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Friday, November 11, 2011

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?--by Monika Holt

The following is what my very dear friend, Monika Holt, and I lovingly refer to as “Monika’s Rant.” I must say she rants beautifully. The passage below is an outpouring of her very large heart after she and I had discussed concerns we saw in a large number of churches today. For some reason, many churches seem to have a much smaller percentage of special needs families than the population at large. We asked the question, why is that? I ask you, if your church is deficient in this particular population, what are you going to do about it???

Read and enjoy …

I see it clearly. I see how busy we are. Running from one appointment to another.  Aren’t homeschoolers supposed to spend at least a little time at home? The laundry we made last week is still not folded and the dishes are piling up in our sink.  The dog threw up again, the phone will not stop ringing and our heads will not stop spinning.  Life is busy, too busy; and we can’t stop moving.  The whole world “went and got itself in a hurry.” 

Now, let’s imagine the life of a mom whose kid is sick. One who, on top of all our choirs, has to take her daughter to two doctor appointments a week.  Another, who must carry her paraplegic child into the bathtub. Or one who must watch her precious daughter fall asleep in pain each night.  Imagine a mom, whose heart beats wildly  in her throat when she sees a boy walk by with a peanut butter cracker in his hand, hoping beyond hope that one cell of that offending food will not enter her child’s system, sending him into anaphylaxic oblivian.  Imagine, the mom who always carries an epi-pen in her purse, and checks her little boy’s face for hives every time his cheek flashes.  Or the mom who sees all the other kids doing normal things, realizing her child never will.  Imagine living in constant anxiety, in the world where danger lurks around each corner.  A simple field trip to a museum could cause a seizure, and a special event, like a Cookie Exchange, can end up in anaphylaxis, even death.  Now let’s imagine having to make a phone call, or send an email every time we want to go somewhere, just to verify that it is safe for your baby to be there.  Would we have the energy to do it, on top of everything else that is on our plate?  Or would we be much more likely to withdraw from participation, into the safety of our homes, where things are predictable?  How isolating it must feel to move through ones tired days, friendless.

Why are we not seeing more children with special needs around us?  Why are churches and church groups not filled with them?  After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Come to me all you who are weary?” Given this, shouldn’t the churches have more, not less than that of the public schools? The reason is, not that they are not plentiful, but because they are hiding.  Hiding from the world, which sometimes does not welcome them.  Hiding from people who are too inconvenienced by their presence.  We do not see all of them because their parents are tired of constantly striving and  explaining. So they quit in disappointment.

How incredibly devastating it is for the rest of us “normal” folks to be separated from these families of kids with special needs. It is in the hectic homes of tired parents that real perseverance is born. It is there that we find true peace and communion with the Lord. Beyond each painful trial there is joy overflowing. Beneath each bitter tear there is God’s perfect mercy. And under the heavy folds of deepest depression, born in monotone days without sunshine, are refreshing springs of His everlasting love. It is a great privilege for us to share in the lives of those who have kids with special needs.  There, we truly encounter God’s love, which if only we lend a hand, perfectly overflows to our lives.  Sometimes unaware of our ignorance we miss out on reaping the benefits and the blessings of honor, of being witnesses to the purity of this merit.  How I wait to serve them one day in heaven; because when all is said and done, the least will inherit the kingdom of God. 

Now, do the difficult thing and honestly ask yourself a question, is it easier just to look away?  Is it easier to just walk by and preach empty platitudes; that these parents should be diligent to look out for their own?  But where is the Body of Christ in that???  Why should we wait to get to heaven, to serve those in need?  Our precious Jesus washed the feet of his disciples; He led us by being a perfect servant first.  He humbled Himself to the point of the cross, not only so that our tomorrows would be in paradise, but also so that our todays would be filled with His Spirit.  Hence, What Would Jesus Do?  Often I find myself too busy to lift up my eyes and see the needs of others around me.   If I stop to help a stranger on the street, my plan for the day will crumble into pieces.   In it, I am Unfaithful!  I forget that the maker of this Universe, the One who crafted my soul is able to stretch my hours and organize my days.  As long as I am busy doing my Father’s work, he will replenish me, because His burdens are light and His yoke is easy.  The work I do for my Maker reaps rewards beyond human understanding; for the more I do for His kingdom and for His glory, the more He fills me and strengthens my spirit.   I should lift up my eyes and sift through my hours searching for tasks, which only He can assign to my destiny.  Combing for ways I can be used, to humbly serve his children the way He serves me.

We forget that our life is the greatest treasure hunt in the history of the universe.  We should dig deeply beneath our fleshly surfaces. We should look patiently beyond our material realm, and search passionately under the moods which sway us, hungry to discover the treasures, which await us from our loving Abba. 

We know utopia is not promised to us on this side of heaven.  Physical pain will always continue leaving us with countless emotional wounds to nurse.  However, by extending ourselves for the sake of others, a piece of paradise could enter in to our hearts and brighten our very existence.  Why not relieve the mom whose autistic child screams when she sings at home, so she in turn could bless her church with angelic tones of her soprano?  Why not surprise the tired parents of a paraplegic child with a babysitting offer, so they could go out for a date, maybe the first one in ten years?  Why not, pray with the sick, the hurt and the weary, right there on the spot?  Why not let the Spirit flow and take the risk of being laughed at, rejected and ridiculed, for a chance to bless others and be blessed in return?  Don’t miss out on the gifts of those who are tragically stuck in their homes.   Become not only a passive witness of their Spiritual growth, but a catalyst to the revealing of their hidden strengths.

