Heart for the Disabled #4: Kim Family

  • Jan. 10, 2013
  • #8009

What does a nap mean to you? To parents with children who have autism, a simple time of rest is priceless … as is a Valentine’s Day filled with love and encouragement from you!

Heart for the Disabled #4: Kim Family

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada; welcome to Heart for the Disabled week.

All this week I’ve been mentioning the stories of families with special needs: moms and dads and disabled kids who really, really need the encouragement of Christ. And you have helped me give that encouragement as you’ve written notes, Valentine’s cards, and letters to the people I’ve mentioned each day. For those of you who haven’t yet written, I’ve got a family who really needs to hear an uplifting word from you.

This past summer at Family Retreat, Ken and I met Eddie and Diane and their two boys with autism: Jeremy, 10 and Justin, 6; these kids were absolutely non-stop. I mean, really! In fact, while the boys were in their activities and we were able to spend time with Eddie and Diane, I asked Eddie what he liked best about Family Retreat. This man looked down and was quiet for a long moment. Then he raised his head and with tears in his eyes said to me:

“What I like best is that I can take a nap.”

I gave him a funny look, like, Take a nap?! You can do that anytime; why not take advantage of the things we had planned for the moms and dads here at the retreat?! But Eddie went on to tell me that he never, ever gets the opportunity to take a nap. Monday through Friday it’s up early to help with the boys, go to work, then, come home and give Diane some time off while he then takes over with Jeremy and Justin. And on Saturdays and Sundays they both do double-duty — there’s no down time. And so he said to Ken and me:

“This is why I love Family Retreat. I realize the retreat has great things for couples like us, but it's just that a nap is so precious! It's not so much a matter of physical fatigue, its mental tiredness. But here at Family Retreat there’s plenty of time to sack out for a couple of hours. And the best part is: I know my boys are being taken well care of and so is Diane and, that everybody loves what they’re doing."

Eddie, my friend, I get it — I now understand! It was so heartwarming to hear him and Diane describe how they can just let their guard down at Family Retreat; they can trust people to take care of their super-active, non-stop, high-energy boys. What really impressed Eddie and Diane were our volunteers: the people who help out at Family Retreat. They aren’t babysitters; they’re not caregivers, they are friends — friends to Jeremy and Justin. Diane told me, she said, “You know, Joni, all year I am putting out fires all day long. It’s emergency triage. That’s our chronic state of operating. Behavior issues, medical needs, communication challenges, therapists, special diets, medications … I am always on from the minute I wake up. But here at Family Retreat I have a chance to breathe. It’s amazing!”

Oh, friend, here is a couple who I know would very, very much appreciate an encouraging reminder from God's Word … 'Cause it’s been a long time since that Family Retreat last year; it’s been a long time since they had a nap. They are back in the matrix now, chronically operating with their kid’s disabilities. And I know that God can use your words, your favorite scriptures, or the words to your favorite hymn or poem or perhaps your children could color a picture for Justin and Jeremy. I don’t need to tell you, let the Holy Spirit tell you what to write. The important thing is, please just write!

Do it right away and then mail it off to Eddie and Diane here at Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California 91376. If you’ve missed any details, just visit my radio page today at joniandfriendsradio.org. And bless you, thank you for having a heart for the disabled — a heart for Eddie and Diane.

© Joni and Friends


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