According to the last census data, 1 in 5 families in the US has a member with a disability. That’s 20% of the population! As a special-needs sibling (my sister has Down syndrome) and a special-needs mom (my son has level 3 autism), I know the challenges many families like mine face. Showing them a little extra love and encouragement can go a long way!
That’s why your church may want to consider hosting a Day of Pampering for Caregivers (also called A Day of Prayer and Care) as a way to share Christ’s love with special-needs moms and wives who care for their husbands. I’ll walk you through the day I experienced at Church of the Open Door in York, PA’s annual event as a way to inspire you!
First, when we pulled into the parking lot, we were greeted by someone from the men’s ministry who asked us if we wanted to have our cars detailed while we attended the event. If the answer was yes, they directed us on where to park and gave us a tag with a number to put on our key chains so we could turn them in at the check in desk. (The men would later use the keys to get into our cars and vacuum them out, throwing away what was obviously trash and putting other things in a baggie they left in the car.)
We were welcomed warmly at check in with a schedule for the day and map of the church. We could walk to the church’s cafe space to enjoy coffee, tea, and pastries as we talked to the other caregivers and waited for the program to begin.
Soon we were invited in to the worship center where we had a time of praise and worship, listened to a speaker (who was also a caregiver), and then experienced a moving time of blessings the hands. Each caregiver was invited to come forward and have water poured over her hands. Women of the church stood waiting with towels to wipe the water away before we say down. Joni Brandt, who has a child with special needs, wrote the poem that was read during this time, “Blessing the Hands.” Here’s a copy I found:
Bless these hands with their gentle touch,
bless these hands as they caress the ones they love so much.
Bless these hands that clasp in prayer,
bless these hands that seek God’s guidance each hour.
Bless these hands that push the wheelchairs,
Bless these hands that assist with the stairs.
Bless these hands that drive the vans,
Bless these hands that schedule doctor and therapy plans.
Bless these hands that shampoo, bathe, and touch,
Bless these hands that rub the lotion and such.
Bless these hands that comb the hair and dress,
Bless these hands as they seek to bless.
Bless these hands that brush the teeth and stroke the face,
Bless these hands as they see Your grace.
Bless these hands as they work the feeding tubes,
Bless these hands, they are Yours to use.
Bless these hands as they hold the spoon up,
Bless these hands as they lift the cup.
Bless these hands as they wipe slobber and drool,
Bless these hands, they are a useful tool.
Bless these hands as they deliver the meds,
Bless these hands as they make the beds.
Bless these hands that massage muscles and painful nerves,
Bless these hands that are used to serve.
Bless these hands that soothe through seizures and pain,
Bless these hands that long to take away the pain.
Bless these hands that pray for healing, relief, and peace,
Bless these hands that pray with great belief.
Bless these hands that clean mess after mess,
Bless these hands with patience as they are put to the test.
Bless these hands that wipe away tears,
Bless these hands that long to take away fears.
Bless these hands as they wipe yet more tears,
Bless these hands as they long to take away rejection from peers.
Bless these hands as they wipe tears of their own,
Bless these hands that do this in secret, they cry alone.
Bless these hands that are often wrung in worry and fear,
Bless these hands with comfort from loved ones so dear.
Bless these hands that grow weary and tired,
Bless these hands, may they always be gentle, kind, and inspired.
Bless these hands Lord, which are dedicated to You,
Bless these hands that are Yours to work through.
Bless these hands Lord, with power from above,
Bless these hands to deliver Your intimate love.
The poem was repeated as many times as necessary for everyone woman in attendance to have her hands blessed. There were also women waiting on the sides for prayer if anyone needed extra support.
After a closing song, we were invited into another room for a lunch of soup and salad. Each table had a hostess that welcomed us and kept the conversations flowing. It was a sweet time of meeting other special-needs moms and caregivers who lived in the area. After lunch the pampering began. I’ll share everything the church did for us, but if you are hosting a similar event, know that you can adjust this part to meet the needs (and volunteers) you have.
For the next couple hours we could:
- sit in the cafe area with drinks and desserts
- get a hair cut
- get a hand scrub or paraffin wax treatment
- have our finger nails painted
- get make-up tips
- get a massage (these slots were limited and we had to sign up for a time when we arrived)
- visit the church library
We weren’t rushed out as the event came to a close. We could sit and talk with friends even as those who had volunteered their time to do the pampering finished up. When we were ready to leave, we received gift bags along with the keys to our newly-cleaned cars. After the day, which lasted from 9:30-3:00, I was refreshed and felt encouraged to get back to my family and care for my son, knowing I wasn’t alone.
If you’d like to plan a similar event, here are some more details you may want to consider.
- Providing lunch for your volunteers in a separate space so they can quickly eat and get in place for the pampering
- Involving teen girls to help serve the food and/or clean up
- Limiting registration to a number you can manage (our church plans to invite 50 women, first asking the members of our church who are caregivers to register and then opening it to the community)
- Making sure the gospel message is clearly presented
- Allowing the special-needs parents the opportunity to tour your special-needs ministry rooms if they don’t regularly attend your church so they would know what to expect on a Sunday morning
I can’t wait for the opportunity to host a Day of Pampering event at our church! (We had to cancel our original date due to the coronavirus outbreak.) It’s going to be a great way to bring different ministries in our church together to serve moms and wives who need encouragement!
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