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Invitations


As we begin this festive season, there will be many invitations to all sorts of spectacular parties and events. There are people and holidays to celebrate and honor and days filled with memories and laughter. I can hardly wait to receive those invitations in my inbox and mailbox!


But…will I be invited?


In June, we conducted a short survey in our private Facebook "In Our Arms Community" group, asking members what their top needs and priorities are now in comparison to previous years. The number one need expressed was inclusion:


“Invite me to functions and keep inviting!”


Moms are often the caregivers, and they don’t want to be forgotten. They asked that we “keep inviting” them.


Isn’t it interesting that this would be the top priority? It surprised me, but I have felt that same need more intensely in years past. Because I could not attend gatherings very often, I felt that, sometimes, I may have just been forgotten. It was not due to my lack of desire. I just couldn’t attend for various reasons due to our child’s care responsibilities. I never really had the confidence to say, “But please keep inviting me.” It felt too honest and vulnerable to say that. We all resist being perceived as “needy!”


The idea that my presence would be desired at a luncheon or party was very meaningful to me, even if I knew it would be almost impossible for me to attend. I did make it to some of the functions, and those times have proven to be moments that birthed deep friendships. It all started with an invitation—someone’s desire to have me there.


This top survey answer echoes my thoughts and experiences when I was home with Robert. We all want to be invited to the party! We all want to feel like we belong and are accepted. I've been reminded how people look upon moms with children with disabilities because of these (surveyed) moms’ bold answer. They said it out loud:


I want to be invited, even when I know I can’t always attend. Please keep inviting me.


As I think about the Fall parties that are beginning, I remember how grateful I was that the special education class at Robert’s school celebrated all the holidays like every other class. He had the opportunity to wear Halloween costumes and make special Christmas handprint art just like other kids. His teachers made sure their students were fully invited to every party in their classrooms!


Most parties outside of his school became harder to attend as he grew older because the logistics of getting him out the door and into a friend's home was complicated. Wheelchairs and oxygen tanks can make accepting a beautiful invitation stressful. Sometimes, unanticipated critical medical care becomes needed at a party and that, obviously, is not comfortable for any guest either.


So, we learned ways to make our home a classroom and party central! We went all out with decorations in our home to celebrate each year Robert was alive to enjoy the “party.” We celebrated every major holiday. He always loved the Valentine’s Day hearts, Easter bunny eggs, Fourth of July flags, Halloween costumes and pumpkins and, of course, the multitude of Christmas trees and lights. It was incredibly fun to see his little face beam with joy and delight each time new decorations appeared. Our family delighted in his response!


This Halloween, we will miss him decked out in his Spiderman costume and quilt handing out treats to our neighborhood cuties. We will miss his squeals as he sat in anticipation at our front door just waiting to rock in his wheelchair as he clapped for all the cool costumes and happy faces.


As I look back over each Halloween we enjoyed while Robert was with us, I am reminded of the importance of being “invited.” I now recognize the times that I was invited, and he was invited. I was invited by caring girlfriends and inclusive families. He was invited by his school and our special, tightknit community. You were gracious to us in that you included us once and continued to include us. I am extremely grateful for your invitations.


“Invite me to functions and keep inviting!”


May this be our desire towards those who need us in our community this year. Be that intentional friend. Send the invitation…again…again…and again.


Invitations matter. Be compassionate! Be persistent! Be inclusive! I challenge each of us to go be the person who extends the invitation.

Listening Library: Never Alone (Tori Kelly, feat. Kirk Franklin) https://youtu.be/srGIp4LO-XM


“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds….”

(Hebrews 10:24 NIV)

Never Alone

Mmm, mmm, mmm

In my time I've travelled some roads A rolling stone Nowhere feels like home And I've seen people come, then they go Life is just a story of some highs and some lows

Tell me do you believe in miracles? I'm standing here before your eyes

I've cried many rivers I've walked through some pain I've seen my world crumble And I'll carry the shame But I know somebody, He calls me His own I can hear heaven singing out Oh-oh-oh, you're never alone Oh-oh-oh, you're never alone

Everybody wants to be king We put all our hope inside material things In Your light I now understand That everything I have ain't everything that I am

Oh, sometimes I feel like I'm not good enough But that's when love says you're mine

I've cried many rivers I've walked through some pain I've seen my world crumble And I'll carry the shame But I know somebody, He calls me His own I can hear heaven singing out Oh-oh-oh, you're never alone Oh-oh-oh, you're never alone

Oh, I may have took some time But now I realize My imperfections were a part of Your plan And if all things work together in the end The broken will be beautiful

There's not a hole too deep That God's love is not deeper still You've come too far to give up now Let's go!

I've cried many rivers I've walked through some pain I've seen my world crumble And I've carried the shame But I know somebody, He calls me His own Can you hear heaven singing out Oh-oh-oh, you're never alone Oh-oh-oh, you're never alone Oh-oh-oh, you're never alone Oh-oh-oh, you're never alone

Songwriters: Kirk Franklin

Never Alone lyrics © Sony/atv Allegro, Tori Kelly Publishing, Church Boy Llc


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