Loving the Different with Guest Rachel Wojnarowski

NOTE: I know many of you are still waiting on back-ordered books. So sorry. Keep joining us and you can catch up on the reading as you able. I’m trying not to make assumptions when posting that you’ve read the week’s material. And I know many who have the book still haven’t had time! We’re busy. Let’s just keep learning from our awesome guests. We’ll get the reading buttoned up & the study complete when we can, ok?

This week in our study of A Life That Says Welcome, we are covering the chapters that have to do with preparation: cooking, cleaning, decorating, utilizing our space well.

Our preparations, however, need to be done with our particular guests in mind. Is there a gluten intolerance? Might not be best to make homemade bread. A baby who will need a place to nap during your visit but you don’t have a crib? Maybe you’ll need to borrow a portable one from a friend.

Our guest today knows about those with special needs; ones even more pressing that a food allergy. Her name is Rachel Wojnarowski.

Rachel is a new cyber friend of mine and, I have to say, the most clever “tweeter” ever! Her tweets always make my heart smile.

She is originally a small town country girl who converted to a suburban mother of seven by way of life happening.    She and her husband, Matt, enjoy caring for their busy family, whose ages span 11 months to 21 years and includes a special needs daughter.

Rachel leads community ladies’ Bible studies in central Ohio and serves as an event planner and speaker for special needs parenting groups.

She is a member of the Ohio Writers’ Guild and the National MPS Society; and loves to inspire others through her blog by sharing faith, family, and fun.   Wife, mom, reader, writer, speaker and dreamer, you can find Rachel on Twitter and Facebook.

Now, from Rachel:

10 Ways to Love on Families with Special Needs Children

Sometimes showing the love of Jesus to people who are different than we are takes creative forethought.  Families who have special needs children often find themselves on the outskirt of community and this can be discouraging for them.

Being accepted and included even though you are different is a vital principle of thriving communities.   Here are 10 easy ideas to assist you in showing hospitality to families who have special needs children.

1. Simply ask to spend time with their family.   With the invitation, extend understanding that you would like to meet them in whatever location works best for their needs.  This could be a park, restaurant, or maybe the mall.

2. Allow for extra time to accomplish logistics.   For example, moving a wheelchair from one place to another requires a few more minutes than without.

3.  Offer to bring the meal to their home and eat together there.  Perhaps they would love the company, but find it difficult to manage the entire burden of hosting.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what works well.  Is it easier to take a wheelchair through a different entry other than the front door?  Maybe just having another adult to lift the child from the vehicle to inside the home would be so very helpful.

5.  A “Thinking of you” card is always simple and appropriate!

6. Introductions can be tough over an entire meal.  Shoot for having a dessert night together after each family has accomplished dinner on their own for the first time spent in one another’s company.

7. If hosting the family in your home, prepare in advance to understand the specific needs of the family and their child.

8. Think about ways to communicate and include the special needs child in your entertainment.

9. Display an interest in getting to know the family with special needs children the same as you would those without.  Use social media, call, email, or whatever method you typically would choose to show concern for someone you love.

10. Pray with them. I know, I know. That’s a given, right? No, I don’t mean tell them you will pray for them and then forget. I don’t mean tell them you will pray for them and then go home, write it in your journal and follow through. Though that would be awesome! I mean, pray with them, right there on the spot. Ask them if you can pray with them and do it through the prompting and power of the Holy Spirit.

Families with special needs children come in all shapes and sizes.    It might be a surprise to you how much you will be blessed by the Lord for showing care in this manner; He delights in those who care for the weak!

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ” Matthew 25:40

And now for the fun giveaway!

My awesome friends at The Olive Tee have fab tees that express this post in six words:

 What a great reminder of the lessons learned through doing this study!

Now, two winners will receive a soft tee that looks like this:

And my readers have been given 20% off any order at Olive Tee by using the coupon code: weartheword20  

Head over and check out their great stuff and save!

But before you do, leave a comment to be entered in today’s giveaway. Tell us, have you ever reached out to someone with special needs? If not, have you wanted to but been afraid or unsure?

Or tell us a simple idea to reach someone who is different, lonely or often left out.

