Thursday, April 12, 2012

venting a little {i miss sundays}

we've had several sweet, quiet play times here lately.

thoughtfully squishing playdoh into little plastic molds.
removing dust jackets from almost every book in the house,
then putting each one back. upside down.
the click click of a red and blue transformer, over and over again.

my personal favorite is watching elijah line up his little cars, planes or people:

he's meticulous and sometimes holds his breath. his focus won't be broken, he doesn't even see me there.
i watch him as long as he plays, sometimes even joining in beside him with my own little figures.

these quiet times are not commonplace. most often our tone is more rambunctious around here.
beautiful, (mostly)joyful hyperactivity, you've likely never seen before.
and i'm learning to love that, too. the difficult part is, when we need to take this party elsewhere.

i'm still learning so much.
this new life, parenting with autism, i'm adjusting, but it won't happen overnight.
grocery shopping, post office visits, the library, the drugstore,
even getting to school and therapies are rough...anywhere is a huge challenge.
so i most often only go when i am able to go alone. or if patrick can come along, too.
it's easiest for elijah, and easiest for us this way. for now.
we're so hopeful for smoother trips in the future. we are all learning more and more about elijah,
and we seem to be getting better and better with the "going out" business! praise jesus!

this season though, right now. makes for loneliness like i've never known.
 the most difficult place for our family to ever be?

is the church.

i have a secret.
i haven't been to church in nearly six months.

let that sink in for a moment.

if you are a regular church attender,
thriving on corporate worship and gospel proclamation every sunday,
then you can guess the weight of this pain.

in this season, of learning our boy and ourselves and figuring out how to make this work, i am hurting.

the churches here are simply ill-equipped for our needs(or any special needs family for that matter).
where does your church stand? is your body embracing families with autism?
do you even know what that looks like?

i do not. yet.

i've been so convicted and broken over this. for my own oversight of others that are different than i am.
thinking of other families struggling in this way. saddens me. i want to make it all right!

a typical sunday school class, a typical nursery? not necessarily going to fly with families who aren't typical.
it sure as heck hasn't worked at all for our family.
as my eyes have been opened to this, i've been praying and seeking how to fix this.
and guess what? i will not be the one who fixes it.

the void of fellowship with other believers, the feeling of a know, it's a different day, the lord's day! incredibly hard to treat it as such. when you are at home, where it feels like every other day. even listening to online sermons, podcasts, worship music, trying to make it "churchy". it is not working.

i feel like i am dying.
dramatic? you tell me.

how alive would you feel, if you just stopped doing one of your favorite things?
a life-giving thing.
worship music, corporately.
studies with other believers.
community outreach.
it just quit.

not because you decided,
but because it was like banging a square peg into a round hole trying to be there.

we have tried multiple scenarios, even tried other churches again.
patrick works most sundays, making it all the more impossible on my own.

easter was hard, my friends.
and every sunday is hard. the enemy loves this detachment of our hearts from the body of christ.
he is on the prowl here daily, but especially fervent on the lord's day.
this is hard.
this is painful.
this is lonely.
this is humbling.

i miss the church.
i miss community.

i'm so thankful that jesus is here with me, in this season at home.
and i am trusting that he is making a way for us to be a part of his church body once again.
we have hope in him.

and i covet your prayers.

updated post here...we're back to church, praise jesus!


  1. Hannah. You do such a good job of venting gracefully. I do not know if I would be that gracious. I am praying for you.


  2. I'm so sorry :( I know so many special needs families that are in the same boat. We are SO fortunate to be at a small church with a love for special kids and a budding special needs ministry. Carter was the first kid at the church and they new if they wanted to keep him (an us!) they needed to accomodate his needs. He has a one on one "helper" each week and it's fabulous! I will pray that you will find the perfect church home for your family and your sweet boy. {hugs}

  3. amen sister. I briefly looked at your newer post and HAVE to take the time to read it, I don't want to give you half of my attention, you deserve the whole thing my friend!! But I wanted to stop by to tell you...

    Check this out...I showed you some love!

