ROOM AT THE TABLE
Encouraging Stories from Special Needs Families
Do you have a special needs child or know someone who is?
Room at the Table: Encouraging Stories from Special Needs Families is rooted in the 2 Samuel 9 account of King David, who extended kindness to Jonathon’s disabled son, Mephibosheth, and granted him a seat at the king’s table.
Author Stephanie Pavlantos, the mother of Matthew with cerebral palsy and Starr Ayers, the mother of Ashley with Down syndrome, co-authored the collection of real-life experiences from families, guardians, caregivers, and individuals with special needs. These stories of hardship, courage, and blessings will encourage, enlighten, and equip readers for ministry in their communities. Room at the Table also contains a light-hearted look at life through the eyes of these extraordinary individuals.
Stephanie and Starr’s vision is to increase awareness of the impact of mental and physical disabilities on families and caregivers. They aspire to promote understanding, diminish fears, and provide suggestions for ways people who know and love special needs individuals and families can minister to them.
Those with special needs are compassionate individuals who love freely and desire love in return. There is no need to fear them or allow their disabilities to intimidate you. As people made in God’s image, their wants and needs are the same as yours and mine.
We are all children of God with special needs. Only Jesus knows
the battles we have fought and won or lost, or the ones we are still fighting. When life or insensitive people hurt, wound, or leave us bitter, Jesus is the One who heals, loves, and restores us.
Room at the Table: Encouraging Stories from Special Needs Families will inspire and instill in you a greater desire to show the kindness of God to “one of the least of these.” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). Whether you shed tears or laugh out loud, these stories will touch your heart.
Stephanie Pavlantos and Starr Ayers speak from personal experience, and they rightly note that this is a book of stories from special needs families. As Matthew (Stephanie’s son who has cerebral palsy) writes in the Foreword, “Sometimes God uses those who are ‘differently abled’ to show His love in a way that differs from anything else.”
All stories in this book are deeply personal. Yes, there has been pain, but there is triumph. Always triumph. As you read these stories-each written by a parent, grandparent, sibling, therapist, or themselves-you will be emotionally touched and spiritually blessed. Each story ends with a “What You Can Do” challenge and opportunity. One that has deep meaning for me is, “Don’t compare the special needs individual with those who are not-see them for who they are and the gifts God gave them.”
Bravo to Stephanie and Starr for this “labor of love,” compiling stories of grace and acceptance that remind us that there is Room at the Table for YOU.
~ Dr. Michael C. Blackwell
President, and CEO
Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina