The initial reason for attending was that I was asked to be the speaker for the retreat. My topic was “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want” from Psalm 23:1. I had the opportunity to share three messages on this verse for other parents of children with exceptional needs.
But before that happened, I was able to preach at the Sunday service at Elim Lodge. One of the neat things about this was that there were a number of campers at Elim that we knew from our old church, Central Gospel Temple. Many of these remember me from when I was a brand new Christian and this would have been the first time hearing me preach.
However, the highlight of this week was not the opportunity to preach and teach, as much as I enjoy that.
The highlight really was about being with my family and getting to know other families who are dealing with disabilities. Amanda and I brought Logan, Justus, Emma and Faith with us. This was actually our first family vacation, as previously only Amanda and I had gone away.
We were a bit nervous as to how Logan would do. We had never done anything like this before. But he did fantastic. Every camper with special needs is assigned a volunteer. A great guy named Al was paired with Logan and they really hit it off. Logan is not particularly expressive (much like me) but we could tell he really liked Al.
Our other three children had fun as well. We had the opportunity to jet ski, go tubing, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. I really enjoyed kayaking and started researching prices to purchase while still at Elim.
I loved being around the other parents and their children (of all ages). The worship was powerful as people expressed their love for God in whatever way they felt, no matter what level of ability.
We were totally blown away by the experience. This was the seventh Christian Horizons family retreat and we were told that it gets better every year.
You may wonder why we didn’t bring our daughter Abby.
Abby, like Logan, has autism. She is exactly who this retreat is designed for. However, we were stretching ourselves by bringing Logan. We had no idea what to expect. Although Abby would have enjoyed it, with this being our first time away together and my responsibilities, it would have been too much.
Our plan is to come back next year and to bring Abby with us as well. Her group home has agreed to send a worker to be with us all week. When I’m not the speaker, I will have more opportunity to focus on the kids.
I really can’t put into words how blessed we feel. This was an amazing opportunity that was so fun for our entire family. We were able to see a new side of Logan. Some of the adults really poured into our kids. We all had a great time.
One last thing. We loved this event so much that we have agreed to help fundraise for Christian Horizons. We are doing this through Ride for Refuge. If you would be willing to donate even a few dollars toward this, it would be greatly appreciated. You can donate here.