Your Best Life Now. Not.

I follow Tim Keller on Facebook. And recently, he posted a quote that caught my eye.

We get angry when we feel like God owes us a better life than we have.

Ooh. That one stings. Have you ever experienced this?

Maybe it was anger over a promotion you didn’t receive at work. Or maybe it happened when you put in a bid on your dream house you wanted to buy—but the deal fell through. Or perhaps it was a slow burn resentment towards the neighbor’s kid who was awarded a full scholarship to college while you were working night and day to meet the tuition bills to put your kids through school. It can pop up almost anywhere. This type of anger can be so insidious.

Those of us who are parents of children with disabilities are particularly, dangerously, prone to the experience of destructive anger. It doesn’t just get directed at God. In fact, much more frequently, it can be directed at others. And even done in God’s name. It can sound a lot like this:

“The body of Christ is supposed to care for each other. Well I have yet to see anyone at MY house. Everybody else is out there, living their best life while I’m still changing diapers, driving to endless doctor’s appointments, and trying to make some headway in an impossible education system. What a joke.”

“Everybody belongs. That’s what our church website says. Ha! Not my kid.”

“Well, yeah, my church does do some stuff for us. But honestly, it’s just not enough. It never is. ‘Love one another.’ I guess that’s just for the other people.”

Anger is sometimes referred to as a “secondary emotion.” In other words: when we feel anger, we need to look to see what emotions might actually be behind it: Disappointment. Despair. Frustration. Loneliness. Fear.

In addition to looking for the “emotions behind the emotion” we also need consider what kind of thinking is precipitating those primary feelings. For example:

  • Do we possess tightly held expectations that we need to exchange for open-handed desires?
  • Do we possess an entitlement mentality that we need to exchange for vulnerability?
  • Are we wallowing in resentment of the life we have when we need to embrace acceptance of the life God has given us?

None of this is easy. Parenting kids (and adults) with developmental disabilities requires navigating along a pathway fraught with spiritual landmines. Rather than blow up our families and the relationships with others around us, however, we can learn to discern the depths of our own sin-prone hearts and to develop a heart of wisdom via the power of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” It takes wisdom to remember that this life isn’t about “your best life now.”

For the believer, it’s always about transforming each of us into the image of Christ, bit by bit. This is true in abundance and in want, in happiness and in sorrow, and in ability or disability. For, when God’s transforming grace is at work in our lives, it changes how we see and experience our daily realities. And it changes what we expect from others, who are also in the midst of their own very incomplete transformations as well.

Martin Luther once said this:

This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness.
Not health, but healing.
Not being, but becoming.
Not rest, but exercise.
We are not what we should be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end, but it is the road.
All does not gleam in glory, but all is being purified.

No believer lives their best life now. Not one. “This is not the end, but it is the road.”

The Scripture is clear that, for every Christian, the best is yet to come. That said, when we focus on pursuing our own transformation in godliness, we will be freed to care about meeting the needs of others more than having our own needs met. That’s a good place to start.

Remember: We get angry when we feel like God owes us a better life than we have.

So this week, listen to your thoughts and your words.

  • Honestly. Are you angry?
  • What emotions might be behind the anger?
  • Can you name them?
  • Is there any errant thinking that is driving your underlying feelings?
  • Can you redirect those thoughts to healthier ones?
  • Are you believing the cultural lie that you should be living “your best life now?”
  • Do you need to repent of that?
  • Can you seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit to sidestep these landmines and focus on the true aim of this life for the Christian—being conformed to the image of Christ?

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

That’s my prayer for you, and for me today.


Stephanie O. Hubach is a Research Fellow in Disability Ministries in affiliation with Covenant Theological Seminary. From 2007-2016 she served as the Founding Director of Mission to North America’s Special Needs Ministries (Presbyterian Church in America). She is also a founding member of the Lancaster Christian Council on Disability (LCCD). Steph is the author of Parenting & Disabilities: Abiding in God’s Presence (P&R Publishing, 2021), Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability (P&R Publishing, 2006, Revised & Expanded Edition 2020), and All Things Possible: Calling Your Church Leadership to Disability Ministry (Joni and Friends, 2007). She has been published in ByFaith magazine, Focus on the Family magazine, and Breakpoint online magazine and produced a Christian Education DVD series based on Same Lake, Different Boat. Steph and her husband have two deeply loved sons, the younger of whom has Down syndrome.

For further information on her work, go to www.stephaniehubach.com.

New Book Opens Doors for Fun and Advocacy

Over the course of twenty-plus years working in the field of Disability Ministry, I have heard countless stories from parents and caregivers who struggle to navigate a less than accessible world. Trips as a full family into public must be meticulously planned and executed around meals and potential bathroom breaks. The near impossibility of making things work perfectly often causes more stress than families are willing to go through. The result, families are forced to play tag team. One parent always stays home to care for their child with a disability while the other ventures out.

Can you relate?

One of the major obstacles for families is the lack of universal-sized changing tables in restrooms. This is not unique to churches. Public spaces everywhere have looked the other way when it comes to true accessibility. And when a child outgrows an infant-sized changing table the world is no longer accessible.

Parents and caregivers that are brave enough to venture out despite the lack of universal-sized changing tables can be forced to lay their loved ones on a filthy bathroom floor or change them in the back of a van for the whole world to see. Lack of accessibility in restrooms robs people of their dignity. This should not be!

All people deserve dignity.

So what can anyone do about it? It seems like a problem that is too big or too broken to fix.

On today's blog, we're excited to introduce you to a new collaboration between Ryan Wolfe (founder of Ability Ministry) and illustrator Adam Bryant. 

Their book "The Incredible Shrinking Toilets" is opening doors for fun and meaningful conversations around the awkward topic of bathroom accessibility.

