Kelli Ra Anderson is a nationally published freelance writer for various magazines and author of her recently published 60-day devotional, Divine Duct Tape, that comes from her own experience as a mother of three teens (two with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism). Her latest article in Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal magazine is one of many over the years that have focused on the struggles and practical how-tos of understanding and embracing families of special needs children, especially those who struggle with social/emotional developmental disorders.
Amy Julia Becker is the author of A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations and a Little Girl Named Penny (Bethany House), named one of the Top Books of 2011 by Publisher’s Weekly, and Penelope Ayers: A Memoir. Amy is also the author of What Every Woman Needs To Know About Prenatal Testing. This book should be required reading for all prospective parents. The book is born of Amy’s evolving thoughts on the subject after she became the mother of a child with Down syndrome.
A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she blogs regularly for Patheos at Thin Places. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, First Things, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Hartford Courant, The Christian Century, ChristianityToday, The Huffington Post, and Parents.com. Amy Julia lives with her husband Peter and three children, Penny, William, and Marilee, in western Connecticut. Drop by and visit at Thin Places–Faith, Family and Disability.
Kathleen Deyer Bolduc is a nationally recognized author and speaker in the field of disability ministry, concentrating on
disability’s impact on the family system, and ways in which churches can become more welcoming of families that live with disability.
Her books include Autism and Alleluias (Judson Press, 2010); A Place Called Acceptance: Ministry with Families of Children with Disabilities (Bridge Resources, Louisville, KY, 2001); and His Name is Joel: Searching for God in a Son’s Disability (Bridge Resources, Louisville, KY, 1999). Her articles have appeared in Guideposts, The Cincinnati Enquirer,
Family Ministry: Empowering Through Faith, The Journal of Religion, Disability and Health, Quaker Life, Youth!, DreamWeaver, and Fellowship in Prayer. Make sure to drop by and visit her blog at her website.
Kathy’s passions include searching for God in the everyday, sharing lessons learned in 24 years of living with Joel, spending time with family and friends, contemplative prayer, bird-watching, long walks in the park, writing fiction, and reading a good novel at bedtime.
Emily Colson is an author and speaker. Emily speaks to churches and organizations nationwide, and has appeared on numerous media outlets including Focus on the Family and the Huckabee show. In her book Dancing with Max Emily and her father, Chuck Colson, share the struggle and beauty of life with Max, Emily’s 22 year-old son with autism. The book has recently been awarded “Book of the Year” by the Autism Society. Through her message, Emily has inspired many to persevere through their own challenges and see the gifts. Emily has been a single mother for most of Max’s 22 years, with hard fought lessons in life, love and a whole lot of laughter. Emily and Max live on the coast of New England where they can often be found dancing.
Joe and Cindi are authors of Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course who enjoy speaking on topics that will encourage men and women to make a difference in their sphere of influence by being all they can be for the Lord, their families, and themselves. They speaking nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Get-a-Ways and are on associate staff of CRU. Make sure to check out their blog and how to connect with them on other social media at Creative Management Fundamentals.
Since May 2007, Stephanie Hubach has served as Mission to North America’s Special Needs Ministries Director. Mission to North America (MNA) is associated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). She currently serves on the Lancaster Christian Council on Disability (LCCD) and on the advisory board for Chosen Families. For eight years prior to her appointment at MNA, Steph and her husband Fred led the Special Needs Ministry at Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ephrata, PA. Steph also formerly volunteered as a member of the board of directors for The Arc of Lancaster County, chairperson of the Lancaster County Mental Health/Mental Retardation Advisory Board, and president of the board of directors for the Infant Evaluation Program of State College, PA.
Steph is the author of Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers, September 2006), director of a Christian Education DVD series by the same title, and author of All Things Possible: Calling Your Church Leadership to Embrace Disability Ministry (Joni and Friends, August 2007). She has been published in ByFaith magazine, Focus on the Family magazine, and Breakpoint online magazine.
Stephanie is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland College), and has an M.A. in Economics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She serves as an Adjunct Instructor for Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.
Steph and her husband Fred have been married for 30 years. They have two deeply loved sons: Fred and Tim, the younger of whom has Down syndrome. The Hubachs are thrilled to be adding a daughter-in-law to the family in June 2013 when Cecelia Miles and Fred get married! The family resides in Lancaster County, PA.
My name is Debbie Kay and I am a Christian writer, whose calling is to comfort people who are hurting. With God’s help, I have overcome many challenges in life. I know what it is like to be overwhelmed with sadness and grief and to have a heart so broken and battered you don’t know how you can possibly survive the pain. I also have experienced the wonder of having my pain and grief turned to joy, by a loving and caring Savior. As the mother of a special needs child and as someone with multiple auto-immune disorders, I have learned how to research to find resources and answers to help cope with illness and disabilities.
