By Jennifer Cullimore, The Therapy Mama
I love being with my children, and as a single, homeschooling mama with no family around I am literally with my kids 24/7. However, one Saturday morning a month and for three days in the summer, they are blessed to go to a church program for “Special Saturday” and “Very Special Bible School”. I’ll be honest, I love these days. It just does my heart and soul good to get a little bit of “me” time.
Very Special Vacation Bible School
Today started in a frenzy. We overslept and were frantically trying to get out the door. One of my daughter’s anxiety about leaving me was through the roof. Many tears were shed in the 20 minutes it took us to get ready. Begging ensued to allow her to stay home and yet I had to stand firm.
When we finally arrived this is what I saw. I saw balloons and welcome signs and bubble machines blowing bubbles everywhere. I saw gold stars lining the sidewalk and approximately 30-40 volunteers of all ages waiting to cheer for each child, give them high fives and welcome them. When I hit the door, I saw more than a hundred more volunteers. There were two for each child. They literally stay with their “buddy” for the morning. They take them to set activities, but if the child can’t handle it, they do whatever they are interested in. I saw some meltdowns occurring and the volunteers pulling out all the stops to try every trick they knew to turn the situation around. Today I saw the hands and feet of Christ.
A Little Break Means a Lot
I stood for a while watching a little guy have a rough meltdown and I thought about how much work goes into this ministry. An incredible soul named “Gigi” oversees it. I met Gigi years ago and she has been Jesus with skin to our family. I knew exactly what Gigi would say if I could have stopped her in that meltdown moment to commend her for her work. She would say, “Jennifer, it’s the least we can do when you parents do this every day”.
The truth is, it is hard work. Every single bit of it is hard work. They spend countless hours preparing the facility, training volunteers and most of all preparing hearts. But the blessings are abundant. They get to see the smiles, the laughter, the joy on every face. They get to see moms and dads breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their child is safe and being well cared for. They get to see the camaraderie of the parents watching the other parents and realizing that they are not the only one walking this journey. They get to see the change in the children and volunteers as they are touched by each child. They have a newfound acceptance for others and they are more grateful for their own health and abilities.
Blessed by Being a Blessing
I wish I could spread this news to every church. I’ve encountered so many that want nothing ’t want to modify or change anything. But I wish I could let them know what they could gain by opening their hearts and doors to those with special needs. I wish I could let them know that they would get a very glimpse of the heart of God. For now, I will continue to pray that someday this will be the norm. I will share what special churches, like our “Christ Presbyterian” does and I will show deep gratitude for these angels that have been put in our path to do special needs ministry.