An obvious obstacle to change is the fact that talking about what goes on in the bathroom is awkward at best.

That is why Adam Bryant and I wrote a book called, The Tale of the Shrinking Toilets.

Adam Bryant, an accomplished artist, is the book’s illustrator. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 11. Adam never saw his diagnosis as a detriment, but rather a blessing. He graduated high school with honors and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in animation. Adam shares, “What keeps me going as an artist is wanting to make a positive impact on the world with my art and helping reach others! That’s what I feel like I am here to do, and why I was given these talents!”

What exactly is this toilet book all about?

Why read a book full of potty talk? It is not because the author wants to push the buttons of the polite police in your lives. There is a much deeper meaning behind all this toilet talk.

You will soon find out that the world changed forever on “Two Two Day” when all the toilets in public restrooms mysteriously shrunk to miniature size. The Tale of the Shrinking Toilets reveals the devastating consequences of an inaccessible world as it paints a powerful allegory and invites its readers an opportunity to be change agents.

The book is meant to break the ice in a fun way on the difficult topic of bathroom accessibility. It was meant to be used as a conversation starter.

If your church does, favorite restaurant, business, etc. does not have a universal-sized changing table, buy this book for the lead pastor or business owner. Let the book start the awkward conversation for you. Ask them to read it and then follow up with them after they have read the book.

Do not just point out the problem. Tell them why accessibility is important to you, your family, and families like yours! Then present them with practical doable solutions and next steps.

In addition to the book, we have created a website full of resources to help you be a change agent in your community. Visit our website here.

If you want to get involved and make a difference check out our Initiative page. On this page, there are ways to contact your local officials, sample letters you can use to lobby for change, blueprints for building a DIY universal-sized changing table, and links to purchase affordable options.

If your church or business needs a universal-sized changing table, grant money is also available for your project. Learn more about those grants here.

This story is dedicated to all people with disabilities and their loved ones who are forced to navigate the frustrating landscape of a world that is neither kind nor accessible. Living in a world that is not accessible is not fiction.

This is reality. Thankfully, there is a solution to this crisis. Installing universal-sized changing stations in public restrooms can make all the difference in the world. Be a part of the solution. Do not be afraid of a little potty talk.

If you would like to purchase a book grab one in the Ability Ministry store. Every penny of your purchase goes to the grant fund that we make available for churches.

Thank you for being a change agent. Remember, everyone deserves dignity and you can provide that for them by being an advocate.


Ryan Wolfe is the President and CEO of Ability Ministry, a non-profit organization that provides homes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Ability Ministry also works with religious organizations, helping them to establish and advance Disability Ministry programming and outreach. In addition to being an author and featured speaker, Ryan is a passionate advocate for individuals with disabilities. His personal mission is to fight not only for inclusion but also for meaningful opportunities of belonging.

When Caregiving Sparks Stress Instead of Joy, What Can You Do?

When caregiving sparks stress instead of joy, what can you do about it? That’s a question I began mulling over since I posted a survey on my website about stress and compassion fatigue in caregivers way back in 2019.

Within 2 days, the survey had been completed 500 times. Less than a month later, that number had risen to almost 1,500. This was a full year before COVID and the pandemic reared their ugly heads. Keep that in mind while you read through the statistic below.

  • 98% of the caregivers said their duties cause extra stress in their daily lives.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, the average stress level of parents was 6.4.
  • 91% said caregiving has affected their mental health.
  • 87% said caregiving has affected their physical health.

Further analysis can be found the Different Dream website. 

To borrow a phrase from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the statistics show that caregiving is sparking as much stress as joy in parents raising kids with special needs. Which is why I’ve been pondering the question posed earlier: when caregiving sparks stress instead of joy, what can you do about it? 

Look for Signs of Post-Traumatic Growth

One thing we can do is remember that traumatic and stressful events can lead to positive outcomes. Researchers Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun refer to this phenomenon as post traumatic growth. They identified seven areas of growth that spring in people who struggle with challenging life circumstances.

  • Greater appreciation of life
  • Greater appreciation and strengthening of close relationships
  • Increased compassion and altruism
  • The identification of new possibilities or a purpose in life
  • Greater awareness and utilization of personal strength
  • Enhanced spiritual development
  • Creative growth

As caregivers, we can look for these signs of post-traumatic growth in our lives. While you may not find evidence of all seven, you may be surprised by how much growth you have experienced.

Cultivate Greater Post-Traumatic Growth

A simple way to cultivate greater post-traumatic growth in yourself and those around you is to capture your caregiving stories so they don’t get lost. Here are a few ideas about how to do so:

  • Tell your stories to family members. Record them on audio and video.
  • Write them down for yourself only, in letters to a few people, or for broader publication.
  • Take pictures of the people in your stories and add captions for the benefit of future generations.

Now, take a moment to make a list of caregiving stories you want to capture and preserve for yourself and those you love.

Validate Your Emotions

Some, but not all, aspects of caregiving stress can be reframed as positives. Therefore, it’s important for us to identify and validate the negative emotions associated with caregiving stress. This exercise, which Kristin Faith Evans introduced in a Different Dream guest post, can guide you through the process.

  • Name a painful emotion related to the pandemic.
  • Say to yourself, “It makes sense I’m feeling this way considering _________________________.”
  • Give yourself time to feel and release hard emotions.

Move Toward Acceptance

Once you’ve validated your emotions related to caregiving stress, Kristin encourages parents to move on to acceptance by asking these questions:

  1. What have I lost because of caregiving?
  2. What have I gained because of the pandemic?
  3. What have I learned through this experience?
  4. How has my faith been strengthened?
  5. What permanent changes do I need to accept?

Seek Professional Help

The above strategies can alleviate stress, but parents who engage in day-to-day caregiving may need the services of a mental health care professional to help spark their joy again. This post offers simple steps to help caregivers find qualified therapists with a Christian worldview near where they live.

The caregiving life can be stressful. It can also spark growth, joy, and enhanced spiritual development. Wise caregivers will use the five strategies above to reduce stress, and at the same time increase joy and faith to benefit themselves and those they love. 


Jolene Philo grew up in a caregiving family and raised a son with medical special needs. As a teacher, she created an inclusive classroom for children with disabilities for 25 years. She’s authored several books for the special needs and disability community, including Every Child Welcome: A Ministry Handbook for Including Kids with Special Needs and Sharing Love Abundantly with Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilities. She hosts the award-winning blog, www.DifferentDream.comSee Jane Run!, the first cozy mystery in her series that includes characters with disabilities was published in June of 2022. Jolene and her husband live in a multigenerational family in Polk City with her daughter, son-in-law and their two young children.


Truth About Adoption

Thank you to Leah Lundgren Spring for sharing today’s contribution. May God use it to grow our understanding, compassion, respect, and vision! As the world churns with troubling questions, let us consider the range of options, collaborate to make more solutions possible, and celebrate those who come alongside others who are hurting.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless and see that they get justice.”

PROVERBS 31:8-9

I will never hide the truth of adoption.

Lots of future adoptive parents are watching me. And other adoptive families. They don’t understand what it means when you say, “we deal with lots of hard things.”

What is “hard”?

We are fortunate that, so far, this has been the easiest of our adoptions. But this is our sixth, and we are well prepared thanks to some of our other adoptions that were extremely traumatic for everyone, including our other kids, and myself, and my husband, Dean.

Some of the Spring Family

I will tell you, we deal with a teenager attitude with the cognitive ability an 8 year old and the social skills of 4 or 5 year old.

We deal with trauma triggers like suitcases due to far too many moves for one child, and too many caregivers. Riding in our big van is associated with being picked up at the airport.

This started in Bulgaria and continues here: When we drive down the road to anywhere she is constantly on the lookout for black SUVs, which she refers to as “jeep.” She studies the people inside. There is a slight sense of fear in her body language when one is close to us. Yesterday after picking up her glasses, there was a black SUV parked next to us, on her side of the car. She stopped in her tracks and stared at it, then cautiously walked to her door until she could see there was nobody inside. Did someone she know drive a vehicle like this and she’s afraid they’ll take her back? Did a person who once hurt or abandoned her drive one? We may never know.

Spring family on the road in their van.

Hard is thinking that having a teenager who obsessively DEEP cleans the entire house, top to bottom, would be a blessing. Why does she know how to do this? Who taught her? Was she taught for good reasons such as channeling her high energy and obsessive compulsive disorder? Or was she forced to clean and she thinks she needs to earn her keep? And hard is finding all the things you’re missing because the cleaner put them in a “better” place.

Hard is a child who can be absolutely darling 85% of the time. Until other people come around. All kids test. Please don’t say “all kids do that.” I have lots of kids. I know what kids do. I also know when a kid with severely disordered attachment is trying to manipulate strangers or visitors and how uncomfortable it is to deal with it. And I feel the judgement of others who don’t understand how absolutely firm our “no” must be.

Hard is parenting a child who, for 14 years, has never been told “no.” Hard is knowing that walking into a store means dealing with employees who say things like, “Oh, it’s ok. She can take that.” After all, it’s just an advertisement flyer. Or business card. Or free sample. And you sound like a mean parent for saying “no” to the child — Every. Single. Time. No. Matter. What. Because one “yes” means starting all over.

Hard is having a daily “paper clean out” of all the paper items taken from stores when you weren’t looking.

Hard is wanting to buy your child all the things she has never had but she already feels entitled because she’s gotten new things and thinks every new thing that comes into the house must be for her and forget anyone else.

A Spring family meal.

Hard is telling people please don’t bring her gifts.

Hard is watching the other kids struggle to adjust.

Hard is limiting independence already learned due to necessity, because it puts her in a position of power over other kids in the house. “Helping” isn’t always a good thing.

Hard is not allowing your child to even say “hello” to strangers in passing because she misunderstand it is safe to leave with them. Why not? She left with me, a total stranger.

Hard is standing in a check-out line while keeping your body between her and anyone else because she will start adjusting the clothing on total strangers.

Hard is having total strangers in public places ask questions for which they feel entitled to answers. I’m all about sharing our story, but it’s not always the appropriate time.

Hard is teaching English to a child with cognitive delays.

Like I said, this has been our easiest adoption. But that doesn’t mean we’re not exhausted.

It also does not mean we have regrets. We have ZERO regrets! Every day I ask “how can this be so easy? What’s ahead that we don’t yet know? Or is it easy because we already did the crazy high stress adoption?”

Hard is all the things we cannot share.

Hard is knowing her “hard” is a million times worse than ours.

Adoption is hard.

And so worth it.

RELATED: Churches that Encourage Adoption Should be Trauma Informed and Disability Accommodating


Leah Lundgren Spring is mom to lots of kids. In addition to her 6 adult children, Leah and her husband, Dean, have adopted several other children. All have Down syndrome. She has also lived through breast cancer with chemo, had 16 major surgeries (most related to cancer, including bilateral mastectomy and numerous breast reconstruction surgeries), scratched her head along with doctors when deciding how to keep one child alive, moved house, wiped noses, brushed teeth, trimmed toenails, cleaned g-tubes, and did more laundry than she cares to remember. The Spring family recently welcomed the newest American citizen to their family — Adell from Bulgaria — making theirs a family of 14!

First Fruits and Surprises

Jon and Sylvia Flint have an inspiring and challenging story for us all. They have been faithful prayer partners, cheerleaders, and monthly donors supporting Walk Right In Ministries for many years. Their generous partnership may have started out as simple compassion but it has grown for surprising reasons over the years.

We’re thankful they shared their story, and thankful you are taking time to read it. God’s ways are ever-increasingly powerful and meaningful, when we step out in faith to follow His promptings.

It was many years ago when we decided that we needed to financially give back to God much more than we had been doing. We were giving far less than the ten percent tithe that many churches and pastors promote. Something or Someone inside of us kept whispering that we should do more.

And so we began.

As we approached the ten percent goal of such gifts, we began to understand that said number was not the roof of the “giving house” but rather the floor. And God really didn’t just want our left over “10% plus” income. He preferred the “first fruit” (Exodus 23:16, Deuteronomy 14:22).

At the same time, we were beginning to understand that we couldn’t out-give God.  Every time we would increase our giving, additional funds seemed to mysteriously appear. Where before this learning we had been living from paycheck to paycheck, we were beginning to have enough money to do things beyond basics and not have to call the bank to see if our check would bounce.

As we gave funds to typical non-profit groups, we noted that the whole world began to be in touch with us. We didn’t realize how much mail one person or family unit could receive each day. It seemed that the total group of non-profits keeping in touch with us was collectively spending more money on stamps than we were providing the few that we were supporting. We quickly realized that we needed to decide on those we were going to support and advise the others to look elsewhere. We did the first very quickly but they, the non-profits, didn’t keep their part of our one-sided bargain. To this day, we throw away so much unasked for mail from non-profits that we bemoan the wasted money we see going through our mail box.

Enter “Walk Right In Ministries!”

We’ve known Lisa & Larry Jamieson for more years than any of us would like to admit to. They’re members of our greater family. Larry is Jon’s nephew. We attended their wedding. We rejoiced as their children were born. We  watched from afar as their youngest was born even as something seemed different from the norm. We prayed with and for them as they struggled to determine what was going on with her and what support was available to help them through the different difficulties they had with Carly.

It was obvious that there wasn’t much of a support system for families like theirs. Yet, rather than sit and complain at what was happening to them, they chose to begin to be active and build a support system, not just for their situation but for the situations of many families who have special needs.

We must admit that we waited a bit to see if this ministry was for real or just a passing fad. It didn’t take long to realize that they were in this for the long haul. And it was also obvious that monies provided were going to be put to good use – not frivolously. These folks are the same “off camera” as they are “on!”

As time went on, we increased our financial support and watched as God used it through Walk Right In Ministries and, at the same time, God provided us with more to be shared with others.

Of course, as is the case in so many other places in our lives, God was already preparing the way in our personal lives.

Several years later we received the privilege of having a special needs great granddaughter (Cambria, pictured here) born into our immediate family. She lives here in our town.

It’s been a great sense of comfort to know that Walk Right In Ministries is available as quickly as a phone call. Even as they may not directly know the answer to the various questions we have, they have many contacts that can help with the support needed.

Earlier we said that you can’t out-give God. We should not limit our understanding of the gifts we receive to the financial world. The comfort and peace we feel in knowing that there is a whole community of help, available as needed, is far greater than any monetary gift we are able to provide.

People insure so many things in their lives and yet, too often, they ignore the most important parts of that life until it’s too late to receive help.

Come and join many others who have insured what is often thought to be the uninsurable – finding help and support in times of intense need.

There is help out there. If someone can only tell us where. Look to Walk Right In Ministries.




Contact us to RSVP for Reach Night and get all the details!

Guest Post: Not Yet

The waiting room.

We have all been there. Most of life is waiting for the next thing, the next season, the next phase.

The waiting room is sterile, awkward, and a place of palpable fear.

For those of us who are suffering, waiting is incredibly painful.

We are waiting for a cure. Waiting for rescue. 

Copyright: nanobey

As we wait, we massage the heartache of disappointment from dashed dreams. We try to convince ourselves that it will be okay — that is, until another salt-tipped dagger stabs our resilience.

Some of us are okay with waiting. But MOST of us are asking why, when, and how?

Why didn’t God answer my prayers for my deliverance or my loved one’s healing from a diagnosis? 

When will this agony of daily grief be over?

How long, O Lord?

I struggle with chronic suffering. I live in circumstances that cannot be fixed by intellect, hard work, or service to the church. I am the mother of a disabled daughter. I am the grieving daughter who lost her mother to a slow death from metastatic cancer.

I have wrestled with the God I chose to follow at age 7. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior with the vigor of child-like faith. But suffering has caused me to question this faith. 

My childhood faith was black and white.

My adult faith is grey.

My childhood faith was the easy proclamation of “Jesus loves me.”

My adult faith is accepting “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him.” 

My childhood faith was about receiving.

My adult faith is about letting go of the most tightly held parts of my heart.

As a child, I was focused on Jesus’ hands. He healed the blind with his touch and he stilled the storms with a wave of his hand. With such a miraculous God, trust and obey was the assumed cadence.

But as an adult, as trials have heaped more questions than answers, I am focused on Jesus’ heart. I want to understand his purpose when he suffered on the cross. Because now I feel nailed to my own cross. And I need someone else to carry it for me. Especially in the trial of unanswered prayer, I am fighting to trust and obey. 

The call to trust and obey does not change from childhood to adulthood. But as adults, we just have more doubts about whether God is trustworthy. We become suspicious that He may not know all of our needs. Does He really know us personally? Does He really have our best interests at heart? 

The world is certainly filled with enough evil that it may seem God is hands-off and uncaring. We may see his “NO” stamped on every gravestone and stack of medical bills. There are even passages in Scripture that can cause us to doubt God’s love. But when we view Scripture as a whole from Genesis to Revelation, we see our story in the context of a greater one.

