Tag Archives: disabilities

Advocating for Joey . . .

10 Sep

There is something wonderful about finding a community for your disabled child. We have rejoiced as we have seen our son blossom at his three year college/horticulture program in Wisconsin. This is his second year.

Something really neat that happens is you start to realize how everyone in such a community plays a role in advocacy for the disabled. The disabled even learn to self-advocate.

In our advocacy, we are not all the same. I am Joey’s mom. That means that my natural bent is to advocate for Joey. It doesn’t mean I *can’t advocate for others, but just that my most natural stance is as Joey’s advocate. The more successful I am at helping him, the more I can generalize my skills to helping others.

Meanwhile, the staff are the ones who have to advocate for everyone, to keep things in balance, and to make sure that no one gets left behind, even if their parents are *not strong advocates for them.

That advocacy is to be expected and honored. It is a totally healthy part of Joey’s community.

So it is that our latest challenge is how to find time for Joey, who was left in the dorms with one other second year student, to be part of his second year class, which is living, mostly, in a group home situation on campus.

One of their classmates is actually in the third year apartments and that person turns out to be Joey’s best friend.

So you have best friends who are of vastly different abilities. Happens all the time in the real world.

And you have college, where best friends expect to eat together and spend time chatting every day of the schoolyear. That is how all of us have experienced college. That is how people with disabilities like to experience it, too.

The school is growing and that is a good thing. Having too many people in a class to fit them all in the group home is a good thing, too, showing that we need to be serious about fundraising and getting at least one more group home built on campus.

But we have our individual children with disabilities living in this situation. We need to have the wisdom of Solomon so their college experiences will be as normative as possible.

I am glad I am working with a valiant group of advocates for the disabled. This wonderful group of staff finds solutions to help our wonderful group of students. Every time.

With God’s help we do this . . .


Sad Story of Decades of Exploitation of the Disabled . . . in Iowa!

11 Mar

Sad Story of Decades of Exploitation of the Disabled . . . in Iowa!


Our Son is on Holy Ground!

22 Aug

Our Son is on Holy Ground!

The day we had anticipated, August 3, 2013, arrived just like any other day. It was strange that it didn’t seem to be totally different from the other days of our lives thus far. It was undeniably normal.

Yet, at 5:00 that afternoon, Wisconsin time, we would be departing the campus of Shepherds College, leaving our 21-year-old disabled son in the midst of strangers who were becoming fast friends.

Joey would be going to college at Shepherds. In a three-year program. Learning horticulture, and life skills, and Bible, and other academics. The four things we wanted for him in a college experience were all there, in a small-town setting. Yet close to the big city. Half an hour south of Milwaukee; an hour north of Chicago.

What a wonderful setting!

And what a history the Shepherds campus had! Begun in the 1950’s as a group home for disabled children (back in the day when parents did not keep their disabled children at home), the enthusiastic staff there had honed their skills set in working with the disabled for over fifty years.

Yet, in the early years of the new millennium, Shepherds Ministries had had to face the inevitability of death (and acute care facilities) slowly claiming the original population of the group home, as they aged into their 60’s and 70’s. Among the staff of Shepherds, so gifted in loving the disabled population, each death or departure was grieved deeply.

The leadership remained in prayer about what the mission of Shepherds could become, in an age when parents keep their disabled children at home until they reach adulthood.

Lo, the idea loomed to begin a college for people with disabilities. Not an add-on program for a state university system, with aides to shadow the disabled students, but a whole college experience geared to disabilities. And centered on Christ.

We heard the story of Shepherds College that first week of August as we parents gathered together with our offspring in the college gym, preparing to say goodbye.

We heard how it was begun in 2008, with six students. How the population has nearly doubled every subsequent year to reach the current total of 60 students. How the growth of Shepherds is off-the-scale astronomical because it is a unique ministry uniquely resonating with a population of families who come through the door and immediately become part of the Shepherds family!

It is holy ground. Holy ground inhabited by real people. People with disabilities, wanting to learn and grow and serve God with the best of their abilities. People who are called to minister to people with disabilities. Called from every corner of this nation. In fact, when the 35 or so staff fanned out across the front of the gym to dedicate themselves to God and to our children for this schoolyear, I can honestly say I have never seen such a loving, talented, dedicated group of young people all together anywhere in my life!

We fight back the tears of joy!

In fact, I shared during our time together how, when I faced breast cancer in 2008, my chemotherapy began in June, just as they were gearing up for their first schoolyear in August.

Only . . . I did not know about Shepherds then. I had heard of the group home back in the 1950’s, when my church in Michigan supported it. But I knew nothing about how the ministry had evolved since then.

And, in one of those wonderful displays of God’s sovereignty, my desperate prayer that summer of 2008 when I was afraid I might die and when I pleaded with God to help me find a place where our disabled son might belong–that prayer was answered. It was answered across the country in the small town of Union Grove, Wisconsin, in the very moment I was praying it . . .

It was answered on the holy ground of the Shepherds campus.

As my husband and I drove away that day in August, we became aware, for the first time since we found out our only child has autism, that if we had an auto accident or something else happened to us (because no one lives forever), our son would be just fine. He belongs to us, but he belongs to others now as well. He belongs to the Shepherds family. And that is a wonderful development in his life!!!

But My Family is So Different From Anyone Else’s . . .

22 Sep

For Sunday morning, one of my favorite posts from our Tabernacle Baptist blog. Yes, I wrote it, but I also lived it. God still uses John 9 to calm me, grow me, and just, in general, love on me! He is wonderful!!!

Tabernacle for Today

John 9:1-3:  “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.  And his disciples asked him, saying, ‘Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered, ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents:  but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

I have a friend who recently married into a blended family situation.  When issues first arose with one or the other of the children, she wrote that she and her husband needed to “find our new normal.”  I love that.  Not only do I love it for my friend’s family, I love it for my family, and I love it for every brave, struggling Christian family out there.

Normal looks so different in every home.  While there are inviolable principles of Scripture that should instruct every home that claims His Name…

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