Latin music couple Jaci Velasquez and Nic Gonzales shares the joys and challenges of raising a child with autism. Don’t miss a single episode of Dinner Conversations — subscribe below!


TRANSCRIPT FROM THE SHOW

Mark: Dinner Conversations is brought to you by ChildFund, a community development organization that has been envisioning a world where every child is free to live at their fullest potential no matter where they’re from or what challenges they face since 1938.

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Mark: A child is waiting.


Mark: Years ago I was doing a concert in Houston, Texas, and a little girl was gonna open for me. She went on to be a contemporary Christian music superstar for a while there. Her name was Jaci Velasquez, and her husband Nic Gonzales are joining us today, and they’re gonna be talking about their son, their oldest son, who has autism, and their whole journey with that and how they relate to their son and how that’s turning out for them.

Andrew: Yeah, they’re really amazing people, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to be in their home and see how they interact with their children, with Zealand and Soren, with their unique needs and unique personalities. And I love the way they are shepherding their family, so I thought we gotta have them on.

Mark: Absolutely, and there’s one seat left at the table, and it’s yours! So let’s join the conversation.


Andrew: This is what I love about you guys the most, and I was telling Nic this earlier. Even though I’ve only been around you guys with your kids maybe two, three times, but I love how you relate with your children. You talk with them, you converse with them. Is that something that was inspired by your own family life or not, or is that something new?

Jaci: Well, I think for me personally it’s probably a little bit inspired by the ways I wish my parents would have maybe done with me. Like I have this funny thing that, actually, it really scarred me as a child because–

Nic: That’s why we’re here.

Jaci: And it’s really goofy.

Mark: Let me get my pad.

Andrew: Hold on, let me, hold on, I need to–

Jaci: It’s really goofy, but my parents would promise me that they would put batteries in my toys when the batteries were low.

Nic: I remember this. This is so good.

Jaci: And they would always forget.

Nic: That is so great.

Jaci: And so I would go to play with it, and I still didn’t have any new batteries in there, so it wouldn’t work. So because that scarred me as a child, I make sure we have a plethora of every kind of battery known to mankind because if the batteries run out, I’m gonna make sure that that battery, if I told them I’m gonna do it.

Mark: That really did impact you.

Jaci: It really did.

Mark: Is that the worst thing they did?

Nic: And that’s how we communicate with our sons so openly. I have no idea.

Mark: Why do you think you remember that?

Jaci: I don’t know why.

Mark: You weren’t abused.

Jaci: No, no.

Andrew: Did you feel like you couldn’t go ask for, like–

Jaci: Well, no, it’s because it was like a promise that was made that was never fulfilled.

Andrew: Sure. And in a child’s mind–

Jaci: It’s a big deal.

Andrew: Yeah. So that goes along with the conversation. And so there were conversations you wish your parents had had. I know, Nic, this is probably true for you too because we talked about it earlier. But has that inspired, has that been a direct inspiration for you talk with your children. You don’t talk down to them, you don’t–

Nic: One of the things that, because they’re growing up in church, we actually… There was a lot of things that were almost unsaid growing up with my family personally, and things that I really wish that we had been able to talk about. Because I think in a church setting sometimes it can be misunderstood that, oh, he has a real problem. Oh no, then they must not be doing something right for the Lord. And that wasn’t the case at all. It just meant that–

Andrew: He was human.

Nic: It was almost like we’re gonna ignore the problem so that way I don’t have to talk about him, so we don’t have to deal with him, so we don’t have to tell anybody about him, about the church.

Andrew: Oh, okay. ‘Cause your dad was a pastor.

Nic: Parents were pastors, yes, and we came from a long line of pastors. And so now that I’m an adult, I can talk about that quite a bit, but four hours is all we got. But growing up that way, and then being married to Jaci, Jaci’s a very honest person. So honest, and so brutally honest, that I learned that right away that if I have no secrets with her, it makes life so much easier for me. And I’m not talking about just in my heart of hearts, I’m talking about everything: phones, emails. If you’re a married man out there, I always tell people this– People love to give advice. I don’t. But one of the things I always say–

Andrew: But here’s some.

Jaci: But here’s some, right.

Nic: Here’s what I always say.

Andrew: Let’s hear it.

Nic: As long as you don’t have a private email or a private way of getting information into your eyeballs, you’re gonna be fine. Just make sure–

Mark: Wow.

Nic: I don’t even have my own email address. It’s a, what is it called?

Andrew: Jaci will read this at Gmail.com?

Nic: No, I have a, um–

Jaci: It’s an alias.

Nic: An alias. Like I don’t even have my own account. So literally when I wanna buy a movie on iTunes or something, I’m like, “Babe, I don’t remember your password.” And she’s like, “Well, where’s yours?” I was like, “I don’t have one. I am one of your children.”

Jaci: I am you.

Nic: I am literally one of her children on that thing, and so that’s what it is.

Jaci: It’s important because even in raising our kids, if you tell the truth, I will forgive the truth, if you tell me the truth. I always tell the boys, “So what happened? Who hit who? I’m not gonna be mad.” And they don’t actually hit each other, but just anything. “I won’t be mad, but just tell me the truth.” “Okay, mom, I did it.” “Okay, well, don’t do that again. I’m not mad, but thank you for telling me the truth.”

Andrew: Well, and when they can tell it like… Like you weren’t raised in an environment where you didn’t feel like you could tell the truth necessarily You said like bigger issues in teen years, whether that’s with sexuality or whether that’s with relationships with friends or whatever, so if we feel like it’s being communicated as that you can’t tell the truth, then what are you gonna do? You’re gonna lie. That goes for your children. That goes in your marriage. So you’re actually, by honoring the truth, you’re encouraging truth-telling.

Mark: You’ve got two children.

Jaci: We have two boys.

Mark: Two boys, one is autistic.

Jaci: Our oldest son, Zealand, is autistic. And, yes.

Mark: What was that like?

Andrew: When you discovered or–

Jaci: Well, I think when Zealand was born… Let me put it to you this way. Zealand was the easiest baby. Oh my goodness, we could still kind of have a life. We would go out and have sushi and take him with us, and he would sleep in his carseat, just the coolest, easy.

Andrew: Like you left him in the car?

Jaci: No, no.

Andrew: Just kidding.

Jaci: But man.

Nic: It makes it sound like that’s all we did. We could go to church too.

Jaci: Well, I’m just saying we could actually like–

Nic: We could go eat sushi with our boy!