In addition to being an author, I am a credentialed minister and a speaker, who has certification in grief recovery. I am trained as a Life Coach with specialties in Stress Management, Health and Wellness Coaching, Hope Coaching, Marriage Mentoring and Divorce Recovery. The first part of my mission is to offer hope and resources, to broken-hearted people who are dealing with grief and loss associated with abuse, chronic illness, death, divorce, grief, and having a child with special needs. These are all areas that have touched my life and I want to help others dealing with the same issues. The second part of my mission is to help educate the world at large, on how to show compassion and minister to those who are grieving and disabled.
Since 2010, I’ve had the privilege of being an official Joni and Friends Associate. We both share a vision of bringing hope to those who are often marginalized by disability.
My ministry is multifaceted. In addition to writing, speaking and singing, I have a page on Facebook, where I post words of encouragement and offer daily prayers. I also have a blog where I post daily prayers and occasional messages: Hope For The Broken Hearted.
Kelly Langston is passionate about living the extraordinary adventure of walking hand-in-hand with a God that loves us more than we can comprehend. Married to Matt and mother of two vivacious children, Kelly has written professionally since her early days in the journalism school of The Ohio State University writing for The Lantern. Her blog, www.kellylangston.com, resonates with families living with special needs from around the world. The blog features posts that share the ups, the downs, the doubts and the fears that every Christian feels, whether they tell you about them … or not.
Kelly has spoken about faith in the face of autism for events including a recent Disability Summit for Joni & Friends and as a guest on Canada’s Miracle Channel. Her articles have appeared in P31 Magazine of Proverbs 31 Ministries and focus on her continual hunt to discover God’s fingerprint in every gift that life brings.
Professionally, Kelly runs a Charlotte-based company, Langston Marketing Services, that specializes in Internet communications and web development. Her current project, www.shortstoriescafe.com, encourages and supports emerging authors by creating a place where readers can lose themselves in short literary adventures written by new authors.
Kelly has marched in Washington for autism issues and is blessed with the friendship of parents who live to make a difference for children with autism. To learn more about autism including links to many autism resources, please visit http://www.autismshiddenblessings.com/.
Greg Lucas is a police officer in West Virginia, a graduate of Boyce college, and a Bible teacher and advisor for The Elisha Foundation, which encourages families experiencing disability toward a more intimate faith in Christ. He is also the author of Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace. Greg blogs at sheepdogger. Greg and his wife, Kimberly Ann, have four children.
Gillian Marchenko is a Christian, wife, mother, author, speaker, and advocate for individuals with special needs. She writes and speaks about stumbling faith, Down syndrome, depression, adoption, motherhood, and grace. Gillian’s work has appeared in Today’s Christian Woman, Thriving Family, MomSense Magazine, Gifted for Leadership, Connections Magazine, Chicago Parent, Story Bleed, Chicago Special Parent, EFCA Today, Four Cornered Universe, and is forthcoming at Literary Mama. She speaks to MOPS groups (Mothers of Preschoolers), helps coordinate her church’s special needs Sunday school and respite, and teaches about inclusive church with Joni and Friends Chicago.
An agented writer with WordServe Literary Agency, Gillian’s memoir about her daughter’s birth and diagnosis of Down syndrome as a missionary in Ukraine will be published by the end of 2013 with T.S. Poetry Press.
Gillian won The 2012 Ethel Herr Most Promising New Writer Award, sponsored by Kathy Ide’s Christian Editor Network at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Mount Hermon, California.
She lives in Chicago with her husband Sergei, and their daughters Elaina, Zoya, Polly, and Evangeline. Most Sundays, you’ll find Gillian in the back row of the church Sergei pastors, bouncing a toddler on her knee and giving the older girls the look.
Patty Corrigan Myers is the author of “Autism Is A Blessing.” Mrs. Myers has a degree in Psychology from King College. Currently she is the Director of First Hope at The First Academy, a ministry of First Baptist Church of Orlando and is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst. “Autism Is A Blessing” is about the author’s struggle to understand Autism and the effect it has on the child and the family. Mrs. Myers has 2 children, Chelsea (17) and Charlie (11). Charlie was diagnosed with autism in 2004. She has been married to her husband Tony for 22 years. One of her passions is disability awareness and working with churches, schools, and other organizations to get the word out. Mrs. Myers’ perspective is to look at the positive side of all struggles that we face and how we can learn and love through them. Make sure you check out Patty’s blog at PattyMyers.com!
