Extra Day, Extra Dollar: Help Us Grow by LEAPs and Bounds!

We’re having a little celebration for Leap Day this year, and YOU are invited!

It’s a luxury, isn’t it, to have an extra day? I love thinking of what I might be able to accomplish with the bonus time I get on February 29. Lately, my thoughts focus heavily on Key Ministry. We have much to be excited about in 2012…we’ll be speaking at several conferences, hosting JAM Sessions, writing curriculum adaptations, making materials and working with individual churches…ALL with the purpose of ensuring “a church for every child.” All of the services we provide are free to churches; we never want budgets to be a barrier.

We are making great strides, with many glimpses of heaven on earth…

  • A man who has Asperger’s syndrome has used some of our materials to raise awareness of special needs and offer support to others diagnosed with Asperger’s in his church.
  • Two high school students who have taken our training used the knowledge to reach out to students with disabilities at their high schools to include them in activities that foster friendships.
  • A family without a church home told us, after attending a respite outreach for which we had provided training, “This is the community that is reaching out to us.”
  • A children’s pastor emailed us after a consultation and said,  “I already feel like a weight has been lifted knowing that I have someone to walk this road with me ; You’re a true gift from the Lord!”

We really want to be a gift, and help the Kingdom grow by leaps and bounds…but we need your help! Please consider celebrating Leap Day by donating just one dollar to Key Ministry…think of what we could accomplish…

If 10 people each give $1, we can adapt a teaching tool for a child with an intellectual disability;

 If 20 people each give $10, we can create a new video training workshop for a church hoping to start an inclusion ministry.

If 30 people each give $20, we can launch a new inclusion ministry in a church.

Your support means so much to us. Please join the party…pray for us as we reach out to families and churches. Forward our website and blogs along to those who can use the information. And, if you are able, please consider donating an “extra dollar” to help us in this most wonderful work. Click here for more information.

Leaping with JOY!

My bags are packed…

This week is devoted to preparing for our JAM* Session in Lake County, OH.(*Jumpstarting an All-inclusive Ministry) I’ve been busy preparing kits for the make-it-and-take-it portion of the day. Pastor Carrie Garland, who is hosting the event at her church told me that we have 44 people registered thus far. We’re so excited to see what God has planned for all of the children and families these folks will reach!

There is still room in this class if you’d like to join us~ Email me for more information! Remember, the class is FREE (The church is providing lunch and breakfast for a small fee, or you may brown-bag it.)

As you can see, my dining room is pretty cluttered with the makings of the JAM Session.Things are better in the kitchen, where I baked a little treat on this chilly afternoon…

Want to try these with your family? Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (plus a pinch more)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (I use a rounded 1/4 tsp for a little extra spice!)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup ground pumpkin (canned)
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/3 cup chocolate chips (I used waaaaay more. Because that is who I am. Also, I used the mini-chocolate chips, because they were left over from Christmas baking.)

Mix together. Fill muffin cups and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes
-Recipe from beckyhiggins.com, but slightly modified.


~Muffins with JAM!

IEP’s at Church: Yes? No? Maybe So?

I’m a planner.

Anyone who knows me well can attest to this. (In fourth grade, I apparently made a full plan for my birthday party, calculating the time each activity would take and taking into account that guests might arrive at slightly different times…I also made sure that there would be enough time to ensure everyone’s comfort.)

Good teaching takes good planning…I talk about this often during lectures at schools and churches. The Federal Governement thinks planning is a good idea, too. In fact, every student who is identified with a disability that affects learning has a plan called an IEP (Individualied Education Plan). This plan lists the child’s strengths, needs, and current levels of performance. In addition, the plan, formulated by teachers and school staff, includes goals and objectives that create the basis for the child’s school year. Finally, the plan includes all of the supports, accommodations and related services the child needs in order to make appropriate progress toward the identified goals. Every member of the child’s team–including the child, when appropriate–works on this plan, signs it, and helps to monitor the progress.

So, If a student needs an IEP at school, then we should definitely have one at church, right?

A planner like me inwardly, gleefully shouts YES! YES! A PLAN!! Let’s make a PLAN!

We do need a plan…but the way we form a special needs plan–and the kind of plan we form–  really depends on many factors…

It depends on the parents…Some parents are very excited to share their child’s needs with a church staff, and want to collaborate with the team about goals for church. Others just want Sunday to feel “normal” and would like their child, as much as possible, to just blend in with everyone else.

It depends on the church staff and volunteers. Some churches might decide that part of their mission and ministry is to offer as much support as possible to families. We won’t assume that these are “big” churches or churches with large budgets…nor will we assume that churches that provide in-depth, individualized planning or therapeutic supports are “better” than those that don’t. Those assumptions are not grounded in truth. Every church should approach this issue by taking into account a number of factors, such as  the church’s culture, staffing, facilities, vision of the senior staff, and availability of volunteers.

It depends on the child/student. Some students are eager to accept help as they work toward goals…others are just really ready for a day of rest and fun (and that is the purpose of the Sabbath, isn’t it?) And…I haven’t met any teens with disabilities who have told me that they really want to have extra focus on their needs during youth group time…that is a normal and expected part of teen development, and we need to respect it.

It depends on the plan itself. We need to remember that the purpose of a plan at church will most likely be very different from a plan at school, because the purpose of church is different that school or work. I believe that what kids are learning at church is way more important than anything that will be taught at school, so I do recommend that churches and families work together to create a plan for EVERY child’s spiritual growth (not just kids with special needs!) In our ministry, we have created this form to facilitate the process:
GROW Plan for Spiritual Development
This also allows parents, churches and students to develop shared expectations; when we communicate about what our hopes and plans are, we are more likely to develop strong relationships that facilitate growth.

Mostly, it depends on God
. Before we plan anything, we really need to ask God what He thinks about our ministry and where He would like to see it go:  “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.” Psalm 33:11 NASB

Will He give you the guidance you’re looking for?
You can plan on it.