Jaci: Like it was super easy. He was just–

Mark: Was that before you found out he was autistic.

Jaci: Oh yes, way before. Well then, about 19-months-old, we started noticing he wasn’t meeting the milestones other kids his age were meeting. So instead of… Normally, in those situations, I bury my head in the sand. I’m like, I’m gonna pretend this isn’t happening. But with him, we didn’t. We didn’t bury our heads in the sand. We actually went and got early intervention, and they had these people come to our house, and they worked with him and helped us figure out what could be going on. Developmental delay, okay. Got him some speech therapy, private therapy, occupational therapy at Vanderbilt. We didn’t care. We were gonna do whatever it took. Well, he was getting older, still was not meeting the milestones for a boy his age. And then baby brother is 14-and-a-half months younger, so we saw what milestones should look like based on baby brother, who was meeting them. And was already getting a little more advanced than big brother.

Andrew: So it’s not being called autism at this point.

Jaci: No, and it was interesting because I wanted to know what it was, but there was some kind of, a little bit of hope, a glimmer of hope, when it was developmental delay. Because delay, that means you could catch up. But I guess it was the end of second grade, they pulled us into an IEP meeting. Being a special needs parent, I’ve learned so many words that I never knew I would have to know. And I actually know what they mean, you know, individualized educational program. So they pull us into this annual IEP meeting for Zealand. And we already talked to the pediatrician. All the information was sent from the pediatrician to the school system, and then it was time to deliver the information, right? Well, they sat us in this board room, principal, vice principal, occupational therapist, speech therapist, special needs teacher, everybody you can possibly imagine, and they said, “Zealand’s autistic.” And I remember just my heart breaking. It was like, it was a strange kind of twofold feeling. It was like a weight was lifted off, but then a weight was put on at the same time.

Andrew: Relief to know.

Jaci: Relief to know but the fear of the unknown. What is this new journey like? What am I supposed to do? Okay, God. Okay, apparently, you saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself because somebody once told me, “God only gives special children to special people.” And Zealand is special. And I guess God could trust me that I would fight and that I wouldn’t give up, and that I would research and that I would do whatever it took to make sure Zealand had every opportunity for success in his life. And as a mom, I had to go through a mourning period.

Mark: I bet.

Jaci: I went through a mourning period of like mourning the dreams that I had for him. I prayed for 10 fingers, 10 toes, and they were perfect, 10 fingers, 10 toes, perfect. But when he was in my belly, I had all these crazy cool dreams for this baby. So I kinda had to mourn those dreams.

Andrew: Like what kind of dreams do you feel like you’ve had to mourn or will mourn?

Jaci: Well, conversations, normal conversations with him. What do you wanna do when you grow up? Things like, will he get married and have kids? I don’t know. I hope, I still hope, but I had to kinda go, okay, step back. It’s time to start dreaming new dreams now. Now we need to get you to communicate and not just on the topics that you feel are interesting but also being able to have this kind of conversation. And I think it was ironic for me. Daddy and I, we’ve done music our whole lives. I started traveling and singing with my parents when I was 9-years-old in the back of a car. And so my whole life, our whole lives, have been dedicated to ministry from the time I could even breathe. And I guess I was pretty frustrated with God because I thought it was ironic that God gave me a son who can’t communicate when our whole ministries have been based on communication.

Andrew: Interesting. Yeah, yeah. Does that feel like… I would think, I’m not a parent, but I would think if I was a parent, one of the things I would love in a relationship with children is the ability to see similarities, like I get that.

Jaci: Yeah, that’s me, I did that!

Andrew: Yeah, and do you feel sometimes like, I don’t get anything. Or do you catch those glimpses?

Jaci: Well, he’s messy, and that’s like me. The younger one is super organized and loves collections just like daddy.

Andrew: Specs.

Nic: Specs.

Jaci: And Zealand also, he has my feet.

Mark: How old is Zealand?

Jaci: Zealand is 10.

Mark: And how is he doing? And how far along is he on the scale, or is he communicating now?

Jaci: He communicates what he finds interesting. Now if you ask Zealand a question, like “Hey, Zealand, did you have a good day?” “Yes, ma’am.” That’s it. “Who did you play with today?” “Tommy and Taylor.” And that’s it. There’s nothing else. I know that’s pretty typical for a guy in general. But baby brother, I can ask him other things, and he’ll tell me more. There’s more stuff. But Zealand, Zealand has a great sense of great pitch and great rhythm, which is something you can’t teach. That’s something that’s either in you or not. And I feel really blessed that God gave him that. He can probably sing better than he can speak, which is a gift, I feel.

Nic: And as far as his communication is concerned, it’s not a… We’re not at a point where we can’t get things out of him, how he’s feeling. He’s feeling sick or bad. It’s just more there’s all of these working things that go in with our minds where you’re crafting a story in your mind all the time. And I say all the time meaning not all the time, but you’re constantly in conversation, you’re crafting a story. Well, the way his mind works, it’s a little different. It’s almost like that crafting depth is much shallower. So that’s where the literalness comes from with him. I think what Jaci was saying about the irony of that is that both of us using our voices all these years, and his speaking is very rounded. So even though he is communicating with us, his speech is very rounded. It’s real round sounding. No sharpness to it, so that’s where she was talking about baby brother, we could hear instantly. We were like, whoa, that is a–

Andrew: Different.

Nic: Crystal clear, beautiful speaking voice already, and he’s only 9. He’s 9, just turned 9. But you can hear his voice is very… With all the sharpness and correctness when you hear– You know when you hear these kids on Disney Channel, and you go, “What a well-spoken little child.”

Jaci: That’s Soren.

Nic: Yeah, that’s Soren. And then to see his brother, how he struggles with it, but then to watch baby brother never give up on him. Baby brother doesn’t give up on. That’s his… One of the things we talked about… Once again, this goes back to talking early on with our children, we have programmed them. They are best friends.

Jaci: Best friends.

Nic: If no one has your back, your brother’s got your back to the point where we always say, “Well, if it’s two against one, then you win.” That means if you agree with you, you agree with you, you two can overtake daddy’s decision on what we’re eating tonight. “Oh, we’re gonna eat pizza.” If one says, “Well, I wanna eat chicken,” it’s like, okay, well, then daddy chooses. And then one says, “I’m eating pizza. We’re eating pizza.” Both of, okay. So immediately two against one.

Andrew: That’s one way to get them to agree.

Nic: They’re only… It’s two against… It’s them against the world.

Mark: That’s cool.

