All posts by Michelle Urban

Special Needs Inclusion

I recently read a story in the US Catholic magazine by Jessie Bazan, titled “Mend the Cracks”.
This story touched me as it spoke about brokenness and how there is beauty in brokenness.  So much brokenness and beauty as we move into our new year 2021 and each of us try to start new beginnings after 2020 the year of the Covid-19 pandemic that continues on.  Each of us long for some type of normalcy as we continue to stay well, safe and healthy.

As I think about this, my mind goes to all those I advocate for at both Achievement Services as Board President and as Special Needs Advocate at St Benedict Church.  I think of Pope Francis’ message on December 3,2020 “People with disabilities must have access to the sacraments and, as missionary disciples, the ability to be full and active participants in the life of their Catholic parish.”

Full inclusion. Not only in our parishes, but in everything we do. We are called to be curious, creative and be present with all walks of disability.  Maybe it’s just as simple as helping someone who is unable to hear well to sit in a better place or give them earphones or maybe it is including someone who is developmentally disabled feel included in our lives and work or it’s maybe it is taking the time to sit with that one person who has thoughts of ending their own life.   These are special needs.  We need to help those who have special needs mend the cracks.  We can learn so much from anyone who has special needs.  These have not been easy times for anyone with special needs.  Those with depression have difficulty in a pandemic world of isolation and many are away from family and friends that they cannot see, touch or feel.

My own journey with special needs, began 40 plus years ago when Ron and I were dating. Ron had  a beautiful sister who had Down Syndrome.  Linda was a beautiful sister. She meant so much to her parents and all of brothers and sisters.  I, myself, learned so much from Linda.  She taught me perseverance, patience and to appreciate the simple things in life. We are able to celebrate all that Linda was to us because of inclusion.  Had Ron’s parents not included Linda in their family life, no one would have enjoyed her beauty and specialness.  Inclusion is not only important for those with special needs but also for us.

As we move thru this pandemic and all that it brings with it, let us remember those who have special needs.  Remember to include those with special needs whenever possible.

And together, we can mend the cracks.

Christmas in the Eyes of a Child

I love the Christmas song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.   Not just because it is a time when the best comes out in most of us but for every wonderful childhood memory that every Christmas brings to mind.
Recently, my niece, Ashley told me that her oldest little girl, Gentry, accidentally spied one of her Christmas presents and quickly Ashley and Sean had to come up with a reason that it wasn’t for her.
Even tho, Santa (aka: Ashley & Sean) had already made the trip to the store and tried his best to hide the evidence !!  gentry-tenley
So me being the Great Aunt now, I love hearing the little stories that Gentry and Tenley seem to come up with. It sounds like to me that Ashley & Sean are being kept pretty busy with of what Santa Should and should not be doing.
Have you ever just sat and listened to the stories of a child at Christmas? Their little imaginations run wild and everything is much bigger than it is for us as adults now.
I remember childhood Christmases of my own. I always looked forward to the visits from Santa and every Christmas was always special. Wonderful favorite foods and cookies, visits to my grandparents with more food and presents. When I was little, Christmas Eve was always with my mothers parents, aunts, uncles and cousins and Christmas Day was always with my Dads parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I still remember Christmas afternoons watching tv and playing at Grandma and Grandpa Jackson’s, while being onery and most likely getting Uncle Tony into trouble !!!
I’ll admit it, I was an mischievous little girl but boy I sure had a lot of fun !!
When Ashley told me about the gift incident with Gentry, I had to laugh and share a funny Christmas story about myself. So now, Ill share it with you !!
I remember it like it was yesterday, I was about 8 or 9 years old and the excitement of Christmas was all around. I had made my list and my friend, Kris and I had scanned all the catologs for the best picture of the Chrissy Doll I was after.  chrissy-doll
We were on the edge on the Santa thing, we were finding out that Santa was getting help from our folks and we began to keep our eyes out for any clues we could find on the subject.
One day, while in the walk-in closet at my house, I saw the Chrissy Doll trying to hide in box on a high shelf. Being my onery self, I climbed to the high shelf got the doll in the box down, played with her and carefully put her back in the box to wait for Santa to bring her.

