Church and Families With Specially Challenged Kids #5 (by Kamy Bibbee)
I wish you could spend some time with Kevin and Kamy Bibbee and their girls, Megan, Kaylin, and Morgan. What an amazing family—even with challenging circumstances. I’ve known Kamy since she was a college student; and I’ve been blessed abundantly to follow her and Kevin on this journey of parenting their three precious girls.
I’ve asked Kamy to write for this series. Read and be blessed!
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God’s plan for his church is so much more than going to a building for a short time every Sunday morning checking off a list of activities. The church is his family, saved by grace, coming together to keep on growing in our love for him and for each other.
My husband, Kevin, and I have three precious girls, two of them with special needs and significant dependencies. Megan, our oldest, was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality—an unbalanced translocation—a combination so rare that when she was diagnosed, they couldn’t find anyone else in the world like her.
Since Megan’s birth, I feel like I was yanked onto a roller coaster ride that I wasn’t quite ready for…and most days I have white knuckles from hanging on for dear life! Some days hold hairpin curves and hills that take my breath away; other days hold amazing views that I would never see if I wasn’t on this particular ride. I strain to see what is coming up so I can be ready for it, but the fact is the upcoming tracks are just out of my sight. Tomorrow, next month, next year—I don’t know what’s coming next. No one does . . . except the One who holds time in his hands. So we just keep hanging on.
I do remember experiencing a clear picture of what the church should look like. It happened soon after Megan was born. We had gone home with our newborn daughter, and within four hours our world turned upside down. Megan quit breathing . . . turned blue . . . we rushed back to the hospital where they hooked Megan up to all those machines. Our church family was barely over 100 people at that time, and more than 60 of them were in the NICU waiting room with us. The team of doctors came to get our “history” and ask 3,489 questions (maybe a couple more—I can’t remember!), and their eyes grew wide when they walked into our waiting room packed with people. They whispered, “Do you want to go somewhere so we can talk privately?” We said no, we’d rather stay.
One doctor looked around and asked, “Are all these people your family?” Kevin did not hesitate before he replied, “Yes, this is our family.” They were there—not saying a lot of words . . . just staying close by . . . sitting for hours with us . . . bringing us food when we didn’t want to leave the waiting room . . . praying with us . . . just being near us. Thinking back on that time more than 16 years ago, I clearly remember feeling loved and supported by our church family just being beside us.
We hung on for the ride over the next several years, and God added Kaylin and Morgan to our family. Kaylin is now a healthy, typical 11-year-old—oops, she’s saying, “MOM! I’m almost 12!” Morgan was born in 2002 with the same genetic abnormality big sister Megan has—a faith-shaking time for us. This was a very different answer to our prayers than we had expected. But our family joke is that we have twins; they were just born seven years apart!
One time I was coming into the church building pushing Megan and Morgan in their wheelchairs. (Yes, I can push two chairs at one time; in fact, I feel strange when I’m not pushing a wheelchair!) Anyway, this particular Sunday morning a few years ago I remember someone opened the door for us and as I went in, people were moving toward the walls and telling their children to get out of our way—and I remember thinking, “Why do I feel like we are Moses with the Red Sea parting before us?” I didn’t feel cared for; I felt contagious! Were these people, my church family, purposely trying to hurt us? Of course not! I know that. But I remember thinking, Please, stay IN our way . . . make it hard for us to get down the hall . . . turn around and look at my girls . . . they would enjoy being greeted . . . I need a hug . . . take time to find out what makes my girls smile . . . touch us . . . I know we may be different . . . but we are the same in our need for love and connection.
When we moved to North Carolina three years ago, a family helped us by organizing a rotating schedule for people to take care of Megan and Morgan so I can be in the auditorium. This has been absolutely wonderful! And can I just say how nice it is for someone else to recruit helpers for my children? It’s tough to ask and I do understand some people are hesitant, but having someone else in charge of this is nice!
One of the greatest things about this rotating schedule is how other people get to know my girls better. When we walk into the church building now, I don’t get more than a few feet without hearing, “Hey, girls! How are you?” Megan and Morgan don’t answer with words, but they are seen and loved on by our church family.
A few months ago the teens in our church family said, “Megan is 16. Why isn’t she in class with us?” So now Megan IS in class with them. They even threw her a birthday party recently! I don’t think they have any idea how they are blessing our family by just wanting to be beside us.
We are hanging on for this crazy ride called LIFE. Our church family is on this journey with us—we are learning a lot together. I’d rather be stumbling and learning and growing . . . and crying and laughing and loving and longing along with other people who are stumbling and learning and growing…and crying and laughing and loving and longing right beside me. It’s so much better than trying to do this LIFE thing on my own.
God has a plan for His family—and you know what? I think we should stick pretty close to Megan and Morgan. They’ll keep us heading in the right direction toward home—where we belong.