Nic: Now we’ve done that, once again, this is our first run at it. It’s not like we had a couple of extra children–

Jaci: You know, to practice on.

Nic: And or, I didn’t have any family here. And Jaci has no nieces or nephews in town. So it’s kinda like I usually call my brother, who was in Austin for a long time who just moved up, but I would call him. And he has boys that are two years–

Jaci: Two years older than Z.

Nic: Two and three years older, so that way, he was going through things, and I would literally just ask him how he did it. So I would just ask him, and he is about two years removed from me, so he’s already gone through the process. About every two years, every three years, a child really goes through a developmental change, whether that’s into teenager. Now he’s about to have… He has two middle schoolers now, which we don’t have, and so I’m asking him, “Hey, how’s it goin’?” He doesn’t know I’m gathering intel.


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Andrew: Well, I mean, if you think about it, I was gonna ask about Soren. You kind of answered it. I was wondering, did you ever worry about, because Zealand requires a certain energy and attention, I could ask the question. You’ve already answered it. It’s like–

Mark: Do you favor him?

Jaci: I don’t favor either one of them. For me, it has to be fair.

Nic: Fairness is a big, big deal.

Jaci: Everything. It has to be fair. We wanted baby brother to have some experiences that Zealand maybe didn’t want. So we got him on a soccer team. He didn’t like doing soccer. We took him off soccer.

Nic: It required him to run.

Mark: I’m with him.

Nic: He decided it’s just not worth it, man.

Mark: You need to be chasing me if I’m gonna run.

Nic: There’s a dog chasing me, I’m running.

Mark: Exercise is ridiculous.

Jaci: Well, he wears the same size as his big brother, so yeah, it is ridiculous apparently. Poor guy. So he wanted to do swim, so I put him on a swim team, and he loves swimming. He’s on a swim team. He loves it. Well, Zealand didn’t wanna do soccer, and now he’s thinking maybe he wants to do swim. So it’s interesting always trying to be fair, but also trying to… Because Zealand doesn’t wanna do something, that doesn’t mean that big brother can’t do something.

Nic: Right, that’s true.

Jaci: So it’s always trying to–

Andrew: Balance it.

Jaci: See what should happen.

Mark: Obviously, Loren is–

Andrew: Soren.

Mark: Soren.

Jaci: Soren with an S.

Mark: Soren and Zealand.

Jaci: Zealand with a ‘Z’.

Mark: Right, so Soren is normal is not the right word. Doesn’t have autism. But you can’t treat them the same. You’ve got to–

Andrew: You wouldn’t treat them same anyway.

Mark: I mean, I’d treat them the same, but it seems like one would need more attention.

Jaci: You know what’s interesting?

Nic: But you would… I would say, just to answer that, you would think.

Jaci: You would think.

Nic: But the truth of the matter is is that I think that that comes from setting a good course when we were younger obviously. And when we had our little babies, we were like, look, regardless of what happens, this is what’s it. The fairness thing– You would have to be in our house for a little while to understand the fairness thing. It is ridiculous. To the point where they have the exact same bed. Their rooms are painted exactly the same. Almost like twins in so many ways.

Jaci: I even dress them alike.

Mark: They have separate rooms.

Jaci and Nic: Separate rooms.

Nic: And only because of–

Mark: Are they both wanting that?

Jaci: No, they’d rather stay in the same room.

Mark: No, I’m saying the similarities of their rooms, who’s deciding that?

Andrew: Yeah, but so they like the similarities.

Nic: We are.

Jaci: We are.

Mark: You are.

Jaci: They don’t have an option.

Nic: Well, when they start working and start paying for all that stuff they chose that.

Andrew: Does that make it simpler for Zealand?

Jaci: I think so.

Nic: I think so.

Andrew: So there is a method to that.

Nic: There’s a little bit of a method. We never want him to feel as well, ’cause we’re always… A lot of people think about Soren, our little one, and they think, well, how must this affect him. The fact of the matter is is that a lot of people just think maybe Zealand doesn’t think about these things at all. But once again, we’re not gonna give… We’re not gonna let that be an option where he’s gonna grow up and say, “Hey, you guys could’ve done something different here or there.” And so that’s where… Now if it were a boy and a girl, I think those things change.

Jaci: Yeah, that would be different.

Nic: Those are all those things, but because they’re both boys and they’re so close in age–

Jaci: So close.

Nic: It’s been really good for us to be able to do that, and I think that they appreciate it. And if you’re around our sons enough they both have manners.

Jaci: Yes.

Nic: That is a big thing in our house.

Jaci: Huge.

Nic: It is huge. It is the golden ticket.

Andrew: I feel like I’m now self-conscious. I’m thinking, I don’t eat with a lot of manners.

Nic: They eat like boys, but I mean, it’s just far as how they refer to people–

Andrew: Kindness and politeness.

Nic: And all of those things, and so those are just… We don’t know how to navigate, necessarily, parenthood like this. This was a curveball, so to speak, but we’re handling it like anybody else would. We’re taking our swings the same way, so to speak. So anyway, all that to say–

Mark: Has it been a burden?

Jaci: No, no, because for me Zealand is the most and least complicated person on the planet. Sometimes he’ll be laughing, and I’ll go, “Zealand, what are you thinking about? What is making you laugh?” He’ll be thinking about something he saw two weeks ago that happened at school that he laughed. And I’m like, how are you doing this? So that’s why I say complicated. But then uncomplicated because when he gets home from school, he walks in the door, drops his backpack on the floor, and takes his pants off and his shirt, and runs around in his underwear all day.

Nic: It’s not complicated.

Mark: It’s simple.

Jaci: That’s real easy, that’s easy.

Nic: I think a lot of kids do that, but yeah, easy.

Jaci: No, no, the moment he walks in the house.

Mark: He takes off the clothes. Now that’s not very polite.

Jaci: No. But it’s his house.

Mark: That’s true.

Andrew: My abode.

Jaci: I’m also on the board at my kids’ school.

Mark: Are you?

Nic: Now that’s the biggest job she’s had, yeah.

Andrew: Making it go down?

Jaci: That’s a lot of work actually. And then I’m a room mom. And this is how far I go to be fair, right? So Soren, the baby, when he went into kindergarten, I was a room mom for him. When Zealand was in kindergarten, I was room mom for him. And now I flipflop. One year I’m a room mom for Soren, next year for Zealand. So that they feel, you know.

Andrew: They’re like, “You got mom this year.”

