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When life falls apart, confusion sets in. Personal questions are unanswerable, emotions are uncontrollable, and strength seems unattainable; such are the realities of shattering circumstances. Special Needs Ministries represents a source of hope for people by offering sound teaching, resources, and personal counseling. We invite you to visit the Special Needs blog, managed by Colleen Swindoll Thompson, director of Special Needs Ministries and the parent of a child with special needs. Colleen is intimately aware of the daily challenges you face, and she is honored for the opportunity to interact with you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's Okay

by Colleen Swindoll Thompson

Getting stuck is a bummer. Just for a moment, let’s list a few “stucks”:

  • Stuck in traffic
  • Stuck on a test
  • Stuck on a project
  • Stuck while trying to fix something
  • Stuck in the mud
  • Stuck in a dead-end career
  • Stuck in life

Our minds can also get stuck in a rut of one-way thinking—the inability to think our way out of a difficult situation or being stuck in the mental fog of confusion and bewilderment.

It's okay
Attribution: Image "Help Word Sinking In Sea" courtesy of Stuart Milesy/"


Crisis is like a gigantic sinkhole . . . suddenly, the earth gives way and our lives tumble into a “no-man’s-land,” and we feel stuck. We’re trapped, craving to get out of the hole, but the Lord doesn’t allow us to escape. It stinks to sink, but while you’re stuck in a hole, keep these in mind:

  1. It’s okay to be mad and angry.
  2. It’s okay to sleep when you are exhausted.
  3. It’s okay to not know the answer.
  4. It’s okay to feel lost.
  5. It’s okay to feel scared.
  6. It’s okay to cry.
  7. It’s okay to doubt your beliefs and convictions.
  8. It’s okay to lose or forget things.
  9. It’s okay to have huge emotional shifts.
  10. It’s okay to say, “Though I don’t like this now, I will choose to believe God is sitting by me, so I might as well talk with Him about it all.”

Getting Unstuck

Sinkholes don’t last forever. Although sinkholes shift and shake us and try to pull us under, they also force us to examine life. If you choose to examine life, to seek wisdom from spiritual directors and support from secure friends, and to hide Scripture deep in your heart, you will cultivate a deeper faith, unshakable convictions, more balance, greater hope, tender humility, and an abundance of grace.

Ten different reactions to life’s “sinkholes” are listed above. There may be one or two or more that you really can connect with and are comforted in knowing, “I’m going to be okay as I work through this season.”

I would love to connect with you in our comments section and talk over your experience as well as offer support for getting unstuck and moving forward.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Hope: Expect Great Things from God by Charles R. Swindoll, 40-page booklet

Gaining a Fresh Perspective: Seeing Relationships through New Eyes by Charles R. Swindoll, CD series of 8 CDs

Life Lessons Set of Life Lessons Just for Men and Life Lessons Just for Women by Charles R. Swindoll, 8 messages on 8 CDs

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Embracing Our Weirdness with Wonderful Strength

An Interview with Laurie Wallin

Wonderfully weird . . . not many of us would put those two words together. However, Laurie Wallin—certified life coach, speaker, teacher, and gifted author—reveals that God has in place a master plan for our lives that is, indeed, weird and wonderful.

Most often, we get stuck in the frustrations of being different—or in the differences of others—and can’t see God’s design in it all. As a mother of four, Laurie found herself at the bottom of a dark pit, depressed and deeply discouraged by the overwhelming challenges of raising a child with differences.

In this candid interview, Laurie openly talks about times in her life when, in spite of her devotion to parenting and prayer, things went from bad to worse and she felt as though God wasn’t hearing her cries for help.

Watch the interview:

(Can't see the video in email or RSS? Click here.)

Eventually, Laurie realized the Lord was using these painfully complex challenges for a greater purpose . . . His sovereign purpose.

As a result of submitting to His will and His ways, Laurie’s perspective changed.

First and foremost, she learned that God’s design for every life is different and that He offers significant strengths to be used in unique ways. Laurie speaks very honestly about hardships, human differences, helping others, and finding hope in what may appear to be totally hopeless situations.

Continue reading "Embracing Our Weirdness with Wonderful Strength" »

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

May It Be as You Have Said

by Colleen Swindoll Thompson

They are written in every baby book and shared with close friends. Those never-forgotten first words. In my children’s (unfinished) baby books, I too recorded their first words. Each child’s were distinct and, in reflection, true to their unique personalities.

  • Austin’s first word was mommy.
  • Jon’s first words, after waiting three years for him to speak, were I love you.
  • My oldest child, Ashley, made her distinct mark on the universe, and it all began with the word NO!
May it be as you have said-600
(Image: "Hand Holding Believe Stone" courtesy of thepathtraveler/

I heard no so often those first couple of years, I decided to write a poem about it. Clearly, her bent was to carve her own road and walk her own path—and she hasn’t diverted from it. No is part of her development.

Here’s what I wrote to Ashley when she was two.


NO! I refuse to . . .

NO! I don’t choose to . . .

And NO, NO, NO, you can’t change my mind.


You’ve been mistaken

Maybe are waiting

For a yes to come from my throat.