The hardest lessons that the Lord teaches us are the ones, which bring pain into our lives.  Like a flood they sweep through our days altering the paths of each decision.  Aches, unanticipated and unwelcomed, like wild fire test our character and build our strength.  We like our cozy homes, where tomorrows are planned and we get to complain how busy we are, giving excuses for why we cannot pour more out of our souls for the sake of our sisters and brothers.  In it we forgo on the true fellowship with the real irons of this earth, which could truly sharpen our hearts.

Thanks for reading. Next Friday, LBOC will be featuring a guest blog on how one autistic boy’s gifts were given full-reign at his church and school. One example of what we are missing when we don’t reach out to all.

Born and raised in Poland, Monika Holt is a homeschooling mom of three, with a passion for Christ. She has two special needs children, one with a peanut allergy and one with reading disability, on the mend. In her BC (before children) days she was a professional ballroom dancer with an unlikely degree in English Literature and Political Science from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. She now chairs the Special Needs Committee in her local homeschool group.


  1. I agree. Churches should reach out to special needs kids. I was pleased to read an article in the HomeLife Magazine of LifeWay stores a few months back about adapting programs for autistic kids.

  2. Hi Monika,

    Thanks for sharing your touching, moving story.

  3. I am moved speechless. This is so beautiful and so true and I can personally attest to Monika's strength and constant giving. I am proud to be Monika's sister; she is the one who led me and still leads me to the Lord with her words and actions. (If I may say, Monika and her husband were actually not just ballroom dancers but (while commuting full time to college), they won United States Ballroom championship 3 years in a row and represented US in the world)

  4. Oh my goodness, you REALLY hit the nail on the head here. My daughter was born with a seizure disorder and she has delayed development, Sensory Integration Disorder and ADD. Her issues aren't so bad that one would notice them right away, but they cause her to be shy, naive in some areas and unable to keep up with other kids her age. She was always about 2-3 years behind her peers.

    My husband and I were very active in church. I was even on staff at a church for a while. We wanted her in a loving Christian environment. I couldn't find a church school in our area who would give her the seizure meds she needed during the day. They wanted me to get off work and drive over there everyday. I didn't understand this. I couldn't. Liability they said. What was the difference for the kid who needed an antibiotic for an ear infection verses my daughter with a seizure disorder?

    I found another Christian school and enrolled her there. She attended this school from age 3-5 until they wanted her to repeat kindergarten for the 3rd year and I refused. The pastor's wife was her teacher. She was in tears when they called me in, but told me they weren't equipped to teach my daughter. She said my daughter needed special ed and she wasn't able to give it to her. They didn't even try to find a program or alter the curriculum for my daughter's rate of learning and other adaptions. They begged me to take our out of their school.

    My husband and I searched all the Christian schools in our area. None provided special needs learning. We finally found one, but we couldn't afford it b/c we would have to pay regular tuition and then the special needs tuition. I cried. I was angry. Part of me is still angry. I've been hurt by more church people than I care to think on, but deep down I know those "Christians" don't represent Jesus.

    So yes, some of us do seclude ourselves in our homes since we already have enough to deal with. We have visited so many churches in the last 7 years, but can't find that "home" church. God finally gave me a dream and showed me several boulders in the ocean near an island. In this deep voice he said, "Your home is on the rock." And I realized I needed to stop fretting and worrying about finding a home church that would work for us. He is in us and dwells in us. We abide in Him and He abides in us. We don't need to be "plugged" into a church. We just need to be "plugged" into Jesus.

  5. It is on my heart to speak to more families in our predicament and if God provides the will and the way, I'll do it. My daughter is now 14, and out of necessity, she has been in the public school system since 1st grade. She is the salt and light in a school full of hurting and neglected kids. Christians often believe their place is to be among each other where it is safe, but sometimes God wants to use Christian families in places where it isn't always so comfortable.

    The public school system has been wonderful for our daughter. I'm not saying that we haven't had our challenges, but they have given her what the Christians refused to give her. The public school system wasn't allowed to give up on her her like the Christians so easily did.

    They taught her a special way to do her math that I never knew existed. It isn't that she can't learn, but she needs to learn in different ways. She's now doing Algebra, and reads so well. I'm very proud of her accomplishments. She's made the AB honor roll in the middle school where she's at. Now that she's a teen, it's starting to get harder, but all these churches we attend already have their little "Clicks" and don't let others in so easily--the kids, the teens and the adults.

    I listen to their sermons and what they preach, but when I go to their picnics, life groups, and other activities, they still congregate in their little clicks. They don't necessarily practice what they preach. They are nice and friendly, but you don't feel like you're one of them.

    We try for a while then we give up. We'll take a break and then try again. I'm at a point where I'm interested in actions, not people's words. There is only ONE word, I'm interested in and that is Christ, if I don't see it, I'm not that easily fooled anymore.
    (Continued from above since I went beyond character limit.)

    By the way, my latest book is dedicated to my daughter. The heroine has a seizure disorder in 1477 Scotland, a time when seizures weren't understood or accepted. We've come a long way, but we still have so far to go.

    Thanks for touching on this topic. It's near and dear to my heart.

  6. Thank you so much for all your comments, and Miss Taylor for sharing your story. You and your precious daughter are in my prayers. I am looking forward to reading your next book.

  7. Such a good and convicting reminder...thank you.