I even remember calling my friend Kris and telling her the news.  I recently mentioned the story to my parents after telling Maria and Ashley.  Dad remembered it but my mother said she didn’t remember. Ha Ha, I think she remembered but didn’t want to say !!  I guess at least I can admit it now.   LOL !

Christmas in the Eyes of a Child….Visions of Sugarplums dance in their heads.

Aren’t memories wonderful?? …. Now, I wonder where Ron is keeping his stash of gifts?  I must go, my mischievousness is coming out !!  I’ll let you know if I find something, take it out of the box, enjoy it and put it back before he gets home !!

Enjoy your journey!  My journey gets more wonderful each day.

57 Years


57 Years ~

By Michelle Urban

This week my parents celebrated their 57th Wedding Anniversary.  57 years.  That is a wonderful accomplishment.  Our world has changed so much in those 57 years.  Some things for the better and some things not so much.  But one that has never changed is the love and respect that I have for these two wonderful people that brought me into this world.

When my parents got married all those years ago, Dwight D. Eisenhower was our President.  Minimum wage was $1.00 per hour, gasoline was .25 and a Chevrolet Kings Wood Station Wagon was $2,970.  My how times have changed since 1959.

When my parents were first married, they lived in a trailer home.  My mother made all the curtains and slip covers for the furniture.  They did not have a car and walked to work. When they retired a few years ago, they both retired from jobs that they had when they got married.

None of this sounds like the way we live today.  Modern conveniences have changed the way we live now compared to 1959.

My parents have worked very hard all throughout their lives.  While holding down full time jobs, raising me and living the trials of daily life, they many times found extra jobs for extra money.  I’m sure it was never an easy day or task but they moved on and walked their journey together.

The example they set for me was to work hard, do your best, be strong and carry on.  Nothing was ever a failure.  We are proud of you, they would say to me, as long as you try your best the rest is easy.

There was never a silver spoon, hard work, determination, love, support and knowing that they are always there when I call and ready to support me, my husband and daughter in any of our endeavors makes both my parents and us rich, as much as if we would have gold in our pockets.

It is a gift each day see my parents or hear them on the phone.  It is a gift to be able to make them so happy with a small remembrance.  It is a gift to be able watch them walk hand in hand.  None of these cost physical money but all of these are what makes us very rich and wealthy.

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad !!  Thank you for being my number #1 fan.

Love You to the Moon and Back a Million Times!

The Power of Our Hands


Wikipedia says this about the hand:

The human hand has five fingers and 27 bones, not including the sesamoid bone, the number of which varies between people,[3] 14 of which are the phalanges (proximal, intermediate and distal) of the fingers. The metacarpal bones connect the fingers and the carpal bones of the wrist. Each human hand has five metacarpals[4] and eight carpal bones.

Besides this very detailed definition, our hands do and have so much value for us in this wonderful life.  When we are born, our mothers use their loving hands to feed us, bathe us and clothe us.  The hands of a mother work hard at cooking, cleaning and doing laundry and many, many mothers hands do all of this work along side a job outside the home.   Then there are the hands of our fathers, who work hard at many, many jobs.  Some have hard manual labor jobs, some have desk jobs and many have jobs where their hands get very dirty and some have clean hands.

We touch everything with our hands.  We touch ourselves, silverware, food, clothing, pens, pencils, phones the list goes on and on. So it is doesn’t surprise me that when there is something that we touch with our hands that comforts us it touches our hearts.

If you know me well, you know that I have 3 things in my life that I fear.  Imagine that Bold Michelle having 3 silly little fears!!!  While I know I these will not harm me and our Lord is always with me, I still carry the 3 fears.  These three things are a fear of small spaces, a fear of being in an elevator alone or not being able to get out and lastly which goes with the small spaces, shoulder to shoulder crowds.