So please remember,

From January to December,

The first word will always be NO!


You could tease me,

You could eat me,

From my head right down to my toes.

But inside your belly, loudly and yelly,

And stinky and swelly,

NO! echoes from here to New Delhi.


You could sock me

Feed me some broccoli,

Tickle me ’til I turned blue;

Despite all the giggles and sniggles and wiggles and jiggles,

My NO! will be stated to you!


So let me be me, and soon you’ll see,

Despite my fighting attempts

God is stronger,

And knows what is honorable,

My first words may become

A memory.


Why do I share this with you? Because we all have NOs! in our vocabulary. Often, there is much wisdom in learning to say no. We have to establish who we are, what we choose, and how we live our lives. And when our no is really no then everyone knows that our yes is really yes.

God . . . Yes or No?

NOs are important and good. We teach our children to say no to harmful things—to drinking, to drugs, and to premarital sex. But saying no to God when we should say yes is not wise.

For a moment, consider Mary, Jesus’s mother. When the angel told her that her virgin womb would carry the Messiah, she could have fought with God and yelled: “No, no, no . . . I don’t want this. I don’t like this.” But what did she say? Luke 1:38 tells us:

“I am the Lord’s servant. . . . May your word to me be fulfilled” (NIV).

I am in awe of Mary’s response. She could have chosen to argue, to doubt, and to be angry with God because the path was going to be filled with pain. Instead, she surrendered her heart to God, and she accepted with humility His direction for her life.

Maybe you’re fighting God because you want Him to agree with your plans. Maybe He has allowed pain so deep, a path so hard, and an end so mysterious you’ve chosen to have it out with Him. I’ve been there. I understand the fighter’s stance. But it leads to a hardened heart and a distracted mind.

Allow Mary’s words to God to be your words to Him, too, revealing a heart that is humbled, surrendered, and trusting in what God has planned. Mary didn’t escape pain, but she was God’s servant. This is the Christian’s calling as well. After all, Jesus came from her womb.

I wonder what will come from your life if you simply say to God, “I am Your servant. May it be as You have said”?

Let Me Hear from You

Acceptance of life’s circumstances is really the first step to opening our hearts and minds about living the Christian life. Christ promises abundance but requires our acceptance of what He has allowed. We all struggle with NO! responses, yet it’s what we do with those responses that makes all the difference.  Let’s talk about that in our comments section below.

 You can leave a comment by clicking here.


A Life Well Lived: Discover the Rewards of an Obedient Heart by Charles R. Swindoll, DVD and Bible Companion set

Absolute Essentials by Charles R. Swindoll, CD series of 4 CDs

Living on the Ragged Edge: Coming to Terms with Reality by Charles R. Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, CD series of 24 CDs plus bonus audio CD and 288-page Bible Companion


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three Core Essentials for Every Christian

By Colleen Swindoll Thompson

Few things make us feel more vulnerable than being naked.

Without covering, we’re exposed and often invaded by feelings of fear, weakness, and worry—susceptible to the winds and whims of humanity. We long to hide. Our desire to “run for cover” is not new. It began in the garden and has continued ever since.

Really, it isn’t the nakedness that pains us but the shame we carry when we are threadbare.

Image courtesy of num_ skyman/

Life is scarring; as my dad has said, “We’ve all been shot.” We want to hide those wounds, whether they be physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual. With the wave of a wand, we want our wounds to wither and be swept away by the hot winds. But they don’t and won’t, so we live a bit at odds with ourselves.

We aren’t comfortable in our own skin, so we try to dress up and appear capable.

There's a better solution.

Continue reading "Three Core Essentials for Every Christian" »

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

But . . . Why?

by Colleen Swindoll Thompson

One of the first questions my children asked was, “Why?” It came at unwanted bedtimes, unexpected mealtimes, undesired moments of discipline, and unforgettable experiences of sacrifice and forgiveness.

Image courtesy of "Master isolated images"/

A wonderful innocence surrounds the question of “Why?” I don’t think we ever outgrow that basic question . . . at least, we don’t until we settle one of life’s greatest realities: We are human, gravely broken in our ability to understand and comprehend God’s sovereign covering in our lives.

My father wrote an article titled “Asking Why,” written about suffering.

Read his words below . . .

Continue reading "But . . . Why?" »

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Would You Say with Only 18 Minutes?

By Colleen Swindoll Thompson

If you had 18 minutes to give the talk of your life, what would you say? I discovered the Web site TED not long ago; I’m addicted. “TED—Ideas Worth Spreading” stands for Technology, Education, Design. One of the fundamental principles of TED Talks is that a speaker has 18 minutes to express his or her ideas or thoughts on a particular field of study, specialized practice, accomplishment, or discovery.

Image courtesy of nattavut, published on 14 October 2011/

Having listened to some of the brightest researchers, leaders, educators, scientists, and specialists speak on everything from neurological fetal development to the value of failure, there is one universal theme woven into the fabric of these talks, which is why I’m hooked. Each speaker is on a quest for discovery. Regardless of his or her field of study, personal experiences, academic degrees, or intelligence quotient, this person wants to contribute and make a positive difference in the world.

