“We didn’t know much about Barren Heights before coming here except some other people in our area of TN had come and blessed by it. I probably had lower expectations based on other experiences with “special needs” ministries that have crossed our paths in the 6.5 years we’ve been a family which includes a daughter from China with CP. Beyond just needing ongoing physical care, our middle daughter has some attachment issues associated with her adoption that spike in new situations. The promise of us having “parent time” seemed like a slim chance at the opportunity because our daughter can have panic attacks if we leave her with new people. Looking back, at the end of our weekend, our family is grateful, encouraged, amazed, and hopeful! ALL of our kids had such fun with safe places to play with so many new friends and our daughter with CP could RUN in her walker ANYWHERE!
A volunteer named Nate saw her hesitant to leave my side at the splash pad, despite her little sister playing right there. He tapped into her absolute LOVE for anything silly and got her involved in a water game that he made up! She thought it was hilarious! She laughed, played, and was fine with me running to do other things, finally! Another host – Molly – a teenager made Karis a bracelet that lots of the older girls were making and kept her word to let Karis help work on it at the end, which was meaningful to her. In fact when Parent Time came, our daughter was about to panic, but when we asked if Molly could help her with her bracelet and then take her to Mr. Nate to play at the Splash Pad, she was beyond giddy with excitement!
As I told my husband as we left our kids with people who had less than 24 hours prior been strangers, whatever you guys do at Barren Heights to prepare people to serve here is way more effective than anything we’ve seen – and there are a LOT of special needs ministries in our area (a suburb of Nashville)! It’s like most people who want to bless our family will walk up to the line to do so and try but they don’t know how to cross it. The people who served up here knew how to cross it in a way where we just felt embraced and “normal” for a short time. It was like everyone in our family felt a burden lifted and the joy of a truly shared experience for a time. We are so so grateful! We were all also inspired by the Story of Barren Heights inception and are spurred on to wonder and pray for what God has for our family in blessing others (rather than slipping into living for ourselves, which we have also found to be insidious in the Bible Belt culture where we live). Blessings to all of you and we know we haven’t even met the many people who have made this happen! Thank you!”