Jaci: Yeah, exactly.


Liz Miles, Student Support Services Teacher, Williamson County Schools

Andrew: All right, so Liz, what is your specific role? You were telling me the title. It’s kind of long, so I couldn’t remember.

Liz: So I’m a student support services teacher in, yes.

Andrew: In Williamson County here in Franklin, Tennessee.

Liz: In Williamson County, mm-hmm.

Andrew: What does that encompass?

Liz: So for me, I actually work with students who have higher needs, who they have moderate to severe disabilities. But I have a wide variety of students.

Andrew: Sure, I can imagine, yeah.

Liz: I have students who are more on the severe side who may need help toileting, feeding, that sort of thing, and then I have students who need more help with the academic part.

Andrew: Sure, more in their learning.

Liz: And so my day is very diverse. I teach classes. I teach multiple ELA classes, multiple math classes, depending on the student’s level. So we group them on their level, their skill level, not necessarily on their grade in math classes. 

Andrew: So maybe their ability as far as learning goes and where they’re at there. Now what first compelled you to get into… I mean, the field of education is wide. But to get into the segment of it that specifically is helping to educate and support children with learning disabilities or challenges, that’s an usual… That’s a unique field.

Liz: My mom was a moderate to severe disabilities teacher, and she retired from that. And so I grew up in this world, like this is very familiar to me. When I got off of school when I was younger, I went to my mom’s school, and I was in her class helping with her students. So that’s what I grew up with. When I was younger, I thought my mom was crazy. I was like, I don’t know how she does this every day.

Andrew: You thought she had moderate disabilities?

Liz: Yeah. I was like, this is a lot. And then as I got older, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I knew that was where I was needed the most. And I could make a bigger difference I think.

Andrew: Sure, it kind of makes sense ‘cause the interesting thing to me about what you’re talking about when you were growing up is that after school you would go to meet your mom at her school to get your ride home of course with your mother. So you grew up around these students and these kids really as friends, less as kind of this other group, you know, that you don’t really interact with.

Liz: They were more as peers. And my mom was very involved with her students and her families. So they came to our house after school, on weekends she had parties. One of her students, one of her first students, was like a brother to me. He was over all the time. We were doing things with his family and stuff like that.

Andrew: It’s a very unique perspective. Let’s talk about another student that you’ve been involved with for a while, Zealand. Of course, Mark and I have been talking with Jaci and Nic, with the Gonzales family, and of course their kids, Zealand and Soren, about their journey with Zealand and his autism. And I tell you, Jaci, and Nic, and I have intersected over the years just through our work life, but I’ve had the opportunity to be in their household and to be around them with their kids and be around Zealand. They have this… What has always impressed me is that their home life seems to be fairly, “normal” or very balanced and supported, even with like autism especially in a child in that family dynamic can be a very strained thing, can be a very challenging thing. And they seem to have a very supportive home. What have you seen in working with them and their family and Zealand that is like, you know, that is a wonderful way, or this is how to support children with some learning challenges. It seems almost flawless to me the way that their family interacts together, all together.

Liz: Yeah, I first met Jaci and Zealand in a bridging meeting. So that is when his elementary team was meeting us, the middle school team. And so we had this meeting at my school, and there’s a lot of people there. We go in, and Jaci and Nic, they’re hilarious. They have big personalities and they’re so fun, and we left that meeting, our team, and we were like, “That was the most fun IEP meeting we’ve ever been in.” We’ve never laughed so much in a IEP meeting, and just because they do have a great sense of humor, but they also… They’re very realistic and honest, and it’s obvious that they really want to work with the whole team. And that’s so important with any children. It takes a village, right? But with this particular group, we have to be tighter with our village. We have to be more consistent.

Andrew: More in touch.

Liz: Yeah, so it’s important for us to work together to be consistent at home and at school and that sort of thing.

Andrew: Do you think that’s part of their success in their family is that they’re consistent with… You guys are consistent with them. They are consistent with what they’re learning.

Liz: Yes, I think that, Jaci and Nic, they’re very great at communicating with me as a teacher with his other service providers and working together. If they find something that they have a question about, they have no problem asking why or what can we do. And they’ve been so great about even, what can we do to support Zealand, but what can we do to support you, which is really–

Andrew: And rare probably.

Liz: Yeah, it’s rare. To have a parent-teacher meeting and them being like, “Okay, this is our questions about Zealand. How can we all get to this place with him and help him through this?” But also looking at me and being like,”Okay, now can we help you?” which is different.

Andrew: Yeah, ’cause you were saying you have to sometimes convince parents that you all are on the same team. And that can be the first challenge is not the student but the family.

Liz: Especially new parents. Especially new parents too.

Andrew: Is that ’cause there’s so much going on inside? They want so much to maybe even solve this or to get it to the other side of what they’re experiencing now. They’re probably interacting out of a lot of stress.

Liz: Yeah, and I think the jump from elementary to middle is huge. These kids in elementary school, they may have been there for six years, had the same teacher for six years in a lot of cases, and now you’re coming and it’s a whole different ball game, a whole different teacher, a whole different school, new peers. And so I think sometimes you have to work on building that trust back up and letting them know that we’re all here for the same reasons. We love your kids so much. That’s why we’re here. So we want the same things for them. But I haven’t had to convince the Gonzales family in that way. They seem like they knew that. And they could tell, yeah.

Andrew: Well, part of that, I think, comes into what we were talking about with them is they have a pretty deep acceptance. I’m sure a lot of parents and family members struggle with accepting that this is a true obstacle. This is a true challenge. You have to do some things different, and you have to go an extra mile. So how do you talk to communities? Zoom out a little bit from just the Gonzales family and Zealand. How do you encourage anybody, me, other parents, other educators, neighbors, friends, to be supportive and interactive with those we don’t always understand what’s happening?

Liz: Right. I think, first off, it’s important to look at a student’s strengths, not their challenges. And I think sometimes we get caught up in that. We get caught up in the label or what they don’t do well when what we really need to be paying attention to is what they do well.

“We get caught up in the label or what they don’t do well when what we really need to be paying attention to is what they do well.” – Liz Miles

Andrew: Sure, where they succeed, yeah, naturally.

Liz: Yes, where they succeed. And how can we expand upon these strengths at home, in the school, and then eventually in the workplace. ‘Cause that’s our goal, right? And everybody’s goals are different, but for a lot of kids, like Zealand, he’s gonna have a job, like how are we gonna get there? So a lot of times, we have to think early on. We’re in middle school, kids aren’t getting jobs right now, or most kids, but we have to think about what’s the end goal here, and then how are we gonna make a bridge to get to that goal.

