DifferentDream.com is building a cadre of guest bloggers who will add their unique perspectives within the special needs community. Scroll down to learn more about the guest bloggers. If you’re interested in becoming a guest blogger, contact Jolene for more information.
Meet Scott Newport
Scott Newport lives in Michigan with his wife, Penni and his three children: Chelsea, Noah, and angel Evan. He’s also a carpenter who has a vision for unwanted, damaged wood. His finds are treasures to his soul. Each discovery he makes unfolds into a beautiful piece of furniture for which he finds a home, usually with a child or caregiver of a child with special needs. He writes about the life lessons he learns from his children, especially from Evan who died in November of 2009 after seven years of joyful life. To access all of Scott’s guest posts, click on the magnifying glass at the top of the page and type “Scott Newport” in the search box.
Meet Amy Stout
I, Princess Amy, am an ordinary wife, mommy and freelance writer, who, together with my family, is exploring the land of Autism. I dream of having a spotlessly clean castle but I tend to “nest” and snuggle with my family more than clean (…where is that magic wand anyway???). I love to travel (in my royal coach, of course) and have a weakness for coffee and coffee houses (book stores too)!! Most importantly, I love Jesus and want to honor Him with my everything! As a child of the King, there are days when my tiara is missing, dusty, bent out of shape, or crooked, but I will always and forever be HIS TREASURED PRINCESS. You can read more of Amy’s writing at her blog, http://.histreasuredprincess.blogspot.com.
Meet Christine Lester
Christine Lester lives in New Jersey with her husband Bill and her 2 children, Billy and Alyssa. She’s an artist and painter who gave up working when her first child was born with a complicated series of birth defects referred to as VACTERL Syndrome, including Tracheo-Esophageal Fistula (EA/TEF), and a dozen other medical complications. For more information on EA/TEF please visit http://bridgingthegapofea-tef.com where Christine writes about her struggles of being a parent of a child with multiple birth defects with faith and humor. She is currently working on a book called No Capes Required. It follows the life of her son and her family’s journey living with a superhero with EA/TEF.
Meet Lori McGahan
Lori McGahan lives in Massachusetts with her husband Brian and their son Brandon. She works full time as a Business Manger in the human services field. She also cares for her son who was born at 31 weeks gestation with a complicated series of birth defects referred to as VACTERL Syndrome, including Tracheo-Esophageal Fistula (EA/TEF), Tracheomalcia and other medical complications. Brandon has also been diagnosed with several Sensory Processing Disorders and ADHD. Due to the lack of resources and support pertaining to EA/TEF Lori created and developed the following:
- Brandon’s Run: A fundraiser to raise funds and promote awareness regarding EA/TEF for the Esophageal Atresia Treatment Program at Children’s Hospital Boston www.brandonsrun.com
- Bridging the Gap of EA/TEF: Family to Family Support and Resource Network: With the help of other EA/TEF families this group was born to help connect EA/TEF with other EA/TEF families in their state as well provide resources to parents of newly diagnosed EA/TEF infants. www.bridgingthegapofea-tef.com
Meet Kathy Guzzo
Kathy Guzzo and her husband live in Northern Illinois and have 4 adult children of whom they are extremely proud. She has a heart to minister to those in need of encouragement. Several years ago while her son was in the Marines she began a support group for women with loved ones in the military. Ten years ago her seventeen-year-old daughter was diagnosed with lupus and Epstein Barr Replication. Another daughter began struggling with depression and OCD in her mid-twenties. Kathy has learned that the role of a parent changes immensely as a chronically ill child becomes an adult. Having been diagnosed herself with Fibromyalgia and Sjogren’s Syndrome, Kathy understands the need for her adult daughters to be able to make their own decisions regarding their health, but the nurturer in her sometimes has a hard time letting go. She desires direct those with loved ones in the military as well as parents with adult chronically ill children to the peace and hope that God has abundantly available for them.
Meet Ellen Stumbo
Ellen is a wife, mother, special needs advocate, adoption advocate, freelance writer, and dreamer. Her husband is a Senior Pastor at Orchard View Alliance Church where he gets to preach, lead worship, and care for people. Her 3 little girls share a Rapunzel- themed room and are heard around the house singing songs, dancing, and using Nina’s walker as a form of transportation that involves riding rather than walking. Ellen has written for MomSense Magazine, Thriving Families, The Bridge, and she is a contributor to the book Gifts 2: How People With Down Syndrome Enrich the World. Ellen also has a personal blog where she shares about her family, www.elliestumbo.blogspot.com.
Meet Rebekah Benimoff
Rebekah is mom to two precious boys; Tyler, who has juvenile diabetes, celiac disease, and an auditory processing disorder, and Blaine, who deals with a multitude of sensory issues that make up SPD- sensory processing disorder. She’s also caregiver to her husband, a wounded veteran who has PTSD. The last few years have been a journey towards learning how best to care for her very special family’s many needs. She often speaks to wives who are caregivers to wounded veterans and writes in partnership with www.faithdeployed.com and www.ladiesbydesign.com. Her personal blog is: http://justmemama.blogspot.com/
- Her mission: to help families embrace the grieving process, and find hope as they heal.
- Her motto: prayer, prayer, and more prayer!
- Her ministry: to share the hope she has in Jesus, her healer and sanity on the difficult days.
He is her strength daily as she cares for three specially wrapped gifts: her family.