REMEMBER:  For this coming Friday’s idea swap and share, be thinking of your best decorating idea, tip, object, theme, centerpiece or DIY project. Bloggers, get a post ready. Others, you can leave yours in the comment section with a description or a link to what it is you like so we all can see. :-)

Finally, we are also interacting over at Karen Ehman’s Book Studies on Facebook. Click here to “like” the page & join us.


  1. my husband has a friend who has special needs – because he has taken the time to spend with him, he can understand the friend’s speech much better than i can. my husband allows extra time when going to ballgames, so that they can get to where they need to, without rushing his friend.

  2. Growing up my dad was the chairman for the Jerry Lewis Telethon in our local area so I grew up around those with special needs, so I say reach out and be blessed!!

  3. I appreciate this post. I have four children; my 13-year-old daughter has significant global developmental delays. Through a long crooked journey, I have found myself embracing who Rachel was made to be, not how I would have made her. In doing so, I’ve come to understand that every. single. person. has a place in God’s world–perfectly made to fit in His plan. I believe God is calling me to encourage others to embrace their “differently abled” children. I love to reach out enjoy children of all abilities and their families.

  4. I grew up in a home with a special needs Aunt.. As my mother’s sister, she would live with us months at at time and then take turns living with other family members. I remember as a child, the odd looks on my friend’s faces when they would come to my house for the first time. What a wonderful lesson that afforded me! I knew that special needs individuals, just want to be treated as “normal” as possible. As an adult, I have never been uncomfortable with special needs friends or guests. I make sure that “special touches” are attended to so that they will feel comfortable and at home.

  5. I was friends with a young woman who had muscular dystrophy. We ended up being roommates. I learned a lot about her and myself. Our friendship and appreciation of each other deepened in that time we lived together.

  6. I really tend to shy away from those awkward situations. . . but thanks for these thoughts and practical suggestions on how to move forward in that area!

  7. I haven’t had the opportunity to come into contact with many special needs individuals, but I have a grandmother who health has steadily deteriorated since my grandfather died almost two years ago. I love being able to just sit with her at her house and have lunch with her. My daughter loves being there and often asks if we can visit. We just recently moved back to our hometown and God blessed us with a house just one street away (we can even see her house from our backyard). I know God put us in this very position for this very reason.

  8. I work in a nursing facility and occasionally escort a resident to an appointment. I have found it can be difficult to open doors while trying to roll the wheelchair through, it can be difficult maneuvering over bumpy pavement, and transfers in/out of wheelchairs. Often we have to call ahead to make sure they can get a Hoyer lift to transfer from a wheelchair to a table in the office. I also have two grandsons, one with Aspergers and the other with a behavioral diagnosis. They look physically normal but the social and behavioral issues are what characterize their disability. I believe that sometimes disabilities that are not physical are the ones that people can often have more difficulty with-only because the person looks like they are okay. My grandson with the Aspergers diagnosis has often stated some of the interesting comments that just make us chuckle because they are so cute. He loves my woof and is always giving her hugs. My other grandson has a smile that just lights up his whole face and a cute little button nose. He’s always looking for goodies from Nana. I know I have learned so much from them-like everyone else they are just looking for someone to love them and be their friend.

  9. My husband has a special needs sister that his family adopted from South America when she was 2 years old. She will be 41 this year and is a blessing to our family! Our children have learned to be more compassionate towards others that are “needy” because of Aunt Deb!!!

  10. Yes, I have reached out to some very precious special needs families in our church. What a blessing they are to me!!! Thanks Rachel! Hugs!

  11. Oh how blessed I am today by reading this post. My friend has adopted two children with Downs Syndrome…they are the sweetest children. I also am blessed to teach in my church’s preschool and this year we have 4 with special needs….they brighten up the room each and every day. My daughters and I are blessed to play bingo with the “seniors” at at local nursing home. These seniors have special needs and often people overlook them. By going to tne nursing home on a regular basis, my children have multiple grandparents and are not afraid of the elderly. The stories and things I have learned from just simply being in their presence. God is so good!

    Be blessed because you are a blessing to someone today!