When we read the Bible to understand the giver and not the gifts, our filter changes. 

We see God’s heartbreak when his creation rebels against Him. We see God’s loving-kindness in providing for complainers in the wilderness. We see God’s tenderness to those who even killed him. We see God’s justice when evil will no longer win. We see God’s mercy in how he pursues us in our rebellion.

Through this lens, we are more aware of our need for rescue, and we stand in awe of a trustworthy God. As our minds are transformed, our emotions are also sanctified by these truths. But during this transformation, we still need to learn how to reconcile unanswered prayer.

We are tempted to believe that God’s final answer is No.

But in reality, His answer is just not yet.

It is not yet time for physical healing. It is not yet time for deliverance from the salty dagger. God is asking us to hold onto hope for the finale. And while we wait, He calls us to hold onto Him. For His grace is sufficient. 

Finding comfort in the end of the story is what fuels us to go on to the next chapter.

When our timeline ends at death, suffering seems purposeless.

But when our timeline extends into eternity, suffering produces hope. 

For the Christian, being told “not yet” is an act of love. “Not yet” is the gentle but firm hand on our shoulder as we try to cross a busy street. “Not yet” is the hand that wipes our tears when we get a disappointing rejection. “Not yet” is the hope of rescue we have in chronic suffering. Like a mother who dandles her child on her knee. Like a father who disciplines the child he loves. As a parent, God cares more about our character than our comfort. It is God’s loving-kindness in “not yet” that draws us to repentance. He is an intentional Creator that calls us to our customized crosses. But He does not leave us hopeless. God promises to restore decay and death for His children in eternity. But how does this truth change our daily hope?

Our daily cross-carrying is the secret to palpating Calvary for it solidifies our hope in our Savior.

Our good Savior rescues us from our inadequacy and carries us — with our crosses and all. We learn to hope in the Lord, instead of hoping in rescue from our circumstance. We are comforted by the sovereignty of God even in the darkest experiences of our lives. One day in heaven, we will thank Him for telling us “not yet” for we shall see how “yes” would have caused us to love ourselves too much. We will thank him for sparing us from a shallow gospel. 

When we understand these truths, the waiting will be less suffocating. In fact, the waiting room can even be a place of rest.

We may not have all of the answers, but we know Who holds them. Let us gather in the waiting room, each with our own chronic ailments and circumstances that are impenetrable to medication and expert advice. Let us keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He is the author of our stories and the perfecter of our faith especially in trial. Let us wait with expectancy for this deliverance in eternity. Let us encourage one another when we receive the disappointing news of “not yet.” And when it is time for our names to be called, and our waiting is over, let us run to our trustworthy Savior. For our Heavenly Father will be standing at the door, welcoming his children home. And the reunion will be sweeter because of the wait.

It will happen. Just not yet.

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved.” 

Romans 8:18-24

Rachelle Keng is a physician practicing Obstetrics & Gynecology in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she lives with her husband Michael and their two daughters. She cares deeply for people and has a passion for writing about her reflections on life and faith. Rachelle’s oldest daughter has Angelman Syndrome. Her experiences as a special needs mom are often the inspiration for her writing.

An Introduction to Special Needs Financial Planning

We’ve been sharing a lot lately about cultivating robust supports around your family impacted by disability. Since financial planning is one part of that process — and an intimidating part for many people, indeed — we wanted to take a side step in this post to share a some very practical insights from a respected friend. The following article first appeared at the Thrivent blog on June 24, 2021. It is re-shared here with the permission of Alex Gonzalez, the author of the article and a current Board member here at Walk Right In Ministries. Please feel welcome to make an appointment with Alex if you have specific questions about your own financial planning process.


Raising a child with special needs can bring joy and challenges in equal measure. Alex Gonzalez and his wife, Simone, know this well because their oldest son, Jake, lives with autism and Asperger syndrome.

Alex sums up his experience as a parent and his guidance as a Thrivent financial consultant with this simple message: “Try not to go it alone.”

“It’s stressful when a parent receives a diagnosis that their child’s physical or cognitive challenges will continue for life,” he says. “It’s normal to feel anger and grief. My wife and I needed to adjust our thinking in those painful times.”

Thanks to a supportive school district and careful planning, at 26 years old, Jake is working full time and living independently. Here is what you can learn from the Gonzalez family.

Create a financial plan unique to your family.

It is common for parents to prioritize their child’s needs over their own, especially financially. Studies by the American College of Financial Services indicate that 90% of special needs and disability family members and caregivers admit that caring for their loved one is more important to them than planning for their own retirement. But it could be even more difficult to help your loved ones if your financial future is in jeopardy.

Start by mapping out your own long-term financial needs.

Alex recommends parents work with a financial professional to create a financial plan* for long-term clarity. “It’s like the scenario where you’re on an airplane and the flight attendant tells you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping your child,” he says. For example, “If you don’t have the right kind of disability income insurance and become disabled, you will have a harder time helping your disabled child.”

Update your retirement income plans to include your child’s needs.

Putting together a solid retirement plan is also vital. From calculating retirement income needs to setting strategies to optimize Social Security or other government benefits, there are many things to consider. “Parents realize that their retirement budget could have an extra line item for their child’s supplemental costs,” Alex says. For example, accounting for the expense of experiences or services that aren’t covered by government benefits such as transportation expenses (car, travel, etc.) or therapy that isn’t covered.

And making sure that your beneficiaries are in good order is critical. Alex tells of a young adult whose parents passed away after naming their son as beneficiary of their 401(k) retirement accounts. If they had a financial professional helping with their plans, the parents would likely have known such a decision would jeopardize their son’s ability to receive the need-based government assistance he qualified for. While a situation like this is able to be remedied, it would likely take time and resources to help ensure your wishes are carried out as you intended.

