To most, this picture is insignificant, unimportant, and irrelevant. But to me, this picture means the world. To me this picture says, “You belong here.” To me this picture says, “You were meant for this.” To me this picture says, “This is your kingdom impact.” To me this picture tells a piece of my story.
Several years ago now, when I was in elementary school, I can remember spending countless hours riding along with my Granny to pick up her “Sunny Corner” friends to take them shopping, pay their phone bill, or give them a ride to church. For 30-ish years she taught the Sunny Corner Sunday School Class for special needs adults. She was the epitome of compassionate faithfulness.
When I entered Jr. High, there was a sweet girl with downs syndrome who attended my home church for a while. I learned that sometimes loving people with special needs comes through discipline and grace.
For a few years I packed care packages for college students and attended Jesus Jam with a dear friend of mine, who has special needs as well. I learned that she was just like me – she wanted to laugh too, she wanted to sing and dance too, she wanted friendships too.
In high school, I was grafted into the monthly rotation of teaching the preschool class at my home church. My mentor and friend spoke truth to me, guided me, and challenged me to grow in an area of my life in which she saw potential.
In college, I was placed in a life group, of which the leader is a Down’s Syndrome Mom, Special Needs Minister, Adoption and Inclusivity Advocate, Lover of People, and Hospitality Extraordinaire. She encouraged me. She listened to me. She filled out references for me. She invited me into her life.
Since leaving college, I have been working for the Joplin Early Childhood Center as a Paraprofessional for special needs and low income children. I could not have asked for a better group of women to work with. They teach me and they inspire me. They tell me that I can do this. They tell me that I belong. Every day we work with the worst of what Joplin has to offer. We see and deal with the direct results of addictions and abuse. Every day is a battle against the brokenness and evil of the world we live in. Every day is an opportunity to love my Jesus by serving “the least of these.” But though the world may view them as lesser than, Jesus said “Let the little children come to me.” And I will make a way.
I will be His arms to wrap them in a hug. I will be His feet to walk beside them. I will be His hands to help them up when they stumble. I will make a way for the little children to come to Him. This will be my kingdom impact.
This picture is something that I love. This picture is a long awaited, prayed over, cried over, result of God’s hand working in my life. How truly wonderful it is to know that His plans are better than mine and how sweet it is to rest in His hands and to be His child.