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A different kind of LOVE


We are a little late posting this month, but man what a month it has been! In January, we had Snow Day and had record turnout. It was so good to see the parents and kids making connections with each other and having fun! That's what it's all about!

On Valentine's Day, we teamed up with GA Power to present 6 kids with an adapted bike of their own! Our partnership with GA Power continues to grow and they continue to help kids of all ages FINALLY get a bike of their own! Since we opened, we have been able to help around 40 kids get these bikes, which truly blows my mind! If you remember when we first opened and had our first raffle, we were hoping to help just one. God continues to work through this ministry to reach families not only in middle GA, but all across the state!


With this being February, I wanted to talk a little about LOVE and what that looks like in the special needs community. I searched and searched for the perfect verse to show "a different kind of love". But the truth is, for the special needs community, as a provider, as a church, as a friend, the love that they require and need is the same kind of love that you need, want, and desire. They want to be loved on, just like you or I! They want to be included. They want to be approached and talked to! They want to make friends AND they want to show love back. If we choose to love like Christ, then we will love those with disabilities as well and we will love them the same as everyone else!

John 15:12 "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you"

Luke 6:31 "Do to others as you would have them do to you"

Corinthians 16:14 "Do everything in love"

Let's face it though, once you show love to anyone in the special needs community, you will most definitely receive a different kind of love! These kids love unconditionally with their whole heart! It is a love that can be seen in their smile, their hugs, their pure excitement just seeing you, and is a love that is pure!


MEET MASON

There are two things I know: that God is kind and that God is good. It has been almost a decade since God granted me the desires of my heart. “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord…” 1 Samuel 1:27,28a

My husband and I had been married almost a decade; we were thrilled to be expecting our first child. Every conversation was centered around him: we hoped that he would inherit his father’s athleticism and wit, my smile and easy nature, his dad’s math skills, my ability to connect with others. We wondered if he would have curly hair or blue eyes; we talked about traveling with him around the world, sharing our wanderlust and getting to experience our favorite excursions through his eyes. Would he play baseball like his dad? Would he be a musician like me? I remember dancing at my sister’s wedding – pregnant and happy – Mason was dancing with me. It felt like God was shining on me; I felt happy and blessed.

Almost a month later, our world was turned upside down. I gave birth to a silent room: no cheers or congratulations, but measured words… would you like us to call a chaplain? I asked to see my baby; I could see that all color had drained from my husband’s face, but they showed him to me. Mason had a cleft lip and palate, which was surprising, but not a big deal. I didn’t understand why everyone seemed so upset. He was beautiful. A head full of straight black hair and gray eyes; he looked soulful and wise, like he had lived a lifetime. We quickly learned that Mason had a chromosomal abnormality, 22Q11.2 duplication; we were told he couldn’t hear, that he would need surgery, and that he would have to go home with a feeding tube because of feeding complications with his cleft.

We left the NICU and were able to go home, but soon CHOA became our second home. I quickly became intimately acquainted with nursing, insurance referrals and authorizations, therapies, robotics, intensives, numerous surgeries, and hospital stays. Yes, I still took him to Gymboree tumbling, the library playgroup, and the neighborhood music class, but we never quite fit in. It wasn’t the motherhood experience that I had expected. Mason is going to turn 10 years old this summer and he doesn’t yet walk independently or talk. But can I tell you that God has been so kind and loving to us? He has never withheld any good thing from us.

A girlfriend and I got dressed up and took our sons out to a Japanese steakhouse and then to preschool prom. Mason was in a triathlon (even though he cried during the swim portion). Mason has played on a baseball team for the past few years! I never would have even imagined this. He’s attended public and private schools for special needs – both with their own merit. He has gone to the best therapy clinics and he’s also been to clinics that have made me weep because of their inadequate facilities… but he has continued to make progress because it is God who gives the increase. God has led us to wonderful teachers and therapists and Para pros; He’s also closed the door when He has had something better for us and it was time to move on.

We have traveled with Mason; not yet in the way we hoped. But we’ve hike Mt. Rainier and experienced the kindness of strangers who have helped us carry him on areas where the trail disappeared, we’ve taken road trips, found new beach towns that have become family favorites. We go boating and paddleboarding and send Mason to summer camp; he goes horseback riding. He has a Sunday School class and friends. There is this amazing gift of Wellspring Therapy, and Beth offers so many opportunities for families to connect with each other.

There are times when my husband and I grieve, of course. It’s only natural; it comes in waves…. Gratitude and grace. We long for the day when we hear Mason’s voice calling us, when he comes running to show us something he’s found. God has called us to a different journey in this life, and when God calls you, He will equip you.

~ Anika Johnson ~


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