I am not much of a shopper. The moment I walk into a shopping mall something happens to me physically. My eyes start to dry out. My mind goes numb from all the choices. And after about six minutes of watching all the people running from one store to the next with bags full of treasures, I begin to feel exhausted. This is especially true if I walk in not knowing what I am looking for. As you can imagine, Brenda loves it when I go shopping with her.
I do best if I know exactly what the person wants or needs. I love it when Brenda says, “If you are looking for something to buy me for Christmas, go to Macy’s. Go up the escalator to the second floor, turn right, and you will see the bedding department. Look for the white Belgian Flax Linen Sheet Set, King size. It is on the bottom shelf.” No guessing! I buy exactly what she wants. Merry Christmas.
Thankfully, six years ago when we started David’s Refuge we knew exactly what we wanted to give the parents we serve. We didn’t have to wonder or guess because we were the parents of a child with special needs who desperately needed what we now have the privilege to offer. What is it? Simple! We offer the chance to be reminded of three things:
- You Are Not Alone
- What You Do Matters
- God Loves You
You Are Not Alone
One of the most life sucking forces in the world is that feeling deep in your gut that you are all alone. I remember one Sunday watching my wife sit with David in the lobby of our church feeding him his favorite health food, a chocolate covered donut. David’s condition had progressed to the point where he could barely communicate. He was blind, physically and mentally challenged, and diagnosed with an untreatable disease that was terminal. As they sat in the middle of the busy foyer, people walked around them, avoiding them as if they had the plague. That afternoon Brenda came home weeping, crying out, “I can’t do it anymore, I feel so alone.” We knew that people loved us, but they were afraid, not knowing what to say or do so they did nothing. That is why every guest we serve at David’s Refuge is reminded that they are not alone!
What You Do Matters
At David’s Refuge we remind every parent that their child is a “divine” calling and that there is no more important role than the role they play as mom, dad, or guardian. I remember one Labor Day when all of our aides called and said they couldn’t come in. I was sitting on a porch swing with David listening to a New York Yankee game. I was angry, feeling sad that everyone one else in the whole world was at a Labor Day Picnic, feeling “stuck” with David. Obviously I had lost perspective! What could have been more important than rocking on that swing with David, listening to a ball game, and reminding him he was loved by his daddy? That is why every couple at David’s Refuge is reminded that what they do to care for their child matters!
God Loves You
Our hope is that each guest who stays at David’s Refuge would experience God’s extravagant love for them. What does that look like? It’s being greeted by a host couple who accepts and loves our guests unconditionally. It’s doing everything we do for our guests with extravagance and excellence. It’s treating each individual with respect and grace. It’s giving them the gift of a weekend away, free of charge, no strings attached. Our prayer for each Mom and Dad or guardian is that they would know the love God has for them and their children.
When you stop and think about it, the Christmas story is really a love story. While it’s simple enough for a child to grasp and celebrate, it is one of the most incredible loves stories of all time. God, the creator of the universe, loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son into this world, to be born as a human baby, so that he could grow up and tell us how much his Father loved us. That, my friends, is extravagant love! And that is why every parent we serve is reminded that God loves them with extravagance!
Do you want to give a gift this holiday season to a parent who has a child with special needs or is struggling with a life threatening illness? A gift you know they they will want? Tell them about David’s Refuge. Include David’s Refuge in your year end giving. And the next time to see them say, “I hope you know and believe you are not alone, what you do matters, and God loves you!