Family Retreat Call
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and it’s something I will never forget.
I was at one of our Joni and Friends’ Family Retreats last year, and I was sitting across the lunch table from Susan, a single mother with two kids with disabilities. This woman looked so tired and she looked sad – which to me was odd, because it was the first day of the retreat. Susan wasn’t even sure how she came to be at Family Retreat. It wasn’t the sort of thing that she would normally do, bring her disabled kids to a Family Retreat, especially with a week off from work. Things were hard back home and I could tell this woman was full of lots of resentment and some questions, as well.
The next morning at breakfast, Susan seemed a little more relaxed, more with-it. She had this somewhat surprised look on her face as she glanced around the dining hall. Usually, she would be anxious, she told me, not knowing where her kids were or who they were with. But at the retreat, she found herself just beginning to let go a little. Susan really liked the volunteer we had assigned to her two children. And now, over eggs and bacon, she was flabbergasted – even a little grateful – that she could take a few deep breaths and just talk to someone. Like me.
The next day we found ourselves talking more. There was something different about her countenance and I could tell that she really enjoyed the morning devotional time and the worship. That afternoon we sat at lunch together again and she told me in a soft voice and with wide eyes, “never, never have I experienced anything like this. I’m a new person!”
I found out later why she said that. She really was new. She had opened her heart to Christ in the woman-to-woman session earlier that day. From then on out, there was no more resentment and even her weary countenance seemed to be lifted as she began networking more closely with the other mothers.
Susan is just one single parent. She’s just one of many parents who are raising not only one child, but two children with disabilities. It’s a hard haul for women like her, and it’s why I’m so hoping that many more “Susans” will be coming to Christ at this summer’s Joni and Friends’ Family Retreats—we’ve got four new retreats we’re holding and that totals over 50 this season. So we’re able to accommodate many more special-needs families, many more kids with disabilities and their parents; parents like Susan.
And it’s a good thing. Single moms like her really need to know that Jesus Christ cares and that His people care, too. Our Savior says in Matthew 11, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sometimes He’ll not only give rest, but He’ll give fun and fellowship, new friends, and a chance to know Him better at a Family Retreat. This summer’s retreats are already filling up fast, in fact we’ve already closed one or two retreats, so if you know a family who has a disabled child or an adult, if you know a couple who have a disability, then you only have a short time to let them know about this year’s retreats. You can learn more details at joniandfriends.org, and if there are financial needs, we have scholarship funds available. Let’s make certain that families like Susan’s hear and experience the love of Christ no matter what the disability! Again, get all the details today at joniandfriends.org. If you are in the world of “snail mail” (that’s okay, many of us are) you can always write us at Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California, 91376. Oh, and by the way, if you have a prayer request, let me know on our radio page and our Joni and Friends staff will lift up your need before the Lord. God bless you today, and thanks for listening to Joni and Friends.
Featured Resources From Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope
Songs of Suffering includes 25 hymns with accompanying devotions and photography designed to spark hope in hardship. Opening with a special message from hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty, this book is a source of comfort for anyone who needs biblical encouragement, prompting readers to seek refuge in the Lord and rejoice in his goodness.