Heart for the Disabled #3: Darrell, Betty and sons

  • Jan. 10, 2018
  • #9313

Raising children with special needs is hard work. But you can make a difference with your notes and gifts for Darell, Betty, and their family.

It’s “Heart for the Disabled” week here at Joni and Friends!

That’s right, this is Joni Eareckson Tada and this week I am asking you to help me give real Christian encouragement to needy disabled people and their families who attended last year’s Family Retreats — because its mid-winter, the skies are gray, and these families are in need of a lift, what with all the disability routines day after day. So, I’m asking you (as I’ve been doing all week) to pick up a pen and jot a Valentine’s card or a note, send a poem, maybe a scripture or two, or just a brief letter telling a special needs family that you’re praying for them. Today I want to tell you about Darrell and Betty and their sons Justin and Ethan; and finally, the oldest Brandon who is on the autism spectrum and is non-verbal.

Now, you can imagine that Brandon has a lot of needs and the family pretty much has been able to help Brandon manage those needs over the years — even his younger brothers, Justin and Ethan, they chip in. But it’s a brand-new season in the life of this family because this year Brandon has grown leaps and bounds — he’s grown in height and in strength. This has made caring for this young teenager, Brandon a big challenge. He is now a very strong kid. And as any boy with autism, Brandon can be unpredictable, have meltdowns, and show erratic behavior. This hasn’t been easy on his little brothers and they can no longer help as much as they used to. It’s not easy and it’s not safe. This means that mom and dad are even more responsible for getting a handle on Brandon and navigating him through his days.

Plus, all this change has been confusing for Brandon and lately he has shown a lot of frustration in communicating with the family. At Family Retreat this past year you could see Darrell, the dad, up very early in the morning pulling Brandon, his grown son, in a wagon to help keep him content. All while the rest of the family has a chance to sleep. Bless his heart, on some mornings Darrell started pulling Brandon around in that wagon at 5:00 AM. Both Darrell and Betty have always been involved in leading support groups for other special-needs parents, but nowadays even that is just too hard. There’s too much going on with their older son.

Oh, my goodness, Christian encouragement is so needed for this family as they work through this new season of life!  Darrell and Betty are just trying to figure out how to manage Brandon while at the same time, be good parents to Justin and Ethan. Sometimes it becomes a physical, emotional, and spiritual battle. Darrell and Betty and their boys are just trying to not only survive, but thrive.

I hope you can see that this family really needs uplifting scriptures from you — or perhaps you could get your Sunday school class to color cards for Brandon, Justin and Ethan. And if you want to go the extra mile, tuck in a Dunkin’ Donuts gift certificate or something small. This family will be thrilled to open up their mailbox on Valentine’s Day and see hundreds of cards and letters from listeners like you. So be sure to jot your note today to Darrell and Betty and their sons (you can get the spelling for their names at joniandfriends.org). Then send your card to Joni and Friends, Post Office Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California 91376, and we’ll be certain to package it up with all the other notes and send everything in time for Valentine’s Day. If you need to be reminded of the details I’ve shared today, and if you want to see a photo, you can always get the whole scoop on my radio page at joniandfriends.org/radio. Thanks for listening today on Joni and Friends.

© Joni and Friends

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