  4. I SO know what you are going through my friend. I want to cry with you and vent all the things we went through. We left our church because of one bad experience at the first church we went to when we first moved here. The priest apparently "gave the eye" to one of the ushers who actually REMOVED us from the body of the church because Peyton was "too loud". In reality, she was not, but for their community, they were not tolerant of even whispers, much less having a special needs individual disrupt their "holier than thou" atmosphere. It was horrible. We stopped going to church altogether. It wasn't until a friend introduced us to their non-denominational "mega church" that we went back. We attend the main campus of our 13 campus church. It has a program called "Won by One" which is for special needs individuals. Mostly we have a nurse on Sundays now so Peyton doesn't go, but she's welcomed with open arms when she goes. There are LOTS of kids with autism (of varying degrees of severity), as well as kids with other disabilities ranging from mild to severe. It is what made our church "home" for us. It is what allowed us ALL to have a church home because there is a place for everyone. My heart breaks for you that you don't have access to something like this. THIS is what you need Hannah! I wish you were here so you could go there and see how wonderful a program is it. And then in February....they put on a "Luke 14" dinner (read Luke 14 for the reference) and it is open to the entire community - not just our church. Disabled adults and children and in-betweens come from all over town (and beyond) and celebrate a banquet together in a safe place where all are accepted and no one has to worry about anything. Oh, Hannah, I wish you had something like this. It changed our world. I will keep praying for you. I have been there and I know how you are feeling. Hugs.

  5. i feel terrible that i never even thought about this. i don't think you're being dramatic to say you feel like you're dying. not one bit. we haven't been to church regularly for awhile either, for different reasons, and i feel like i'm in such a drought for that reason alone. it's really hard to not be in church. i totally get it. like katy said, you do vent very gracefully and you do have such faith, but it doesn't make the hurt any less and it doesn't make it any less hard and real. i will totally pray for you girl. thanks for your openness with us :) love you friend!

  6. Perhaps this may be an opportunity to start something...a home fellowship with parents with special needs kids, a special needs training in your church, etc. As for the outings, you should see what ABA services your insurance or your local regional center provides. They will teach you how to do such things by using social stories, training, etc. Your speech therapist and OT should be able to steer you in the right direction.
    Love you, friend. My heart is aching for you today. It is often an isolating journey. God put 2 specific local friends in my life who also have kids on the spectrum. I could not do it without them. I am praying for you to find similar support.

  7. i am praying for you. you are not being dramatic at all. sending you big hugs.

  8. I hear your loneliness and pain in this. I wish I could invite you to our church where accommodations are made so families with special needs children can come and fellowship. Praying you will be able to find that place. It's there. The Lord has it just for you.

  9. Praying for you! The Lord knows your heart and your needs!

  10. your dying heart makes me sad. :( but a part of it makes me glad--- don't hate me yet. it means you have tasted true fellowship. the body BEING the body. all the church is called to be. i am finding that even church people aren't guaranteed of knowing what being part of abode is supposed to feel like. He hears you, He sees you... you will find it again.

    when our church had a young boy with autism there was a special young woman who had a heart to come sit with him in a classroom and do games and stories, walk if he needed to walk, etc. so that the parents could worship together. i think she would attend the early service and then stay to serve this family. this boy is a teenager now and can sit with his family during church. he sometimes claps and talks at awkward times but so what?? the family is a beautiful picture of the body too.. and i'm so glad they felt like they could stay even though they are the only ones with s special needs child to that degree.

    i would wonder if maybe your church could hep you find someone who would be willing to serve you and love you and Jeusus like this?? or if that might even work for your guy? regardless--- i'm sorry your hurting. :(

  11. i am still praying for you. i think of you so much. i hope and pray the Lord will minister to you in huge ways during this difficult season. praying for relief and a chance for you to go to church soon. i believe the Lord will make a way where there seems to be none. love you, my dear.

  12. I hope you can go to church soon. I think our church does a good job of embracing different sorts of people...but of course I am looking at it through regular eyes and I might be missing something. Thank you for making me aware. I hope you can find a church soon.

  13. My heart is breaking for you and the all too many parents out there in the same boat as you. Praying for the Lord to continue to sustain you. I definitely don't think you are being dramatic... We are made for community. Praise God that you have hundreds of blogging, Jesus loving women lifting you up... and even better you have Jesus as your advocate. Praying the Lord brings you into a gospel centered, autism loving community of God.

  14. Oh Hannah! I had no idea! If you could attend, would you go to the same church Linnea attends? That would be SO hard!! You've made me think about how our church would deal with Elijah. It would be interesting to find out what other churches do. Love you and will add this to my prayers for you.

