Special Grace: Prayers and Reflections for Families with Special Needs, By Elrena Evans alt

Special Grace

Prayers and Reflections for Families with Special Needs

by Elrena Evans
Foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada

Special Grace
  • Length: 128 pages
  • Published: April 12, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0352
  • ISBN: 9781514003527

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The world of special needs is filled with statistics: in the United States, about 17 percent of children have a diagnosed developmental disability, and 14 percent of public school students receive special education services. But behind these statistics are stories—stories of children struggling to fit into a world that wasn't designed for them, and stories of parents giving everything they have to advocate for their children. Most of these parents didn't choose this path; they were thrust upon it unknowing, unprepared, and often overwhelmed. They may struggle to talk about their experiences in relatable ways with family, friends, and even God.

Special Grace is a collection of 127 prayers for all aspects of life for families with special needs. Here are prayers for family life, school, and church; prayers for an initial diagnosis, for the first day of school, and for celebrating a milestone. Each section is set off by a reflective essay from Evans's own family life. Filled with humor and wisdom, these prayers and reflections will help families process their experiences together and offer them to God with hope and simple trust.

In moments when the cries of your heart leave you speechless, Special Grace provides words you can bring before your Father in heaven.

"If you live with disability as I do, you, too, will love Special Grace. . . . Messy, but beautiful. Gut wrenching, but wonderfully real. You'll discover a new friend in Elrena Evans, a Christ-loving mom who invites you to join her as she kneels at the throne on behalf of her family with special needs."

Joni Eareckson Tada, from the foreword

"In Special Grace, Elrena Evans pulls back the curtain and invites us into the real-life experiences of a parent of children with special needs. Connecting with other exhausted parents, she gently leads them, through prayer, into the presence of the Father to receive his sustaining grace for their journey. A must-read for any parent of a child considered atypical by the world."

Matthew S. Stanford, author of Grace for the Children: Finding Hope in the Midst of Child and Adolescent Mental Illness

"Special Grace paints a loving and honest picture of life with Elrena Evans's 'quirky' kids. As her story unfolds, she makes us privy to the daily delights and challenges caregiving families face. Even on Sundays. For families like Elrena's, especially on Sundays. With humor and grace, Evans describes obstacles that make worshiping as a family impossible much of the time. Rather than railing against God or blaming the church, she turns to prayer. In so doing, she demonstrates how to tell God how we feel and ask for what we need. She encourages us to lift up to him those situations unique to special needs and disability parents. Her prayers provide families with a road map back to hope, strength, and endurance through Christ. I love Special Grace and its prayers; I think you will too."

Jolene Philo, national speaker and coauthor with Gary Chapman of Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families

"Elrena Evans has done remarkable things with this short volume of Bible verses, vignettes, and prayers related to almost any aspect of being the parent of a child with disabilities. Her authenticity and honesty shine through in ways that feel real—sometimes raw and sometimes funny. Parents can no doubt find themselves in multiple stories and prayers. By offering her family's experiences and feelings in short, poignant prayers, Evans is shining a light on the ways that faith and spirituality permeate the lives of people with disabilities and their families. A pastor or priest seeking to understand families and those dimensions of their lives just might find this an excellent resource that also indirectly points to the ways they and their faith communities might journey with and support these families. It is a book of stories and prayers; it will also preach."

Bill Gaventa, founder and director emeritus of the Institute on Theology and Disability

"Elrena Evans offers parents of kids with special needs a modern-day Psalter. With humor and poignant storytelling, wit and raw honesty, she tells us the hard and hopeful story of her own home life, and she equips us with prayers for every possible moment of grief, thanksgiving, wonder, and need. I'm so thankful this book is in the world."

Amy Julia Becker, author of White Picket Fences and A Good and Perfect Gift

"The stories in Special Grace are so relatable that I could laugh and tear up while reading the same page. Not only do we have similar, quirky families, we also have the same faith—and it's that faith that gets us through the hardest days on this parenting journey. I am so thankful to have Elrena Evans's guiding prayers for everything from adjusting to a new medicine to how to respond to less-than-kind comments from strangers. This book is one I'll pick up again and again!"

Sandra Peoples, author of Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special Needs Family

"Some parents utter constant SOS prayers; others are too overwhelmed for words. But every parent navigating an uncommon journey with their child will resonate with the universal struggles and supplications found in Special Grace. For the maddening, mysterious, and mundane moments when we find it hard to pray or give thanks in all circumstances, Elrena Evans gets it and has partnered with the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf with hope and humor."

Diane Dokko Kim, author of Unbroken Faith: Spiritual Recovery for the Special-Needs Parent

"Elrena Evans distills her own heart-rending experiences as a special-needs parent into gritty prayers for those who are tired beyond words. Her raw, confessional book of prayers is a beacon of light, truth, and encouragement for those who are in the atypical, neurodivergent trenches."

Tammy Perlmutter, founder and curator of The Mudroom

Read an Excerpt


Foreword: Before You Begin . . . by Joni Eareckson Tada

1. Beginnings
The Diagnosis

2. Family Life
The Do-Over

3. School
The Substitute Teacher Problem

4. Public Life
Sunday Morning Minecraft

5. Changes
Jumping Out the Window

6. Seasons of the Year
The Corn Maze

7. Thanksgivings
Harry Potter Goes to Church

Other Prayers
List of Prayers


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Elrena Evans

Elrena Evans (MFA, Penn State) is an author, an editor, a mother, a wife, a dancer, and a stand-up comedian. Her books When I Go to Church, I Belong and Special Grace: Prayers and Reflections for Families with Special Needs are both inspired by her experience as a mom of children with special needs. Elrena lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their five children. She doesn't have a favorite ice cream flavor because she loves (almost) all of them.