Monday, October 27, 2014

back to church (a little update on how we found a place to worship)

it's been well over two years since i talked about our church desert. we lived many months worshiping and hearing the word preached through podcasts and video. in hindsight i wonder if we chose correctly. should we have kept trying to make things work? did we give up trusting the lord to provide? i don't know. i do know, no decisions were made lightly, and not being part of a church body took a toll on us. our hearts, our minds, our relationships. all affected, but not necessarily for the worse. i think we were more intentional with relationships and our personal time in the word, which is great! but not enough.

i believe church is important, and i'm not sharing today to discuss whether or not we need to be connected to a corporate church, worshiping together, growing together. we always have and always will need it.

last summer when the "we need to move" stirrings began, i started researching churches first. my thinking was, if i could find solid churches, i could find a solid community. and we were starving for a complete community, one that includes special needs families and people with exceptional abilities. a fancy special needs ministry wasn't a requirement, but i wanted a church who was at least aware and accepting to families of all needs. in my hunting i found several wonderful churches, and between seven different states and dozens of choices, i found a favorite. i eagerly spoke with staff there about their ministry, about the special needs community there and in the city and was beyond impressed with the knowledge and love that they poured through my phone and email. their wisdom and guidance served as a measuring stick for my search. i truly didn't expect it to become our church home.

well, we moved at the beginning of summer and the in person church search began.

our church that awesome, helpful one i found last year! was number one on our "to visit" list. we never made it anywhere else. the lord wowed us with an almost immediate peace and connection with the people and leadership there. the word is faithfully and powerfully proclaimed and taught. they take seriously the need to really serve in our local area and around the world. we went to a visitor's dinner at the pastor's home, and next thing you know we were enrolled in membership classes. we chose a sunday school small group to join and have loved getting to know them! my favorite thing about this church is how they minister to our family, especially elijah and other adults and kids like him. their program is incredible. i remember weeping at the computer when i read their vision and core beliefs. were they for real? seems much to good to be true, time will tell.

bless the lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! bless the lord, o my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. psalm 103:1-5

i feel like i'm rambling today, but let me finish with this.
nothing is too good to be true with jesus. i love seeing how he has inspired a body of believers to seek out those in the special needs community, invite them in, care for them, love them, pray for them. seeing and meeting needs, being the hands and feet of jesus.

we feel normal. we finally feel welcome to worship and connect.
not only among other special needs families, but with the typical families. our common thread is christ and his gospel. it's beautiful to me that there are so many people in my circle now who "get" me, because they walk a similar road. as well as others who "get" me, because they're helpless sinners in need of our savior daily, like me. we were desperate for such things, and the lord provided beyond our wildest prayers. we long to be ministered to, as well as to serve a fellowship of believers. god is so good, and he's brought us to a well of sweet water. i'm so excited to see the lord grow our family here in our new city through our new church. praise god from whom all blessings flow!

a little postscript here, i would love to invite any questions you may have. about being a special needs family and finding a church, special needs ministry and the church...i'm not an expert at all, but i am learning and i live daily in the circumstances. i'd love to hear your curiosity, or even what you/your church already do to minister to special needs families and individuals in your area! i'll try to answer in the comments, but may just do a follow up post :)

and one more thing!
our church is hosting the accessible kingdom conference next month, what an opportunity! if you're an individual with special needs, a church leader, teacher, parent, sibling, friend, employer to anyone with special needs, this is for you! we would LOVE to see you there!


  1. i love this post, hannah. i've prayed for you guys over the past year, and especially through this move that the Lord would move and lock you in where you belong! He is Good, and Faithful!!! :) I'm rejoicing with you! Praise Him, girl!

    1. kim, so grateful for you and your prayers! always always, you've been a solid encouragement. love you.

  2. this is so good. finding a church to call home is such a great joy. xoxo.

  3. So much goodness in this post Hannah! I teach four year olds at church and my class has two boys that are on the autism spectrum and their verbal communication is very limited. I see a lot of frustration that comes out in the form of hitting. One boy tends to fixate on colors and if another child is playing with "his" color then things don't go well. Sorting Legos or blocks calms him so we try to redirect him which is usually successful. Here's my question: are there resources that you could recommend, ie: books, podcasts etc. that could help me to understand our special needs kids better?

    1. so glad you are working with these awesome kiddos! i know it's a special task :):) praying for you, grace, wisdom and patience as you continue to show your class jesus and his truth!

      ok, quick answer. best answer maybe?
      if you're not on facebook, consider joining HAHA! seriously, it's that priceless of a resource to me.
      it's the reason i keep facebook around! it's a group of professionals who *freely* offer incredible help and information on every single topic in the autism spectrum. they've recently made the info shared into a set of books, they're on my christmas list :)

      it's valuable and a joy, to spend time with others who minister/teach autistics, AND with autistic people! especially adults. friends with autism, are the best knowledge on autism :) i have enjoyed connecting through facebook comments and pages, gleaning SO MUCH.

      anyway, that's a place to start for now :) love you, lady!
      (find me on and i can invite you to some other pages if you want :)

    2. p.s. good job for the redirecting! it's a great plan. especially for short periods, like a sunday school time.
      think outside the box. you want to be "relevant" to the entire class, but perhaps there are ways you can teach/play that use interests of your special kiddos!

  4. I gave up FB a couple years ago but I may be persuaded into joining again, if I use an alias :)

    1. haha!! yes.
      i was off for years, came back through a new account.
      let me know if you decide!

      also. you can maybe see a lot of info from that facebook page i mentioned without an account, just can't interact. is a great blog, she's a good writer and gives lots of insight into special needs life. doesn't post very often, but has a resource page. lots of helpful stuff on this site! is a parenting site, but again, lots of helpful info/thoughts for anyone interested in being a better friend/teacher/help to those with special needs :)

      just a start! love you! xo

    2. one more! is a great resource as well. from relational advice, to respect issues, current events affecting autistics, to advocating...great site/book!