  15. Oh friend, I will be praying for you: count on it. I know it isn't even the same, but it has been so hard this last year attempting to take two loud, rambunctious two year olds to mass with no children's program and sit in the sanctuary very aware of our noise level. We ended up going separately for almost six months and that was painful, too, but not at all the same. My heart aches for you. Not only because you aren't able to participate in worship, but because your family is not being embraced by the Body. I love you, lady. Prayers for you all.

  16. Oh Hannah! I had no idea! You've made me think! How would our church handle Elijah? And what can we do to be prepared for children like Elijah? I love you and will add this to my prayers for you!

  17. this post hurts my heart. and makes me want you to move here 5 gazillion times more. our little church reps special needs hard. and i love them for it. praying for you my dear sister in Christ. that God will draw you nearer to Himself and nearer to me ;)

  18. Oh Hannah. I am so sorry. I just want to reach through this computer and hug you and pray with you and even cry with you. It breaks my heart. I will be praying for you and your family. You are not being are being real. Thank you for being real and sharing your heart. There are many of us that would resemble that square peg...

  19. I am praying for you, friend. I miss church too and haven't been going for other reasons so I feel your hurt. Praying hard for you. xo

  20. This post broke my heart in a couple of different ways. Mainly for you and your hurt and loneliness. I just wish I could reach through this computer and give you a hug.

    Secondly it breaks my heart that I have been so complacent in how I view our church. It is a fairly new church for us and I have had a hard time connecting with the people there and because of that we haven't made going to church a priority anymore. We go about every other week and I don't even think twice about it. Then I read this post and it breaks my heart that I am not placing a higher value on our church like I should. Thanks for your thoughts and openness.
    I will be praying for you that you find a church that is fitting for your family.

    Big hugs!!

  21. Ah sister I just want to give you a big hug right now. That has to be so hard.
    Our church does have a special needs class and there are usually only a few kids in it. But we go to a big church (6000+ regular attendees). Praying that you find a church that has a special needs program. Are there any big churches in your area?
    Prayers for you in all of this.

  22. friend? i'm so sorry. i'm believing for you and with you that the Lord IS making a way. i'll be praying.

  23. Friend, I "get" the dying feeling. And how awful is it that we CAN go to church and have not in FIVE years. Not months. It's not dramatic to say you feel alone or feel a sense of dying. I know I don't have the right words for this, but I can pray and try to encourage you that something WILL come through for you, E, and Patrick. Maybe it will require taking a step in a direction you hadn't considered in the past. Praying.

  24. My heart aches for your family. You are so right. When 1 in 88 kids lands somewhere on the autism spectrum the church has to have a place for them! Our old church in San Diego was working on opening a child's area for kids with special needs. I have no idea if they ever did. But they are the only church that I've heard of to do it.

    Perhaps you've found a ministry to start? I will definitely be keeping you, and other families in the same exact situation, in prayer. It's hard enough to be without a church family, but particularly in a time when you need the support.

  25. Oh sweet lady, my heart breaks for you. I will pray for you! Thank you for sharing your heart. Honestly, I have never even thought of this being an issue(embarassed to admit) I will be asking our church leaders if they have. I am so sorry you are lonely :(
    Again, I will be praying for you. Hugs!

  26. This makes me so sad for you! I don't know how I would handle it if I had to just stop going to church. It makes perfect sense that you feel like you're dying. I don't think you're being dramatic at all!
    Our church, although small, has several families with special needs. We don't have a specific ministry but there are several people in our church who are professionals in working with children (and adults) with special needs and we do our best as a church family to make our church a place they can be. There has been talk about starting a specific ministry...I'm sending your post to my friend who has a heart for this ministry. This will encourage her to get going on it! I know it will! Maybe you guys should move to Idaho and help get it started! :)
    In all seriousness, I will be praying for you! Praying you guys find a place of worship that is a perfect fit for your family! God knows what you need and He wants what's best for you! He'll provide!

  27. Dearest Hannah! first of all, thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting! I´ve been in a blog "coma lately and just saw it! As for your post! ...sigh...It´s not easy! My little sister (now 25 years old) has autism, and I remember growing up how H A R D it was for mom and dad to do anything really with us as a whole famnily. shopping, vacations, cartrips and most of all church. I really do feel for you. I know the lord sees to your heart and knows how much you want to do his will, and I know there WILL be a time when you will be able to do things a bit more normally again. Your writing is so heartfelt, and this post moved me deeply!
    Know that you are in Gods care every day, even when you feel so lonely!
    love dana

  28. You would never know you are running low by the way you continually pour out and encourage others. You exude the love of Christ. My heart hurts for you. I know what you mean by the community, but if you are ever looking for an incredible worship/message, you can live stream from our church back in Washington. on Sunday mornings at noon our time. It's not the same but the spirit is still there. Love you!