    Smiles & Blessings Abound, Robin :)

  12. This has been a very touching part of my day. It gives me a new compassion for families with special needs members, wheather young or old!
    Thank you for the insight!

  13. We had a little boy in our Sunday School that had cerebral palsey. No one was comfortable having him in their class. So I volunteered to take him four years straight in my class. I tried to include him in all of our stories, songs, art and games. He was the sweetest kid and I got to help him learn about Jesus.

  14. I don’t think of loss of a loved one as falling into the kind of “special needs” we are really talking about today but that is what came to mind for me. I had the total honor of reaching out weekly by taking walks with a friend that lost her 15 year old daughter to cystic fibrosis. She is a very Godly woman and I just appreciated our time so much. I would walk and talk about her sweet girl with her. I learned a lot about trusting God when things are tough from her. She has told me many times how precious and helpful that time together was for her.

  15. My mom had a stroke 4 years ago that left her in a wheelchair. It is amazing to me to see how much it has changed us as a family. We are closer in some ways and torn apart in other ways. We now know eachothers strengths and weaknesses. It is hard to find a lesson/reason in why it happened, but I thank God all the time she is still with us.

  16. As photographers, my husband and I have often had the blessing of working with special needs children and young adults. We have learned they want to be treated like people too. They smile, laugh, cry, they have thoughts and emotions just like the rest of us. Many times it is just their bodies that don’t allow them to “seem normal”. We treat them with as much kindness and love of God as we would anyone else, with God directing us on what their needs may be. Many times we feel like we were the ones that had the blessing given to us after we photographed them.

  17. I grew up in a family where we had a special needs uncle. So I always knew to treat them equally and love him! My stepson however does not. He really balls up and won’t hardly look at/ talk to/ or interact with special needs children or adults. It comes more with the physical and mental disabilities. How do I teach him when he is only at our house on the weekends, and we are not around special needs people regularly?

  18. ways that I try to reach out with someone with special needs is either to help out like helping out in Sunday School with the kids that are special needs or like my friend that lives on the other side of the country writting letters to her or facebooking to let her know that I am thinking and praying for her and husband and the kids espically for extra strength as well once and a while phoning her

  19. We have a beautiful young lady who is mentally impaired (who used to live next door to my family) in our church family. Oh, the hug she gives each time she sees me is awesome and I look forward to seeing her smile each time we meet. Our oldest grandson has asperger syndrom autism. He has just graduated high school and is learning to work. It has been a privilege to love him and he has taught this “Nana” so much. Thank you for being a vessel that God can use to teach us how to relate to his special children.

  20. four years ago my husband lost is parents he has a sister who is down, she is living with us, she is truly a blesses she is full of love and she loves the lord she worship him.

  21. I have not had the opportunity to do this, but would definitely like to. Thanks so much for sharing and God Bless all you do!

  22. Regarding the lonely and “left out,” a young woman, who used to attend my church, has been in a nursing home for a number of years. In recent years, I started sending cards to her at Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter to let her know she is still fondly remembered and prayed for.
    When my late mother was having memory problems due to Alzheimer’s Disease, I was rather annoyed when she kept repeating stories and jokes because I didn’t know she was having dementia issues. Once, I realized the problem, instead of saying: “You already told me that,” I would listen and respond as if I had never heard the information and, when appropriate, I would laugh with her even though she might have said the same thing five times in 20 minutes. She enjoyed my inter-action with her so much, and it really seemed to revive her spirits. Mom died almost five years ago, and I would love to be able to hear those same ole stories and jokes again.

  23. As a family, we just finished reading the book called “Out of my Mind” by Sharon Draper. It is a very good children’s novel about a student with special needs. It is written from the child’s point of view and is very funny in addition to giving a good portrayal of how frustrating it is to not be able to communicate. I highly recommend it for adults as well as school age children! It is perfect for a family read aloud.

  24. well four years ago both of my husband parents went with the lord, my husband sister is down ,he ask me if I would take her in our home,I told him I would love to,she has been a blessing in our home she loves life and the most wonderful thing she loves her self and she is full of joy,

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