Three practical ways to help families with disabled children

As believers, we should be the first to come alongside parents of disabled children. Yet, the truth is that it is easy to shy away out of fear, lack of understanding, or even apathy. Certa author Shelly Roberts has years of experience fostering and loving kids of different abilities and she has put together a very practical list of ways that we can support parents like her and show them the love of Christ.

Here is an excerpt from her blog post, What your friends {with children affected by disability} need:

Sometimes we struggle to reach out, not because we don’t want to, but rather because we’re just not sure what would be helpful. After having been on the disability journey for several years, I’ve found there are three main things that can make a world of difference to families.

SHOW UP. It’s ok if you don’t know what to say. Chances are you can’t really change your friend’s circumstances. Just being reminded that they aren’t facing them alone will mean so much. Showing up might be an actual in-person visit during a long hospital stay. A bonus is walking in with their favorite treat they can’t buy at the building they currently reside in. It might also be a text with something funny or a scripture to cling to. The reality is that a life affected by disability can feel really lonely. You can be that reminder they aren’t alone.

SEND HELP. No doubt your friend faces exhaustion daily. While there are many things you probably can’t do for them, there are so very many that you can. Receiving a gift card in the mail for pizza will mean they can focus on their family that evening instead of juggling one more thing. Taking care of a tank or two of gas for them can be a huge load-lifter when they put on so many miles for appointments. Offering to be taxi for another family member can be one of the best practical helps there is, especially if they can’t leave the house with a fragile child. Hint: if you ask them what they need, they will likely struggle to tell you. Offering specific things is so helpful. One of my favorites is when a friend will offer to get what I need at the store.

STAY CONNECTED. It might have to look a little different in various seasons. As their children age it might take some creativity, especially if it’s difficult for them to come visit you in your home that has stairs to enter. You might notice their church attendance is slim during flu season. Don’t forget them. Send a text and ask how their week is going. See about stopping in for a quick visit over coffee {and take some chocolate!}. Ask them how you can pray for them. I guarantee you, they will be deeply encouraged by your efforts.

Get creative. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself. Keep it simple. Your friend doesn’t need your extravagance. They need your sincerity. Jesus modeled to us so beautifully how to be a friend and meet the needs of others.

John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”


Over the years, as Shelly has walked with countless adoptive families, she has heard their hearts. 

In this book, Shelly sheds light on the abounding HOPE available to these moms, their families and the children to whom they said YES.  Nugget by nugget, you will be drawn to the source of all HOPE.  You will come away deeply encouraged and better equipped to care for the needs of your family.  You will be reminded that you do not walk this journey alone.

142 pages | $14.99

Shelly is a dedicated wife and mother of five blessings from around the globe. She is known for being an encourager, prayer warrior and advocate for the fatherless. While serving with the ABBA Fund, Shelly strives not only to see children be placed in families, but for those families to thrive. She blogs at reachingheartswithhope.com and is also a women’s speaker and enjoys traveling all over the US, bringing inspiring insight to impact and encourage all who hear. 

4 Words That Can Transform Your Parenting

Certa blog -Ellen Martin

There are plenty of lofty parenting theories, well-meaning books, and platitudes from empty-nesters. But sometimes what parents need are practical tools for the nitty-gritty of raising kids. Ideas for the tantrums, fights, and messes. And who better to give us advice than Certa author Ellen Martin, mother of 5?

Her book, A Life Shared, discusses four words that have transformed her parenting and today she is expounding on that idea for our benefit. Enjoy!

Years ago, I heard a mom say, “Time to empty out.” Her son went to the bathroom without event.

Those four-words ended the battle of “Go to the bathroom.” “But I don’t have to.”

I explained the phrase one time, “Your bladder can hold A LOT of pee, it’s time to empty out.” Soon the older kids were teaching the younger ones.

“Different families, different rules,” are four words that have changed our family life. With five kids, I say “no” a lot. Our kindergartener will still fall-out on the floor in full-body tantrum some days. And have you ever seen a middle-school tantrum? It’s not pretty.

“No” can make me the bad-guy. I can handle that, when necessary, but it’s not always necessary. The answer “no” can often be replaced with a simple explanation: “Different families, different rules.”

Parents and kids know families live differently. The movies we watch, the places we go, the way we parent, the things we buy. “Different families, different rules” ends the whole discussion of “Why do they get to, but we don’t?”

Some families drink soda daily. We drink it with pizza, when we go out-to-eat once a month, and at parties. We have friends who don’t drink soda at all.

Why? That’s their family practice.

“Different families, different rules.”

No one is the bad guy. Not you. Not the other family. The practice is just the practice.

“Different families, different rules,” does two powerful things.

One, kids and parents often unknowingly elevate their family’s practices over another family. “Different families, different rules” encourages us to honor our own family’s practices and other families at the same time.

Two, it makes us, the parents and the kids, a team. Rather than pitting us against our kids, “different families, different rules” encourages our kids to embrace our family practices for themselves.

Just yesterday, the boys wanted a kid to play with them. He wasn’t allowed to leave the bleachers,

“Different families, different rules. Go play,” I said.

“What did you say?” an older child asked.

I repeated myself.

She smiled a big smile, “I’ve never heard that.”

“You like it?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said and looked at her mom.

It made so much sense to her without any explanation. That’s what makes those four-words powerful. Kids understand them and will embrace them.

“Different families, different rules.” Try it. I’d love to hear how it works for you.

So simple, yet so brilliant, right? We encourage you go pick up a copy of Ellen’s book, A Life Shared, which is an excellent resource for parents in search of practical wisdom.

Ellen Martin, mother of five, lives in Wilmore, Kentucky with her husband Andrew. With a Masters of Arts in Christian Education and Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary, her days are filled with her workshop “THE TALK: Embrace the Sacred Gift,” writing, and life with family and friends. She writes at her blog, A Life Shared with Kids.

Parents want to share life with their kids, but it is not easy with hectic schedules and life’s demands.  A Life Shared offers vision and insight on how to have meaningful conversations through the busyness of life, questions for transformation, suggestions for action, and grace for every parent.