  29. I too haven't been in a long time... we moved here and I used to drive to go with Michael Grandma. Michael works most Sundays and the one a month he gets off we are usually out of town visiting people and family. Honestly, I am afraid just to go it alone. I do go to a bible study on Thursday evening for women. It is twice a month and sometimes I have to miss because Michael can't be home - but it is amazing what a an hour with other Godly women can do.

  30. I can (sort of) understand a bit of what you are feeling! in 2011 I went to Church I think 4 times, and two of those times were in Maryland while I was on vacation! I had no choice at work but to work that shift on Sundays. It was a major bummer-ade. I am excited to see what 2012 will bring for non-typical families in GF. as the black eyed peas say "i gotta feelin', wooohooo"

  31. Once again, I appreciate your grace-filled authenticity. I'm praying 1 Peter 5:10 for you. Thank you for challenging those of us in the church to be aware of loving, supporting, and encouraging people in real life ways. Thank you for encouraging those of us in the church that take advantage of our ability to go any given Sunday to dig deeper in our communities. Thank you for encouraging those of us that aren't attending church to seek out community and help build Christ's church. I love you, friend.

  32. just catching up with your story! Praying with you and loving you from afar!
    (guess what else? I just became an assistant in a Au-preK class! My heart swells for you, with you... and for the church's opportunity to love you well!) <3

  33. This made my heart sad, because you are so right.

    Churches do not get it.

    I know that lonely, and I am so sorry you are missing out on fellowship right now, but Sunday is coming!

    Praise Jesus that He HEARS our prayers and He ANSWERS them! God is preparing a place sweet Hannah, be ready!

    Have a great day!

  34. I'm sorry to read this. I can relate. I missed church for months while on bedrest. I missed it so much. I'll be praying for you. also, I know it's not the same, but our home church when we lived in SoCal livestreams their services.

  35. Thank you for sharing your heart. I pray God would refresh you in a way you've never experienced before! I know what it's like to experience that loss of community, and it's the pits! I'll be praying for you!

  36. i thought of you often during church this morning. my heart broke for you when i read this post. praying for you, beautiful.

  37. awww, sweet hannah, i saw this post earlier today and knew i had to come back and read it when the house was quiet like it is tonight......i had to soak in your words and feel your pain with you so i could pray. and that's just what i'm about to do for you and your fam
    <3 <3 <3

  38. Praying that you find the right situation for all of you.

  39. I can identify with you in some ways, Hannah. I had to stop going to church when I had to start dealing with my illness related issues. When I started going again, we had to go to a church closer to home... I don't know anyone there, and don't have the energy to get to know people right now. It's hard. In the last 3 months, I've really allowed it to draw me closer to Jesus... I fought it so much before.

    I hope and pray that you can find a fellowship that will help you meet Elijah's needs and your own as well. Lately, I have been doing a Bible study with just a single friend, and that has made a huge difference and been a big encouragement to me. Love you and praying for you. :)

  40. You are in the palm of HIS hand.

  41. Oh Hannah, I'm so sad for you and your family over this. It is not easy and it's compounded, I can imagine, by the fact that no church near you seems to be able to accomodate in this way.

    Our church actually has its own special needs program, so families ARE able to come and worship however it best suits their families. Volunteers within this program receive extra training, and some kids/adults with special needs even have their own one-on-one volunteer whenever they're here. Once per month, we have Respite, which is free childcare for families with special needs, so the parents can have time alone together once a month for a couple hours.

    The more I learn about how our church offers and supports these families, the more blessed I am by it. I will be praying for you to find something similar there. (Or you can always move here! Haha!) Love you, girl!

  42. Oh my heart. Oh YOUR heart. I am so sorry it took me so long to get back this post my friend. But He has laid you on my heart even though I've been away from the blog life, and the constant words that lays gently on my heart when your name comes to me is "endure" and "light". He knows what they mean, and you probably know what they mean. Sending you love, and as always, prayers. XO

  43. I get it. Not being in church for so long is unimaginable. I will be praying for an answer for you. The God who called you TO this will carry your THROUGH this.