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. What a great reminder that these special people need some love and attention, too! We’ve hosted families with food allergies and taken meals to some with very restricted diets. It’s challenging but SO worthwhile! We haven’t had the opportunity to host anyone with other special needs, but this will help me to really pay attention to anyone around us that has these needs. I love the shirt! What a blessing!

  2. We have an active deaf ministry within the congregation with which we worship. My husband has long encouraged me to have the deaf members over for a cookout at our home. I have been encouraged by this post to make that happen!

  3. Like Twila, I too seem to be a special needs person. I had two strokes in 2000 that took much of my executive functions as well as having a definite softening effect on my personality! The “Old Valerie” was a dyed in the wool type A, perfectionist and the “New Valerie” is MUCH more laid back and compassionate. In my testemony, I like to say that God “blessed” me with the stroke, not only because it brought me back to Him, but it showed me How much He Loved me, He was big enough to handle my anger with Him. In fact, I think it made Him smile, because at least I was thinking about Him again! I am no longer able to work outside the home, so I like to use greeting cards to encourage others. I have a service that sends them to me in the mail and I can even order stamps via the internet. Some of my friends cannot seem to understand that I simply DO NOT REMEMBER THINGS, it is not that I choose not to remember. I have to write things down, even things as simple as when it is my turn to next be the Sunday School teacher. There are only two of us teachers and we alternate because I get overwhelmed with the responsibility easily.

  4. working in a school environment, this year I have recently been able to reach out to several students with special needs – they range from autistic to down syndrome to bi-polar and other mental health issues. i don’t know much about any of these conditions, but I have learned “we love them all”. So, with that mind set, I am sure to alway say hello, ask how their day and make conversation. What has been nice is our student body treats them no different. than any other student. They are kind and very protective of each one.

  5. I think sometimes I am afraid of what to say or do to make them feel comfortable. I needed this reminder and these great tips. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

  6. Can I just say I love this post? Thank you so much for sharing. We have a child with Autism, and while he does not have any physical limitations, it can make meals/outings with friends & family more challenging. I think because it is not a disability that is seen, people often don’t realize that there are difficulties that come with that as well. I really appreciate the thought put into this post and all those who take the advice to heart, thank you.

  7. This came at a perfect time for me… I’m encouraged to make a phone call to a woman who has been on my heart. Her son is in preschool class with one of my children and I think a playdate is well past due. Thank you for the gentle push of encouragement.

  8. My brother has CP and he loves to talk to people. So it’s really great when someone takes the time to visit with him, listen to him, and just take an interest in him. He is a huge sports fan, and he’s had people take him to ball games. He’s even had someone take him hunting several times. He doesn’t get out much, so he treasures this time with others. It is such a blessing to him, but those who spend time with him find that they are blessed too.

  9. We have a son with special needs – official ones that is! We have 3 other children too – and I have realized that, in fact, they all have special needs! Special needs, special gifts and special futures! We are a family who celebrates “different” and I think that has helped us get through the comments, stares, and judgments that others put on us, but most importantly, it helps us look to God – our Maker – and thank Him for all that He is and does in our lives. It helps to keep your eyes on God and off our culture and society and the rules of “normal” that exist out there!!!

  10. I am involved in Pet Therapy at our local nursing home. I enjoy hearing the elderly talk about how they had a pet as a child or young person and what that pet meant to them. It is a well documented fact that if someone holds or pets an animal, their blood pressure will lower. I enjoy taking a kitty or dog/puppy each month and the employees enjoy it just as much as the residents of the nursing home.

  11. One of my dear neighbor’s sons was born with Down’s. He is the most loving boy you would ever meet. Just giving him a smile and a hug meant more to him than any material thing in the world.

  12. Oh how true. My nephew has special needs as he suffers with ataxia and is only 9. I know about adjusting things to help them to work for him. I know that I keep certain drinks here for him that I have read the label carefully watching for certain ingredients. I have a couple of friends who are gluten-free, which is hard for me sometimes to remember or to figure out what to serve, but they are very good about bringing something with them to share that they can eat too. Love having them at picnics!!! But oh how they hold back on visiting or joining in.

  13. I loved today’s blog. Working with cancer patients, and their families; I often have the privilege to serve those with “special needs” that have developed as a result of their cancer or treatment….blindness, wheelchair bound, loss of hearing. Your tips are spot on.
    One of the things I often find myself sharing with others is simply to “do something….do anything”. It means so much to those who are hurting to know they are appreciated, valued, loved, and cared for.
    I also love that shared to pray WITH, not just FOR, the family. Thanks for sharing your insight today.
    With Hope,

  14. Years ago I reached out to a lady in our church who had a stroke and was quickly losing her independence. I visited her every week in the nursing home. It started off as bringing her lunch — something other than hospital food ; ) Once I was able to drive her back to the home,, and just the feeling of the wind with the windows down and the sunroof open was so freeing to her. We would go on walks as I pushed her in her wheelchair. As she got worse, it was just visiting her and knowing someone cared. Visiting her was more a blessing to me than it was to her because it was reaching out to someone who couldn’t reciprocate, and I was so blessed by her : ) Missing her now…

  15. This post really touched my heart. My brother and in sister-in-law are parents of a special needs child. We often have family functions at their home but everyone brings a dish. It’s just so much easier on them. When they would visit, I always made sure that I had activities to engage her and food that she would eat.

  16. I have had a difficult time speaking my faith to others, primarily of differing languages. Always preferred to participate in construction or young baby/toddler missions as the speaking would be limited. I have been invited on a mission this June where I will be forced to speak about the miracles God has blessed me with- I pray this will help overcome my fears.

  17. I was so blessed when I read this post and then all of the comments from the folks who are caring for people with special needs. And while I am in no way glad for the struggles we all are facing, it’s comforting to know that there are others, like me, who have those struggles. It’s easy to feel like you’re on an island when you’re raising a special needs child because sometimes it is just easier to stay at home so there’s no disruption to the routine. Or no need to explain that your child isn’t misbehaving when they have a huge fit in the middle of the grocery store aisle, it’s part of their different ability. And hosting company is often the farthest thing from your mind. I’m grateful for the suggestions on hosting a family with a special needs person because sometimes we just need the friendship and fellowship to make it through the struggles. Thank you Karen and Rachel for remembering to include those of us who are in this situation.

  18. “embrace the gifts He has given”, really makes me think. . . . that we should embrace the spiritual gift He has given us to bless others and embrace the gifts that ARE other people.

  19. My family had never been around special needs persons very much. Recently, my sister married a man with moderate/severe MS. It has been a nice journey getting to know him and what is a help to him and to try to be a blessing to him. He is a sweet guy! We have all tried very hard to make him feel a part of the family and to accept his disability and to accomadate him.

  20. Through a friend, I learned of a precious family who afte r years of struggling w/ infertility finally were blessed with a little girl with special needs. They have a blog and it has been such an honor to follow their journey and pray with them. One day they had posted the most gorgeous family portraits and I found out later that my friend w
    ho is not a photographer had made them!

  21. God bless those Mama’s with special needs children…help me reach out to them! And thank you Jesus for my special children…

  22. We have a neighbor with a special needs child. They usually won’t accept help but we have offered to babysit their daughter so they could have a date night.

  23. I have several friends with special needs children, and they are truly blessed, as we all are, to have these most loving and exceptional children in their families. What a display of God’s grace in their lives! I have not had the opportunity to entertain them in my home, but on several occasions I have been able to watch their wonderful child for a period of time so that the mom can do something simple around the church without the added responsibility. I love to see a new perspective of God through the lives of these children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *