Someone I Know

shadow

Someone I know had an abortion.

She is a loyal friend, a devoted wife, and a mom to some fabulous kids.  I admire her candor and communication skills, and uncanny ability to lead with love.

Someone I know has depression.

She’s honest and insightful…the kind of friend who will help you understand yourself. She’s extremely accomplished…recognized by her peers as an expert. She’s a seeker of justice and an avid reader.

Someone I know is gay.

He’s the sort of friend who would travel miles out of his way if you needed help. He’s creative and wickedly funny. He remembers details about his friends and follows up on their worries. And he loves Jesus.

Someone I know has alcoholism.

She anticipates her friends’ needs and celebrates their accomplishments. She is generous and industrious, with an easy laugh and a flexible, animated disposition.

Someone I know is obese.

He is gifted in his work, and is a leader at church. He’s respected by colleagues and beloved by friends. He’s a dad who adores his children and grandchildren, and a remarkable entrepreneur.

Someone I know has anxiety.

She loves to write, give dinner parties and spend time with her family. She tries hard to help others, and thinks that the very  best place on earth is HOME.
{you know her, too. She is ME.}

And every time someone tells me to “trust God” and “be anxious for nothing,” it makes me feel sad.
Guilty.
Less than.
Not good enough.

But then I remember...I AM good enough. I am a child of the King.

Just like all of the folks I described today…
Folks I love, and who love me, not because I’m worthy, but just because I’m me.

So, please remember, as you enter into the conversations of the day, listening to the  rhetoric, speaking your mind…please remember to speak the truth in love.

Because YOU know someone, too.

“Safety Slims:” a tool for traveling!

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I’m hoping to post more regularly now…I have missed the back-and-forth of blogging (and I’ve missed all of you!)

I want to share a handy little tool with you today…Those of us who work with kids who have disabilities in school and in church know that safety is critically important for ALL kids. For children who have communication, behavioral, emotional or health issues, however, we often need to plan proactively to ensure safety…especially when we take our show on the road! Traveling with kids requires us to think through the logistics of managing these needs on the road. We want to include students in retreats, field trips and service projects to the greatest extent appropriate; the extra care we take contributes to increased participation.

And so I’ve hopefully made this a bit easier by developing “Safety Slims.”

These safety cards were created using a Word bookmark template. They can be printed and laminated. If multiple kids have special needs, these can be hold-punched and held together with a vocabulary ring. One leader can hold these in a backpack or purse (and it’s always wise to have a duplicate set kept in the bus or retreat center…just in case!) Therefore, in case of emergency, all of the critical information is easily accessible. Hopefully this will lighten the load…these safety cards are easier to carry than large folders of information.

A couple of notes:

  • Be sure to get permission from parents when using any photograph of their children
  • Take care when sharing this information with volunteers and staff. Confidentiality is so critical to building a trusting relationship with kids and families. Be certain that safety information is shared on the foundation of confidentiality and respect.
  • Modify the template to fit the needs of your church, school, program and individual kids! This is just one way to share information…not the only way!
  • Download the template here: SafetySlims

Hope this is helpful, friends!

Be safe…
~Katie

Amazing people {who happen to have autism}: Conversations with Carlyle

Last week, I introduced you to my friend, Carlyle King.

Over the past several months, Carlyle and I have worked together, through phone conversations, email and Facebook, to do some planning; he wanted help in starting an inclusion ministry at his local church. He is uniquely qualified to do this; Carlyle himself is on the autism spectrum.

Our first planning session was via Facebook instant-message. Carlyle shared his ideas for the first Sunday: He planned to attend church wearing a t-shirt that said, “I have autism and I think you’re weird, too.”

Inside, I felt a bit of panic. What if they think he’s being abrasive or flippant or unapproachable?

And God, in His infinite wisdom, probably giggled at that moment, and whispered, “Oh ye of little faith…” under His breath.

I gently posed my concerns to Carlyle, mentioning my penchant for diplomacy.

He replied, “I guess I’m not really sure why (the t-shirt) would be a problem…it’s actually true. From the perspective of someone with autism…(people who are “neurotypical”) are just as confusing to us as we are to them.” He continued, “I’ve tried the gentle approach. This (ministry) is getting started because I started showing people real examples and telling them it is wrong. My friend’s 16 year-old son has been repeatedly bullied at church. We finally told the senior pastor that this is plain wrong and needs to be fixed now.I have more stories, but ultimately, the only thing that has worked for me is being completely blunt.”

And then, Carlyle said something that broke my heart: “Maybe I’m not the right person to do this.”

We continued chatting. Carlyle had very wisely planned for several other friends to stand with him at church as he greeted people and began to talk about inclusion.
He said, “I’m hoping to surround myself with people that will do the talking for me. Like most Aspies, I can be intense, and people are guaranteed to misread me.”

Carlyle and I also decided that it would be helpful to have a handout that people could take home and read. (You can download this handout here: Handout: Autism). With these plans in place, Carlyle was ready to raise awareness about his inclusion ministry that very Sunday.

On Monday, I received this message Carlyle: “Not only did God open the door, but he rolled out the red carpet. Only one person had an issue with my shirt, and her issue really wasn’t my shirt. (She thought I was making fun of autism). After talking to me, she wants me to meet her grandson, who has autism.”

Soon, more exciting things happened in Carlyle’s ministry: “I have a family with a 13 year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome. His mother is also on the spectrum. They stopped attending church due to how they were treated. She is a friend of mine and I’ve convinced her to fill out those forms you gave me for her son and to meet with the family ministries pastor.

“Also, something very interesting happened yesterday. When we were attending our previous church, there was a young woman studying children’s ministry that I tried to befriend. She didn’t want to have anything to do with me (then).  She suddenly friended me on Facebook yesterday and posted on my wall:

“Hi Carlyle I saw you yesterday didn’t get a chance to say hello It was good to see you. Just so you know I think you’re you starting an inclusion ministry is an answer to my prayers.I’ve been praying for more awareness of the diverse needs of people. Especially people with developmental disabilities.”

Several weeks later, Carlyle and I collaborated on a presentation that he gave to all of the adult Sunday School classes in his church. He then sent this message:

“Guess what?vI now have a ministry team including two psychologists, three counselors, two social workers, and a professor that teaches special ed. We have been asked to not only deliver the 15 minute talk you and I put together for Sunday School classes, but to develop in service training for church staff and volunteers.

“I still can’t believe that a team where half the people have more education than I is still looking at me as the leader!”

And I thought to myself…”I can believe it.”

Of all of the messages that Carlyle has sent, this is probably my favorite…

“(This past weekend) we went to a BBQ with some people from my new Sunday School class. They seem to genuinely like me and are eager to learn how they can be good friends for me…

That’s a big deal for me.”

Yes. It IS a big deal for Carlyle…
and a big deal for the Kingdom.

~Katie

Don’t forget to check out Carlyle’s blog!