so she wouldn’t have an accident. As we all stood there in the candlelight, her parents worked a silent tag team ballet of helping their daughter enjoy participating with us all.

Their daughters are as old as my own, and I’ve known them since our children were preschoolers. When they were younger, I remember our kids playing Duck Duck Goose in a circle of friends, and their daughter’s aide helping their daughter participate. Then the same aide realized my son, who was in intense speech therapy, could say neither duck nor goose. She helped him find a way he, too, could participate.

Those are the moments that break and build a mother’s heart at the same time.

My son not only learned to talk but learned to talk back. Their daughter will need help the rest of her life. Her parents and her sister work with her.

As I watched these 2 parents work so well together, I thought of the other special needs children and families in my circle of friends. One mother told me this week, “My son shows the light of Christ and brings out the best, most beautiful parts of everyone he knows – whether he’s at school, at church, or anywhere else.”

I thought of the speech classes I’ve taught and an autistic boy who participated in one series, often sharing keen observations no one else would dare have mentioned – but doing so in such a humorous manner there was neither harm nor foul. I remembered another girl in another speech class who had Down Syndrome and severe speech impediments; for her final speech night to perform with families, she recited the Lord’s Prayer, not only saying it but signing it so beautifully an audience of 200 were left in tears.

And I looked at our kids – our daughter sitting with us and our son serving – and remembered the empty seat beside me which would have belonged to another daughter, who was anencephalic and had Down Syndrome, and how our lives would be different if she had survived.

Our service concluded with the hymn “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.” Their daughter knew it and sang it with her family. As she sang, her mother watched her with a face lit with joy. Her daughter was participating and singing with us all. For the brief moments of that song, I saw the hand of God working on a mother’s heart and giving her a needed and much-deserved blessing for Easter.

Afterwards, I thanked the mom for blessing us with her family’s love. She thanked me for sitting directly behind them because others who don’t know their daughter can get distracted by her ticks.

As we sang Jesus Christ is Risen Today, I thought of Jesus, welcoming the little children. He welcomes all of them – especially those with lifelong challenges.

God has a special purpose for those with special needs. When we welcome them and their families, He shows us windows of grace where we can glimpse at the power of doing simple, everyday things with great love.

Happy Easter. Let’s all sing with our whole hearts and souls and voices – Jesus Christ is Risen Today.

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