I just have to tell you about our experience this past Sunday at a Worship at the Cross service in Cleveland. St. John St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church had their first Jesus Cares special church service that reaches out to children and adults with special needs. When we arrived at church my son, Dillon, immediately ran for the elevator. He has a true love for elevators and it’s extremely difficult to divert his attention when he is in the presence of one, but we managed to get him to sit down in church. My husband, Scott, and I recognized three other families there that regularly attend the New Friends program with their kids. It was so nice to see them again. Mike Hennig, a Jesus Cares staff minister, led the service and did such an awesome job. He managed to get my son and my nephew, Michael, involved in the service. They both went up in front of church! I have never seen Dillon in front of church. It has always been my other two boys that have been up in front singing, but never Dillon. It was so awesome to see. My nephew, Michael, who also has Fragile X Syndrome, brought his guitar along and when we would sing songs he would play his guitar and sing along. Towards the end of the service we started to sing “This little light of mine”. Dillon has heard this song several times at the other Worship at the Cross services and he started to sing. SING!!! He went in the middle of the aisle and danced with his toy tractor along with my nephew playing his guitar and they praised God in their own special way. There were no strange looks from anyone there and it was pure joy all around. The congregation was so warm and so welcoming to the new families that attended. It was truly a wonderful service. My sister texted me the next morning and had mentioned that Michael was asking her all morning if he can go to church tonight. How adorable.
Ask Jackie: Unexpected Blessings
This past Sunday we had another successful New Friends event at the Veterans park in Cleveland, Wi. For two hours a month teens from Manitowoc Lutheran High school and a couple teens from Sheboygan North High school get together to befriend individuals with special needs. They have the opportunity each month to put their faith into action by loving and accepting our kids just the way they are and to also share with them that Jesus loves them. It can be extremely difficult for individuals with special needs to make friends especially those on the Autism spectrum, like our son Dillon. It takes very special people to take the time to be patient and understanding with our kids and these teens that come every month are absolutely extraordinary. We had eleven families with special needs attend and Scott and I just love visiting with them and meeting their kids. We started off the event with a devotion led by Pastor Endorf from St. John St. Peter Ev. Lutheran Church in Cleveland. He shared with us the Easter story and a message of Hope. After the devotion the twenty-one teens paired up with their new friends for an Easter egg hunt in the park nearby. They then played football in the field and some played basketball. Inside the VFW building they were spending quality time with each other playing cards, painting pictures and putting puzzles together. Some of the parents were talking amongst themselves offering each other support and understanding. My boys had so much fun hanging with their friends and we got to experience as a family what other families get to experience on a daily basis. These special teens make magical moments happen at each event making dreams come true in the lives that they touch. My family looks forward to this event every month and words can not describe the joy that I feel at the end of each event knowing that there are people out there that truly care and know the definition of love…..God’s love.
What is going to happen to Dillon when Scott and I are gone? Who’s going to take care of him? Who’s going to touch him and love him? Who’s going to comfort him when he is sad or scared? Who’s going to make sure that there is a smile on his face every single day? Those questions can bring me down to an ultimate low real quick. My chest gets tight and the tears start to flow and I begin to feel very scared. I have prayed and prayed that God would continuously bring people into our lives that will love our son and will help our other two boys take care of him when we are gone. This past year God has given us Hope by connecting our paths with Jesus Cares Ministries and The Lutheran Home. Every single person that I have met that is involved with this ministry passionately cares for families like mine. They reach out to individuals like my son and they share with them God’s word. They glorify God by loving our kids. How cool is that! And the Lutheran Home Association has a place called, “Hope Residence” it’s a home to the adult Dillon’s out there that need someone to take care of them when their parents are no longer able to. I love visiting that place. It’s truly amazing! The staff cares for their souls and they base their level of care on how God expects them to be loved and cared for…..unconditionally. It gives me so much hope and peace knowing that there is a place like that available for our son in the future if he needs it. As we celebrate Easter I find so much Joy and Hope in knowing that whatever happens; God promises us that He will take care of us and that we will be with Him and all of our loved ones one day in our Heavenly home.