John and Nichole have four beautiful children, including 6-year-old Charlie, who has Down syndrome. Their lives were full of school events and therapiesprior to coronavirus, but once shelter-in-place restrictions were put into place, their challenges increased greatly. They found that navigating virtual school with Charlie only added frustration to their daily routine. The end result was daunting fatigue.
“It felt like being swept abruptly out to sea while we watched everything that anchored our family down stay ashore.”
For Nichole,being Charlie’s mom, teacher, and therapist has left herfeeling worn down. Waking up each day knowingit will be difficult to meet all the needs of herspecial needschildwho requires extra care has left her with a feeling of inadequacy.Long days of being unable tocalm or console Charlie have been tough on the whole family.
“This has been a great reminder of why we were not created to do life alone and why we desperately need community with others!”
As much as disability and COVID-19 have changed their lives, God’s love for them has never changed, and he never stopped working on their behalf.
And when Nichole found herself saying, “I’m not strong enough for this,” Jesus brought her and her family into the community of Joni and Friends New Mexico.
Family Retreat was a breath of fresh air for this entire special needs family. Having each of their children paired up with the perfect volunteer allowed John and Nichole the opportunity to rest and spend quality time with each other, which is close to impossible these days.
Family Retreat gave everyone the chance to get closer to God and get closer to each other.
And when we needed to switch gears and do our first Family Retreat at Home in New Mexico due to coronavirus restrictions, our volunteer team visited this beautiful family in their home. John and Nichole were overwhelmed that we would travel so far to minister to their family, but we know that nothing is out of reach of God’s love!
During Family Retreat at Home we were able to read Bible stories to Charlie and his siblings, as well as play socially distanced games with them outside. Plus, our Joni and Friends New Mexico team went above and beyond by cleaning Nichole’s van inside and out!
“There’s just not enough time in the day or week to vacuum out all the snacks and toys found in the seats,” explained Nichole. “What a treat this was for us!” Acts of service like these don’t just “get a job done.”
They demonstrate the love of God in action.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
1 John 3:18
Nichole shared, “When I feel knee-deep in desperation for needing a physical helping hand for my child, I am reminded that we are all in this together learning that the best lessons in life are not the ones that take place in front of audiences, but they are the quiet moments that take place in our homes, where we limp along, depending on God’s grace to carry us. They are the small moments of rocking your inconsolable child or the moment where your kids see their mom put her head down at the dinner table to pray because the weight of the day feels like too much.”
Nichole humbly admits to waking up plenty of mornings and crying, “I can’t do this today, Lord. I just don’t have it in me.”
But being part of the Joni and Friends New Mexico community reminds Nichole that she’s not doing this alone. No longer does she – or any other special needs parent – need to feel the discouragement of disability related isolation.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
We are wholeheartedly dedicated to loving and serving families impacted by disability just like Charlie’s all year long. And you can be part of everything God is doing to hold special needs families together in New Mexico, too! Show your generous support today so that more and more families living under the strain of disability can experience the love of Jesus!