Andrew: While capitalizing, or not capitalizing, but while recognizing and encouraging the strengths to take the lead, right? Don’t you think we all kind of have a little developmental delay or something?

Liz: Yeah, I mean everybody is different, right?

Andrew: It’s based on, like I was thinking earlier today, I was snippy and I can get real short and real demanding if I just am stressed or don’t understand the situation and, therefore, don’t have a lot of control, maybe even just context about it. Well, in some ways that’s mismanaging my stress and the way I see the world around me, right? I could do better. I could step back. So it feels like, in some ways, it helps me to go, okay, Zealand doesn’t just have autism and I’m normal.

Liz: No, no, yeah. We all have our things, yeah.

Andrew: I have to manage myself too. And I need support too.That kind of thing.

Liz: Yeah, we all have our strengths and our challenges. I don’t know, just another tip I would say is to be flexible with how we measure success because I think that success looks different for everybody, no matter what, no matter if they have a disability or they don’t. And I think, as a society, sometimes we look at success as like, oh, being a lawyer or a doctor or getting a master’s degree. What have you. When it could be also having a part-time job at a bakery. Or one of my students who learned how to feed herself after three years and wasn’t using a feeding tube. That was amazing, and to celebrate those successes too. Whether they’re your successes, or they might look different than the way you picture success.

Andrew: I think everything you’re talking about kind of goes back into community. That’s what I keep hearing out of Jaci and Nic’s story and their family’s is that we all have a part in each other’s lives. And helping to recognize that connectivity rather than any division or segmentation. And you have a huge role in that.

Liz: Yeah, I think, coming back to community and how can we get the community involved, especially parents who don’t have children with a disability. So like myself, my children, they do not have a disability. But I want them to know this world and know people who are different than them, interact with people who are different than them, and that could be someone who has a disability, someone who comes from a different socioeconomic status or culture. What have you.

Andrew: Different country.

Liz: Yes, but to provide those opportunities to your children.

Andrew: Well, thank you for what you do in the community and the lives of children.

Liz: Well, thank you for having me. It’s been great talking to you.


Dinner Conversations Sponsorship Message

Mark: I’ve sponsored kids for as long as I can remember, some of them already grown, but I keep doing it ’cause I love doing it. Plus, I’m single. What have I got to do? I sponsor five. And I love hearing from them, and I guess they love hearing from me. So if you’re single, why don’t you sponsor a kid? Go to childfund.org/dinnerconversations and start your sponsorship today You’ll be glad you did. To learn more about Dinner Conversations, visit dinner-conversations.com.

Andrew: And while you’re there, check out some of our friendly merch. We’ve got show mugs and Season One and Two DVDs, and we got these little note cards so Mark can write me a note that says, you’re the best co-host ever.

Mark: Oh yes. Well, you know, you get that after every episode. And what about this mug with our faces on it?

Andrew: What says good morning better?

Mark: It’s like we’re on both sides, so lefty or righty, you get to see us every morning.

Andrew: You know, I think it’s time we get back to those guests.

Mark: Yeah, probably.


Andrew: Thinking about Zealand and your experiences and learning with him, has that opened you up to, if you think about it, we are all developmentally delayed. There are corners and spaces in us that are not maturing or where we have… Some of that you can even think from a spiritual perspective. We’re just stunted in challenges and conflicted in ways that we didn’t have any choice over. Has it opened your heart to just people in different places of life in general?

Jaci: I think that Zealand and the experience of being his mom, I believe that he’s taught me more about life and love and humanity than I’ll teach him in my lifetime. And I say that because so many times we judge a book by its cover. Well, with autism, there is no cover. You can’t tell. You can’t see it. It just is. So it really changes the way that you accept people around you and look at the world. Sometimes we’ll see something or somebody and we’ll go, “Oh,” ’cause I was trying to explain it to baby brother one time. Baby brother doesn’t… We never say the word autism around the baby brother because his brother’s his brother. That’s just who God made him and that’s who God gave him as his big brother. But I was just trying to tell Soren one time, because daddy was inside trying to help with math homework, which, by the way, in fourth grade already–

“I believe that he’s taught me more about life and love and humanity than I’ll teach him in my lifetime.” – Jaci Velasquez

Nic: It’s crazy.

Mark: Wait, this is Zealand or Soren?

Jaci: Zealand.

Mark: Zealand’s math homework.

Nic: It’s getting crazy.

Jaci: Is insane.

Mark: What do you do? I’d just have to say, “You’re gonna fail, kid.”

Nic: Sorry, bud.

Jaci: I actually went to his school and met with the tutor at the school, the math tutor for the kids, and had her tutor me because I can’t even help my kid with his homework.

Andrew: Oh, I wouldn’t be able to, no way.

Jaci: But daddy was inside helping the big one, and I was telling the baby, I go, “You know, buddy, there are some things that Zealand’s not as good at that you’re really good at. And then there’s some things that he’s really good at that you’re not as good at, just like me and daddy. There are some things that daddy’s really good at that I’m not.” And I feel like that’s what life is like. Some things you’re gifted at that I’m not. But it’s also looking at each other and being able to harvest each other’s gifts and pulling it out of each other I think is really what all this has taught me.

Mark: When you travel, do you talk about autism or do you ever bring that up?

Jaci: Oh yeah.

Mark: Have you met other–

Jaci: Yes.

Mark: Did it open the gates for you?

Jaci: Absolutely.

Mark: How many there are. Whenever you show your scars, man, the people with those same scars come running, don’t they?

“Whenever you show your scars, man, the people with those same scars come running.” – Mark Lowry

Jaci: Oh, I know. They totally do. It’s so interesting to me how it makes not just people, but me, not feel so alone. It’s that feeling when, aha, you too? Yeah, those moments are priceless, and–

Mark: What would you tell a new mother who’s just found out her child is autistic?

Jaci: Actually, I just talked to a new mom the other day about that. I would tell them it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling right now. You’re allowed to feel because it is scary, and that’s okay. Don’t freak out, but don’t stay there. Because at one point, at some point, you’re gonna have to get back up, and you are gonna have to start fighting because your kid can’t fight for himself or herself. You are your child’s biggest advocate. And until they can advocate for themselves, that’s you. It’s on you. And think of how cool it is that God trusted you enough, saw something strong in you that you couldn’t see in yourself, because you’re scared right now. And that’s okay, but the strength is there. It is there ’cause God’s not gonna give you something you can’t handle.