Leverage the tax-advantaged ABLE account.

What is an ABLE account? An ABLE account (Achieving a Better Life Experience Act) was established by Congress in 2014 and offers individuals whose disability began before age 26 a tax-advantaged way to save money without affecting their government benefits. 

The law was in response to a potential roadblock that families faced in the strict qualification rules for need-based government assistance. Assets in the child’s name must not exceed the threshold of eligibility to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a federal program that provides money for food and housing; and Medicaid, a state and federal program that pays for medical expenses.

The list of ways ABLE accounts may be used includes:

  • Basic living expenses
  • Housing
  • Education and training
  • Transportation
  • Assistive technology
  • Financial management and legal fees

ABLE account earnings grow tax deferred, and withdrawals are free from income tax if used for qualified disability expenses. ABLE accounts are set up through a state or state agency that administers them.

Family members and others may contribute up to the maximum yearly limit of $15,000. Government benefits will not be affected if the account stays under a total of $100,000. Any funds remaining in the ABLE account at the beneficiary’s death may be required to repay government benefits received while the account was funded. 

Consider setting up a special needs trust for your child.

An irrevocable special needs trust is a more complex planning tool that allows you or loved ones to leave assets to your child without affecting the individual’s government assistance. There are two types of special needs trusts, commonly referred to as first-party and third-party trusts.

First-party special needs trust:

A first-party special needs trust is funded with assets from the disabled individual, such as from an inheritance in their name. At the individual’s death, proceeds in a first-party trust may be required to reimburse Social Security and Medicare for services received.

Third-party special needs trust:

A third-party special needs trust is funded with assets from other loved ones, such as with proceeds from a life insurance policy. No payback is required from a third-party trust at an individual’s death.

Funds in either type of special needs trust may be used for a wide variety of expenses, including:

  • Education
  • Travel and recreation
  • Assistive and electronic equipment and appliances
  • Companion assistants
  • Vehicles

Special needs trusts are meant to supplement but not replace benefits an individual receives, making it especially important that a trust be properly drafted to accomplish its goals of preserving benefits.

Find the support you need.

Every family needs support—both personal and professional. Your inner circle for your family’s journey may Include grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles. You might also lean on friends, your community and parent support groups.

You also may need to call in experts as well. Depending on your child’s needs and age, seek support from:

  • Your local school district.
  • A disability consulting service that can advocate for you and your child.
  • Housing assistance for special needs adults.
  • Employment agencies that encourage independence.
  • A special needs tax advisor.
  • An attorney for necessary legal documents and trusts.
  • A financial professional to help you implement your long-term financial strategy.

“These are not easy conversations, but empathetic financial professionals can help facilitate them as part of a special needs financial plan,” Alex says.

Connect with a Thrivent financial professional to create a comprehensive financial strategy that considers the overall well-being of your family. They can also help you find advocates and legal advisors who can assist your family.


Click here for the WRIM profile on the Thrivent Choice catalogue.

Walk Right In Ministries is approved as a Thrivent Choice organization meaning that Thrivent clients can direct their Choice Dollars to WRIM. If you are a Thrivent member, would you consider WRIM the next time you are dedicating Choice Dollars? (Thrivent pays the processing fees so that 100% of every donation through Thrivent Choice goes to WRIM and to build faith and community with special needs families. WRIM is also eligible to receive grant funding.) Find our profile link here.

We would also appreciate very much if you would take just a moment to give WRIM an online recommendation in the Thrivent Choice catalogue. You can do that here

Kelley Chose the “Yes” of Faith

As every mom has, I have been faced with some difficult decisions. And with five children, three with special needs, one might say my faith has been flexed. Several early life experiences contributed to my learning to be a caregiver and advocate. One season in my life presented extraordinary challenge to the trust I have in my Savior. 

As the oldest child in my family, I developed a nurturing protective spirit with my siblings. I also grew up with a father who was a veterinarian. He gave me perspective of the emotions and dilemmas I would later face as an adult.

By the time I was ten years old, I was feeding and caring for five orphan dairy calves. I would arrive at the dairy with my father, and the farmer would announce that an orphan calf would cost too much to feed out. This was completely unacceptable to me. So, I would commence pleading with my father to let me care for the calf. Usually, we had a baby calf in the floorboard of my dad’s truck on the trip back to the clinic. My mom would roll her eyes and sigh, “not another one.”

My father would talk to me about anatomy, chemistry, and critical thinking. I remember watching him do exploratory surgery on his patient, working out loud through his process of elimination. This instilled a passion for research and learning. My core values expanded to include a wider view of the world and, by the age of 10, I had simultaneously experienced a spiritual awakening.

I married young at the age of 20. I had my first child a year and half later. We welcomed our second child twenty-one months after that. My husband was working at a wonderful church as a youth pastor. We owned our first home and we all enjoyed good health. I’ve come to appreciate the saying,” health is wealth.” We found out we were, unexpectedly, having another baby.

When our third child, Conley, was born, we immediately knew something was very wrong. He was not breathing. Nurses and doctors worked feverishly to save him. It was almost as if it was happening to someone else. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. For the first time in my 24 years, I was completely helpless and terrified.

I remember finally going to meet Conley the next day. Tears fell uncontrollably as I stared at this infant with tubes and monitors. I lived at the Dallas Ronald McDonald House for three and a half months, seeing our older children on weekends. I knew my life had forever changed in the blink of an eye. 

Tears fell uncontrollably as I stared at this infant with tubes and monitors.

Conley went on to require frequent hospitalizations and over twenty-five surgeries and procedures. I wrestled hard, asking God “Why?”

