A NEW SENSE OF COMMUNITY: THE SPNMIN CHAT

  “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone…’”  (Genesis 2:18, NIV)

From the dawning of time, God has been relational.  He desires a relationship with us, and he made us to have relationship with each other.  Being completely alone, without anyone to turn to has been deemed “not good” by the Creator of the Universe.

Perhaps that is why it’s only natural to feel the absolute pain of isolation that can come from parenting a child with special needs.  Being “alone” can not only mean being by oneself in proximity.  It can mean being alone in ones experience as well.  How awful it can feel when we sense that no one understands us or what we’re going through!  Continually translating or explaining the language of treatment can be exhausting and frustrating when dealing with family and friends who don’t live with our children’s diagnoses.  And finding another parent who has a child with similar challenges can be difficult, especially if our child’s condition is rare.  Add to that the challenges of church and faith, and it’s easy to feel like one big mess!

Thankfully, God still operates in our day and age as He has since the creation of the Earth.  There is a huge blessing in today’s technology that many may overlook.  Our ministry, geared specifically towards the parents of children with special needs, first discovered this blessing when attendance at our local monthly meetings began to wane.  These meetings consisted of local experts in a variety of areas who could equip and strengthen the parents for daily life.  We found that parents were interested in the speakers we had coming, and appreciated the free childcare we provided, but still found it difficult to get out of the house with their child in the evening.  The question arose, If they can’t come to us, how can we come to them?  As a result, we became more and more involved in social media, including our blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social venues specifically meant for those affected by special needs.  But we’re eager to reach even further.

On Thursday, June 23rd, we will venture into a new chapter of this connection with parents.  The SpnMin TweetChat will begin at 7:30 PM CST each week.  Through the use of Twitter and one of its applications, we will provide the opportunity to connect to other parents every Thursday evening to discuss how we wrestle with issues of faith as we parent children with special needs.  While venues like Facebook and Twitter can be great for posting links for parents to reference, the TweetChat is wonderful in a number of different ways.  Parents can meet other parents in a live setting.  A nationwide conversation can be held in real time without having to wait for an e-mailed response.  Discussions can flow back and forth about experiences as we walk through an issue together.  Most of all, the isolation ends!  A welcoming community begins to form where parents can find the sense of belonging that God intended for us.

We pray that you will join us for this important opportunity!  It costs you nothing but time.  You merely set up a profile on Twitter.  Once that profile is established and you are signed in to Twitter, go to the web address http://tweetchat.com/room/spnmin.  You are there and able to chat while I guide our group through a theme question for the evening.  At the top left of the page, you will see a spot to adjust the timing down to only a 5 second delay for messages to appear, so you’ll want to do that to stay current with the conversation.  It is truly a wonderful way to connect with other parents in your same position!  And thusfar, there’s been no chat group specifically directed at the interweaving of our Christian faith and special needs parenting, so this is truly unique.  Isn’t it just like our God to make a way for you to end your isolation when there seems to be no way?!

*Barb Dittrich is the Executive Director of Snappin Ministries and mother of three children, two of whom have special needs.  You can visit their website at http://snappin.org.  Feel free to e-mail any difficulties you may be having with setting up a Twitter profile or accessing the chat room to barb@snappin.org.  We will be glad to assist you with joining in the online community!

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