Andrew: Yeah, it seems like the perfect example or living proof of that in this way because there’s nothing you did or Zealand did. I mean, we know that this is just a matter of humanity expressing itself in broken ways. Which happens in all of us. And so yeah, to think of it, I love that. I would want to be on the receiving end of that message about anything. If I came to you and said, “This is the challenge in my life.” Maybe God’s trusting you with it. That’s interesting.

Nic: And I think a lot of times, just this part of our life has become a, over the last 10 years has become part of our journey. And everybody has their journey, and I said it pretty early on. It’s like now I realize that music in ministry, sometimes you can be so busy with it that you’re not listening to the stories maybe like you need to because you’re getting to the next place. I gotta get to bed, gotta get up at 4 in the morning, catch a plane to the next place. Now I find myself talking to dads that they’re just wondering, did you want your kids to play sports? Did you want him to do this? It’s like, it doesn’t mean he can’t do that. And I always just say, “Man, every day is unfolding a new part of his life, so I’m watching him. That’s my job. I’m his dad.” I’m just there watching him unfold his life, and I’m there to help in any way that I can.

“I’m just there watching him unfold his life, and I’m there to help in any way that I can.” – Nic Gonzales

Mark: Wow.

Nic: And that has caused me to slow down.

Jaci: Yes.

Nic: And also make me realize that, you know, now you see a child with maybe some special needs, but maybe in a physical way, a child in a wheelchair or a child with a disability of some sort. It moves my heart in a different way. It doesn’t mean that I’m gonna go seek that person out. It just moves my heart. It’s almost like God is constantly reminding me it takes all kinds.

Andrew: It’s understanding, yeah.

Nic: It takes all kinds.

Andrew: Does it ever make you think, hey, maybe we’re not puppets on the string that God is just dancing around, but that he’s actually watching our lives unfold? I don’t know.

Nic: He’s watching the way we pray for him. He’s watching. Although, when I pray for him, I do pray for him differently. I say a special prayer every night for his mind and however God wants to open up his mind every day. So it’s different. And then with my Soren, I pray a different way, so it’s taught me as a… Not even as a musician. That defined us for so long. Come on now. Let’s be honest here. You’re defined as a musician for all of your life, so you think it’s all about the right jeans or the right in-ear mix or the right–

Jaci: Right song.

Nic: Making sure, oh man, I hope the song–

Jaci: Photoshoot, record.

Nic: Or I hope people appreciate all this stuff. All of a sudden, none of that matters. So when I sing my songs now, I’m like, hey man, I’m glad I’m here, really appreciate it. My mind and my heart are going, man, what might you be going through today? Now that was never– It used to be let’s play loud or let’s play fast. Let’s get them moving.

Jaci: Let’s get people on their feet.

Nic: Let’s get them dancing. This is gonna be awesome. It’s gonna be awesome for you out there. All of the sudden I’m going, hey, this is so awesome for me. Thank you for letting me, one, be able to lead you in worship today, get to sing songs. We have a family. We tell them about it. We know you have a family, thank you. We thank them now for bringing their families to come be with us. We used to be, “Well, yeah, you’re grateful to be here. You paid $12 to be here. Of course you’re grateful.”

Mark: And how much work it was to be there.

Nic: That’s exactly right.

Mark: Now you know.

Jaci: I know.

Nic: Now we know. And now, even with a son with special needs who has no interest in being anywhere almost, we know how much work even more that takes. For us to go to church, we have to make sure, okay, does he have a… Does he have a helper? He needs a helper because he’s– Not a helper for the physical, potty, all that stuff. I’m just talking about he–

Jaci: To keep him on task.

Nic: Keep him on task. And so all of these things. So it’s become a big part of our lives, and we never… Of course, whoever thinks–

Andrew: You don’t.

Jaci: That’s not what I saw.

Mark: Has it become normal?

Jaci: Yes. Because I feel like I’ve never lived a moment without them.

Nic: That is true. I feel like I’ve had children for 50 years.

Mark: Really.

Nic: Yeah, at 40–

Mark: You can’t remember your life without them? Vaguely.

Jaci: I have memories, but I don’t even–

Andrew: But you don’t associate a lot of feeling or–

Jaci: No, I don’t feel like I–

Mark: So you’d rather be here than there?

Jaci: Oh, yes. I feel like I came to life when Nic and I got married and the birth of our kids.

Nic: You don’t have to say that just for the show.

Mark: It must be true.

Nic: This is a truthful place.

Jaci: I feel like I really wasn’t totally alive. I don’t wanna sound like super dramatic, but it’s just the truth. This is life. This is, I’m living. This is living.


Nic Gonzales & Jaci Velasquez singing “Good As Gold”

I’m a shade tree father

I’m a preacher’s son

I like to go to bed late

But still watch the rising sun

Want my boys to grow up strong

Always be my babies

My wife, she keeps me sane

And she still drives me crazy

Ooo, ooo, ooo

It don’t look like much on paper

These treasures we’re building

They can’t be bought or sold

Ooo, ooo, ooo

It’s a simple life we’re living

Like church hymns or a handshake

Or a man’s word that he won’t break

Man, that never gets old

It ain’t something you can measure

But it’s good as gold

I’m that mustang brother

Still my mama’s son

I like to live it up and laugh too much

But I love to get the job done

I wanna grow old and know

That I did the best I can

Hope my boys see Jesus

When they look at that old man

Ooo ooo ooo

It don’t look like much on paper

These treasures we’re building

They can’t be bought or sold

Ooo ooo ooo

It’s a simple life we’re living

Like church hymns or a handshake

Or a man’s word that he won’t break

Man, that never gets old

It ain’t something you can measure

But it’s good as gold

God, if you’re building me a mansion

Don’t go wasting it on me

Just as long as there’s a backyard

And a table for my family

And I don’t mind that crystal river

As long as fishing is allowed on Saturdays

Some people’s dreams are bigger

But mine are richer in simple ways

Ooo ooo ooo

It don’t look like much on paper

These treasures we’re building

Can’t be bought or sold

Ooo ooo ooo

It’s a simple life we’re living

Like church hymns or a handshake

Or a man’s word that he won’t break

Man, that never gets old

It ain’t something you can measure

But it’s good as gold

Ooo ooo ooo

Ooo ooo ooo

Ooo ooo ooo


Mark: Are you done having children?

Jaci: Well, I think–

Andrew: Say it here.