Meet April Brownlee
April Brownlee likes to think of herself as an ordinary mom living an extraordinary life with husband Bill and their three children–daughter Reagan, daughter Catie, who lives with Noonan Syndrome, and son Ryan. April holds a degree in journalism and spent the better part of a decade in the TV news biz before becoming a professional fundraiser for a major national non-profit. Her writing is usually reflections that are tongue-in-cheek, a little edgy and always sincere. She calls it therapy.When she’s not chasing children, she’s an avid reader, follower of all things political, freelance writer, fashion adict, product junkie, foodie and wanna-be-chef. These days she’s trying to spend more time savoring life. You can read more of her reflections at thinkabink.blogspot.com.
Meet Melissa Gamble
Melissa is grateful every day to have her dream job: being a wife to her husband Brant and mother to 3-year-old Ginny who was born with Peroxisome Biogenesis Disorder (PBD). Melissa is the co-founder of The Global Foundation for Peroxisomal Disorders at www.thegfpd.org and an advocate for those with special needs in her home state of Oklahoma. A former elementary school teacher, Melissa enjoys spending her “free time” (what is that anyway?) exercising, reading, organizing her home, and playing outside with Ginny.
Meet Gillian Marchenko
Gillian Marchenko is a Christian, wife, mother, writer, speaker and advocate for individuals with special needs. Her writing has appeared in Mom Sense Magazine, EFCA Today, The Four Cornered Universe, and Chicago Parent. She has recently completed KRASATA: A Memoir of Motherhood, Down Syndrome, and Unexpected Beauty, a book about the birth of her daughter in the former Soviet Union and her diagnosis of Down syndrome. She is also an administrator on Facebook for the Evangelical Free Church of America Special Needs Network. Gillian lives in Chicago with her husband Sergei and their daughters Elaina, Zoya, Polly and Evangeline. Connect with Gillian on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her website at GillianMarchenko.com.
Meet Rudy and Rachel Cordeiro
Rudy teaches music and Bible at the Christian school ministry of his church. He’s also church orchestra director. Rachel loves being Rudy’s wife and considers it a privilege to be a stay at home mom to their three beautiful children—Camelia, Lucas, and Sophia. Rudy and Rachel enjoy serving together in a variety of ways through the music ministry in their church, including the opportunity to play piano duets and sing.
Another large part of who they are involves that of raising their oldest daughter, who is visually impaired, along with developmental delays (a result of her extreme premature birth). They are humbled that the Lord saw fit to entrust her to their care and seek to praise Him for the abundant grace and love which He continues to extend to each of them throughout the journey of their life. You can follow their journey at www.thisjourneyourlife.com.
Meet Becky Hallberg
Becky is married with 3 wonderful children. She is mom to a special needs child, and homeschools the children. She juggles the demands of schedules, therapies, activities, and daily life. She’s actively involved on the worship team at her church, and serves on an administrative committee. She enjoys writing, knitting, coffee with friends, and dates with her husband. She’s learning the importance of caring for herself in order to be a better care-giver for her children. you can find Becky at rebekahmhallberg.com where she writes about special needs, intentionally choosing joy, and offers encouragement to think and live “outside the box”.
Meet Michelle Selent
I am a follower of Christ, wife to my best friend for the last twenty one years, and mom to six gifts from heaven, four homemade and two through special needs adoption. I enjoy time with family and friends, decorating, photography, getting my hair cut and colored, fitness, and shopping. Special needs adoption not only expanded my family but has also expanded my faith and heart. You can join me on the journey at my blog www.60littlepiggies.com.
Meet Esther Leung
Esther Leung is a special needs consultant who has worked with children and families in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada. She has had over 10 years of experience in a variety of settings including homes, day cares, schools and recreational settings.
Meet Liz Matheis
Dr. Liz Matheis is a clinical psychologist and school psychologist in Parsippany, NJ. She offers support, assessments, and advocacy for children who are managing Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities, and behavioral difficulties, as well as their families. She is also a contributor to several popular magazines. Visit www.psychconsult.weebly.com for more information.
Meet Stephanie Husted
Stephanie lives in Michigan with her husband, and two sons, the youngest of whom was diagnosed with HLHS and Kabuki Syndrome. She is currently a pursuing a degree in the field of occupational therapy. Learn more about her family at her blog, With a Hopeful Heart at www.braedensheartjourney.blogspot.com.
Meet Kimberly Drew
Kimberly grew up and went to college in the small town of Upland, IN. She graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Elementary Education in 2002. While at TU, she married her college sweetheart and so began their adventure! Ryan and Kimberly have three amazing kids on earth (Abigail, Jayden, and Cooper), and a baby boy waiting for them in heaven. Their daughter Abigail (Abbey) has multiple disabilities including cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, hearing loss, microcephaly, and oral dysphagia. She is the inspiration behind Kimberly’s desire to write. In addition to being a stay at home mom, Kimberly has been serving alongside her husband in full time youth ministry for almost fourteen years. She enjoys working with the senior high girls, scrapbooking, reading, and music.
Meet Sylvia Phillips
Sylvia is an over fifty Jesus-following wife to one long-suffering husband, mom to nine awesome children, and grandma to one terrific grandson. She’s been a homeschooling and home birthing family since way back in the early 80’s! She blog about life, unschooling my three children who are still at home, and coping with the challenges of my daughter Bethany’s brain cancer, autism, TBI, stroke, and severe epilepsy. Sylvia says every day is a lesson in patience, unconditional love, faith, and reliance on God. You can read more about Sylvia and her family at Living and Learning with our New Normal.