I underwent a procedure to ensure our family was complete. However, God had other plans. Almost eight years later, I discovered I was pregnant with our fourth child.

About eighteen weeks into my pregnancy, we learned there were major complications. I was pressed to have an abortion. The influences and morals instilled in me could not justify an abortion. I deeply believed that God, like a maestro, was creatively composing every life event.

Much like during the nightmare of Conley’s birth, our fourth son, Camron’s, birth required the immediate work of a medical team to save his life.

For the next five months, I lived in a hotel in San Antonio across from the hospital. We had moved to Austin a month prior so Conley could attend Texas School for the Deaf. My husband lived in Austin and commuted to work in San Antonio. I stayed at a hotel in San Antonio with our older sons, to allow them to finish their school year. I vividly remember the day I found out Camron’s diagnosis and prognosis. It was grim. He was profoundly deaf and blind with a feeding tube and tracheostomy at age three weeks.

As I left the hospital and approached the bus stop, I sat on the bench watching the buses come and go. I was mapping out my plan to step in front of a bus.

As my spirit warred inside of me I finally acknowledged and grasped the promise of an inherently good God. Just like Job, God blessed the later part of Job’s life more than the first. He said, will you still love me through these circumstances? Job’s response in faith was “Yes.”

I chose “Yes” that day.

I have learned through these experiences that God is the Maestro of my life. Sometimes he calls me to rest. Other times I am called to action. In all things I understand He is the center of every life event, and only He understands the intricacies of my ultimate purpose.

God continues to connect the dots in my life, through advocacy, service, and community. One of my favorite Bible verses, encompasses both my spiritual and world view:

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Colossians 3:23

RELATED: Community Story (Camron’s Birthday)


Kelley Cagle, beautiful woman and writer

Kelley Cagle is a freelance writer and special needs advocate with a passion for mentoring young moms who have children with special needs. Kelley shares from her own experience as the parent of children with disabilities. Kelley has five sons. Two of her children have CHARGE Syndrome, a micro deletion affecting a multiple body systems and organs. Both boys are deaf-blind and on the Autism spectrum. Kelley and her husband Chris have been married over 26 years and live in Texas with their two youngest boys.

Kelley’s husband, Chris, shares a Community Story celebrating life, faith and fellowship.

Special Needs Dad Shares Hope for a Redeemed Life

Our guest writer today is Ken Atkins, a man who grew up in the pleasant surroundings of a small North Texas dairy farm during the late 1950s. From there, he wandered through a career that included schoolteacher, newspaper writer and editor, advertising executive and construction sales. When his son Danny was born in 1992, Ken faced the life-changing reality that Danny would require full-time care for his entire life. Ken’s journey meandered through the early days of doubt and discovery about Danny’s neurological and related medical issues, over the hills and valleys of a parents’ worst fears and highest hopes, past the financial and marital issues that eventually crushed his family, and into the deep pit of lifelong struggles with alcohol and relationship addiction.

But Ken’s story doesn’t end there. Read on as Ken shares how he found transformational hope and life-saving tools in taking one step of faith at a time.


“I am a grateful follower of Jesus Christ who has been redeemed from a life of alcohol abuse.”

For nearly eight years now, that is how I have introduced myself to the small group of other men I meet with each week in Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery, also known as “CR,” is a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone — men and women — struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. It is a program that changed my life and the lives of my two children.

But if our introduction is meant to give others a quick glimpse into the truth of who we really are, I probably should amend it to:

“Hi, my name is Ken, and I am a grateful follower of Jesus Christ raising a son with Angelman Syndrome. I have been redeemed by a loving Savior and have experienced the joy of being forced into a world that I am totally unequipped to manage on my own.”

My son, Danny, recently celebrated his 29th birthday, but developmentally he is basically a happy, healthy 2-year-old. He can’t speak or walk unassisted. He is incontinent and his basic needs must be met by someone else, which would be me, at least 95 percent of the time. Danny has been my constant companion through career changes, divorce, bankruptcy, a couple of major relocations and more emotional roller coaster rides than any amusement park.

Danny sat next to me through many of my recovery meetings. This is fitting since he was the only person in the room or the truck as I fought my single-parent battles for years with a Bible in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other.

Stock Photo: Pick-up truck parked in Wildlifepark Dulmen, Germany.

Step One in Celebrate Recovery, as well as in Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs with slight wording variations, is this:

“We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

One of the first and hardest lessons many parents of children with special needs learn after we get the news that our child has some physical, neurological or development issue for which there is no cure or even successful therapy, is that we are powerless. Initial attempts at denial include thoughts like: the diagnosis isn’t correct, we can fix this, we just need to look harder and do more, and God wouldn’t do this to our family. Eventually these arguments lose their sway to the preponderance of evidence that we must adjust all our thinking, hopes, plans, and dreams to this new reality.

RELATED RESOURCE: Discovery Your Course for Life, One Step at a Time by Ron Keller.

By the time we give up on our denial, we often do so out of sheer exhaustion and the depletion of our finances, if not our hope. Only then do we admit that our addictions, compulsions, or other problematic behaviors — like trying to “fix” our kids, or clinging to control over their lives, or unfettered devotion to our family’s dreams and traditions — are a greater threat to the emotional and spiritual well-being of ourselves and our children (including those without special needs) than whatever lifelong diagnosis we are confronting.

Only with that admission can our healing begin. Because only then are we ready to take the next steps in the recovery process where we come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore our lives to normal. It’s a new normal, to be sure. But at least it is our normal. Only then can we make the decision to turn our lives and our families, over to the care of God.

Ken coaching Danny and their adapted baseball team.

One of the many truths I have learned in Celebrate Recovery is that any addiction or compulsive behavior has its root in the same sinful place—pride. We believe that we can (and should) handle any challenge in our own strength. We think we have a God-given right to live our lives on our terms. Whether it is a drinking problem, or uncontrollable rage, or soul-shattering depression, or the physical and mental exhaustion of caring for a child with special needs, we are tempted to believe these are our issues and we can handle them.

But it was never meant to be that way.

God didn’t give us these challenges to show us how strong we are, but to show us our dependence on His strength and His faithfulness. We are entirely dependent on God to meet the special needs of our child, and our own special needs in the process. We get the joy and the honor to have a front row seat to what He can do in all our lives.

There is a saying on t-shirts at many church camps that we should, “Let Go and Let God.” In recovery, and in my life as a parent of a special needs son, I have found this message being worked out again and again.

God has blessed me and my son in many ways these past 29 years. But before He could do what He wanted to do, I had to quit trying so hard to do what I could not do.

Psalm 107:13-15
They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.


Ken Atkins is the author of Silent Son, the story of how God turned one man’s mess into a life-giving message through his non-verbal son, Danny. Ken has been serving in Celebrate Recovery ministry leadership for more than five years. He leads men through the 12 Steps that have given him the tools and support he needed to face the challenges of raising a son with special needs. Ken and Danny enjoy multi-generational living in Newport News, Virginia, with Ken’s daughter and son-in-law.

When Lions Come, We Can Rely on Palace Training

When I was 7 years old, I was diagnosed with Ectodermal Dysplasia. I vividly remember driving to the University of Texas Health Science Center with my mother and father. I remember them telling my parents the diagnosis and prognosis. The tears rolled down my mother’s cheeks. I was terrified of the new unknown. I was told I had only developed 3 permanent teeth. Period. I began learning to follow my heavenly Father without knowing what the future would hold.

I’ll be honest, this part of my story is hard to tell. There are things about it that are extremely painful. But I want to share it because I see God’s ”palace training” in my life.

Yet, God has NOT given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and sound mind.

1 Timothy 1:7

The phrase “palace training,” evokes ideas of unfamiliar practices and experiences we are not privy to. Only the elite living in the palace are trained to reflect the honor and respect of their king or queen.

Moses is an example of someone God put into palace training. God had a plan for his people. But to accomplish this, He needed someone with specific training. Moses’ mother placed him in a basket at the river where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed. She trusted that Moses would be part of a greater plan God would bring into motion.

Moses was a Hebrew, being raised in a palace. He was being taught the rules and persuasions of a king who would, one day, free God’s people. God was providing palace training for the man He would use to bring about the Exodus — the leading of His Chosen people to freedom and promise. 

Navigating childhood and teenage years with a noticeable disability was difficult. I was accepted into a study program at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda Maryland. I spent most of my high school years enduring surgeries and procedures so I could have teeth. During the spring of my junior year in high school, I underwent the final surgery. It was excruciating. During my convalescence, I was homeschooled for three months.

Finally, the time came to place my prosthetic teeth. I looked in the mirror and began to cry. My gratitude was overwhelming. The healing was long and painful. As my body healed physically, God was working on a calling in my heart. I had no idea what would come, or where I would serve, but emphatically acknowledged His voice. 

I met my husband, Chris, in my junior year of high school. It was just months before my implant surgery. I was still wearing dentures. One night, he picked me up for dinner and a movie.

While we were eating, I realized he had a strange look on his face.

I asked him, “What is wrong?”

He replied,”Uhh….your tooth is gone.’ My front tooth had broken off of my denture and I hadn’t noticed.

I was mortified!

Later on, my husband told me he fell even more in love with me at that very moment. God had sent me a man that loved all of me —because of Whom I loved. 

When God takes us through palace training, the outcome is always meant to foster wisdom and courage. You see, God knew Chris and I would, one day, have two children with special needs.

God knew our children would endure countless surgeries, procedures and hospitalizations. God had prepared me, through palace training, to empathize and love these children with a honed personal experience.

It is true. I have wrestled mightily with God over the why of my special needs kids. Ultimately, I accepted the peace God brings in trusting Him even when.

Sometimes God sends a lion into our lives. Rest assured, that if he sends a lion, you will be equipped with the training to fight.

“The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

1 Samuel 17:37

In March 2016, I wrote the poem, The Lion Awaits. It is a testimony to God’s faithfulness in my life. The lions have come. But my Father has taught me well. He has trained me with strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.

 THE  LION  AWAITS

The soul rejoices, day and night, to the peaceful presence of His strength and might.
We hear his voice in the soft still night.
“I have blessings untold,” the Messiah invites.
The heart beats out, ”the joy of the Lord is My Strength!”

An unknown test is silently delivered
         swiftly with one blow.

A soul screams, “Why? Have you forsaken me?”
The Father says, “I love you child. I let the lion come.”
The soul wails, “I will be destroyed!”
The Master soothes, “It is for your good.”
The soul fights and curses the lion.
Emmanuel says, “Stand up and face the lion, for I am with you!” 
The soul whimpers,” Why, my Lord do you stand far off?”
The Creator says, ”Stand firm that I may glory in the power of your endurance.”
“I am slain,” wept the soul!

The Redeemer said, “You must endure unbelievable pain to join me someday.”
The soul reverently surrenders, and tells the Healer,
         “When I despaired even of life, a whisper was heard.“

“You will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.”


Kelley Cagle is a freelance writer and special needs advocate with a passion for mentoring young moms who have children with special needs. Kelley shares from her own experience as the parent of two children with disabilities. Kelley has five sons. Two of her children have CHARGE Syndrome, a micro deletion affecting a multiple body systems and organs. Both boys are deaf-blind and on the Autism spectrum. Kelley and her husband Chris have been married over 26 years and live in Texas with their two youngest boys.