Mark: Would you like to have another one?

Jaci: I don’t–

Andrew: Would you like to talk about it here?

Mark: That face says you don’t. That face right there says no.

Jaci: Okay, this is the thing. I would’ve been happy to have a bunch of kids, right? But this guy. Okay, so my husband has not really fully disclosed his tendencies and OCD kind of ways that he has.

Mark: About what?

Jaci: Well, just like I was saying about the baby, Soren is super organized.He has to have a collection, the full collection. Well, my husband is just like that. He has to have the perfect pairs. I’m talking everything.

Mark: As a pair.

Jaci: From tools–

Andrew: So it’d have to come in four?

Mark: So you get two of everything?

Andrew: You’d have to have two more?

Jaci: I’d have to have two more, and they’d have to be boys.

Mark: Oh really?

Nic: Don’t say it like that.

Jaci: No, it’s true. Or they’d have to be two girls.

Andrew: Right, right, ‘cause they gotta be pairs.

Jaci: Because everything has to be–

Nic: So the only way we could guarantee that is adoption.

Mark: Is adoption.

Jaci: Right.

Mark: And you really, I mean, this is serious?

Jaci: No, no. He’s seriously crazy about that.

Nic: Actually, that’s not the reason why.

Jaci: I truly believe that is the reason why.

Nic: We tell the truth in our family. That’s not the only reason why.

Jaci: I believe that’s the reason why.

Andrew: Not the only, I like that.

Nic: They like me back here. The only way to guarantee is to make sure, okay, those are girls, both girls. Okay, good. You guys come on over here.

Andrew: That’s right. We’ll love you.

Nic: We’ll love on you guys. You got brothers now, Zealand and Soren.

Jaci: Yeah, he’s funny about that stuff. Don’t let him kid you. It’s true. Just walk into his shop and his shed. Two. Identical.

Mark: Wait, wait, wait, wait. What is that called? I mean, that sounds like a problem.

Jaci: It’s an obsessive compulsive–

Mark: OCD, right?

Jaci: But it’s not OCD. It’s just an OCD thing.

Nic: I have an explanation for it that I think would make a lot of sense to a musician.

Jaci: Oh please, go ahead.

Nic: Why do you carry a second guitar, if you play guitar?

Andrew: Extra.

Nic: Something breaks. Or why do you–

Mark: So you have the second kid in case someone, some break?

Nic: In case one runs away, I’ll have the other one there.

Mark: So you have air in a spare?

Jaci: But how are you gonna break a hammer?

Nic: Well, it happens, or you leave a hammer.

Andrew: I was expecting something deep.

Nic: No, no, no. It kinda goes into the whole idea, and I have always done this. I always buy a back up. And that’s just because–

Jaci: So Soren’s our backup?

Nic: No, that’s not what I–

Mark: Wait till he hears this. This episode’s gonna cause therapy for years.

Jaci: Major therapy.

Nic: We tell the truth in our house, say, “Soren–“

Jaci: You were just in case, just in case. I was gonna tell you. Do you all know we have chickens?

Nic: We have chickens.

Mark: Where?

Jaci: They’re in the backyard. No, they live with us.

Andrew: Do you eat their offspring?

Nic: We eat their eggs.

Jaci: We eat their eggs, 21 chickens.

Mark: Have you wrung any chicken’s necks yet?

Nic: No, we have, no.

Mark: You don’t eat them?

Nic: They’re hens.

Jaci: They all have names.

Andrew: Do your boys think about it like eating their offspring? Like I had a friend in school growing up who became a vegetarian, not because she didn’t like the taste of meat, because she associated it one day with like–

Nic: Okay, listen to this. Listen to this. Just so you know, you gotta get… We always school people so that they feel a little bit better.

Andrew: Oh, they don’t come to life yet? It’s not a embryo?

Nic: It’s not.

Mark: What, listen to what? Tell me.

Nic: The egg is asexual. Egg comes from a hen that is not produced, fertilized–

Andrew: It’s not produced by a rooster.

Jaci: No rooster.

Nic: No, so that’s why a lot of people that are even like vegetarian or vegan, they still eat… It’s an animal byproduct. It is not a living organism.

Andrew: Are you serious?

Nic: Yes.

Jaci: You have to have a rooster.

Andrew: So do they ever rub up on each other?

Jaci: No, they’re hens.

Nic: I mean they fight.

Jaci: They’re all girls. All hens, no roosters.

Andrew: Don’t they get an egg in ’em —

Jaci: No, no, no.

Mark: Oh Lord. You ask the stupidest questions.

Andrew: I didn’t know this. I thought there was interaction.

Nic: But we love to educate people on chickens.

Mark: But if you… We used to eat fertilized eggs.

Jaci: You can eat them.

Nic: Well, you can get them that way, yes.

Andrew: What does that mean then?

Jaci: Okay, that means that there was a rooster and an egg that was fertilized.

Nic: There was a rooster involved. You see that? A lot of people…

Andrew: I’m confused about the hen.

Nic: Mark, a lot of people are confused about this.

Jaci: Hens are just girls.

Andrew: I didn’t know that a rooster didn’t have to come into play.

Jaci: No, you don’t need a rooster to have eggs.

Mark: You need a rooster to have the chicken.

Jaci: To fertilize the egg.

Andrew: So the eggs we eat–

Mark: It’s called sperm! Have you ever heard of it?

Producer: You know people work that way too?

Nic: This has turned into a completely different situation here.

Andrew: I guess if you think about having eggs.

Jaci: Women always have eggs.

Andrew: But you’re not laying them.

Jaci: Well.

Nic: But a lot of people ask the same questions.

Andrew: Nic, I did not know.

Nic: I have a speech ready for it because I let people know this because–

Andrew: So I’m not eating a chicken. I’m eating just a byproduct of a hen.

Nic: It’s a byproduct of the hen.

Jaci: It’s the egg.

Andrew: Now if we’re eating a fertilized egg, I’m eating a chicken. Unincubated.

Jaci: Unincubated, yeah. It hasn’t been incubated.

Mark: I can’t believe you don’t eat chicken, eat the chickens.

Jaci: No, we don’t eat our chickens. We eat chicken, but we don’t eat our chickens.

Mark: They’re your pets, aren’t they?

Nic: We had chicken today, right? It was delicious by the way.

Andrew: It coulda been one of yours, I don’t know.

Mark: Do the boys love it? Do they go out and get the eggs?