So, if you had 18 minutes to give the talk of your life, what would you say?

Continue reading "What Would You Say with Only 18 Minutes?" »

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

How God's Unexpected Plans for You Work for Good

An Interview with Meaghan Wall

We all have certain fears or phobias—powerful and penetrating worries that can paralyze our thoughts and actions. Fear relates to feelings of anxiety, dread, worry, and being out of control and is often highlighted when circumstances change or our life takes unanticipated twists and turns. Yet Scripture repeatedly reminds us that faith is trusting Christ with the unknown—trusting Him when our plans change and God chooses a very different path for us.

Meaghan Wall had a wonderful life plan as a pre-med student until God led her in a very different direction. God’s plan was not what she could have ever imagined, yet every circumstance, every opportunity, every experience taught her several core lessons that brought her to where she is today.

In this interview, Meaghan honestly speaks to all who have chosen to trust Christ, to walk by faith and not sight. She reminds us that when we choose to let go of our human-made plans, God’s work and will for our lives leads to His working through us in ways we could have never imagined.

Watch the interview:


Continue reading "How God's Unexpected Plans for You Work for Good" »

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Playground: Five Truths to Remember

by Colleen Swindoll Thompson

The brightly colored church playground equipment stood stable and strong against the backdrop of the setting sun. I had just dropped off my son Jon at “Fun Zone,” our church’s monthly respite program for families with special needs. It’s four enormous hours of fun for the kids—four extraordinary hours of renewal for caregivers.

I slowly passed the playground and was greeted by a swell of emotions; yellow swings, red ladders, climbing bars, and tiny tunnels—usually smothered with Sunday school kids—were empty, still, and silent. I stopped and wondered once again what the language of tears was trying to say.

the playground
Photo: by Alan Fryer CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jon has never played on that playground because it’s built for “typical” kids. However, he’s had plenty of play time elsewhere. Jon hasn’t gone to summer and winter camp with the typical kids, but he’s had adventures with his family. Then I realized the tears weren’t about playgrounds or campgrounds; they were about continuing to release what I had expected, what I had planned, and how I envisioned life for my son.

How Life Is “Supposed” to Be

Expectations are those hopes, beliefs, dreams, plans, and desires we have about life . . . the way life is supposed to work. But as life unfolds and as God allows, the unexpected happens and things fall apart.

Continue reading "The Playground: Five Truths to Remember" »

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When You Need to Start Over

By Colleen Swindoll Thompson

It was a tug-of-war game with the tape dispenser. My son Jon and I were wrapping a birthday present together. My job was to cut and hold the paper, and Jon had tape duty. For Jon, any activity that involves motor skills can be challenging.

(Photo: by  CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s why: motor skills are muscle-related actions that accomplish a task . . . our bodies in motion. Separated into two main categories:

  1. Large (gross) muscle actions include walking, throwing, swimming, and climbing.
  2. Small (fine) motor skills involve writing, tying, eating, and picking things up (to name only a few examples).

Jon has motor skill challenges, so I’m always on the lookout for skill development that’s fun too. Wrapping a present is perfect because it’s fun, and it takes about 123 ligaments and 34 muscles (literally); so it fits the goal. Jon worked tirelessly for each piece of tape. Some pieces were very long, some stuck together, and a couple we tossed to the side because they had lost all stickiness. We laughed along the way, and in the end, we smiled at our combined success.

Patience, Perseverance, and More Patience

Years ago, I would’ve been frustrated, ignorant, impatient, and clueless about muscles and bodies . . . and how miraculous it is that any body works in some sort of coordinated fashion.

However, just about the time I reflectively feel more maturely refined, I totally and thoroughly blow it.

Continue reading "When You Need to Start Over" »

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Darkness in a Theater

by Emily Colson

This is a guest post by my friend, Emily Colson. After reading the post on her blog, I asked her if we could also post it here. —Colleen


We came to see a movie. But I never imagined that we would become the entertainment.

Patty and I found our pre-assigned seats and sunk into the plush leather, with Max sandwiched between us. Despite the exorbitant ticket price, this posh new cinema was completely full. I studied those around us searching for a smile, which is the gold star sticker of acceptance.

But no one seemed to notice Max.

Darkness in a theater
Credit/Copyright Attribution: isak55/Shutterstock

As we sat waiting for the film, I marveled that we could be part of this audience, sitting like everyone else enjoying Christmas with their families. We became something bigger than just us; we were a school of fish moving together in unity, gliding through the deep blue. Max’s eyes darted around the room, his pupils like black pools as the lights dimmed.

“Don’t worry if Max gets anxious in the beginning of the movie,” I whispered to my step-mom Patty. “He needs a few minutes to adjust, and then he loves it.” I felt a little rush of pride come over me, with a desperate hope that it would actually work. Sitting at the movies is one of our hard-earned victories. But after 23 years, I know that life with autism is predictably unpredictable. I clutched my bag under my arm, with Max’s teddy bear peeking out of the top just like the Hollywood starlets carry their Chihuahuas.

The first preview started with eardrum-breaking volume. “I want to go home!” Max shrieked as he folded over his ears.

Continue reading "Darkness in a Theater " »