Sandra Peoples lives in Pennsylvania with her pastor-husband. They have three boys, one with autism and one they are in the process of adopting from China. Sandra has a degree in English from Hardin-Simmons University and a Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Jolene Philo is the daughter of a disabled father and the mother of a child with special needs. After a 25 years as an elementary teacher, she left education in 2003 to pursue writing and speaking. Since then her articles have appeared in regional and national publications including Focus on the Family, Home Cooking, and ParentLife. Her books, A Different Dream for My Child and Different Dream Parenting were released by Discovery House Publishers in 2009 and 201. She speaks throughout the United States about parenting children and adults with special needs and post-traumatic stress in children. Her blog, www.DifferentDream.com, provides resources and encouragement for parents of kids with special needs. She also blogs about life on her dusty gravel road at www.jolenephilo.com. With their two children married and on their own, Jolene and her husband are kicking up their empty nester heels in Boone, Iowa.
Shannon Royce is president & C.E.O. of ChosenFamilies.org, a ministry for families living with hidden disabilities. As the Mom of a child with a hidden disability she understands the challenges families face. Living with Autism spectrum disorders, mental health challenges, or neurological concerns with no outside evidence can be difficult. There is no obvious flag to alert people there might be a need for understanding or accommodation.
Prior to founding the ministry, Shannon served in various pro-family organizations as a public policy advocate. Among her experiences were the privilege to serve as the founding Executive Director of the Arlington Group, a pro-family coalition, and as Director of Public Policy and Legislative Counsel for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Prior to her work with the Southern Baptist Convention she served two Senators as a policy advisor and Legal Counsel. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University School of Law and is licensed to practice (currently Associate status) in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Shannon and Bill have two teenage sons and live in Falls Church, Virginia. She has been actively involved as an advocate for children with special needs, has served on her local Special Education Advisory Committee for over 11 years, and as Chairman for 6 years. She is a lymphoma survivor and a marathon runner who sees the journey of parenting a child with special needs as the greatest marathon journey of her lifetime.
When my second daughter was born with Down syndrome, she challenged what I viewed as perfect, worthy, important, and valuable in life. I had received her as a broken baby, only to quickly recognize that I was the broken one. The treasures I have discovered along the way are not found in strength, performance, eloquence, character or confidence. They are found in brokenness, where beauty is found unexpectedly as a result of God’s love and compassion transforming my life.
I’m a writer and speaker. I share openly and honestly about finding beauty in brokenness, parenting, special needs, adoption, and Faith. You can find me at ellenstumbo.com, I also hang around facebook and twitter.
However, my most important roles are within my family. I am a wife to Andy and I like my husband… a lot. He is a real man of integrity and I respect and admire him greatly. He is a pastor, but before you think of me as “the pastor’s wife” please know that I am a broken person with much need of grace. I don’t play the piano, and don’t sing. Instead, I teach Zumba!
We have 3 girls. Ellie, our oldest, is a talented little artist and one of the most accepting and compassionate human beings I know. Nichole is our youngest, she has Down syndrome, and she changed my life and heart forever. Then there is Nina, our middle child, who joined our family through international adoption. She has cerebral palsy. I never thought I would end up being the mom of a child with special needs, let alone two of them! Nevertheless, now special needs defines our family and our church. Most days I love it!
Colleen Swindoll-Thompson serves as director of Special Needs Ministries at Insight for Living and moderates their outstanding Insight for Living’s Special Needs Facebook Page. From the personal challenges of raising a child with disabilities (her third child, Jonathan), Colleen desires to offer help and hope through writing and counseling to those facing disabling and despairing trials.
Laurie Wallin is a speaker, writer and Certified Life Coach who helps people love their lives again. As mom to two former foster children deemed “failure to thrive” and “unadoptable,” she’s had to find her new normal and fight for joy. She writes weekly for her own blog (http://LaurieWallin.com), shares daily tips at Facebook’s Living Power Life Coaching (http://www.facebook.com/LivingPowerLifeCoaching), and guest blogs at Jolene Philo’s DifferentDream.com. She also loves being part of Facebook’s Moms Together team, where she gets to rile things up and rekindle joy about every aspect of motherhood. Laurie lives in Southern California with her hubby, their four girls, and her 80-lb Lab that thinks she’s a lap dog.
Mike currently works as the Director for the Special Friends ministry at First Baptist Orlando.
Prior to joining First Baptist Orlando, Mike worked for 9-years as the Autism and Inclusion Specialist for a large St. Louis school district. Mike has also worked as a Parent Training Specialist for the nationally known Easter Seals agency: LifeSkills. He’s a Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst (BCABA) and senior-level certified Crisis Prevention Instructor. Mike has conducted workshops for a variety of churches, several national level autism conferences, and various annual state conferences on topics pertaining to autism.
Christ-follower, husband, dad, choco-holic, and peanut-butter lover! Mike is passionate about faith and special needs. Mike is happily married to his lovely wife Linda and is the father of three wonderful boys, all three of whom are on the autism spectrum (yes, all three!).