Jaci: Yes, they do. Every morning. It’s good for teaching responsibility.

Andrew: Did you know all that?

Producer: I was aware.

Andrew: Yeah, so I don’t know if y’all have–

Mark: Everybody knew that.

Andrew: It’s amazing the things you can learn in your thirties.

Nic: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So anyway, that’s our–

Mark: This has been great. Thank you all for sharing your story.

Nic: It’s our pleasure. We didn’t realize, obviously, when we had our Zealand, we didn’t realize that would become such a big part of our story. Most of the time when people sit down with us, we talk about music and that’s great. We love music. We love the Lord. We love what it’s given us. But now I think that with our guys, the way that, the situation that we’re always in with them, one, we’re trying to disciple them and make sure that they’re getting it. We’re trying to raise good humans that are loving Jesus.

“We’re trying to raise good humans that are loving Jesus.” – Nic Gonzales

Jaci: They love Jesus.

Nic: And now I’m seeking God in a different way. It was for me, it was for me, ’cause man we were… Being so busy with music only, you get such a small sliver of the story about God. You learn the right scriptures so you can say them on stage.

Jaci: How to introduce a song.

Nic: Instead of sitting there and just going, man, this comes from a place of unknown for me. And so I wrote this song or I wrote that or I talked about… I’m telling you this ’cause maybe somebody here needs to… And at the end of the day going, how much more do we need to share Jesus with people? Because it’s like, we are so, we are so concerned with our guys and we wanna make sure that… I don’t care about anything. I just want them to go to heaven. I want them to be with me. I want them to go out and win other people and their families go to heaven. Then all of a sudden it just becomes… Everybody’s like, there’s a lot of gray, and I was like, no, there’s not. It’s really simple. We need Jesus. We need God. The only way to get there is through Jesus. This is really simple. That’s what we’re telling our guys, and all of the sudden, it’s taught me how to believe in God in a different way. This amazing God that allowed me to do music, all that stuff, that’s awesome. But it was almost like it was one way. It was him giving to me, and I was younger. We were both younger. It felt like it was one way.

Jaci: Totally.

Nic: Now I’m sitting here, God, I appreciate the music. I get all that, but–

Jaci: Thank you.

Nic: I need you. I need you for so many more reasons. I don’t have the words to say. I don’t have any wisdom. All I’ve got is what you’re gonna give me. Your word, your books, the things that are, all these– I love reading a book and hearing a dad’s heart through that book and just going, oh, that is so right. That is so good. That is so good. And so, and then realizing how unimportant all of our things are. And our main message that we’ve been kind of ignoring because it didn’t fit in our lifestyle at that point. Didn’t fit in my lifestyle to sit around and go, man, you really need Jesus.

Jaci: Well, it wasn’t like the cool thing, the cool way to do it. It was kinda like, you know.

Nic: You know when an older person gets to a point where they stop worrying about what they’re wearing because they’re going, I’ve got pants and a shirt. I’m fine. I feel like that’s exactly where God has us. He’s given us our sons, and he’s saying, I’ve got my… We’ve got a home and all this stuff, and I know a lot of people that maybe they don’t. But either way, the most important thing is they need God. They need Jesus.

Jaci: We need Jesus in every situation.

Nic: We need Jesus. Everyone does. And so now we’re sitting here trying to raise good humans. Everybody’s like, “Oh man, are they gonna be singers?” I was like, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t care.”

Mark: Yeah, really.

Nic: Here’s what I care about. They’re gonna grow up. The other… Just our son.

Jaci: Oh.

Nic: We’ll stop. I know you all have other things you’re doing.

Mark: What?

Nic: So we have a swing, one of those dream catcher swings. Well, daddy did a great job of putting it kind of near a tree. 

Jaci: But it’s because that was the only tree that–

Nic: It’s the only tree that had a cantilever arm that would go far enough to be able to swing it. All the rest of our trees seem to go this way. So anyway, I put it there, and I just tell them every time, just watch the tree, just be careful. Apparently, he was flying. To make a very long and dramatic story short, apparently he was flying, his brother was pushing him, and he had a fight with the tree. The tree won.

Jaci: Soren, the baby.

Nic: Yes, so he comes in–

Jaci: He was crying, “Mom!”

Nic: But here’s the best part of it. All situations at some point will lead back to this. And as he’s crying and all these things are happening, mama has to put a bandage and she’s putting Neosporin. He’s crying. He’s crying to be… He’s dramatic now, but I mean, the scratches are kinda small, but whatever. He’ll watch this later on and go, “Oh, I was kinda dramatic.” But then, when she’s about to tear off his, and I say tear ’cause that’s the way he made it seem. He’s like, “Oh, Jesus, protect me. Protect me, oh Jesus! Oh God, Jesus. Oh Jesus, heal me. Oh God, Jesus!” I’m going, yes.

Jaci: Jesus, protect me.


Mark: We’d like to thank Jaci Velasquez and Nic Gonzales.

Andrew: Your Spanish is beautiful.

Mark: It’s horrible, isn’t it?

Andrew: You can check out their product, CDs, music, books, whatever, Jaci’s new book, in our Amazon affiliate link in our episode description below.

Mark: And if you feel the need to binge watch Dinner Conversations, you can do that right now on Amazon Prime. Dinner Conversations is brought to you by ChildFund, a community development organization that has been envisioning a world where every child is free to live at their fullest potential no matter where they’re from or what challenges they face since 1938.

Andrew: Partner with us and our good friends at ChildFund to change the world and the life of a child by considering sponsoring a child today.

Mark: It really does take so little to make a difference. 

Andrew: Visit childfund.org/dinnerconversations.

Mark: A child is waiting.


ChildFund is a community development organization that has been envisioning a world where every child is free to live at their fullest potent no matter where they are from — or what challenges they face — since 1938.

Partner with us and our good friends at ChildFund to change the world in the life of a child by considering sponsoring a child today. It takes so little to make a difference. A child is waiting. And remember, every one who sponsors a child is invited to a Dinner Conversations Friends & Family Weekend in Nashville, plus receives an autographed Season Two DVD, CD and a special item handmade for you by our communities in Guatemala.

Learn more here: childfund.org/dinnerconversations.


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Watch Our Other Episodes:

S03, E01: Orphans No More featuring Lisa Harper
S03, E02: Perfectly Imperfect featuring Wynonna Judd
S03, E03: Surviving Miscarriage featuring Jason Crabb and Sonya Isaacs
S03, E04: Fear Factors featuring Patsy Clairmont