Recently, I attended a show in an auditorium with my daughter and my niece.  When leaving the show, there was a large crowd streaming out of the auditorium.  When I am with Ron, my awesome husband, I always grab his hand always telling him “Holding your hand is always a safe place!”  But this night, Ron was not along, so out of habit, I grabbed my daughter Maria’s hand.

Her hand felt strong yet very soft. Her hand made me feel safe in that moment.  Yet while I felt this sense of safety,  My heart was so full of love and happiness.  I remembered in that moment the many times I held her hand when she was little.  How tiny and soft and here I was now holding her hand in her adulthood.

So it really doesn’t matter if you are a mother at 22 holding your child’s small hand or a mother at 56 holding your adult child’s hand or a daughter at 56 holding your mothers hand at 79.  You love them even more every time you hold their hand.

You know, I don’t even remember how crowded it was now…

It is the Power of Our Hands.





Opening the Next Door

Once in a while we need to step away from our daily routine and really take a good look at what we mean to accomplish with our work and talents. It seems our lives are so busy anymore that we move from one task to another and really never stop to look at ourselves or the task. Our work and talents become mundane and meaningless to us and begin to believe they are this to others also. We do them because we have always done them or because we just don’t know how to change.
And then… a door closes. Sometimes, we don’t know what to do when the door is suddenly closed on us. Sometimes another door opens quickly and we move on barely noticing the change. But then, there are the times that the door remains closed. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks or months and in some , cases, years.

Recently, a door closed for me that left me with a heavy heart. Even after much prayer and sure that I was making a good choice that would help me later, I felt heavy hearted.
I stayed with my prayer. I continued to ask for guidance. I followed the path that was to bring me peace, or so I thought.
Today, the door that closed reopened. As it opened, it brought peace, love and joy into my heart. The sun wasn’t shining today but I could not tell it from how my heart felt so happy.
I can conquer anything with a smile, a hug and my walk with our heavenly King.
Thank you, again, Mom and Dad for bringing me up in a good Christian home. That’s one door that will never close.

Gratitude – Isn’t God Amazing !!

I have a favorite little saying I say to my daughter or put on my facebook page now and again of things I am always grateful for. It usually goes something like this:
My favorite sound is the sound of my daughters laugh, my favorite touch is my husbands hand in mine, my favorite smell is my mothers covergirl makeup and my favorite sight is watching my parents walking together hand in hand.
While I am grateful for the many blessings in my life, and there are so many !, I am especially grateful for these.
These special blessings that I have named here are each something I can touch, hear, feel and see and they are also special in that none of these can be bought. They are special to me and me only.
Isn’t God Amazing??!!!
Gratitude is really a feeling of true appreciation or thanks. Simple things really mean so much to those around you yet, it is the simple things that make our lives so wonderful. We just need to open our eyes, ears, hearts and hands and find them.

I am grateful too for you.
Until Next Week…. XOXO Michelle


Life’s a Blessing – Welcome to my blog !!

Hello Everyone!
It’s a Great day at Urban Lawncare!
Its the middle of July and the summer is going fast. Hard to believe that the year is half over!!
This week is a busy one here in our town, Atchison, KS. It is the 20th Anniversary of the Amelia Earhart Festival ! July 15 & 16.
Atchison is the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. When one travels to Atchison to visit during the festival you can visit the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum and the Santa Fe Depot or even visit the Amelia Comes Home 3D Mural designed by John Cerney at the Urban Lawncare Facility.

On Friday night, Lakefest 2016 will welcome in concert Tyler Farr, Frankie Ballard and Raelynn at Warnock Lake.

On Saturday the outdoor open mall will host many activities for kids and adults alike with the day ending the with famous Concert in the Sky Fireworks at the Atchison Riverfront.

Needless to say, we are all busy folks in this beautiful little town. Come join us and sing Happy Birthday to Amelia with us.